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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, March 17, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Armstrong: "Contador is too nervous"

Lance Armstrong rates Astana teammate Alberto Contador
Photo ©: Luca Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong took aim at the performance of his teammate Alberto Contador in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe. "Contador has a lot to learn," Armstrong said. "He is the best in the world. The only negative thing, and I say this with great respect, is that he is too nervous. He is too strong to be so nervous. He has a good team manager and a strong team. Why get nervous?"

Armstrong's comments were in relation to Contador's performance in Paris-Nice last week where the Spaniard won two stages but lost the overall leader's jersey to Luis León Sánchez on stage seven.

The two last met in California for a team training camp, February 1 to 10, before Armstrong raced the Tour of California. They will race together for the first time at the Vuelta a Castilla y León, March 23 to 27.

Armstrong, who returned from retirement last fall, is building his form for the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. Though he won seven editions of the Tour de France, it will be his first time to race the Giro d'Italia.

Armstrong added that he wants to peak for the first day of the Tour de France. This year's race starts with a 15-kilometre time trial in Monaco, which Armstrong previewed last week.

"I want to be strong in the Giro but not at my peak. I want to be at 90%. The goal is to do a good Giro, finishing in the top 10 or top 5 or top 3, if everything goes well."

This Saturday Armstrong will line up for his first race in Europe since the 2005 Tour de France at Milano-Sanremo.

Discuss Armstrong's comments in Cyclingnews forum.

Haussler ready for Milano-Sanremo

By Gregor Brown

Heinrich Haussler to show in Milano-Sanremo
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Heinrich Haussler hopes to put his sprint powers on show in Saturday's Milano-Sanremo. The German Cervélo TestTeam rider has had a breakthrough season with three wins this season, including stage two of Paris-Nice, for the 298-kilometre one-day race.

"I know if my form stays like this I will have a go. I won't hide," Haussler told Cyclingnews. "In Paris-Nice I was not going to my limit because I wanted to make sure I could hold my form through until Paris-Roubaix.

"I got the win on the first day and it took the pressure off and allowed me to spend the rest of the race honing my training for the upcoming races."

While Haussler will have his chance, Cervélo TestTeam will build its team on the experienced legs of Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian, winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, finished third in 2005 Milano-Sanremo.

"Just because I have had a good start to the season I can't automatically say that I am the team captain. Thor has been up there for years."

Haussler will preview the race's finale with the team on Thursday. Organisers introduced Le Mànie (at 94km to go) last year due to a road closure, but they kept it in for the 100th edition this year. The Cipressa (22.1km) and Poggio (6.2km) are the traditional race ending climbs after I Tre Capi.

"The new climb [Le Mànie] makes things a lot harder. It will split the race into about three or four groups and it will make it a lot harder for the other sprinters to then get over the Cipressa and Poggio. I think this year we will smaller group of 10 or 12 riders."

Haussler started his season in Qatar, where he placed several times in the sprints and finished second overall to Tom Boonen (Quick Step). He went on to win two stages in Portugal's Volta ao Algarve. After the Belgian semi-classic weekend – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne – he lined up for Paris-Nice.

Boonen's and Armstrong's teams for Milano-Sanremo

Sanremo: Tom Boonen will be supporeted Davis and Chavanel
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen will lead team Quick Step in this Saturday's Milano-Sanremo. He is "our absolute captain," the team said.

Lieutenants Allan Davis and Sylvain Chavanel will support the 28-year-old.

Lance Armstrong is riding the race for the first time since 2002, when he finished 44th and will line-up with his teammate Yaroslav Popovych.

Quick-Step: Carlos Barredo, Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Allan Davis, Jérôme Pineau, Matteo Tosatto, Marco Velo and Wouter Weylandt.

Astana: Lance Armstrong, Assan Bazayev, Maxim Iglinsky, Dmitriy Muravyev, Gregory Rast, Michael Schär, Yaroslav Popovych and Thomas Vaitkus. (SW)

Landis dreaming of Tour ride

Floyd Landis considers 2010 Tour de France
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis is considering returning to the Tour de France four years after his 2006 stripped-victory and two-year ban from cycling.

"If I went back to the Tour de France the objective would be to win it again," Landis told Reuters. "I would like to win the race and go home and spend time with everybody that supported me and enjoy it rather than spending the next couple of years defending how I won it."

Landis said he will take the coming weeks to think about the next phase of his cycling career and whether he would race the 2010 Tour de France.

"If I want the Tour de France, I would focus on spending a year on training on it. It doesn't feel out of reach for me," he said.

This year he will be watching another American's return to France. Lance Armstrong will race the Tour de France for the first time in four years as part of his comeback.

"Anybody that knows him knows that if he's racing he's going to try and win something big, and he stated his goal is to win the Tour de France.

"I was as surprised as anybody that he wanted to put himself back out there. He's trying to get back to the top I think."

The two raced together at US Postal for three years, from 2002 to 2004.

Discuss Floyd Landis' comments in the forum.

British Worlds track team full of surprises

Cavendish named in Briton's Worlds team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The British team for the Track World Championships next week in Pruszkow, Poland, contained a few surprises, with Mark Cavendish making an unexpected return, while several big names were left out.

As expected, British Cycling did not nominate multiple Olympic Champion Chris Hoy. He was injured in the keirin race last month at the World Cup event in Copenhagen, Denmark. Also not on the team are Olympic Champions Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero.

Cavendish, 23, was named in the men's endurance squad. He will ride the scratch race on Thursday and the Madison on Saturday. He was the only member of the British track team not to win an Olympic medal last year. He later expressed his dissatisfaction with British Cycling.

"This has been a winter of experimentation and innovation for the team and our selection of riders reflects that," said performance director Dave Brailsford. "We have a great mix of youth and experience and see Poland as our first step on the road to London 2012."

Hoy's absence is a chance for the others. According to track performance manager Heiki Salzwedel, "It's very unfortunate that Chris Hoy cannot participate as he was very motivated to show his outstanding capabilities following the increase in public interest. But now, this opens up the opportunity for younger riders to show their potential."

Great Britain team for the UCI Track World Championships:
Men's Sprint: Ross Edgar, Jamie Staff, Matthew Crampton, Jason Kenny, David Daniell
Men's Endurance: Chris Newton, Mark Cavendish, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Peter Kennaugh, Jonathan Bellis
Women's Sprint: Victoria Pendleton, Anna Blyth, Shanaze Reade, Jess Varnish
Women's Endurance: Wendy Houvenaghel, Lizzie Armitstead, Joanna Rowsell, Katie Colclough (SW)

Di Luca errors in Tirreno-Adriatico

Di Luca errors in Tirreno-Adriatico stage six
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Danilo Di Luca of LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini started the attacks that led to the eventual escape and win of Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni-Androni) in Monday's Tirreno-Adriatico stage six. The Italian closed on the escape group to finish fourth, but was 1:09 behind.

"I made a big error to try to attack right away on the climb and then I remained behind," he said. "I recovered and I felt better afterwards."

Di Luca attacked with more than eight kilometres of the Sasso Tetto climb. It led to the winning move of Scarponi, Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) and Liquigas' Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali. He was unable to react to the move once Scarponi passed, but he contributed to the chase with then-overall leader Andreas Klöden (Astana).

"As the kilometres went by, I felt better and this is a good signal for a stage of 235 kilometres and 3000 metres of climbing. Basso and Garzelli had a good test, and Simoni was a little off, but at the end practically all of the men that will vie for the Giro d'Italia arrived together."

Scarponi took over the race lead thanks to the escape and win. He leads with 25 seconds on Garzelli. Di Luca is 3:17 back in the overall.

Today is the final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico. It will be one for the sprinters, 169 kilometres around San Benedetto del Tronto.

Samuel Sánchez recuperating

Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi is recovering from his crash last week in France's Paris-Nice stage race.

Sánchez crashed in the second stage, but he did not notice any problems until stage seven. The pain in his left knee forced him to abandon the race after the seventh stage to La Montagne de Lure.

The Basque team said the 31-year-old suffers from a fracture and an inflamed tendon. The prognosis is good and Sánchez will be able to continue training tomorrow for his goal, the Vuelta al País Vasco, April 5 to 11. (MP)

Bertogliati joins Diquigiovanni

Swiss Rubens Bertogliati joined Gianni Savio's team Diquigiovanni-Androni last week. The 29-year-old was without a team following the collapse of H2O last month.

Bertogliati became professional in 2000 with Lampre. He won stage one of the 2002 Tour de France and spent two days in the leader's maillot jaune.

He will make his debut with Diquigiovanni at the Coppi e Bartoli next week, March 24 to 28. Savio intends on taking Bertogliati to the Giro d'Italia to help with the team time trial and the overall chances of Gilberto Simoni.

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(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer and Monika Prell.)

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