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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, April 28, 2009

Edited by Greg Johnson

Cavendish to test Giro form in Romandie

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) will get a good indication of his form ahead of the Giro d'Italia this week at Switzerland's Tour de Romandie. Cavendish won two stages at Italy's Grand Tour last year, before claiming four wins at the Tour de France.

"It's an important race for Mark because it's his last before the Giro d'Italia, but there's no pressure here," said team sports director Tristan Hoffman. "If he gets a win, then that's great. But really we see Romandie as part of his build-up for Italy, one last test before the Giro."

The squad is to practice setting up sprint finishes for Milano-Sanremo winner Cavendish. Other riders in Columbia-Highroad's squad will be preparing for July's Tour.

Tony Martin (Columbia-Highroad) is hoping to use the event to develop his riding ahead of the Tour. The German rider is particularly keen on seeing how he performs in the six day event's prologue and team time trial.

"Romandie is good training for me for the Tour de France, particularly since there's a team time trial, my first this year," he said. "Then I want to do well in the prologue, because it's 3.1 kilometres long which is a good distance for me. Finally I want to test my condition in the mountains and see if I can improve there.

"Some of the riders in Romandie are doing the Tour as well, so on the flatter stages we want to practice how we do the last three kilometres with Mark," Martin added. "My only complaint is there's no long individual time trial this year, and it would be better for me if there were. It's not so mountainous this time, though, as it has been some years, which is a plus. That way if we get a good result in the team time trial, we have a good chance of staying ahead."

The Tour of Romandie starts in Switzerland today and runs through to Sunday.

No time for pre-Giro jitters in Romandie

By Les Clarke

With the Giro d'Italia looming large in the collective cycling consciousness, the Tour de Romandie is a chance for those with Giro aspirations to show their mettle in stunning Swiss surrounds.

It's a race that's fun to watch because it delivers a little of everything we love about Grand Tours in a week-long, 'bite-size' event where no rider's a certainty until the finish. All this without the chess tactics of a Giro d'Italia or Tour de France, like Alberto Contador's 'injured wrist' at last year's Giro.

It's undeniable that Fabian Cancellara experienced a sub-par Spring Classics campaign as a result of injury and illness that effectively ruled him out of contention for the Spring. Bad luck in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen ended his chances in that race while he missed the move in Paris-Roubaix. The Tour de Romandie is a chance for the man they call Spartacus to return to the fore.

The perfect setting for that return could be on home turf - Lausanne - the location for the Tour de Romandie's prologue. At 3.1km, it's tailored made for his explosive power and strength. There's very little elevation - that's saved for later in the event - and a commanding display in this part of the race should set him up for a high general classification placing.

Click to read the full Tour de Romandie preview.

No Gila for 'bummed' Armstrong

Right or wrong?

Do you think Astana should be allowed to start Gila? Share your thoughts in the Cyclingnews forum.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) won't contest the SRAM Tour of Gila prior to contesting his first Giro d'Italia next month. The seven time Tour de France winner was hoping to contest the American National Racing Calendar event, but an International Cycling Union (UCI) rule will prevent his ProTour team from taking part.

"Bummed to not be doing the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico - a great American race," Armstrong Tweeted on his Twitter. "Raincheck? Please support this great event."

The race's organiser has told media the UCI plans to enforce a seldom enforced rule preventing ProTour-level squads from competing in smaller races. That comes despite Astana team-mate Levi Leipheimer competing at Sea Otter, and winning a race, just 10 days ago.

Other Astana riders have been known to take part in events of a similar level, with Chris Horner joining Leipheimer to take part in last year's Cascade Cycling Classic.

Liquigas finalises Giro roster

Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Giro del Trentino
(Click for larger image)

Italian Professional Continental squad Liquigas has named its roster for next month's Giro d'Italia. Team manager Roberto Amadio believes riders Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti are mature enough to share the team's leadership role, and will be in contention for overall victory.

"We have selected a reliable and balanced line up," said Amadio. "They are two intelligent guys that well known how important this race is for the team. We have already seen, in past editions, the champions help each other for the common cause. I think that after the time trial of Sestri Levante we will know who between the two captains has more of a chance to win."

The team will contest its home Grand Tour without Daniele Benati. The rider hasn't yet recovered from his Tirreno-Adriatico injury and will miss the race.

"I don't want hide my disappointment to lose a rider like him in the sprints" said Amadio. "Daniele, conscious that he can't give a guaranteed on his form, doesn't want to compromise the team. Now his goal is to prepare for the Tour de France, where he will aim to win more stages if possible."

Amadio added that he expects this year's event will be a very hard edition.

Liquigas for Giro d'Italia: Ivan Basso, Franco Pellizotti, Kjell Carlström, Manuel Quinziato, Gorazd Stangelj, Alessandro Vanotti, Valerio Agnoli, Vladimir Miholjevic and Sylwester Szmyd.

Barloworld names Giro men

Barloworld has announced its team line-up for the centenary edition of the Giro d'Italia. It will be Barloworld's second consecutive appearance at the RCS Sport event, with team manager Claudio Corti opting for a mix of individual talent and team values.

The team will be led by 2007 Tour de France mountains classification winner Mauricio Soler and South African sprinter Robert Hunter.

"The team has been chosen to ensure strength from the onset, enabling attacks right from the start of the race," said the team's announcement. "Colombian climber Mauricio Soler and South African sprinter Robert Hunter are the protected team leaders.

"Hunter recently won the third stage of the Giro del Trentino and both riders have the experience and form to do well," it added.

Young riders Chris Froome and John Lee Augustyn will also start the Italian race after a good start to the season. Great Britain's Geraint Thomas will be the first reserve rider for the British-registered, South African squad.

Barloworld for the Giro d'Italia: John Lee Augustyn, Francesco Bellotti, Diego Caccia, Felix Cardenas, Gianpaolo Cheula, Christopher Froome, Robert Hunter, Paolo Longo Borghini and Mauricio Soler.

Astana versus Italy

Lance Armstrong - after fracturing his collarbone, what chances does he stand against his Italian rivals?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and the rest of the Astana team will line up in Venice on May 9, intent on claiming the Giro d'Italia's fabled maglia rosa in Rome three weeks later. Procycling's Daniel Benson, Ellis Bacon and Daniel Friebe asked four "foreign" winners how Armstrong and his team can meet the challenge and what Italy's riders, fans and terrain have in store.

[Editor's note: This story was written while Lance Armstrong's Giro participation was still in doubt. While he has confirmed that he will start, how much form he will have coming into the race is uncertain.]

With Lance Armstrong recovering from his collar-bone break, former champions Stephen Roche, Andy Hampsten, Evgeni Berzin and Tony Rominger offered their unparalleled insight into the race. We started off by asking for their assessment of Armstrong's likely chances of starting and competing for the title at the Giro in the wake of that injury setback...

Tony Rominger: Will he make it to the Giro? I don't think so. I think he was already a bit behind in his preparation, so it's certainly not going to be easy. If you go to hospital for an operation, that's going to cause you to lose at least one week. Perhaps he'll get there and be able to win a stage, but not the overall.

Andy Hampsten: I can imagine him using it as training. His recovery will take around six weeks, but a guy like Lance will see it as a challenge to do it in a little less time. I wouldn't doubt if he can still do the Giro.

Stephen Roche: Why is everyone talking about Lance Armstrong? I have a lot of respect for him, but he's being given far too much attention in terms of him winning the Giro or the Tour. We need to "share the book".

We should be looking at the other young riders - riders who have developed in the three years since Armstrong has been away, and the even younger up-and-coming guys. It's guys like Alberto Contador who deserve more of our attention, although I know Contador is not going to be at the Giro this year.

To read the full feature, click here.

Schleck rockets up UCI standings, Haussler still leads

Andy Schleck wins
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Luxembourger Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) has skyrocketed up the International Cycling Union's (UCI) World Rankings, following his win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The rider sat in 90th spot with two points prior to the Spring Classic, but not holds seventh position and 162 points.

German rider Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) continues to lead the standings from 73rd La Flèche Wallonne winner Davide Rebellin (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli). Defending Giro d'Italia champion Alebrto Contador (Astana) holds third place.

Paris-Roubaix winning squad Quick Step leads the team's standings from Team Saxo Bank and Cervelo TestTeam. Spain leads the nations standings from Italy and Australia.

See the full World Rankings standings here.

Savings & Loans dominate Jelajah

By Greg Johnson

Timothy Roe (Savings & Loans Cycling Team) talks to the press
Photo ©: Jelajah Malaysia
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Savings & Loans squad has dominated the Jelajah Malaysia race, with its riders finishing first and second overall. Timothy Roe claimed overall honours from Jai Crawford after the pair took an insurmountable lead with their stage seven breakaway.

"We had really high expectations going into this Tour with both Jai and Tim, but to get a one, two finish on general classification was icing on the cake," said team owner Stephen Cunningham. "The two are really riding well together and we have all of our riders fully supporting them 100 percent."

Sports director Pat Jonker oversaw the team's second success in Malaysia, with the outfit also claiming February's OCBC Cycle Singapore Criterium. Cunningham, who is currently in Europe, is pleased with the efforts of Jonker, a new addition to the team's staff for 2009.

"Pat was with the guys in Malaysia and is doing an awesome job," he said. "These results just show how serious we are about taking this team all the way."

Cunningham is hopeful the squad's success this year will assist with his search for a bigger title sponsorship deal for 2010. Cunningham wants to continue his outfit's natural progression next year, by taking the squad to bigger races while maintaining its success.

Baldwin, Grajales rock on

Former Rock Racing riders Chris Baldwin and Caesar Grajales have re-joined the flamboyant American outfit, the team announced. Baldwin and Grajales had been let go by Michael Ball's squad which has been downsizing as a result of the financial turndown.

"We are pleased to announce that Chris Baldwin and Caesar Grajales will remain part of the Rock Racing family and continue to race for the team in 2009," Ball said. "We arrived at a mutually beneficial agreement and look forward to their continued contributions through the second half of the season."

It's understood that Michael Creed, who was also let go at the same time as Baldwin and Grajales, has not rejoined the outfit. Ball said at the time of the trio's release that he'd like all three back with the controversial outfit should he manage to find another sponsor.

"Those three riders had the highest paid salaries on the amateur team and I could not afford to keep them," he said at the time. "It's not personal."

Landis, Sutherland to lead OUCH in Gila

Reigning National Racing Calendar champion Rory Sutherland and stage race specialist Floyd Landis will lead the OUCH-Maxxis squad at this week's SRAM Tour of the Gila. The squad has presented a formidable lineup for the Silver City, New Mexico event and says the disappearance of other races has increased the importance of supporting the remaining events.

"With a couple stage races going away this year, every one on the calendar becomes more important," said directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "The guys have had a little time off following Redlands and they're very ready to race."

Gila's future had been under threat due to the economic downturn, but SRAM stepped in earlier this year to ensure the event's 23rd edition went ahead. "We're really happy that SRAM stepped in to take over sponsorship," Tamayo said. "Having one of our sponsors involved with the race gives us added incentive to put in a strong performance.

The five-day race includes three challenging road races, plus an individual time trial and a criterium in Silver City. "This race favors riders like Floyd and Rory who can put in strong time trials, but also can go uphill really well," Tamayo said.

OUCH-Maxxis for SRAM Tour of the Gila: Jonathan Chodroff, Cameron Evans, Tim Johnson, Roman Kilun, Floyd Landis, Pat McCarty, Rory Sutherland and Brad White.

Phily deadline delayed for possible last minute deal

Philadelphia International Championship organisers have delayed their decision over the race's fate following a last minute approach from a potential sponsor. A decision on the June 7 race's future was expected on Monday, but has now been pushed back to the close of business on Tuesday local time.

Race co-organiser David Chauner told KYW1060 a late approach from a potential sponsor has led to the delay in their decision. "The party that wants to talk to us requested that we postpone the decision for 24 hours," he said.

The organisers are believes to still be $400,000 USD short of the $1.7 million USD required to run the event, despite local government announcing yesterday it would buy $50,000 USD worth of VIP tickets for government employees to help secure the event's finances. The race was previously sponsored by an American bank, many of which have been forced to cease all sports sponsorships following the collapse of the United States economy.

The race is another high-profile event struck by the economic downturn in the USA. Other major races like the Tour of Georgia have been cancelled due to the economic situation, while events like Tour of the Gila were brought back from the brink by industry sponsors like SRAM.

Bahati, Butterfield take third NRC race

Louder, Teutenberg hold on to series lead

Rock Racing's Rahsaan Bahati has time to celebrate
Photo ©: Vero Image
(Click for larger image)

California native Rahsaan Bahati rode to victory in USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar's third event, the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling on Sunday. Nikki Butterfield won the professional women's race on the six-turn criterium course in downtown Dana Point, California to earn NRC points in the 1.5-rated event.

Jeff Louder (BMC) and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia-Highroad) held on to their series leads after strong early-season results.

Men

Individual standings

1 Jeff Louder (BMC)                           286
2 Tom Zirbel (Bissell)                        190
3 Ben Day (Fly V Australia-Successful Living) 174
4 Brent Bookwalter (BMC)                      156
5 Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)                110

Team standings

1 BMC Racing Team                             482
2 Bissell Pro Cycling                         346
3 Kelly Benefit Strategies                    191
4 Garmin-Holoweko Partners-Felt               190
5 Jelly Belly Cycling Team                    172

Women

Individual standings

1 Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia-Highroad)     314
2 Amber Neben (Nürnberger-Shoair)             231
3 Alison Powers (Team Type I)                 172
3 Lauren Tamayo (Team TIBCO)                  172
5 Mara Abbott (Columbia-Highroad)             141

Team standings

1 Columbia-Highroad                           660
2 Team Tibco                                  401
3 Webcor Builders Cycling Team                320
4 Nürnberger-Shoair                           231
5 Team Type I                                 225

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