First Edition Cycling News, January 22, 2009
Edited by Sue George and Peter Hymas
Schleck guns for greatness
By Shane Stokes
The names Contador and Armstrong will be on everyone's lips come July and the Tour de France, but there is one rider who might just steal their thunder: Andy Schleck. Twice a Grand Tour's best young rider, he stood atop the Giro d'Italia podium at 21. As Cyclingnews found out at the Saxo Bank team camp in Majorca, Schleck the younger is not afraid to meet his destiny.
Will 2009 be the year a new champion will be crowned? Many are looking at the Astana team as the big challengers for the Tour de France, yet Luxembourger Andy Schleck could rewrite the script and spoil their party. Second in his first Grand Tour, arguably the strongest rider in last year's Grande Boucle, the Saxo Bank rider now has the experience to mount a serious challenge in cycling's biggest race.
Schleck is, for many, a future Tour winner. Famed French coach Cyrille Guimard suggested as such, and he is very entitled to his opinion; after all, he's worked with Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon and Lucien Van Impe, who between them won ten editions of the race. Guimard was also heavily involved with the French amateur team Vélo Club Roubaix, where saw Schleck's potential and steered him towards a pro career.
Yet he's young enough to go for the white jersey again this year, and is a full two and a half years younger than Alberto Contador.
Last summer Schleck rode the Tour for the first time in his career. He finished twelfth overall, the same position in which he began the race's 10th stage to Hautacam, where he lost any chance of winning the race when he suffered a hunger knock. But by the end of that stage, Schleck had lost a whopping 8'59 to stage winner Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval – Prodir), and spent the rest of the race riding for his team-mates Frank Schleck, his brother, and the eventual winner Carlos Sastre. Even with his domestique duties and that one bad day, he finished just 11'32 behind Sastre in Paris as the best young rider.
"Riding the Tour is the highlight of my season," he told Cyclingnews at the recent Saxo Bank training camp in Majorca. "It was something big; you watch it since you are a kid, and you are suddenly there and you finish it.
Read the complete feature.
Basso racing for the training in San Luis
By Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina
2006 Giro d'Italia Winner Ivan Basso was amongst the favourites to contest the three mountaintop finishes at the Tour of San Luis. However, prior to the start of stage two, a 175-kilometre stage that finished atop the Mirrador del Potrero ascent, Basso told Cyclingnews that he will use these climbs as training ultimately to prepare for the Giro d'Italia in May.
"I want to go day by day and this is a training race week without going over the maximum level," said Basso, who rode amongst the lead group of climbers in the tactical five-kilometre ascent to the finish. He is sitting more than three minutes down in the general classification heading into the stage three 20-kilometre time trial.
"I can do well on the climbs here, and I will do my best," said Basso. "I also want to go in the breaks, and I try to stay at the front of the field. When it is time for the sprinters to sprint, I stay in the back. I think in this week we are going to have some good days and some bad days because our fitness and overall condition are not yet ready. It's only January."
Liquigas added the Tour of San Luis to its early season schedule as an opportunity for the team to gel before the Giro d'Italia, which starts in four months. According to Basso, the team is not expected to win the race. The riders are expected to practice riding at the front and to learn how to move within the field - aspects of racing for a team leader that need to be fine tuned well before the start of a Grand Tour.
The six-man team riding in support of Basso at the Tour of San Luis includes Vincenzo Nibali, Kjell Carlstrom, Brian Vandborg, Alessandro Vanotti and Maurilo Fischer.
Armstrong marks Bobridge for big things
By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia
Jack Bobridge's month just keeps getting better, with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong (Astana) singing the Australian's praises. Bobridge and Armstrong attacked the peloton on yesterday's Tour Down Under stage two, gaining a margin for a short time before being recaptured.
"He's 19 years old, racing with well, umm, I, older guys, but he doesn't care," said Armstrong, careful not to point out that he's the second oldest guy in the field by one day. "He lets it fly whenever he feels good, which is very impressive."
Armstrong had already praised Bobridge in a Twitter entry after the rider enjoyed a 10-kilometre solo break on Tuesday's opening stage. Bobridge was also active in Sunday evening's Cancer Council Classic.
"We actually rode one day last week," explained Armstrong. "It was my first ride here, so just an easy ride with him, Stuart O'Grady and Patrick Jonker. So I got to know him there, I'd heard how good he was, but I didn't know how aggressive he was. So it's one thing to hear about how good someone is, see their times on the track, realise that they obviously have some potential, but then you see their true character when you're in the race."
Bobridge claimed a spot in the UniSA Australian National Team after an impressive performance at the Australian Open Road Championships earlier this month. Bobridge won both the Under 23 Time Trial and Road titles.
"I was talking to him in the race the other day and I said 'I think I know what you're going through,' because we as a national team did the Tour of de Panne back in the early '90s," said Armstrong. "He's got a lot of talent. You know, we'll see."
Armstrong's anti-doping test results pending publication
Just days after Ivan Basso published his anti-doping test results online, Lance Armstrong said he will publish his own test results as promised, but he declined to provide details about what and when.
"I mean, what do you publish?" Armstrong asked according to the Associated Press. "[Do] you start publishing blood values? After the race, I saw online that Ivan Basso is publishing his blood values and if you notice you'll see he's 45, 44, 43, 41.
"For example, and I'm just hypothetically saying, you go to [a high] altitude for a month and all of a sudden it goes to 46. Not everyone in this room is going to say 'it went from 41 to 46, you must have cheated' but someone is going to say, a few of you guys and gals are going to say, 'that's not normal'."
Out of concern about misinterpretation, Armstrong is reluctant to publish readings that might be affected by sickness, dehydration or altitude; however, he said "I would rely a lot on what Don Catlin wants to publish but we'll definitely publish data and information." Prior to the Tour Down Under, Armstrong announced the start of a personalised and independent anti-doping testing program by Don Catlin.
Armstrong has never tested positive for banned substances. Last fall, Basso finished serving a competition ban issued to him after he admitted to attempted doping in conjunction with Operación Puerto.
Teams committed for inaugural women's Tour of Qatar
Women will get their first chance to compete in the Ladies Tour of Qatar running from February 8 to 10. The world's elite will race in Doha, where stages will start at the important cultural locations such as the Museum of Islamic Art, the Qatar Foundation and the Camel Race Track. Six national and nine trade teams have committed to the inaugural event which will feature 90 champions from five continents and 14 countries.
The men's Tour of Qatar has been running since 2002.
Teams for the Ladies tour of Qatar: Nürnberger Versicherung, Team Columbia, South African National Team, Australian National Team, Lotto-Belisol Ladies, Giant Pro Cycling, French National Team, Team Flexpoint, Team Leontien.nl, Italian National Team, Selle Italia, Japanese National Team, Bigla Cycling Team, Cervelo Test Team, US National Team.
Schumacher ready to ride
Stefan Schumacher has applied for his 2009 license and expects to receive it momentarily, so that he can ride for Team Quick-Step this season.
"We have applied for the license" from the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, the German federation, his attorney Michael Lehner told the sid news agency, "and assume that they will issue it."
The former Gerolsteiner rider tested positive for the new performance-enhancing drug CERA during the Tour de France, but has consistently denied having used the illegal susbstance. The German federation has not opened a case against Schumacher, although the French Anti-Doping Agency has. Lehner indicated that he thought the French investigation would be closed.
Before the positive tests were announced, Schumacher had signed a contract with the Belgian team Quick Step for 2009. Team manager Patrick Lefevere called the contract "void", but Schumacher and Lehner have continued to insist otherwise.
"Of course there are uncertainties, but the contract with Quick Step is valid," Lehner said.
Cañada battles cancer
David Cañada, a member of the ProTour Fuji-Servetto team, is recovering from a treatment cycle undertaken for the recurrence of cancer. Cañada's melanoma was initially diagnosed and removed in 2007, but cancer was recently discovered in underarm lymph nodes of his left arm.
"I'm feeling quite encouraged and I'm really eager to return to professional cycling, if possible," said Cañada. "I'd rather not say goodbye to pro cycling this way, but it's obvious that my primary aim right now is to achieve a full recovery. I've already endured the hardest part of the treatment and I'm feeling really good physically. My prospects for the future seem to be positive."
The Spanish rider, entering his 14th season as a professional, has already started mild physical exercise and hopes to return to the international peloton. Fuji-Servetto has guaranteed a place for Canada within the organization, either on the team roster if he's able to resume racing or as a staff member in case he's unable to compete again.
Museeuw bought doping products in Germany
Johan Museeuw bought the doping products EPO and Aranesp in Cologne, Germany, according to his autobiography.
"I was in Cologne, parked in an underground garage and went into a pharmacy. I showed the pharmacist a sheet of paper which listed what I needed," he wrote, according to the sid news agency. "The pharmacist said something to me which I didn't understand and gave me a small package."
"I paid cash, between 50 and 100 euros," continued Museeuw. "The pharmacist didn't need anything more from me. Apparently EPO and Aranesp were available without prescription in Germany."
Museeuw, who retired from riding in 2004, admitted in January 2007 that he was "not 100 percent honest" in his last year of riding.
The 43-year-old now regrets having used the doping products. "I am just a person, flesh and blood. I was the king and wanted to stay on the throne. That's why I used EPO."
London to Paris bicycle route proposed
Plans for a 218-mile bicycle route connecting London and Paris have been unveiled, according to a report in the Croydon Guardian.
British and French councils hope the route, primarily consisting of traffic-free paths through Wandsworth, Croydon, Surrey and East Sussex before arriving at the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry crossing, will be in place in time for the 2012 Olympics.
"The first cycle route was the Bristol to Bath railway path, which grew into the national cycle network, so why not connect a route from London to Paris, especially as there is likely to be pressure on our transport networks during the Olympics," said Shasha Khan, a Croydon Green Party member. "This is a novel idea and I would welcome any projects that encourage people to leave the car at home and get on their bike."
Cost estimates for the British side of the route are expected to reach £30m, but European Union funding may be available, which would include signs in both English and French.
Nature Valley Grand Prix adds new Uptown Criterium stage
Organizers of the Nature Valley Grand Prix announced the addition of a Friday evening Uptown Criterium to this year's event, a five-day stage race expected to draw 300 professional cyclists to Minnesota. For the new stage in the Minneapolis Uptown neighborhood, pro teams will race around Calhoun Square on a course that comprises six tight corners.
"This is fantastic news for the city of Minneapolis and our booming Uptown District," said Minneapolis Council Member Ralph Remington ,who represents the Uptown neighborhood. "The Nature Valley Grand Prix brings tens of thousands of tourists, sports fans and bicycle enthusiasts onto the streets of the Twin Cities every year. We're thrilled to be a big part of that - and it's fun to go head to head with the Saint Paul Downtown Criterium." Remington is referring to another stage in the race, the criterium held in nearby Lowerton.
The 11th edition of the race, the top-ranked stage race on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC), will run in the Twin Cities from June 10 to 14. The other stages will visit Cannon Falls, Mankata and Stillwater.
Last year's event was won by Olympic Champion Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) and Australian Rory Sutherland (HealthNet).
SRAM Cycling Fund awards $400,000 for advocacy
SRAM has announced a grant of US$400,000 to the Thunderhead Alliance for Biking and Walking and the League of American Bicyclists to boost the advocacy capacity of local cyclists.
Commenting on the award, League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke said, "SRAM's generous commitment will enable us to seize an extraordinary moment of opportunity for bicycling: we have a new President, a new Congress and a new economic reality that is encouraging people to ride. Bicyclists must have a voice, and thanks to SRAM we can now make sure that happens."
Jeffrey Miller, President of the Thunderhead Alliance for Biking and Walking commented on the strength SRAM will provide to Alliance organizations working at the local level. "Much of the progress over the past decade has been through the hard work of these dedicated advocates. This incredible support from SRAM boosts our ability to support them directly. We fully intend to leverage this remarkable investment by SRAM to supercharge our proven programs and invest in advocates and organizations across North America"
"SRAM's generosity builds on what is best about the League and the Alliance: trusted and practical programs for increasing bicycle-friendliness and effective, passionate advocacy for change," said Clarke. "Together we will create a more bicycle-friendly America."
For more information, visit sramcyclingfund.org, bikeleague.org and thunderheadalliance.org.
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
(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)