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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, January 29, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Barloworld hopeful of Giro spot

By Gregor Brown

Claudio Corti hopeful for a spot for Team Barloworld at the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Barloworld's Claudio Corti is hopeful of a place in the 2009 Giro d'Italia for his team despite missing organiser RCS Sport's initial selection yesterday.

"It was not a pleasure for me to be left out of the Giro. However, there are still spots for two or three teams, and I think in the end we will be included," Corti said to Cyclingnews.

RCS Sport announced 20 teams for the 94th edition of its three-week stage race, May 9 to 31. Angelo Zomegnan, director of cycling at RCS Sport, said that there are space for up to 22 teams, or 198 rides.

The Barloworld team, licenced in Great Britain and based in Italy, took part in the 2008 edition. Corti does not think that his team's poor performance last year was a factor in the selection.

"We had 37 teams requesting to race. ... There can be changes, removals or additions between now and May 9, if something negative happens with one of the riders or teams," said Zomegnan to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Last year, he added Team Astana in the week leading up to the race. Its rider Alberto Contador went on to win the race.

Barloworld may be punished for the positive doping case of its rider Moisés Dueñas at the Tour de France last year. Team Fuji-Servetto, the newly formed team based on Mauro Gianetti's Team Saunier Duval, was left out of the Giro based on the scandal at the Tour with Riccò Ricardo and Leonardo Piepoli.

Corti did not think that Dueñas' case had anything to do with the team's non-selection. "Anyway, my management team was always honest and RCS knows how I work."

RCS Sport also left Barloworld out of Tirreno-Adriatico, March 11 to 17, and Milano-Sanremo, March 21. Enrico Gasparotto finished second overall in Tirreno-Adriatico last year when he rode for Corti.

"I am confident we will be at all of the races on the RCS calendar."

The Giro's 100th anniversary edition is expected to be one of the most fiercely contested in recent years with overall contenders, including Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre.

Paris-Nice invites 20 teams

Organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) invited the teams to participate in the 2009 Paris-Nice. The 67th edition of the French stage race runs March 8 to 15.

The teams of the Paris-Nice are Milram, Quick Step, Silence-Lotto, Saxo Bank, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Garmin-Slipstream, Columbia-High Road, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, AG2R La Mondiale, Agritubel, Lampre-NGC, Liquigas, Astana, Rabobank, Skil-Shimano, Katusha and Cervélo Test Team.

The 2008 edition was won by Davide Rebellin of Team Gerolsteiner. This year, he rides for Gianni Savio's Team Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli. ASO did not invite the Italian Professional Continental team.

Astana, the team of 2007 winner Alberto Contador, was invited. ASO did not invite the team to the 2008 edition.

Cavendish back in action

Mark Cavendish taking his final win of the 2008 season in the Tour of Missouri
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish returns to racing after a four-month break over the off-season. The 23-year-old from the Isle of Man will lead Team Columbia-High Road in the sprinter-friendly Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6.

"It's been quite a while since I raced," said Cavendish, who last raced and won three stages in the Tour of Missouri. "I'm in good shape, I've had a good winter and I'm feeling excited about the new season."

The 8th Tour of Qatar consists of an opening team time trial and five stages that are suited for sprinters. It will be Cavendish's first participation in the stage race organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

"On paper Qatar is favourable for the sprinters, but the roads are really exposed and you've got to watch out for crosswinds. Before you know it, the bunch can have split into 15 different groups."

The Tour of Qatar will host 17 teams of eight riders. Team Columbia will send a team to keep Cavendish fresh for the sprint: Michael Barry, Marcus Burghardt, Bert Grabsch, Gregory Henderson, Frantisek Rabon, Vicente Reynes and Marcel Sieberg. New Zealander Henderson will be the last lead-out man for Cavendish.

"Mark Renshaw will have that role sometimes in 2009. But Mark's just come out of racing the Tour Down Under and we didn't want him to take on Qatar as well before doing the Tour of California, which is one of our team's biggest goals for 2009."

The opening six-kilometre time trial will provide a chance for Cavendish to take the early overall race lead and set the tone for his rivals, like Tom Boonen.

"We've got some of our top time trialists coming out there, guys who know how to keep up a high pace in the final kilometres of each stage," said Cavendish

Boonen won the race overall in 2008 and 2006.

Team Columbia will also send a team for the women's race. It is the first year for the women's stage race, February 8 to 10.

Pozzato and Napolitano lead Katusha front in Qatar

Italy's Filippo Pozzato
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Two Italians – Filippo Pozzato and Danilo Napolitano – will lead Team Katusha for the Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6. The Russian team aims for at least one stage win from Napolitano and to provide a base for Pozzato's Classics' campaign.

"It will be my season debut and it is important to find the race rhythm. I think it will be ideal to refine my preparation prior to the Classics," said Pozzato.

Pozzato and Napolitano joined Katusha at the end of 2008. The team was formed from the old Tinkoff Credit Systems' structure. Its directeur sportif for Qatar will be Serge Parsani.

"We will go to Qatar with a competitive team and will will try to win a stage with Napolitano," said Parsani. Napolitano won the fifth stage in 2008.

Italian sprinter Danilo Napolitano
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The race consists of six stages that are almost all suited for sprinters. However, the opening stage is a six-kilometre team time trial.

"We will try to do well in the team time trial because we have a formation adapted to this speciality."

Pozzato benefited from the team trial in the 2008 Vuelta a España with Team Liquigas. He helped the team win the stage and he wore the leader's golden jersey for one day.

"We will try to find the right mechanism and to clock a good time. It could be a good test for the opening team time trial of the Giro d'Italia," said Pozzato.

The Tour of Qatar will consist of 17 teams of eight riders. Besides Pozzato and Napolitano, Katusha will take Mikhail Ignatiev, Alexei Markov, Guennadi Mikhailov, Denis Galimzyanov, Alexander Serov and Ben Swift.

Teams announce Qatar line-ups

Three more teams have announced their line-ups for the Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6. Quick Step will be led by sprinter Tom Boonen, who will look to defend his overall win from 2008. Rabobank is sending its Classics riders, while Milram will present its new sprinter, Robert Förster.

Quick Step: Tom Boonen, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Kevin Van Impe, Sébastien Rosseler, Marco Velo, Wouter Weylandt and Maarten Wynants.

Rabobank: Juan Antonio Flecha, Sebastian Langeveld, Marc De Maar, Nick Nuyens, Joost Posthuma, Tom Stamsnijder, Bram Tankink and Maarten Tjallingii.

Milram: Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Servais Knaven, Peter Wrolich, Artur Gajek, Dominik Roels, Björn Schröder and Niki Terpstra. (SW)

Sánchez ready for Mallorca debut and season

Samuel Sánchez at the Olympics
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez is ready for his season debut in the Challenge Mallorca, February 8 to 12. The Spanish leader of Team Euskaltel-Euskadi is recovered from his knee injury and outlined his season programme.

He will participate in the Vuelta a Andalucía, February 15 to 19. In March, he will face the French stage race, Paris-Nice. He will take part in the GP Llodio and GP Miguel Indurain later in the month.

Sanchez's first season goal will be in the Vuelta al País Vasco, April 6 to 11. A win in the Basque stage race could be the motivational boost needed to do well in the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

After an intense spring, he will take a break to focus on the second part of 2009. He plans to race the Vuelta a España, August 29 to September 20, and the World Championships, September 26.

The five-stage Challenge Mallorca is unique in that it allows for teams to substitute riders from day to day. (AS)

De Ketele learnt from Zabel

Kenny De Ketele said he learnt a lot from Erik Zabel at the Berlin Six Day race. It was the final race for the 38-year-old German, and it made an impression on the 23-year-old Belgian.

"It did something to me," De Ketele told "I got to know Erik better. We were massaged in the same booth and ate together."

De Ketele had a lot of praise for the newly retired rider. "He is not arrogant, and he is very friendly and pleasant to the young riders. I learnt a lot from him."

He was very impressed by Zabel's lifetime accomplishments, too. "How he can still ride like that after his long career: incredible," De Ketele said. "Zabel could certainly still ride for another year, but he will stop at a high point."

Zabel and partner Robert Bartko won the Berlin Six Day. De Ketele and Roger Kluge finished third. (SW)

Grosseto returns for its second year

Riders enjoy the the scenery at the 2008 edition of Grosseto
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Giro della Provincia di Grosseto is back for its second year with a three-stage race in the area of Italy where many teams hold their training camps. The race, won in 2008 by Filippo Pozzato, runs from February 13 to 15.

"This event represents a great opportunity to know the beautiful nature and culture of Maremma," said the Mayor of Grosseto. Maremma is the area of southern Tuscany and Northern Lazio, including the province of Grosseto.

Stage one is 178.1 kilometres with its start and end in Grosseto. It will take in the 500-metre climb of Scansano, which will feature in the 2009 Giro d'Italia.

Stage two starts in Santa Fiora and finishes in Orbetello after 212.6 kilometres of racing. It consists of two passes of the 600-metre long Panoramica Monte Argentario, which has sections of 10- to 12-percent gradient.

Stage three, 145.8 kilometres from Castiglione della Pescaia to Massa Marittima, is the hardest of the three. The four 235-metre climbs of Massa Marittima will explode the peloton and decide the classification on the final ascent to the line.

The 2008 race consisted of three stages, but only two were held. The race jury annulled the second stage after a protest by the riders, who claimed the final kilometres too unsafe. The peloton approached the final kilometre together and did not contest the sprint.

(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer and Antonio J. Salmerón)

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