My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

Basso tired - sets new goals

Category: Cycling

Ivan BassoIvan Basso's (Liquigas-Cannondale) form hasn't been the very best in the last couple of weeks as he has suffered from lack of energy. Perhaps because he has raced quite a lot since his season started.

At this moment, he is racing the Tour de Romandie, as he prepares for the Tour de France.

“I started in January when I rode the Tour de San Luis in Argentina,” Basso told L’Équipe. “I’ve racked up racing days without ever being totally relaxed because a rider of my stature is always a little at the centre of attention.”

Basso took victory at the GP Lugano in February and did well in the Tirreno-Adriatico. But didn't feel very week at the Volta Catalunya and was forced to abandon the Tour of the Basque Country.

He participated in some Spring Classics, without top results of course, but still.

Before the season started, he was thinking of taking a number of victories in the spring, but now he says his main focus is the 2011 Tour de France.

“My body finished up by saying ‘stop’ and my sole concern from now on is to get my approach to the Tour back on track,” he said.

The time before the Tour de France will be spent home in Italy but he will also race the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

Bad luck at spring classics, but good season, Boonen says

Category: Cycling

Some riders have been extremely lucky this season, while others haven't won much. Tom Boonen's (Quick Step) season hasn't been bad, but he might have wished for some more succees in the Paris-Roubaix.

The Belgian rider won the Gent-Wevelgem and finished fourth at the Tour of Flanders, but was unlucky at the Paris-Roubaix due to mechanical problems.
Tom Boonen
"Hey, you can’t say that my start to the season has been bad," Boonen told La Dernière Heure. "I’d even say that it has been good. I still won Wevelgem and I was present at all the classics. So I can’t complain, even if luck wasn't on my side."

Boonen's season started out just fine with a stage victory at the Tour of Qatar, then he crashed a little later during the race and then fell ill at Tirreno-Adriatico. For a second it actually seemed like he wouldn't get the chance to race much in the spring.

Something that turned out to be wrong. He has surely been competitive.

“I had my share of crashes,” Boonen said. “I just need luck to be on my side a little bit.”

Some people seem to think that Boonen's career is virtually over, and that there is no chance he will win the big races again. Boonen had his heydays a few years ago, when he won almost everything worth winning.

Instead people are talking about Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) right now. And he has surely done great things in the last couple of years, but it's no surprise either that he wins a lot.

“Everybody asks me what it means not to be the Belgian number one anymore, but Philippe and I don’t really think about that kind of thing,” Boonen said. “Phil and I know one another since we were 16 years old, and there has never been a problem between us.”

“What he did this spring was really phenomenal, incredible,” Boonen said. “But in a sense, I’m not really surprised anymore, because we’ve known for a long time that he was capable of great things. He is capable of shining in the hard races with climbs, which isn't my terrain, and he is also good in the Flemish races.”

Omega Pharma and Lotto parts way

Category: Cycling

Philippe GilbertOmega Pharma has decided to end its sponsorship with Omega Pharma-Lotto after a seven-year partnership in the end of the year. The sponsor Lotto will continue until at least 2015. The Belgian lottery has sponsored the team since 1985.

"Lotto remains committed to the peloton to allow a high-level team back into service in 2012. We have worked constructively with Omega Pharma for many years and I thank them for that. In 2011, we have peaked, with a fantastic start to the season and excellent prospects for the Tour de France," said National Lottery Marketing Director, Mark Frederix.

It is of course a little problematic. The team may lose its star rider Philippe Gilbert to Astana, but the BMC team has also showed that they are interested in the rider.

The team will surely find a new Belgian star if that happens.

But what will happen to Omega Pharma now? Will they continue to sponsor cycling? Rumours have mentioned that the company may start sponsoring the Quick Step team, something that the team manager Patrick Lefevere denies.

"Quick Step Cycling Team has had nothing to do with what's going on right now between Omega Pharma and Lotto, and there's absolutely no basis to the rumour going around about a partnership between Quick Step Cycling Team and the Omega Pharma company for next season," he said via statement.

The Lotto team may be co-sponsored by Belgacom and Adecco, or perhaps another company.

"There are several potential candidates with whom we are considering the possibility of a structural and lasting partnership that is consistent with our vision and provides sufficient prospects for retaining the best Belgian riders in a Belgian team and to develop young talent in professional supervision," National Lottery Marketing Director, Mark Frederix said. "The past has taught us that change of partner has been synonymous with each new start, opening new perspectives.

"But we'll first focus on the current program and the ensiling of sporting success after the Walloon classics, in the Giro, the Tour de France and during the late season."