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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, February 25, 2009

Edited by Greg Johnson and Gregor Brown

Cunego eyes key Giro stages

By Gregor Brown

Italian Damiano Cunego previews 2009 Giro d'Italia stages
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Damiano Cunego scouted the Giro d'Italia's key time trial stage in Liguria earlier this month for a second time. The 2004 Giro d'Italia winner wants to be ready for what will be a, "technical" time trial in the middle of a three-week race, May 9 to 31.

"I think he will be on a normal bike because doing it on a time trial bike would be very difficult," Directeur Sportif Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews. "There are probably only about five to ten kilometres that you could do on a time trial bike."

The organisers of the Giro d'Italia revealed the abnormally long time trial (61.7km) as part of its 100th anniversary edition in December. Originally, it was suspected to aid noted time trialist Lance Armstrong, however, the climbs of Passo del Bracco and Passo del Termine will allow riders like Cunego to stay in contention for the race overall.

The Italian first previewed the time stage in May 21 as part of Lampre's training camp.

Copeland is back with Lampre after taking time out to open a bicycle shop in Como, Italy. He is looking after Cunego in key races this year, which will include the GP Insubria and GP Lugano this weekend.

"We are going to go ride Monte Petrano and Vesuvio on Monday and Tuesday. We want to see the climbs, the gradients and the lengths of the climbs.

"Monte Petrano is not a stage that most people go to see, but I think it is going to be a very wicked stage at 237 kilometres and with over 4000 metres of climbing. It is not exactly a climber’s stage, but a stage where you need a team."

On Thursday Cunego will travel with Copeland and teammates Paolo Tiralongo, Marco Marzano and Mauro Santambrogio to the Spanish island of Tenerife. He will remain there for 15 days as he prepares for the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia.

Roche pleased with form prior to Paris-Nice

By Shane Stokes

Irish rider Nicolas Roche
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

Nicolas Roche feels content that he is on track for a good showing in his first big goal of the season, Paris-Nice. The Irish professional has come into decent form earlier than usual this year.

Last month the AG2R La Mondiale rider placed 13th overall in the Tour Down Under, then finished 20th in the recent Tour Méditerranéen. The solid run continued with eighth on stage two of the Tour du Haut Var on Sunday.

"This is the first time I have shown early form," he told Cyclingnews. "My legs are okay, my condition is okay and my weight is getting better. I am feeling good and it is a nice sign for Paris-Nice."

In the past Roche has always hit form later in the season but, several months after finishing an unexpected 13th overall in the Vuelta a España, he appears to have moved up a level. It bodes well for a good season.

The 24-year-old is an aggressive rider, but his final results don't always reveal the effort he has made during the races. He was in the mix in recent events and as his form continues to grow, he will be hoping to translate attacks into victories.

"On the last day of the Tour of the Méditerranéen I attacked with Mauricio Soler on Mont Faron, but eventually he dropped me. I was then caught for fourth place, 300 metres from the top.

"This weekend, I was in a break of 24 on stage one of Haut Var. We got up to a four-minute lead, but nobody was working. The gap dropped to one minute and I got away then with 13 riders, but we were caught with seven kilometres to go. I had worked all day so I sat up."

His aggression continued on Sunday's concluding stage; he got away temporarily with seven others on the Côte de Fayence climb. "I attacked with [David] Moncoutié with one kilometre to go, but he counter-attacked with 400 metres remaining and [eventual stage and overall winner] Voeckler came flying past me from behind."

Next up for him are the Swiss races GP Insubria and GP di Lugano, taking place on Saturday and Sunday. After that he'll ride Paris-Nice, Milano-Sanremo, Critérium-International, GP Indurain, Vuelta al País Vasco, Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Gerdemann prepares for Tour on the track

Germany's Linus Gerdemann prepares for Tour de France with track tests
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Linus Gerdemann's stepped up his Tour de France preparations this week, with the rider taking to the track to improve his aerodynamics. The Milram rider was joined by Swiss time trial expert Andreas Walser for a session at the track in Kaarst-Büttgen, Germany.

Walser focused on improving Gerdemann's time trial position throughout the test. "The test can be called a warm-up for my Tour 2009 preparations," said Gerdemann. "It is part of the base training."

Walser required Gerdemann to ride a constant speed of 45 km/h over a specified distance during the test. He recorded wattage data from differing saddle and handlebar positions, which will be used to adapt his time trial position ahead of the Tour de France, July 4 to 26.

"My personal requirement is and has always been to get the optimum out of my body and the material. That makes a test like this indispensable. Just like a wind tunnel test, with which I had a good experience last year and which I will do this year if possible."

Gerdemann missed last year's Tour de France due to injuries sustained in a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico. The German also missed last year's Beijing Olympic Games, but returned with both a stage win and the overall classification at last year's Deutschland Tour.

Petacchi's ex-helper Lorenzetto takes Sardegna win

Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre-NGC) tops the Giro di Sardegna stage one podium with Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini), l-r.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Mirco Lorenzetto of Lampre-NGC took the win in Giro di Sardegna's opening stage over his old captain, Alessandro Petacchi. With the help of his teammates, the Italian was able to win the 184.2-kilometre stage in Olbia over the rider he used to lead out for two years at Milram.

"Even if Petacchi wins less he remains the best," Lorenzetto told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The win was Lorenzetto's fourth victory in six years as a professional. He formed part of Petacchi's lead-out train at Milram in 2006 and 2007, but he was not able to find a place in his new sprint train.

Team Lampre gave him the support he needed for the win. Paolo Tiralongo and Volodymyr Zagorodny pulled back an early escape. World Champion Alessandro Ballan worked in the final kilometres (finishing 8th) and Enrico Gasparotto (3rd) did the final pull to ensure Lorenzetto's victory over Petacchi (4th) and Daniele Bennati (6th).

"This winter I worked specifically on improving my power. And I need the help of a team, like in this occasion."

Lampre appears to be on track for Italy's big one-day Classic, Milano-Sanremo, March 21. They have many options for the finale with the trio of Ballan, Gasparotto and Lorenzetto.

Vuelta al País Vasco announces 20 teams

The twenty teams participating in the Vuelta al País Vasco, April 6 to 11, have been decided, according to Spanish newspaper and co-organiser Dario Vasco. All 18 ProTour level teams will race alongside two Professional Continental teams: Cervélo TestTeam and Contentpolis-Ampo.

The teams are AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d'Epargne, Cofidis, Columbia-Highroad, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Française des Jeux, Fuji-Servetto, Garmin-Slipstream, Katusha, Lampre-NGC, Liquigas, Milram, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank, Silence-Lotto, Cervélo TestTeam and Contentpolis-Ampo

Alberto Contador won the 2008 edition of the Basque race. The 2007 Tour de France winner went on from País Vasco to win the remaining Grand Tours: the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España. (AS)

Tomic hopeful for track worlds slot

By Greg Johnson in Sydney, Australia

Josie Tomic (Western Australia)
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Josephine Tomic is hopeful she'll make the final cut for this year's senior Track World Championships squad after missing out on last year's event in Manchester, England. She is one of 10 riders on Cycling Australia's 'long list' for the Poland event, with the final positions being decided at a team camp in Adelaide over the coming two weeks.

"It means a lot to be given this chance to race in my first senior worlds," said Tomic to Cyclingnews. "I really wanted to go last year and was very disappointed when they decided not to send a team pursuit team; however, I used that as motivation and I am very, very determined to go to Poland and have a successful worlds."

She will target the individual pursuit and teams pursuit for this year's worlds. Tomic, from Western Australia, also hopes to be in contention for the omnium; however, the selection will depend on her form.

"I have had some ups and downs since the junior worlds and have found the step up into seniors quite challenging. But I have made some big steps this year which have given me confidence and I think things are really going to start flowing from here."

While it's possible two women from Cycling Australia's long list will miss out on this year's event, Tomic is determined to make the cut. She added victory at the recent Australian National Track Championships in the pursuit, teams pursuit and omnium to the Oceania Track Championships pursuit title she claimed in November.

"I am quite confident of making worlds. ... My training times in the last few weeks are much better than they were pre-national championships, so I am really happy with that.

"I think all things being well that I will have great form and be ready to go at the World Championships."

Filippo Pozzato: It's time to win

By Gregor Brown

All class: Filippo Pozzato and his partner
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Perhaps you first came to know the Filippo Pozzato when he appeared on television screens with his hands raised in a victory salute at the end of Tour de France's stage to Saint Brieuc in 2004. He was then only 22 years old and developing under the sharp eye of one of Italy's greatest directeur sportifs, Giancarlo Ferretti.

But to Italians Pozzato was already their hidden jewel before that day. He took home the silver medal at the Under-19 World Championships in 1998 and claimed medals in several other track events in both 1998 and 1999. His progression continued throughout his early professional years with the Mapei squad, where he earned numerous wins in lower level races.

Fame in his home country came in 2003, with wins in the Trofeo Laigueglia and the Tirreno-Adriatico general classification. He international-level Tour de France win was followed with the HEW Cyclassics in 2005, Milano-Sanremo in 2006 and 2007's Het Volk and Tour de France stage five.

The 2008 season was painfully void of big victories for the rider from Sandrigo, Italy. Despite a win in the Giro della Provincia di Grosseto, the biggest news of Pozzato's season came during July when rumours revealed he would ride for Russian team Katusha.

Click here to read the interview with Filippo Pozzato.

Team Plowman Craven Madison launched

New British pro team announced to the sound of bagpipes

The Plowman team introduced.
Photo ©: Team Plowman Craven Madison
(Click for larger image)

Britain's newest road racing team was unveiled at the Madison IceBike expo yesterday. The squad were led into the launch to the sound of bagpipes played by Scottish team member Evan Oliphant.

Team Plowman Craven Madison has been created through the merger of the Pearl Izumi and Plowman Craven teams, and will focus on the domestic season including the Premier Calendar races.

"2009 looks like it will be even better for us and I'm impressed with the amount of talent we have for a relatively young squad," Team owner and MD of Plowman Craven Simon Barnes said. "The guys rode with distinction at the Tour of Mallorca two weeks ago and we've been invited out to more races as a result."

The young team made up of 11 riders includes 21-year-old 2007 under-23 criterium series winner Jon Mozley; Evan Oliphant; Tour of the North winner Tom Murray; Jeroen Janssen, winner of the Warwick national series; 20-year-old sprinter Stephen Adams; Tom Barras, who had eight wins in 2008, including the Tour of Bermuda; 25-year-old Jon Tiernan Locke, who took five wins in 2008; and James Millard.

Scottish cyclo-cross champion Ross Creber made the transition from the dirt to the road after spending 2008 with the Great Britain under-23 mountain bike academy. He will support fellow Scot Oliphant in the Premier Calendar races. Tony Gibb postponed his retirement when he heard about the merger of the two teams. He will star in the circuit races for the team.

Team Director Cherie Pridham, one of only two female managers in the sport in Europe, is delighted to have realised her long-time dream of managing a professional team. "This is a great bunch of guys and it's a dream come true for me to be working with them," she said.

The team's next race is the Eddie Soens on March 7, before the start of the Premier Calendar with the Bikeline Two-Day on March 14 to 15.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Team Plowman Craven Madison

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Antonio J. Salmerón.)

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