Wiggins excited about joining up with Thomas

On October 28, 2008 by

British cycling legend, Bradley Wiggins, has revealed his excitement at riding alongside his new partner, Geraint Thomas, in the Madison in the World Cup. Wiggins, who is a triple Olympic gold medallist, was disappointed not to succeed in the event in Beijing and will hope to put his frustration behind him when the World Cup begins in Manchester on the 31st of October.

The cyclist has had previous success in the Madison event, winning the World Championships with previous partner, Mark Cavendish, earlier this year. However, the Olympic Games brought intense disappointment for the duo, as they only managed to finish in eighth position.

Cavendish was said to be extremely frustrated by the failure and, according to reports, he did not speak to Wiggins for a relatively long time following the Olympic Games.

Wiggins was able to console himself with the other gold medals he managed to win but he is still keen to succeed in the Madison at the World Cup, in order to prove his ability to himself as much as to others.

The cyclist believes that he will stand a real chance of success with Thomas. Whilst the pair may not be on “Olympic form”, Wiggins thinks that “the rest of the world will be the same”.

Cycling fans are relishing the prospect of seeing Wiggins pair up with Thomas during the three-day event in Manchester. Other highlights will include the race involving Ed Clancy and Victoria Pendleton, who were also victorious at the Beijing Olympics. Legend of the sport, Chris Hoy, is also set to make a special guest appearance at the event.

Lance Armstrong reveals views on new Tour de France route

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Cycling legend Lance Armstrong has spoken publicly about his views concerning the 2009 route for the Tour de France. The cyclist, who has won the event an impressive total of seven times, is aiming to win yet another title next year and he was excited to see the changes to the race’s route.

One of the most notable changes concerns the world-famous Mount Ventoux climb, which has surprisingly been delayed until the penultimate section of the race.

Armstrong believes this to be “innovative and very interesting” but he has also revealed that there has been tension and conflict directed towards the organisers of the Tour.

Carlos Sastre, a famous cyclist from Spain, believes that the new route is so difficult and illogical that he has given up any hope of winning the event. However, many sports pundits have praised the decision to move the Mount Ventoux climb, stating that its new position will keep the event interesting and full of suspense.

The race will start in Monte Carlo with a 15 kilometre time trial on the 4th of July, before moving to Marseille for a lengthy 196 kilometre stage. One of the highlights is bound to be the 38 kilometre team time trial scheduled to be held in Montpellier.

Armstrong, who retired from cycling in 2005 before announcing his desire to return to the Tour de France earlier this year, was quick to notice the reintroduction of the team time trial and expressed his excitement at the prospect. The cyclist summed up his mood by stating that he “could not have hoped for a more different Tour”.

The 37-year-old has also been pondering the issue of who will lead the Astana team next year. Armstrong is one of four cyclists who are being considered and the competition is fierce, with the Spaniard Alberto Contador emerging as a hot favourite.

Contador (who has also spoken publicly about his happiness and excitement concerning the new route) won the 2007 Tour de France and has become a true legend in the world of cycling.

The other cyclists in with a chance are Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden. Armstrong remained diplomatic when questioned about the impending decision, stating that it is still too early to make an educated guess at the outcome.

Furthermore, the American was quick to reiterate his commitment to the team as a whole and revealed that Astana is “blessed” to have the “strongest team in the world”.

The cyclist is preparing to compete in the Tour Down Under in January before undertaking his first real test since returning to the cycling world, in the Giro d’Italia scheduled for May of next year.

Whether Armstrong ends up competing in the Tour de France remains to be seen. The boss of Astana believes that the cyclist may not be physically fit enough to cope with the challenges of the Tour.

The director of the Tour has refused to speculate on the issue, stating that it is purely Armstrong’s decision whether or not he chooses to attend the event. The director has conceded that the cyclist is “special” but if he arrives in Monaco he will simply be “a rider like others”.

Britain draws up plans for World Cup bid

On October 21, 2008 by

Last week, the Rugby Football League announced that Britain has constructed plans to host the next World Cup. Executive chairman of the RFL, Richard Lewis, hopes that the next Rugby League World Cup will be moved to 2013 in order to avoid clashing with the Olympics and has spoken of the strength of Britain’s prospective bid.

The plans that have been drawn up envisage a 12-team tournament, as opposed to the 16-team event seen in 2000 and this year’s 10-team competition. The plans have been greeted with criticism from some sections of the British media, since the RFL lost approximately £700,000 the last time it hosted the World Cup, in 2000.

The 2000 tournament was meant to light up the UK’s sporting scene but the reality was somewhat different. World-class rugby league players were forced to play in embarrassingly empty rugby stadia and several of the matches were ruined by typically British weather conditions.

The British public generally failed to show any excitement during the matches, many of which were one-sided and thus boring. Those fans who did have a passion for the sport encountered difficulties whilst trying to purchase tickets on match days and this resulted in many fans missing large parts of the games.

Those involved in the sport were particularly concerned with the poor marketing for the matches. However, Richard Lewis believes that important lessons have been learnt from that experience and says that the UK is now “the right place” for the World Cup to be staged.

Written by Charlotte Cook

Basso reveals excitement over imminent return

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Ivan Basso has spoken of his excitement at returning to competitive racing following a two-year suspension for his part in the Operation Puerto doping inquiry. The Italian cyclist believes that he can make a successful comeback and prove to the world of cycling that his previous victories were achieved honestly.

Basso won the Giro d’Italia in 2006 but was suspended after police found bags of blood that he admitted belonged to him. Although he made this confession, the 30-year-old still claims that he never used the blood to improve his performance during competitive racing.

Spanish police found over 200 code-named bags of blood that were all linked to leading cyclists, including Basso. Other cyclists implicated in the controversy include Jan Ullrich, the former winner of the Tour de France, and Roberto Heras, who has previously won the Tour of Spain.

Basso will return to action two days after his ban ends, on the 24th of October. He will travel to Tokyo to take part in the one-day Japan Cup and has spoken of his excitement at experiencing the emotions of competing, which he has been unable to feel for two years.

The cyclist believes that he is in “good form” and is confident that he can “do well” in both Tokyo and Argentina, where he will race in the Tour of San Luis in January next year. These races are good opportunities for the cyclist to reach the peak of his ability prior to the Tour of California in February, which in itself will be the perfect preparation for the 2009 Giro d’Italia.

Performing well in the Giro is Basso’s “biggest objective for 2009” but the races that form the build-up to that race will be instrumental in ensuring that the Italian’s comeback is successful. They will also allow him to build up a rapport with his new team mates, as Basso will be racing for new team, Liquigas.

Ivan Basso was born in Gallarate, in Lombardy, and ironically grew up living next door to Claudio Chiappucci. Chiappucci was forced into retirement after being found guilty of doping more than once. He impressed during the 1995 Junior World Championships and won the World Championship for under 23-year-olds just three years later.

The following year, he turned professional and competed in his first Giro d’Italia. Although he did not manage to finish the race, he publicly stated his ambition to win it in the future. Basso’s first professional victory came in the Regio Tour in 2000 with Amica Chips-Tacconi Sport.

2001 was a successful year for the Italian, who made his Tour de France debut after moving to Fassa Bortolo and joining up with Giancarlo Ferretti. He managed to finish seventh in the 2003 Tour de France and helped fellow Italian, Luca Paolini, win a bronze medal at the 2004 World Championships, held in Verona.

It was in 2006, however, that Basso really lit up the cycling world. He won the Giro d’Italia in an impressive manner, thrashing the other competitors.

However, the Operation Puerto doping inquiry put an end to the cyclist’s rapid development, as he was forced to miss out on professional competition for two years. It will be interesting to see if he is able to recapture some of the form that proved so effective prior to his suspension.

Written by Charlotte Cook