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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 25, 2013

Date published:
January 25, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • UCI actions not those of effective anti-doping programme, WADA says

    UCI president Hein Verbruggen with Lance Armstrong in 2002
    Article published:
    January 24, 2013, 22:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Agency responds after Verbruggen admits to warning riders of suspect values

    UCI president Hein Verbruggen admitted this week to initiating a UCI policy of warning riders who showed suspect blood values, and the World Anti-Doping Agency has replied, criticizing those actions.

    Verbruggen was president through 2005 before the current leader Pat McQuaid took his place. Speaking to Vrij Nederland, Verbruggen justified having UCI medical director Mario Zorzoli or anti-doping commission member Lon Schattenberg meet with riders to inform them of suspect values, saying they did it to convince riders to stop doping.

    “You might convince them not to use doping anymore or you might not,” Verbruggen said.

    Tyler Hamilton, writing in “The Secret Race”, described meeting with Zorzoli and being informed that his doping controls showed evidence of blood transfusion. At the time, WADA had not yet approved the test. Hamilton went on to later test positive and serve a suspension for homologous transfusions after the test was approved.

    WADA issued a statement today decrying the practice.

    ''This approach totally contradicts the purpose of an effective anti-doping program,'' the WADA statement read. ''Any (federation) that would do such a thing would leave itself open to criticism with regards to its impartiality and integrity."

    The agency says that the situation would have been unique to cycling, as it has "no evidence of other international federations 'discussing atypical blood test results, or other test results' with athletes."

    The UCI has come under criticism in recent months for its anti-doping policies, which were ineffective in deterring the kind of widespread doping which the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team unearthed.

    The UCI has been accused of covering up a doping positive of Lance...

  • Clarke gives his all for another Stirling win at Tour Down Under

    Simon Clarke and Will Clarke in the Stage 3 breakaway
    Article published:
    January 24, 2013, 23:45 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Second breakaway in as many days for Argos Shimano Australian

    In 2012, Will Clarke claimed the biggest win of his career when he won the Stirling stage at the Tour Down Under in a solo move riding for the UniSA - Australia team. The additional laps around the 21.3km loop was no hindrance to Clarke making a similar attempt on Thursday, but after spending the majority of the stage off the front of the bunch, eventually finished 8:48 behind winner Tom Jelte-Slagter (Blanco) in 115th.

    "It would have been nice to stay away and win the stage again," the Argos Shimano recruit told Cyclingnews. "That sort of stuff's always pretty hard to do but you've always got to try otherwise that won't happen."

    Twelve months later, Clarke is back at his home WorldTour event after an unsettled season with Champion System. In his first race for his new team, Clarke has spent two stages at the front of the race, in breakaways - on the Corkscrew stage and then on Thursday. Frustratingly for Clarke, neither stint was deemed enough for him to be awarded the Most Aggressive prize.

    "It would have been nice to get the most aggressive jersey today seeing as I've been in the breakaway twice in a row," he said.

    "I'm quite pissed off actually; I don't know what else I've got to do to get it. Maybe go in the breakaway every day and then maybe I'll get one."

    In Argos Shimano, Clarke has almost found his natural environment, with the 27-year-old rouleur having made escapes off the front his trademark.

    "If I had a choice to join any team it would have been Argos Shimano," he explained. "They're always represented in the breakaways and in the big races they always show themselves and I think last year they won 40 races or something and they were Pro Continental so they already showed they could win...

  • Kittel convinced Kemna deserves a place in professional cycling

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) reports for duty.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2013, 7:52 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Plenty to learn from director's story, says sprinter

    Argos-Shimano director sportif Rudi Kemna deserves a place in cycling, according to one of his riders,, Marcel Kittel. Kemna recently admitted to using EPO during his career and will serve an agreed six-month suspension before returning to team duties.

    Kittel has voiced his opinion in the past regarding supporters of Lance Armstrong however, the sprinter believes Kemna's story is an important one for people to understand. It's this type of experience that Kemna was exposed to, that has the potential to help the sport move forward.

    "When they told us the story, of course in the beginning I was disappointed to hear it and also surprised," said Kittel to Cyclingnews.

    "But once I heard the full story I could understand it better, why he did it. I think it's a really important story to hear also for other people to understand [why] a lot of riders doped. Not because they wanted but they culture directed them into this drug problem.

    "I think it was very important Rudi said what he did and it's important to learn now for young riders how it happened, so they can avoid it in the future. We can learn a lot from it."

    Asked whether someone such as Kemna, who has now admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during part of his professional career should be involved in the sport, Kittel says "yes".

    "When we talk about Rudi, I know Rudi now and before hearing the story. I know what he really wants for cycling and that was never something bad. He always wants to improve cycling and to develop new ideas within cycling without doping.

    "That's how I started to get in contact with Rudi. He showed...

  • Slagter ready to challenge Rodriguez in uphill finishes

    Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco) celebrates a fine win in Stirling.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2013, 9:04 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Young Dutchman a favorite for Santos Tour Down Under overall win

    Tom-Jelte Slagter of Blanco Pro Cycling got the first victory of his pro career ahead of Matt Goss and world champion Philippe Gilbert in the uphill finish of Stirling in the third stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. “Everybody at the Hilton Hotel told me that it looks good on the picture,” said a delighted Slagter at the start of stage 4 as he realized the impact of his superb rush on the cycling world.

    “Wat a mooie aankomst [what a nice finish]!” he commented after winning in Stirling. “I couldn’t expect anything better for my first pro win. David Tanner put the hammer down with one kilometer to go, that was pretty far but he delivered me in a really good position to open my sprint with 350 metres to go.”

    That effort put him in second position overall five seconds down on Geraint Thomas (Sky), with a true chance of winning the Tour Down Under atop Willunga Hill. “I’m in a good position on GC,” he said. “It would have been cool to have the ochre jersey, but at least I’m now confident to being one of the three best riders in this race.”

    “The first goal of my season was to be good here,” the 23-year-old from Groningen told Cyclingnews. “I’ve prepared well to perform from the start with the new colours of the Blanco team. At the difference of my first two pro seasons, I won’t be doing the Giro d’Italia this year. My next goal will be to peak the form again for the Amstel Gold Race, the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. These three classics are in my mind.”

    They all were won two years ago by the man Slagter beat...

  • Video: Bauer plans to "hang on" up Willunga at Down Under

    Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp).
    Article published:
    January 25, 2013, 10:04 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Garmin-Sharp rider explains frantic finish to Stage 4

    With Rohan Dennis' challenge for overall victory at the Tour Down Under ruled out before the race begun, it was up to last year's 11th-place finisher Jack Bauer to take the leader's role. With just 15 seconds separating himself and race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky) coming into the penultimate stage, Bauer says the plan up Old Willunga will be quite simple: "hang on".

    In this video Bauer explains the frantic finish of Stage 4 in which a number of riders were involved in crashes that occurred in the final kilometres. Riders are not respecting the hierarchy within bunch sprints and are riding where they shouldn't, according to to the Garmin-Sharp rider.

    "There are some people doing some pretty stupid shit here," said Bauer to Cyclingnews. "People cutting left and right with 300m to go.

    "People have fresher legs with a day like today. It's a shorter course, the break went early so we didn't have such a hard day. So, that means when there are fresher legs, there are a lot more people at the end who shouldn't be there.

    "A lot of people who aren't sprinters can't control their bikes in the finale and we see what happened today."

    Bauer adds that his initial plans for Down Under were to support Dennis. Now that he's the number-one rider on the general classification it's up to him to deliver precious WorldTour points for the team.

    "Our plan was to come here in support of Rohan Dennis for the overall classification. With him not even starting the race I had to do what I could over Corkscrew on Stage 2 and try and move into the top ten on GC.

    "Obviously being a WorldTour race here at Down Under the points are up for grabs. They are pretty significant with car...

  • Gallery: Team Sky training in Mallorca

    Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will lead Sky's attack on the Grand Tours
    Article published:
    January 25, 2013, 11:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    British team opens its doors in Spain

    Team Sky has again created a permanent training base on Mallorca so its riders can travel to the Spanish island for key blocks of pre-season training.

    The British team likes to work discreetly on the local roads and climbs but opened the doors of the Vanity Golf hotel to the media on Thursday to counter any doubts and suspicions about the team and why it so successful.

    Geraint Thomas and most of the other riders from the so-called 'Classics Project' squad are racing successfully at the Tour Down Under, but most of the riders who will form the squads to support Bradley Wiggins at the Giro d'Italia and then Chris Froome and Wiggins at the Tour de France were at the camp, clocking up quality training blocks under the careful eye of coach Tim Kerrison, performance manager Rod Ellingworth and team manager Dave Brailsford.

    The camp was the first time Wiggins and Froome had spent any real time together since the Olympics last August. Their comments during the winter have done little to play down their personal ambitions and rivalry. They posed for photographs and followed Team Sky's carefully scripted message of non-belligerence when answering questions but their body language indicated they are far from best buddies. A change of Froome's early season race programme will see them race the Tour of Oman together but the real test of their relationship will come at the Tour de France.

    All the 27 riders at Team Sky are closely followed by the team's coaching staff but are free to drop in and out of the camp. Most of the riders spend at least a week at a time on the island, doing blocks of specific training, divided by rest days. The Team Sky chef means they can follow...

  • Leinders questioned for three hours by Belgian cycling federation

    Dr Geert Leinders
    Article published:
    January 25, 2013, 12:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Rabobank team doctor investigated on doping suspicions

    Dr. Geert Leinders appeared before the Royal Belgian Cycling Federation for three hours on Thursday. His attorney said that Leinders, who is no longer involved in cycling, was cooperative, but no details were released.

    Leinders has been named by various sources as providing EPO to riders at the former Rabobank team. He was most recently a team doctor at Team Sky, but his contract was not renewed. He has denied any involvement in doping.

    He had no comment after the interrogation. “The investigation is confidential, so we cannot talk about the content,” his attorney Johnny Maeschalck told Het Nieuwsblad.

    “My client does not want to be active in cycling and has no license for this season. But he wants to cooperate with the investigation. There were ten questions asked during the interview and we have therefore responded.”

    The Federation announced earlier this week that it had opened the investigation of Leinders, a “former licensee”. It said that after hearing Leinders, “the federation prosecutor will then decide what further steps should be taken.”

  • Andy Schleck rediscovering his way at Tour Down Under

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) was taking a relaxed approach to the start of Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    January 25, 2013, 13:03 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    A world of difference from Tour of Beijing

    It was during Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under when Andy Schleck's happiness and relief at being back on the bike was evident for all to see. In the last 12 months he's been handed a Tour de France title in a way in which he did not want it bestowed, and been to hell and back with injury. It was time to ride and it wasn't just about staying out of trouble in a nervous peloton, nor was it a training exercise.

    "Why should it always be Jens [Voigt] that is riding [on the front]?" Schleck had told his RadioShack Leopard teammates during the pre-stage meeting. "I can ride as well. Riding in the front in the wind, suffering; that is what makes my shape better and stronger so that's the main goal. I won't hesitate the next day to do the same. I like it. I ride in the front and of course it hurts. Sometimes when I am really hurting, I hope that the guys behind are hurting also. I like to do it and I'm really, really happy to be back in the bunch again in the peloton. It's something different when you can do something like I did today."

    It's Schleck's first appearance at the Tour Down Under after years of gentle nudging from former teammate, Adelaide local Stuart O'Grady. It's only now, as part of his build up to full competition following his crash at the Dauphine last June which left him with a fractured pelvis, that the Australian WorldTour event has been an option. Schleck's return began at the season-ending Tour of Beijing.

    "Beijing was hard because I knew that I'd go back there and I probably had better shape when I was a junior than when I went to Beijing," he told Cyclingnews. "It was terrible but I went there because I want to race. It was...