What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday!

Christmas has come and gone, all that’s left for us is to look forward to Spring. Really, once Christmas is gone, we’re left with the harsh truth that Winter pretty much just plain sucks. Oh well, there’s always EuroTrash to enjoy…and the fact that there will be racing in about a month’s time. Grab some leftovers, heat up the cider, and enjoy.

Say It Ain’t So
All of the news outlets are reporting that Tom Zirbel has come up positive for DHEA following his 2nd place at the USPRO Time Trial Championships at the end of August. Zirbel followed that success with the overall NRC title and capped off a splendid season with 4th at the World TT Championships. The story just got better when it was announced that Zirbel would be racing for Garmin-Transitions in 2010.

Things started to get a little fuzzy though when Garmin released its final roster for 2010 – Zirbel wasn’t on there.

The questions and rumors started to brew until the news broke today that Zirbel tested positive for DHEA.

I, for one, was hit hard by the news. I know the guy, I call him a friend, and it’s hard not to believe what he says below.

VeloNews quotes the big man: “The U.S. pro TT was a major objective of mine this season, but I would never compromise my integrity for any bike race…At this point, I don’t know how this happened, but regardless of the outcome of my ‘B’ sample, I intend to find out with the help of a few accomplished scientists and doctors who have selflessly helped me since I first was notified of the ‘A’ findings.”

Call me a sap, call me easily convinced, call me biased, but I think there’s something else to this tale, and it ain’t Tom Zirbel took DHEA.

WHATEVER the truth may be, it looks like Zirbel can wave good bye to his shot at racing in Europe…at least for the time being. That’s a terrible, sad thing to have to write.

Good luck to Tom in his coming legal battles. I wish him the best.

Schleck Meet Car, Car Meet Schleck
Andy Schleck managed to beat up a car over the Christmas Weekend in Luxembourg. He was at home visiting family in Luxembourg and heading out to meet his brother, Frank, for a ride when he ran into a car.

CyclingNews quotes the young star: “A car crossed in my path and pulled right across me. I couldn’t avoid the crash. I didn’t have the speed on, but I couldn’t avoid it.”

“It was cold and I had lots of clothing on to protect me. That was good in the end.”

Schleck visited his physio soon after and was given the green light – no breaks or issues sans some bruising. The car, however, did not come off so well: “His door was a wreck and so was his bumper. The passenger window adn the front window were smashed too.”

I never knew such a little person could do such damage to a car. Whoda thunk it.

Serge Pauwels Eyes 2010 Tour
The 26-year-old Belgian, had a breakout season with Cervelo in 2009. For 2010 he signed with Team Sky and now has his sights set on his first Tour de France start in July.

The rider, who above all shone brightly at the Giro, admits that, “The Giro was the beginning of a new career. I discovered in Italy that I can climb well in the Grand Tours.”

He credits some of his success to his living arrangements. He abandoned Belgium long ago for the sunnier, much more mountainous environs of Spain’s Costa Brava: “I live six months a year on the Costa Brava. I can train in ideal weather conditions and climb cols daily. In Spain, I can make more progress than in Belgium.”

For 2010? “In 2010, I especially hope to race the Tour de France. I would like to help Bradley Wiggins to a podium place in Paris.”

Speaking Of Sky
Edvald Boasson Hagen looks to make his Tour de France debut in 2010 as well. The Norwegian talent isn’t setting the bar too high for his first attempt, but confesses that he hopes to win a stage:

“I will ride the Tour mainly to gain experience. My goal is to finish the race. I also hope to win a stage.”

Boasson Hagen has high hopes for the Spring though. He’ll be at the start line at both De Ronde and Paris-Roubaix: “I’m happy to do these races. My goal is to perform as well as possible.”

Boasson Hagen is a name to watch for 2010. If his 2010 campaign is an improvement on 2009, then it’s going to be huge.

Cross Compote
It was a busy weekend for cross racing in Europe. The World Cup re-entered the fray with its third to last offering, this time in Zolder, whilst the Superprestige series rounded out the weekend in Diegem. Overall, it was a weekend of disappointment for Sven Nys, a weekend of more of the same from Niels Albert, a weekend of not so great for Stybar, and a weekend of hallelujah for Kevin Pauwels. Allow me to explain.

Kevin Pauwels took, arguably, the co-biggest win of his career with the World Cup win in Zolder on Saturday. The 25-year-old has good memories of the course – he took the Junior World Championship win in Zolder in 2002 as well. Pauwels was at the front of the race for most of the hour and managed to wrest free of the leaders in the latter part of the race to take the huge win.

Niels Albert could do naught to answer the young Belgians move. He had just bridged up to Pauwels when Pauwels attacked. However, he was still able to hold on for a solid 2nd place to more than defend his overall lead considering that Zdenek Stybar lost a massive 20 points on the day with his 6th place finish.

Stybar and Nys had rough outings. Nys crashed late in the race, held up Stybar, and allowed Albert to get across to the dangling break. The hold-up behind Nys allowed a virtual crowd to get back on terms and barred Nys and Stybar any real chance of getting back up to Albert due to the logjam. In short, it was a typical cross race, fraught with danger and crashes.

1 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 1:04:30
2 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:00:22
3 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet – Colnago 0:00:33
4 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:38
5 Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus 0:00:43
6 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:44

The next day, or evening rather, as this was a night cross race, saw Niels Albert back on top with Stybar just off the pace. The night cross in Diegem was a spectacle for sure, but not one that the racers loved dearly. Albert and Stybar were in a class unto themselves on the day, but it was Nys who made headlines with a mechanical on the penultimate lap that led to his abandonment. More on that below.

1 Niels Albert (Bel) 1:00:56
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) 0:00:08
3 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) 0:01:36
4 Gerben de Knegt (Ned)
5 Bart Wellens (Bel) 0:01:47

Nys’s Rotten Luck
Sven Nys probably lost all hope of a tenth Superprestige overall title after his mechanical in the Superprestige round in Diegem on Sunday.

“To attain the overall victory, you have to make the podium consistently, especially since Albert and Stybar do so. With a zero score, you will not win. It’s too bad, because I was in 3rd position [when my derailleur broke].”

The difference between Nys and Albert is now a virtually insurmountable 13 points, which Nys agrees is, “too much.” Nys also gave up any hope of another World Cup overall title in the first race of the year in Treviso when he took a big fat goose egg as well.

No Qatar For Rabobank
It’s surprising we don’t report more of this kind of news. Qatar is a veritable crucible to begin the season – howling crosswinds, aggressive racing, psycho stress. It’s not exactly the friendliest place to begin a season. Rabobank has never had the greatest of success at the race, and this year, opted for the friendlier Tour of the Algarve in Portugal, which starts one week after Qatar and doesn’t include sitting in the gutter for 3-4 hours per day.

Good choice, Rabo. I commend you.

Chavanel Set For Busy April
30-year-old Frenchman, Sylvain Chavanel, had a successful, consistent 2009 season. The rouleur, nicknamed La Machine, was a jack of all trades for his QuickStep team in ’09. He helped Devolder to victory in Flanders after spending an hour and a half off the front with Manuel Quinziato, finished 8th at Paris-Roubaix (a noteworthy result considering his other credentials), a stage win at Paris-Nice, and numerous other high placings.

For 2010, Chavanel has each of the weekends in April earmarked. He’ll look to be at his best for Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“I will have an important race every week of April, which is ideal for me.”

I think we’ll see an even better Chavanel in 2010. I think there’s a big win somewhere along the way for him.

Henderson Ready For Leadership
Greg Henderson is a great sprinter. On any other team, he would be the go to guy. Unfortunately for Henderson, he has been racing for T-Mobile/Columbia for the past few seasons, which meant he was the third best sprinter behind Cavendish and Greipel.

For 2010, Henderson has moved to Team Sky, where he should be the top dog in the final kilometer.

Henderson agrees: “I see myself as the number one sprinter on the team. At Columbia, I raced in the shadow of the two best sprinters in the world. I gave them numerous victories, but now I have my own chance against them.”

As with every rider worth his salt, Henderson is looking to the Tour de France: “Obviously, the Tour team will be built around wiggins, but I hope that I have two or three riders at my disposal. That is enough.”

The Kiwi fast man took four wins in 2009, all of them with a Spanish flavor. The biggest of the wins was undoubtedly his Stage 3 win at the Vuelta in the Dutch city of Venlo. Not Spanish mind you, but definitely Spanish flavored, no?

Moreni Looking To Return
37-year-old Cristian Moreni is looking to return to pro cycling after his two-year suspension following a positive for testosterone test at the 2007 Tour de France.

As far as I know, Moreni was the only rider to pay his full salary to the UCI as penalty for a positive. I could definitely be wrong here. At the bare minimum, I give him a big nod for that gesture, one that very few, if any, others have manned up to pay.

“I know I’ve made a mistake. I would like half a chance to give back to cycling.”

Moreni turned professional in 1998. The former Italian champ and stage winner at both the Giro and Vuelta raced for quite the string of teams: Liquigas, Alessio, QuickStep, and Cofidis.

Colom Wants Back In
Mallorcan Spaniard, Antonio Colom, has sent in an application to the Spanish Cycling Federation to lift his suspension for testing positive for EPO last season.

Colom was given a provisional suspension in early April after the positive for EPO. Colom has always proclaimed his innocence, and, in his report, he cites many mistakes made in the investigation. In fact, Colom sent a 50 page report to the UCI, which apparently pokes many holes into the UCI’s case.

It’s easy to side with Zirbel at this moment, as it just seems so typical for a rider like Colom to test positive – is Colom innocent though?

If the UCI continues to make significant errors in its testing, we’ll always wonder if a rider was actually guilty or not. I guess I can’t say we, but in this case, if the findings that Colom and his lawyers came up with are significant, then yes, I do wonder.

Garmin Locks Down Its Stars
Garmin isn’t messing around with its top names. Sure, the team lost Bradley Wiggins, but if it weren’t for some bad luck last year, we might have been singing a very different tune, one that included Christian Vande Velde’s name in the refrain.

To this end, Garmin has worked to secure the commitments of a very powerful core group: Christian Vande Velde, Dan Martin, and David Zabriskie.

VDV and Martin signed contract extensions to take them through the 2012 season, whilst Zabriskie extended his through 2013!

VeloNews quotes VDV: “I’ve come a long way with Team Garmin-Transitions in a short time. I’m incredibly proud of what Iv’e done as part of this team and I’m excited to see what the next three years hold.”

Check Out This Article
Ever wondered about Tom Danielson? Scoffed at his supposed talent? Read this article from Cycling Weekly for some thoughts on the topic from his coach/director/manager: Jonathan Vaughters. It’s extremely interesting.

Questions? Comments? Happy? Sad? Send me an email.

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There’s always the trusty JeredGruber.com if you ever get really bored. Hell, I even signed up for Twitter in a fit of boredom last night. Who knows what I’ll do with that.

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