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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, January 20, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Greipel ready to defend Down Under title

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

André Greipel (Columbia) looked ready to pounce at the Cancer Council Classic
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Team Columbia's André Greipel is leaner and hoping to be meaner as his Tour Down Under title defence kicks off in Adelaide, Australia today. The German rider had a breakthrough season in 2008 off the back of his ProTour win in Australia and is hoping to have the legs for this year's course, which features more climbing than 2008.

"I hope so. I'm two kilograms lighter than last year, and if it's uphill the other riders try to increase the speed; I hope they don't go so fast so it's possible for me to get to the finish only 10 or 20 seconds down," he said. "Then you can try and win with time bonuses. I'll try my best, and if it's not me then hopefully it's someone else from Columbia."

Columbia enters the race with a strong team that includes Michael Rogers and George Hincapie. The team also feature's Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw, Austrian Bernhard Eisel and New Zealand's Greg Henderson.

"There is no pressure on me," said Greipel. "We have Michael Rogers, George [Hincapie] and Adam Hansen so we have guys who are better climbers than me so not so much pressure on me. I want to win a stage – after this we will see what happens."

Greipel wasted little time in showing his desire for a stage victory. At Sunday evening's Cancer Council Classic Columbia entered the final lap with its entire squad driving at the head of the peloton. The riders peeled off one at a time to reveal Greipel for the sprint finish, but Australia's Robbie McEwen (Katusha) proved to be too quick for him.

"I think Robbie's a great rider – it doesn't matter how old he is," said Greipel. "I think it was a good finish for him. He likes to use a high cadence, and with a downhill sprint it was really good for him. He came out of the slipstream and passed me really fast."

The rider only made slight changes to his training for this year's race, despite the addition of another lap over the Willunga climb in this year's race. His training ahead of Tour Down Under has been similar to last year, Greipel said.

"Maybe I did a little bit less training in terms of kilometres compared to last year; I tried my best," he said. "I think it was more quality, especially sprint training. I hope I can earn the fruits of this work."

Attention to Armstrong "good for cycling"

Lance Armstrong concentrating
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Just prior to the Tour Down Under, Astana's Lance Armstrong spoke to members of the media in a press conference in Adelaide, Australia.

"I was looking forward to coming back," said Armstrong before participating in the first ProTour race of the season and his comeback. "It's part of the ProTour. This event has come a long way in the past ten years."

"I'm extremely motivated but extremely uncertain about how it will go," he said when questioned about his own chances of success. When asked if he would work for his teammates in races this season, he answered, "We've done a good job of compiling the greatest team in cycling. As I've said many times, I'll follow the laws of cycling." The seven-time Tour de France champion has no qualms about working for the strongest man on the team.

The buzz that has followed Armstrong upon his return has been even more than the American star was anticipating. "The attention has been more than I expected. It's good for cycling and the fight against cancer. It's good for all of the reasons I came back. Everybody's been very cool, and I've had no issues at all." He expressed appreciation that the media has given him some breaks, "Everyone's been fine when I need a little private time to relax."

Surprised as he may have been by the magnitude of the attention, Armstrong wouldn't change the attention his return is bringing to his purpose of raising awareness and money for the battle against cancer. "If I had to go out on a bike ride by myself verses a bunch of cameras following me, I'd probably choose the latter," he said.

Watch a Cyclingnews' video of the press conference. See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour Down Under.

Roche shows solid form Down Under

By Shane Stokes

Nicolas Roche
Photo ©: Davide Tricarico
(Click for larger image)
Showing solid form when he placed 12th in Sunday's Cancer Council Classic, Nicolas Roche will begin the Tour Down Under on Tuesday in a relaxed frame of mind.

"I have no specific goal in the race," he told Cyclingnews. "The aim is to gain form for when I get back to Europe. I have no pressure to get a result."

The 24-year-old got things off to a good start with AG2R when he finished just outside the top ten in Sunday's race, a precursor to the Tour Down Under proper.

"It was a really fast circuit and really, really fast sprint," he said. "There was some very crazy riding; everybody was always fighting, all nervous. It's not easy to start the season on a 1.7 kilometre circuit, and the 48 km/h average was quick. It was stressful, but fun."

Next up is the six-day Tour Down Under, and this will give further insight into his condition. "I hope the legs are okay on the climbs now. I still have three kilos to lose."

Following the ProTour race, Roche will travel back to Europe and ride the Méditerranéen Tour, the Tour du Haut Var, the Gran Premio dell'Insubria, Paris-Nice and Milan-Sanremo. The AG2R rider is hoping to compete in his first Tour de France this year, having finished a promising 13th overall in the Vuelta a España last September.

A rider diary from Nicolas Roche is coming soon to Cyclingnews.

Cipollini tips Cavendish as likely Sanremo winner

Mark Cavendish (Columbia)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Sprint legend Mario Cipollini believes Briton Mark Cavendish is moving closer to winning one of the most prized races, Milano Sanremo. The Italian thinks the winner of four stages in the 2008 Tour de France needs a bit more experience to capture the Spring Classic.

"Cavendish is the most explosive. But this is not the only thing that matters throughout a race. For example, in Sanremo you need to also have other characteristics like resistance, tactics, staying power on the climbs...," said Cipollini to La Gazzetta dello Sport last week.

Cavendish turned professional after he gained racing experience on the track. His breakthrough season came in 2007, but last year he went even better with two stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and four in France.

Cipollini, winner of the 2002 Milano-Sanremo, rates his compatriot Daniele Bennati as the current favourite for Sanremo. The race is one of the longest in modern day cycling at nearly 300 kilometres.

"Bennati, who arrives fresher in the sprint, is a more complete rider and gives a greater guarantee for the result. But Cavendish is young and has raced very little on the road. What he has done at the Giro and then the Tour is very impressive."

Cipollini, 41, made a brief return to racing last spring and competed against Cavendish in the Tour of California. This year he will be off the bike but just as involved in the sport thanks to his technical consultant role with Italian team ISD. (GB)

Rock asked to pay the bill in San Luis

By Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina

The Rock Racing team has been asked to pay a large bill.
Photo ©: Rock Racing
(Click for larger image)

The organizers of the Tour of San Luis have ordered Rock Racing to pay upwards of US$30,000 back to the event for not showing up, a violation of the event-team contract. The hefty expense incorporates flights, lodging, meals, rental cars and fuel cards that the organization paid for in advance.

"It costs us a lot of money to invite a team down to compete in our event and all the teams had to sign a contract with us," said race promoter Giovanni Lombardi. "As far as I'm concerned they will not be invited back to our event."

The team was scheduled to compete in the Tour of San Luis but was a no-show after encountering problems with its racing license just days before the event's start date of Monday, January 19. The team met the requirements set by the UCI and acquired their continental license on Friday January 16.

The riders registered for the event included US national champion Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla, Francisco "Paco" Mancebo, Jose Enrigue Gutierrez and Freddy Rodriguez lead by directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage.

Wohlberg leads Bissell in San Luis

By Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina

Tom Zirbel (Bissell) will be among those at the Tour of San Luis
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

Three-time Canadian Olympian Eric Wohlberg made the jump from twelve years of professional bike racing to directing of the Bissell Pro Cycling Team in 2009. He is set to lead the US-based continental squad at the Tour of San Luis starting on January 19. According to Wohlberg, he is looking forward to the challenge of directing the team for the first time in Argentina.

"I've been on some smaller teams in the past where the riders had to step up and do some organizing and logistics, so it is not brand new for me," Wohlberg said. "I had some opportunities to continue racing but this came up, an opportunity to become a part of the Bissell staff. I'm looking forward to the challenge. We're down here for the opportunity to get an early season race in. I think it's a really good way to get the team to gel before the Tour of California."

Like the other teams invited from the Northern Hemisphere, Wohlberg could not pass up an opportunity to send his team south to the warm temperatures. "Some of the guys haven't had the best winter opportunities living in the North American winter," Wohlberg said. "We have gotten some financial support from the organization to come down here so it was an easy decision." The organization offered flights, lodging and meals to most teams as an incentive to compete in their event.

The six-man team competing in San Luis includes brothers Ben and Andy Jacques-Maynes, Tom Zirbel, Joao Correira, Kirk O'Bee and Burke Swindlehurst. Wohlberg noted there is minimal pressure on the team to perform and a great opportunity for the riders to improve their fitness before the Tour of California in February. "They're here to do some hard race miles in warm weather," Wohlberg said. "If our time trialists, Ben Jacques-Maynes and Tom Zirbel, sit in the bunch for the first two stages and stay fresh for the time trial, we'll see what they can do. I think that will be great."

Both time trialists have placed inside the top ten at the Tour of California and are regarded as two of the nation's best. Zirbel went on to take second place at the US Pro time trial championships last year, behind Dave Zabriskie racing for Garmin. According to Zirbel stage three's 20 kilometre time trial will be a good test of fitness and a chance to dial in his position.

"I can't say that I've been putting too much focus on my time trial this winter," said Zirbel who resides in Boulder, Colorado during the winter months. "But, I think doing the time trial here will give me a chance to see where I'm at. I also have a few equipment changes so I have an opportunity to make some adjustments if needed."

Paolini's desire stronger than ever

By Gregor Brown

Luca Paolini
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Luca Paolini expects a strong start to the season after one of his best ever off-seasons in seven years as a professional. The rider from Milan has been spending the winter away from home to avoid harsh weather conditions.

"I have the desire to do well right away with the season's start. I respected the rules of the life of a cyclist closer this winter. I had a few sweets or Panettone less," said Paolini to Cyclingnews.

Paolini spent a week in Valencia, Spain, with teammate Stefano Garzelli prior to Team Acqua & Sapone's training camp in Sardegna, Italy. He plans to return to visit Garzelli with teammates Massimo Codol and Dario Andriotto this weekend for a two-week stay.

"Here in northern Italy it is very difficult to train. ... I heard from Garzelli that it is 20°C in Valencia, so it makes sense."

Paolini, winner of Trofeo Laigueglia and Coppa Placci in 2008, will start 2009 with the GP Etruschi, February 7.

"Then there is immediately the Méditerranéen Tour and Laigueglia. ... I would like to have a try in Méditerranéen."

RCS Sport will announce the teams to its key races towards the end of this month or early February. Paolini will know then if his Acqua & Sapone team will race in Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo and the Giro d'Italia.

Chicago proposes new Olympic cycling venues

Two Wisconsin cities, Madison and Mt. Horeb, are the newly proposed road cycling and mountain biking venues for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Games bid expected to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee on February 12 according to the Chicago Tribune. The International Cycling Union (UCI) had previously advised those preparing the bid that their first choices for courses were too flat.

In the revised proposal presented at a press conference on Friday, Madison would host the road and time trial courses with the road race consisting of three loops within the city and five outside of it near Blue Mound. The time trial would stay within Madison, and Mt. Horeb's Tyrol Basin ski area would host the mountain bike events. Madison would serve as the Olympic outdoor cycling center, featuring an Olympic village for approximately 320 cyclists at some University of Wisconsin dormitories expected to be built by 2014.

The announcement confirmed rumors from December that the courses would be relocated to an area near Madison. Previously both the road and mountain bike courses were proposed for the host city of Chicago.

Madison and its surrounding comprise a popular cycling area. According to US Census data cited by the Tribune, Madison has the highest number of bicycle commuters per capita for any US city with more than 100,000 workers.

UCI President Pat McQuaid had not yet received formal notification of the proposed course changes, but said that having cycling venues outside of the host city would not be a negative when evaluating the bid. "Sites always are spread out," McQuaid said. "In China, the equestrian (Hong Kong) and sailing (Qingdao) were both far outside Beijing. The most important thing is to have a good course that gives a good race for television and promotes our sport in the region and the area."

The International Olympic Committee will choose the city to host the 2016 Olympic Games on October 2. Chicago is competing with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro for the privilege of hosting.

New Zealand team excels in Beijing

Hayden Godfrey won a scratch gold.
Photo ©: Greg Chang
(Click for larger image)

New Zealand's team earned four gold medals at the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing, China, this past weekend, surpassing the expectations of Bike New Zealand's High Performance Manager Mark Elliott.

Alison Shankes and Jesse Sergent brought home gold medals in the women's and men's individual pursuits and Hayden Godfrey won the scratch race. The men's team pursuit team collected a silver while on the final day, the women's team pursuit clocked a gold-medal winning performance.

"Even though the world championships are 10 weeks away, it's a good indication that they're at the right fitness level, and they're still developing – they're going to go faster," said Elliott according to the Otago Daily Times.

"It's very exciting, that level of competition, and it's really going to set our track nationals in February on fire."

In addition to looking toward the world championships, Elliott said the team's performance was important as New Zealand geared up for the 2012 Olympic Games.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Beijing Track World Cup.

Sinkewitz posts blood values online

Patrik Sinkewitz has posted his first blood values online, from three tests conducted by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in September and October 2008. The data is available for viewing on his website,

"Of course I have been tested more often," he noted, but the other tests were done by either the World Anti-Doping Agency or the National Anti-Doping Agency, neither of which publishes the test results.

Sinkewitz, who now rides for the Czech Professional Continental Team PSK-Whirlpool-Author, tested positive for testosterone during his preparations for the 2006 Tour de France.

The German rider also announced that he was recovering from an intestinal infection and had flown to the Canary Islands for training, in order to make up for the training time he had missed. Sinkewitz will start his season at the Ruta del Sol, February 15-19.

Win an autographed Team Columbia jersey

Enter Cyclingnews' contest to win a unique piece of cycling history – a 2008 team-issue Team Columbia jersey signed by the entire 2009 men's team, gathered in Mallorca, Spain for its December 2008 training camp.

The Team Columbia jersey appeared on the top step of the podium 85 times in the 2008 season, more than any other professional team, with stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Dauphiné Libéré, Tour of Germany and Tour of Ireland plus victories in one-day events such as Flèche Wallonne and Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen.

Twenty five riders signed the jersey, including

- Mark Cavendish, four-time 2008 Tour de France stage winner, three-time 2008 Giro d'Italia stage winner
- Bert Grabsch, 2008 World TT Champion
- Marcus Burghardt, 2008 Tour de France stage winner
- Edvald Boasson Hagen, 2008 Critérium International stage winner, three-time 2008 Tour of Britain stage winner
- George Hincapie, 2008 Tour of California stage winner, two-time US national champion
- Kim Kirchen, 2008 Tour de France yellow jersey and green jersey wearer, 2008 Flèche Wallonne champion
- Marco Pinotti, 2008 Giro d'Italia stage winner, 2008 Tour of Ireland champion

The contest's winner will be selected at random from all correct answers to a Team Columbia trivia question.

Hurry now and enter to be in the draw. Good luck!

(Additional editorial assistance by Gregor Brown and Susan Westemeyer.)

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