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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Date published:
September 10, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Fränk Schleck out of Vuelta and Worlds with knee surgery

    Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) on his first day in this year's Vuelta without brother Andy
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 12:24 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Luxembourg's Fränk Schleck still suffering effects of Amstel Gold Race crash - UPDATED

    Fränk Schleck of team Saxo Bank will abandon the Vuelta a España today and return home to Luxembourg for knee surgery. The surgery will delay his training and force him to miss the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, September 27.

    Schleck, 29, was unexpectedly able to get an appointment with a surgeon Friday and decided to leave the Vuelta a España, according to newspaper Luxembourger Wort.

    He was to lead Luxembourg World Championship's team and Giro di Lombardia, October 17. Saxo Bank Press Officer Brian Nygaard confirmed to Cyclingnews on Wednesday that Schleck would end his season in order to fully recover from the injury.

    "He's definitely going to be off the bike for four weeks so that means the season is over for him, unfortunately," said Nygaard. "The most important thing is that it's not a serious problem in the sense that he gets the surgery and then he can start his rehab and get back on the bike again."

    Schleck has suffered intermittent problems with his left knee since his crash in the Amstel Gold Race April 19. He suffered a concussion and medics required more time than normal put him into the ambulance. His knee hindered him in the Tour de France as well.

    Despite the injury Schleck won stage the Le Grand-Bornand stage and finished fifth behind overall winner Alberto Contador.

    "Fränk has delivered amazing results for Saxo Bank this season," said Nygaard. "He's been in pain on-and-off since the Tour of the Basque country and he's had very difficult moments during the major part of the season." said Nygaard."It's not been easy for him. Bike riders in general deal with a lot of pain and if you have additional pain on top of that it takes the fun out of it."

    Luxembourg planned to have Schleck, his younger brother Andy and Columbia-HTC's Kim Kirchen lead its team at the Worlds. Both Andy Schleck and Kirchen have dropped out of the Vuelta with...

  • Team Sky unveils first six riders

    Steve Cummings (Barloworld)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 12:39 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Froome, Cummings, Thomas, Downing, Kennaugh and Stannard named - UPDATED

    Team Sky unveiled a contingent of six British riders on Wednesday as the first members of the new squad. Chris Froome, Stephen Cummings, Geraint Thomas, Russell Downing, Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard have all signed one to three-year contracts with the new team

    Team principal Dave Brailsford told Cyclingnews that more signings will follow in the coming days. "This project has been two to three years in the making and here we are, naming riders and making this a reality. It’s hugely satisfying to announce this batch of British rider. It’s massive moment for us."

    The team will consist of roughly twenty-five riders and although none of riders announced today currently ride for ProTour teams, Brailsford believes that they have the capabilities to race with the best in the world.

    "There’s no chance that these riders are on the team just because of their passport. That would have been a real own-goal for us. Geraint rode the Tour [de France] and Steve rode with Discovery, Chris has the ability and Ian, likewise. I have confidence in Peter and Russell too. The idea of getting in just because of the passport would have harmed us attracting some the world’s best riders too," Brailsford said.

    Team Sky, who have yet to confirm ProTour status for their inaugural season, will aim to compete in the world's leading races, including the Tour de France, with Brailsford already stating that the biggest aim is to see a British rider win the yellow jersey.

    "When we said we were going to try and win the Tour people thought it was a long shot and I got a lot of correspondence saying that I didn’t know what I was talking about," said Brailsford. "But looking at the performance at this year’s Tour it’s brilliant timing, with Bradley’s [Wiggins] and Mark’s [Cavendish] performances showing what can be done and what can we done clean. Okay, it’s a huge task to win the Tour, but I...

  • Freire to retire at the end of 2010

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 14:41 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Three-time World Champion has sights firmly set on fourth title

    Three-time world road race champion Oscar Freire has revealed that he plans to retire when his current contract with Rabobank expires at the end of the 2010 season. Before that, the 33-year-old Spanish sprinter hopes to pick up a record fourth world title and has his sights set firmly on next month’s championships in Mendrisio, which will start just a few kilometres from his home in Switzerland.

    In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Freire admitted that winning a fourth title and surpassing the mark of three he currently shares with Eddy Merckx, Alfredo Binda and Rik Van Steenbergen is his primary goal before he retires. "That would be a perfect way to round off my career," said Freire. Asked if he’d thought seriously about retirement, Freire replied: "Yes I have. This is all coming to an end, next year I will be retiring. I feel that’s the right time. I’ll be at the end of my contract and it will be best to stop then. I’ve made a huge amount of sacrifices over the years and there is a limit to that."

    Asked how he will look back on what will have been a 11-year career, Freire said rather modestly: "I’ve won a few things. Winning three world titles isn’t bad. Now I’ve reached the moment when I’m not dreaming about taking more stage wins. I’m satisfied with what I’ve achieved."

    Freire’s attitude is reflected in his performances at the Vuelta, where he has rarely featured in bunch sprints. Asked if the new generation of sprinters was different to those he’d long competed against, the Spaniard responded: "There are no pure sprinters now, there are just fast riders who get involved in sprints and that makes the finishes more dangerous.

    "People are taking a lot of risks and at my age I prefer not to get involved in battles like that. That was what happened on the [Vuelta’s] days in Holland and Belgium. In situations like that the most...

  • Euskaltel sign Intxausti and Izagirre for next season

    Beñat Intxausti (Fuji-Servetto) crosses the line after a frustrating finale to the stage for him
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 16:09 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Beñat Intxausti and Gorka Izagirre Insausti to Euskaltel-Euskadi on two-year contracts

    Spain's Euskaltel-Euskadi have signed Spaniards Beñat Intxausti and Gorka Izagirre Insausti for the next two seasons, according to El Diario Vasco.

    Intxausti, 23, is currently riding in the Vuelta a España with team Fuji-Servetto. He sits in 47th place, 19:03 behind race leader Alejandro Valverde. He placed seventh overall in the Vuelta a Burgos last month.

    Izagirre Insausti, 21, started as a professional last fall with NGC Medical. He joined Spain's Contentpolis-Ampo this year. He raced the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and Clásica San Sebastián this season with the Spanish Pro Continental squad.

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  • Zubeldia to follow Bruyneel to RadioShack

    Haimar Zubeldia (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 16:17 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Basque Haimar Zubeldia will break Astana contract to move

    Haimar Zubeldia will break his contract with Kazakh team Astana and ride for RadioShack in 2010, he told Spanish media yesterday. He received encouragement from sports director Johan Bruyneel, according to Marca.

    "I will seek a release from the final year of my current contract with Astana in order to deal with RadioShack," Zubeldia told Marca. "Johan Bruyneel has told me that he counts on me for this new project."

    Basque Zubeldia, 32, began two-year deal with Astana at the start of this season after nine years with home team Euskaltel-Euskadi. He signed with Astana in August 2008 – prior to Lance Armstrong's comeback announcement – and said that Bruyneel's involvement had been a key factor in his decision.

    Bruyneel and Viatcheslav Ekimov have announced they are leaving Astana to join Armstrong's new RadioShack team. Levi Leipheimer confirmed last week that he signed a two-year contract, joining José Luis Rubiera and Sergio Paulinho in making the jump from Astana.

    Zubeldia rode alongside both Armstrong and Leipheimer at this year's Tour de France. Astana dominated the race, Alberto Contador won the race and Armstrong finished third overall.

    Zubeldia is currently focused on his own ambitions at the Vuelta a España. He began today's stage 11 ninth, 3:01 behind race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

    "The team's goal was to be on top at the Tour de France. We have come to the Vuelta with no pressure," said Zubeldia. "The Vuelta this year is a tough one and I'm taking it day-by-day."

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  • Valverde free to race until end of 2009 season

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 17:42 BST
    Shane Stokes

    CAS decision will not come until October

    Current Vuelta a España race leader Alejandro Valverde may be the subject of a UCI and WADA action trying to enforce a worldwide ban, but the Spaniard will almost certainly be able to contest this year's world championships and finish out the 2009 season.

    On May 11th the Italian anti-doping agency banned the Caisse d'Epargne rider from competing on Italian soil for two years. The ruling followed on from a reported matching by CONI [the Italian Olympic Committee] of Valverde's DNA to blood bags seized during the Operación Puerto raids.

    The UCI and WADA then sought to convert this to a worldwide ban, applying to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) prior to the start of the Tour de France. Despite the fact that this action was lodged in June, CAS told Cyclingnews recently that it is going to take more time before a decision is reached.

    "Following the decision of the RFEC [Spanish cycling federation] not to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Alejandro Valverde, UCI and WADA each filed an appeal in order to demonstrate that there was enough evidence for RFEC to initiate disciplinary proceedings," said CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb recently. "For this procedure, there will probably not be a decision before the end of the 2009 season."

    A slightly quicker resolution is expected in a second appeal, that lodged by Valverde to annul the CONI decision to ban him in their jurisdiction. "At the moment, Alejandro Valverde is prevented from competing in Italy but he remains free to compete outside Italy, unless there is a decision to extend his ban worldwide," he continued.

    "For this Valverde/CONI procedure, the calendar is not known yet but the goal is to have a decision around mid-October, before the Giro di Lombardia."

    Whether or not that latter appeal is successful, it appears there will be nothing impeding to his competing elsewhere until such time as the second appeal, that lodged by...

  • Clean Sky on the horizon

    British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford
    Article published:
    September 09, 2009, 21:03 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Team Sky outlines anti-doping strategy

    After Team Sky announced their first six riders for 2010, attention inevitably shifted to the team's anti-doping stance. The new British team will be working closely with both the UCI and UK Sport whilst also providing their strict internal testing procedures. British Cycling has already adopted the UK Anti-Doping Rules, which are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

    "We have a clear anti-doping strategy," Dave Brailsford, the team's principal told Cyclingnews.

    With Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia both spending recourses on internal testing, Sky look set to follow suit although the chances of them working with Don Catlin, the doping expert Garmin and Columbia both use as an independent tester, seem unlikely.

    "It's one of the key things in team. Obviously there are things that we do here at British Cycling and we have our own blood testing protocols," Brailsford said.

    "Independent testing has its merits but we have a programme that we are comfortable with. We've presented it to the UCI and they're comfortable with it too. They have recourse that we can use and we can work with them on target testing if we ever have any concerns. We'll work hand-in-hand."

    Chris Froome, one of the riders who has signed told Cyclingnews that Sky's clean stance was vital in securing his signature. "To me it goes back to the moral and ethical side of riding. The whole doping side is killing the sport and the authenticity of the racing. How many times do you sit there, see a guy win a race and then see the real winner announced a few weeks later?" said Froome.

    "It's hugely important that I'm with a team that has a stance against doping. From what I understand they're not picking up any riders who have a dodgy history in the sport or any reputation to have taken anything. I think they have also been thoroughly going through the biological passports and before I signed for them they looked at all my levels and...

  • Lewis nearly recovered from H1N1 virus

    Craig Lewis (Columbia-HTC) stringing out the group in full chase mode.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 10:04 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Columbia-HTC rider back in action at Missouri

    Craig Lewis is healthy and back on the front of the Columbia-HTC’s train two weeks after contacting the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as swine flu. Lewis helped team-mate Mark Cavendish capture back-to-back stage victories at the Tour of Missouri.

    “I still don’t feel 100 percent because I missed a couple of weeks of riding,” said Lewis. “I’m kind of hoping to get some good form here and have a good trip to Europe next. We have Cav here, who can win any stage if it’s a bunch sprint, so we will look after him. We have a few guys that can time trial too so I’ll be one of the guys riding on the front every day.”

    Lewis contracted the H1N1, a swine-origin subtype of the Influenza A virus, upon his return from the Tour of Ireland two weeks ago. Within several hours of his return home in Greenville, South Carolina his symptoms increased from feeling 'off' to a fever of 104 Fahrenheit. Doctors at his local hospital confirmed that he had contracted the H1N1 virus and he was immediately quarantined.

    “I kept a level head and I wasn’t too shocked or surprised,” Lewis said. “I’m just glad they found something and that I was able to recover. I think the doctors were more shocked than anything else. They wanted me to get out as fast as possible. I was in for a couple of hours, they put a mask on me and I had my own room like a quarantine [situation]. They immediately pushed me out of the hospital.”

    Doctors told Lewis that the contagious period could last anywhere between seven days and two weeks from the incubation period. According to Lewis, several days of recovery was all it took to start feeling well enough to race the USPro Championships, one week after being diagnosed with the virus.

    “Luckily I passed it pretty quick,” said Lewis, who aided his team-mate George Hincapie to victory. “I was still feeling really off because I...