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Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, January 15, 2009

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Evans: Don't let me be misunderstood

Cadel Evans is sometimes misunderstood.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Animals' classic of the same name applies to Cadel Evans. He was the name on everyone's lips ahead of last year's Tour de France, and events that transpired on and off the bike during those three weeks in July mean that he's still often spoken about, albeit a little bit differently. Cyclingnews' Daniel Benson finds out why the Australian is often misunderstood, despite being a soul whose intentions are good.

Is pro cycling like a school playground? In one corner you have the cool kids. The two Davids are trying to impress with their rolled up argyle socks and matching blazers. Behind the bike sheds you'll find tearaways Tyler and Floyd getting up to no good. And over there you have Lance chasing down the Italian exchange student for his lunch money.

But who is that on his own, kicking his heels in the dirt? Oh, that's the new Australian kid. No one really understands him and he's usually on his own.

Ditch the simile and harsh assessment of Australia's finest ever Tour de France contender. While most Aussies seem to have been embraced by the cycling media, there's no denying the perception that Cadel Evans just doesn't fit in. Even Michael Rogers, likeable but not top of the class for charisma, seems to coast along with a degree of popularity and respect with his three rainbow jerseys. And he's yet to crack the top five of a major tour.

Read the full Evans interview.

Lance is the word... but not the favourite

By Greg Johnson and Les Clarke

Lance Armstrong makes his first visit to the Tour Down Under
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian cycling fans have only got one man on their mind this week: Lance Armstrong. The American is making his return to professional cycling at next week's Tour Down Under, but the seven-time Tour de France winner's early arrival in Australia's fifth largest city - Adelaide, South Australia – has local media and race fans alike in a flutter.

Despite tough talk from local authorities of a four-vehicle Police escort for training rides, on Armstrong's first training ride he was flanked only by other big-name riders like Stuart O'Grady and Pat Jonker. It's something that has proven a pleasant surprise amongst local enthusiasts, who have found themselves riding in a bunch with the cycling legend on their morning ride.

While the first test of Armstrong's fitness is a topic of interest, there's also a race to be had and chances are Armstrong is not going to be in the running for that title. After becoming the discovery of last year's event and cycling season, Team Columbia's André Greipel will return to defend his title.

Read the full preview

Armstrong's first attack countered by Hernández

Lance Armstrong is still a few days away from his comeback in the Tour Down Under, but in training he already put on the back burner. During a five-hour ride, Armstrong stormed up Willunga Hill, but one man was able to match the Texan: Jesús Hernández. Hernández is the regular training partner of Alberto Contador and Armstrong was full of praise of Hernández's climbing abilities, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He is really strong," Armstrong said about his Astana teammate. The young Hernández has already turned heads at the training camp in Tenerife, when Johan Bruyneel gave the green light on the difficult climb of Masca. Hernández dropped everyone, including Armstrong and Leipheimer.

Hernández will be tasked with domestique work in Autralia, but he could well be the surprise of the year in the Kazakh team.

Gilbert eyes repeat win in Het Volk/Het Nieuswblad

Gilbert went all out last year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) is eyeing a third win in Het Volk (now renamed to Het Nieuswblad), after his successes in 2008 and 2006. Gilbert also is interested in the Ardennes Classics this season – races he considered too tough last year – and Milano-Sanremo.

Gilbert found the name change of Het Volk unfortunate. "It is a pity they changed the name," he told Belgian paper La Dernière Heure. "Few people know that Het Volk is the name of a newspaper, but the name meant something in the world of cycling. For me, if I can win it again, it will be a third success at Het Volk."

Gilbert has adjusted a few things this season. He went from French team Française des Jeux to Belgian Silence-Lotto and moved his residence to Monaco. The Belgian remains modest. "My win in Paris-Tours hasn't changed anything." But he is still ambitious. "A career doesn't stop there. The goal in cycling is always the same, to race – and to win races."

His objectives besides Het Volk are the Wallonian Classics. He will skip the Ronde van Vlaanderen in order to be fresher at the races that matter most to him.

"This year I want to put my stamp on the Ardennes races. Everybody has told me that the Amstel Gold Race is the Classic that suits me the most in that period." Gilbert remains cautious. "It is hard to say, because I always suffer in the last 20 kilometres."

At Française des Jeux he had the leader role in the Classics, but at Silence he will have to share responsibilities. There are riders like Leif Hoste, Thomas Dekker or Greg van Avermaet. "I am not going to Silence to position myself as the sole leader. I want to have a protected role in certain races. But you have to work hard for the others as well, I will do that without a problem."

Silence-Lotto trains in Portugal

Greg Van Avermaet is competitive and won the sprinter's jersey at the Vuelta last year
Photo ©: Unipublic
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Belgian team Silence Lotto trains currently in Albufeira, Portugal, and is very pleased with the training conditions. There is virtually no traffic and the weather is perfect, about 15 degrees centigrade and sunny skies.

Directeur Sportif Roberto Damiani was very pleased with the circumstances. "Ideal conditions for good work." The team has split ninto two groups. One was led by Gilbert, who is eying the Ardennes Classics. The group went out for five-hour long ride at a fast pace, according to La Dernière Heure. The other group with Greg van Avermaet, for the races in Flanders, stayed in the flatlands and for a slightly shorter period of time.

Damiani was quite amused about the lack of traffic. "When you go off the main roads you ask yourself if there isn't a problem here, as there is so little traffic." Dogs cause the only problems, with their sudden appearance out of nowhere and their desire to cross the road in front of a fast charging mini-peloton. Some of them are also rather aggressive. "It is the only problem here," said Michaël Delage. "There are dogs everywhere."

At the end the Flandrien group also gets to work on some climbing, up to Monchique. Jophan Vansummeren is the first to attack, halfway up. But Van Avermaet takes his wheel together with Staf Scheirlinckx. Van Avermaet shows he is getting ready for the Belgian races on a climb the group rode up at 450 watts, according to Vansummeren. Damiani was in admiration. "Greg was born with such a winner's mentality."

Leif Hoste was the last to react and join the front group. Hoste was testing his new bike from Canyon, according to Sportwereld. The Belgian plans to ride over the cobbles in the Ronde van Vlaanderen with the carbon-based bike. Most of the changes concern the frame, which is more flexible now. This absorbs the shocks from the pavé better. The same bike is an option in Paris-Roubaix.

Hoste will pull out all stops in a race where he finished second in 2007 to Alessandro Ballan and in 2006 to Tom Boonen.

Cervélo TestTeam Launch and Training Camp

Both men and women of the new Cervélo TestTeam will have its first training camp next week, in Portugal. This will also be the first time the club will be presented to the public on Sunday, January 18, at 11:00, at the Robinson club in Quinta da Ria. The entire team will be there, including Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, sprinter Thor Hushovd and Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong.

The team will be located in a club along the beautiful east coast of the Algarve, which offers the ideal conditions for pre-season training.

The entire squad comprises 25 men and 12 women. The women's team has already been around for a few years, but the men's team is new.

Gilmore signs with Lotto-Belisol

By Greg Johnson

Rochelle Gilmore rides for Lotto-Belisol
Photo ©: Lotto-Belisol
(Click for larger image)

Australian sprinter Rochelle Gilmore has signed with Lotto-Belisol for the 2009 road season. Gilmore will join the Belgian women's squad from the Tour of Qatar in February.

"I've had a great experience working with Team Lotto-Belisol, having input into the race schedule and team structure pre-season was exciting and motivating," said Gilmore. "Tour of Qatar will be a perfect little, short but important tour for our team to meet and experience racing together for the first time."

Gilmore will join the likes of Grace Verbeke, Vera Koedooder, Lizzie Armitstead and fellow Australian Emma Mackie at the squad. The rider, who is contesting the Beijing Track World Cup this weekend, is expected to take part in the Women's Road World Cup series in addition to major women's races like Tour de L'Aude, women's Giro d'Italia, La Route De France, Trophee d'Or, Holland Ladies Tour, Tour Ardeche and the Tour de Toscana.

"I'm really excited about the early season European racing in April," said Gilmore. "The Dutch and Belgium one day races will definitely suit the strengths in our team, I'm especially looking forward to racing with Vera, Lizzie and Emma and getting to know the other Europeans on our team."

The 26-year-old joined the Flexpoint team in 2008 after the women's Giro d'Italia having left her former Menikini-Selle Italia squad. A later parting of ways between Gilmore and the Dutch squad left Gilmore without a professional ride for the remainder of the season.

Gilmore isn't the only new addition to the Belgian squad, with the outfit set to ride Pinarello's Prince (Bianco) this season. The bike will be fitted with the latest Dura-Ace group set, Pinarello Tank 1K Cranks and MOst handlebars, stem and seat post.

Pan American Cycling Confederation held in Cuba

The Annual General Meeting of the Pan American Cycling Confederation (COPACI) was held in Havana, Cuba, last Saturday. On the agenda was the election of the COPACI president, where José Manuel Pelaez Rodriguez was confirmed. Pat McQuaid, the President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), also attended the meeting and spoke about the development of cycling in America.

McQuaid presented a four-year plan for the development of cycling on the American continent. He talked about the fight against doping and the UCI's latest initiative in this domain, the biological passport. The UCI was also represented by its Head of National Federations relations, Dominique Raymond and the UCI America Tour adviser, Pierre Hutsebaut.

Pelaez Rodriguez is also the Vice President of the UCI Management Committee. Several other Vice Presidents were elected. Steve McCauley (USA) for the North America region, Glauco Pinto (Costa Rica) – Central America, Trevor Bailey (VIN) – Caribbean and Luis Ramirez (Ecuador) – South America.

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