First Edition Cycling News for February 18, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Liberty Seguros launched
The Spanish Liberty Seguros team was launched in Madrid yesterday as team manager directeur Manolo Saiz presented the 28 riders under his charge this year. This will be "a year of great challenges" said Saiz, confirming that Alexandre Vinokourov would lead the team that was expected to have two top-flight riders until Roberto Heras was suspended for two years for testing positive to EPO at last year's Vuelta.
Vinokourov and the team have a simple objective for 2006: to win the Tour de France. "2006 promises to be particularly exciting for several reasons, but the first of them is, undoubtedly, because it will be the first year in many without Lance Armstrong in the international peloton."
Armstrong's absence means that contenders for the 2006 Tour have been queuing up for months to stake their claim, and now it's Liberty's turn.
"We are very pleased to be able to boast Alexander Vinokourov on our team, one of the few leaders of the professional pack who is never forgotten among the favourites to triumph in the Tour de France," said Saiz. "Vinokourov comes to Liberty Seguros-Würth with the ambition to fulfill the dream of the entire team, rise to the highest step of the podium in Paris, and to do this we shall work as and from the very first day."
However, Saiz was keen to stress that the team does not have a one-eyed focus on the Tour. "The French tour is just one of our objectives," he said. "We have formed a group of riders with several young cyclists who this year will be that much closer to their sporting maturity and in whom we have placed our hopes to make a great leap for the entire squad. The average age of the team is just 26 years old and as many as 15 riders are 25 or under, indicating their great potential for improvement."
Those riders, Saiz hopes, will allow the team to recover from the Heras affair. "Last season ended with a terrible shock for us with the Roberto Heras case, two months after the Vuelta a España," said Saiz. "The winter was tough for the team, but I believe that Liberty Seguros-Würth knew how to bounce back, above all, we have renewed our commitment to cycling and fair play in sport. Throughout this season our priority shall also be to recuperate the affection and our standing with our fans giving our all on the road, as already demonstrated in the Tour Down Under, where Allan Davis, Carlos Barredo and Luis León Sánchez mapped out the course to be followed."
Four young riders from the Würth-Liberty Seguros development squad have stepped up to the ProTour team this year, Jose Antonio Redondo, Eladio Sánchez, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Carlos Abellán.
"We have a great team," said Saiz. "We have veterans with the wisdom and experience of Beloki, Etxebarria, Serrano and Aitor Osa; riders at full maturity such as Jaksche, Vicioso, Unai Osa or Nozal; others who are just one step away from confirming their full potential, such as Scarponi or Kashechkin; Contador, Davis and Luis León, who may well do the same again and, in short, a whole group of promising young riders making great strides, such as Barredo, De Kort, Kemps or Paulinho. They, and all of those I have not named, form part of an enviable group of 28 riders ready and prepared to fight on all fronts with real guarantees of success."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Team Liberty Seguros
Images by AFP
Danielson and Hincapie lead Discovery in Cali
The Discovery Channel Team will feature a top-notch squad of eight riders to compete in the Tour of California, which starts on Sunday, February 19. Led by Tour de Georgia winner Tom Danielson and Tour de France stage winner George Hincapie, the team also includes two-time Giro d'Itlia winner Paolo Savoldelli, Russian dual Olympic gold medalist Viatcheslav Ekimov, Russian time trial champion Vladimir Gusev, Slovenian 2004 U23 world time trial champion Janez Brajkovic, Tour of Austria stage winner Michael Barry and Olympian Jason McCartney. It's a powerful squad, and several of these riders are expected to race the Tour de France in July.
Tom Danielson, racing in his second season with the team, looks to be one of the favourites for this race, along with teammate George Hincapie. "I had a great camp in Solvang last month and followed that up with 10 days of solid training in Santa Cruz with my teammate Michael Barry," said Danielson. "I am feeling good and am very motivated to have a great performance. I don't get to race in the US very often and I think it's important to put on a good show in the first Tour of California - in front of the home crowd."
The team enters the Tour of California as a favourite for the overall win, and although early in the season, this race has been targeted as a 2006 objective. With a number of high profile European teams down to start, it promises to be a very challenging and competitive event.
"We are coming into the race with a few guys who have the fitness and capability to have a great race," said directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel. "The guys are feeling good after the Solvang camp but we know that some of the other teams like CSC, Gerolsteiner and Phonak have also had good training and want to win the race. The time trial and some specific climbs will likely decide the winner."
As the team heads into its first season in eight years without Lance Armstrong, motivation is high to prove that Discovery Channel can still be a dominant force in the peloton.
Olympic gold medalist Aitken returns to cycling
Brett Aitken, Madison gold medalist in the 2000 Olympic games and former world champion on the track, is to return to cycling as part of the new Australian-based Continental team Savings & Loans.
Aitken retired from cycling in 2004 when he and wife Natalie discovered they were expecting twins. That put paid to Aitken's Olympic ambitions, but the new squad will be part of the UCI's Oceania Tour series and therefore Aitken won't have to travel all over the world to race.
Aitken said he was looking forward to the challenge of returning to top level cycling as part of the new South Australian outfit. "I'm under no illusion about the hard work and commitment required to reach the top of the sport," he said. "It will be a real challenge for me but I have a burning ambition to race at the highest level again and am willing to do whatever it takes."
For Aitken, the motivator to return is seeing how far he can take road cycling after a very successful career on the track. "I feel as though I have unfinished business in the sport," he said. "Obviously, I achieved what I wanted to on the track, but as far as road cycling goes, there are a number of goals I would still like to realize.
"One of those goals is for the team to secure a place in the 2007 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under."
The team will be managed by Australian Patrick Jonker, whose professional swansong was a victory in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in 2004. The new team will be very important for the development of cycling in South Australia; the state now has two UCI-registered teams with South Australia - AIS as well as Savings and Loans. (Cyclingnews is a supporting sponsor of South Australia - AIS)
"As well as featuring some of the best cyclists in the state, the team will also provide a pathway for young South Australian talent who dream of cycling in a professional outfit on the world stage," Jonker said.
Aitken will be joined on the team by current Australian road champion Russell Van Hout, Australian MTB champion Chris Jongewaard and team founder Stephen Cunningham, a stage winner at the 2005 Herald-Sun Tour.
Other major races planned for the Savings & Loans Cycling Team this year include the Herald Sun Tour in Victoria and selected Asia Pacific tours. Savings & Loans Credit Union is the principal sponsor of the team, which is also supported by Avanti Bikes.
Gerrans, Deignan and Putsep updates
AG2R cyclist Simon Gerrans is training on the road again after suffering a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder in a crash in the Grand Prix d'Ouverture last month. Gerrans is very motivated to get back into the form that saw him win the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in January, and will resume racing in Milano-Torino on March 4, then continue with the Giro della Provincia di Lucca (March 6) and Tirreno-Adriatico (March 8-14).
Gerrans' Irish teammate Philip Deignan, who also broke his right collarbone in the same race, resumed training on his home trainer last Wednesday. He still feels pain after the operation he had on February 1. He is currently in Ireland, and should be able to get back on the road within a week.
Finally, Estonian Erki Putsep, who crashed in the second stage of the Tour de Langkawi, is suffering back pains. It's uncertain whether he will take part in Classic Haribo this Sunday.
AG2R for Tour du Haut Var (Feb. 18): Sylvain Calzati, Cyril Dessel, Hubert Dupont, Stéphane Goubert, Julien Loubet Laurent Mangel, Christophe Moreau, Christophe Riblon, D.S.: Vincent Lavenu.
Classic Haribo (Feb. 19): Renaud Dion, Yuriy Krivtsov, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Mark Scanlon, Alexandre Usov, Erki Putsep or Sylvain Calzati. D.S.: Gilles Mas
Vuelta Comunidad Valenciana (Feb. 21-25): José-Luis Arrieta, Mikel Astarloza, Cyril Dessel, Yuriy Krivtsov, Christophe Moreau, Samuel Dumoulin , Stéphane Goubert, David Navas. D.S.: Julien Jurdie.
Milram for Het Volk, KBK, and Valenciana
Team Milram has selected its squads for some of the upcoming races. In Het Volk (February 25) and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (February 26), the blue boys will be represented by Simone Cadamuro, Ralf Grabsch, Christian Knees, Martin Muller, Fabio Sabatini, Giovanni Visconti, Mirko Celestino, and Maarten Den Bakker. Reserves: Dennis Haueisen, Erik Zabel, Carlo Scognamiglio, Sebastian Siedler. D.S. Gianluigi Stanga.
In the Vuelta Valenciana (Feb. 21-25), Alessandro Petacchi will be back in action, supported by Alberto Ongarato, Marco Velo, Fabio Sacchi, Alessandro Cortinovis, Daniel Becke, Daniel Musiol, and Björn Schröder. Reserves: Erik Zabel, Mirco Lorenzetto, Enrico Poitschke, Carlo Scognamiglio. D.S.: Oscar Pellicioli.
Acqua & Sapone for the French weekend
The Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo team will contest this weekend's Tour du Haut Var (Feb. 18) and Classic Haribo (Feb. 19) with Rinaldo Nocentini their main man. Nocentini was third at last week's Trofeo Laigueglia, and will be looking to score again. In Haut Var, he will be joined by Alexander Arekeev, Alessandro Bertolini, Alessandro Donati, Leonardo Moser, Giuseppe Palumbo, Andrea Tonti and Andrea Rossi.
In Sunday's Haribo race, Andrus Aug will return after battling a week with the 'flu. He'll be supported by Gabriele Balducci, Alessandro Bertolini, Crescenzo D'Amore, Leonardo Moser, Giuseppe Palumbo, Andrea Tonti, and Alessandro Donati. In both races, Bruno Cenghialta will serve as directeur sportif.
Dunlap features at Five College Outdoor Festival
Alison Dunlap, the 2001 world mountain bike champion, will be the featured speaker at the Five College Outdoor Festival, March 2-4, 2006 at Hampshire and Smith Colleges, Amherst, Massachusetts. Dunlap will speak on Friday March 3 at 7 pm in Wright Hall at Smith College as part of the three-day event which aims to expose attendees to professionals and activities associated with outdoor recreation and education.
The festival will also feature the MountainFilm at Telluride screening of outdoor films from the Telluride MountainFilm Festival and a day of outdoor events and workshops including cycling workshops and races by Incline Training's Jay Gump on Saturday march 4.
For more information see 5collegeoutdoorfestival.hampshire.edu
Tardaguila banned for two years
Uruguayan cyclist Alvaro Tardaguila has accepted a two year ban for doping, the US Anti-Doping Agency has announced. Tardaguila, who rode for the UPMC team, tested positive for EPO and an anabolic agent after the Downer Avenue Bike Race (part of Superweek) held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last year. His two year suspension will start from October 17, 2005, and he is disqualified from the Downer Avenue event and any subsequent races.
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