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First Edition Cycling News for April 10, 2009

Date published:
April 20, 2009, 20:07
  • Hoste: "No room for errors"

    Leif Hoste
    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    By Gregor Brown Leif Hoste will lead the Silence Lotto team in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, and expects...

    By Gregor Brown

    Leif Hoste will lead the Silence Lotto team in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, and expects to be in position to battle for the win in the venerable French Classic. He knows that he must ride the perfect race to secure the crown. The Belgian's top finish in the "Hell of the North" came last year when he finished sixth behind Quick Step's Tom Boonen, but he admits he will have to be better this time around.

    "I made a wrong decision in the key part of the race last year – that was my fault. There won't be any room for errors this Sunday," Hoste told Cyclingnews.

    The team and Hoste have been progressing toward their goal of topping the podium in a major Classic. After a quiet start to the year, Silence-Lotto got its first win with Cadel Evans last month before steering its Spring Classics campaign back on track by placing Philippe Gilbert on the podium in last Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

    Hoste showed his form is coming around by making a strong breakaway group which formed ahead of the feared Koppenberg climb in De Ronde last weekend. He rode alongside Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), but was not able to respond when those two riders attacked on the Valkenberg. He is certain that things will be different this Sunday.

    "Remember, I was sick in Tirreno, so you can see that I am coming close to the right form. One week extra should be better."

    Silence-Lotto's rival team, Quick Step, got the upper hand in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It controlled the race with Boonen and Chavanel while teammate Devolder rode solo to victory. Hoste thinks they will not have such an easy time dominating the race this week.

    "There is more than just Boonen and Quick Step for Roubaix. There is also Columbia with George Hincapie and Cervélo with Heinrich Haussler and maybe Roger Hammond. Manuel Quinziato [Liquigas] looked good on Sunday too."

    Hoste's sixth last year was his best place in Roubaix, barring the 2006 edition . That year he finished second by race's end, but officials disqualified him due to illegal passage through a closed train crossing with Peter Van Petegem and Vladimir Gusev.

    Silence Lotto for Paris-Roubaix: Mickael Delage, Glenn D'Hollander, Michiel Elijzen, Leif Hoste, Staf Scheirlinckx, Roy Sentjens, Greg Van Avermaet, Johan Vansummeren

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  • Ballan finding Classics painful from afar

    World Champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-NGC)
    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    By Gregor Brown World Champion Alessandro Ballan is finding this year's Classics tougher than ever,...

    By Gregor Brown

    World Champion Alessandro Ballan is finding this year's Classics tougher than ever, but not because he is suffering with foul weather and bone-jarring cobblestones. Instead, the Italian has been forced to watch the races on television after being felled by a virus last month which has put him out of competition since mid-March.

    Being absent from the famed Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix have been especially hard for the rider who has stood on the podium at both races.

    "Clearly it was hard to watch; it has been six years since I have not raced Flanders," he told Cyclingnews. "When I saw the moves of [Tom] Boonen and [Filippo] Pozzato it left a lump in my throat.

    "I think it will be the same for Roubaix, it was also that way for Milano-Sanremo. I saw the guys going over the Poggio and I was sitting on the couch, not doing anything."

    Doctors diagnosed Ballan with cytomegalovirus – a virus that causes fatigue and fever. His last race was Tirreno-Adriatico stage four on March 14. Ballan, in the rainbow colours, wanted to repeat his 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen win and to have a chance to better his third place from the 2008 Paris-Roubaix.

    "Physically, I am doing better, but until my blood levels are back to normal I cannot force it on the bike. I should have another check up on Tuesday and then I will know more."

    After more than a month off from training, Ballan will need some time to get back into form. He is looking ahead to next month for a return to competition. "I hope that I can get back to racing with Volta a Catalunya [May 18 to 24]. Then it would be the Tour de Suisse [June 13 to 21] and the Italian Championships [June 27] to build up for the Tour de France."

    Ballan will be in France for the Paris-Roubaix, arriving Friday evening to join the team in the race's presentation on Saturday. He will then be a guest commentator for Italy's Rai television during the race on Sunday.

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  • McQuaid says UCI will wait for AFLD decision

    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    By Shane Stokes The International Cycling Union (UCI) was not ready to speculate Thursday on whether...

    Suggests UCI/WADA rules may not have been broken

    By Shane Stokes

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) was not ready to speculate Thursday on whether or not it would uphold a possible sanction of Lance Armstrong by the French anti-doping authorities. The seven-time champion fell afoul of the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) during a March 17 out-of-competition doping control where, authorities claim, he disobeyed procedures.

    The AFLD announced Thursday that it was considering disciplinary proceedings against Armstrong for failing to remain in sight of the doping control officer between notification of the test and the collection of blood, urine and hair samples. Armstrong insisted he was given permission by the officer to leave his presence in order to shower.

    Contacted by Cyclingnews on Thursday evening, UCI president Pat McQuaid said that the UCI would wait until an AFLD decision before commenting in depth on the Lance Armstrong situation. However in reading between the lines, it sounded like things could potentially become quite complex.

    "I sent them a letter yesterday saying we don't have jurisdiction in this matter," confirmed McQuaid, backing up the assertion by the AFLD that the UCI said it was allowed to start a proceeding. "It is a French national affair under French law.

    "At this point in time, it is up to the AFLD whether they want to progress with this or not. If they do, if they give a sanction, then I will ask our lawyers to look at the case as to whether a sanction would be applicable [worldwide] under UCI rules or not," said McQuaid.

    "We will wait and see what happens. As far as we are aware, he hasn't broken either UCI or WADA rules," he continued.

    The AFLD is certain to contest this point, given that it quoted WADA's International Standard of Testing guidelines in its statement on Thursday. That states that the athlete being tested must "remain within direct observation of the DCO/Chaperone at all times from the point of notification by the DCO/Chaperone until the completion of the Sample collection procedure." The days and weeks ahead are certain to reveal more details about the case.

    Cyclingnews was not able to reach WADA or Armstrong's spokesman Mark Higgins for comments on the matter.

    Under current rules, the AFLD has the power to ban Lance Armstrong from racing on French soil. Once a national ban is in place, the UCI can then decide to apply it or not in other jurisdictions.

    It followed this pattern in the recent case of Stefan Schumacher, the double Tour de France stage winner who subsequently tested positive for CERA. Any ruling against Armstrong by either the AFLD or another body is likely to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS].

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  • Haussler in for Paris-Roubaix

    Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    As teams for the 107th edition of Paris-Roubaix are being finalised, a rider who has been within...

    As teams for the 107th edition of Paris-Roubaix are being finalised, a rider who has been within shouting distance of the victory in nearly all of the Spring Classics, Heinrich Haussler, will have another shot at a major trophy on Sunday in the Roubaix velodrome.

    The Cervélo TestTeam rider placed second in Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and his start was uncertain after his crash in Gent-Wevelgem, but he was cleared on Thursday to start the "Hell of the North".

    Also riding strongly has been Thor Hushovd, who took third in Sanremo, Andreas Klier, who was the team's top finisher in Gent-Wevelgem [fifth] and Jeremy Hunt.

    The AG2R La Mondiale, Caisse d'Epargne, Astana and Rabobank teams have also finalized their rosters.

    Cervélo TestTeam for Paris-Roubaix: Roger Hammond, Heinrich Haussler, Jeremy Hunt, Thor Hushovd, Andreas Klier, Brett Lancaster, Gabriel Rasch and Hayden Roulston.

    AG2R: Aurélien Clerc, Renaud Dion, Martin Elmiger, Sébastien Hinault, Lloyd Mondory, Cédric Pineau, Stéphane Poulhies and Gatis Smukulis.

    Caisse d'Epargne: Rui Costa, Arnaud Coyot, Mathieu Drujon, Imanol Erviti, Ángel Madrazo, Marlon Pérez, Nicolas Portal, José Joaquín Rojas.

    Rabobank: Sebastian Langeveld, Juan Antonio Flecha, Pedro Horrillo, Mathew Hayman, Joost Posthuma, Tom Leezer, Rick Flens and Maarten Tjallingii

    Astana: Valeriy Dmitriyev, Berik Kupeshov, Steve Morabito, Yaroslav Popovych, Bolat Raimbekov, Gregory Rast and Michael Schär

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  • Horner out of Basque Tour

    Chris Horner is one of Astana's valuable mountain domestiques
    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    One day Astana's Alberto Contador took the lead in the Basque Tour thanks to some heroic...

    One day Astana's Alberto Contador took the lead in the Basque Tour thanks to some heroic pace-setting by his American teammate Chris Horner. The next, he had to look away from a horrifying crash that took Horner out of the race.

    It all started when fellow Astana rider Daniel Navarro snapped his chain on the descent of the Urikola 37km into Thursday's stage four. Navarro lost control, crashed, and Horner was unable to avoid him. The American flew into the guard rail on the side of the road, injuring his right shoulder. While Horner was rushed to a hospital for X-rays, Navarro was able to re-mount and continue.

    Post-race radiographs did not reveal any fractures to Horner's injured shoulder, but further examinations will need to be done once the initial swelling goes down in a few days, according to the team.

    Contador said he couldn't look as he continued past his fallen teammates. "It has not been a good day for the team," said Contador. "I was right behind them and I couldn't look. Though if Horner only has a fracture, we're lucky."

    Contador said that the team will feel Horner's absence as it tries to defend his overall lead in the Tour, which ends on Saturday. "Any team would notice the loss of a man of his quality, but I believe that we have a sufficiently strong squad to control the situation, and there are other riders at eight seconds in the overall that also want to do the race."

    The Astana leader holds a slim eight second advantage over Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Antonio Colom (Team Katusha).

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  • Albasini thanks Columbia with win in Spain

    Michael Albasini (Columbia-Highroad)
    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Columbia-Highroad rider Michael Albasini took his fourth professional victory on Thursday in stage...

    Columbia-Highroad rider Michael Albasini took his fourth professional victory on Thursday in stage four of the Vuelta a País Vasco. The Swiss rider entered into the breakaway just six kilometres into the stage, and out-sprinted his two companions, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) for the victory 155km later.

    It was Albasini's first win for Team Columbia-Highroad, which he joined at the start of 2009 after four seasons with the Liquigas team for which he tallied only three wins.

    "Yesterday [Wednesday] was a very fast, tough stage, and today was equally tough in the first hour when the break formed," Albasini commented. "There was a big climb early on and I made sure I stayed close to the front, following the first eight or nine guys all the time. After the break finally formed we worked hard all day, but it was pretty clear we could stay away. The final sprint was complicated, I led it out from the front with 300 metres to go. Fortunately it all worked out."

    For Albasini winning in the Basque Country confirms that he is back on track following a month-long period of uneven form.

    "After Tirreno-Adriatico, I wasn't going well, one day I was good, the next day my legs felt empty. But here this was the first time I really felt as if I'm on top of my game again."

    After the Tour of the Basque Country, Albasini's next big objective is to have a good ride in the Ardennes Classics.

    "I hope that works out, but at the very least I can say is that today's given me a big boost to my morale. At the same time, it's nice to be able to get a win for Columbia-Highroad, as a way of saying thank you for believing in me as a rider."

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  • Millar to race Edinburgh Nocturne

    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Team Garmin-Slipstream's David Millar will make his return to racing after breaking his collarbone...

    Team Garmin-Slipstream's David Millar will make his return to racing after breaking his collarbone in Paris-Nice in early March. Organisers of the Edinburgh Nocturne announced Thursday that Millar would race the elite criterium on Saturday, May 30.

    The 32-year-old was confined to the stationary trainer after having surgery to correct the fracture, and is looking forward to getting back out on the road. "It's my first [broken] collarbone in my career which is something for almost every pro. It's just a bit boring really, but I guess it could have happened at a worse time for me," he explained.

    The Edinburgh Nocturne gives a new angle on racing for Millar after his injury recovery. "I've never raced in Scotland so it's going to be great and I'm looking forward to it. I know it quite well as it's where my Dad's originally from, and I used to spend a lot of time in Edinburgh with friends," he added.

    Millar is still uncertain about which races he will use to build his form toward the Tour de France, but expects to race in the Volta a Catalunya May 18-24.. "In view of the Tour it's not going to make much of a difference whether I race in events like the Tour de Romandie or not; it's just about getting the best preparation for July," he said.

    For full details of the Nocturne Series and Edinburgh Nocturne go to www.nocturneseries.com

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  • Nature Valley Grand Prix Women's race goes invitational

    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    After capping out registration in 2008, the Nature Valley Grand Prix women's race will be invitation...

    After capping out registration in 2008, the Nature Valley Grand Prix women's race will be invitation only for 2009, organisers announced this week.

    "The popularity of our women's race has grown steadily", said Nature Valley Grand Prix promoter David LaPorte. "We're the third of four stops on the Women's Prestige Cycling Series, a program that we coordinate. We're also the destination event for two national women's programs. The Women's Collegiate All Stars will be selected at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships, held May 8 – 10 in Fort Collins, CO. And the Nature Valley Pro Ride is selecting the men's and women's Nature Valley Cycling Teams at regional events around the county."

    Applications are now open and can be found on the event web site under NVGP > Racer Technical Info. The application deadline is May 1 and invitations will be issued by May 8. The Nature Valley Grand Prix will be held June 10 – 14.

    More info at: www.NatureValleyGrandPrix.com

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  • Cyclingnews weekly podcast: Episode 6

    Article published:
    April 9, 2009, 23:00
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    This week's Cyclingnews weekly podcast number 6 is coming to you from Ghent, Belgium, the nerve...

    The revenge of Heinrich Haussler?

    This week's Cyclingnews weekly podcast number 6 is coming to you from Ghent, Belgium, the nerve centre of the cobbled classics.

    Cyclingnews.com editor Daniel Benson and European editor Gregor Brown analyse past, present and future: the Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.

    Being fickle media types, we wrote off Cervelo Testteam's Heinrich Haussler in Episode 5. His performance in the E3 Prijs was sub-par and we figured he wouldn't return to full form in the Tour of Flanders. He was finished, done for, last week's news, we thought.

    How wrong we were.

    The Australian-born German-based rider proved that he's still got good legs by finishing second in Flanders behind winner Stijn Devolder (Quick.Step). Can he now challenge for the Paris-Roubaix crown?

    And what of Edvald Boasson Hagen, surprise winner of Ghent-Wevelgem on Wednesday? Despite losing Mark Cavendish early on in the race, Columbia-Highroad still came away with the spoils in this mid-week classic with their man Hagen making light work of Aleksandr Kuschynski in their two man sprint. We spoke to Columbia-Highroad team manager Bob Stapleton just after the finish for his reaction to his talented Norwegian protégé.

    We have all that and a little more in Episode 6 of the Cyclingnews weekly podcast.

    You can subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes (or just go to iTunes and search for 'cyclingnews') or via this XML feed.

    You can also download the podcasts directly by clicking on these links:

    • April 9: Tour of Flanders, Heinrich Haussler's return to form, Ghent-Wevelgem, Bob Stapleton air time and Paris-Roubaix
    • April 1: E3 Prijs, Heinrich Haussler's form slump, track worlds and Lance's metal implants
    • March 26: Jens Voigt, Milan-San Remo, Mark Cavendish, Heinrich Haussler, David Millar, Lance Armstrong and the track worlds
    • March 19: Tour de France teams, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo preview and Heinrich Haussler
    • March 12: Paris-Nice mid-race, Tirreno-Adriatico preview and Heinrich Haussler
    • March 5: Valverde summonsed, Belgian opening weekend and Heinrich Haussler

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