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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, December 15, 2008

Edited by Peter Hymas

Armstrong, Astana not unhappy with Giro route

Armstrong hasn't done a 61km time trial yet, but will be the top favorite
Photo ©: Mike Gladu
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong and the Astana staff were not unhappy with the 2009 Giro route. The long time trial will allow Armstrong to make the best of his ability to race against the clock, but the team wasn't really fully thrilled, either.

General Manager Johan Bruyneel indicated a change in plans. "At least we can say that the revealed route is original. The two key stages will be the long individual time trial and the stage to Block Haus. We are used to big stage races with decisive mountain stages in the last week. We will have to change our usual strategy."

The strategy change was one challenge for Bruyneel. "The biggest challenge will be to bring back Lance Armstrong to his level of three years ago. I am confident about this and we are highly motivated as well by the presence of a lot big names at the start of this Centenario."

Armstrong himself feared another factor besides the route. "The weather may be bad, which will play an important factor in the race." He also thought that the time trial was going to be one of the key parts to overall victory. "The second week is highlighted by the long time trial of 62km. As a professional I've never done such a long time trial. So, this will be a crucial day in the Giro."

Armstrong also cautioned that the final week was tricky, despite the lack of major mountain stages. " The stage to the Vesuvio will be a real test for all of us, but there is also that short mountain stage. You never know what will happen there. Some people are better in long stages, others are better in short stages."

Armstrong will enjoy the final day, which is in Rome for a change. "Finally, there is the finish in magical Rome. Rome is a city that I never experienced until last year, when I visited the city as a tourist. I fell immediately in love with Rome."

Team Director Alain Gallopin also felt the mountains should have been later, but felt the race was well balanced. "The long time trial and the team time trial suit us. I [would have] preferred not to have the Alps in the first week. The Italian riders probably like it more. They are always good in the first week of the Giro, but I am confident that our leader will be good as well."

Simoni to take initiative in 2009 Giro

By Gregor Brown in Venice

Simoni may ride his final Giro in 2009
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Gilberto Simoni expects an explosive start to the 2009 Giro d'Italia, presented Saturday night in Venice. The Italian, twice winner of the three-week stage race, believes the early mountain stages will require initiative.

"I believe that whoever wants the win can't wait to go out and get it. This year there was too much waiting about. You have to express yourself and grit your teeth," Simoni said to Cyclingnews.

Simoni won his first Giro d'Italia in 2001 and took his second two years later. In this year's edition he finished 10th while riding with his new team, Diquigiovanni. Next year might be his last time to compete in his home tour. He will face seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, both 37 years old.

"To battle Armstrong... I have to try to be myself as much as possible. ... We will see, I don't want to want to make any bets. I like the climbs that come right away. I know that I can't aim for the last week, I have to be ready right away."

After the Dolomites and Alps in the first week, the race makes its way though Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. The final week in Le Marche, Abruzzo and Campania regions will be full of difficulties. The 22.5-kilometre climb of Block Haus, only used four other times in the Giro, will point for Simoni to pull ahead in the overall classification.

"I arrived there with [Amilcare] Tronca [in 1993 as an amateur]. We arrived together but he was able to take the win, I was in the maglia tricolore -- it was a bittersweet memory. It was a climb that would not end. The selection was not made from the climb itself but from a game of poker. It can make the difference [for 2009]."

The 2009 Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, starts in Venice and ends in Rome. It is celebrating 100 year's since its first running.

A Giro for Bruseghin

By Gregor Brown in Venice

Bruseghin gave it his all
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Lampre's Marzio Bruseghin was pleased with the 2009 Giro d'Italia route race organiser RCS Sport presented Saturday night in Venice. The Italian finished third in 2008 and believes more is possible next year with a course lacking the high-mountain stages.

"I think that last year gave me the security that I can be at the top-level in the Giro d'Italia. This race has less of the difficult climbs that are usually hard for me, so in theory it is adapted for me," said Bruseghin to Cyclingnews.

The three-week Italian stage race, May 9 to 31, starts in Venice. It immediacy hits the mountains in stages four and five, but lacks the famed mountaintop finishes. It features a time trial in Liguria that is long by Giro standards, 61.7km, before the final stages are raced in the south.

"I like this time trial, demanding and hard. It will be one of the favorable days, there will be the hard climbs though and I hope it all equals out."

Bruseghin won this year's 39.4-kilometre time trial stage to Urbino. He out-performed Alberto Contador, Tour de France winner and eventual winner of the Giro, by eight seconds.

The race will travel from the Liguria region to Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marche, Abruzzo and Campania. Even if the mountain stages in these regions don't have the snow-covered mountaintops, they will split the classification.

Bruseghin may work for Lampre teammate and 2004 Giro winner, Damiano Cunego. It is more probable, like this year, that he will lead the team and Cunego will focus on the Tour de France once again.

Hoy named BBC Sports Personality of the Year

By Ben Atkins

Chris Hoy had tears of joy in his eyes
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

Triple Olympic champion Chris Hoy has been named Sports Personality of the Year by the BBC after winning a public phone vote. Hoy, who is also a double World champion on the track, beat Formula 1 World champion Lewis Hamilton and double Olympic champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington into second and third places respectively. The shortlist of 10 sportsmen and women also included Olympic cycling champions Nicole Cooke, Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins.

"To win this award this year is so special as British sport has enjoyed such a hugely successful year. It's been incredible," said Hoy who was greeted by a long standing ovation as he stepped up on to the stage to accept the award from British Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave and US track and field star Michael Johnson.

"I really didn't expect this. After the year I've had and the whole team has had, to be crowned Sports Personality of the Year, it just means so much. This is the big one and this is just unbelievable. Standing here holding it in my hands, looking at the names on this trophy, it's quite incredible.

"The first person, or the first group of people I have to thank are the public who voted for me because I'm just overwhelmed."

Hoy is only the second ever cyclist to collect the coveted award, previously won by the late Tom Simpson in 1965 after he won the World championships that year.

In and unprecedented night of recognition for cycling, the Great Britain cycling team was named team of the year for its success in both the Olympic Games and World championships. The team defeated all other nominees, including Manchester United and the Great Britain Olympic team as a whole. British Cycling’s Performance Director David Brailsford was also named as coach of the year, beating Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to the prize.

Contador and Sastre play football for good cause

This time, the fans will cheer for Contador the football player
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Carlos Sastre and Alberto Contador will play football next Tuesday to raise money in the fight against malaria. For the second year running the event will be held in the Palacio de los Deportes de Madrid. The event is organised by two famous Spanish athletes, tennis player Rafael Nadal and football goalie Iker Casillas. The money raised will go towards the Red Cross, which will use it to fight malaria.

Like last year, events will include football (teams of seven and with a playing time of 30 minutes) and tennis, which will give Casillas and Nadal a slight advantage over the other athletes. A new event is cart racing, with four athletes per team. Nadal and Casillas will take part in all the events.

Besides Contador and Sastre, there are numerous other Spanish athletes in the line-up. Among them are tennis player David Ferrer and football players David Beckham and Samuel Eto'o. Contador will be in the team of Casillas, while Sastre forms part of the Nadal line-up.

Last year, 116,000 euro were raised through the ticket sales. The organisers hope that this year the amount will double because the event was moved to the Palacio de los Deportes. It holds roughly twice as many people compared to last year's arena. Tickets are between six and ten euro.

US Track talents storm Europe

Carroll and East finished second in Gent
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The members of an American trio which competed at this season's Gent Six Day have several things in common. Austin Carroll, Guy East and Jackie Simes are young, ambitious and very good track racers. They all returned to Gent last month and performed well in the UIV Cup races. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake discovered their origins in cycling and where the sport may take them.

Most people will generally ride a bike in their youth, but not many take it up as a competitive sport. With the family background Jackie Simes IV enjoys however, there was almost no other path for him than to become a bike racer. "I had the freedom to do what I wanted, but if I wanted to go in this direction [cycling] it was encouraged," said the young Simes. His father, Jackie Simes III, participated in three Olympic Games, while 'junior' started racing at the tender age of nine. "I went to the local track once in a while and I picked it up from there."

Carroll has partnered with East on the track consistently since last year. This gives the pair a unique advantage over other teams, which are normally thrown together at the last minute. Carroll hopes they could continue to compete together for a while. "We complement each other really well," he explained. "East has a really good time trial and I have a strong burst of speed."

Read the full feature about the US track future.

Bru ends career

Jon Bru ends his career after not getting a contract extension with Euskaltel Euskadi
Photo ©: Ainara Hernando
(Click for larger image)

Jon Bru decided to retire after seven years as a professional cyclist, after his team, Euskaltel Euskadi, did not renew his contract. The 31-year-old rider from Navarra knew he wasn't on his best form the last two years.

"I don't believe that there was a concrete reason, but many parameters. The most important one is that I did not adapt myself to the team, to its form of operation. I put too much pressure on myself, and this did not allow me to perform well", Bru said to the Spanish paper Diario de Navarra. Other reasons for his retirement were the race schedule and his ongoing health problems. "The schedule did not suit me very well and in the last two years I really struggled with my allergies."

Jon Bru turned professional in 2002 and he has five victories in his palmarès. He took the Clásica Seixal in 2002, one stage of the Volta Terras Vedras (2003), the Clásica Bombarral (2004) and two stages of the Volta ao Distrito Santarem in 2006. The first three years he spent in the Portuguese LA Pecol team. Then Oscar Guerrero called him to form part of the team Kaiku, where he rode in 2005 and 2006.

After Kaiku's disappearance, he signed the contract with Euskaltel Euskadi. During the last two years, his performances were not really bad, but also not outstanding. When he knew that his contract would not be renewed, he was looking for another team in Spain or Portugal. not succeed in securing a contract for 2009, so he decided to retire.

Bru has options for a nice future, as he holds a diploma as an industrial engineer, has studied psychology via distance study and has set up a Qi Gong studio in his place of residence. But he will quit cycling a bit angry. "I will end my career with the feeling that I did not give everything I could have been able to give. I am sure that I would have been able to do two more good seasons. I am sad because I always wanted to shine in the Northern classics," Bru said.

His future job could be linked to cycling. He is currently doing a course to become a directeur sportif.(MP)

Team Toshiba on top

There was fierce track racing in Colombia
Photo ©: Johnny Ortiz
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Team Toshiba has moved to the top of the team sprint standings after the third round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics raced in Cali, Colombia, over the weekend.

The Toshiba trio of Dan Ellis, Jason Niblett and Scott Sunderland posted a time of 45.072 seconds to claim the silver medal behind Germany, which won the race in 44.605 seconds. But with Toshiba's win last month in Melbourne the Australian team has now moved to the top of the World Cup standings on 22 points, two points clear of Germany. The French Cofidis team is ranked third with 18 points, after it finished third in Cali.

Niblett also lined up in the Keirin, where solid performances in the first and second rounds saw him go through to the final. Local Colombian rider Leonardo Narvaez Romero claimed the win. Niblett finished second and won the silver medal.

In the men's sprint Sunderland qualified sixth fastest, with 10.368 seconds, but he was unable to match 2008 World Championship and Olympic Games bronze medallist Mickael Bourgain (FRA - Cofidis) in the quarter finals. Sunderland made sure he scored the maximum points he could though, with a win in the ride-off for fifth to eighth places.

The full report, results and photos are here.

Kevin Van Impe crashes at training camp

There were tense moments on Saturday when Kevin Van Impe took a bad fall during a training ride at the Quick Step camp. Van Impe was riding along a flat section coming off of the Col de Rates with the rest of the team, when suddenly two dogs ran into the middle of the road.

"It all happened in an instant," said Van Impe. "I was pedaling toward the back of the group. In front of me everyone braked to avoid the dogs. I immediately put on the brakes, but it was already too late. I hit Hulsmans' back wheel and then I hit the ground."

In the fall Van Impe took a bad hit to his right knee, which had already been operated on some time ago, and which had compromised the Belgian's performance in the last season. "I felt a strong pain in the knee and immediately feared the worst," continued Van Impe. "I can't shake this bad luck! I'm really looking forward to the end of the 2008 season, and hoping that 2009 will be a better year for me."

Van Impe was immediately examined by the team's medical staff, and taken by car back to the team's hotel in Calpe. Van Impe is expected to take a week off the bike before resuming regular training.

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll

(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Monika Prell.)

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