Stybar smashed everybody

Boring race but amazing win! Stybar dominated since the start till the finish. He started celebrating before the line but looked like he couldn't belive it. Bravo! Nys fought for the second place but his mate Vantornout got it. Jempy 28 et Gusty 40: good!

Photo: © Dave McElwaine

1 Zdenek Štybar (Czech Republic)

2 Klaas Vantornout (Belgium)

3 Sven Nys (Belgium)

4 Martin Bína (Czech Republic)

5 Francis Mourey (France)

6 Martin Zlámalík (Czech Republic)

7 Christian Heule (Switzerland)

8 Radomír Šimunek Ml (Czech Republic)

9 Gerben de Knegt (Netherlands)

10 Bart Wellens (Belgium)


UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships, Tabor

What a race!! ok, Bob Jungels 17th place is great and confirms he is a very talented guy, but the U23 race was more exciting in my opinion, and so fast! The Poland trio led for almost all the time, while Arnaud Jouffroy (Fr) and Tom Meeusen (Bel) were stoutly chasing. It was amazing watching Meeusen jumping on his bike when everybody got down to overcome the hurdles. And you hardly could restrain your voice or avoiding to scream in the race topical point when Jouffroy managed to pass him wildly aiming to the 3th place. Snow, mud and glory. It was moving looking at those kids on the podium, both Juniores and U23: they are still so young... Pit Schlechter, the only U23 racing for Luxembourg ended 37: "Suite à 2 chutes Pit Schlechter a raté de peu son but de finir dans les 30 premiers" [because of 2 falls PS failed his aim to end in the top 30] wrote the FSCL. Perhaps Pit is a bit sorry now, but I think he made a very good race anyway and 37 isn't a bad result in a WC. He was unlucky and you can't help it. Allez Pit!! I wait for you in road race competitions now.
1 Tomas Paprstka (Czech Republic) 0:40:30
2 Julian Alaphilippe (France)

3 Emiel Dolfsma (Netherlands) 0:00:09
4 Matej Lasak (Czech Republic) 0:00:19
5 Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) 0:00:20
6 Gert-Jan Bosman (Netherlands) 0:00:39
7 David Menut (France) 0:00:48
8 David Van Der Poel (Netherlands)

9 Laurens Sweeck (Belgium) 0:00:56
10 Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands) 0:01:00
11 Radek Polnicky (Czech Republic) 0:01:01
12 Tim Merlier (Belgium) 0:01:09
13 Clément Le Bras (France)

14 Yannick Eckmann (Germany) 0:01:11
15 Clément Venturini (France) 0:01:14
16 Michael Boros (Czech Republic) 0:01:31
Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) 0:01:32
18 Vojtech Nipl (Czech Republic) 0:01:40
19 Emilien Viennet (France) 0:01:49
20 Diether Sweeck (Belgium) 0:01:53

Under 23
1 Pawel Szczepaniak (Poland) 0:55:37
2 Kacper Szczepaniak (Poland) 0:00:20
3 Arnaud Jouffroy (France) 0:00:21
4 Tom Meeusen (Belgium) 0:00:46
5 Marek Konwa (Poland) 0:00:56
6 Arnaud Grand (Switzerland) 0:00:58
7 Robert Gavenda (Slovakia) 0:01:00
8 Sascha Weber (Germany) 0:01:09
9 Tijmen Eising (Netherlands) 0:01:20
10 Elia Silvestri (Italy) 0:01:27
11 Matteo Trentin (Italy) 0:01:33
12 Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands)
13 Kenneth Van Compernolle (Belgium) 0:01:39
14 Vincent Baestaens (Belgium) 0:01:45
15 Jiri Polnicky (Czech Republic) 0:01:53
16 Micki Van Empel (Netherlands) 0:02:08
17 Lubomir Petrus (Czech Republic) 0:02:09
18 Marcel Meisen (Germany) 0:02:10
19 David Lozano Riba (Spain) 0:02:17
20 Corne Van Kessel (Netherlands) 0:02:43
21 Matthias Rupp (Switzerland) 0:02:47
22 Cristian Cominelli (Italy) 0:02:52
23 Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)
24 Matthieu Boulo (France) 0:03:01
25 Valentin Scherz (Switzerland) 0:03:05
26 Jim Aernouts (Belgium) 0:03:12
27 Bryan Falaschi (Italy) 0:03:39
28 Zach Mc Donald (United States Of America) 0:03:40
29 Daniel Summerhill (United States Of America) 0:03:47
30 Mattias Nilsson (Sweden) 0:03:50
31 Ole Quast (Germany) 0:03:52
32 Karel Hnik (Czech Republic)
33 Joeri Adams (Belgium)
34 Dave Hackworthy (United States Of America) 0:04:20
35 David Menger (Czech Republic) 0:04:32
36 Yu Takenouchi (Japan) 0:04:37
37 Pit Schlechter (Luxembourg) 0:04:44
38 Jerome Townsend (United States Of America) 0:04:56
39 Michael Schweizer (Germany) 0:05:03
40 Marek Canecky (Slovakia) 0:05:29
41 Irwin Gras (France) 0:06:11
42 Kenneth Hansen (Denmark) 0:06:14
43 Matej Medved (Slovakia) 0:06:21
44 Luke Keough (United States Of America) 0:06:27
45 Khangarid Naran (Mongolia) 0:06:44
46 Mitchell Huenders (Netherlands) 0:06:45
47 Jonas Schau Guddal (Denmark) 0:06:50
48 Melvin Rulliere (France) 0:07:19
49 Daniel Ruiz Echeandia (Spain) 0:07:25
50 Hikaru Kosaka (Japan) 0:08:11
51 David Puskas (Hungary) 0:08:25
52 Fabian Danner (Germany) 0:08:29
53 Myagmarsuren Baasankhuu (Mongolia) 0:08:34
54 Jared Stafford (Canada)
55 Inigo Gomez Elorriaga (Spain)
56 Jan Denuwelaere (Belgium)
57 Andrey Ryzhkov (Kazakhstan)


More pics...

Thanks Anna! Andy looks good in the new kit, def! OMG! he looks... hot :) http://outandaboutcycling.blogspot.com/2010/01/jens-on-tdu.html

New pics by Paul Raats

His site is def too forSirlance as afar as my taste is concerned, but those Schleck pics are nice.


Missing Fuerteventura, looking forward to the sun

So they are training but I can belive Andy when he says: "Back from a long hard and cold ride 135 km in -5 Celsius I miss fuerteventura looking forward to go to Palma de Mallorca next week"! OMG! Palma de Mallorca! sea, sun and palms! I'd like to go there me too! here I'm still freezing and waiting for first races: the 6th of February I'll go to see GP Costa degli Etruschi and the 7th is Trofeo Palma de Mallorca day (some infos here http://www.vueltamallorca.com/). I am pretty sad at the moment, because of personal troubles (as usual, pfff!) and maybe for this depressing weather. But on Sunday I'm going to take part in a little party to celebrate Vincenzo Nibali win in Tour de San Luis and very soon my son's racing season will start again, so... ok, lets go on. I mustn't train at minus 5 at least!
The pic is by TDW, you can find more here: http://www.tdwsport.com/


A too long winter

It's still very cold in almost all Europe, sometimes there is the sun ok, but we are all freezing anyway and that annoying wind doesn't help, more often it's cold and also gray, maybe raining or snowing. Normally I like winter and belove snow, specially if I have time and money to go skying. But this winter began too early and never ends in my opinion. We must training! we want cycling! we are looking forward to go watching races on the roads and we'd prefer to be able to do all that without the need to be defrosted or simply treated for a flu!
Also in Luxembourg is VERYcold and training it's a probalem. Ice on the road, snow or rain, a temperature alway minus 0
... poor guys! but they must train anyway, first races are coming and, as Frank said, that's the worse in being a pro. There is also the best: in few days, free food, free hotels and free smiles all around. Courage and good luck. Be careful :)
Pic by Ed Buchette


Can I suggest...

Andy changed his pic on tweeter and I don't like the new one: the old one was better. What's your opinion? Hey Andy, if you want to change, I suggest you that one: simling Andy is my favourite one and I hope you'll have lots of reason to smile in 2010.


Nibali king of San Luis

Yeah yeah, I'm happy to can be happy for a Nibali's win, not only because he won but also because did it in a race where Andy wasn't envolved. They are similiar so opponents and when they fight in the same race I support Andy of course (and honestly think that he's a little stronger) but Vincenzo is one of my favourite racers. So hyp hyp hurrah!
Pic by Luis Barbosa: Vincenzo Nibali & Pippo Pozzato in national champin jersey (and without gloves).


Spring Classics and California beckon for Italian

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) will turn his attention to the months of March and April for the Spring Classics followed by the Tour of California after capturing the overall title at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina on Sunday.

"In Italy it's very cold but I have been able to train very well in my region because the temperature is very OK, about 15 or 20 Celsius," said Nibali. "It is very important for training well especially before the Tour de San Luis race and also it was good training during the race. Now, I feel like I am in very good condition for the start of my season in Europe."

Nibali will target Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico followed by Milano-Sanremo in March before riding Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April. "Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the one Classic that I can do the best in," he explained. "I hope that one day I can win this race because it is the most beautiful race."

Following the Spring Classics, Nibali will skip the Giro d'Italia, travelling instead to the America's western seaboard to compete in the Tour of California between May 16-23.

"I was seventh in the Tour of California last year," Nibali continued. "I will not race the Giro because we will have Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti and with that team they can win the Giro d'Italia. I really like the Tour of California. I think it's a race that is very good and very important and a nice race so I am happy to be racing there again. Plus, surely Lance Armstrong will be there."

Nibali will target the Tour de France in the second half of the season where he aims to improve upon a seventh place performance in last year's Grand Tour.

"I believe that I am strong this year and that I have more experience," said Nibali. "Last year I was seventh in the Tour and I would like to do better on my result. I think that result was good but this year I want to at least do that again or better but it is difficult. I will race with Ivan [Basso], [Franco] Pellizotti and [Roman] Kreuzinger, there are four captains."

Nibali captured a hard-fought overall title at the fourth annual Tour de San Luis. He moved into the overall leader's jersey following his stage four win in the 19.5km time trial. He maintained a 28-second lead ahead of runner up Jose Serpa (Androni-Giocattoli) and 1:19 in front of Rafael Valls (Footon-Servetto) in third.

"The last day again, my team did truly great work," Nibali said. "I am very happy with this victory and so is our directeur sportif [Mario Scirea]. We kept the break away always at two-and-a-half minutes to be safe. The finish of the race today was very dangerous and I had to be very attentive with the turns and the downhill and all the riders who want a stage win. But, it worked out very well.

"This Tour de San Luis was very important for me, in this stage of the season," he added. "I'm very happy with Liquigas-Doimo who did some really great work this week and I hope to be on the way to a beautiful victory in Italy."


Waiting to go home...


TDU6 and final remarks

Tour Down Under is over and Greipel won it again. I said he could be dangerous and he has been. Columbia made a very good race but Team Sky got the top of teams classification, mainly because of the NZL Herderson (I correctly rememebered about him) and we can say it won its first challenge. Sanchez in second place is a surprise for me, but a nice one. Baden Cook in 11th is a surprise too maybe, and a bad one: I expected something more. But he was unlucky and I can't judge himbecause I didn't see the race. BMC and Katyusha, Rabobank but also Milram and Francaise Des Jeux are amongh the 'passed' teams, and I add also Uni SA - Australia with his dignified 12th place, Caisse d'Epargne (9 is few but they brought Sanchez at the second place in individual GC), Footon-Servetto-Fuji (1 win at least). Disappointing teams in my opinion were Astana, Liquigas Doimo, Ag2R La Mondiale and also Team Saxo Bank: any interesting results. Failed Radioshack, Quick Step, Garmin - Transitions, Omega Pharma - Lotto, Euskaltel - Euskadi. Sir Lance's team in particular made lots of noise but got nothing.
Ok, it's simply the start of a long season... but in Italy we say: Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino (You can see if it will be agood day by the morning).
1 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Team Sky 1:53:20
2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky

3 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank

4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha

5 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia

6 Allan Davis (Aus) Astana
7 Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Columbia
8 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux
9 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack
10 Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
11 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
12 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
13 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia
14 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 18:47:05
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:00:11
3 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky 0:00:15
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha 0:00:17
5 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:21
7 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katyusha 0:00:25
8 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:26
9 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions
10 Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram 0:00:27
11 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:29
1 Team Sky 5:40:00
2 HTC-Columbia
3 Team Katusha
4 BMC Racing Team
5 Milram
6 Francaise Des Jeux
7 Rabobank
8 Astana
9 Caisse d'Epargne
10 Team Saxo Bank
11 Liquigas Doimo
12 Uni SA - Australia
13 Team Radioshack
14 Footon-Servetto-Fuji
15 Ag2R La Mondiale
16 Garmin - Transitions
17 Quick Step 0:00:26
18 Omega Pharma - Lotto 0:00:32
19 Euskaltel - Euskadi
Meanwhile Vincenzo Nibali is going to win the Tour de San Luis. Ok, opponents weren't so strong, but geting the top of a podium is always a nice way to come back cycling.
Pics by Bettini


Yes we like... Vincenzo Nibali

I often thought about dedicate a post to Vincenzo Nibali, and his wonderful start of season is the best moment to do that. He's the best Italian racer in my opinion, the only one able to dare the international stars of the peloton. He made a super Tour de France in 2009 and I'm sure he'll be in the front also in 2010. Only a bad crash prevented him to disputate a great World Championship in Mendriso and a end of season at the hightest levels. (he won the Appenino in the summer).
He races for team Liquigas, the only Italian pro-tour team by now and it's normal. It isn't normal in my opinion that he must always fight to get the leader status that he so obviously deserves. Liquigas is a great team and of course has got many great racers as almost only pro-tour squad. It would be wise to build up a team spirit instead of provocke or tolerate a continous fight amongh Nibali, Basso, Pellizzotti and Kreuziger. Working together those 4 racers could allowe Liquigas to achieve amazing results and that's possible because their characteristics (and ages) are different. Nibali can fight for the Tour GC anmd Liquigas would better say openly that he's the team leader in that race or at least co-leader with Kreuziger. But 4 leaders in a 9 racers team means no leader.
You know that Andy likes and respects Vincenzo and would be glad to get his friend. In Italy cycling press enphasizes their rivalry but I hope that they can meet soon for a good beer as it happened with Contador. Champions must be friends, the challenge is with oneself first and the best one (sometimes the luckyest) wins.
Vincenzo Nibali bio and results:
Here http://www.cicloweb.it/viewcic.php?key_prog=5848 you can find all results till 2009 Liquigas site incrediblely is not updated!!
And nobody wrote about Vincenzo's great victory in stage 4 of Tour de San Luis 2010 yet:

TDU5: Sanchez, and Schleck back home

I complained yesterday about the monotony at TDU and was suddenly denyed: happy to see climbers on the top again even if we know that isn't their race. On Cyclingnews we can read: "The Tour Down Under’s fifth stage has received universal praise from those on hand, with most describing it as the best racing seen in the Tour’s 12 year history, if not the sport’s history in Australia." and also: "While he wasn’t able to stay amongst the action himself, Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) was also impressed by the day’s racing. “That was some great bike racing,” said Armstrong. “I tell you, this young Slovenian [Sagan] is showing a lot of talent.” " Now, I don't care so much about Sir Lance opinion but I'm sorry I didn't see Sagan in action because for sure it deserved to be seen.
Meanwhile Riis-Cycling training camp ends today and everybody are going to go back home waiting for their first race. Both Andy and Frank will take part in Trofeo Mallorca (07/02 - 11/02) so they have still around two weeks to enjoy family & friends before to start another racing season. I think these breacks at home are very important for guys who spend so many time away, as relax and love are important for who is always forced to face stress and judjement. Schleck are lucky because they have got a super family. Good fly then and see you on the races roads.
TDU stage 5
1 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 3:29:39
2 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram 0:00:02
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:00:04
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:06
6 Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram

7 Sebastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack

8 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Transitions

9 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky 0:00:09
10 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo

11 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions

12 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha

13 Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

14 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 16:53:45
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:00:11
3 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram 0:00:17
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha 0:00:20
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:21
6 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky 0:00:24
7 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katyusha 0:00:25
8 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:26
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram 0:00:27
10 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana 0:00:29
11 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions 0:00:30
12 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank


Video-Interview with Schleck and TDU4: Greipel again

Ok, I beted on Columbia so am glad but this one man show is boring, moreover if you - like me - don't have a decent coverage and must read the results on Cyclingnews just after the race end. Much better this vid with Andy and Frank: thanks Natalie :)
And here you have a great interview with Bobby Julich: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/bobby-julich-confident-about-saxo-banks-future?cid=OTC-RSS&attr=news_headlines

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 3:30:29
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha

3 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank

4 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack

5 Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon Servetto

6 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin-Transitions

7 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto

8 Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Columbia

9 Robert Forster (Ger) Team Milram

10 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux

11 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia

12 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team

13 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky

14 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions

15 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step

16 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 13:23:57
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha 0:00:20
3 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky 0:00:24
4 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack

5 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:26
6 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto

7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

8 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana 0:00:29
9 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions 0:00:30
10 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank


Allez Baden! Miracle is you!

Cook wrote: "I broke my race bike, then broke my spare bike. Finished stage on another bike that was was too small. It's a miracle that I didn't lose time"
You know I didn't see the stage so that's new to me. Not a miracle but the demonstration he's a strong and good racer!

TDU 3: ohi ohi! and CA news

I'm sorry I couldn't see that stage coz it seems it has been exciting. The result is a little revolution in GC, with climbers climbing it but sprinters defending the top positions. Kroon in best spinter jersey. Cook down at 12th place and SB downer in the team classification. It was second yesteday behind Columbia. And of course Cardoso won on Valverde and Evans. That's a surprise!
After SB ending his sponsorship and Uncle Bijarne issueing statements comabtive but objectively disheartening like that ...
... is nice to read that CA signed on
for another three years with Riis-Cycling: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/chris-anker-sorensen-extends-with-saxo-bank?cid=OTC-RSS&attr=news_headlines CA is a very good racer, will be SB leader in Giro and his extending is a good signal for the future of the team.
Pic 1 by
Mark Gunter
TDU stage 3
1 Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon Servetto 3:14:38
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:00:01
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 9:53:38
2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky 0:00:14
3 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack

4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha 0:00:16
6 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
8 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana 0:00:19
9 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:20
10 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions
11 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
12 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank


Stage 2: Greipel 2

Stuart O'Grady ended 11th! a good result for a only-training racer, isn't it? Allez!
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 3:23:49
2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky

3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha

4 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions

5 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank

6 Allan Davis (Aus) Astana

7 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
8 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
9 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
10 Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
11 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 6:38:59
2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky 0:00:14
3 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha 0:00:16
5 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
6 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:20
7 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
8 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
9 Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions
10 Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

Pic by Photo: © Mark Gunter


Andy's diary of Jenuary

Pic by Photo: © Daniel Benson

Padding my resume

Perhaps 'card shark' won't be on the business card...

Hi. What do you think of my ideas for my new business card?t do you think of my ideas for my new business card? At the top Andy Schleck in bold, of course. Next line: Professional bike rider, with Tour de France contender in brackets. On the next line: Beach volleyball player and occasional babysitter.

Do you think it works, or is too much?

I know, I'll ask Bjarne Riis and see what he thinks as we're playing cards right now. Perhaps I'll wait as we're in the middle of a tense poker game and he isn't doing to well. He's down to his last few chips and I've got a pair of kings. Frank and the other players are already out. It's just me and you Bjarne. Do you feel lucky punk?

"Call," he says after I push half my chips into the middle of the table. He's on the ropes, surely he can't be bluffing. Then he says "Two aces," as his cards come down and his grin widens with each handful of chips he scoops up. What a nightmare.

Well I'm glad I won't be putting card shark on my business card.

Right now we're in Fuerteventura for our final training camp before the racing season starts. It's a great location with the temperature constantly in the mid twenties. Unlike other teams we don't need scientific analysis to tell us that this or that place is the driest in Europe. We just rely on the weather man and this time he's right on the money.

We've been taking it fairly easy in terms of training. Yesterday we went out for a three hour spin on our road bikes, returned to base camp and then hit the road for an hour on our time trial machines. To put it simply: Perfect weather, perfect roads, and perfect teammates.

It's not all work though. Yesterday we took part in a beach volleyball tournament involving the riders and some of the staff. I'll admit I'm a pretty good player, even if some journalists were laughing from the sidelines. Of course you shouldn't expect to see me playing beach volleyball in Brazil as part of my build-up to the Tour de France. Still, it was a good team bonding exercise and it was great fun.

By now I bet you're probably wondering about the babysitting reference for my business card. Well if you didn't know, my brother Frank and his fiancé are expecting their first child, a baby girl in May. It's amazing news and I'm so, so happy for them. I can't wait to be an uncle and look after my niece.

You probably think I could be a bit unreliable when it comes to looking after kids but you're way off the mark. I love kids and I'm always playing with our next door neighbour Cliff, who is a great six year-old. Whenever I come home from a long training ride he comes round to our house.

Tour Analysis

On more a more serious note my Tour de France analysis has taken up a lot of my time in recent weeks. I've studied a lot of TV footage from the 2009 race with Kim and Bjarne

We have no regrets about how the race played out but we've looked at other riders' performances. One thing we all agreed on is that next year Alberto Contador will start as the big favourite. He doesn't have to attack to win, so you have to wonder who will be the most aggressive rider.

It'll be up to guys like Lance to drop Contador on the climbs if he wants to win the Tour. I'm perhaps in the same situation but I think I have more chance of success. Last year the difference between Contador and I on the climbs was huge but what I learnt is that when he goes I need to be on his wheel straight away. That was maybe my biggest mistake in 2009. I like to ride at my rhythm but once you give Contador 100 meters, it's difficult to pull it back and he doesn't look back or give it back.

Friendly Fire

I've said before that Contador and I have a good relationship but it's not like that between me and all my Tour rivals. I'd like to think I'm a happy-go-lucky guy who gets on with anyone but I've read in the press that Carlos Sastre has been critical of our team and me personally. He said he didn't like taking advice from younger riders and to be honest that hurts.

In the 2008 Tour de France Frank and I sacrificed our chances for him. Not just on the stage to Alpe d'Huez but throughout the race. Then after the race he came out and said that we weren't committed. That really wasn't nice to hear. I pulled at the front of the peloton for entire climbs for that guy. I would really like to know what's going on in his head and why he thinks that we weren't committed.

I respect Carlos a lot as a rider and I learnt a lot from him when he was at the team. To be honest it's the first time I've ever experienced this type of problem with another rider and like I said I was really upset. However Frank was even more upset as he takes things a bit more to heart than I do. I'll still talk to Carlos at races, like I said he has my respect but he's gone down in my estimations. I hope our relationship improves in the future as I'm not the type to hold grudges.

Hey, perhaps one day we'll have our own poker game...

P.S Just so you know, I won my chips back off Bjarne.