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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, September 9, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Astana denies Armstrong return

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

The rumoured return to racing of seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been officially denied by the Astana team, which Armstrong was reported to be joining.

"He is not part of our team," press officer Philippe Maertens told the Associated Press. "Team Astana has no plans with him."

Astana team director Johan Bruyneel, who was with Armstrong for all seven Tour wins from 1999-2005, was unaware of any Armstrong comeback.

"I don't know where the rumours come from," he told Cyclingnews.

Maertens said rumours that Armstrong might come out of retirement had been circulating for a few weeks.

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"I cannot tell you more, you better ask him," he said

"We know that Lance continued training hard after that mountain bike race," Maertens said. "He will do some cyclo-cross races as well in the USA."

At the time of publication, Cyclingnews has yet to receive a response to from Armstrong's manager, Mark Higgins.

Rumours began circulating of Armstrong's return to the professional ranks after he finished second to Dave Weins in the Leadville Trail 100 mile mountain bike race. The event is sanctioned by the USA cycling and Armstrong’s participation required him to be part of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's out-of-competition testing pool.

Should Armstrong return to elite level competition, he would be required to have been part of the testing pool for a minimum of six months prior to his return. The August date of Leadville places the Tour of California just outside the six month minimum period.

USA Cycling has confirmed Armstrong has not applied for an international cycling license, but chief operating officer Sean Petty said Armstrong typically did not request such a license until January or February.

Van Avermaet scores big

By Bjorn Haake

Champagne is just part of the spoils for the winner.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Greg Van Avermaet is still very young, but has had some good successes already, thanks to his speed in the final metres. The Silence-Lotto rider took a few lessons from the team's designated sprinter, Robbie McEwen. With McEwen's departure, Silence Lotto will be happy to have a good replacement.

Van Avermaet is only 23 years of age, but has now already scored a stage win in a Grand Tour. "To win a stage in the Vuelta is something really great for a young rider like me. I am very happy I could make it."

Van Avermaet acknowledged that the win didn't come easily. "The stage started out very hard. I was trying to always be in the front of the group."

Stage nine started from Vielha, a picturesque town surrounded by the Pyrenean mountains. But the scenic part soon gave way to the banner of the sharp start, which was already located on the climb. Some riders immediately had tunnel vision from the efforts, but after only seven kilometres everybody had a tunnel vision. The 5.4-kilometre Tunel de Vielha awaited the riders.

Van Avermaet found the air wasn't too stale, either. "But I did have to take off my sun glasses," he smiled. The tunnel may have been lit, but not quite enough. Van Avermaet wasn't sure initially if the break would face its usual fate. "At first I didn't think we would be able to stay away. But after the big category one climb I was a bit sure, as we had six minutes."

As a sprinter to stay with the lead group is not the usual way to prepare for a sprint, though. Van Avermaet had a few riders to be afraid of. "I was not sure if I was the strongest and fastest in the end, as there were good riders, like Nocentini, Rebellin or Cunego."

Continue on to the full feature here.

Cavendish settles the score in America

By Kirsten Robbins in Kansas City, Missouri

Cavendish won the stage ahead of Tyler Farrah (Garmin-Chipotle).
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) came to the Tour of Missouri with a score to settle racing on American soil. A controversial finish at this year's Tour of California saw him cross the finish line first, only to be relegated for holding onto his team car following a crash inside the final kilometres. So despite the overlap with the Tour of Britain, the speedster from the Isle of Mann returned to American soil to right the wrong.

"It's the second time I've crossed the line first and the first race I've won," said Cavendish is a press conference following his stage 1 victory, "This is an American team and an American sponsor. It's really important for me personally and for us to do well in here - So it makes it extra special when we can get a win."

Following California he returned to Europe and went on to four convincing stage victories in the Tour de France, followed by three consecutive wins at the Tour of Ireland, and many more. The 23-year-old phenom noted the successful momentum of his team this year.

"I think we got our sponsorship off to a great start in the Tour de France, we got five stage wins and every jersey except for the polka dot, which was perfect," he said. Cavendish leads a team that has gone on to win more than 70 races this season.

"To come here and get the perfect start in the US just tops it off. It shows the commitment we have to one another and the commitment the staff and management have to us. It all pays off with results."

The cycling world would have expected Cavendish to be a main contender in his home country's race, the Tour of Great Britain. But instead he made the trip to Missouri, confident he could bring ample success for his American based sponsors.

"You know it's funny because I've just come over from Britain where it's nice and sunny... and it's raining here!" he half joked. Regardless of the weather, the event includes a number of sprint friendly stages suitable for a rider like Cavendish.

"It just made more sense for me to come over here to race," he said. "We are an American team with American sponsors and I have a point to prove here by winning. I'm really happy to be racing here, the team is really happy to be racing here, and hopefully the public is really happy that I'm here."

He reiterated his focus on Missouri but admitted that he has been following the results from the Tour of Great Britain closely. "I've had a journalist friend send me the results after the stages," he said. "It's really interesting to see some of my friends doing well back home. It was great to see Rob Hayles of Great Britain get second in the first stage behind Petacchi. Hayles is a real good friend of mine and he was instrumental in my progress as a sprinter.

"But, for right now, I'm focused on getting results over here."

Full coverage of the Tour of Missouri here.

Swedes name Worlds riders

By Tomas Nilsson

Emilia Fahlin (High Road)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The Swedish Cycling federation has announced its team for the World Championships in Varese, Italy this month. The nation's hopes are high for more medals in Italy, after the success at the Beijing Olympic Games in China where it took home two silver medals.

Female star riders Emma Johansson (AA-Drink Cycling Team) and Susanne Ljungskog (Team Flexpoint) will ride the time trail as well as the road race with four helpers in the latter: Karin Aune (Team Uniqa), Sara Mustonen (Team Cmax Dila), Marie Lindberg (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) and Emilia Fahlin (Team Columbia Women).

Sweden is entitled to three riders in the men's road race and will field Thomas Lövkvist (Team Columbia), Marcus Ljungqvist (CSC - Saxo Bank) and Gustav Larsson (CSC - Saxo Bank).

Gustav will also ride the TT with amateur Fredrik Ericsson (, who won the Swedish TT Championship and now is a trainee with Team Pezula.

The Under 23 team consists of Andreas Lindèn (Borås CA), Patrik Morèn ( - Vallentuna) and Johan Lindgren (, with the latter also riding the TT.

Germany announces Worlds contenders

The Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (German Cycling Federation) has named its final men's teams for the upcoming World Championships in Varese, Italy. The team will be led by Deutschland Tour winner Linus Gerdemann and Stefan Schumacher, who last year finished third in the Words.

They will be supported by Gerdemann's Team Columbia team-mates Marcus Burghardt and Gerald Ciolek, and Schumacher's Gerolsteiner team-mates Markus Fothen, Sebastian Lang and Fabian Wegmann. Team Milram is represented by Erik Zabel and Christian Knees. Alternate riders are Columbia's Andre Greipel, Rabobank's Paul Martens and Björn Schröder of Milram.

The BDR had earlier announced that Columbia's Bert Grabsch and Tony Martin would ride the time trial, with Lang as substitute.

Aussies finally get Beijing gold

Australia's Paralympic cycling squad has claimed three gold medals in two days of track action at the 13th Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. The gold medal haul follows a disappointing Olympic Games haul at last month's event, where Australia only managed a silver medal at the hand of Anna Meares.

Queensland's Chris Scott took Australia's first gold medal at the Games, with the 40 year-old winning the Men's Individual Pursuit Final (Cp 4) just moments before vision impaired Kieran Modra claimed the nation's second gold in the 4000m pursuit with his pilot Tyson Lawrence.

"To be honest I didn't know I had won until I looked over and saw my coach jumping up and down," Scott told The Daily Telegraph. "Knowing it Australia's first gold medal makes it even more special."

Scott, who has cerebral palsy, will retire after this year's Games. He has represented Australia at every Paralympic Games since Atlanta in 1996, taking a total of eight gold medals to date.

Scotland-born Michael Gallagher added to Australia's success on day two, taking the nation's third cycling gold medal of the Paralympic Games in the 4,000 metres men's individual pursuit.

"It's more relief than anything else I think," Gallagher told ABC TV. "It's been a three-year plan to do it and I've finally done it.

"It's pretty amazing. It's happened so fast it hasn't really sunk in yet," he added.

Gallagher has only been cycling for four years, but managed to set a new world record during qualifying for his gold-winning run. The rider's arm was damaged at birth.

Click here for Cyclingnews' coverage of the Paralympic Games.

London 2012 launches Cycle Park

Organisers of the 2012 London Olympic Games last night unveiled plans for their Olympic cycling park, which includes a 6000-seat velodrome and BMX circuit, according to the

Designed in consultation with local cycling groups for the Olympic Games, a road circuit and mountain bike course will be added after the games to adapt the site for public use.

Triple Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist, Chris Hoy helped launch the park and explained that he was looking forward to using the new world class facility.

"Becoming Olympic champion simply wouldn't have been possible without the local cycling facilities I used when I was growing up," Hoy said. "So I'm delighted to help launch the designs of the London 2012 VeloPark which will provide first-class facilities for cyclists of all ages and abilities."

The park will also be linked to cycle routes across London after the Games to connect the city with the new facilities.

"The tremendous success of British cyclists in Beijing underlines the importance of delivering a world-class stage for elite athletes in 2012, but we are planning for games-time and legacy together," Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive David Higgins said. "Our VeloPark plans are also looking ahead to a new generation of cyclists."

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