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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, January 19, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Sastre content with new setup

Confident of wildcard place for Grand Tours

By Shane Stokes in Faro, Portugal

Carlos Sastre rides with Cervélo Test Team
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Carlos Sastre has been a Grand Tour contender for a long time, but 2009 will be the first time in his career that he will be the clear leader of a team. He's been number one for races such as the Vuelta a España – and, to an extent, the Tour de France in 2006, after Ivan Basso was excluded from the race – but this season sees him begin as both the Tour champion and also in a position of much greater responsibility.

The Cervélo Test Team is a completely new setup and Sastre has influence on the decisions made. At the team training camp in Portugal he's achieving this in a number of ways; speaking with the team management and backers to give his input, talking to other riders to provide encouragement to the younger competitors and, also, helping to lighten the mood with his easygoing nature.

Thor Hushovd is also a highly experienced member of the men's team and Sastre says that both he and the former Tour green jersey winner have a big role to play.

"Thor and I are the columns of this team. Of course, I feel really happy with the team. We have a really nice atmosphere. We have a lot of work to do, but at the moment, the most important part is to make a good base, we can build the team later. So far, we are having a really nice training camp here in Portugal."

The friendly Spaniard is building form after what he said were big changes to his life since the Tour de France win in July. He states that his personal life is as before, but that almost everything else has changed. He is focused, though, and has clear targets for the season ahead.

"My goals are to be ready for the Giro [d'Italia], to be ready for the Tour and to be ready for the Worlds."

Sastre is confident that the Professional Continental team, or second division, will get a wildcard be in the biggest races. "We have a place in the Tour, we have a place in the Giro, we have a place in the Vuelta," he said.

"We have got a lot of respect for the big organisations. We have an opportunity to do the best races in the world. Honestly, with this project we have a lot of open doors and it is because of respect. They respect the project, they respect myself."

More photos from the Cervélo Test Team training camp.

Armstrong launches cancer campaign in Australia

By Greg Johnson in Sydney, Australia

Lance Armstrong, 37, a day after racing in the Cancer Council Classic
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong swapped his bike kit for a suit today as he launched the Livestrong Foundation's Global Cancer Campaign in Australia. The seven-time Tour de France winner addressed hundreds of people across three states via a video link from Royal Adelaide Hospital.

"Cancer worldwide has become a massive problem, but it has also become a complacent problem, and we're not doing enough for my taste," Armstrong said to the audience, which featured cancer survivors, academics and media.

The rider compared the global cancer epidemic to the losses from the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York's World Trade Center to emphasis the disease's impact. Some 27.5 million people are estimated to have died from the disease during Armstrong's three and a half years out of the sport; something which the Texan says is truly terrifying.

"On September 11, 2001, over 3,000 people from the United States and around the world died, and the world came to a halt. This disease is true terror," he said.

Fellow cancer survivor and Australian Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan also address the assembled guests. Swan announced with local Premier Mike Rann that they would combined donate $17 million to build a children's cancer centre at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital.

"Lance is a modern miracle. This is a battle we can win. We have the means, we just need to have the will," said Swan, who gave firm backing to the roles that cancer foundations worldwide play. "Governments can't do it all on their own. That is why foundations play such an important role."

Swan also said the government will give $15 million, including $2 million for the McGuiness McDermott Foundation.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann also announced his government will triple whatever funds Cancer Council SA raise during the Tour Down Under.

To donate to the Cancer Council SA, a major partner in this year's event, visit:


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mark Gunter/

Oscar Pereiro: The other big comeback

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, South Australia

Oscar Pereiro is happy to be back racing
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

There's an important rider returning to the peloton at this year's Tour Down Under. He's in his 30s, is a Tour de France winner and has finished in the top 10 on a Tour de Suisse stage. Controversy surrounded his Tour de France victory. You know who I'm talking about, right?

While Stuart O'Grady has dubbed this year's event Tour de Lance, it's not America's Armstrong I'm referring to. No, I'm talking about Spaniard Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), who is making his comeback following a horrifying crash at last year's Tour de France.

The two Tour champions share few similarities in their careers. Both have controversial Tour victories – Armstrong due to having unfounded accusations of doping leveled against him and Pereiro for inheriting the win after Floyd Landis was stripped of the title due to a doping positive. Beyond this the only other similarity is that both are making a comeback at this year's opening ProTour race.

Otherwise the riders hail from very different worlds. Armstrong has become a crusader in the fight against cancer after claiming 102 professional wins. Pereiro has just 12 professional victories and received the least media attention of any modern day Tour winner due to the nature of his victory.

Both, however, command a strong presence in any room they enter. Despite having to speak through a translator as a non-English speaker, Pereiro holds the eye of each reporter that fires a question at him.

Read the full news feature with Oscar Pereiro.

Stroetinga off to a good start

Stroetinga, r, finishes second to McEwen
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Wim Stroetinga got his professional career off to a good start Sunday with a second place finish in the Cancer Council Classic, his first road race for Team Milram. The 23-year-old Dutchman is a multiple national champion on the track.

"This second place will be a surprise to many, but not to me. Cycling insiders recommended Wim Stroetinga to me as an absolute sprint talent," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen.

He noted that Sunday's race was just a short criterium and that the speedy youngster will still have to prove himself in longer races. "But I am sure that this multiple Dutch track champion will make the transition to being a pro on the road."

Stroetinga recently brought in three individual titles at the Dutch national track championships in December, winning the points, individual pursuit and scratch titles. He also won the Madison title together with Peter Schep. (SW)

Sella's suspension appealed

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) the suspension duration of Emanuele Sella, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian anti-doping tribunal issued a one-year ban for the cyclist last month.

Emanuele Sella tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin in an International Cycling Union (UCI) out-of-competition test on July 23. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended a one-year ban after its investigation, in which Sella supplied details to the prosecutors.

Sella won three stages and the mountains competition of the Giro d'Italia last May.

Tirreno-Adriatico starts in Tuscany

Fabian Cancellara wears the leader's jersey at the 2008 Tirreno-Adriatico
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Tirreno-Adriatico will make its start in Tuscany for the first time in its 44-year history. The Italian stage race, March 11 to 17, typically starts in the Lazio region.

Race organiser RCS Sport will start the race in Tuscany to honour double World Champion Paolo Bettini. The retired cyclist is from La California, on the Tirreno Sea. The race will finish as normal in San Benedetto del Tronto, on the Adriatico Sea.

The race is considered a key warm up event for Milano-Sanremo, four days later. Swiss Fabian Cancellara won both events in 2008.

Challenge Mallorca welcomes 20 teams

The Challenge Volta a Mallorca, February 8 to 12, announced that it will welcome 20 teams to the 18th running of its event. The five-day race will contain a mix of Spanish and foreign teams.

The teams are Quick Step, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Fuji-Servetto, Cofidis, Milram, Liquigas, Rabobank, Columbia, Katusha, Xacobeo Galicia, Contentpolis-AMPO, Andalucía Cajasur, Elk Haus, Plowman Craven, Van Vliet, Sparkasse, Burgos Monumental, Kuota and Orbea.

The stage race is unique in cycling in that it allows for teams to switch out riders during the event. The 2008 edition was won by Belgian Philippe Gilbert.

McLeod guides South African team in Langkawi

South African Champion Ian McLeod will guide his national team at the Tour de Langkawi, February 9 to 15. He finished ninth last year and will provide a classification option along with teammate Jacques Janse van Rensburg.

"I've loved this race since the first time I took part in it back in 2001", McLeod said. "To win Le Tour de Langkawi is my biggest goal."

The 28-year-old rode for French team Française des Jeux from 2005 to 2007, but represented South Africa last year. He hopes to return to race with a European team next year.

The team for Langkawi includes McLeod, climber and Under 23 national champion Janse van Rensburg, Johann Rabie, Nolan Hofmann, Jaco Venter and Christoff van Heerden. Apart from McLeod, the members of the South African team are between 22 and 24-years-old.

The 14th edition of the race will feature 19 other teams that range from Continental to ProTour level. The 2008 edition was won by Ruslan Ivanov.

GP Buchholz cancelled

Race organisers announced they will not hold the GP Buchholz this year due to lack of sponsors. The race, traditionally held on Father's Day, is part of a large number of German races not held in 2009.

"Ever since last August, when I started making preparations, the talks with sponsors were difficult," Udo Krapf told the Hamburger Abendblatt.

The main backer, newspaper Nordheide Wochenblatt, had decided not to continue its funding for 2009. "At this point I thought to start looking to sign up first-class riders for the race. But I don't have the necessary money. I have to put an end to it."

There are two reasons for the sponsorship problem, Krapf explained: cycling's doping problem and the current economic problems. "You notice that many firms are insecure right now, and since they don't know what their financial situation will be in the summer, then sport sponsorship is one of the first things they cross off their list."

The 2008 edition of the GP Buchholz was won by Milram's Björn Schröder. Previous winners include Fabian Wegmann, Rolf Aldag, Danilo Hondo and Erik Zabel. (SW)

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!

Enter here.

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)

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