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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, August 29, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Sastre tips Contador for Vuelta glory

Carlos Sastre ready for Vuelta a España challenge
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Carlos Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour de France, expects a strong challenge in his home Grand Tour – the Vuelta a España – starting this weekend. The 33 year-old CSC-Saxo Bank rider will have strong support, but tips compatriot Alberto Contador as the overall favourite.

"I might automatically be among the favourites because I won the Tour, but some of the other guys and teams will also have to step up and claim responsibility in this race – especially Alberto Contador, who's been preparing himself specifically for the Vuelta. I'm confident that we as a team will be able to put our mark on this race," said Sastre.

Sastre won the Tour de France over Cadel Evans but since then, he has raced in Beijing in support of Alejandro Valverde and eventual gold medallist, Samuel Sánchez. The Vuelta will be his second Grand Tour of the season.

"I'm very happy with the route this year – it'll be a great Vuelta. There are some tough mountain stages and a few tough ones in between as well, so it should be interesting. I think the stages in Asturia might be quite decisive. We have a very competent group of guys here even though there's only one rider from the Tour line-up. All nine of us are highly motivated and that's what counts." For a full race preview read Contador aiming for Grand Tour treble.

Directeur Sportif Scott Sunderland agreed Sastre on the team's strength. "As usual we have a broad team with a lot of different strengths. Both Karsten Kroon and Alexandr Kolobnev are able to neutralise breaks in all kinds of terrain, and for the sprints in the first week, we have Haedo and Matti. Then we have Volodimir Gustov, Iñigo Cuesta and Michael Blaudzun, whose jobs are to assist Carlos as much as possible. If Jurgen is as strong in the mountains as last year he should be able to do well."

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Blaudzun will enjoy every moment as he supports Sastre. The Dane is ending his career this season. "Of course it'll be quite a strange experience for me. I'll be nostalgic at times I'm sure, but I'm at peace with my decision and I've had time to get used to the idea since I made it during last winter. But I'm looking forward to this race and I hope to be able to do well in both the first time trial and as helper for Carlos along the way," he said.

Devolder sticks with Quick Step

Belgian Stijn Devolder sticks with Quick Step for 2009 and 2010
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Belgian Stijn Devolder, 28, will ride for Quick Step for a further two years. He already had a one-year option for 2009 with the Belgian ProTour team, but reached a better agreement with Wednesday. Devolder met again with Quick Step Manager Patrick Lefevere and the contract will be signed next week.

"I gave my word and it will not change. It is too bad, the Russians were too late," Devolder said, referring to Team Katusha. "I am happy to stay here in this Flemish environment."

Stefano Feltrin of Team Tinkoff Credit Systems, known as Katusha next year, denied that version of the events. He explained to Cyclingnews that the team knew he had an "existing contract" and that it only looks to "free" riders. Katusha's 2009 roaster is expected to be announced September 1.

Devolder rode for Discover Channel from 2004 to 2007 before joining Quick Step this season. He is 2007 Belgian road champion and 2008 Belgian time trial champion. This year he has won the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Tour of Belgium and the Volta ao Algarve. (SW)

Cavendish takes over sprinters' title

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish taking sprint control
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

Is it time for a generation change in the sprinters' ranks? It was not that long ago that the hottest young sprinter was Tom Boonen. However, at 26 years old, he now has to hand that title over to a 23 year-old Manxman – Mark Cavendish of Team Columbia.

Cavendish roared back from an unsuccessful Olympics to win the first two stages of the Tour of Ireland, which gives him 13 wins so far this season. Not counting jerseys or overall titles, he now leads the unofficial sprinters' ranking by one, over Boonen, who has 12 wins this season. Cavendish's team-mate André Greipel is in third with 10 wins.

Behind them come Juan José Haedo with eight, Thor Hushovd with seven, Oscar Freire with six, and Daniele Bennati with five. Some of the big names from the past are way down on the list: Erik Zabel with only one win this season and Robbie McEwen with three. Alessandro Petacchi had a good early season, but a doping related suspension caused a loss in wins.

Cavendish took his most notable wins in the two Grand Tours. He not only won two stages in the Giro d'Italia – four and 13 – but also generously decided to let lead-out man Greipel take a stage, too. The youngster then went on to his second Tour de France, determined to erase the unhappy memories of his 2007 appearance. He easily accomplished that, taking wins in Châteauroux, Toulouse, Narbonne and Nîmes.

He has a Grand Tour advantage over Boonen this year, riding the first two, while Boonen will ride only the Vuelta, where Team Columbia will not appear. The Belgian started the season in Qatar, where he won three of six stages, as well as the overall title. He also won the famed Paris-Roubaix.

Greipel started the year out with a bang, dominating the Tour Down Under. He took the non-ranked Down Under Classic, followed by four of six stages for the overall win. This was followed by the Giro stage win, and various other stage wins, including most recently the Eneco Tour.

All three are in action, with Cavendish in the Tour of Ireland and then the Tour of Missouri, Boonen in the Vuelta, and Greipel taking on the Deutschland Tour.

Richeze fires back after warning

Argentinean Maximiliano Richeze of Team CSF Group Navigare used the Tour of Ireland stage 2 – won by Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish – to signal his strong comeback following an exclusion from the Giro d'Italia in May. The 25 year-old sprinter was stopped from racing the Italian Grand Tour due to a positive steroid control taken in April's Circuit de Sarthe.

"I am happy to be racing again. It is beautiful for me to be here, and so any sort of placing will make me happy," said Richeze, who finished third in stage two. His last race was the Giro di Toscana in May – finishing fourth – nearly four months since his first race back, in the Coppa Bernocchi. His last wins were in April's Presidential Tour of Turkey – stage six to Antalya and seven to Alanya.

Richeze explained to the Argentinean cycling federation that positive resulted from a food supplement that used. It gave him a warning earlier this month and freed him to return to racing.

Sánchez ranks Olympic gold above all

Spaniard Samuel Sánchez raises an important gold medal
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Samuel Sánchez ranks his Olympic gold medal above any other win – including a theoretical Tour de France win. "Being Olympic champion in a speciality like cycling, with enormous social and worldwide recognition, is bigger than a win of the Giro or the Tour," said the 30 year-old, according to Diario Vasco.

Sánchez won gold earlier this month at the Beijing Games. He finished in a tight sprint ahead of Italy's Davide Rebellin and Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara. Prior to the gold medal, his biggest wins had come in the Vuelta a España and the 2006 Züri Metzgete.

Even though his life "underwent a radical change" after his victory he keeps training every day to keep his form, "because the cycling season does not stop." He will represent Team Euskaltel-Euskadi in the Tour de Pologne – September 15 to 21 – in order to prepare the World Championships – September 28.

He will help Oscar Freire win his fourth championship. "We could win the World Championships with Oscar Freire, who will be the leader of the Spanish selection, because the race is suitable for his characteristics", said Sánchez. (MP)

Olympic Madison champions back home

By Hernan Alvarez

Olympic Games Madison's winners – Argentina's Juan Curuchet and Walter Perez – returned to their hometown in Mar del Plata on Thursday. The duo received an affectionate welcome as 4,000 people gathered on the streets to see them with the two golden medals they won in Beijing.

Perez and Curuchet arrived in the city via a fire fighter's truck. They saluted the crowds standing at the top of the vehicle that went at a very slow pace. The riders also visited the local city hall and velodrome.

Curuchet was born in Mar del Plata was brought to tears when he reached his hometown. "It is a dream coming true," he said to the media. Juan also stated that it was his happiest moment of his life.

The medal represents the first gold in the history of the Argentinean cycling. Curuchet, 43, highlighted his career after with rides in six Games – Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. The duo also won world championship gold during the 2004 Madison race in Melbourne, Australia.

Join the Cyclingnews team! online production editor required - North America

Work on the world's leading cycling web site

Cyclingnews, the world's leading cycling web site, is expanding and is looking for a full time online production editor based in North America.

The position requires applicants to have a keen interest and thorough knowledge of competitive cycling, as well as editorial or writing experience with excellent English skills. The position will involve producing reports, results, photos and features from the world of cycling, so fluency in a second language is also an advantage, as is a familiarity with online production techniques, experience in journalism and attention to detail.

The applicants will need to be self-starters as the position involves regular liaison with production editors in all Cyclingnews offices. As Cyclingnews is a 24/7 daily news operation, the position will require regular weekend work. The weekend duties are handled on a rotating shift basis with other production editors, so the applicant must be flexible in their work schedule. However, the majority of work will be done during normal business hours on week-days.

The online editors will be required to have familiarity with online production applications (a good working knowledge of HTML and Photoshop are important skills) and could also be required to attend major cycling events in each region. However, the primary responsibility is the production of content for publication on the web site. Training in online production techniques can be provided to the right applicant, ability to handle the technical processes involved and an ability to communicate are required.

Please send your CV with a covering letter via e-mail to with "Cyclingnews online editing position - " in the subject line. Deadline for applications is September 2, 2008.

Future Publishing Australia seeks Online Sales Manager

Future Publishing Australia is seeking a passionate and knowledgeable Online Sales Manager for its market leading sport website - Cyclingnews.

Future is an international special-interest media company creating over 180 publications, websites and events, with strong portfolios in the technology, games, music, automotive and sports sectors.

The company already enjoys a well established presence in the Australian market through its distribution of market leading titles, as well as an existing portfolio of locally published print mastheads including Xbox 360, T3, Windows Vista, and Guitarist, plus the regional homes for Bike Radar and Cyclingnews both of which sit within our market leading sports portfolio of magazines and websites.

A new and exciting opportunity exists for an Online Sales Manager, with a knowledge and passion for competitive cycling and sport generally, and a thorough understanding of the commercial online environment.

Already in a similar role, you will be looking for the next career move and ready for a new challenge and opportunity. Initially focused on the Australian market, this varied and exciting role focuses on maximising revenue opportunities and relationships.

Interested? Please e-mail for the attention of Karl Penn, include a brief cover letter, CV and salary expectations. All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Applications to be received by 2nd September. (No agencies please. Thank you)

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer and Monika Prell.)

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