Latest Cycling News, December 12, 2008
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Millar looks ahead to 2009
Garmin-Chipotle's David Millar is confident next year's season will bring him and his team more success. In an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe, the Scot talked about his plans for 2009, saying that one of the squad's main objectives was to help Tour de France leader Christian Vande Velde to victory in the French Grand Tour.
"I believe that he can win the Tour," said Millar. "He has been very regular in stage races this year. He wore the pink jersey in the Giro and fought for the Tour podium [Vande Velde finished fifth - ed.]. If he comes to the Tour in the same shape; if he rides it like a potential winner; with the confidence he gained he won't be far off the yellow jersey."
As for his own goals, Millar said that he will switch back to a more "classic" programme next year starting with the Tour Méditerranéen, Paris-Nice, Milano-Sanremo and the Critérium International. "I will take a break in April before going to the Tour de Romandie, Vuelta a Catalunya, the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de France. This year, I had to be competitive as soon as the Tour of Qatar. My first goal will be Paris-Nice – the prologue, of course, but maybe also the podium if there's no Mont Ventoux. After the Tour, I would like to continue until the Worlds even if the profile is a bit mean..."
Focus on the team time trial
Another big plan of his team Garmin-Chipotle is to take advantage of its riders' abilities in the race against the clock. In fact, the squad's roster has been designed specifically for this specialty, as they demonstrated with their victory in this year's Giro d'Italia team time trial. In 2009, world pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins as well as time trial worlds silver medallist Svein Tuft will join specialists David Zabriskie and Millar in the hunt for more 'chrono' glory.
The Scot is eager to work with the new recruits. "Jonathan [Vaughters, team manager - ed.] took this decision and I agreed with him to a 100 percent," he explained about hiring more time triallists. "We are so talented for the race against the clock, with all the material we developed and the research we've done. With Bradley Wiggins and Svein Tuft, we really have the best 'rouleur' team. Personally, I feel so much more at ease in this spirit. We have a real working group, which is very stimulating."
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Di Luca fears Giro adapted for Armstrong
By Gregor Brown
Danilo Di Luca, winner of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, is concerned that the 2009 edition could be custom-made for Lance Armstrong. The Italian explained that the possible inclusion of a 61.5-kilometre time trial in the Italian three-week race, May 9 to 31, will work in the favour of his rival.
"If this is true then the Giro is definitely better suited to him. I hope that it is a shorter time trial. If it is that long then I have to attack on any climb available," Di Luca said to Cyclingnews from his home in Pescara, Italy.
Race organiser RCS Sport will present the official route of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday, in Venice. In October it announced that the race will begin with a 21-kilometres team time trial in Venice. The long time trial from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore is likely to appear on stage 12.
The 2009 Giro, celebrating its centenary year, is set to have one of the most illustrious lists of participants in years. Seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong announced he would race the Giro as part of his comeback following a three and a half-year retirement.
"Knowing Armstrong, he will be there to win it. Maybe he is the man to do it, even if it has been three years since he last raced. He will not be here to watch the race, and he should be kept in check," said Di Luca.
Other favourites include current Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, Denis Menchov and Gilberto Simoni. Damiano Cunego, the 2004 winner, will not race and will concentrate instead on the Tour.
"They are three very strong rivals, so the Giro will be open and uncertain until the end," added Di Luca. "The Giro d'Italia ends up being the most important race. For the Giro it is very beautiful. The organisers are working well and the Giro can rise to the same level as the Tour de France."
Di Luca won the 2007 Giro when riding for Team Liquigas. He will represent Team LPR in 2009, which also features sprinter Alessandro Petacchi. He won this year's Giro dell'Emilia, which was his last race of the season.
Hansen wants the double
By Susan Westemeyer
Adam Hansen of Team Columbia is looking to defend his Australian national time trial title and add the road title to his palmarès, too. But he knows that the presence of teammate, and three-time World time trial champion Michael Rogers will make his task more difficult.
"I'd like to go one better than last year," he told Cyclingnews this week. In January 2008, Hansen won the time trial title and finished second in the road race. "With a first and second, the only thing better is two firsts. I will be riding for it." Both courses suit him well, he added.
Hansen knows that he will face a tough competitor in Rogers. "It won't be easy with Michael in the TT. He is a far better rider than I am. So it won't be an easy task at all. Not at all. But it will be fun trying, I think it will be a lot of fun trying. And that's what I do best, trying..."
The 27-year-old sees better chances for himself in the road race. He has finished second in the event the last two times he participated, and said, "I'd like to think I have come a long way since last year."
His main focus will be on the road race, as it was in January 2008. "I prefer the training for it, as you can train for a single day race and do your base training for the season almost at the same time. But training for a TT at the beginning of the season and base work at the same time is not the best for either goals."
After the nationals, he will stay on in Australia and ride the Tour Down Under before flying to the US for the Tour of California. He will then enjoy a short break before starting the next part of his season.
Katusha's on display in Italy
Team Katusha began its first training camp for the 2009 season this week in Marina di Bibbona (Livorno), Italy. The Russian ProTour team, formed from Tinkoff Credit Systems, will remain at the beachside until December 19.
The camp is focused on medical checks, the fitting of Santini clothing and Ridley bicycles.
The team is the new home of Robbie McEwen, Filippo Pozzato, Gert Steegmans, Vladimir Karpets and Laszlo Bodrogi. The new riders are nevertheless forbidden to appear in their new team's colours until 2009, after their current contracts expire.
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Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Silence-Lotto, Bouygues for Down Under
Two more teams have announced their line-ups for the Tour Down Under, scheduled to be held from January 18-25 next year. Belgian Silence-Lotto is sending Australian national road champion Matthew Lloyd and French BBox Bouygues Telecom is taking an all-French team to the race.
Lloyd will be joined by Mario Aerts, who in 2007 rode all three Grand Tours. "Mario is a consummate professional in the peloton, having achieved some major cycling milestones in his career," said race director Mike Turtur.
The Silence-Lotto team will be composed of Aerts, Glenn D'Hollander, Pieter Jacobs, Olivier Kaisen, Jonas Ljungblad, Lloyd and Tom Stubbe.
The French team will send an experienced squad to Australia, "with riders having performed well at the 2008 Tour de France and 2008 Vuelta a España", according to Turtur.
BBox Bouygues will feature Matthieu Sprick, Mathieu Claude, Vincent Jerome, Laurent Lefèvre, Rony Martias, Alexandre Pichot and Perrig Quemeneur.
Kirchen Luxembourg's male athlete of the year
Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia has been named Luxembourg's male athlete of the year at the Gala des Sports on Thursday night. It is the sixth year in a row that a cyclist has won the award, and the sixth time for Kirchen, who previously won in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. The six awards put him equal with ski legend Marc Giradelli.
Second place went to CSC-Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck, who with 306 votes was well behind Kirchen with 433 votes. Third was tennis player Gilles Muller (233 votes) and Fränk Schleck was a distant fourth with only 156 votes.
Kirchen, 30, had five wins this year, including the Flèche Wallonne . He wore the leader's yellow jersey for four days in the Tour de France.
Albert on the road again
Belgian cyclo-cross rider Niels Albert has gotten permission from doctors to resume light training on the bike. The 24-year-old suffered a ruptured spleen in a crash the middle of November.
His manager Christoph Roodhooft told Sporza that the recovery was coming along normally, but that it was still too early to say exactly what his condition was. "It is not yet clear how good or bad his condition is. We will know more in 10 days."
Albert had previously been allowed to do light training on the rollers, and now may get out on the road. If all goes well, "then in 10 days we can perhaps set a date for his return to the peloton," Roodhooft said.
Perutnina Ptuj riders looking for new teams
After the late-notice dissolution of Slovenian Continental team Perutnina Ptuj, many of the squad's riders are searching for new contracts for the next season. The team's sponsor decided in November to terminate its support, and now riders are facing difficulties continuing their careers.
Some of the riders have been able to transfer to lower level Slovenian teams like Sava, Radenska and Adria, but the squad's best riders are too expensive for lower budget teams, which can not afford them. Kristjan Fajt, who finished 16th at the World Championships in Varese this year, does not have a new contract for 2009 yet. The same applies to Matej Stare, Kristjan Koren, Jure Kocjan, Radoslav Rogina and Kristijan Durasek.
Fajt, who also won the third stage of the Tour of Qinghai Lake and took over the leader's jersey for two days, can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the pros in San Luis Obispo
Cyclists will have an opportunity to ride with world class professionals on Saturday, February 7, 2009 and benefit services for local San Luis Obispo families. Pedal to Pier, a new premier cycling event brings members of Team Columbia to ride with cycling enthusiasts on the roads of their US base in San Luis Obispo County. Several members of both the men’s and women’s team will be on hand for this ride, which will stretch from Avila Beach to Cayucos, beginning and ending on the Promenade in Avila Beach.
In the inaugural year, 300 event participants will be invited to a meet-and-greet coffee with the professional cyclists, join them on a scenic metric century or metric half-century ride, and enjoy lunch afterwards. Riders will have access to several rest stops along the route and be fully supported until 2pm.
The $100 registration benefits San Luis Obispo Alpha, Inc., which provides support for pregnant teen and adult women, infants, and their families. Registration and information is now available online at the Team Columbia web site at www.highroadsports.com.
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)