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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, January 10, 2009

Edited by Sue George & Peter Hymas

Grabsch content in Mallorca

By Shane Stokes

World time trial champion Bert Grabsch
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

World time trial champion Bert Grabsch is one of many big guns on the Columbia team, and he's undoubtedly motivated for 2009 after his win in Varese last September. The Swiss-based German is satisfied with his condition for this time of the year, thanks in part to his work at the team training camp at Club Robinson in Mallorca.

"We have not had much training thus far…just two days," he told Cyclingnews on Friday evening. "Tomorrow is the team presentation and then we will have another five days of training. The team has been here since the sixth of January, but I am here since the third….I got here three days before, as my home [in Kreutzlingen, Switzerland] is covered in snow. It is too cold."

Although Switzerland has been hit by bad weather, he feels that everyone is in the same boat. "It's the same for all of the riders from Europe," he said, when asked if he was at a disadvantage. "In Italy it is snowing, I think everyone has the same condition. That said, I feel I am in good shape – I was already here in December for three weeks for training, and I think I am in a good way for the season."

Grabsch was an unexpected winner of the world title last September. He scorched the 43.7 kilometre course and ultimately finished 42 seconds ahead of Canadian Svein Tuft and 52 up on American Dave Zabriskie.

Looking towards 2009, he will start his season with the Tour of Qatar, then do three days of racing in the Volta a Mallorca. After that, he'll head to the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal. His first big target is likely to be either Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, particularly if there's a time trial there.

Busy presentation day for Columbia riders

The riders of the Columbia High Road team have a packed day on Saturday, with the team presentation taking place at the Club Robinson Cala Serena at 10:00 am local time. Between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, the riders will do interviews with the press and then, after a brief lunch, they will head out on a recovery-day ride.

At 4:00 pm, they are required to take a cold plunge, facilitating recuperation, then after that they will do a core strength workout. A sports science and training overview plus a team strategy and tactics discussion takes them to dinner at 8:00 pm, completing a busy day.

Augé has Nationals already on his mind

By Bjorn Haake in Paris

Stéphane Augé looks forward to the French Championships
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Stéphane Augé of Cofidis is starting the year slowly as his main objectives will come later in the season. He has ridden about 2,500 kilometers since November, with his peak form scheduled to be in the June/July time frame.

"My principal objective is to do a good Tour de France and – why not? – win a stage. But before that I will target the French Championships." The National Championships in Europe are traditionally held on the weekend before the Tour starts. The French event will take place in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, this year.

Augé wants to improve on his 2008 performance. "I finished fifth last year." He smiled as he thought about 2009. "This year I want to do much better..."

Augé will have the benefits of great training grounds to prepare him for the summer highlight. "I am from Pau. I am not a climber and the Pyrenees are hard. But the training is super great." Augé praised the south western region and he also takes pride in the fact that the Tour passes by every year. "Racing at home is usually very motivating, except when the stages are very hard - oh la la," the Frenchman said. "Then it is not motivating..."

Augé was glad that his team reversed its course from stepping down to a Continental Pro Team status. "I think going ProTour is better. We will do all the great races of the calendar, which is also important to be able to keep at a good race level."

The experienced Augé feels very good about being with Cofidis, which became apparent when he talked about his 2008 season highlight. "My best memory of the season was the victory at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque. That was a great moment with a team that was dedicated to me. I had an extraordinary week."

Fernandez doing well in France

By Bjorn Haake in Paris

Bingen Fernandez dreams of the sun
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Bingen Fernandez is the only Spanish rider on the French Cofidis team, but he feels very well acquainted with France and his predominantly French teammates. Fernandez is heading into his eighth season with Cofidis.

"It feels normal for me. This is my team, and I would like to end my career here." Fernandez added that he is content in France, amused by the question he sometimes gets posed. "People ask me 'Don't you want to end your career in Spain?'" He answers this question firmly. "No. I feel really good here and I would like this to be my last team."

Fernandez still has some connections home, as he lives in the Basque Country. It is an area he thoroughly enjoys for training. "I am close to the mythical mountains, such as the Tourmalet, the Peyresourde. I like going on long rides where I can climb at my own pace." Fernandez lives a short drive from the best places to ride and sometimes spends a weekend in the Pyrenees to get his climbing in.

Fernandez has spent the winter training well but admitted he had to flee his hometown due to the weather. "I was in southeastern Spain, in Alicante. It was cold, sometimes seven or eight degrees centigrade, but dry." Fernandez was happy he could see the sun every day, something that is not a given in northern Spain.

He doesn't mind taking the extra effort to travel a few hundred kilometers and spending time in a hotel. "You can get the long rides in that way." His time in Alicante was interrupted for a trip home for the holidays, adding with a smile that his mother would not be too happy if he hadn't joined them for Christmas.

After the Cofidis camp, which runs until January 16 in southern France, Fernandez will head back to the Basque Country. "But if the weather isn't great, I'll jump in the car and go back down to Alicante." He admitted that chances for good weather aren't great as it rains a lot in the Basque region. "I would like to stay at home a bit, but if it doesn't work out I will have to go find the sun..."

Fernandez is one of the rare breed of Spaniards who race the northern Classics (Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are on his program this year). He will start out in Mallorca, hope for a good Paris-Nice and then do his home race, the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco. "It is true, there the weather is often bad, too. But if you are from the Basque Country, you have to race it..."

Fernandez is a valuable team helper, but has a dream for himself. "I hope to be in a break and maybe I can win one of the smaller races."

Klöden training for Tour in warm Spain

Germany's Andreas Klöden
Photo ©: Luca Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden has also fled the cold of northern Europe and is training in warm and sunny Spain, while casting his glance towards this summer's Tour de France.

Writing on his website,, the Team Astana rider noted that since there is nothing prohibiting his team's participation in this year's Tour de France, that race will be his main season highlight. "But it is a long time until July, and I still have a lot of work to do in order to be at the start in an outstanding form."

To get that form, he is spending as much time in Spain as possible. Klöden joined the week-long team training camp on Tenerife in December, where, he said, "we had a lot fun. The mood in the team is very good and everyone is really looking forward to racing again."

The 33-year-old German then stayed another two weeks for training before returning to his family in Switzerland for the holidays. But the deep-chill sent him back to the more comfortable climate of Spain for his further training. That will be followed by the next team training camp in California the beginning of February.

Lampre riders rack up miles

Alessandro Ballan
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

World Road Champion Alessandro Ballan and his Lampre-NGC teammate Marzio Bruseghin have been getting plenty of training while staying based at their respective homes thanks to some cooperative weather. Their situation is unlike that of Damiano Cunego and some of the other team's riders who have had to travel south to warmer parts of Italy to find less wintry training opportunities.

"Yesterday I performed a strengthening workout during four and half hours of training; today with Marco Bandiera and Simoni Ponzi I pedaled for five and half hours covering 155 km," said Ballan.

"After fighting off a cold at the end of 2008, I haven't missed any training in 2009. The temperatures are milder when the sun is shining, but tomorrow morning, I will have to go training in the morning so I can attend the opening of my wife's new shop, a beauty and tanning shop."

Bruseghin, in Cappella Maggiore, has been enjoying even warmer conditions. "There hasn't been any deep cold in my zone. I did not train for only two days - in order to avoid the frozen streets. All the other days, I rode my bike, up to four hours.

"I did routes in the hills because it's warmer. I haven't ridden my time trial bike - I'll work with it starting with the next training camp."

Meanwhile, in the south of Italy, Cunego and his teammates Marco Marzano, Mirco Lorenzetto, Massimiliano Mori and Manuele Mori and Daniele Righi logged 80km on their fixed gears Friday.

Stewart ready for Qatar

Jackson Stewart
Photo ©: Mark Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Jackson Stewart, a three-year veteran of BMC Racing, has based his off-season on the team's push to step up the racing level in 2009 and has his eyes set on the season's first test at the Tour of Qatar.

"I've had a very good off-season, actually. In addition to riding off-road, I focused on gym-related strength training a lot more than I have in the past," Stewart said. "I have a good base already in place, and now plan on using our training camp to top off the intensity and get up to racing speeds again. I have also been using the time to get my position dialed in since I had so much trouble with my hip last year. I have been working with a specialist, doing targeted exercises, so we have definitely fixed some stuff."

Similar to last year, Stewart will begin his season on the wind-swept roads of Qatar. The first order of business for the team will be to improve on its team time trial performance from 2008. "I really like team time trials, especially since we have found success with them before," said Stewart, who was a member of the BMC team which won the team time trial at the Giro del Friuli in 2007. "Last year we were a little disappointed with our result in the Qatar team time trial, but this year we will know the course around the Doha Corniche and we are taking some big engines, so we are pretty confident."

Stewart's time spent racing in Europe last season has increased his confidence and whetted his appetite for more Euro competition. "I am most excited about going back to Europe to race. I hope that I can have a chance to ride at least a few of the events I did over there last year, races like Romandie and Criterium International, and use some of the experience I gained."

British riders selected for Beijing UCI Track World Cup Team

British Cycling has announced on Friday a team of five riders for the next round of the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing which will take place January 16-18.

Chris Newton will return to Beijing, where he won a Bronze medal in the points race at the recent Olympic Games. Newton will be joined by fellow endurance riders Rob Hayles and Peter Kennaugh, all of whom will be representing Great Britain. Two other young British endurance riders – Luke Rowe and Mark Christian – will be competing for Team 100% ME.

The Beijing round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup is the fourth round of five in the 2008-2009 series.

Vennell storms to time trial win

By Tim Pawson

Hawkes Bay-based professional Jeremy Vennell won the elite men's New Zealand National Championship in the individual time trial championship in Te Awamutu. Known more for his stage race riding capabilities, the Bissell team rider showed the improvements he has made against the clock this year and will wear the fern for the next 12 months in time trial events around the globe.

Chasing him home were past Olympians Robin Reid and Veteran Chris Nicholson, both riding for the Nelson based Star and Garter Wheelers outfit and fast becoming one of the strongest club teams in the country.

Unfortunately for time trial strongman Gordon McCauley, sickness got the better of him on the day. A stomach virus robbed the Commonwealth medallist of his opportunity although he is looking for a comeback in time for Sunday's road race championship.

Inaugural Tour de Kootenays

Organizers of the inaugural Tour de Kootenays in British Columbia, Canada, on July 4-5, are inviting UCI Professional Continental, Continental, National, Regional and Club Teams (elite men and U23s, foreign/mixed-foreign, maximum seven riders) to compete. The event includes two challenging one-day races, both categorized as UCI 1.2, in the heart of BC's rugged and beautiful West Kootenays.

Tour de Kootenays
July 4: Tour de Kootenays 1 - Rossland to Retallack, 178.8kms (5571m climbing)
July 5: Tour de Kootenays 2 - Krestova Circuit (near Crescent Valley), 158.6km on a 12.2km circuit (5382m climbing)

For more information contact Heather Myers at

HDR announces 2009 roster and program

The revamped Lombardi Sports Elite Cycling team has bigger and better plans as HDR for its 26 elite and master racers in 2009.

Junior National Road Champion Evan Huffman will lead the Under 23 squad. "He is clearly on the way to the professional ranks, if not this season then by 2010 at the latest," said DS Bill Howard. Along with Huffman, local track star and road sprinter Benjamin Barsi-Rhyne gives the team fire power in flat, fast criteriums.

National Points Race Champion and Northern California/Nevada Elite Criterium Champion Jesse Mendonca heads the elite team which also includes Jim Miller, Colby Farrell, and Sean McBride.

The team will focus on Northern California road events with special focus on the District Championships as well as the team's flagship event, the Giro Di San Francisco. On a national level, the team will target the US National Championships with emphasis on the road and criterium events. Additionally, the team will send squads to key national events such as the Redlands Classic in Southern California, Superweek in Wisconsin, the Cascade Classic in Oregon, along with several other high profile races and targeted NRC events.

The team boasts new title sponsor HDR Inc. and new bike sponsor, but it will continue the Lombardi’s history & tradition of supporting an elite amateur program, with special focus on the development of young talent out of the depth of the Northern California racing pool. "We have a proven track record of taking U23 riders and developing them onto the national team and domestic pro teams respectively, and 2009 looks stronger than ever," said Howard.

HDR for 2009
U23: Evan Huffman, Ben Barsi-Rhyne, Eric Riggs, Tyler Brandt
Elite: Jesse Mendonca, Sean McBride, Vince Owens, Colby Farrell, Jim Miller, Blake Anton, Ryan Bennett, Eric Nitschke, Darin Divine
Masters: Robert Winder, Bill Howard, Mark Altamirano, Chris Carscadden, Nathan Parks, Steve Pelaez, Dave Nelson, Paul Sumner, Dave Loogman, Scott Derdenger, Kieth Defiebre, David Del Rosso, Steve Riojas

Enter the new Cyclingnews contest: Win an autographed Team CSC jersey

Team CSC jersey
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Enter Cyclingnews' contest to win a piece of recent cycling history - a Spring 2008 team-issue Team CSC jersey signed by all eight team members from the squad's 2008 Ronde van Vlaanderen lineup.

Victory eluded the team on this day, but CSC played an important role in the race with Karsten Kroon positioning himself in a threatening five-man break which was caught with only 25 kilometers to go. Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Allan Johansen both finished the Ronde in the top-ten, crossing the line in seventh and tenth respectively.

The contest's winner will be selected at random from all correct answers to a Team CSC trivia question received through next Wednesday, January 14. To find out more about the jersey and its signers and to enter, click here.

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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