Liquigas-Doimo rider gaining experience for World Championships
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) could be the next big thing in cycling and he is aiming to win a stage – or two – at this week’s Amgen Tour of California. The 20-year-old neo-professional is soaking up as much experience as he can before his season target, the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Championships in September in Melbourne, Australia.
“The Tour of California is obviously really important for us and I prepared specifically for this race to show up and do well here,” Sagan told Cyclingnews. “But I really don’t know how I will do here. I might not do anything or I might win a stage or two.
“I will see how it goes,” he added. “I show up to every race not knowing what will happen and look how I did in the Tour of Romandie.”
Sagan is no stranger to winning bike races having won the UCI Junior Mountain Bike World Championships in 2008 and placed second at the Cyclo-cross World Championships that same year. “I’ve always won races,” Sagan said. “As a junior and an under-23 rider, I have always won.
“Before I thought I was a mountain biker and when I got the opportunity to go to Liquigas I saw my future was in road racing,” Sagan said. “When you go to a ProTour team you don’t mess around with mountain bike or 'cross.”
Sagan signed his first ProTour contract with the Italian-based Liquigas-Doimo squad for the 2010 season, and currently lives in Veneto, Italy. He caught the cycling world’s attention when he blasted to two stage wins at Paris-Nice. His success continued at the Tour de Romandie where he captured second place in the opening prologue, one stage win and another second place, to top off a successful stage race.
“I didn’t expect to be able to win stages of a race like Paris-Nice,” Sagan said. “I’ve already won three...
Bissell rider Paul Mach rode into the early lead of the King of the Mountain competition following the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday. Cyclingnews spoke to team directeur Glen Mitchell about the stage and what could lie ahead on stage 2.
Bissell toast KOM lead in Amgen Tour of California
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Quick Step rider Stijn Devolder travelled to Italy last week for a series of wind tunnel tests at the Milano Politecnico. Devolder was joined by teammates Kevin Seeldraeyers, Dries Devenyns, and Kevin De Weert and team technical manager Luca Guercilena for two days of testing with aerodynamic experts at the university.
"After two days in the wind tunnel, we did further tests on the track at the Montichiari velodrome in Brescia on Thursday," said Guercilena.
While riders such as Devolder used the wind tunnel sessions to tweak their already effective time trial positions, weaker time trialists on the team were hoping to achieve even greater improvements.
"Time trial is not my specialty, everybody knows it," said Kevin Seeldraeyers. "This is exactly why the team and I have agreed to invest our time and resources in a programme that will allow me to make the most of my choice in materials and to get more from my position. I'm hoping it will improve my performance in the time trials."
The group of riders will remain together until next week as they complete a mid-season training camp.
"Now the same group of athletes are busy with 10-day training camp to fine tune their fitness for their next block of racing," said Guercilena.
Basque team establish their position on suspension
The Euskaltel-Euskadi team have shown qualified support for Mikel Astarloza after it was confirmed at the end of last week that the 30-year-old Spanish rider has been banned for two years having tested positive for EPO. A statement posted on the Euskadi Foundation’s website suggested that the evidence against 2009 Tour de France stage-winner Astarloza was not convincing.
In it the team stated: "Following the confirmation by the Spanish cycling federation of the positive test by the cyclist Mikel Astarloza, the team wants to make clear that it will abide by the UCI’s [International Cycling Union] regulations relating to these cases.
"After a resolution that was not definitive, the cyclist has got a long road ahead of him in preparing his defence, and we hope that the rider can demonstrate his innocence. Once his suspension is completed on June 26, 2011, we hope that the rider can return to competition."
Euskaltel have steadfastly backed Astarloza since the first reports of his positive test emerged in the immediate wake of the 2009 Tour de France, where he won the 16th stage. His positive test for EPO took place on June 26 last year, just 25 days before that Tour stage win.
Astarloza has suggested that he will take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In a statement of his own, he said: "I keep reaffirming my innocence and therefore I strongly disagree with the penalty imposed, and will appeal this sanction to the proper authorities. I hope that my innocence will finally be recognised and I have the hope of returning to racing as soon as possible."
Australian doesn’t see his future in bunch sprints
Matt Goss emerged as the surprise winner of a 60-rider bunch sprint in stage nine of the Giro d'Italia, on yet another day made legendary by wild weather conditions.
“We’ve been floating out there at some points,” the HTC-Columbia rider joked after the finish in Cava de’ Tirreni in Southern Italy. “I’m certainly very happy,” Goss told reporters after descending from the podium. “This is the best win of my career. I’m delighted.”
His Giro stage victory moves to the top of his palmares and replaces his 2009 Paris-Brussels win, where he defeated compatriot Allan Davis. He had caught the attention of HTC-Columbia – and several other teams who were unsuccessful in signing him – after a third place finish in the 2009 Gent-Wevelgem.
The 23-year-old, who turned pro three years ago with CSC, joined the American outfit at the beginning of this season with the intention of becoming a rider for the Classics. But in his first race for the team at the Tour Down Under, he revealed himself as a top lead-out man, setting-up André Greipel for the first win of the 2010 season.
Goss came to the Giro with a similar role and had carried out his duty until the very end of stage nine. “I was still trying to help André [Greipel], but he wasn’t there when there was a split with 10km-to-go,” said Goss. “He came back and I looked after him for most of the last few kilometres. At the 400m mark I thought, 'if he’s on my wheel, he’ll pass me in the sprint', but he wasn’t there, so I took the opportunity to win.”
Greipel doesn’t have to worry about Goss’s loyalty, as the latter explained there won’t be any competition between them at HTC-Columbia. “I don’t think I’m a pure sprinter,” Goss said. “Days like today suit me because many things make it different for the...
By finishing third in the bunch gallop of at the end of stage nine in the Giro d'Italia, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) again leads the points classification after world champion Cadel Evans had worn the red jersey for one day.
The American leads BMC's Australian captain by seven points (59 to 52), while Matt Goss moved to third place on 47 points, now level with Alexandre Vinokourov courtesy of his win in Cava de' Tirreni.
"I was super motivated today," Farrar said after stage nine. "The final kilometre was a bit more difficult than we thought. David [Millar] did a great job to lead me out, but he opened the sprint a bit too early maybe. With 300m to go, we were still a pretty long way away on this straight road."
Farrar was surprised to see Alexandre Vinokourov involved in the final sprint. The Kazakhi rider was obviously motivated to gain more time over the climbers on the relatively flat stage. He put the hammer down with his Astana team about 15 km before the finish. Vino took the opportunity on a small rise prior to the finishing line to try to win the stage and collect the time bonus.
"My only concern was not to lose seconds to Evans," said Vino by way of clarification afterwards."The maglia rosa is firmly on my shoulders, and my legs are in good condition."
Farrar found consolation over the missed opportunity of a stage win by scoring important points for the red jersey. "Fortunately, I get it back, and I hope to keep it again tomorrow," he said. The 230km stage 10 to Bitonto will be another opportunity for sprinters to score.
"It's one of my goals to win stages during the second week as well," said Farrar, who took his first win ever at the Giro last week in the Netherlands (Utrecht). Whether he finishes the three-week race or not remains to be determined.
During the last third of the event, sprinters will only have stage 18, finishing in Brescia, for a chance at a stage win. "If I wear the...
The weather forecast was ominous for stage 2 on Monday morning at the Tour of California, but plenty of excited spectators came out to see, and in some cases meet, their favorite cycling heros prior to the start in Davis.
Cyclingnews was on hand and captured these images of the scene.
Riders emerged from their team buses to sign autographs and chat with fans, young and old, as they readied for the start in gray, drizzly weather. On tap for the day is 110.1 miles (177.2km) to the finish in Santa Rosa.
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Welcome to the Cyclingnews'Amgen Tour of California video hub. Here you'll find our complete video coverage from America's biggest stage race - from pre-and post-stage interviews, insider access, race footage and features.