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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, December 26, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Hernández on form for Armstrong, loyal to Contador

Astana's two leaders: Armstrong and Contador
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Jesús Hernández is on target to help Astana teammate Lance Armstrong reach his early-season goals. The Spaniard, who is close friend with triple Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador, stood out at the team's training camp on the Spanish island of Tenerife in early December.

Hernández raised eyebrows when he dropped both Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer on one of the island's climbs. The rider from Parla was humble when commenting on that incident. "I was just following the team's orders," he said.

"I'd been in training since October and it is normal, on the climbs of Tenerife, to see the differences,” Hernández said to Spanish newspaper Marca.

Armstrong will call on Hernández in his first official race back since retiring after his seventh Tour de France win in July 2005. The two will start the 2009 season together at the Tour Down Under in Australia on January 20.

Armstrong affectionately noted his teammate's strength, calling him "Sweet Baby Jesus" on his personal website. The American could call upon Hernández later in the year when he faces the Giro d'Italia for he first time in his career or when he returns to the Tour de France. For now, Hernández is only down to race the Spanish three-week Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, in September.

After the Tour Down Under, Hernández will race with Contador at the Vuelta a Castilla y León and País Vasco. The winner of all three Grand Tours is responsible for Hernández's two-year contract with Astana.

Hernández made his start in 2002 when he debuted with Team ONCE as a stagiaire. He made his formal entrance into cycling in 2004 with Liberty Seguros. He continued in 2005 with Liberty and 2006 and 2007 with Team Relax, but in found himself without a contract for 2008 after that team folded. He maintained his training routine with Contador on the roads around Pinto, Spain.

"If it were not for Alberto and [Astana trainer] José 'Pepe' Marti, maybe I would have left everything, but they encouraged me to continue."

At the beginning of August Contador presented Hernández with a two-year contract that Bruyneel pre-approved. (GB)

Richard England: A new lease on life

Richard England (Bissell)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Australian Richard England's cycling career was almost over just as it had begun to pick up steam. Let go from his Bissell squad after nabbing his first big win in the 2008 Tour de Georgia, England couldn't find a team and was about to retire. He got a new lease on life thanks to a contract from Amore e Vita. Cyclingnews' Les Clarke spoke to England at the Melbourne World Cup earlier this year.

Richard England began his cycling career on the track, taking home titles in the Team Pursuit and Madison before turning professional on the road in 2005. He came to America to ride with fellow Australian Karl Menzies on the Advantage Benefits/Endeavor team before moving across to Priority Health in 2006, where he remained until the team, which was sponsored by Bissell in 2008. England's best result came with a dramatic stage victory in the Tour de Georgia where he outfoxed the other sprinters in Dahlonega.

Despite that high-profile win, Bissell declined to extend his contract this year. With more teams folding than growing, England was afraid his time in the peloton might be over. But his is one of few such stories which has a happy ending.

Read the full interview.

Gould reflects on European debut

By Laura Weislo

Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Americans Katie Compton and Georgia Gould accomplished something no other riders from that country have done in cyclo-cross: they stood side by side on the podium of a World Cup last week in Nommay, France. For Compton, it was the sixth trip to the podium: her third on the top step along with three second place finishes. But for Gould, the race was her first 'cross World Cup, so taking third was a bit of a surprise.

"I had a great time last weekend and was proud to be part of a strong showing of American women at the Nommay World Cup," Gould told Cyclingnews.

Gould has raced plenty of mountain bike World Cups, but has always ended her 'cross season with the US championships in December, and was facing unknown competition in Nommay. "I didn't really know what to expect going into the race – I had never raced against any of the European women so I didn't know how I would stack up, but I was confident that my training and racing this year had prepared me well."

"I liked the course- it was hard, with very little time to rest or recover. The start of the race was a little sketchy – after a long paved start, the course made a 180 degree turn into a set of stairs, which made for a little bit of craziness on the first lap. I was patient, and things thinned out soon enough."

Gould made her way into a chasing group of five behind Compton and World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel, and then on the third lap found herself alone in third. "I chose to run a section that the other women were trying to ride, and I was able to get a gap on that group. From then on, I just put my head down and tried to stretch the gap out more."

Even more encouraging was the small gap to Kupfernagel that was left at the finish – just five seconds. "About halfway through the last lap I could see Hanka, and I could tell she was struggling. I was reeling her in slowly, but I ran out of time, and ended up finishing just a few seconds behind her! I am very excited to have such a great race and I'm really looking forward to Friday's race in Zolder!"

USA Cycling names 'cross worlds team

Katie Compton (Spike Shooter)
Photo ©: Maurice Hessel
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling has announced the first round of nominations to the United States National Team for the 2009 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, Jan. 31-Feb. 1.

Five athletes were named to each of the elite women's, U23 men's and junior men's squads based on competitive performances over the course of the last year.

After capturing her fifth consecutive USA Cycling Cylco-cross National title, Katie Compton (Spike) received an automatic nomination and will lead the elite women's squad. Compton is currently ranked third in the world behind Dutchwoman Daphny van den Brand and World Cup leader Hanka Kupfernagel. After her silver-medal-performance at the World Championships in 2006, with two World Cup victories and a trio of top-three finishes already this season, Compton is not only an automatic qualifier to the squad, but looks to be a favorite in Hoogerheide.

Georgia Gould (Luna), the winner of the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Calendar, is another automatic qualifier for the elite women's squad. After finishing second at the recent USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships and third in the sixth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup series in France on Dec. 21, the Olympic mountain biker also looks to be a serious contender on the cyclo-cross world stage.

Discretionary nominations to the elite women's team went to Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms), Laura Van Gilder (C3-Sollay) and Sue Butler (

In the U23 men's division, Nick Weighall (Rad Racing) earned the only automatic nomination to the team with his victory at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships. Discretionary selections to the men's U23 team went to Nicholas Keough (Jittery Joe's-Sonic Cyclo-cross), Daniel Summerhill (Clif Bar), Bjorn Selander (Ridley Factory Team) and Will Dugan (RGM Watches).

With a fifth-place finish in the junior race at the Pijnacker World Cup, Luke Keough (CL Noonan) earned one of two automatic nominations to the junior men's team. Zach McDonald (Classic Cycles) earned the other after narrowly defeating Keough at the 2008 USA Cycling Cylco-cross National Championships in Kansas City.

Gavin Mannion (Hot Tubes), Eric Emsky (Rad Racing) and Chris Wallace (KCCX-Verge) all earned discretionary nominations and will make up the remainder of the junior men's squad.

The elite men's nominations will be announced on Jan. 14 following the next round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Belgium.

US 'cross titles to be decided in Bend

USA Cycling announced this week that the Cyclo-cross National Championships will be hosted by the city of Bend, Oregon for the next two seasons. The 2009 race will be held December 10-13, and on December 9-12 in 2010.

The USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships were last held in the Pacific Northwest when Portland hosted the 2003 and 2004 editions. Since then, the annual event has been held in Providence, Rhode Island (2005-06) and Kansas City, Kansas (2007-08).

"Bend is a special place and our entire community is honored to host the cycling world for the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships," said Doug LaPlaca, president and CEO of Visit Bend and co-chair of the local organizing committee. "Anyone who has visited Bend understands the enormous enthusiasm and opportunity here – not just for cycling and cyclo-cross, but for sports and recreation in general."

Considered by many to be a hub for outdoor sports enthusiasts, Bend also plays host to the Cascade Cycling Classic, a USA Cycling National Racing Calendar road event.

Battenkill adds AMD as sponsor

Organizers of the 2009 Tour of the Battenkill announce this week the signing of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) as a Presenting Sponsor for the 2009 event in Cambridge, New York. Long a major supporter of competitive cycling in America, AMD's participation in 2009 is a vote of confidence for the event and for the sport.

The Tour of the Battenkill has expanded to a two-day event on April 18-19, featuring a Pro/Am Saturday and a Professional Invitational on Sunday. "AMD coming on board is huge," said race promoter Dieter Drake of Cambridge. "This goes a long way toward making the event a success and also toward firmly establishing AMD in Upstate, New York. With the recommendation from Senator Schumer, we were able to agree to go forward in 2009 and make it happen."

The Tour of the Battenkill is the largest cycling race in the USA with more than 1500 racers expected for the Pro/Am on Saturday, April 18. Pro/Am registration opened online on Sunday and already nearly 1200 racers have registered. The Sunday, April 19 Pro Invitational will feature many of the best professional teams from throughout North America.

Tuft & Pendrel Canadian Cyclists of 2008

Svein Tuft (Canada)
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

World time trial championship silver medallist Svein Tuft and Olympian Catharine Pendrel were voted top Male and Female Canadian cyclists for 2008 by readers of Now in their 12th year, the Canadian Cyclist of the Year Awards are recognized as the premier cycling awards in Canada.

Tuft, the defending men's award winner, took more first place votes than his four competitors combined. In addition to his second place at Worlds, Tuft finished seventh in the time trial at the Olympic Games. He was subsequently signed to the US-based Garmin-Chipotle professional team, and is scheduled to ride the Tour de France in 2009. Canadian national mountain bike champion Geoff Kabush of Courtenay, BC was distant second, with Tour de France competitor Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria third.

Pendrel, who finished second in the season-long World Cup of mountain bike racing and was fourth at the Olympic Games in the Cross-country, finished marginally ahead of defending award winner Marie-Helene Premont of Chateau Richer, QC. Premont, who won the World Cup overall title, took a higher percentage of first place votes, but Pendrel's stronger ranking in second and third place voting gave the New Brunswick born rider her first title. National road champion Alexandra Wrubleski of Regina, SK finished third.

Pendrel, reached at her home, commented: "It feels greated to be voted Female Rider of the Year for 2008. It was a big year [for Canadian women], with a lot of great performances by women on the road, track and dirt. This was definitely my best season yet. I'm looking forward to another great season in 2009 with my Luna professional team."

Record setting entries in Cyclingnews' Reader Poll!

The 2008 Cyclingnews Reader Poll has closed and we've been just swamped by the number of entries! Perhaps it's the extra-sweet enticement of a brand new set of Zipp 808 wheels with the new 88/188 hub that drew in some 13,000 entries - a good three thousand more than last year!

There were some readers who ended up on Santa's naughty list by entering more than once and have been disqualified, but the vast majority of you followed the rules. Once we've recovered from the egg nog and cookies, we'll begin publishing the results category by category. The winner of the Zipp wheels will be announced last, during the first week of January. Thank you to all who voted!

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