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EuroTrash Thursday!

Vuelta a Espaсa overdose in today’s EuroTrash Thursday: An interview with the race director, all the news from the teams and the TV race schedule from Universal Sports. Add to that the San Sebastiбn Classic, the Belgian time trial championships and a chat with Alberto Contador, plus the usual selection of videos and we have a very full sack to empty this morning! Hoy un cafй con leche…grande.

“Top Story”

Javier Guillйn Promises Daily Excitement at La Vuelta 2012
The 67th Tour of Spain will kick off in Pamplona with a team time trial on Saturday August 18. Following the start in the province of Navarra, ten uphill finishes are scheduled in the three-week long race. What a better way to introduce this year’s Vuelta than a Questions and Answers session with Vuelta General Director; Javier Guillйn?

Q: Is the 2012 Vuelta a race for climbers?
A: There are truly a lot of mountain stages but our philosophy is to offer to the public a daily excitement in the finale of each stage. Through the years, we’ve understood the expectations of our fans and athletes and we’ve taken their wishes into consideration. I’m confident in the quality of the coming spectacle.

Q: How do you welcome the participation of all the best Spanish cyclists at the difference of the previous editions?
A: Alberto Contador, Joaquim “Purito” Rodrмguez, Alejandro Valverde, Igor Anton and defending champion Juan Josй Cobo will be there. However, it won’t be a Vuelta only for Spanish riders. I expect interesting battles with Chris Froome who finished second of the past Vuelta and Tour de France, also with Denis Menchov who has won the Vuelta on two occasions in the past. I believe that a great champion like Philippe Gilbert will have a few opportunities to win stages. There’ll be some great sprinters too, even though the route won’t always suit them.

Q: This year, the Giro and the Tour have turned into the favour of time triallists [Ryder Hesjedal and Bradley Wiggins, respectively]. Is the Vuelta so different from the two other Grand Tours?
A: Yes, the Vuelta is different. Every Grand Tour has a strong character. The Vuelta takes place in the cycling calendar less than one month after the end of the Tour de France. That’s why we choose shorter distances on a route that generates tussles. The season is long for the riders. At this time of the year, they like intense but short efforts. Year after year, we’ve learnt how to build the kind of program they like.

Q: What are the most difficult finishes?
A: Finishes in high altitude are: Valdezcaray (stage 4), Andorra with the interesting climb of La Gallina (stage 8), Puerto de Ancares (stage 14), Lagos de Covadonga (stage 15), the Cuitu Negru (stage 16) that has all the characteristics to become a regular hot spot of the Vuelta, and the Bola del Mundo on the penultimate day of the Vuelta like two years ago. But there are also flat stages. It’s a well balanced course.

Q: What’s the importance of Alberto Contador’s presence?
A: It creates a great enthusiasm. He attracts a lot of fans and medias. Alberto motivates the Spanish people. He looks forward to take part in the race and we’re impatient to see him in action.

Q: Juan Josй Cobo’s was a surprise last year. Do you expect a similar outcome this year?
A: He surprised a few but since the start he was an option as a challenger. Froome was also able to win and that would have been another surprise. This year, they are both among the favourites but with the presence of Contador, “Purito” and those mentioned before, there are less possibilities for a surprise this year. Shall the winner not be one of them, he’ll have to be terrifically strong.

Q: Starting from Navarra one year after the come-back of the Vuelta to the Basque country, what does it mean for you?
A: Navarra is the land of Miguel Indurain who remains one of the main personalities of Spanish sport. Two teams from Navarra are taking part in the Vuelta: Movistar and Caja Rural. It’s a hot bed of cycling! Pamplona will highlight a beautiful face of Spain. It’s a reminder of Spanish culture that helps us promoting our philosophy of the Vuelta.

A nice bit of Vuelta retro from 1985:

Clбsica San Sebastiбn 2012
The San Sebastiбn Classic is Spain’s only one-day race on the WorldTour, but it must be one of the best non-cobbled races on the calendar. The riders might be tired coming out of the Tour de France or being careful going into the Vuelta a Espaсa, but it’s usually a hard fought battle round the Basque countryside. This year was no exception; once the early break was sorted out it was time for the serious attacks to come, and come they did with attacks and counter attacks aplenty. The main protagonists were Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM), Rafael Majka (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sergio Henao Montoya (Sky) and Rafa Valls (Vacansoleil-DCM), with signs of form coming from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), but they were all pushed to one side when Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) rode away from the peloton when two large groups merged with less than 10 kilometres to go. We were given the sight of one man holding of 26 chasers all the way to the finish line.

Sanchez said after his win: “Winning in your own country is still the best there is.” Gone too was the exhaustion from the last few weeks. Gone most importantly was the disappointments from the time trial in the Olympics, where he snapped his chain while still on the starting blocks and saw his chances for a medal go up in smoke. “That was not and is not easy to forget, but my first big race after that being in my own country has helped a bit, and if you win to boot, then everything’s basically all right again.” He added; “Harder than the first time. You’re closely watched. It’s hard to win one, much less two. The competition was also on really good form. But I was super motivated. The team too. Our preparation was also really good and the strategy of the sports directors worked great. It went well all day. Everyone did what was expected of him. Early on I had the feeling that it might work out today. Confidence was high and that only got higher as the race went on, since we had the initiative.”

Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank’s Rafael Majka was in the action, but it was his team mate; Mads Christensen who managed 7th at the finish. “I think the team rode really well and took an active part in the race and especially Rafa (Majka) was showing a lot of courage. Maybe he went a little bit too soon but it’s better to be out there and be caught than to try and follow the pace when the big guns open up full gas. Mads was doing a super job and had the strength to take part in the sprint where he finished seventh,” said the teams sports director Philippe Mauduit.

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) was 10th: “The race had its key moments in the second passages on Jaizkibel and Arkale,” Ulissi commented. “At 15 km to go, I tried an attack with Valverde, but the selection could not be definitive. Also my team mates performed a good race, especially Niemiec: I’m sure he’ll be very competitive in Vuelta. I’ll try to use my good fitness in the one day races I’ll take part in until the end of the season”.

“Ulissi would have deserved more than the tenth place, because he performed a very good race,” Damiani, Lampre-ISD’s director, commented. “It’s also necessary to point out that Niemiec and Anacona realized top performances, since they supported Ulissi very well.”

Clбsica San Sebastiбn Result:
1. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank in 5:55:35
2. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:10
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Sharp
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC
7. Mads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
8. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
9. Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha
10. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-ISD.

The action from the finalй:

Belgian National TT Championship 2012
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Kristof Vandewalle is the new Belgian National TT Champion, victorious on Wednesday after finishing with a time of 56 minutes and seven seconds on the 41.4km course.

Vandewalle bested 2nd place finisher Ben Hermans (Radioshack-Nissan) by 48″, and 3rd place finisher Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), who was the defending champion, by a minute and 10 seconds.

“Today Kristof had a great race” said Sports Director Rik Van Slycke, who followed Vandewalle during the TT. “He started immediately very good. We had the reference time of Julien Vermote and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, but since the beginning Kristof was flying on the parcour. At the end of the first lap he was already leader with 2″ on Gilbert. Basically he did the three laps of the circuit at the same level of performance, gaining time on the competitors kilometre by kilometre. He never had a bad moment. He deserves this title.”

“It’s a great day for me,” Vandewalle said. “I was looking forward to this race. I trained a lot in the last week to be competitive here, and in the upcoming races. Yesterday I did a recon of the parcour, and I had a feeling it could be a good track for me. There were a lot of uphill sections where you had to use the small gear, and keep a good rhythm. So today, I did it. The goal was to take a place on the podium. It was even better than I expected! It’s my first victory of the season, after a first part of the year with a lot of problems due to a virus. Since July at the Tour of Austria, things changed. I was second in the TT there. This year I feel really good in the Time Trial and I have good sensations each time I jump on my Specialized TT bike.”

“So far I haven’t felt like the TT Belgian Champion,” Vandewalle continued. “Here there were a lot of good riders; I think I will realize what I did only in the next days. Now I will leave immediately for La Vuelta. I feel good and I really hope to do a good race there and show also my new Belgian TT Champion jersey!”

Belgian National TT Championships Result:
1. Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) in 56:07
2. Ben Hermans (Radioshack-Nissan) at 0:48
3. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) at 1:09
4. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) at 1:50
5. Gaetan Bille (Lotto-Belisol) at 1:56
6. Maxime Monfort (Radioshack-Nissan) at 2:18
7. Kevin De Jonghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) at 2:53
8. Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis) at 2:56
9. Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) at 2:59
10. Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) at 3:23.

Belgian TT Champs:

A Short Interview with Alberto Contador:

Alberto Contador presented in Pinto his Foundation project to collect bicycles during the Tour of Spain
Alberto Contador, with the director general of the Tour of Spain, Javier Guillen, and Francisco del Castillo as a representative of Azkar, presented today at Pinto the first major project of the Foundation that bears his name, and consisting in the collection of used bicycles throughout the 21 stages of the Tour of Spain to send them to developing countries in Africa.

Alberto Contador Foundation has had for this project the unconditional support of the Tour of Spain, as well as the sponsoring of several firms, Azkar, Flex and wine cellars Josй Pariente, by which it will be possible to have a collection point both at the stars and finish lines of the Tour of Spain, where anyone who wants to give new life to his old bike, neglected in the attic, can donate it to a good cause. “The Vuelta was the best place to pick up the bikes and make them reach those most in need”, said Javier Guillen. “With this we go beyond the sport, to a vital work for the development of people. This is not just cycling, is solidarity”.

Alberto, meanwhile, said the effort will be “important, but we are very excited about this, because thanks to bicycles that are now in the cellar, some children can go to school by bike instead of walking several kilometres. For a child with these needs this means a lot”. In addition, Alberto Contador went further and also announced other big news of his Foundation. We will create a junior team for next season, because we are at the top and sometimes we are not aware that the base of cycling does not have the same health and, if not helped a bit, we have no future. That is why the junior team, which will run entirely on account of the Foundation and to treat the kids as professionals, but with the idea of enjoy sport and encourage others to support this cause”. With this idea of giving back to society a little of everything that has given him, Alberto Contador also project to create a school of cycling for youngsters. “Let’s make a cycling school in collaboration with Pinto’s Disabled Association, to provide alternatives to young children starting to ride a bike and for disabled people, so they can do sports with adapted bikes”.

Following the introduction of these initiatives, Alberto Contador answered questions from the media.

– Why have you promoted these initiatives?
It’s something that motivates me specially. When you’re here, you have many chances to do things that do not involve a great sacrifice. I remember when I was a child and all I wanted was to have a bike, that did not bring me until I was 12 years. For a Third World child must be the maximum, so I’m very satisfied.

– How was the Eneco Tour, what do you intend to achieve in the Tour of Spain and how have you seen the Olympics?
-The Eneco Tour has been a set-up for the Vuelta and I’ve been good, though it was a race completely flat, but it is a very good preparation. The feeling was quite positive. As for the Tour of Spain, the objective is to fight for victory, although I am aware that there are many other riders with the same goal… sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I worked hard and I’m motivated, because it is the home race and that motivates me especially, because I have not been there since 2008. Finally, at the Olympic Games the Spanish team did a great job, but cannot finish it and in the time trial, Castroviejo did very well and I cannot say about Luis Leon but he had very bad luck, couldn’t do more than finishing.

– Do you see yourself at the next Olympics, in four years?
-There is still a long time but today I think in four years will continue at the highest level yet, and yes, I can be there.

-In the Tour, will Froome be your main rival?
-There are important rivals and some of them already know how to win the Vuelta. Froome showed last year that could have won if given freedom and at this year’s Tour has had a spectacular performance and proved be the stronger. That motivates me and that’s why the Vuelta will be special and long remembered by the great level that will have. I think Froome comes with illusion and will be a tough opponent.

– Do you already have the Worlds in mind?
-Now the goal is the Vuelta, but if you want to continue performing well in other races you find it easier if you already have in your head these goals. I have hope because it is quite hard. The other day I saw the Cauberg and, if I come well, I can make a great role. But I am particularly motivated by the time trial. The parcours can help me.

– How have you been during those months of sanction, have they been long or short?
-Have been long and difficult, with days that you did not want to go out and train, but people’s support helped me a lot. I have tried to vary the training sites, I went to examine the stages of the Vuelta and it has been a bit tricky, but I just want to think now about the competition and trying to pick the fruit of the work of these months.

-From one to ten, how it is your form?
-It’s difficult to say, but I’m in a good form. I could have better assessed if there had been long climbs in Eneco Tour, but I could only try on the wall of Gramont yesterday, but not in long climbs, which is what I’ve worked more.

An Alberto montage:

All the News from the Teams at La Vuelta:

Movistar Team Ready for Vuelta Challenge
Juanjo Cobo will try to defend last year’s title in the Spanish Grand Tour, helped by Alejandro Valverde and a strong block completed by Intxausti, Quintana, Moreno, Castroviejo, Lastras, Erviti and Rojas.

The reigning champion of the Vuelta a Espaсa, Juanjo Cobo, will defend in Pamplona from this Saturday his victory in the last edition of the event. The Spanish Grand Tour reaches its 67th edition in 2012 as the Movistar Team rider wears the bib number 1, leading a telephone squad also including their other GC winner in the race, Alejandro Valverde. Surrounding the two big Blue starts will be seven strong riders for the three weeks of a race that promises to be absolutely exciting. They will be Beсat Intxausti, Nairo Quintana, Javi Moreno, Jonathan Castroviejo, Pablo Lastras, Imanol Erviti and Josй Joaquнn Rojas, with Vladimir Karpets as reserve rider for any last-minute contingency.

Cobo in last year’s Vuelta:

Past Stage Winners Among BMC Racing Team’s Vuelta Roster
The BMC Racing Team’s roster for the Vuelta a Espaсa will include past stage winners Alessandro Ballan and Philippe Gilbert and provide support for general classification hopefuls Brent Bookwalter and Steve Morabito, Directeur Sportif John Lelangue announced Tuesday.

Plenty of Opportunities
The three-week race that begins Saturday with a team time trial in Pamplona offers a number of opportunities for success for two riders who normally provide important support for others, Lelangue said. “Brent and Steve are the guys who will be protected, but in a different way than when we bring riders like Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen to a big tour,” Lelangue said. “In that instance, you know you are going for the podium or the top five, which is clearly not the stress or pressure here. The other guys will have individual opportunities to go for stage wins as well.”

Hard Race, Tough Competition
Morabito said his training in the Valais area of the Swiss Alps has built on form gained in a runner-up finish at the Tour of Austria in early July. “I had 10 days of very good training up there,” Morabito said. “But this Vuelta seems to be very hard with so many mountain-top finishes and so many top riders. I had a lot of fun riding for the GC with the support of the team at Austria so I would like to try that at a WorldTour race.” Four of the BMC Racing Team’s nine riders will be starting their first Vuelta. Past 2008 Vuelta stage winner and race leader Ballan is coming off a victory at the Eneco Tour of Benelux on Sunday while Gilbert also led the Vuelta while winning a pair of stages in 2010.

Download the BMC Racing Team Race Card (PDF with roster, bios, statistics, etc.): https://bit.ly/MZEu5r

BMC Racing Team Vuelta a Espaсa Roster (Aug. 18-Sept. 9):
Alessandro Ballan (ITA),
Brent Bookwalter (USA),
Steve Cummings (GBR),
Yannick Eijssen (BEL),
Philippe Gilbert (BEL),
Klaas Lodewyck (BEL),
Amaлl Moinard (FRA),
Steve Morabito (SUI),
Mauro Santambrogio (ITA).
Directeur Sportif: John Lelangue (BEL)
Assistant Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & Max Sciandri (GBR/ITA).

Lotto-Belisol to La Vuelta
On Saturday Lotto Belisol will be starting with a nine headed competitive team, which should be able to cope with the Spanish armadas and again to focus on goal number 1, a stage win in a big tour. Sportive manager Marc Sergeant explains.

Marc Sergeant: ” Before the start of the season, our goal was to win a stage in each of the three big tours. In the Giro, Lars Bak succeeded and in the Tour we even got three wins with Andrй Greipel. We have the same goals now for the Vuelta. With riders like Van den Broeck and Meersman we have a chance. The Vuelta of this year is made for climbers. There are nine arrivals on hills, all stages are held up north of Madrid and the Spanish riders will be very motivated, especially Contador and Rodriguez.”

“Jurgen Van den Broeck will lead our team, nevertheless our goal is totally different from the Tour. Jurgen keenly focused on the Tour, whereas for the Vuelta it’s impossible, as well physically as mentally. He will try to go for a stage win and if, after two weeks, his general ranking might give some possibilities, we can always adjust our goals. Gianni Meersman will find some stages right up his alley. He was due to abandon quickly in the Giro, but had a good TRW and showed he was able to finish well on difficult arrivals in Paris-Nice.”

“Adam Hansen will ride his third big tour this year, which is quite unseen in current peloton. Adam really likes to race, has a big motor and doesn’t get homesick that easy. He asked to ride and revealed himself as a solid helper for Jurgen Van den Broeck. Bart De Clercq will be joining again, after his pneumothorax, was out for quite a while, but showed in the Giro to be good in hilly stages.”
“Vicente Reynes will be riding in his home country, Frederik Willems wants to prove himself after not being selected for the Tour. Olivier Kaisen was the most combative rider of the peloton in the Giro. Jens Debusschere and Joost Van Leijen, two rookies, will also start. Jens can stand his ground and Joost is ready for the big work, after some physical injuries in the preseason.”

Pro Team Astana All Set for the Vuelta A Espaсa
Team will fight for the red jersey all the way from Pamplona.

The 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa gets underway on August 18th in the Plaza del Castillo, Pamplona, with this year’s race mainly taking place in the north of Spain. As usual, the parcours features many climbs and steep ramps – perfect terrain for the riders of Pro Team Astana, who will line up at the start to give it their all in the last Grand Tour of the year.

So far this season Astana have put in some excellent performances. We have seen Fredrik Kessiakoff narrowly miss out on the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France, Paolo Tiralongo win the legendary Recanati-Rocca di Cambio stage at the Giro d’Italia, and Enrico Gasparotto dominate all the way to victory at the Amstel Gold Race. Now, a nine-strong Pro Team Astana squad will be looking to provide plenty of excitement on the roads of Spain, with all eyes firmly on the leader’s red jersey.

Team Manager Giuseppe Martinelli said: “There are a lot of contenders for victory at the Vuelta, but we are up there with them. After his good results at the Tour, here Fredrik Kessiakoff will be able to call on the top-class support of Paolo Tiralongo to try and do even better.

“I am expecting a good performance from Assan Bazayev, who has definitely still got something to show after his win in the Kazakh Championships,” he continued. “Then there is Enrico Gasparotto, who will not only be giving it his best for us, but also for a call-up to the national team in the World Championships.”

“Basically, we’ve got all the boxes ticked,” concluded Martinelli, “so there is nothing left to do but to give it everything we’ve got and try to finish the season in style.”

Astana’s team for the 2012 Vuelta, to be managed by Giuseppe Martinelli and Alexandr Shefer, is as follows:
Fredrik Kessiakoff
Andrey Kashechkin
Assan Bazayev
Alexandr Dyachenko
Enrico Gasparotto
Kevin Seeldraeyers
Egor Silin
Paolo Tiralongo
Andrey Zeits.

Lampre-ISD to La Vuelta
After Clasica San Sebastian, Lampre-ISD will stay in Pais Vasco in order to take part, in Pamplona, to the start of Vuelta a Espana.

For the Spanish race, these blue-fuchsia riders have been selected: Winner Andrew Anacona Gomez,
Davide Cimolai,
Damiano Cunego,
Denys Kostyuk,
Oleksandr Kvachuk,
Marco Marzano,
Przemyslaw Niemiec,
Morris Possoni,
Davide Viganт.
The team will be directed by Fabrizio Bontempi, Sandro Lerici and Maurizio Piovani, with the technical direction by Roberto Damiani.

Lampre-ISD will be very competitive in the mountain stages and in the six summit finishes, thanks to Cunego, Anacona, Marzano, Niemiec and Possoni. Cimolai and Viganт will have their chances in the sprints, that organizers think could be six. The roles for Kostyuk and Kvachuk will be important, since they’ll focus their attention on the breakaways and on setting the pace of the team in the approaches of the climbs and of the sprints.

Blue-fuchsia cyclists will be from 4 Countries (Colombia, Italia, Poland and Ukraine), the youngest will be Cimolai (23 years old), the more expert Niemiec (32 years old) and the average age is 28 years.

Damiano Cunego, the only rider from Lampre-ISD that has already won in the Vuelta (two stages in 2009), explained last week his ideas and aim about the Spanish race in an interview that was published on Lampre-ISD’s official website: https://www.teamlampreisd.com/videos/damiano-cunego-e-il-ritorno-alle-gare-per-un-bel-finale-di-stagione/.

Damiano Cunego on my local big climb in 2009:

Lotto-Belisol for La Vuelta
Lotto Belisol has succeeded again to put a balanced team of nine riders into place. Jurgen Van den Broeck can travel to Spain without any pressure after his successful Tour de France. Also the Australian Adam Hansen – revelation in the Tour de France and earlier on also present at the Giro – is at the start. Furthermore there’s also Bart De Clercq, marathon guy Olivier Kaisen and Gianni Meersman who already rode the Giro as well. Gianni Meersman had to leave early on in the race because of a wrist and elbow injury, but will find some arrivals in Spain that should suit him. For Jens Debusschere, Frederik Willems, Joost Van Leijen and local Vicente Reynes it is their first grand tour this year.

Vuelta a Espaсa line-up and preview
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek will participate in the Tour of Spain with an ambitious team:
Daniele Bennati,
Jan Bakelants,
Laurent Didier,
Linus Gerdemann,
Markel Irizar,
Tiago Machado,
Maxime Monfort,
Greg Rast,
Hayden Roulston.
Sports Directors: Josй Azevedo and Luca Guercilena.

Azevedo: “We bring a diverse team to the start. Monfort, Gerdemann and Machado are our three GC riders and we will try to bring them in the best possible position to defend their overall ambitions. Maxime is very motivated for the Vuelta and with his 6th place overall in 2011, he proved to be a strong Grand Tour racer. He took a large break after the Tour, in order to be fresh both physically and mentally. With 11 altitude finishes the route will suit Tiago Machado very well too. Tiago is ready for this race. The Vuelta has been his goal for the whole season and he is confident. The key stages for him – and for everyone else – will be the Asturian stages. Gerdemann, finally, came out of the Eneco Tour with very good feelings. He was at the front in every stage and that is always a good sign.”

“Our three GC riders will be surrounded by a nice group of helpers with Bakelants, Didier, Irizar, Rast and Roulston. These five riders will at times be allowed to defend their chances as well and fight for stage wins. Especially Jan Bakelants is an expert at that. He has been very close to victory in every Grand Tour he has ridden.”

“In theory six out of the 21 stages can conclude in a bunch sprint. Our Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati has already won five stages in the Tour of Spain in the past. We hope to see him knit on a sixth one somewhere between Pamplona and Madrid!”

Rabobank wants to continue good line at the Vuelta
The Rabobank Cycling Team is armed to the teeth at the start of the Vuelta a Espaсa, which will take off with a team time trial in Pamplona on Saturday. The team is in good shape, as the results of the past days show. Sports director Adri van Houwelingen: “If we can continue that line, we will have some nice weeks ahead.”

Victories in Burgos, a stage and overall win in the Eneco Tour, victory in Clasica San Sebastian – the Rabobank Cycling Team is in the winning mood. “We have a few nice weeks behind us, we are hoping to continue that line,” sports director Adri van Houwelingen says, looking forward to the Vuelta. “But we also have to be realistic and not expect we will win everything just like that.”

Nevertheless, the team is going for it. With the two Dutch captains Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema, the Rabobank Cycling Team is looking for revenge. Due to the massive pile up on the way to Metz, neither one of them was able to display their form in the Tour de France. Van Houwelingen: “They are eager to do that now. With them we are going for the GC.”

With as many as ten uphill finishes and the expectation of extremely high temperatures, the upcoming Vuelta promises to be a struggle of attrition. Van Houwelingen: “It’ll be hard, but all the riders in the team are in shape. They’ve showed that in the last competitions, so we have to be able to handle this. We obviously really want to win a stage. I think that, considering the course, especially Bauke will have a really good chance to do so. But Lars Boom and Matti Breschel have also put their mind to winning.”

Lars Boom,
Matti Breschel,
Stef Clement,
Laurens ten Dam,
Juan Manuel Garate,
Robert Gesink,
Bauke Mollema,
Grischa Niermann,
Dennis van Winden.
Sports Directors: Adri van Houwelingen and Erik Dekker.

Universal Sports Network’s “Cycling Series” Offers 90 Hours of LIVE Multiplatform Coverage of 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa from August 18 to September 9

Press Release: Universal Sports Network’s “Cycling Series” continues with exclusive LIVE multiplatform coverage of the highly anticipated 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa beginning Saturday, August 18, at 1 p.m. ET on Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com. LIVE coverage of all 21 stages of the third and final Grand Tour of the season continues daily at 10 a.m. ET starting on Sunday, August 19 and throughout the three week race. Universal Sports will air the 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa both on-air and online to authenticated users. Anyone who visits UniversalSports.com can enjoy post-stage recaps, video highlights, photos and breaking news.

Universal Sports coverage of the 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa, presented by GoPro, will follow some of the best cyclists in the sport as they ride across Northern Spain for the 67th edition of Spain’s premier cycling event beginning Saturday, August 18, in Pamplona and culminating Sunday, September 9, in the capital city of Madrid, per tradition. On both rest days, August 27 and September 4, Universal Sports will present Recap Shows at 10 a.m. ET. In addition to daily LIVE coverage, the network will also present primetime re-airs of each stage nightly at 8 p.m. ET.

The network’s broadcast team will feature veteran announcer Steve Schlanger on play-by-play alongside analyst Todd Gogulski, who spent more than a decade racing professionally, including on the U.S. National team, and had more than 100 victories during his career.

Universal Sports Network Broadcast Schedule: 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa
ALL TIMES ET – subject to change

Aug. 18 1-3 PM Stage 1: Pamplona – Pamplona Team Time-Trial
Aug. 19 10 AM-12 PM Stage 2: Pamplona – Viana Plain
Aug. 20 10 AM-12 PM Stage 3: Faustino V – Eibar (Arrate) Mountains
Aug. 21 10 AM-12 PM Stage 4: Barakaldo – Estaciуn de Valdezcaray Mountains
Aug. 22 10 AM-12 PM Stage 5: Logroсo – Logroсo Plain
Aug. 23 10 AM-12 PM Stage 6: Tarazona – Jaca Plain
Aug. 24 10 AM-12 PM Stage 7: Huesca – Alcaсiz. Motorland Aragуn Plain
Aug. 25 10 AM-12 PM Stage 8: Lleida – Andorra. Collada de la Gallina Mountains
Aug. 26 10 AM-12 PM Stage 9: Andorra – Barcelona Plain
Aug. 28 10 AM-12 PM Stage 10: Ponteareas – Sanxenxo Plain
Aug. 29 10 AM-12 PM Stage 11: Cambados – Pontevedra Indiv. Time-Trial
Aug. 30 10 AM-12 PM Stage 12: Vilagarcнa de Arousa – Mirador de Йzaro Plain
Aug. 31 10 AM-12 PM Stage 13: Santiago de Compostela – Ferrol Plain
Sept. 1 10 AM-12 PM Stage 14: Palas de Rei – Puerto de Ancares Mountains
Sept. 2 10 AM-12 PM Stage 15: La Robla – Lagos de Covadonga Mountains
Sept. 3 10 AM-12 PM Stage 16: Gijуn – Valgrande-Parjares. Cuitu Negru Mountains
Sept. 5 10 AM-12 PM Stage 17: Santander – Fuente Dй Plain
Sept. 6 10 AM-12 PM Stage 18: Aguilar de Campoo – Valladolid Plain
Sept. 7 10 AM-12 PM Stage 19: Peсafiel – La Lastrilla Plain
Sept. 8 10 AM-12 PM Stage 20: La Faisanera Golf. – Bola del Mundo Mountains
Sept. 9 10 AM-12 PM Stage 21: Cercedilla – Madrid Plain

The Vuelta a Espaсa is a part of Universal Sports’ Cycling Series which includes the Giro d’Italia, giving the network two of the three Grand Tours. With more than 110 hours of cycling programming each year, Universal Sports is firmly established as the leader in cycling coverage. In addition to its two Grand Tours, USN also televises Europe’s spring classics, the UCI Road World Championships, the UCI Cyclocross World Cup and World Championships, the UCI Track World Cup and World Championships, and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and World Championships. For more information, please visit: https://universalsports.com/cycling/.

Other News:

Colorado Up Next for BMC
Tschopp’s win was the BMC Racing Team’s first at a stage race since Cadel Evans won the two-day, three-stage, Critйrium International in March. It is also the 13th victory of the season, matching the team’s 2011 victory total. Frank, Santaromita, Schдr and Tschopp will be part of the BMC Racing Team’s roster for the USA Pro Challenge, joining Evans, George Hincapie, Taylor Phinney and Tejay van Garderen. BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the seven-day race that begins Aug. 20 could be more difficult than Utah, which is billed as “America’s Toughest Stage Race.” “Racing at high altitude is not an easy thing and they all did a great job,” Ochowicz said. “Now we can turn our attention to our next challenge in Colorado and we believe we have a good team going there as well.”

Colorado 2012 route from NBC Sports:

Rapha Condor-Sharp: Handley takes UCI Win in Spain
Press Release: After showing promise throughout his debut season with the Rapha Condor Sharp team, Richard Handley took the development squad’s biggest victory to date on the last stage of the Vuelta Ciclista Leon, on Saturday.

Handley was part of a fifteen-man escape that dominated the proceedings during the 118km stage between Laguna de Negrillos and the province capital Leon. The break’s advantage had hovered between two and three minutes throughout the day, and a strong surge from the bunch in the final 20km forced Handley to take the initiative, pulling away a three man which held off the chase all the way to the line.

The young Mancunian was naturally delighted, if a little surprised at the ease by which he eventually took the win, saying,

“I had seen the finish before so I had an idea of the final few hundred metres, in the end I just led it out and no-one could come round me.”

For Handley the win marks a huge step forward in his career, and while it may have come as a pleasant surprise to him, team manager John Herety had noted the upwards climb of his form throughout the week.

“Rich had raced very aggressively on the first day, and a combination of the route and the heat meant that he overcooked it a bit and he lost a lot of time on the first mountain stage. After that though I saw he started to improve day by day. I am sure that had he raced a little differently on the first day he could actually have been up there on G.C. but that being said- being lower down on the overall meant that he was allowed to get into the break on the final day with no problems, and his win there is really great for him, and all the young guys in the team.”

Reflecting on the team as a whole throughout one of the harder tests the young group will face this season; Herety also noted several encouraging improvements amongst the other riders.

“It was a really big challenge for the guys, the heat across Southern Europe in the past couple of weeks has been extraordinary, and the level this year at Leon is certainly much higher than last year (where the team took three stage wins- Ed). They were all taken aback by the difficulty at first, but Luke Mellor in particular rode really well to get around, with seemingly no real difficulty, and Chris Jennings has bounced back from a cold only a week ago to be very aggressive in the racing.”

With the upcoming Tour of Britain in mind the team will now stay on in Spain and continue with two hard days training, in order to help simulate a longer stage race.

Lampre-ISD to Trittico Lombardo
Team Lampre-ISD line-up to race in Italy, taking part in all the races of the Trittico Lombardo. Blue-fuchsia riders will be at the start of the Coppa Bernocchi (16 August), Coppa Agostoni (17 August) and Tre Valli Varesine (18 August).

These are the selections of cyclists that will be led in each race by sport director Maini:
– Coppa Bernocchi (start and arrival in Legnano): Bole, Bono, Buts, Graziato, Hondo, Malori, Cattaneo (trainee), Wackermann (trainee).
– Coppa Agostoni (start from Monza and arrival in Lissone): Bole, Lloyd, Pietropolli, Spezialetti, Stortoni, Bono, Cattaneo (trainee), Viola (trainee).
– Tre Valli Varesine (start from Campione d’Italia and arrival in Luino): Buts, Lloyd, Malori, Spezialetti, Stortoni, Cattaneo (trainee), Viola (trainee), Wackermann (trainee).

The Haute Route Pyrenees is Born
Press Release: OC Sport, a global sports marketing and events company specialising in professional sailing and outdoor events, has announced today the creation of the Haute Route™ Pyrenees, a year after its twin sister the Haute Route™ Alps was established as the ‘Toughest and Highest cyclosportive in the World’. The first edition of the Haute Route Pyrenees will be held from the 1st to 7th September 2013, crossing a legendary course from Catalonia (Spain) to the Basque Coast (France), featuring seven timed stages, 800 kilometres, 20,000 meters of ascent and 20 legendary Pyrenean cols.

The concept of the Haute Route Pyrenees (Catalonia-Basque Coast) will be identical to that of the Haute Route Alps (Geneva-Nice), with both events being held annually. The peloton will consist of hundreds of cyclists from all continents across the globe, traversing this stunning mountain range in seven timed stages, which will include an individual time trial mid-week. Riders’ first motivation will be to finish the race and to share an experience of a lifetime. All participants will be ranked individually (Solo) and as part of a team between 3 and 9 cyclists (Team).

The course has been once again designed by Race Director Jean-Franзois Alcan, who describes his inspiration for the route: “The Pyrenees offer an ideally suited profile for the Haute Route, with the exceptional beauty of the landscape and the authenticity of the valleys crossed. Our journey links the crystal Mediterranean waters to the shores of the Atlantic, from East to West, via 800km and 20,000 metres of ascent. The highest cols of the Pyrenees will feature in the challenging course, including the mythical Tourmalet, and riders must be wary that these climbs are even steeper than the Alpine ones.” The Haute Route Pyrenees will link two dynamic, world-famous and iconic cities, which offer excellent accommodation and international airports.

The formula that has contributed strongly to the success of the Haute Route Alps will be replicated for the new Haute Route Pyrenees: a multiday cyclosportive consisting of timed stages, featuring a carefully chosen selection of world-famous cols and ascents, with a limited number of participants to ensure the quality of the event and unique atmosphere amongst the riders who will be ranked as both individuals and teams. Rйmi Duchemin, CEO of OC Sport, commented: “Our objective is to offer a unique experience and total safety, to hundreds of dedicated cycling enthusiasts. Previous riders of the Haute Route have claimed it to the best, or one of the top three, experiences of their lives. With editions in both the Alps and the Pyrenees, we hope to inspire millions of cycling fans worldwide but only 1,200 participants can be on the start line in Geneva or in Catalonia.”

OC Sport will announce the Start and Finish host cities, the details of the course for the Haute Route Pyrenees along with registration conditions in the coming weeks. It has been confirmed the 50 entries will be reserved for participants who wish to take on the ultimate challenge of the Alps and the Pyrenees in the same year, with the start in Catalonia one week after the finish in Nice.

Peter Pouly, one of the winners of the Haute Route Alps’ inaugural edition, and returning in 2012, welcomed the creation of the Haute Route Pyrenees: “Taking 14 days to cross both the Alps and the Pyrenees with a week off in the middle is the dream for all cycling enthusiasts. Only the most determined will succeed in completing both the Geneva-Nice and Catalonia-Basque Coast events with 1600km, the equivalent of 5 ascents of Everest from sea level and back, and 40 mythical cols before they can claim the ultimate accolade!”

Calendar 2012/2013:
• Haute Route Alps 2012 (second edition) – 19th – 25th August 2012.
• Haute Route Alps 2013 (third edition) – 18th – 24th August 2013.
• Haute Route Pyrenees 2013 (first edition) – 1st – 7th September 2013.

GranFondoPlus.com New Web-Site
Our friends at GranFondoPlus .com have unleashed their new web-site on the cycling public, check it out for loads of great info, not only events, but also coaching and training advice, bikes and equipment, travel articles, riders and their rides, plus you can keep up to date on Pro race news. You don’t have to be a Gran Fondo-ist to enjoy GranFondoPlus.com.

The Gourmet Century
James Wilson of Hondabluefilms reminded me that we covered the Gourmet Century once upon a time. He has just shot a video of the most recent edition, so have a look:

GOURMET CENTURY from Chris King on Vimeo.

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