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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, October 24, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Bettini regrets the cobbles

Bettini made a guest appearance at the Giro di Lombardia last week-end
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After putting an end to his professional career at the World Championships in Varese one month ago, Paolo Bettini is currently riding the Amsterdam Sixday and will be at the start of the Milano Sixday as well. But apart from these spectacle appearances, the Italian's active days are over - and he has only one regret about his road racing days.

"I would have liked to win the Tour of Flanders," Bettini said to Belgium's La Dernière Heure. "It will always be missed on my palmarès. But the truth is that I never won any race on the cobbles. Why? I have no idea. I am Paolo Bettini and surely the pavés just weren't for me. I was always beaten there, even if I finished third and fifth of Het Volk and seventh and ninth in Flanders..."

Amongst other one-day race specialists, Bettini sees Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert as a breakthrough talent who could become a great champion. Two weeks ago, Gilbert won Paris-Tours, his first major classic after winning Belgian season opener Het Volk twice already.

"He is strong; he is an excellent rider with a little of my characteristics as well as those of Di Luca," Bettini said about his former rival. "But he still needs a big success. Once that is done, he will have shown that he is a great champion. I know he won Paris-Tours - and in a beautiful way - but it doesn't equal Liège or Flanders. If I had started by winning Hamburg, I would have never told myself that I was able to win five or six classics or even the Worlds. But after my victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2000, I did."

The experienced veteran also had some good advice for the 26 year-old Gilbert. "He can win both of the Ardennes classics," Bettini added. "He may be more suited to Amstel, but he can also be victorious in Flèche and Liège. For that, he will have to turn his back on Milano-Sanremo and some of the cobbled classics, though. It is virtually impossible to shine in all of these races. The problem is: If you are at 100 percent in Sanremo, you lose fitness week after week, and five weeks is a long time..."

England from Australia to US to Italy

Richard England (Bissell Pro Cycling) received stage victory honours at the Tour de Georgia this year
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Pro rider Richard England has raced in Australia and the United States and is now ready to take on Europe. The Australian has signed for the Italian Continental team Amore e Vita-McDonald's in the coming season.

The 27 year-old sprinter won the fifth stage of the Tour de Georgia this year for the Bissel Pro Cycling Team, for which he has ridden under its various team names since 2005.

England wants to establish himself as "a competitive and dangerous rider in Europe," he told Cyclingnews. "I want to be a hard worker for my team and also to make the most of my opportunities when I have them. I would love to walk away from my first season in Europe with some wins under my belt and also to be looked upon as a valued team member once the season has finished."

The Australian is eager to discover European pro racing. "I look forward to seeing what European races can offer me and really have not much of an idea about which ones I will target," the Melbourne native continued. "My strength is on the flat windy roads and the short steep climbs, so without having planned my racing calendar, I'm sure these will be the style of races that I will target for the year."

The team is also looking for England to race in the United States, which is fine by him. "I similarly look forward to returning to the US to race against many of the people who I have befriended the past five years." He also has a special reason for wanting to do well there, wanting to "prove to my old team that they made a big mistake when planning for their programme in 2009" by not keeping him on the team.

England started out on the track, winning several national titles and having top finishes in World Cup meets over the years. He turned his attention fully to the road in 2008, and among his other results, had top ten finishes in four stages of the Tour de Georgia, including his stage win.

Gerrans excited about move

Gerrans achieved his greatest victory so far in the Tour de France this year
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

As previously reported, Simon Gerrans will join the Cervélo Test Team for the next two seasons after officially signing at the World Road Championships last month.

The 2008 season has been Gerrans' most successful year to date with wins in the Tour de France, Criterium International and Route du Sud. The Australian now joins the newly formed Cervélo Test Team for his fifth year in the professional peloton and is very upbeat about the opportunities that lie ahead of him.

"I'm really excited about joining the Cervélo Test Team," said the Crédit Agricole rider, who will join an impressive line-up led by Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre and top sprinter Thor Hushovd next year.

"To race alongside Carlos in the Tour de France is something that I am extremely excited about," he continued. "To have the opportunity to learn from a Grand Tour winner as well as work to defending the title will be a huge buzz. Moreover, having two jersey contenders in the team with Carlos and Thor, the Tour de France will be a huge focus for myself and the team."

As for his personal goals, the Ardennes classics are Gerrans's major objectives for the 2009 season. "To have the opportunity to ride freely in the classics is motivating as I can see myself making strong improvements in these races," he said. "I finished 12th in Amstel Gold this year so I will have a strong focus on this race next season".

Gerrans' final race for the 2008 season was at the World Road Championships in Varese, Italy. He is currently taking four weeks off the bike before starting his pre-season training in November.

Gerdemann tips climbers for Tour

Linus Gerdemann (Team Columbia) won this year's Deutschland Tour
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France will be a close one, with the advantage going to climbers with strong teams, according to Linus Gerdemann of Team Columbia. "Without any extremely difficult stages and without time bonuses, I think it will be a very close race."

The opening stage, a 15km time trial in the city of Monaco, "could be very interesting," the 2007 Tour de France stage winner told "It is not an easy warm-up like a short prologue, where you can't lose more than three to five seconds."

The hardest day will be the next to last stage up the Mont Ventoux in Provence, according to the 26 year-old, who has been hailed as Germany's next overall Tour contender. "Everyone will be exhausted by then and there will be major time differences. I have never ridden the Ventoux but it is supposed to be a very special climb."

The question remains as for which team Gerdemann will ride the Tour in the coming year, Columbia or Milram. "The decision will be made in the next few weeks," he said. "Naturally I would like to ride for a German team, but Columbia is also a very good team."

Prudhomme takes over AIOCC presidency

Tour de France race director has succeeded Victor Cordero in the role of president of the AIOCC, the international association of cycling race organisers. The Spanish Vuelta a España organiser did not want to renew his four-year mandate, which then went to the French official.

The AIOCC represents 129 cycling races, of which the three Grand Tours and 21 competitions of the World Calendar. Vice-presidents to Prudhomme are Giro d'Italia director Angelo Zomegnan and Ed Buchette of the Tour du Luxembourg.

Amber Rais diary 2008: the season's end

Cyclingnews diarist Amber Rais of Team Tibco has updated her logs after a full racing season which finally ended in Tuscany rather than Missouri, USA. The Giro Toscana broadened her Italian vocabulary before she headed home to Graz, Austria, to enjoy some 'Gemütlichkeit'.

Giro Toscana

A little out of breath after winning stage 6 at the Cascade Cycling Classic
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

My season ended with a surprise trip to Italy. According to my race calendar, I had originally been slated to finish my race season with the Tour of Missouri Women's Criterium in early September, which would have meant nearly a full month of training without racing before I could take some time off in October. I had mentally prepared myself for this eventuality when an opportunity arose to race the Giro Toscana in Italy with the National Team. Of course I jumped at the chance to get one last stage race under my legs in September, and let's be honest, it's Tuscany!

With Jim Miller directing, we were a team of six riders: Kristin Armstrong, Katheryn Curi, Brooke Miller, Carmen McNellis, Kristin McGrath and me. We ate enormous quantities of pasta and red (pomodoro) sauce, but our most impressive gastronomic achievement may have been our daily consumption of cappuccinos, which adorned our breakfast table daily as stacked porcelain towers, alabaster monuments to the remarkable consumptive prowess of Team USA (pronounced oo-sah). We also ate substantial volumes of parmesan cheese, about which we managed to be a little more discreet than we were about the cappuccinos.

Read the full diary entry of Amber Rais.

Bern rejects Tour de Suisse

The city of Bern, Switzerland, doesn't want any more stages of the Tour de Suisse. The city has said that it will cancel its engagement at the end of the Tour in 2009 and will not renew the contract it signed with the Tour three years ago.

City President Alexander Tschäppät told the Si/sda press agency that the city council, along with the local hotel and restaurant association, had made the decision, since their financial expectations of hosting the race's final stage had not been fulfilled.

The contract runs through 2009 and requires an annual payment of 70,000 Swiss Francs to the race. This payment was made not made by the city, but by hotel association Bern Hotelier-Verein and citizen association Bürgergemeinde Bern. Tschäppät said that these groups no longer wanted to pay, and that the city would not use tax money for such a purpose.

Patrick Scherrer, President of one branch of the hotel association, disputed that statement. He said that their income from the race was indeed lower than expected, and that the association had notified the city that it would only pay if the race would end in the downtown section of Bern instead of at the football stadium, as it did this year.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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