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First Edition Cycling News for April 8, 2009

Date published:
April 08, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Hovelijnck motivator for Quick Step

    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has explained how he used the case of injured team rider...

    Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has explained how he used the case of injured team rider Kurt Hovelijnck as a motivator for his riders in last Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Speaking at a press conference following Stijn Devolder's second consecutive Flanders victory, Lefevere explained what he had told his riders.

    "On Saturday in the briefing I mentioned Kurt Hovelijnck – think of someone who is now in the UZ [Gent Hospital] and in real pain," Lefevere said. "The tactic was described and I asked who did not agree. Everyone remained silent, my riders followed everything."

    Just days after Devolder's win, Quick Step management announced that Hovelijnck has been released from the Intensive Care Unit of UZ and is no longer in a coma. His condition is reportedly improving.

  • Backstedt returns to the road

    Magnus Backstedt (l) with his Cyclesport.se-Magnus Maximus Coffee team
    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    Having retired from professional cycling during the 2008 season, 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus...

    Having retired from professional cycling during the 2008 season, 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt made a return to the road last Sunday in the Prix de la Ville de Nogent-sur-Oise.

    The big Swede rode the race for Cyclesport.se-Magnus Maximus Coffee.com, having managed the same outfit at the La Boucle de l'Artois held the previous day. He apparently "suffered in every part of his body" in his first professional-level road race for almost a year.

  • Dajka death not suspicious

    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    South Australian Police believe the circumstances surrounding the death of champion Australian...

    South Australian Police believe the circumstances surrounding the death of champion Australian cyclist Jobie Dajka are not suspicious, according to local media reports. While details on the discovery of a body at the 27-year-old's home in Paralowie yesterday are limited, local police are compiling a report for the coroner.

    Dajka spoke publicly last year about his battle with depression and alcoholism after spending a number of years surrounded in controversy. The 2002 UCI Track World Championship kieren gold medalist was sent home from a pre-Athens Olympic Games training camp in 2004 after lying to a doping inquiry.

    "It is a sad day for the sport when this sort of thing happens," Cycling Australia president Mike Victor told AAP. "We feel for his teammates who knew him.

    "It is a blow to the sport and he never really got over the disappointment [of missing Athens] and he had other issues going on in his life," he added.

    Dajka's circumstances worsened one year after the fallout from Athens, as he was convicted for assaulting Australian track coach Martin Barras. As the court hearing in 2006, Dajka pleaded guilty to a further 12 charges ranging from traffic infringements to theft. He was fined $2,600 for the 13 offences and placed on a good behaviour bond with a suspended jail sentence.

    "Personally, I'm deeply saddened by Jobie Dajka's passing," Australian television personality Mike Tomalaris said on his SBS.com.au blog. "I can only hope his legacy as a sportsman and genuinely honest human being will not be forgotten by Australia's cycling community."

    Dajka was banned from the sport for three years following the Barras assault, however the ban was lifted early in 2006.

    Former professional cyclist and Adelaide resident Patrick Jonker described Dajka as an amazingly talented athlete and good guy. "He was one of Australia's finest sprinters for a long time, mainly as a someone I respected his ability to...

  • Valverde hearing date set

    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has set May 11 as the date for its anti-doping hearing...

    The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has set May 11 as the date for its anti-doping hearing involving Caisse d'Epargne's Spanish star Alejandro Valverde.

    CONI carried a brief announcement on its website stating: "The National Anti-Doping Tribunal, chaired by Francesco Plotinus, announced that the hearing in the case of Spanish rider Valverde has been scheduled for May 11, 2009 at 10.15 [08.15 GMT]."

    Earlier this month CONI requested a two-year sanction for Valverde for an alleged violation of article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code. It's based on testing done to ascertain whether blood found in the clinic of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, which contains traces of EPO, matches that taken from the Spanish rider during the second rest day of last year's Tour de France.

    Valverde's lawyers have already asked the Department of Public Prosectuion to forward CONI evidence against the rider to Spanish sporting justice authorities as they are the "only" ones with jurisdiction in this case. Valverde is still free to race in the meantime, which means he will compete in two of his 'pet' events, the Ardennes Classics Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne.

  • Armstrong responds to AFLD report

    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    Lance Armstrong has responded to a story run by French sports daily L'Equipe that he behaved in an...

    Lance Armstrong has responded to a story run by French sports daily L'Equipe that he behaved in an inappropriate manner during an anti-doping control on March 17. A report was filed by a representative of the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) stating that the American acted in a strange manner on the occasion of the out-of-competition test, his 24th control since returning to the sport last year.

    Armstrong's response – in full – to the allegations is as follows:

    "Outrageous reports yesterday coming out of France allege that I 'misbehaved' during a recent unannounced drug test performed by the French government while I was training in southern France in early March.

    "The test in question was my 24th unannounced drug test since I announced my return to cycling last fall. The first 23 of those tests were performed without any questions and all have been returned negative. This 24th test, which included a blood test, a urine test, and a test of a substantial quantity of my hair, was also negative.

    "I returned home that day after a long training ride to find a man chasing me as I rode up to the house. He stopped me and told me he was from the French laboratory and was here to test me. I had never heard of labs or governments doing drug testing and I had no idea who this guy was or whether he was telling the truth.

    "I've been tested in-competition and out-of-competition by USADA, by WADA, by the UCI, and by testing authorities at all the events in which I have competed, but I was unaware that in France the government tests athletes and takes the position it can test any athlete residing in or visiting France. I also had never heard of a laboratory (as opposed to an anti-doping organization) sending testers to collect samples.

    "We asked the tester for evidence of his authority. We...

  • Top sprinters out of Wevelgem

    Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    Two top sprinters have been pulled from their respective teams rosters on the eve of today's...

    Two top sprinters have been pulled from their respective teams rosters on the eve of today's Gent-Wevelgem Spring Classic. Both Liquigas' Daniele Bennati and Cervélo TestTeam's Thor Hushovd will not start the Belgian race today.

    Reports earlier in the week had suggested Hushovd broke his wrist after crashing at Ronde van Vlaanderen. While the team corrected those reports, a meeting between Hushovd, the team doctor and sports director has resulted in the Norwegian skipping today's race.

    Hushovd will be replaced by Great Britain's Daniel Loyd.

    Bennati has withdraw after withdrawing from Ronde van Vlaanderen at the 100-kilometre mark. The rider has been experiencing pains in his right thigh, according to Liquigas sport director Stefano Zanatta.

    "We can't run the risks," said Zanatta. "Yesterday evening Daniele came back in Italy where he faces five days of rest and a new scan, then he will restart riding gradually. A rest period and physiotherapy work could guarantee his complete recovery for the Giro d'Italia."

  • Sutton could be key to beating Cavendish

    Chris Sutton
    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium Chris Sutton continues his Classics campaign with Gent-Wevelgem...

    By Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    Chris Sutton continues his Classics campaign with Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix in the next few days, after his debut Tour of Flanders ride last weekend. The tough Australian admitted the former is a race he can win, and said he may know the key to beating the man currently regarded as the world's best sprinter – Columbia-Highroad's Mark Cavendish.

    The Garmin-Slipstream rider worked tirelessly for Martijn Maaskant at Flanders and will repeat the trick at Paris Roubaix, but not before testing his mettle in Gent-Wevelgem. "I can win Gent-Wevelgem, whether it's tomorrow or in the next 10 years, it's a race that suits me with the short cobbled climbs and the sprint finish," said the former Cofidis rider.

    "There will be myself and Julian Dean and we'll talk during the race, so whoever is stronger on the day will get the support of the other rider," he added.

    Sutton has been an important factor in Garmin's Spring Classics campaign this year. The 24-year-old rode Omloop Het Nieuwsblad earlier in the Spring, and despite a serious crash, recovered to find form for Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Flanders, where he placed 107th. Sutton explained that having a settled roster for a block of races has given the team more belief and solidity than in 2008.

    "This is the longest time we've spent together as a unit. Last year we chopped and changed more and I only came in for Paris-Roubaix, but this year we've done all the Classics together and the results have flowed," said Sutton. "Just look at what we did with Tyler Farrar at Tirreno-Adriatico. We proved that Cavendish is beatable and not many teams have been able to do that. Don't forget, all the sprinters were at that race too. We've come along in leaps and bounds."

    Sutton and his teammates will be hoping that lightening strikes twice for them in Gent-Wevelgem, where they'll work for both Sutton and the more experienced Julian Dean, a...

  • Aldag: Cavendish not guaranteed Wevelgem win

    Rolf Aldag
    Article published:
    April 08, 2009, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson in Gent, Belgium

    Team Columbia-Highroad's sport director Rolf Aldag has played down talk that his top sprinter Mark...

    Team Columbia-Highroad's sport director Rolf Aldag has played down talk that his top sprinter Mark Cavendish will win today's Gent-Wevelgem. The former cyclist believes Cavendish has an edge on his rivals, but another Spring Classic win today will be a hard-fought victory.

    "Psychologically, Cavendish has the edge on his rivals, and they won't all be waiting for a bunch sprint," said Aldag. "They'll be testing us from the moment the race starts and they won't make it easy for him. If the weather is bad or if there are splits in the peloton at the wrong moment, maybe we'll see a different outcome."

    Aldag is prepared for whatever Gent-Wevelgem throws up later today, with his squad containing two previous winners in addition to hopeful Cavendish. Both George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt have claimed the Belgian race victory previously and could get another shot today, depending on how the event unfolds.

    "They'll both be ready to go in the moves should they need to, and we'll keep our options open," he said. "We'll do everything we can to get Mark to the finishing line for a sprint.

    "We know he's in great condition, he's really motivated and he's also shown this year that his climbing had improved enormously without him losing any speed at all in the sprints," he added. "I know he's got a score to settle with Gent-Wevelgem, too, because it didn't work out so well for him last year in the finish and he was disappointed. This time around, he's very keen to set the record straight."

    Click here to read Cyclingnews' interview with Mark Cavendish.