- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 07:04
- Cycling News
Top five a reality on Frenchman's debut with Omega Pharma-Lotto
Jean-Christophe Péraud of Omega Pharma-Lotto is back in the game for a shot overall classification of the Vuelta a España as the first big mountian finish in the Pyrenees looms on the horizon. The Frenchman is now fifth overall, 54 seconds behind Joaquin Rodriguez of Team Katusha.
He had been virtually the race leader with less than 10 kilometres to race on stage nine but Igor Antón's Euskaltel-Euskadi team rode intelligently to save the red jersey that day and spoil Péraud's celebrations.
"The day before, all my ambition to perform on general classification were gone and suddenly, I was back well positioned as I hoped before coming to the Vuelta," the 33-year-old former mountian bike rider and neo-pro road racer told Cyclingnews in Tarragona.
"I'm surprised but I'm nicely surprised, I'd say," he added. "On day one I suffered from the heat but after one week of racing, I still feel good. I didn't know what to expect for my first grand tour. My disappointment of Sunday is behind me but it would have been fantastic to wear the leader's jersey in a grand tour."
Péraud was supposed to ride the Tour de France but he crashed at the Critérium du Dauphiné and came down with blood poisoning soon after. Omega Pharma-Lotto was unable to ride the French national championships and he admitted that he hadn't recovered in time to line up for the Tour de France.
"I'm afraid it'll take a long time for me to get back to my best level," said the former mountain biker who managed to make the top ten overall at Paris-Nice and the Tour of the Basque country during his debut season as a pro road rider.
"The level here is very high," he said of the Vuelta. "The other riders have given me a gift by letting me back in the top positions of the general classification. Now the Omega Pharma-Lotto team will work for me to get a good ranking overall in Madrid. I'll hold on with the best climbers as much as I can."
"I'd also like to win a race in my first year as pro road cyclist, it would be really nice," added the Frenchman, who is rumoured to have been courted by other teams despite having a two-year contract with the Belgian team. After Péraud's brilliant ride at the Vuelta, Omega Pharma-Lotto's team manager Marc Sergeant has made it clear that he wants to keep him for next year.
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 09:00
- Daniel Benson
RadioShack, BMC and Luxembourg team in contention for American's signature
Taylor Phinney faces a tough decision ahead of stage three of the Tour de l' Avenir today - whether he should he continue in the race after crashing out of the lead yesterday.
He faces a more delicate decision when it comes to choosing his team for next year however, having three of the most powerful suitors in the sport scrambling for his signature: RadioShack, BMC and the newly-formed 'Team Schleck'.
Phinney went into stage two of the French stage race in the leader's jersey but treacherous conditions saw the American hit the deck and although he finished the stage, he lost the lead to British rider Alex Dowsett and was taken to hospital for x-rays. There were no broken bones but with the Worlds on the horizon Phinney isn't willing to take any chances as he prepares to race in Australia.
"There were a few oily spots on the road and people were crashing everywhere," Phinney told Cyclingnews from his hotel last night. "Riders were going off the road and with 20km to go we were coming down this descent. One moment I was up the next I was sliding on my left arm but I managed to get my whole left side pretty good.
"I was in shock for a little while and not moving my left arm or shoulder very much and the doctor was worried about it. They were trying to get me in the ambulance but I wanted to finish and didn't want to quit the race. I knew right when I crashed that my yellow jersey hopes were over but I'm glad I could finish.
"It's up for grabs whether I start," Phinney said of the likelihood of his continuation in the event. "If it's raining and it's dangerous I won't start. Basically it's the biggest race here for some guys and everyone is taking risks so there's been a lot of crashes.
"I don't want to get the wounds dirtier or risk another crash. I came here to win the prologue and help the team win the overall. One objective is completed but I also wanted to train for the Worlds."
Before heading to the world titles in Australia, Phinney will return home to the US for the national time trial championships in order to fit one long time trial under his belt. His ride for next year has yet to be finalised, however.
As little as two months ago it was widely regarded that he would sign for RadioShack, moving up from its feeder squad, Trek-Livestrong. Several teams have since entered the fray with RadioShack only committed to the sport for one more year and Phinney looking for longevity ahead of and beyond the 2012 Olympics.
"RadioShack was our thinking two months ago but I had a couple of people open my eyes to other possibilities that are out there and the more insurance other teams can give me. I think Johan [Bruyneel] will continue a team after 2011 but it's not definite and that important at the start of my career," Phinney said.
"I want to be on the same team for the next two years just so I don't have to change bikes or anything like that for the Olympics. That's why the options have opened up. Once they opened up it was like opening the floodgates. There were a lot of different offers and angles."
At least five ProTour teams turned their attention to the American, although the Phinney camp has narrowed the prospective squads down to just three.
"If I had to leave RadioShack I wouldn't be super happy just because I've formed a great bond with the people at Trek-Livestrong, CSE, Lance and I had a good time racing with them at the Tour of Denmark even though I crashed there too. I need to stop doing that, don't I?
"But I just have to look out for myself and be selfish. There are times in your career when it's important to do that and I think this is one of those times but nothing has been determined yet. It's a cool position to be in but also a stressful one. You don't want to make any enemies or piss anyone off.
"My agent has been approached by more than five Pro Tour teams but we've narrowed it down to the Schleck team, then there's RadioShack and BMC. For now those three look like the right options."
One option that isn't on the cards is a move back to the Jonathan Vaughters-led Garmin-Cervélo team. Phinney rode for Vaughters' development squad before making the switch to Armstrong's Trek-Livestrong outfit.
"With the recent Garmin-Cervélo deal I think JV has enough on his plate. I talked to him a bit at the Tour of Utah and while it's an amazing squad they've got a lot on their plate at the moment."
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 09:44
- Cycling News
Spanish rider loyal to Sastre ahead of his move to Movistar
Lying in fourth position prior to the Pyrenees at the Vuelta a España, Xavier Tondo is confirming that he’s probably the most improved stage race rider of the 2010 season.
“It’s not such a big surprise to find me up there, I think,” said the 31-year-old from Cervélo. “After fifteen days at the Giro, I was third, so I can improve my position here as well.” In Italy he benefited from his part in a 56-man breakaway during the legendary stage 11 to L’Aquila where most of the favourites were caught out. At the Vuelta, he is proving himself to be among the best stage race riders despite having broken a collarbone at the Tour of Poland in August and consequently approaching the Spanish Grand Tour without any guarantees about his condition.
“I feel good”, he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 10, which passed through his hometown of Valls. “The good thing for me now is that I feel the ability to do a lot of things for Carlos Sastre.”
Tondo insisted that despite having an advantage of 1:29 over Sastre, he remains a domestique at the service of the 2008 Tour de France winner who attracted him to Cervélo at the end of last year. The two Spaniards will go their separate ways next year with two new sponsors in the world of pro cycling as Sastre will join Geox and Tondo has signed a two-year deal with Movistar.
“There’s no other option, I’m here to work for Carlos as had always been planned between us,” Tondo said. “I yet have to finish my first Grand Tour. I’m not afraid of racing for three weeks in a row. At the Giro, I would have liked to have seen what I could achieve in the third week but I got sick and I had to go home. I want to go step by step. What I’m doing here at the Vuelta is also an investment for next season. It will help me to perform better in 2011.”
At the beginning of the Tour of Spain, Tondo made a childhood dream come true when he signed a two-year contract with Eusebio Unzue for Movistar, as this is the continuation of the famous Banesto team of Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain that gave him the passion for cycling. In the meantime, the squad has kept going under the names of Iles Balears and Caisse d’Epargne. The new sponsor reached an agreement with Unzue after Luis Leon Sanchez had already committed to Rabobank for next year, but Movistar will be able to count on strong and consistent riders like Tondo.
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 10:36
- Kirsten Frattini
Search for new squad continues after Cervélo Test Team ends
Canadian rider Dominique Rollin (Cervélo Test Team) is looking forward to the rare opportunity of competing at the highest level of cycling in his own backyard at the two Canadian ProTour races taking place in Québec City on Friday and Montréal on Sunday.
The Boucherville native will use the pair of events as an opportunity to mingle with the on-hand ProTour, Professional Continental and North American domestic teams in search of a new contract for 2011.
"It's an honour to be racing in these races here," Rollin told Cyclingnews. "There is an exciting cycling history in Montréal. There haven't been many races in years but to be able to do this in my backyard now, after all the training over the years, is incredible. It is an opportunity of a life time. I have butterflies in my stomach starting these races."
Rollin will be competing under the Canadian National Team banner, directed by countryman Steve Bauer, who wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on 14 occasions between 1988 and 1990. Other members of the team include Canadian national champion Will Routley, Charles Dionne, David Boily, Guillaume Boivin, Bruno Langlois, François Parisien, Ryan Anderson, Rob Britton and David Veilleux.
"I think we have a great team, especially with the distances being shorter than the classics," said Rollin. "I think we have the chance to do something if we work together as a unit. I think everyone that has been selected can race 190km. A couple of the riders have been racing in Europe for the last three weeks and have shown that they have done their homework and they are ready for these races."
Rollin has a strong history with the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec City's course where he won the Canadian national championships on a similar version of it in 2006. Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal is arguably the most historic location for a bike race - it was used as the world championship road race course in 1974 (won by Belgian Eddy Merckx), the Olympic Games road race in 1976 (won by Sweden's Bernt Johansson) and a men's and women's World Cup.
Following a series of strong seasons in North America, Rollin was noticed as a classics-style rider and signed a two-year contract with Professional Continental outfit Cervélo Test Team that began in 2009. Rollin believes both ProTour courses offer a Classics flavour that suits his ability as a rider.
"Québec City is similar to the Tour of Flanders but shorter and Montréal is similar to Fleche Wallonne or the Ardennes Classics," Rollin explained. "Both races are very hard and they both have their technicalities. Québec City suits me more than Montréal. The distances are not a problem but the speed of the races with be high so we will see how things turn out."
Time to find a team
Cervélo Test Team announced it would stop at the end of the year with the title and bike sponsor forming a partnership with Garmin-Transitions. Rollin is currently without a team for 2011 and although he would like to continue to compete at the highest level offered in Europe, he admits to being open to discussing contractual agreements with North American teams as well.
"I wasn't surprised but I am disappointed with how they made their decision," Rollin said. "They had a secured budget for four years and when they couldn't achieve the goals they wanted, instead of making sacrifices and working hard to get there, they just gave up.
"It's disappointing from the point of view of the people on the team because they kept us waiting for a month and half.
"I'm looking at any options at the moment so I am certainly not closed to speaking with the North American teams that are turning Pro Continental," he added "I think by being in North America at the moment I can use this time to get in touch with those teams."
Rollin arrives to the late-season races in top form, having recently placed second at the Tour de Poitou-Charentes in France. He is hoping to showcase strong performances in each event to help in his search for a new team.
"It is very difficult to find a team at the moment because we are quite late in the season for transfers," Rollin said.
"At the moment I'm struggling to find a team interested in me. I knew Garmin wouldn't be interested because they weren't going to sign many guys who are Classic-style riders. They already have a strong unit for the Classics. With more than ten guys on the market it was impossible for me to think that I would go there."
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 11:12
- Barry Ryan
Lithuanian and Belarus time trial champions move to Spanish squad
Ignatas Konovalovas and Branislau Samoilau have signed for Movistar for 2011 and 2012. The Spanish squad has been strengthening its roster ever since the announcement that Movistar would take over sponsorship from Caisse d’Epargne.
The team has lost Luis Leon Sanchez to Rabobank but has signed Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam), Beñat Intxausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Sergio Pardilla (Carmiooro-NGC). They will be joined by Konovalovas and Samoilau.
Lithuanian time trial champion Konovalovas was left without a squad for next season after the demise of Cervélo TestTeam but Eusebio Unzue has moved quickly to bolster his stable of rouleurs at Movistar. Konovalovas’ biggest win to date was a victory in the final time trial in Rome at last year’s Giro d’Italia.
Branislau Samoilau arrives from Quick Step after a season that saw him retain his Belarusian time trial title and put in some solid performances in the mountains at the Giro d’Italia. The 25-year-old rode with the Belgian squad for two seasons after spending his early years as a professional in Italy with Acqua & Sapone.
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 11:54
- Stephen Farrand
Australian admits he has ridden his last race in a Saxo Bank jersey
Stuart O'Grady has admitted he has ridden his last race with Bjarne Riis’s Saxo Bank team after he was sent home from the Vuelta a España for going out for a late night drink.
O’Grady and Andy Schleck went out after dinner on the first rest day in Tarragona but Riis deemed their behaviour broke internal team rules and they headed home instead of starting Monday’s tenth stage.
O’Grady will now have to rethink his build-up for the world road race championships in Australia and is likely to travel down under earlier for his final race of the 2010 season.
Australian national performance director Shayne Bannan suggested he will have to be more focused and committed with his training, doing motor pacing to replace racing at the Vuelta.
“The decision has cost me two weeks of hard racing preparing for the worlds in Geelong,” O’Grady told The Australian newspaper. “But I guess it means that I can bring the family home a little earlier than expected.”
“It also means I've ridden my last race for Saxo Bank. This is not the way I would have wanted my career racing for Bjarne Riis to end. I've ridden my guts out on the front for the team for the last six seasons.”
O’Grady will leave Riis’ team at the end of the season. He has been linked to the new Luxembourg team being built around Andy and Frank Schleck, where other Saxo Bank teammates such as Jens Voigt and Jakob Fuglsang are expected to ride in 2011.
O’Grady joined the team in 2006, won Paris-Roubaix in 2007 and became a cornerstone of the team in both the classic and the Tour de France.
He denied he and Schleck had been out drinking until 5am and claimed Riis’ decision had been harsh.
“We stepped out of the team hotel at 10pm and stopped for a couple of beers at a bar in the local piazza,” O'Grady said.
“We had two beers, that's all. Some members of the European press over here have made us sound like we were on the drink all night. That's simply not true. I don't want to sound like I'm whinging, but the decision to pull us out of the race was harsh.”
Motor pacing in Australia
Fellow Australia Simon Gerrans is on his way to Australia after Team Sky pulled out of the Vuelta following the tragic death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez. He admitted he will do a lot of motor pacing in Melbourne to recreate the racing he will miss. Bannan expects O’Grady to do the same.
"I've exchanged SMSs with him and I will be having a chat with him today," Bannan told AAP.
"What's written in the media and what's factual can be sometimes two completely different things - I will be talking to him about it. But more importantly, I will be talking to him about the steps from here to make sure he's in the best condition possible for Melbourne."
"Obviously, in the ideal world, it would have been good for them to complete the Vuelta," Bannan said of Gerrans and O’Grady.
"But at the same time, they have to change tack and really focus on their training preparation. Any preparation has its hiccups, but in general, we're still pretty pleased with the way things are progressing. Forgetting the circumstances, if you look at both the guys, they are experienced and know how to prepare for important events.”
“Obviously there's a lot more sacrifice and commitment, because you have to get out there and do it yourself, or with a (pacing) motorbike. But it certainly can be done and both those guys have had the experience of doing that type of preparation before."
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 15:46
- Barry Ryan
De Kort, Kruijswijk and ten Dam
The Dutch cycling federation has finalised its team of nine men for the UCI road world championships in Australia. Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano) and Rabobank duo Steven Kruijswijk and Laurens ten Dam were the last names to be added to Leo van Vliet’s selection.
The Dutch manager had previously named Rabobank’s Koos Moerenhout, Jos van Emden, Lars Boom and Sebastien Langeveld on the team, along with Karsten Kroon (BMC) and national champion Niki Terpstra (Milram). Moerenhout and van Emden will also line up in the time trial event on September 30.
Vacansoleil’s Johnny Hoogerland and Wout Poels, Garmin-Transitions pair Michel Kreder and Martijn Maaskant and Rabobank’s Tom Leezer and Maarten Tjallingii are the short-listed riders who will miss out on a seat on the plane to Australia.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank), whose haul of UCI world ranking points did much to ensure that the Netherlands will have a full complement of nine riders in the road race, had already withdrawn himself from consideration, along with teammate Pieter Weening.
The Dutch team for the world championships
Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank)
Jos van Emden (Rabobank)
Lars Boom (Rabobank)
Sebastien Langeveld (Rabobank)
Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank)
Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank)
Karsten Kroon (BMC)
Niki Terpstra (Milram)
Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano)
- Article published:
- September 8, 2010, 18:29
- Cycling News
Milram rider caught in out-of-competition control
Roy Sentjens of Team Milram tested positive for EPO at an out of competition doping control last month, it was announced Wednesday night. Sentjens was removed from the Vuelta a España and provisionally suspended from racing.
Sentjens tested positive for a urine sample collected at an out-of-competition control on August 16, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said. He will remain provisionally suspended until the Belgian Cycling Federation can hold hearings on the matter. He has the right to request that the B-sample also be tested.
In a statement issued late Wednesday evening, team manager Gerry van Gerwen confirmed the provisional suspension. “The rider denied the allegations and has the right to request the UCI to attend the analyses of his B sample,” he said. Further more and in accordance to the internal regulations of Team Milram and the content of the riders agreement, an independent and WADA-recognised expert will investigate the test and provide a binding analysis to Team Milram and the rider. Awaiting the outcome of this independent investigation the rider will stay suspended.”
Sentjens, 29, was the best finisher for Team Milram in Wednesday's Vuelta stage, in 32nd at 2:25 down. He turned pro in 2002 with Rabobank, joining Predictor-Lotto from 2007 to 2009. The Belgian joined Milram this year. He had few victories, but his largest was Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in 2003.
This is the team's second doping case in its five years of existence. Alessandro Petacchi tested positive for salbutamol at the Giro d'Italia 2007. The team fired him in May 2008. The team let Igor Astarloa go that same year, citing "irregular blood values".