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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, December 10, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

A Giro time trial suited for Armstrong

Giro's mid-race time trial favours Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: Mike Gladu
(Click for larger image)

The 2009 Giro d'Italia could tip in favour of Lance Armstrong, with the inclusion of the longest time trial in the event's recent history. The three-week Italian stage race will feature a 61.5-kilometre time trial on stage 12, according to Tuttosport.

Race organiser RCS Sport will present the official route of the 92nd Giro d'Italia on Saturday, in Venice. In October it announced that the three-week race will begin with a 21-kilometre team time trial in Venice.

The Italian newspaper predicts stage 12 will travel from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore, in Liguria's Cinque Terre. Its distance will be made more difficult with two climbs, the Passo del Bracco (600 metres of climbing) and Passo del Termine (around 500 metres).

Armstrong, returning to the sport after a three-year retirement, based his seven Tour de France victories on the time trials – he won 11 in total. The Giro's mid-race stage definitely will leave a mark on the race's overall classification. The final stages should feature mountains that will alter the standings before the race's conclusion in Rome.

The last time the Giro d'Italia featured such a long time trial was in 1996. Russian Eugeni Berzin won the 62-kilometre stage over Spaniard Abraham Olano. The longest time trial this year was 36 kilometres, won by Maurizio Bruseghin.

The 2009 route will likely feature three time trials in total, with the first on day one in Venice and the last on the final stage in Rome. The paper expects the final time trial to be 15 kilometres, starting and ending in Imperial Fora, and to pass some of the city's famed sites – Porta Pia, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Venezia and the Coliseum.

The Giro d'Italia held its first time trial in 1933, 62 kilometres, won by Alfredo Binda. The longest time trial was in 1951, 81 kilometres, won by Fausto Coppi.

Armstrong announced in October that he would participate in Giro d'Italia as part of his comeback. It is his first time to race the Grand Tour.

Evans to race Giro d'Italia

Cadel Evans, shown in the maglia rosa, returns to the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Australian Cadel Evans will race the 2009 Giro d'Italia, according to The Silence-Lotto rider, second at this year's Tour de France, adds his name to a list of overall favourites that includes Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre.

"I think I am sufficiently mature to take on two big races like the Giro and Tour in the same year. The Corsa Rosa is what launched me [in 2002]; I wore the leader's jersey for one day and it always remained in my heart," said Evans.

Evans raced the Tour de France and Vuelta a España this year, the first time he faced two three-week races in one year. At the 2002 Giro d'Italia, riding for Team Mapei, he wore the maglia rosa after finishing seventh on stage 16 to Corvara in Badia. He lost the pink jersey on the next day to Folgaria and went on to finish the race 14th overall.

Team Silence-Lotto is holding a training camp in Spain this week, but Evans is remaining in his home country for the off-season.

Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro

Eddy Merckx notes positive impact of Armstrong's return
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Cycling legend Eddy Merckx sees the return of Lance Armstrong as positive for the cycling world. He specifically pointed to the Giro d'Italia, which the America announced he would race, as gaining from the added publicity.

"There were 150 journalists at the [Team Astana] presentation. His return provoked great interest. It is good for cycling," Merckx said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Armstrong, who retired after winning the 2005 Tour de France, announced his comeback for the 2009 season this September. Shortly after the announcement, he decided to participate in the 2009 Giro d'Italia. It will be his first time to race the three-week Italian stage race.

"It is a complete novelty; he's never done the Giro. He will introduce a lot of publicity for the Giro d'Italia. ... There is a lot of interest in it. For example, I will go to see it."

Armstrong will face his first Grand Tour in three and a half years and hard competition from the likes of Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego. Basso, who challenged him for the Tour de France title on two occasions, could be favourite number one in his home tour.

"They are two classy riders, but it is a mistake to restrict protagonists to them. There are others. Too bad [Riccardo] Riccò is not race, he would have lit up the course. [Danilo] Di Luca will do more than just watch the race. Cunego already won the Giro d'Italia and he can re-win it.

"Three years are long [for Armstrong], also for the muscles and heart. It will not be easy to restart, but Axel [Merckx, his son - ed.] said he is training like a maniac."

Merckx won the Giro d'Italia five times, including 25 stage wins and 78 days – the record – in the maglia rosa.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Dekker's summer of discontent

By Susan Westemeyer

Thomas Dekker at last year's Tour de Romandie
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 season was one that Thomas Dekker would probably rather forget, even if he did learn some lessons from it. Things started out well but the season ended in the middle of August, when he and Team Rabobank agreed to cancel his contract. There was no public explanation, but lots of rumours.

The 24-year-old learned some hard lessons from the whole thing. "I have good colleagues and good fans. But not everybody was good with me over the last few months," he told Cyclingnews. "This whole thing was bad for my name and image. I can do nothing about it, only train and live like the perfect pro. Then next season I have the chance to show a lot of people that they were wrong."

Things picked up again in September when he signed a two-year contract with Team Silence-Lotto. Dekker is very enthusiastic about his new team and new teammates, such as Cadel Evans. He is "a fantastic rider," and "young stars like Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Van den Broeck and top rider Philippe Gilbert."

Read the entire interview with Dekker.

Keisse said to be positive for cathine

Ilzo Keisse has said that he will end his cycling career if his B sample from the last day of the Gent Six-Day race also comes up positive. According to, he tested positive for the drug cathine.

Cathine is an appetitive suppressant, decongestant and amphetamine. Neither Keisse nor his team, which has suspended him, has yet released the name of the product for which he tested positive.

The 25-year-old said that he still could not believe it, but seemed resigned to a bad outcome. "I wait without any illusions for the result of the B sample. Without illusion, because I can hardly believe that the new analysis will show anything different. It is the same urine sample, simply in a different container. This means the end of my career," he said. (SW)

New UCI road race in North America

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Despite a downward spiralling global economy, plans for a new International Cycling Union (UCI) Americas Tour race in 2009 are moving forward in western Canada. The Tour de Kootenays will be two one-day races, one point-to-point and one circuit, in the rugged Kootenays mountains of British Columbia on July 4 and 5 for elite and Under 23 men.

Bob Hennessy of the Intermountain International Bicycle Racing Association said that the increasing popularity of elite road racing in Canada pushed the creation of this race. "The concept originated with success of races such as the BC Cup Road race, BC road race championship events and the Glacier View Grand Prix," he told Cyclingnews.

"The adoption by the UCI in 2005 of the continental circuit structure, absence of a UCI venue in northwest North America and the success of the British Columbia-based Symmetrics Cycling Team prompted our decision in 2007 to set up corporate structure, seek approvals and make formal applications."

Hennessy said that his team took a lot of inspiration and best practices from the other men's UCI event in Canada, the long-running Tour de Beauce.

"Our race aspires to model the Tour de Beauce in Quebec in quality, service and safety," he said. "At the behest of [the Canadian Cycling Association,] a Kootenays delegation attended there 2008 to observe and document."

The mountains of western Canada will provide for challenging courses, including, "dramatic topography with some glacial backdrops and sheer drop-offs, four climbs of various ratings with no switch-backs or technical descents and three sprints," said Hennessy. "In addition to Americas Tour regulars we hope to attract UCI trade teams active on UCI Asia Tour, which is unusual for North American events as far as I know. Also we will invite national, regional teams and qualified local teams."

As well, the race is attempting to push the technology envelope with rider data during the race. "We are working to upload near-real-time location data tracking riders during events using innovative hardware."

Race 1 – Rossland, BC to Retallack (east of New Denver, BC): 178km point to point (3 sprints, 4 climbs)
Race 2 – Krestova Circuit (near Crescent Valley, BC): 169.4/12.1km circuit (one 2km 6% climb)

French teams for Tour Down Under

Cofidis and Française des Jeux announced their line-ups for the Tour Down Under, January 18 to 25. David Moncoutié, who has ridden the Australian stage race every year since 2000, will lead Cofidis.

"This year Moncoutié finished first in the mountains classification of the Vuelta a España, making him a rider to watch during the Skoda King of the Mountain climbs," said race director Mike Turtur. Cofidis is also sending Mickaël Buffaz, who last year finished fifth overall.

Française des Jeux will look to repeat its overall team classification title, with Turtur saying he expected "a competitive team performance."

The team will consist of Mickaël Chérel, Rémy Di Gregorio, Timothy Gudsell, Yauheni Hutarovich, Yoann Offredo, Jérémy Roy and Wesley Sulzburger.

Cofidis is sending Moncoutié, Buffaz, Alexandre Usov, Guillaume Blot, Florent Brard, Julien El Farès and Rein Taaramae. (SW)

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll

(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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