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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, April 15, 2009

Edited by Greg Johnson

Success breeding confidence for Pinotti

By Shane Stokes

Marco Pinotti shows off the trophy
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
(Click for larger image)

Team Columbia - Highroad's Marco Pinotti will next target two hilly Classics with the aim of boosting the squad's chances. The Italian recently won the penultimate stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco in Spain.

"I will race Amstel and Flèche [Wallonne], where I hope to use my form to help the team," the Italian time trial champion told Cyclingnews. "Then I will do the Tour of Romandie. That's a race I like and, in addition to being a good warm-up for the Giro, it will be a goal in itself."

Pinotti is a triple winner of the national time trial title and took his first ever stage race victory last August when he won the Tour of Ireland. Despite being 33 years of age, it appears that he is building strength and motivation with each passing season.

"I have been gaining confidence in myself for the past four years and I feel my learning curve is still increasing," he explained. "In the Basque Country I really had an impressive ride, making a similar kind of effort as I did in Ireland."

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He secured the overall victory there last August when he broke clear on the final stage, hitting the line sufficiently ahead of the chasing group to overhaul the leader Russell Downing. Last Friday's stage was a similar last-gasp effort, but produced very different sensations. It allowed for a special celebration and also completed a circle, repeating a triumph there six years ago.

"The last time I raised my hand in the air for a [road race stage] victory was also in the Basque Country. Since then I have won only time trials or as, I did in Ireland, placed third on the [final] stage and won the overall."

"The País Vasco stage victory is a bit special for that reason, and also because it was achieved in bad weather and ahead of a strong field of contenders."

Now Pinotti will bring that increased confidence into the Classics, Romandie – where he was third last year – plus the Giro d'Italia itself. In 2007 he held the race leader's jersey there while 12 months later he won the final time trial.

"Of course the Giro is one of the key points of my season," he said. "I have worked well in the last few months and I am sure I can do a good race."

Steegmans hopes for pain-free return

Gert Steegmans (Katusha)
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

Belgium's Gert Steegmans will return to racing on home turf later today at the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. Steegmans has been struggling for form throughout the European Spring so far, and has complained of a lack of power due to leg problems. The complaint began during January's Tour Down Under, and has prevented him preparing well for the Spring Classics.

The Katusha rider will be supporting teammate Robbie McEwen. Given the working relationship the duo cultivated during their time at Predictor-Lotto, the Australian stands a chance of grabbing win number three for 2009 in the part of Belgium where he's regarded as a local.

"I have been training for two weeks, but unfortunately I've had to see many doctors," Steegmans told Sporza. "Hopefully I will have no pain by Wednesday.

"If it continues it would be a nightmare, and something is wrong with my veins. But the training has gone well, so I'm happy."

If he can overcome this setback in the race around the Schelde it will greatly enhance the chances of victory for McEwen, who is a favourite in this part of Belgium. He will be hoping for a win to add to the one he took in the Cancer Council Classic in January and the second round of the Mallorca Challenge, the Trofeo Cala Millor, in February.

McEwen won the Scheldeprijs in 2002, and with the absence of Mark Cavendish many are predicting a return to days gone by with a McEwen-Petacchi duel on Wednesday.

Also see our Scheldeprijs preview.

Schulze strikes in Bodrum

By Jean-François Quénet in Bodrum, Turkey

André Schulze (PSK Whirlpool - Author) wins
Photo ©: Presidential Cycling Tour
(Click for larger image)

André Schulze (PSK Whirlpool) claimed a stage victory at the 45th Presidential Cycling Tour when nobody anticipate a bunch sprint in Bodrum. The victory made up for the previous stage, when David Garcia Dapena's attack in the closing kilometres prevented Schulze from winning in Kusadasi.

"I knew this finale as I rode here last year already," Schulze said. "I was in perfect position for the last three kilometres and I wasn't affected by the crash at the roundabout because it happened behind me. With 200 metres to go I moved up and then took the lead with 100 metres left. I'm as happy today as I was frustrated yesterday."

Schulze won stage two's field sprint, but was three seconds behind Garcia Dapena in second place. Stage three of the Presidential Tour of Turkey gave him the opportunity to get his first win of the year and the 20th of his career that began in 2001.

CSF Group - Navigare continues to hold a commanding overall lead. The squad's Italian rider Mauro Finetto leads the general classification with Argentinean teammate Mauro Abel Richeze six seconds behind.

Click here for our full coverage of stage three.

Casper knocks off big cheese in Camembert

Jimmy Casper had a lot to smile about.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

French rider Jimmy Casper (Besson Chaussures - Sojasun) claimed victory at the 70th Paris-Camembert Lepetit in France after Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) sat out the bunch sprint finish. Valverde, who was the race's defending champion, decided not to risk injury on a tricky downhill run to the finish and crossed the line towards the lead group's rear as a result.

"It's not normally a course for sprinters, so I'll savour it all the more," Casper told AFP. "Conditions were ideal for me. We let the others go for it and then we worked on two kilometres – the last two kilometres. I thought for a moment in the sprint all was lost but then I saw an opening. It's a surprise win."

Casper out-paced former Tour de France yellow jersey winner and compatriot Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Russian rider Alexander Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale).

"I would have liked to repeat my success of last year, but this time I couldn't as the final descent was very dangerous and I preferred not to risk too much to put myself in the sprint," Valverde told "The most important thing for me is to have good feelings in a race over 200 kilometres."

Click here for our full coverage of Paris-Camembert Lepetit.

Quick Step destined for Missouri

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) celebrates his
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Belgian squad Quick Step will contest the United States of America's Tour of Missouri for the first time this year. The Paris-Roubaix winning outfit will join rival squads Garmin-Slipstream, Columbia-Highroad and Astana at the September 7-13 event.

"To add the current top-ranked team on the world circuit to the Tour of Missouri is phenomenal," said Chris Aronhalt, the managing partner of event organiser Medalist Sports. "The stature of the event continues to grow, and the participation of Quick Step reinforces how far the Tour of Missouri has matured in two short years.

"We are proud of the race's impeccable reputation, and pleased that several of the world's top-ranked teams have requested invites. We now have six Tour de France entrants in the race, a staggering amount for a young race."

The addition of Quick Step to this year's race takes the team count to eight, with seven more slots remaining. Aronhalt believes they are close to announcing another two major squads for this year's race.

This year's race will route east to west for the first time, starting in St. Louis and finishing in Kansas City. The race will be contested over seven days and as many stages, including two circuit races, one individual time trial and four point to point road races.

Teams for Missouri: Garmin-Slipstream, Columbia-Highroad, Cervélo Test Team, Astana, Liquigas, Jelly Belly, BMC Racing and Quick Step.

US Open cancelled

U.S. Open of Cycling organiser Richard Durishin has announced the cancellation of this year's event due to the economic downturn's impact on sponsorship revenue. The event, due to be held on May 16, had changed venues from Richmond, Virginia to Providence, Rhode Island.

"Unfortunately, we have not been able to secure the sponsorship needed to run the US Open of Cycling this year and are cancelling the event," said Durishin, the U.S. Open Cycling Foundation's Executive Director. "We have already begun discussions with potential sponsors for the 2010 race and we hope that, by then, the interested parties are enjoying the fruits of a more robust economy."

Durishin hopes the race, which came to fruition in 2007, will return in 2010. "We have a beautiful venue in the state of Rhode Island and the City of Providence and look forward to showing it off to the world during next year's event," he said.

The U.S. Open of Cycling isn't the first American race to succumb to the economic downturn. Other races already cancelled for this year include Priority Health Tour de Leelanau, Lehigh Valley Classic, Reading Classic and Tour of Georgia.

NRC continues at Dana Point GP

By Kirsten Robbins

Round two of USA Cycling's North American Racing Calendar (NRC) will be held at the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling on Sunday, April 26. Jeff Louder (BMC) and Ina Yoko-Teutenberg (Columbia Highroad) top the series charts, but will not attend the one-day criterium due to overseas race obligations with their respective teams.

After round one at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Louder leads the men's individual standings with 286 points ahead of second placed Tom Zirbel (Bissell) with 190 points and third placed Ben Day (Fly V Australia) with 174 points.

Teutenberg leads the women's standings with 314 points ahead of second placed Amber Neben (Nernberger-Shoair) with 231 points and third placed Alison Powers (Team Type 1) with 172 points.

Men's individual point standings:
         Jeff Louder (BMC)                           286
         Tom Zirbel (Bissell)                        190
         Ben Day (Fly V Australia)                   174
         Brent Bookwalter (BMC)                      156
         Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)                110
Men's team point standings:
         BMC Racing Team                             482
         Bissell Pro Cycling Team                    332
         Garmin-Holowesko Partners-Felt              182
         Jelly Belly Cycling Team                    172
         Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling Team   164
Women's individual point standings:
         Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia Highroad)     314
         Amber Neben (Nernberger)                    231
         Alison Powers (Team Type 1)                 172
         Mara Abbott (Columbia-Highroad)             141
         Katheryn Mattis (Webcor Builders)           126
Women's team point standings:
         Team Columbia Highroad                      660
         Team TIBCO                                  360
         Nernberger-Shoair                           231
         Team Type 1                                 225
         Webcor Builders Women's Cycling Team        204

KBS celebrates a double wins abroad

By Kirsten Robbins

Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling team capped off a successful international racing campaign celebrating a pair of overall victories. The team's star climber Andrew Bajadali won the Tour of Thailand last week and a most recent win came from time trialist, Scott Zwisanksi, at the Tour of Uruguay on Sunday. The American-based team took advantage of an absence of competitive events on the North American Racing Calendar (NRC) this month to experience racing abroad.

"With a lot of our races being cancelled we had to find some racing to do instead of just sitting at home," said team manager Ken Mills. "We spent some time contacting international races looking for invites and it panned out that Uruguay and Thailand invited us to over."

The squad's only competition previous to departure was the Redlands Bicycle Classic held in March. According to Mills, the two overall victories were some-what of a surprise given that the riders were over trained and under raced heading into them.

"Most of the other teams in the US had about 25 race days in their legs by March," said Mills, who organised a hefty training camp in February to make up for a lack of competition.

They were the only American team at the Tour of Uruguay and reminded daily that no foreign team had ever won the 10 day event. After five stage wins they were confident the overall title was with in reach.

"Our main objective in going to the international events was to get a couple of stage wins," Mills said. "The general classification was never on the board for us in the beginning. We wanted to go into it with the idea of racing hard but instead we ended up defend the jersey from the start. As we got further into the race we felt confident that we could put someone on the podium in the top three."

The team's two early season wins bodes well for upcoming target at the Tour of the Gila. "I think our success this month means that we are going to have more success in the races that are really important to us in the mid-season," he said. "I think the guys will be flying come Gila time. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a rash of victories for us coming up."

Kelly Benefit Strategies Medifast has confirmed its rosters for the Tour of Battenkill, Tour of the Gila and the Joe Martin Stage race. Other targeted events include Kelly Cup, Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Tour de Beauce, US Air Force Cycling Classic and the Tour of New York.

Lincoln GP gets title sponsor

The Lincoln Grand Prix, a British Cycling Premier Calendar Series event, has announced a new title sponsorship deal for this year's 54th running of the race. Service provider Abstraction will sponsor this year's event, which is scheduled for May 10.

"I'm delighted that we have Abstraction as the title sponsor of the Grand Prix," said organiser Ian Emmerson. "Thanks to this agreement we can improve many of the logistics and the marketing of the event which, in turn, will help us to raise its profile as well as that of the City of Lincoln."

British elite riders will contest 11 laps of the infamous eight mile circuit. The course includes a climb of the one in six and cobbled Michaelgate on each lap, with the final sprint to the Castle Square finish after 86 miles of racing.

"As a Lincoln man I'm proud to support this prestigious event which does so much to raise the city's profile on both a national and international basis," said Jason Brewer, Abstraction's Managing Director. "We also believe that in supporting elite cycling we're helping to find our future World and Olympic Champions while raising the profile of the sport in general."

Abstraction has committed to the event for the next three years.

What's hot on the forum

After another huge week of northern Classics, Cyclingnews readers are now gearing up for the Ardennes Classics. It's become the hot topic amongst the road fans, as they prepare to watch the likes of Damiano Cunego, Alejandro Valverde and Davide Rebellin battle it out in southern Belgium and Holland.

Track fans are salivating at the thought of Fabian Cancellara riding the hour record, and are talking about it in the related section of the forum.


  • Some people prefer Flanders/Gent/Roubaix but for me Ardennes week is probably my favourite cycling week of the year. I love seeing GT guys going up against the week-long stage racers and the explosive climbers.

    At this point I don't know exactly who is racing where(those preliminary lists are never very good – I think the Amstel one still lists Horner) but some early thoughts:

    Valverde and Cunego have to go in as the big favourites for the week with several others: the Schlecks (especially Fränk), Joaquin Rodriguez, Rebellin, Pfannberger, Kroon, Samuel Sánchez, Gesink... I could also see Nibali up there

    Lots of question marks with riders due to injury/lack of form: Dekker, Kirchen, Freire. I think Evans might wind up on the podium somewhere but I don't know about a win.

    Nuyens and Gilbert skipped Roubaix for Amstel/Ardennes, but I don't particularly like their chances. I think their best shot (along with Chavanel) would have to be at Amstel.

    It's a shame Di Luca's team got left out as he's always a contender and animator in these races.

    You guys know if any Giro guys are planning to have a go or are they all biding their time? Seems like I remember Basso performing ok in the past and obviously Di Luca has.

    Dark horse picks or inside info? Who else loves these races? - jaylew

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Cancellara Hour

  • Doesn't that idea elicit excitement? I can't see Lance coming close but Fabian, do it soon. The 'Armstrong Track Bike' wouldn't even be legal, as the top tube isn't round. I think FC could break the 50kph barrier at altitude, then go indoors with a hotter frame and try for Boardman's 56. Cycling needs the boost. Just sell me a ticket to watch. - TShame
  • The only record worth going for is the one with the athlete rules. Boardman's 56 was done on the best human effort rules. His athlete rules' record was 49.441 and that has since been raised to 49.700 by Ondrej Sosenka. However, there has to be a question mark around him considering he is facing a life ban for a second doping offence, although he never tested positive whilst breaking his record.

    To be honest, I'm not convinced that Cancellara has it in him. For a start, let's not underestimate how hard the record is now. Boardman was also a phenomenal TTer, so that distance should be considered very, very good.

    But, the main difference between Boardman and Cancellara is that Boardman was always very good on the track which gave him a perfect riding style for the hour record. Not only does Cancellara have no real track experience, I don't think his pedalling style is suitable for it. Because of his sheer power, he has a real stomping style on the bike. The road forgive that (and even then, some courses less than others), but I'm not sure that the track would.

    Indurain and Rominger had beautiful pedalling styles despite their lack of track experience. That's the only reason I believe that they were quickly able to jump from road to track.

    Boonen and Cancellara mentioned at the start of last year that they were interested in riding the pursuit in Beijing. It is believed that both did do tests before quietly dropping the plan. I believe in both cases it was because they realised that they aren't track riders. Maybe with a lot of investment they could, but there is nothing on the track important enough to invest that effort, hour record included. - Graham.

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