Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Vuelta shock and Cav's fine; all in a days work for the ProTour teams

“I am not only surprised, I am speechless,” commented Bruyneel from the Tour of Switzerland. “At first I thought it was a mistake so I called organizer Javier Guillén for some explanation. He told me that the other teams offered him better options on a sporting level. I had to ask him to repeat it as I could not believe this but I heard right: we didn’t offer a good enough team. I cannot accept or understand this decision. With Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and Jani Brajkovic we had four potential Vuelta WINNERS on the roster we sent to Unipublic. Our 2010 Team goals were the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. That’s why - together with the need to perform well in the Tour of California – we skipped the Tour of Italy this year. ”

"Up until now it has never been accepted that a Team Manager stands on a soap box to defend the rights of the teams and the riders. We always have to accept; we don’t have many rights. After what I heard today, I take it as a personal mission: from now on I will fight for the interests of the cycling teams. It will be more than just a goal. I will work for it as hard as I’ve worked for my own team. It is really urgent that action be taken now as this is the time that the organizers will listen to the opinions of the teams. I will do everything that I can to bring all big teams to one level. What happened today is only a detail.”

“In cycling there are three parties: UCI, organizers and teams/riders. Unlike in other professional sports, the teams and riders are the main actors who are never heard. I will fight for our rights and for other things that rightfully belong to us but we never get. There is an abuse of power. Some organizers take away the hunger of potential sponsors to invest in our sport. It is unjust that a new sponsor, coming into cycling with a lot of enthusiasm, is not rewarded for their financial input. For me it is hard to explain to my sponsor that 21 other teams are apparently better than us. Especially when it isn’t true. These actions are unfair to our sponsors as well as a blow to our fans. “

“It is high time for ‘professional’ cycling to become professional. The structure of our sport needs to change towards a model of other successful professional sports like soccer, tennis, Formula 1, etc. Today, this is happening to our team and sponsors, tomorrow it could be any other team. Even if some parties don’t like to see or hear this, I will do anything which is in my power to contribute to making this happen.”

This was the statement made by the Team Manager of Team RadioShack on his website, following the shock announcement that despite a fantastic debut season, the team would not receive a wildcard invitation to Spain's Vuelta. Alongside Spanish pro continental teams Andalucía-Cajasur and Xacobeo-Galicia invitations were extended to Garmin, Sky, Katusha and Cervélo. This will come as a deep shock to Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and Janez Brajkovic all likely or possible contenders for the overall title.

The Vuelta boss Javier Guillén stood by his decision stating, "Every fan has their own preferences, but for us, the list [of teams selected] is ideal for our race." He did go on to say of RadioShack that "it’s a good team, that can’t be denied," and insisted that the allegations made against Bruyneel and RadioShack team leader Lance Armstrong had nothing to do with his decision. "There is no evidence that proves Landis' allegations. Our criteria [for selection] have been strictly sporting."

However reports that Chechu Rubiera, veteran RadioShack rider with nine Vuelta appearances behind him stated: "There is no justification for this based on sporting criteria. We were going to take Brajkovic, Horner, Haimar Zubeldia and Steegmans. And we didn't ride the Giro in order to save ourselves for the Vuelta. I can't begin to understand what has happened. I can understand that Cervélo are there if Sastre, a winner of the Tour de France, is in their line-up. And also that they have picked two teams with Spanish sponsors. But there are some foreign squads that have been picked without any reason."

Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford suggested: "It's been one of the hardest Vueltas to get into for a number of years and we never took anything for granted. The process started a little while ago and this news today is a real vote of confidence in the team and everything we are trying to do with it."

Meanwhile the Tour de Suisse saw chaos insue in the final sprint finish, as a crash saw Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) and Frenchman Arnaud Coyot (Caisse d’Epargne)out of the Tour on Wednesday as non starters. Haussler clashed with Cavendish and landed heavily at high speed. He was forced to pull out of the race because of a deep cut on his right elbow that required stitches. Lloyd Mondory and Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Gerald Ciolek (Milram) and Tom Boonen all went down but only suffered minorcuts and bruises. Mark Cavendish got up from the crash but suffered numerous cuts and bruises, and was later blamed for causing the crash by changing his line. The judgement saw him fined 200 Swiss Francs and his overal time reduced.

Coyot was not directly involved in the crash but was pushed against the barriers and flipped over the handlebars at speed. Initial reports suggested his injuries were seveer, with him taken by away on a stretcher and in a neck brace, for x-rays as it was suspected he had suffered fractured hip. Later his diagnosis was confirmed as a fractured radius and scaphoid in his left wrist.

Today's stage is a 172.5km slog from Wettingen to Frutigen. The undulating route starts flat for the first 30km. The riders do have a second cat climb on the menu though, known as the Schallenberg where the summit reaches 1167 meters. Followed by a third cat climb with around 10km to go.

Cervelo's Andreas Klier and Jeremy Hunt were able to delay the start of today's stage for “a few minutes,” according to, staging a protest against Cavendish, as they hold him reponsible for the mass crash and the resulting injuries, including those to their teammate Heinrich Haussler. In addition, they stated that Cavendish had not apologised for his actions. Meanwhile after yesterday the results were unchanged in the top of the GC:

1 Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia 14:35:37
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:01
3 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:00:09
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne 0:00:10
5 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step 0:00:11
6 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team
7 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:13
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:14
9 Nicolas Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:15
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:17

Monday, 7 June 2010

Lampre's Bole victorious as Welshman Thomas shows what Sky can do on Day 2 of the Dauphiné Libéré

Early in the day a five man breakaway enjoyed the freedom of a ten minute gap as Astana forced Garmin to do all the work to keep the escapees in check. But it was a split crash that put paid to any ideas of Garmin to take on the yellow of Contador as they came into the final stages of today's race. With attacks coming thick and fast in the final 8km the action was heating up in the sprint for the line, with Thomas of Team Sky focused on his aim. However Bole stormed to victory as he edged out from Thomas' slipstream meters from the finish.

Thomas' third place finish saw him remain safely in fourth place overall behind Contador who retained the leaders jersey. Tomorrow the peloton will journey 177km from Annonay to Bourg-Saint-Andeol.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Contador sets his sights on Tour de France victory as he wins prologue stage of Daphiné Libéré

On the day when an Italian newspaper suggested Contador was set to leave Astana at the end of the season to join Caisse d'Epargne, the two times Tour de France champion stormed to win the prologue stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. Coming second and third were HTC-Columbia's Tejay Van Garderen and Team Radioshack's Janez Brajkaive in the 6km TT course. Sky's Geraint Thomas came 4th followed by Danio Cataldo of Quick Step in 5th.

The widely regarded dress rehersal forvthecTour de France will last one week and Contador has made it clear he is here simply to work on his form and try out his new TT bike. Armstrong by contrast has opted for the Tour of Luxembourg in which he finished 3rd earlier today. Monday's stage will see the riders travel a 191km route from Evian-les-Bains to Saint-Laurent-du-Pont.