Archive for August, 2009
Gert Steegmans has returned to racing for the first time since June, finishing eighth in a criterium in Wolvertem, Belgium, this weekend. Steegmans wore the kit of his private sponsor BBB, a bike parts company, and has been linked to Mark Cavendish’s Columbia team for next year.
Steegmans announced last week that he and Team Katusha had agreed to cancel his contract for the remainder of the season. However the team had denied that and claimed that the contract was still valid, after placing the rider on inactive status for refusing to sign its anti-doping charter.
Steegmans‘ manager Paul De Geyter is due to return from holiday today, “and I suspect that he will immediately get into action. I don’t want to find just find any new team . I don’t need to race any more this season.” The most important aspect, Steegmans said, was to find a team , “where I feel at home.”
The two teams rumoured to be interested in his signature are Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Columbia-HTC. Alan Peiper, Columbia Directeur Sportif, told La Derniere Heure, “We don’t see him as part of the Cavendish sprint train, but rather as a candidate for the Spring Classics.”
The 28-year-old didn’t comment on either team, saying, “I do not respond to the names I’ve seen appearing in the press. But occasionally I have a good laugh over one or the other.”
For now, Steemgans just seemed happy to be racing again: “It was a pleasure to wear a race number again,” he told the Gazet van Antwerpen.
Gert Steegmans is being supported financially by Dutch cycling component manufacturer BBB while he looks for a new team, following a possible contract annulment with Team Katusha on Wednesday. The Belgian has also claimed that the Russian ProTour team put too much pressure on him to return to racing after a back injury in May.
“We are glad to help Gert in his distress,” according to Davy Daniëls of BBB. It plans to sponsor him as an independent in upcoming criterium races. The company has previously provided Steegmans with equipment sponsorship.
Katusha denies the Steegmans‘ contract has been annulled. Press spokesman Andrea Agostini told us that team manager Andrei Tchmil is waiting to talk with his cyclist.
Steegmans refused to sign the team’s anti-doping charter, and has not ridden competitively since the Dauphiné Libéré in June. “I consider this a completely lost year,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
Although he had two wins earlier in the season, he says that he did not bring in the expected results because of “one big problem: my back. Only when that problem was out of the way, did things get better.” But, he said, Tchmil pushed him too hard in May. “You cannot expect that if the doctor says the problem is solved that I am immediately in form the next day,” Steegmans said.
Although he was placed on inactive status by Katusha in June, he has continued to ride. “I am still cycling but training is something else. There is always the uncertainty, “ he said. Steegmans added that despite some concern he remains highly motivated.
Steegmans is rumoured to be close to signing with the French team Bbox Bouygues Telecom, but he would not confirm that. “I won’t say much about my future. We’ll see. I hope that my concerns will soon be over.”
Gert Steegmans and Team Katusha may have terminated their contract effective immediately after the Belgian refused to sign the team’s anti-doping charter prior to the Tour de France. Media reports today indicated that the relationship was over, but the team has now it.
Team manager Andre Tchmil “said that there has not been a contract annument,” team press spokesman Andrea Agostini told us. “Steegmans was near our headquarters during the Tour de France, but did not take the opportunity to meet and clarify his position.”
The team put Steegmans on inactive status in late June when he refused to agree to the new requirement, which requires riders to pay five times their salary should they break anti-doping rules.
Steegmans had no comment on the matter.
The 28-year-old has not ridden for the Russian team since the Dauphiné Libéré in June. The team placed him on inactive status when he refused to sign a contract which would require him to pay a fine of up to six times his annual salary if he were convicted of a doping violation.
Several riders objected to the new requirement, but most eventually signed. Kenny Dehaes refused, and was released from his contract in June. He later signed with the Silence-Lotto team.
“Gert never wanted to sign our anti-doping charter,” Katusha Sport Director Jef Braeckevelt told the Belga press agency. “I think this is a good thing for both parties. He can now look forward to a new team where he can ride again. We don’t need to pay him any longer for not riding.”
Steegmans had two wins this season for Katusha, the first at the Trofeo Mallorca and the second in a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia.
The sprinter turned pro in 2002 with Lotto, where he remained until he joined Quick Step for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He has won two stages in the Tour de France in his career including the final stage on the Champs Elysée in 2008.
There are 4 Katusha riders in top 30 of the UCI’s World Rankings
Italian sprinter has extended his contract with Team Katusha through 2011, the team announced Monday. Team director Andrei Tchmil was satisfied with the Sicilian’s performance this season. Napolitano won four races this year – one stage each in the Ruta del Sol, Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Tour of Luxembourg. He has also been the primary lead-out man for Robbie McEwen. “He showed his quality and he was able to take the responsibility when it was needed,” said Tchmil. “We also knew his good character and we appreciated it.” “I’m happy to renewal my contract with Team Katusha,” said Napolitano. “I found a good team and thanks to it I was be able to get good results. I hope to continue to improve so I can thank them for the confidence they’ve shown.”
Italian Champion Filippo Pozzato made an attack to join the favourites in an attempt to win Spain’s Clásica San Sebastián Saturday. He joined on the Miracruz climb, but Carlos Barredo made his winning move immediately after on the descent.
“I had faith became I was feeling good,” said Pozzato. “I joined the front riders with less than four kilometres to go because if I had not I am sure that our group would have not re-joined them.”
Pozzato (team Katusha) joined Barredo (Quick Step), Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d’Epargne), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Kim Kirchen (Columbia-HTC) and Pierrick Fédrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom). Czech Kreuziger attacked immediately afterwards, at the top of the Miracruz climb.
Pozzato refused to respond to rest his legs for a later attack or a sprint finish. “But then everything broke apart and the tactics started. I risked it, I had hoped for more cooperation.”
Barredo reacted to Kreuziger’s attack. The two rode the final two kilometres together, to the finish along San Sebastián’s waterfront. Spain’s Barredo sprinted ahead of his partner in the final 200 metres.
Pozzato finished sixth and teammate Serguei Ivanov eighth. Katusha teammate, Russian Evgeni Petrov, won the best climbers’ award.
Pozzato finishes sixth in the Tour de France’s stage to Barcelona last month and second in the Paris-Roubaix in April. He won the Italian championship, a stage of Driedaagse De Panne and the E3 Prijs earlier this year.
Katusha for Tour of Poland
Laszlo Bodrogi, Pavel Brutt, Nikita Eskov, Denis Galimzyanov, Serguei Klimov, Guennadi Mikhsylov, Alexander Serov and Danilo Napolitano.