First Edition Cycling News, March 20, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Hushovd focused on the Primavera
By Jean-François Quénet
Thor Hushovd started and finished Paris-Nice on a high note. As a surprise winner of the prologue, Hushovd said he hadn't specifically prepared for it given the time of year. The 30 year-old Norwegian also claimed the points classification of the "Race to the Sun" for the first time in his career with a comfortable margin over the GC riders Luis Leon Sanchez, Davide Rebellin and Carlos Barredo.
His biggest competition was not at the French race; instead the other best sprinters were busy on the Italian front at Tirreno-Adriatico. "It wasn't my choice to ride Paris-Nice," he said. "I changed my program after Crédit Agricole didn't get selected for Tirreno-Adriatico, but it wasn't bad preparation for Milano-Sanremo because it was a hard race every day with quite a lot of climbs. That doesn't hurt before we race over the capi on Saturday."
The Norwegian coped better than anybody else with the bad weather at the beginning of Paris-Nice. "I didn't get sick," he said. "Remember, last year I got really sick before Milano-Sanremo. I couldn't race that day, and I kept chasing form after that. That's why I couldn't pull up a win before stage four in the Tour de France."
Already placed third in the Het Volk after winning a stage at the Tour of the Mediterranean so far this 2008 season, Hushovd is approaching the biggest Spring Classics in the best condition of his life. "I was surprised to go so well in the climbs at the end of Paris-Nice," he said. He finished eighth on the penultimate stage to Cannes with a performance over the col de Tanneron that would have pleased then race leader Robert Gesink. The Norwegian also showed his amazing skills riding downhill, something that counts a lot in Milano-San Remo.
"I cannot compare my form with the other sprinters because we were racing on different terrain," he said. "I just know that I have recovered very well from my efforts in Paris-Nice, and that I have two more days than the participants of Tirreno-Adriatico for gearing up for Milano-Sanremo." Hushovd has stayed in the south between the two events in a special training camp for the Crédit Agricole riders selected for the Primavera and organized in Andorra near the Italian Riviera.
In their line-up, William Bonnet who sustained a knee injury after a crash during Paris-Nice has been replaced by Eric Berthou, alongside Gabriel Rasch, Simon Gerrans, Jeremy Hunt, Alexandre Botcharov, Sébastien Hinault and Dimitri Fofonov. "Since I climbed on the podium three years ago with Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Hondo, I have in mind that I'll win this race one day," said an optimistic Hushovd. That day might come soon if the Norwegian continues his strong riding.
McEwen's form rising for Sanremo
By Gregor Brown in San Benedetto del Tronto
Rockin' Robbie McEwen's form is coming on for this Saturday's Milano-Sanremo. The 35 year-old Australian sprinter of Silence-Lotto was rather anonymous this last week in the Tirreno-Adriatico, but the race has served him well for getting fit.
"My form is getting better, which is normal after seven days of racing," he noted before the start of the final day of racing, a 176-kilometre stage in San Benedetto del Tronto. "Tonight we go to Salsomaggiore Terme, to just relax and rest. I will recover and be fresh for Sanremo."
McEwen admits that he had better legs in last year's Tirreno and leading up to the Milano-Sanremo, where he finished fourth. "This year, I came to Tirreno not going too well, but this last week I started to feel better. I am riding up hills better and starting to feel good. But now I am getting tired after the consecutive days of racing, so it will be good to have those three days of recovery leading to Sanremo."
The number of attacking riders that are on form does not worry McEwen; in fact he reckons it helps the sprinters' chances. "Every year there are two groups, the sprinters that want to hold it together and guys that want to attack. Sometimes, for the sprinters it is better to have the group of attackers because they all neutralise each other. It creates one long line, and if they look at each other it creates hesitation."
The number one favourite in McEwen's book is the three-time World Champion of Team Rabobank, Oscar Freire. "The big favourite is Freire. It is obvious." The Spaniard won two stages of this year's Tirreno.
Ballan: The Mànie will be felt
By Gregor Brown in San Benedetto del Tronto
2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner, Alessandro Ballan, is showing superb form in light of the upcoming Classics. The 28 year-old Italian from Castelveneto will try his luck in Milano-Sanremo on Saturday before departing to his preferred races in the north.
"My condition is there," he confirmed the morning of Tirreno-Adriatico's final stage, stage seven in San Benedetto del Tronto. "I was unfortunate yesterday [flat tire - ed.], but I am satisfied because I am going strong."
Ballan will be a Team Lampre co-captain along with Danilo Napolitano for the 298-kilometre race to Italy's Ligurian coast. "I will certainly try something on Saturday. We are in Italy Sanremo for an Italian means everything. I will try."
He reckons the inclusion of the additional climb, Le Mànie, although 94 kilometres before the finish, will be felt in the legs of the sprinters. "There is that extra climb, and it has become harder for the sprinters this year. Even if that climb comes early, it will remain in the legs. We will see if there are the protagonists like two years ago, who will want to work in an escape based off the Poggio."
Ballan pointed towards his training partners, Filippo Pozzato and Davide Rebellin, as the guys to follow in the race's finale. "I will follow 'Pippo' [Pozzato], and the riders who come from the Paris-Nice, like Rebellin."
Liquigas, Lampre & CSF for Milano-Sanremo
Liquigas is ready for its first major season goal at the Milano-Sanremo on Saturday. In addition to Filippo Pozzato, who won the 2006 edition of the race, the team is expecting Manuel Quinziato, Franco Pellizotti and Murilo Fischer to play key roles.
"With Pippo, there will be a great squad, which has demonstrated during the Parigi-Nizza and the Tirreno-Adriatico that its condition is excellent," said Liquigas Team Manager Roberto Amadio. "Our strength will be to play different aces during the race. The harder the race, the more Pozzato will have a chance."
"The Tirreno gave me the answers I hoped," said Pozzato. "Even if I did not get the victory I'm serene. It's the demonstration that my condition is ok. Two podium obtained at the Tirreno represent an incentive to get the win ... I hope in the major race ...[on Saturday]." The rider from Vicenza named his three top picks: Fabian Cancellara, Oscar Freire and Phillippe Gilbert.
Meanwhile Lampre director Guido Bontempi was optimistic about his team's chances. "[The] team is competitive and it could be a protagonist in a sprint end or in a tougher race. The athletes are in good shape. [Alessandro] Ballan's condition is increasing - we hope he won't suffer for the fall occurred in San Benedetto; [Danilo] Napolitano and [Mirco] Lorenzetto could be a good alternative to Ballan if the race ends with a sprint. The other athletes are reliable and they will help the leaders in the best way." Bontempi said he was especially interested to see what will happen on the climb Le Manie
Team CSF Group-Navigare's roster will present only one difference from their team of Tirreno-Adriatico. The young Argentinian Mauro Richeze will join his brother Maximiliano - team's big man for the sprint - and so will replace Fortunato Baliani, who's going back to racing with Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale "Coppi e Bartali".
"We're very quiet: we're not to control the race, as other teams are. We'll just try to stay attentive, join the breakaways and keep safe Maximiliano Richeze for the possible sprint, "said CSF's Roberto Reverberi. "Baliani asked us if he could stay home some days, so we decided to replace him with Mauro Richeze, who's been training well since coming back from Malaysia; it's important for him to compete in such an important race already this year, because in the future he may be a protagonist of this race."
Liquigas Team for Milano-Sanremo: Michael Albasini, Kjell Carlström, Claudio Corioni, Murilo Fischer, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Franco Pellizotti, Filippo Pozzato and Manuel Quinziato.
Lampre for Milano-Sanremo: Fabio Baldato, Alessandro Ballan, Marzio Bruseghin, Paolo Bossoni, Mirco Lorenzetto, Danilo Napolitano, Christian Murro and Francisco Javier Vila.
CSF Group-Navigare for Milano-Sanremo: Maximiliano Richeze, Mauro Richeze, Emanuele Sella, Filippo Savini, Francesco Tomei, Tiziano Dall'Antonia, Luis Felipe Laverde Jiménez and Matteo Priamo.
Soler studies the Pampeago climb in Giro d'Italia
Team Barloworld's Mauricio Soler and his team-mates John-Lee Augustyn and Daryl Impey checked out the finish of 14th stage of this year's Giro d'Italia on Alpe di Pampeago Wednesday.
Soler, who won the mountains classification at the 2007 Tour de France, and his team-mates rode for 90km, including the final 25km of the stage and the last eight kilometers of the climb to the finish. "It's a really tough climb. It's hard but the long straight sections of road also mean the riders will be in sight of each and that always makes a difference. I've memorized the climb and I'll talk with the directeur sportifs about what gears to use," Soler said.
"It was a great day, it was 14 degrees and so it was a perfect training ride. It was important to see the final climb because it will be a key moment of the Giro d'Italia," said Barloworld's directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi.
"We only saw a part of the 14th stage, but it was a worthwhile trip. In the Giro the riders will also climb the Passo del Manghen and then faced the descent that isn't easy," said Tebaldi. "It'll be a crucial stage and it's important that the riders who want to perhaps win the stage, study it in detail before the race."
Soler, who has completely recovered from his knee problem caused by a crash in February, is focused on major stage race for the season. As part of his training, he's been spending some time on his time trial bike. He will ride for four hours Thursday on his last training ride before Saturday's Milan-Sanremo.
Halfords expands its support for British Cycling
Britain's Cycling team picked up an extra sponsor Wednesday as the team readies for the upcoming UCI Track World Cycling Championships at the Manchester Velodrome at the end of the month. British Cycling's partnership with Halfords began back in January with the launch of Team Halfords Bikehut led by Nicole Cooke and is now extending to all disciplines of the Great Britain Cycling Team. As part of the agreement Halfords' logo will appear on the team kit - the first time a commercial logo will appear on the team's kit.
"Halfords are the perfect partner for the team, a successful, established British brand with a commitment to cycling and I'm delighted that they are the first to go on our jersey," said Performance Director Dave Brailsford. "With their continuing vision and passion we have invaluable support to our Olympic dreams."
"Cycling is one of the most exciting sports at the moment and the team has the potential to be one of the most successful World and Olympic British teams of all time," said Paul McClenaghan, Trading Director at Halfords. McClenaghan indicated his company's partnership with cycling was "already proved a great success".
"We have the shared goal of promoting world-class GB cycling, so this sponsorship seemed the logical next step in our partnership with British Cycling," said McClenaghan.
Halfords has also committed to raising the profile of British Cycling and Cycle Sport in UK through a range of promotional activities, including a British Cycling membership growth effort and support for the Everyday Cycling programme and other British Cycling events.
Wiggins & Cavendish aiming for gold at Worlds
Bolstered by the new sponsorship support, Great Britain will be one of the favorites to win the men's Madison at the upcoming UCI Track Cycling World Championships on home turf at the Manchester Velodrome. Great Britain has nominated former Tour de France adversaries Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish for the event which is scheduled for Saturday, March 29.
The duo's goal will be to become the world champions as well as qualify for the Olympic Games. The 27 year-old Wiggins has already won three world championship titles in pursuiting and is the current Olympic champion in the individual pursuit. Cavendish is the High Road professional road sprinter whole exploded onto the scene last year, taking 11 victories in his rookie season.
The best teams are expected to ride in a fiercely contested race. Entries will be confirmed next week, but among the favorites will be Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, the Swiss pair who will be returning to defend the title they won in Palma last year. Last year's title, won in Mallorca, was the third for the duo. They also won the silver medal in the Madison in the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Other favorites include Spain's Joan Llaneras, who looks likely to be partnered with Carlos Torrent. Llaneras is the current points race World champion and has had a long and successful career on the boards. He has a winning history in Manchester too after he took the points crown there in 1996 and 2000. The Danish duo of Alex Rasmussen and Michael Morkov will be full of confidence after winning the Madison in the final round of the World Cup on home soil in Copenhagen last month.
Busy week for Astana
Vladimir Gusev, who broke his right collar bone in the sixth stage of the Tour of California on February 24 will return to competition in the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale. He and his team-mates will be busy racing over the next weekend days in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Astana for Ronde van het Groene Hart on March 23: Koen de Kort, René Haselbacher, Sergei Ivanov, Benoît Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Berik Kupeshov, Michael Schär, Tomas Vaitkus under DS Viatcheslav Ekimov
Astana for Rund um Köln on March 24: Koen de Kort, René Haselbacher, Sergei Ivanov, Benoît Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Berik Kupeshov, Michael Schär, Tomas Vaitkus under DS Viatcheslav Ekimov
Astana for Vuelta Ciclista Castilla y Leon on March 24-28: Alberto Contador, Chris Horner, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Daniel Navarro, Benjamin Noval, Sergio Paulinho, José Luis Rubiera under DS Sean Yates
Astana for Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale on March 25 to 29: Jani Brajkovic, Thomas Frei, Vladimir Gusev, Roman Kireyev, Julien Mazet, Andrej Mizurov, Steve Morabito, Andrey Zeits under DS Alexandr Shefer & DS Andrey Teteryuk
British cycling team for sale
A British cycling team have literally put themselves up for sale in a bid to continue competing this season. Wearing cycling tops emblazoned with "for sale", Team Lacuna raced their first race earlier this month. Rob Orr and David Clarke formed the team in February, after the team Pedaltech-Cyclingnews-Jako, to which they had been signed, collapsed in mid-January.
With the team folding so close to the start of the season, the chances of finding another top-level team were remote, and so they set about forming their own team. "For Dave this was the second year in succession that a team had collapsed on the verge of the season, and so we felt we would be stronger if we stayed together," said Orr.
Orr , Clarke and colleagues Richard Williamson and Daniel Smith formed the team, now called Team Lacuna, which means literally team something missing. The team is racing in a temporary kit while it searches for sponsors and is targeting the Premier Calendar series, the UCI category races in Great Britain and some UCI races in Europe, although the team's racing will be limited by a current lack of major sponsors and the associated financial implications.
"The representation of our sponsors and partners is of the uppermost importance to Lacuna Cycle Sport and in creating a UK-based professional cycling team we are searching for partners and sponsors that hold the same ideals," said Orr on his quest for sponsorship.
New Zealand Junior Worlds team named
BikeNZ has named its track team to compete in the UCI Junior World Track Championships to be held in Capetown, South Africa on July 12-20. It will name a road team after the Tour of Te Awamutu on April 26-28. Coach Mike McRedmond will lead the squad.
New Zealand for Junior World Track Championships: Sequoia Cooper, Gemma Dudley, Cathy Jordan (women); Chad Adair, Jason Christie, Aaron Gate, Ruaraidh McLeod, Ethan Mitchell, Tom Scully, Myron Simpson, Sam Steele, Michael Vink (men).
Schools to duel again at Redlands
For the second consecutive year, local schools will take part in the "School Duel" held in conjunction with the Redlands Bicycle Classic on Saturday, April 5. Hundreds of area school-age boys and girls will get to race on the same course as the pros in a friendly competition that rewards the schools with the most participation and the highest placing.
"The School Duel was a great success in its first year. We had great participation from Redlands public schools as well as few of the private institutions," said Scott Welsh, marketing director of the Redlands Bicycle Classic and father of three participants in last year's School Duel. "We are really excited to hear that kids are already starting to buzz about this year's event."
Kimberly Elementary won last year's elementary school contest. For more information, visit www.redlandsclassic.com
Tour of Pennsylvania selects initial teams
The new Tour of Pennsylvania, a stage race geared toward U25 men, announced an initial roster of international teams for its event June 24-29. At least thirteen more six-man squads will be named by the end of March.
The race's first seven teams hail from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa. Also being considered are teams from Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as domestic professional and elite amateur teams from a dozen states across the US.
"The selection process is complicated with many more teams wanting to enter than can be accepted," said David Chauner, executive race director of the six-day race. "The goal is to select a well-balanced, competitive field made up of teams with experienced young riders who represent the future of the sport."
The richest espoir race will be part of a year-long celebration marking the 250th anniversary of the naming of the city of Pittsburgh.
Teams for Tour of Pennsylvania: Esco-Telefonicos (Argentina), Praties Cycling Team (Australia), Johann Bruyneel Cycling Academy (Belgium), Team RACE (Canada), Pezula Racing (Ireland), Global Cycling (The Netherlands), Konica Minolta Cycling Team (South Africa)
Elite amateur racers set for Tour of Ohio
The 12th annual Tour of Ohio is expected to draw more than 4,000 total participants, including some from as far away as Canada and Hong Kong, but the highlight of the event will be a five-day elite amateur race from June 17-21.
The stage race opens with a criterium in Mount Vernon. Stage two features a 70-mile hilly loop in the Hocking Hills Region. It includes the famous Glick Hill which was part of the 1993 US National Road Race Championships. The third stage will take the race from Gambier, Ohio to Coshocton, Ohio and back to Gambier. For the first time, the race will climb the 14% Hill Street climb out of Roscoe Village in Coshocton, and have a hilltop finish in Gambier. After a stage four neighborhood criterium in Worthington, Ohio, stage five will conclude with laps on a five kilometer loop in Granville, Ohio.
In addition to the overall, jerseys will be awarded for best sprinter, best hill climber, best category three rider jersey and best collegiate athlete.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)