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Third Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Date published:
April 14, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • House builds strong foundation at BMC

    Cole House (right) chats with former-pro-turned BMC sports director Mike Sayers
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 17:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American U23 hopes to turn pro for BMC in 2011

    Cole House (BMC Racing Team) is in his final year as an under 23 rider and hopes to join BMC's stagiare programme this August, before turning professional in 2011.

    However, the 22-year-old Wisconsin native hasn't had the greatest of starts to his 2010 racing season, suffering from crashes and ill-timed punctures. Currently racing in Belgium with the US development team, House will return home on April 18th before making another trip to Europe in May.

    "It's been a rough start compared to last year," House told Cyclingnews from the US team's base in Izegem, Belgium. "In 2009 I won GP Waregem and I came back to defend my title this year but I just didn't have it.

    "I'd only been here in Belgium for three days and I was just empty in the second half of the race. That was kind of expected after travelling in so late. I simply wasn't used to the time difference."

    After a disappointing first race House's confidence was badly knocked but he found his racing legs in the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, where teammate Taylor Phinney won a stage. On the final stage, however, House crashed and was unable to rejoin the lead group.

    "I came around really well and felt really well on the last day but crashed and snapped off my fork. It took a couple of minutes to get a bike change and by then the race was long gone."

    His poor luck continued in the U23 Tour of Flanders, a race in which House finished seventh in 2008. On a long, flat highway just before a cobbled section he punctured and was forced on the defensive. Despite a chase back through the cars he was unable to rejoin the leaders.

    "I have no idea what I hit or why I flatted. I...

  • Rasmussen out with mononucleosis

    Michael Rasmussen (Miche) on a climb
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 18:03 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Dane faces indefinite period out of competition

    Michael Rasmussen (Miche Pro Cycling Team) faces an indefinite period out of competition after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.

    The Dane underwent blood tests after his abandon on the first stage of the Settimana Lombarda, at the start of this month. He told Danish website that the virus may account for a string of mid-field results that have marked his 2010 season.

    "The tests proved that I have mononucleosis, and that I probably have had the disease in the body for two months," he said. "It does provide a thorough explanation of why I never have been close to hitting top form, but simply felt ill and completely lethargic without really understanding why."

    Rasmussen's best result this season was an eighth placed finish overall at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. He was unable to carry that momentum across to Europe, where he has recorded DNFs in is last two races - Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Settimana Lombarda.

    Although relieved to have pinpointed the cause of his lacklustre results sheet, he faces an uncertain period on the sidelines.

    "On the one hand, it is of course deeply frustrating to be sidelined at a time when I face some of the most important races of the spring," he said.

    "On the other, it is nevertheless reassuring to have become quite clear on what is wrong. Now there's nothing else to do but wait to race again until I recover, and when that happens, it is impossible to say at the moment. "

    Rasmussen, 35, will continue to train in preparation for the all-clear from his doctors. "I continue to train, but can't push myself to the limit," he said.

    "I feel it is important that I keep myself going, so I'm not handicapped any more than necessary when I get the green light to start racing seriously again."

  • Kroon confident ahead of Amstel Gold Race

    Karsten Kroon (BMC)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 18:37 BST
    Daniel Benson

    World Champion Evans to support Dutchman on Sunday

    Despite a disappointing start to his 2010 season, Karsten Kroon believes he will be a contender in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. Kroon and his BMC remain without a win this season, but the Dutchman will draw confidence on the fact that World Champion Cadel Evans will be there to support him on Sunday.

    Last year, Kroon finished second at Amstel behind Serguei Ivanov (Katusha) during the last of his four seasons with Saxo Bank. Now a part of the BMC squad, Kroon is looking forward to another strong performance at his home Classic.

    "I wouldn’t call myself a favourite. There are a few guys that have proved they are already strong but I will be up there," Kroon told Cyclingnews after finishing 15th in Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday.

    "I feel okay," he added. "Until now it’s been disappointing season. I’ve had few crashes and my preparation hasn’t been perfect, but I’m starting to feel better now."

    Kroon’s bid to win Holland’s biggest race will be assisted by road world champion Cadel Evans, who has agreed to work for the 34-year-old on Sunday.

    "Cadel had proved he’s one of the best riders already this year. He’ll be working for me but we’ll see how we both feel during the race. A few weeks ago he asked if I needed a domestique for Amstel," continued Kroon.

    When asked if he will be sending Evans back to the team car to pick up bottles, the experienced Dutchman replied, "I will for sure, yeah. I have to take advantage of that."

    Kroon is sitting on the back of an intense two-week block of training and used Wednesday’s race as preparation for Amstel. It’s the most important event of the season for Kroon, who lives 10 kilometres from the finish. During his time with Saxo Bank he asked Andy and Fränk Schleck to work for him in return for supporting them in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    "It’s in the area...

  • Rosseler ends Belgian Classics drought

    Sebastien Rosseler was surprised to get the win from the early breakway.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 19:01 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    RadioShack rider admits he was lucky at Brabantse Pijl

    Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) ended the drought of Belgian success at the Brabantse Pijl but he could hardly believe he had even won, admitting he had felt terrible at the start of the race.

    The Belgian cycling press had described the spring as catastrophic after Belgian riders failed to win any of the nine one-day races held on home roads so far this season. The last time such a drought of success had happened was back in 1907. Fortunately, Rosseler saved Belgian cycling further blushes by making the early break that stayed away to the finish on Wednesday.

    Now the only Belgian record remaining is that which belongs to Omega Pharma-Lotto. Despite Philippe Gilbert again trying his hardest at the Brabantse, the team hasn't won a race for 169 days, since Gilbert won the Tour of Lombardy last October.

    Rosseler won a stage at the Volta ao Algarve in February to give the RadioShack team its first ever victory, but a series of crashes and punctures wrecked his own spring campaign.

    "This is incredible. I chased [Jurgen] Van de Walle in the beginning only to be in an early breakaway, to have some TV publicity for our sponsor, knowing that we would be caught by the peloton. I had such bad legs this morning in the beginning of the race," he admitted with a smile.

    "I read about it [the lack of Belgian wins] this morning - it's good to end it. With three laps to go before the finish, I thought we'd stay away but my legs were really hurting. I began to believe I'd get third place, not win. In the last two weeks I had a lot of bad luck with punctures and crashes, but today it was all good."

    Riding for RadioShack

    Rosseler was perhaps a surprise signing for the RadioShack team. He has spent most of his career as a hard working domestique with Quick Step. However he has already settled in well at his new squad, with Lance Armstrong quickly congratulating him on his win via Twitter and via...

  • Gilbert tests his form before Amstel Gold

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was relaxed before the start
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 19:06 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Belgian shrugs off fifth place finish in Brabantse Pijl

    Philippe Gilbert finished fifth at the Brabantse Pijl race and so failed to end Omega Pharma-Lotto's long spell without a win but he shrugged off the problem, insisting he was satisfied that his form is good and he is ready for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race.

    Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) won the race after the early break of the day stayed away on the tough finishing circuit around Overijse that included four climbs on each of the five 12.7km laps. Gilbert finished 43 seconds behind but looked strong when he attacked and tried to drag a group across the gap to the early breakaway.

    "I wanted to win today, otherwise I'd have stayed at home. But I went flat out, I felt good and I tested my form," he said.

    "This was a ideal warm up for Amstel because there were a lot of sharp corners, some technical climbs and descents, and a very nervous style of racing that is just like it'll be on Sunday."

    "When they got away I knew it'd be difficult to get them back because there were some strong riders in the move. If it was just a minute or two then maybe we would have got them back but they got eight minutes thanks to the tailwind in the first part of the race."

    "My teammates worked hard to chase but the gap didn't come down, so I decided to have a go and spark a reaction, create a chase group. I went and (Thomas) Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) and (Bjorn) Leukemans (Vacansoleil) came with me. We worked well together but (Paul) Martens (Rabobank) stayed on the wheel but that's normal, he had his team leader Freire behind. That's cycling."

    "There wasn't much chance of us catching them but I went flat out, so it was a quality four and half hours on the bike at race speed. This is ideal for Sunday."

    Gilbert will head to the Limburg region of southern Holland on Friday to carefully study the route of the Amstel Gold Race.

    "There's been a few changes and so I want to check them out and study the climb of the...

  • First Amstel rosters decided

    Kim Kirchen (Katusha)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 19:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Kirchen uncertain, Westra replaced by Poels

    Team rosters for the Amstel Gold Race are starting to come together in the final five days before the race, but the Katusha roster is still uncertain as Classics specialist Kim Kirchen is suffering from an infected saddle sore and cannot train.

    The Luxemburger had to skip the Brabantse Pijl today and will make a decision Friday whether or not to start the Dutch Classic.

    Kirchen, should he start, would join Joaquim Rodriguez, Alexandr Kolobnev, Sergei Ivanov and Filippo Pozzato on the Katusha roster.

    The Vacansoleil team will take the start without Lieuwe Westra, who underwent surgery on his shoulder in Belgium yesterday. Westra crashed early in the Ronde van Drenthe and is expected to be out of commission for four weeks.

    He will be replaced by Wout Poels on the squad for Amstel, which will also include Matteo Carrara, Michel Golas, Johnny Hoogerland, Sergey Lagutin, Björn Leukemans, Marco Marcato and Rob Ruygh.

    HTC-Columbia will head to the Netherlands with a versatile squad but no one leader, a similar tactic to what the squad used in last year's race

    "It would be wrong to say HTC-Columbia have got a big single favourite for Amstel, but in a race as tricky and unpredictable as this one, sometimes it's not clever to base all your options on one rider," explained director Tristan Hoffman.

    "We tried to get in a breakaway that would anticipate the final attacks and make the biggest names react and play the game our way, and it almost worked. I'll expect our riders to be equally flexible in their approach on Sunday."

    Although there are 31 climbs in total in Amstel Gold, Hoffman says "The real action starts on the Eyserbosweg climb when we go over it the second time, less than 30 kilometres from the finish. After that, you can't afford to make any mistakes."

    HTC-Columbia for Amstel Gold Race: Michael Albasini (Swi); Craig Lewis (USA); Tony Martin (Ger); Maxime Monfort (Bel);...

  • Palmdale to host Amgen Tour of California stage start

    The stage from Pasadena incorporated roads which were damaged during heavy snowfall at high elevations this winter.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 20:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Re-routed stage six to include more climbing

    The city of Palmdale will be the new host city for the start of the Amgen Tour of California's sixth stage, organiser AEG announced today. The previous host town, Pasadena, lost out on the honour after wildfires and mudslides damaged the Angeles Crest Highway north of the city this winter and the route was not ready to accomodate the race.

    The new route for stage six, set to take place on May 21, will begin to the north of the Angeles National Forest at Palmdale City Hall with riders facing a 135 mile route to Big Bear Lake.

    In what will be the most difficult stage in the five-year history of the Amgen Tour of California riders will take on the San Gabriel and San Bernadino mountain ranges with more than 12,000 total feet of climbing, 2,000 more than the previous route from Pasadena.

    From Palmdale, the race will head south along the Angeles Forest Highway before cutting over on the Upper Big Tujunga Canyon road to the undamaged portion of the previous route on the Angeles Crest Highway.

    “After assessing the options for re-routing Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California, we determined that Palmdale would be the perfect start city for the race, allowing us to feature much of the same challenging terrain in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports.

    “As long-term partners of Pasadena, we appreciate how graciously they have handled this difficult situation. We look forward to returning to Pasadena soon and to working with new partner Palmdale this year.”

    The 2010 Amgen Tour of California will travel along a more than 800-mile course from Nevada City to Thousand Oaks, title-sponsor Amgen’s hometown community, from May 16-23.

  • Gerrans ready for Ardennes Classics

    Simon Gerrans (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 21:03 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Ardennes races first major goal of season

    After top-ten finishes at Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, Simon Gerrans (Sky) is about to embark on his first major goals of the season in the Ardennes Classics.

    The Australian was signed from Cervélo last year after a successful season that included stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, but it's the Ardennes races that perhaps suit him best. With Bradley Wiggins and Thomas Löfkvist, Gerrans will spearhead the British team's challenge.

    "So far my season has gone fairly well," Gerrans told Cyclingnews. "My big goal is to perform in the Ardennes and then the Tour and then the worlds in Australia. Unfortunately I've not got any wins yet but I was happy with my performance in Paris-Nice. The next goal is these next few races and I feel like I'm going well."

    Gerrans came out of Paris-Nice with a top-ten placing on one stage and 15th overall but used the race as training for the Ardennes. A bad crash in Critérium International in March affected his training and although no bones were broken the scars were still fresh on the start line of Brabantse Pijl today.

    "It's taken me a couple of weeks to come good. I got better during Pais Vasco. I'm getting there slowly but surely. I've not had any results or sensations up until now but hopefully I've turned the corner pretty quickly," he explained.

    Despite being a protected rider for the upcoming races, Gerrans is relaxed, unwilling to let any pressure affect him. "There's no pressure from the team. Most of the pressure comes from me but not from anywhere else. We've got Brad Wiggins, Thomas Löfkvist and they're more than capable of performing in the Ardennes, so we'll have a few cards to play, hopefully."

    Gerrans finished seventh in Amstel Gold Race last year and believes that the route suits him better than both Fleche and Liège but he isn't willing to put...