First Edition Cycling News, April 21, 2009
Edited by Greg Johnson and Les Clarke
Lövkist fancies Ardennes Classic win
Columbia-Highroad's Thomas Lövkist is hoping to claim another Spring Classic victory at either tomorrow's Flèche Wallonne or the weekend's Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Swedish rider took an impressive victory at Italy's Eroica Toscana in March.
"Eroica's finish is kind of similar to the final part of Flèche Wallonne, a very similar steep uphill climb to the line," Lövkist said. "Knowing that I did well in the Eroica helps boost my confidence for this one, too.
"Flèche Wallonne is a race which always comes down to the last climb of the Mur de Huy, and you have to be in the top 10 or 15 when you start it or there's no way you can win," he added. "Then half-way up there's a very steep S-bend, where you have to make a final acceleration if you want to cross the line in first place."
Lövkist believes Flèche Wallonne will be a good test of his condition ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "If you're no good in Flèche then you'll be no good in Liège, that's for sure. In that way it's a test," he said. "But I went well in the Tour of the Basque Country, although I didn't kill myself there, and I've got high hopes for the Ardennes Classics."
In addition to Lövkist, Columbia-Highroad's roster includes former Flèche Wallonne winner Kim Kirchen. Team manager Valerio Piva doesn't believe the Luxembourger will be starting as one of the favourites.
"Kim's first race back after being injured in the Tour of California was the Circuite de la Sarthe in France and that went well. But then he crashed in the GP Denain and finally opted to skip Amstel Gold," said Piva. "It's more likely that he'll use Flèche to concentrate on improving his condition than to go all-out for the victory, but you never know."
BMC to Dauphiné Libéré, Cervélo to stay home
Defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre will miss the usual Tour preparation event, Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, after his Cervélo Test Team wasn't amongst the event's wildcard invitees. One surprise inclusion comes from the United States of America, with Professional Continental team BMC the only non-ProTour squad to contest the June 7 - 14 race.
The ProTour race will open with a 12.1 kilometre individual time trial in Nancy on June 7. The 1028.5 kilometre course also includes a second time trial of 43.4 kilometres on stage four, before a mountain top finish on Mont Ventoux.
Over the following two stages the riders will be faced with two challenging stages from Gap to Briançon then Briançon to Saint-Francois-Longchamp in the French Alps. The hotly contested event finishes with another challenging stage of 146 kilometres from Faverges to Grenoble.
Sastre moved to startup squad Cervélo TestTeam this season, having rode for ProTour outfit Saxo Bank in 2008. Sastre's main Tour rivals - including Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador - are all expected to take part in the race.
61st Dauphiné Libéré route:
Turks want to grow Presidential event, rule out ProTour option
By Jean-François Quénet in Alanya, Turkey
Turkish Cycling Federation president Emin Müftüoglü is impressed by the fast progresses of the Presidential Cycling Tour. The Turkish race held its 45th edition last week, but in reality it was the second year of the race being organised to an international standard, with the participation of ProTour and Pro Continental teams as a category 2.1 event.
"Locally it was a pleasure to see how many more people turned up on the road sides to watch the Tour compared to last year," he said.
While riders contesting the event also noted the increase in spectators over the past two years, race director Abdurraman Açikalin who wants to take the race one step higher.
"The local authorities are now aware of the value of the event," Açikalin said. "We are also very happy with the international media coverage."
The race was broadcast live for two hours daily in 143 countries. Stage two winner David Garcia Dapena (Xacobeo-Galicia) joked that more international journalists interview him last week in Kusadasi than last year in Ponferrada, when he won the Vuelta España 14th stage.
"We want to go one step up," Açikalin said. "We want to develop the race step-by-step, but calendar wise - if time is appropriate and if the reports by the teams and the UCI representatives are positive - we'll aim at becoming a hors-category event.
"As a vice-president of the Turkish cycling federation, I'm not interested in hosting a ProTour race," he added. "We first have to increase the cycling culture in Turkey. We are focused on the London Olympic Games, for which we want to qualify two road riders and a mountain biker as well. To put all efforts in a ProTour event and nothing in the development of cycling is not my strategy."
To make the Presidential Tour of Turkey an even better race, the organising committee is considering a time trial instead of a circuit race for the opening stage in Istanbul. A mountain top finish is another option under consideration, with a suitable location near Antalya where the penultimate stage was held.
"We want to put some colour into the race and make it more exciting," Açikalin said. "We'll also discuss with the UCI about the date. We can change it. We're flexible."
The race currently clashes with the Spring Classics and other traditional races in April. Organisers are considering a move to May or September.
UCI could act on Impey, Bos incident
Rabobank's Theo Bos could still land in hot water following a controversial incident at the Presidential Cycling Tour in Turkey, with the International Cycling Union saying it has the power to re-open the case. Bos has been the centre of much controversy since the final sprint on Sunday, where he clashed with Barloworld's race leader Daryl Impey.
The incident, in which Bos appears to place his hand on Impey's back before both riders crash, has drawn criticism from Bos' peers. The Dutch cyclist holds a number of UCI Track World Championships and has joined Rabobank's Continental squad this season in the hope of developing a road career for himself.
"We await the first report from the president of the jury, and then the rules offer us the opportunity to reopen the case," a UCI spokesperson told HLN.be.
Bos, who had recorded some promising results this season, was clearly distressed over the incident in a written statement on the team's website. Impey remains in hospital having sustained serious injuries to his neck and spin, which will cause the rider to miss next month's Giro d'Italia.
"His injuries will not end his career, but I guess it will take two or three months to see him return to the sport," Dr. Ismail Yetkin told Hurriyet.com.tr.
Bos hopes to speak to Impey about the clash once tempers have cooled, adding in his statement that accusations the incident was intentional have been making him feel sick.
"Everybody who knows me well knows that I would never purposely take risks to cause a crash in such a way. Why would have I taken myself down?," wrote Bos. "I want to make it right with Impey and I've said to the team, that I would like to have a conversation with him and tell him my side of it. I've got no reason to hide from him, though I do understand that he's quite angry.
"I feel bad to have made the news in this manner," he added. "As a sportsman, I want it to be known that I'm quite beside myself over this. I'm bothered by it. What happened was not on purpose. Not even in the heat of the moment. I would like everyone to understand that this is not how I win my sprints."
The clash between Impey and Bos drew criticism from peers like Lance Armstrong and Robbie McEwen. "Bos doesn't even get disqualified. Pitiful. He deserves a long suspension," Armstrong posted on Twitter.
Fellow sprinter McEwen, who knows a thing or two about controversial sprinting tactics, also Tweeted over the incident. McEwen originally said "well there goes Theo Bos' best and fairest award nomination", but later added: "Intention wasn't to crash DI or himself but he did. In the wrong, no question. If suspended 1 month, take it. Done."
Jartazi gets a boost for 2010
Jartazi will partner travel operator Thomas Cook to create a Pro Continental team for the 2010 season, according to Jartazi's Patrick Stallaert. It's a coup for the company, which has supported a Continental squad for several seasons. The fashion company has been partnered with the likes of Mitsubishi and Revor in the past, although the Thomas Cook move will be its most ambitious move to date.
"The team will indeed be called Thomas Cook-Jartazi," Stallaert told HLN.be. "The intention is that we make an agreement for a period of several years. We can't say how big our budget will be, but it's a fact that it will be a Professional Continental team."
Thomas Cook is a highly visible brand, not least of all due to its shirt sponsorship of the Manchester City Football Club, which plies its trade in the lucrative English Premier League. Stallaert provided an outline of team personnel, although names of squad members will be forthcoming at a later date.
"We want some 20 riders under contract so that we can finish a double program," he said. "It will be a mix of Belgians and foreigners, although we have no names yet. There's still a question mark over the name of the sporting director."
The team is still very much in the formative stages, with "no uniform colours, bicycles or cars, but that will happen," assured Stallaert. "It is important that a further agreement between Thomas Cook and Jartazi be made. The coming days and weeks we will announce more information," he said.
Another twist in Keisse tale
Iljo Keisse's defence team is seeking a new direction that may aid in the doping case against the Belgian rider, claiming the prosecutor has not followed procedural standards. Facing the Disciplinary Commission of the Belgian Cycling Federation (KBWB) in the case against Keisse's alleged use of cathine and HCT last November, his lawyers have questioned Federal Prosecutor Jaak Franssen's conduct in seeking a report from hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) producer Amino Labs.
Keisse's defence counsel criticised the conclusions of the report and noted that they held negative consequences for the 26-year-old from Gent, according to Belgian news agency Belga. Committee chairman Paul Buyle decided that a ruling on the procedural allegations would be made on May 4.
Meanwhile, Keisse has explained that he may return to racing in May, albeit as an elite rider without contract. Keisse hasn't been suspended for the positive test he returned on the final night of last year's Ghent Six-Day.
"I can do that because I am not suspended," said Keisse. "It's not intended to add fuel to the fire, but by the way it looks, this case could drag on for many months - it's now five months. That would mean I've been out of competition for a year."
Road to Roubaix competition winners
With Paris-Roubaix run and won for another year, it was time to decide who would be winning a copy of the Road to Roubaix DVD. The Cyclingnews judges, all of whom are Classics freaks (some, just freaks in general) themselves, were looking for the optimum blend of humour, candour and experience, and with this in mind set about choosing the successful entries.
The four winners - alem1583, mr. tibbs, Cdaver, nmwildog - were varied in their responses, with an entry that utilised some strange humour to illustrate why the Classics got them going. A pithy analogy that really stood out and two first-hand experiences that span decades and epitomise the spirit of the Classics.
These four readers will shortly be watching Road to Roubaix, a chronicle of the world's favourite one-day Classic, courtesy of the good folks at Masterlink Films.
Thanks to all who entered, and look out for more competitions on the World Centre of Cycling, Cyclingnews.com.
What's hot on the forum
Crashes have been the main point of people's conversations this week, whether that be the crash involving Theo Bos' and Daryl Impey or the crash of Tyler Hamilton's professional career. Some of you however have been thinking a little outside the square, listing your favourite rider quotes of all time.
Here's a sample of the forum happenings:
US Pro cycling: where is it at?
Should Theo Bos be suspended for this?
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