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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, January 29, 2009

Edited by Sue George, Peter Hymas and Laura Weislo

Giro d'Italia invites initial 20 teams

Ivan Basso and his Liquigas team will compete in the 2009 Giro
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Fourteen of the 18 licensed ProTour teams and six Professional Continental teams have been invited by organizers RCS Sport to this year's centennial Giro d'Italia from May 9 to 31.

Absent from the list of teams are four ProTour squads: Cofidis, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Française des Jeux and Fuji-Servetto. The Spanish Fuji-Servetto team, affected in 2008 by the doping offenses of riders Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli, has also been denied invitations to two other major events organized by RCS Sport, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo.

Three other teams missing from the Giro d'Italia start list are the Flaminia Bossini Docce team of current Italian national road champion Filippo Simeoni, Team Barloworld and the CSF Navigare Team. The latter was the team of Emanuele Sella and Matteo Priamo, who together won four stages of the 2008 Giro d'Italia. Sella later tested positive for the performance enhancing EPO CERA during an out-of-competition control and named Priamo as his supplier of the drug.

RCS Sport may invite two additional teams to the Giro, but they will be announced at a later date. The organizers indicated that adherence to the biological passport program is a prerequisite for selection.

2009 Giro d'Italia teams: ProTour: AG2R - La Mondiale (Fra), Astana (Kaz), BBox Bouygues Telecom (Fra), Caisse d'Epargne (Spa), Garmin-Slipstream (USA), Katusha (Rus), Lampre-N.G.C. (Ita), Liquigas (Ita), Team Milram (Ger), Quick Step (Bel), Rabobank (Ned), Saxo Bank - IT Factory (Den), Silence-Lotto (Bel) and Team Columbia (USA). ProConti: Acqua & Sapone - Caffè Mokambo (Ita), Cervélo Test Team (Swi), ISD (Ita), LPR Brakes Farnese Vini (Irl), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli (Ven), Xacobeo Galicia (Spa).

Chavanel raring to go

By Daniel Friebe, Procycling Features Editor, in Kortrijk, Belgium

Sylvain Chavanel
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Quick-Step's most high-profile winter signing, Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel, says that he's relishing the prospect of his first season outside a French team. Chavanel, who left Cofidis in the autumn after his most successful campaign to date, believes that a "more targeted" and "perhaps more effective approach" to racing could see him make a further breakthrough in 2009.

Speaking to Procycling at Quick-Step's official team presentation in Kortrijk, Belgium, last week, Chavanel said that both he and compatriot Jérôme Pineau had already settled well in their new environment. At the same event last Friday, Tom Boonen, claimed that he'd never seen his team looking so united.

Chavanel also revealed that he'd been impressed by what he'd seen of his team-mates at Quick-Step's pre-season training camps in Calpe and Benicàssim in Spain.

"I've started my intensity work a bit later, so in the first few races maybe I won't be quite as good, although I do feel better than last year," he said. "Here, though, when we went up a climb at the last training camp, we went hard, but at the top there were still 15 riders together. I won't mention any names, but if you do that in another team, you'll be on your own at the top! The level's a lot higher here. You only have to look at what this team usually does at the Tour de Qatar: they win everything!"

The emphatic winner of two Belgian semi-Classics last year, Chavanel said that he'd compete both on the cobbles of Flanders and in the Ardennes this term. Asked whether, in light of his outstanding results on Flandrian roads in 2008, he perhaps rues not moving to a Belgium squad earlier in his career, Chavanel borrowed the famous phrase of an illustrious countrywoman, Edith Piaf: "Je ne regrette rien".

"I could have joined this team earlier, but I don't have too many regrets," he commented. "That's because, when I turned pro, I said to myself that I really wanted to break through at the age of 27 or 28 years old. Now I'm 29, and I'm coming off a very good season. I'd rather be a rider who improves from year to year than someone who's already won everything. I still have everything to prove, and that's very motivating.

Whatever their results this season, there's no doubt that Chavanel and Pineau's departure has left French domestic teams looking very low on internationally-proven talent. It was almost inevitable, therefore, that Chavanel's views would be sought on the best of the rest who have stayed in France.

"There are very good French riders," he argued. "I'm thinking of a guy like Pierrick Fédrigo, who's definitely got one of the biggest engines in the French peloton. Jérôme Pineau and I do perhaps stand out, along with three or four others. Jérôme told me that he was out of contract, and that's when I suggested he come with me. It wouldn't have been easy to be the only Frenchman in a Flemish team. It helps my integration.

"I would have liked my brother, Sébastien, to come, as well. We spoke about it on the phone, but he signed with Française des Jeux very early. You also have to bear in mind that we already have Boonen here. Sébastien can do well where he is but he needs people to help him; at the moment, he's always on his own in the sprints."

Colom looking to shine at Katusha

By Peter Cossins, Procycling Editor

Antonio Colom
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After two very up-and-down seasons at Astana where the highlight was a stage win in 2007 Dauphiné and the lowest point was that season's premature departure from the Tour de France, Majorca-born Toni Colom is hoping that a move to the new Katusha team will finally give him the chance to compete for major titles in his own right.

The 30-year-old Spaniard, who is entering his 11th pro season, was pretty frustrated by his lack of opportunities at Astana last year, saying, "When Alberto [Contador] wasn't riding Leipheimer would be, and if he wasn't there, Klöden would be. There were moments when my level of from was exceptional – equal, if not superior to theirs – but I had to hold myself back. The offer from Katusha gives me the chance to battle for my own objectives."

The Spanish climber admits this could be his last chance of showing whether he's got the ability to compete with the very best in some of the season's biggest events. At Katusha he is set to share leadership duties with Vladimir Karpets and Evgeni Petrov, with all three set to ride at the Tour. Colom hopes to reach another peak of form at the Vuelta, where his target is to finish in the top 10 on GC.

Prior to that, his early goals will be Paris-Nice and the Tour of the Basque Country. "Katusha have offered me the chance to focus totally on the Tour and Vuelta, but judging my whole season on just those races is a risk I'm not prepared to take," he told Spanish magazine Ciclismo a Fondo. "So my first objective will be to win the Tour of the Basque Country, a race that I've always loved because of the special atmosphere created by the fans there. After that my goal will be to win a stage at the Tour and finish in the top 10 at the Vuelta. If I achieve those three things I would consider my career as going from being good, as I see it now, to being very good."

Although now approaching veteran status, Colom believes that the fact that he's raced a short program each season compared to other riders could help him extend his career for several more seasons. "Although this is my 11th season I've not raced that much because of allergy problems I'm affected by in May that force me to stop racing. I've only done four major tours and the average number of days I've raced each season is only 52, well below what other riders do. Many riders have reached their best level when they've passed 30 – [Tony] Rominger, [Ezequiel] Mosquera – and I want to do the same."

Looking back over the years since he turned pro with the small Amica Chips team at the age of just 20 in 1999, Colom says he's got lots of good memories, "but the worst moment was undoubtedly the way we were treated like terrorists and criminals at the Tour in 2007". By winning a stage at the Tour he hopes he can erase much of that memory and show his previous teams what they have missed out on.

Caisse d'Epargne presented in Paris

Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro
Photo ©: Foto Abarca Sports
(Click for larger image)

Manager Eusebio Unzúe presented his Caisse d'Epargne team on Wednesday in Paris. The team is coming off a fantastic 2008, during which its star Alejandro Valverde claimed the top individual ProTour ranking and the team took the overall ProTour title.

"The beautiful victories we obtained in 2008 as well as the first places in the rankings were a great satisfaction for us, and they oblige us to do as well in 2009," said Unzúe. "But beyond our results, we underline that we respected our commitments to ethics and we showed the solidarity of our riders.

"The 2009 team, with four young and promising riders, will try again to be the best one in the races in which it takes part."

Caisse d'Epargne 2009: Andrey Amador, David Arroyo, Anthony Charteau, Rui Costa, Arnaud Coyot, Mathieu Drujon, Imanol Erviti, Txente García Acosta, Iván Gutiérrez, Arnold Jeannesson, Vasil Kiryienka, Pablo Lastras, David López, Alberto Losada, Ángel Madrazo, Dani Moreno, Luis Pasamontes, Oscar Pereiro, Marlón Pérez Arango, Fran Pérez, Mathieu Perget, Nicolas Portal, Joaquím Rodríguez, José Joaquín Rojas, Luis León Sánchez, Rigoberto Uran, Alejandro Valverde and Xabier Zandio.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Foto Abarca Sports

Images by Daniel Schamps

Queally eyes new Olympic gold

Jason Queally
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

British track cyclist Jason Queally is looking to become the first rider to win both Olympic and Paralympic cycling gold medals. Queally took the gold in Sydney in the kilometre time trial, and is now pairing up with Paralympic champion Anthony Kappes with an eye on the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The 38-year-old Queally will pilot the tandem for his visually impaired stoker at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May.

Kappes previously paired up with Barney Storey, a team which took dual gold medals in the Beijing Paralympic Games last summer, setting a new world record in the kilometre in the process.

"Because of the eligibility rules regarding riders riding for the able-bodied squad internationally, Jason can't actually compete officially this year," Kappes explained to the Manchester Evening News. "So, we're hoping to compete at non-counting events. Hopefully, we will be able to ride at the World Cup and make our debut there."

"However, Jason and I are really looking at 2010 onwards when we'll be able to compete in anger."

Henn looks to desert wind

Christian Henn, directeur sportif at Team Milram, already knows who will win the Tour of Qatar: "The winner will be the rider who is a strong sprinter and copes best with the cross wind."

The weather and especially the wind will be deciding factors in the race, he said in an interview to appear Thursday on the team's website, The wind is "the biggest difficulty. It can be pretty hefty. The phrase 'blown off the road' can be used almost literally. In Qatar, the race will be decided by the wind."

Henn, 44, joined Milram this year after seven years at Team Gerolsteiner. He hoped that his new team would do well in the desert race. "First of all it is important that the riders get off to a good start. Many are new and starting their season in Qatar.“ He added, "Because of the summery temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius, the good race organization and the good roads, Qatar is an excellent season opener."

The race also is one of the most exotic on the circuit, he noted, even the riders' sign-in. "The riders walk over red carpets – just like an awards show. The local music is played and there are local folk dancers. And on the podium, the sheiks sit in big upholstered chairs and watch everything with great attention."

BMC & AG2R La Mondiale for Tour of Qatar

Two more teams, BMC and AG2R La Mondiale, announced their line-ups for the Tour of Qatar from February 1 to 6.

Fresh off training camp, BMC is sending an eight-man squad. "Our goal will be the same for Qatar as it will be for every race we do this year: get results," said Directeur Sportif John Lelangue in no uncertain terms.

"This year is a year of confirmation for us, so we will be looking for at least a top 10 in every stage and in the GC as well." Having beefed up the team in general, Lelangue believes it will have every possibility of living up to their high expectations in Qatar. "We have a stronger group this year, with four very good sprinters to fight in the mass sprints."

Along with Martin Kohler and Tony Cruz, all of whom are returning members of the team, BMC has added current Swiss National Champion and strong sprinter, Markus Zberg to the mix. "Markus has a great kick and a ton of experience so we are certain that he will be able to make a huge contribution," Lelangue said. The fast and dangerous Qatar race will be chalked full of top sprinters. "Though the competition will be very strong with racers like Boonen, Cavendish and Pozzato present, we are confident that the work the guys have done individually combined with the training we had at camp in California will keep us well placed to fight for victories."

After a strong performance at the Tour Down Under, AG2R-La Mondiale is also heading to Qatar. The team, directed by Gilles Mas, has its sights set on its first victory of 2009.

BMC for Tour of Qatar: Florian Stalder, Jackson Stewart, Martin Kohler, Taylor Tolleson, Markus Zberg, Chad Bayer, Brent Bookwalter, Tony Cruz
AG2R-La Mondiale for Tour of Qatar: José Luis Arrieta, Renaud Dion, Kadri Blel, Lloyd Mondory, Cédric Pineau, Stéphane Poulhies, Yuriy Krivtsov and Gatis Smukulis

Colombians lead UCI America Tour

Jose Serpa (Diquigiovanni) won a stage at the Tour de San Luis
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Two Colombians, Gregorio Ladino and José Serpa, top the newest UCI America Tour rankings with 136 points each, while an Argentinean, Alfredo Lucero holds third position with 118 points.

The UCI America Tour kicked off the New Year with the traditional Vuelta al Tachira in Venezuela, from January 6 to 17. This event was dominated by Venezuelan riders, with overall victory going to Ronald Gonzalez who finished with a seven second margin over Tomas Gil.

In the meantime, Argentina hosted two events in January: the Giro del Sol San Juan, from January 16 to 17, and the Tour de San Luis, from January 19 to 25.

The Giro del Sol San Juan, a 2.2 event, was won by the Argentinean Emanuel Saldano and provided a warm-up event for the Tour de San Luis which was upgraded this year to category 2.1.

Among the 22 participating teams in the Tour de San Luis were three ProTour teams: Liquigas led by Ivan Basso, Team Saxo Bank led by American Jason McCartney and Fuji-Servetto led by Spaniard David de la Fuente. They were joined by three UCI Professional Continental Teams, six UCI Continental Teams and ten national teams.

Alfredo Lucero, a San Luis native, scored the biggest win of his career, followed by Jorge Giacinti, the 2007 edition winner. The two Argentineans entered the UCI America Tour Rankings in third and fifth places respectively. In addition to their overall win in San Luis, their compatriot, Saxo Bank sprinter JJ Haedo, scored two stages victories.

Upcoming races in the UCI America Tour include the Tour of Cuba, from February 10 to 22, and the Tour of California, from February 14 to 22.

Oregon Pro Cycling Classic postponed

The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic will go on
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

The brand new 500-mile, seven-day Oregon Pro Cycling Classic is the latest casualty of the global economic downturn. Instead of debuting in 2009, the race has been postponed until 2010 because organizers were unable to solidify a title sponsor and the necessary funding for 2009. The event was slated as the highest category ranking on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar.

"We are very disappointed to have to delay the debut of the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic, but given the current economic crisis the country is facing, funding has rapidly disappeared," said Chad Sperry, executive director for the event.

"We have such a great opportunity in this state to host an amazing race on some of the most spectacular and challenging roads in the country," said Sperry. "It is our hope that next year, this event will blow both riders and fans away."

Although the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic is postponed, its predecessor, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, will continue in 2009 for its seventh edition.

"While we are disappointed that we are unable to be on the NRC and UCI calendars this year, we feel fortunate that, due to our local sponsors and community support, we will still have a top-notch event in 2009 with the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. We remain optimistic and will strive to be back on the NRC in 2010," said Sperry.

Monks on cycling mission

Nine monks are using cycling for the benefit of Tibetans in exile. The group began cycling from Varanasi, beginning an 800km journey through India on January 18 to raise awareness about the situation in Tibet. They had reached Delhi as of Wednesday and are bound for Hubli by March 10.

"From Varanasi they cycled through Lucknow, Kanpur, Aligarh, Karnal and Noida. At all these places they held lectures and distributed information flyers," said Tsering Dorji to the Thaindia News. Dorji, another monk, hosted the cyclists in Majnu ka Tila, a Tibetan settlement in north Delhi.

The group's leader, Ven Gangri, explained the group's mission. "We have four main demands. Firstly, release all political prisoners in Tibet including Panchen Lama. Secondly that the Chinese stop denouncing his holiness the Dalai Lama." Numbers three and four are "to stop the sanitisation efforts in Tibet by withdrawing the re-education programme" and "on the reincarnation issue, withdrawing the Chinese government resolution not recognising the reincarnation of the Lama".

The cycling monks range in age from 21 to 37. Gangri said the cycling is not strenuous. "We are all young. It is very easy and comfortable to travel in India," he said. They are assisted by a Scorpio vehicle which transports their provisions. The monks are being supported by the non-governmental organization, Tibetan Rights and Freedom Restoration Committee. An estimated 600,000 Tibetan refugees inhabit India after a 1959 uprising was ended by Chinese troops.

Cyclingnews continues team training camp coverage

Cervélo Test Team training in Portugal
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

As road pros emerge from their traditional pre-season training camps around the world, Cyclingnews has compiled all relevant feature articles, news briefs, tech information, video and photographs in a single destination to keep you informed of their 2009 season preparations.

For the previous two months the professional peloton has grown familiar with new equipment, donned brand new kits, met new teammates, planned the season's racing schedules and put in plenty of training miles. We've provided coverage of 25 different UCI ProTour, Professional Continental and Continental teams laying the groundwork for 2009 via 59 news briefs, 21 photo galleries, five feature articles and two videos.

Check back throughout the coming weeks as the training camp page receives its concluding influx of information about the pre-season activities of your favorite riders and teams.

For complete training camp coverage, click here.

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer)

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