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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, March 23, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Cavendish keeps on track for road wins

By Gregor Brown

Cavendish has used track racing as a base
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish's narrow win over Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) in last weekend's Milano-Sanremo was due in part to Cavendish's track background. Despite not racing on the boards for the first time European winter since becoming a road professional, the Briton will line up in the Track World Championships this week in Poland.

"The reason I am so fast is because I have the leg speed. I get the leg speed from the track," said Cavendish after his win. He had stated earlier this year that not riding the track in the winter had allowed him to lower his racing weight to under 70kg, although his powerful sprint, displayed in the win on Saturday, is a direct result of his background on the boards.

"You see me here after I win, but you don't see the fine details I put into my training and lifestyle to be able to be here," said the Columbia-Highroad rider after he triumphed in the 298km Classic in Italy.

British Cycling named the 23-year-old in the men's team last week. He races the scratch race on Thursday and the Madison on Saturday. He raced the Olympics after winning four stages in the Tour de France, but was the only team member not to medal in Beijing.

"There is no point in getting to the finishing and not having a sprint. ... I don't benefit financially or in terms of being remembered in cycling from racing on the track. If you look at the fact that it is going to benefit my road career by keeping me fast, then it makes sense."

Cavendish is the youngest winner of the Milano-Sanremo since Eddy Merckx in 1966 and the first British rider to take the title since Tom Simpson in 1964. He is only the fourth man to win in his Sanremo debut, a list that includes Gabriele Colombo in 1996, Merckx and Gaetano Belloni in 1917.

Farrar Classics schedule in doubt

Tyler Farrar Classics campaign on hold
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tyler Farrar crashed out of the Milano-Sanremo after 100 kilometres on Saturday. Doctors took the American of team Garmin-Slipstream, an outside favourite for the race, to the hospital in Ovada, Italy, with a suspected fractured collarbone.

He "injured his shoulder, but he had an x-ray Sunday morning and it is not a broken collarbone. More to come as he sees a shoulder specialist," reported the team's doctor, Prentice Steffan

Farrar surprised many with his win over many of the sport's best sprinters on stage three of the Tirreno-Adriatico. He explained that his goals for the season were back North with the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.

Menchov welcomes opportunity to compare form

By Shane Stokes

Denis Menchov ready to ride against Giro rivals in Castilla y León
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Russian Denis Menchov starts the Vuelta a Castilla y León today knowing the race gives him an opportunity to measure his condition against Giro d'Italia rival Lance Armstrong plus several others.

"For now it is perhaps not crucial [to finish high in the general classification in Spain], but it is also good to try to compare," he said, speaking to Cyclingnews on Sunday evening. "For example, I can see how my form compares to that of Armstrong prior to the Giro, because the Giro is not so far away. It is always good to have that chance."

Along with Alberto Contador, Menchov has already taken an overall stage race victory this season and so has a psychological edge over most of the other candidates for the Tour de France. Just over two weeks ago the Rabobank competitor won the Vuelta a Murcia, beating Rubén Plaza (Liberty Seguros) by 20 seconds and his own teammate Pieter Weening by 35.

Menchov now lines up with Contador, Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer (all Astana), Carlos Sastre (Cervélo), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) and others in the five day Castilla y León, which runs until Friday.

It features two flat stages, two mountain-top finishes and a time trial, and thus gives a good opportunity for these riders to compare their form to those they will be battling in France in July.

His performance earlier this month suggests that Menchov should be in contention this week. "I think my form is okay for now. At this point of the season it is on schedule. I was a little surprised by the final result in Murcia, because it is always hard to win. But I knew before that I was in good condition.

"Although I didn't do anything special during the winter [to be in form early], I did good training and I had a good feeling on the bike... I felt comfortable. It was more or less the same programme as before, but every year is different."

Should he ride well in the 2.1-ranked event, the five-day race should serve as both a confidence builder plus a stepping stone to bigger targets this year. "Normally this is part of my preparation for the big goals, the Giro and the Tour. I feel good. There will be a nice test in the time trial, it is a very good one of 28 kilometres. Then there are two interesting stages in the mountains."

Stage one takes the riders 168.3 kilometres from Paredes de Nava to Baltanás. A bunch sprint is expected.

Armstrong talks Giro, Twitter and Tour

Lance Armstrong talks Giro, Twitter and Tour
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Cycling has changed since Lance Armstrong's retirement in 2005. Having returned to the sport late last year, the American admits that he's finding the pace tough, but there's a feeling he's enjoying the challenge. As he makes the first European racing appearances of his comeback, Armstrong tells Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown about life in the faster lane, Twitter, testing, this year's Giro and the prospect of an eighth Tour de France crown.

Cyclingnews: What are the big differences in the peloton since you retired in 2005?
Lance Armstrong: I am honestly still trying to figure that out. It is tricky for me to figure out so far because Australia has been an anomaly and California is kind of an anomaly.

I can tell you that from Australia and the Tour of California the racing has been fast. I think that's good for racing, good for the sport... You roll around in Australia and all of a sudden you are on the limit, and you say to some guy, 'I thought this was a fun race.' I thought it was one of these races where guys have a beer the night before and then show up and race the next day. The next thing you know, this year we are all in the gutter and suffering on the limit.

I think those guys realise that the races are televised around the world. Every media outlet from the neighbourhood paper all the way up to the international papers were there. There is a lot of added attention and pressure from their sponsors and teams. So the guys came fit and ready to race. That happens, and shit, the thing rolls down the road a lot quicker.

Read the full interview with Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong considers shortened Giro d'Italia

By Gregor Brown

Armstrong considers leaving Giro d'Italia early for family reasons
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong is considering an early stop in the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, due to a possible early arrival of his fourth child. The due date of his new baby is the first week of June.

"I need to start thinking about that," he said to Cyclingnews when asked if he would stop the Giro early if his partner Anna Hansen delivered early.

"I guess a lot depends on how the race is shaping up. Anna and I need to have that discussion. Ahh... it is frustrating even to think about it. Neither scenario is a good scenario. I have my fingers crossed that it comes on time!"

Armstrong announced the pregnancy in December. He explained last week that they have not selected names for the baby, whose gender is unknown. He has three children with his ex-wife Kristin, a son Luke and twins Isabelle Rose and Grace Elizabeth.

Armstrong is back in Europe to race after three and a half years. He competed with team Astana in Milano-Sanremo on Saturday in Italy and will start in the Castilla y León today in Spain.

He will return home in Texas after the Spanish race, but come back to Europe for the Giro d'Italia. Armstrong will be back home for the birth of his child and then race the Tour de France.

"It is always hard to leave any of your kids. I have three bigger kids now, and that is not easy. For them the problem is eliminated a little bit because you can iChat and other things that give you that personal contact that is difficult with an infant. The three weeks [of the Tour de France] will go by quick and all the family will be over here at the end. All of them, all four of them."

Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. He retired after the seventh victory in 2005. He started his comeback to the sport this January with the Tour Down Under.

Hamilton out of Castilla y León

By Gregor Brown

Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) out of Castilla y León
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tyler Hamilton is out of Rock Racing's team for the Castilla y León stage race this week in Spain. The USA Champion misses a chance to race against Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.

"He is suffering from bronchitis," said Directeur Sportif Rudy Pevenage to Cyclingnews. "In Mexico I thought it would be better, but it is still bad. I prefer he is 100% okay."

Hamilton was the rider Pevenage planned to head the team in the five-day stage race. However, he stayed in the USA to deal with family matters and his bronchitis. Pevenage expects him back for the remainder of Rock Racing's Iberian tour: the one-day Gran Premio Llodio, two days after Castilla y León and Portugal's Volta ao Alentejo em Bicicleta, April 1 to 5.

"I think it is better to let him out for this race [Castilla y León] and then he will come over for [Volta ao] Alentejo."

The team for Castilla y León is Victor Hugo Peña, Oscar Sevilla, Fred Rodriguez, José Enrique Gutierrez, Francisco Mancebo, David Vitoria, David Martín Velasco and Glen Chadwick.

Hamilton won stages in the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and an Olympic Gold medal prior to testing positive for blood doping in 2004. He returned to racing after his two-year suspension with Tinkoff Credit Systems.

Bike Pure reaches milestone in membership

By Shane Stokes

The Bike Pure organisation has announced that over 10,000 people have signed up to its anti-doping campaign, reflecting a strong interest in the push for a cleaner sport.

"Cycling fans worldwide deserve heroes they can believe in," said Myles McCorry of Bike Pure. "We are delighted to have this surge of support from riders, fans and the cycle industry."

Amongst the latest to come on board is Ben Jacques-Maynes from the Bissell Pro Cycling Team and Pieter Jacobs (Silence-Lotto). Jacobs' attention was drawn to the campaign when he saw teammate Olivier Kaisen wearing the Bike Pure wristband. "Every campaign against doping is a good one but Bike Pure looks a fresh one and I want to support it," he said.

The new Team – squad has also signed up en masse; the organisers have sent them 30 blue headset spacers and 20 wristbands, which will be seen on the bikes and riders from this point on.

Team DS Martin Crossan said that it was important to Magnus Backstedt's new squad. "There is a change in cycling that is evident. But it needs a collective, committed effort to ensure that these changes are long term. We are committed to educating and producing the next generation of professional cyclists, dedicated to a new cleaner future of our sport."

"When a cyclist cheats the list of those affected is widespread," said McCorry, explaining the motivation behind the campaign. "Event organisers, team-mates, sponsors, fans, and commentators are all let down in different ways. The media focus so much attention on the cheaters that the real heroes' stories get forgotten. We wish to focus on the positive side of bike racing and turn the tide the image of cycling racing."

Bike Pure is planning to travel to the Ronde van Vlaanderen in order to further raise the profile of the non-profit campaign. Those interested can sign up at According to Andy Layhe of Bike Pure, the site has had visitors from 40 countries worldwide.

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