Denmark is losing one star cyclist to another nation, and may be losing another, as well. Linda Villumsen, current national road and time trial champion, has changed her citizenship to New Zealand. Michael Rasmussen, who has said he will soon announce his new team, is considering taking on Mexican citizenship.
Villumsen, 24, told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that she had long considered her move before actually changing her citizenship. “My connection to Denmark will always be there, but it is here in New Zealand that I have my life,” she said. “I've found my place and it gives me a great peace. I hope the Danes understand.”
Further explaining the change, the Team Columbia-HTC rider said, “On one level, I will always be a Dane. There is where I have my roots and I have family there. But New Zealand has been a part of me for many years and I am half-adopted by a family down there.”
One problem she faces is the possibility of riding the World Championships in Copenhagen for New Zealand in 2011. “For my family and friends it does not matter whether I race in the red and white of Denmark or the black of New Zealand. But I'm curious as to how the Danish spectators will receive me,” Villumsen noted.
“I hope I will not be booed. I hope the Danes will not see it as a loss that I am switching citizenship, but that instead they will welcome the fact that I have found a place where I feel at home and where I will feel good.”
Villumsen had seven victories this year, including the overall title in the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen. She also finished third in the Worlds time trial.
Rasmussen considering Mexican citizenship
Another Danish cyclist, Michael Rasmussen, is considering changing his citizenship from Danish to Mexican. Rasmussen, 35, served a two-year suspension for lying about his whereabouts in the lead-up to the 2007 Tour de France. This summer he rode for the Mexican team Tecos-Trek, and said this week that he will announce his 2010 team before the end of the month.
Rasmussen, whose wife is Mexican, spends much time in that country. “I have studied the possibilities and have thoroughly considered changing citizenship, so I can get to ride the national championships in the future,” he told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. “And I am still considering it. I have not had many advantages to being a Dane in recent years,”
He remains bitter against the Danish Cycling Union. “I think they are some fools in the DCU. I owe nothing to the DCU. I have no qualms about getting Mexican passports. It is rather DCU who owes me an apology.
Italian team has benefit of four Grand Tour leaders: Pellizotti, Basso, Nibali, Kreuziger
Has Liquigas already selected Franco Pellizotti as its leader for the 2010 Giro d'Italia? Team Manager Roberto Amadio attended the route's presentation in Milano Saturday and determined it suits Pellizotti.
"It's a Giro for Franco," Amadio told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's right that Pellizotti starts as leader at the Giro and at the Tour he will be available to help whoever rides for the classification."
The Giro d'Italia, May 8 to 30, ends with mountain stages in the Dolomites and Alps. Organiser RCS Sport will take the riders up the Zoncolan, Plan de Corones, Mortirolo and Gavia climbs in the final week.
Pellizotti won the Plan de Corones stage in 2008 and this year finished third overall. After the Giro, he decided to race the Tour de France, where he won the mountain classification's polka dot jersey.
"At the Tour we saw teams with two or there leaders. I am referring to Astana, who really dominated," continued Amadio. "Besides at the 2010 Giro there will be a team time trial that I consider important for gaining time on our rivals. So we will have to take the strongest team possible."
Amadio has three other riders who could possibility lead and win the Giro or Tour: Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger. Basso won the Giro in 2006 and finished twice in the Tour's top three. This season, he rode as co-captain at the Giro with Pellizotti and finished fifth.
"It will be a hard Giro, very difficult in the second part," said Basso. "I think I can race two Grand Tours as a rival and end up with an important result."
Nibali, 24, and Kreuziger, 23, are both Liquigas' young talents. Nibali aimed for the Tour this year and finished seventh. Kreuziger won the 2008 Tour de Suisse and finished ninth at the Tour this year.
Former Tour de France champion considers skipping 2010 edition
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) is considering racing the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in 2010, skipping the Grand Tour he won in 2008, the Tour de France.
"Maybe it's time the Giro and Vuelta become my next main objectives," the Spaniard told EFE yesterday. He is considering the Tour de France, but since he has already won it he might favour the other two Grand Tours, according to the Spanish news agency.
Organisers presented the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France routes in the last two weeks.
Tour organiser ASO unveiled a mountainous route, July 3 to 25. Its first mountains come in the Alps, Morzine and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Four Pyrenean mountain stages come in races final week, with the Col du Tourmalet stage only four days before the finish.
The Giro d'Italia, May 8 to 30, is equally mountainous. Organiser RCS Sport will take the riders up the Zoncolan, Plan de Corones, Mortirolo and Gavia climbs in the final week.
"I think it [the Giro] is really hard, the climbers will benefit," continued Sastre. "I think the trialists do not have enough space to take time against the climbers.
"Then there are the mythical passes, like Gavia and Mortirolo. I think it's a special Giro that is very hard and that motivates me."
The Tour "has changed its tone compared to this year's Tour and is a lot harder, more spectacular. There are a lot of mountain stages and not many flat stages."
Sastre said he will wait until the presentation of the Vuelta a España to make his final plans for 2010. Vuelta organiser Unipublic will present the 2010 Vuelta a España in Seville December 16.
Manx rider out of coma and recovering ahead of journey home
Jonathan Bellis will return home to Britain from Italy, where he is recovering from a scooter crash that occurred near Quarrata, Italy, in September.
"Jonny is doing really well since the last update and is communicating by writing messages on a white board. They are looking into flying him to London shortly," read a statement on the British Cycling website yesterday.
Bellis' parents had been in Italy with their son. They flew from the Isle of Man to join him the day of the crash.
Bellis, 21, crashed while on his scooter near Quarrata, Italy, at around 3:30 in the morning on September 19. Medics took him to the hospital in Careggi, north of Firenze, where doctors placed him in an induced coma and performed surgery. Doctors brought him out of the coma earlier this month, but he is still recovering from head injuries.
Bellis was wearing a helmet and travelling along Via IV Novembre. The cause of the accident is still unknown and local police are still investigating it.
He was in Quarrata to train with other British riders, including fellow Manxman Mark Cavendish. He had hopes of racing the World Championships at the end of September in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Bellis finished third in the 2007 Under 23 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. He turned professional with team Saxo Bank this season after a trainee period last fall.
Basque rider Beñat Intxausti was announced as the final addition to the Euskaltel-Euskadi roster for 2010. The former Fuji-Servetto rider will be presented along with the rest of the squad on Thursday at noon at the Antiguo Seminario in Derio.
Intxausti, a third-year professional began his career with the UCI Continental team Grupo Nicolas Mateos in 2006 before moving to the Saunier Duval team which became Fuji-Servetto. He completed his first Grand Tour this year at the Vuelta a Espana, and placed seventh overall at the Vuelta a Burgos.
Euskaltel-Euskadi for 2010
Sergio de Lis
Koldo Fernández de Larrea
Romain Sicard (Orbea)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Orbea)
Miguel Minguez (Orbea)
Daniel Sesma (Orbea)
Beñat Intxausti (Fotoon-Servetto)
Gorka Izagirre (Contempolis-AMPO)
Italian sprinter Davide Viganò will join British team Sky for next season, according to Tuttobiciweb.com.
"This year I was not able to win, but I had notable consistency," said Viganò. "I lacked a win, but I will correct that soon and repay the faith of my new team."
Viganò, 25, had several top 10 placings racing for Fuji-Servetto this year. He placed fourth in both Giro d'Italia's stage seven and in the Vuelta a España's stage six.
He turned professional in 2005 and joined Belgium's Quick Step team mid-season.
The new Sky team of David Brailsford has already confirmed Thomas Lövkvist, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Edvald Boasson Hagen. Viganò becomes the team's second Italian rider after Morris Possoni.
New Italian team unveils its first 16 riders for 2010
New Italian team, De Rosa-Stac Plastic, named its first riders for the 2010 season today. The team is composed of riders all less than 28 years old, with the exception of Slovenian Jure Golcer, 32, winner of last year's Tour de Slovénie.
"We are really happy and satisfied of the step we took," said Cristiano De Rosa. "We decided to invest and become the title sponsor because we are a cycling company and believe in this project."
De Rosa is one of Italy's most well-known frame manufacturers. Founder Ugo De Rosa supplied frames for Belgian Eddy Merckx and team Molteni, who brought the manufacturer many wins. He and his three sons continued supplying frames, this year for LPR Brakes, Acqua & Sapone and Rock Racing.
"We have the idea of a long term project," continued Ugo's son, Cristiano. "I hope that over the year organisers, not only Italian, will be interested in inviting us to their races."
De Rosa-Stac Plastic will be a second division, Professional Continental, team. The team will likely participate in most Italian races, including the Giro d'Italia.
The team will use De Rosa King 3 and RS frame, said Cristiano De Rosa.
A French court has rejected Stefan Schumacher's appeal of his two-year suspension for doping. The former Gerolsteiner rider had said that the test process used was not yet approved when the tests were done in 2008.
The highest administrative court in France, the Conseil d'Etat, ruled Wednesday afternoon that the analysis process of the blood samples was correctly done by the French anti-doping agency, AFLD.
News agency AFP reports the court found that, "the methods for analysing blood samples were regular" and "accepts that the AFLD could carry out retrospective analysis on a sample previously tested."
Schumacher, 28, tested positive for EPO-CERA twice during the Tour de France 2008, according to retrospective testing announced in October of that year. The AFLD announced his two-year suspension from riding in France in February, with the International Cycling Union following shortly thereafter with a world-wide ban. Schumacher is appealing the bans before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He also tested positive for CERA during the Olympic games, with the samples also being tested by the French laboratory.
Earlier this month Schumacher renewed his appeal and called for the positive results to be withdrawn, after the AFLD announced that re-testing revealed no additional EPO-CERA cases from the 2008 Tour.
The retrospective testing procedure used by the AFLD in the latest round of analysis differed to that used to determine his positive test result in 2008, he claimed. The tests on his samples was “at a very early stage of development” and therefore not reliable, Schumacher said.