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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 18, 2011

Date published:
February 18, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • UCI considers revoking Vacansoleil-DCM's ProTeam license

    The 2011 Vacansoleil team
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 21:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team's status in question after two of its riders face doping allegations

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) is considering whether to maintain or revoke the ProTeam license of Vacansoleil-DCM, according to Biciciclismo on Thursday.

    The UCI's Licensing Commission has scheduled a meeting to consider the future of the team's status after the latest incident involving its star Ricardo Riccò, who is in serious condition in a hospital after an alleged blood transfusion.

    2010 Vuelta a Espana runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera, who had signed a two-year contract with the team starting in 2011, tested positive for a banned substance, hydroxyethyl starch, last fall at the Spanish Grand Tour. Mosquera's case is still pending, and the Spaniard is free to ride, but his team has not yet selected him for any races.

    The points earned by Ricco were among those used by Vacansoleil-DCM to calculate which teams earned ProTeam status for the 2011 season.

    Should Vacansoleil-DCM lose its ProTour license, it could remain as a Professional Continental team. However, the change in status could be a considerable blow to Vacansoleil as only ProTeams are guaranteed entry into the Grand Tours and the UCI World Tour races. The Dutch team raced the 2010 season as a Professional Continental squad and was unable to garner an entry to any of the three Grand Tours.

  • Basso opens European campaign in Laigueglia

    Ivan Basso trains in Tenerife.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 0:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Liquigas-Cannondale taking Sagan as potential winner

    Following a training camp on Tenerife, Ivan Basso and his Liquigas-Cannondale team-mates go into this weekend's Trofeo Laigueglia full of anticipation for what promises to be a successful season debut.

    This Saturday's 184km event in Laigueglia is the beginning of Basso's path to the Tour de France, a race he hopes to win following his triumphant return to the winner's podium at last year's Giro d'Italia.

    "The warmth of the Italian public always gives you a real thrill," said the popular Varesine, "With the spring races coming up, the Trofeo Laigueglia will be an important step for me. I'm fresh from two weeks' training in the mountains so I'll need time to adjust before I can get the most from all our work.

    "I'm itching to race and get back to competing; now that the foundations of my preparations are laid, I can concentrate on specific workouts to increase my strength and improve my pedal stroke. So you could say that the 'Laigueglia' comes at just the right time for me. "

    Recently Basso, Vincenzo Nibali, Valerio Agnoli, Eros Capecchi, Damiano Caruso, Jacopo Guarnieri, Maciej Paterski, Simone Ponzi and Sylwester Szmyd took part in a two-week high altitude training camp on Tenerife (pictured right).

    As part of the training regime they completed six repetitions of 1.5km climb that rose more than 150 vertical metres and blood collected at the top to test anaerobic threshold, power at the threshold and power/body weight ratio.

    Liquigas-Cannondale directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta believes the work put in by his riders should serve them well this weekend and into the season.

    "They've put in a lot of hard work, and shown immense commitment and dedication; the indications from our latest tests are encouraging," said Zanatta. "The team has a great deal of trust in these young riders. Now they're preparing a programme that will make them competitive in the spring races: the Trofeo Laigueglia will be a...

  • Contador expected to start Giro d'Italia

    Alberto Contador in action during stage 2.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 0:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Zomegnan confirms deal struck in 2010

    Giro d'Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan says there is no need to formally invite Alberto Contador to this year's event because he is expecting the Spaniard to be at the start line in Turin.

    "If [Bjarne] Riis acquires him, he comes to race. It is not necessary to invite him, because his teams have already qualified for the big stage races," Zomegnan told the German news agency dpa.

    On Tuesday, Contador's one-year ban for Clenbuterol was overturned by the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation and authorised to make his debut for new team Saxo Bank-Sungard at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.

    Zomegnan struck a deal with Contador for the 2011 edition at Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year when the Spaniard was racing for Astana. It's believed Contador will try and emulate the feats of Miguel Indurain and win both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same season. Contador won the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

    It is yet to be confirmed if either the UCI or WADA will appeal this week's verdict.

    "That's their right and they have got a month to do so," Contador told AS. "Nevertheless, I feel a lot more relaxed and we will continue working on this in the knowledge that there might be an appeal."

  • Vande Velde and Pinotti target overall success in Oman

    Christian Vande Velde joined up with his Garmin-Cervelo teammates.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 2:35 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Mountain finish and tough time trial will decide the race

    After three days of fierce sprinting, the battle for overall victory takes centre stage at the Tour of Oman on Friday and Saturday with the uphill finish on the Green Mountain and then the roller coaster 18.5km time trial.

    Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) will start the 157.5km fourth stage with a slim lead on Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) but the sprinters will surely lose ground and other riders will emerge on the 10.3% climb, giving the first real indication of who will win overall on Sunday.

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) and Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) both finished safely in the peloton at the end of stage three to Sur on Thursday and are only 19 seconds behind Goss in the overall classification.

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) has a 13-second advantage on his Vande Velde, Pinotti and other overall contenders such as Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek), Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

    However that is not enough to indicate the young Norwegian as a likely winner. The race will be won by whoever has the best combined climbing and time trial ability.

    Vande Velde ready to give it a go

    Despite a low-profile start to the season, Vande Velde rightly refuses to rule out his chances.

    He did not ride the Tour of Qatar, making his season debut at the Challenge Mallorca. He spent time training in Hawaii during the winter and looks fit and motivated.

  • Reactions to Lance Armstrong's Retirement 2.0

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) bid farewell to the international peloton.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 10:19 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    American's legacy to cycling "enormous" but "doubtful"

    Two important events occurred this week in the cycling world: 2010 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was cleared of doping charges by the Spanish cycling federation, and seven-time Tour victor Lance Armstrong announced his definitive retirement from the sport. While the first news made major headlines even in non-cycling-related publications, the second merely echoed through the cycling media as a side-story.

    One of the reasons for this was that Armstrong's retirement "2.0" - the second time after a come-back in late 2008 - had been expected and planned for a while. And even if the news on Contador's doping case somewhat monopolised media attention, reactions to Armstrong's decision finally came, and all emphasized the high impact Armstrong has had on cycling, promoting the sport unlike any other rider.

    "His contribution to cycling has been enormous, from both the sporting point of view and his personality. All sports need global icons and he has become a global icon for cycling," UCI president Pat McQuaid told AP. "The sport of cycling has a lot to be thankful for because of Lance Armstrong."

    USA Cycling chief executive officer Steve Johnson agreed. "Lance has obviously had an amazing impact on the sport. He helped put the sport on the radar screen of millions of Americans and earned fans around the globe. His legacy is certain to have a lasting effect on the continued growth of cycling."

    Nonetheless, Armstrong's career was coloured by ongoing doping allegations, which have become ever more persistent and pronounced with the recent investigation into his years on the US Postal team by federal investigator Jeff Novitzky. With the outcome pending, the precise...

  • Catalan police break up doping ring in Girona

    It's all about blood - performance-enhancing methods abound in pro cycling
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 11:50 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Pro rider tipped off police after being offered banned substances

    Police in Catalonia have made seven arrests as part of an investigation into an alleged doping ring based on the city of Girona. None of the seven are professional cyclists. However, one well-connected Spanish journalist has said that a former Kelme pro rider, Jordi Riera, is among those detained, which has been backed up by details in the Catalan press.

    According to initial reports, the investigation, codenamed Cursa, began in December after police received a tip-off from a pro rider based in the town of Olot, near to Girona. The rider had been contacted via email and offered banned substances.

    Catalan police are reported to have found a number of banned products during five searches undertaken as part of the investigation. Among the products found were clenbuterol, nandrolone, growth hormone and EPO. All are said to have been imported into Spain from Portugal and Andorra by one supplier. Members of the group subsequently sold them on in local gyms to amateur athletes, triathletes and cyclists.

    According to Catalan newspaper El Periódico, some of the EPO found by police had been stolen from a haemodialysis unit in a medical centre. The paper has also reported that more than 12,000 doses of banned products have been seized.

    The investigation is reported to be ongoing and more arrests may be made.

  • Former CPA president Vasseur reacts to radio ban

    Cédric Vasseur has resigned from the presidency of the CPA
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 13:11 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Criticises past lack of involvement in decision process by riders

    The former president of the international association of professional cyclists CPA, Cédric Vasseur, has reacted to the ongoing discussions regarding the suppression of race radios. While he has spoken out neither in favour nor against the new measure affecting all Category 1 and HC events this year, the Frenchman did criticise the current resistance of the peloton towards accepting the measure.

    After the ban was introduced at the beginning of the 2011 season, team directors and riders complained that the International Cycling Union (UCI) had not included them sufficiently in the decision-making process and demonstrated their disapproval at several race starts. Vasseur disagreed with this approach, pointing out that the riders had every opportunity to protest against the decision during his time at the head of the CPA (2007-2009), when the race radio ban was being discussed at the UCI.

    "During my mandate [...] we set up anonymous polls amongst the 865 pro riders of the ProTour and Pro Continental teams," Vasseur told Cyclingews on Friday. "In 2008 and 2009, every one of them received a poll, two times, asking them whether they were for a against the race radio ban. Of the 865 riders, about 200 responded in 2008, and 250 in 2009, and the result each time was a percentage of about 50/50.

    "I am surprised to note that a great part of those who are crying out for scandal today decided not to respond to our call. I think that if the majority of them would have expressed their disapproval of the suppression at that time, the UCI would have perhaps not continued its work on the issue."

    With the riders that did express their opinion being so evenly divided on the ban, one can call into question the true reasons for its non-acceptance in the peloton. "A great majority of the team managers were against the decision [to ban race radios - ed.] and

  • Europcar announces line-up for Paris-Nice

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) ready to defend his race lead
    Article published:
    February 18, 2011, 14:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Voeckler to lead motivated team of classics specialists

    French team Europcar has announced its line-up for the upcoming Paris-Nice stage race, scheduled March 6-13. Thomas Voeckler will lead the outfit also including Giovanni Bernaudeau, Damien Gaudin, Cyril Gautier, Vincent Jerome, Alexandre Pichot, Pierre Rolland and Sébastien Turgot.

    Directeur sportif Dominique Arnould said for the team selection, the management had riders who showed good early fitness and motivation to do this particular race. "We will have a very good team at the start with breakaway specialists. Saïd Haddou and Sébastien Chavanel were a little bit short to be awarded a spot, and Giovanni Bernaudeau, Damien Gaudin and Vincent Jerome made it known very early that they wanted to take part in the Race to the Sun," Arnould commented.

    "Thomas Voeckler will lead the team. He showed at the Tour Méditerranéen that his condition is getting better and better, just like Pierre Rolland who finished the race very strong. Cyril Gautier will also make an impact for sure. Sébastien Turgot and Alexandre Pichot will be racing in the kind of weather conditions they like: they are two classics riders who love the cold."

    In the absence of Sébastien Chavanel, the team's last man for mass sprint finishes will be Turgot. "Our selection is more than competitive and we hope to shine on all levels," Arnould concluded.