- Article published:
- May 31, 2012, 10:25
- Daniel Benson
Spaniard's ban expires on August 5
Bjarne Riis hopes to tie Alberto Contador to a contract in the next few weeks. The Spaniard was released from his contract with Riis Cycling and Saxo Bank after the Court of Arbitration for Sport handed down a two-year retrospective ban earlier this year for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. Contador had signed for Riis for the start of the 2011 season but due to his ban cannot return to cycling until August, when he will target both the Vuelta a España and Worlds.
However, recent speculation has linked Contador with a number of teams, including Astana, RadioShack, Movistar and the creation of a new Spanish team. With Saxo Bank's current sponsorship coming to an end this year - although Riis says they're keen to commit to the future - Contador's signature could be the key to the continuation of any Riis and Saxo Bank's relationship.
"When I have something concrete to say then I'm going to say it," Riis told Cyclingnews. “We're working on it and of course I want him to stay in the team. This is what both parties want. Of course there's lots of speculation but I have good feeling."
Asked why Alberto Contador has not categorically stated he would sign for Riis, the Dane added: "There have been reasons for that. As far as I understand there are also the UCI rules that we have to follow on what we can do. Hopefully we'll have something soon but I'm looking around."
Riis went to say that Contador was the best rider he'd ever worked with, reaffirming his belief that despite his ban from cycling he believed that the Spaniard was innocent.
- Article published:
- May 31, 2012, 11:23
- Cycling News
Frenchman aims at Dauphiné and Tour de France
Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) is taking inspiration from Bradley Wiggins as he prepares for the Tour de France. A solid time triallist, Coppel continues to make strides in the mountains and is aiming to follow in the footsteps of the Briton and develop into a stage race contender.
“I’m a long way from his level, but seeing Wiggins finish fourth in the Tour [in 2009 – ed.] reassured me with the idea that it was possible to be a good rouleur and a good climber,” Coppel told L’Équipe.
The 25-year-old Frenchman finished 13th overall at the Tour twelve months ago, and with significantly more time trialling on the route in 2012, Coppel aspires to a place in the top ten this time around. His cause could well be helped if Wiggins’ Sky team look to impose a steady pace in the high mountains.
“When there’s hard attacking, I get a bit asphyxiated,” Coppel said. “At the Galibier and Alpe d’Huez last year, I blew straight away, but afterwards, when I got into a rhythm, I made up the ground on a lot of people. I climb like a rouleur, but if I manage myself well at the foot of the climb, I’m capable of following the leaders for a long time.”
In spite of his solid showing last July, Coppel’s performance went largely unnoticed by the wider French public, thanks in no small part to the exploits of Europcar pair Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland.
“In another year, 13th place would have made me the first Frenchman. But if people didn’t talk about me, it’s because French cycling had a super Tour,” Coppel said. “Above all, I saw what I was capable of and that it was possible to do better.”
Coppel got his 2012 season off to a fine start with overall victory at Étoile de Bessèges and third place at the Ruta del Sol, and he gave notice of his growing pre-Tour form with second place at Bayern-Rundfahrt last week.
Before the white heat of July, Coppel lines up at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which gets underway on Sunday. A native of the Savoie region, Coppel describes the Dauphiné as “the race that he dreams of winning” but hinted that his Tour preparation would be a priority.
“It’s complicated with the Dauphiné,” he said. “I’m caught between two stools a bit, pulled between the desire to do well and the need to continue my preparation.”
- Article published:
- May 31, 2012, 16:09
- Cycling News
Charges against Eufemiano Fuentes dismissed
Operacion Galgo, or “Operation Greyhound,” the Spanish investigation into an alleged blood doping ring involving Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes has been closed due to “a lack of evidence.”
In an order dated May 24 and released on Wednesday, Judge Mercedes Perez dismissed the charges against the twelve defendants. The Madrid Provincial Court had already ruled in March that the telephone interceptions and searches carried out as part of the probe were invalid.
“There are no reasonable grounds for having committed the acts which gave rise to the formation of this case,” Perez wrote in his dismissal of the proceedings, according to AFP.
Operacion Galgo first entered the public domain in December 2010, when Spanish police arrested 14 people, including Fuentes, his sister Yolanda and the middle-distance runner Marta Dominguez.
Fuentes was previously at the centre of the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation, which broke ahead of the 2006 Tour de France and eventually led to sanctions against a number of riders, including Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi and Alejandro Valverde.
In late 2011, it emerged that Fuentes and former ONCE manager Manolo Saiz would be among six people to stand trial for their part in Operacion Puerto. A date for the hearing has yet to be fixed, although details of the written statements presented to the Madrid court were leaked by El Pais in March.
- Article published:
- May 31, 2012, 18:09
- Cycling News
Final Giro time trial upset by lead moto
After making headlines at the beginning of the Giro d’Italia for his prologue victory and his finishing straight crash in Horsens, Taylor Phinney (BMC) reached Milan looking to bookend his race with a strong showing in the concluding time trial.
Phinney knew that a solid performance in the test would buttress his chances of getting the nod to represent the United States in the individual time trial at the London 2012 Olympics, even if he acknowledged that it would be difficult to leapfrog David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
“The Milan time trial was really an important target of mine for the last couple of weeks, it was sort of the carrot I was chasing,” Phinney told Cyclingnews. “For myself to qualify as an Olympic spot, I needed to have a good result in that time trial. It wasn’t an automatic qualifier but it would have been a good way to show my abilities because you’ve got Dave Zabriskie winning races and Levi Leipheimer who’s always good.”
To Phinney’s dismay, however, his progress was stalled when his lead motorbike veered off course, and the American brought the curtain down on his Giro in 16th place in the time trial, 1:31 down on his BMC teammate Marco Pinotti.
“I wanted to have a good race in Milan but unfortunately I had a lead moto that kind of took me off course at a certain time,” Phinney said. “One could argue that we need to know the race course but after 21 days when you can only see it once and it’s a 30k course that has at least 30 turns in it, it’s a lot to ask.”
- Article published:
- May 31, 2012, 19:56
- Cycling News
Herning crash damage revealed weeks later
Rabobank sprinter Theo Bos learned today that he had completed two weeks of the Giro d'Italia with a broken back. Bos crashed in the final bend leading into the bunch sprint on the second stage in Herning, Denmark on May 6, but raced on through the pain through stage 16 after which he withdrew.
"Even after the Giro, I was still suffering," Bos said. "I had a lot pain after cycling, which was not so crazy as it turns out."
The 28-year-old was diagnosed with a fractured L3 vertebrae in his lower spine, and will be forced to rest for the next few weeks to let it heal.
"I have ridden quite long with the pain, so there was no recovery. Now I will just take it really easy for two weeks, and the fracture should heal with rest. This is really frustrating, but at the same time I'm happy that it is clear where the pain is coming from."
Bos, a former world champion and Olympic medalist on the track, transitioned to the road in 2009. He's won stages of the Vuelta Murcia, Castilla y Leon, Tour of Oman and Tour of Denmark, but in 2011 he struggled with a blocked iliac artery. After undergoing surgery during the off-season, Bos scored a victory in Dwars door Drenthe and two stage wins in the Presidential Tour of Turkey before being selected for Rabobank's Giro d'Italia team.
- Article published:
- May 31, 2012, 21:30
- Pat Malach
2008 Olympic TT champion more determined than ever following recent clavicle fracture
Kristin Armstrong told Cyclingnews Wednesday there is "no question" she will be in top form for the London Olympics if USA Cycling's selection committee puts her on the team when it announces its decision June 15.
"As far as being ready and being medal capable, which is what is described in all the selection procedures, yeah, there's no question," Armstrong said.
The 2008 Olympic time trial champion broke her clavicle May 24 after crashing during the prologue time trial of the Exergy Tour in her hometown of Boise, Idaho. Surgeons repaired the break with one screw the following morning, and she was at the finish of stage 1 just hours later to watch her Exergy-Twenty12 teammate Theresa Cliff-Ryan take the win.
Armstrong is in a tight battle for the two Olympic time trial spots the US has earned this year, competing neck-and-neck with a list of riders that includes Specialized-lululemon teammates Amber Neben and Evelyn Stevens, who finished 1-2 during the time trial stage of the Exergy Tour and then swapped spots for the overall.
While the final allocations have yet to be confirmed, the US will likely have two time trial spots and four road race spots for the London Games; the two riders selected for the time trial will also compete in the road race. Placing in the top three of the 2011 world championships was the only way to earn an automatic spot on the London time trial team, and because no rider achieved that result, both spots will be filled at the discretion of the five-rider selection committee. Dylan Casey, Jeanne Golay, Jeff Pierce, Alison Dunlap, Mike McCarthy, Dede Barry, Anton Quist and Eric Rupe will share the unenviable task of making the picks.
Neben and Armstrong previously battled to the wire for the time trial berth at last year's world championships, with Neben eventually getting the spot after successfully appealing the selection committee's decision to choose Armstrong over her. Armstrong had already traveled to Europe when the arbitrator made the ruling, and she found out about the decision just hours after landing in Denmark.
The two-time world champion seemed determined to leave no doubt this year, piling up a stack of early season results to try and put an exclamation mark on her Olympic bid.
Armstrong started her season in February at the Women's Tour of New Zealand, where she won the time trial and two more stages. She continued her momentum at home in March by taking a stage win and the overall crown at the Merco Classic, where she won the time trial by 55 seconds over Canadian Clara Hughes and 1:11 over Stevens. Armstrong topped Hughes again at the San Dimas Stage Race time trial in mid-March, winning two stages and the overall victory.
She crossed the pond after her early season wins to compete with the US national team in Europe, scoring second-place at the Tour of Flanders in a two-up sprint with Judith Arndt after the pair powered away on the Oude Kwaremont about 30 km from the finish.
Armstrong returned to the US at the beginning of May and dominated the Tour of the Gila in new Mexico, winning the overall and three of four stages. She took the 26.6 km time trial by more than two minutes over Alison Powers (Now and Novartis for MS) and Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and followed that performance with a similar win at the women's time trial during the Tour of California.
She was primed to cap it off with a top performance among an international field at her hometown race before disaster struck. Armstrong set the fastest time at the intermediate check point for the 3.2km out-and-back course. She had set up for a tight left-hand turn when her front tire washed out and she fell hard on her shoulder. Armstrong was still clipped in the pedals and had trouble getting up, but she eventually remounted her bike and started pedaling for the line.
"Right then I thought 'god dang my shoulder hurts', and I said 'Oh, I just have to lose as little time as possible,'" Armstrong said. "And so adrenalin took me into the finish line."
Armstrong finished 13th, losing just eight seconds to stage winner Tara Whitten (TIBCO-To the Top), but she immediately started cradling her arm. Medics quickly swarmed the local hero, and her personal doctor, who happened to be at the race, gave her the bad news after a quick examination.
"Somebody said, 'Well don't you need X-rays?' Armstrong remembered. "And he's like, 'I've been around long enough. You see this bone sticking up? That's a broken clavicle.'"
X-rays confirmed the doctor's original diagnosis, but by then Armstrong had already turned her attention to her ongoing reach for another Olympic medal. Less than 12 hours after the crash she underwent surgery. Her physical therapist said she will be riding her time trial bike in tuck position within a few days.
"Kristin is progressing incredibly well and is far ahead of where I would expect her to be less than one week out," said Dave Fleckenstein, director of Orthopedic Rehab for St. Luke's Hospital in Boise. "We're already working on strength and will be back in the time trial position later this week. The biggest challenge is keeping Kristin from doing too much – I caught her lifting her son earlier this week."
Armstrong also got the go-ahead Wednesday to start riding her bicycle outdoors. She said she had already started riding her trainer briefly, heeding her doctor's advice to avoid the sweat that can cause infection before the surgical wounds heal, but now she will be able to put more time in on the road after just five days off.
"I was expecting to have to tough it out on the trainer for about a week, but it looks like I'm lucky and I don't have to," she said. "It means that I get can more miles in, because I am not one of those people who can sit on a trainer for hours. People tell me they read a book or watch a movie for four hours. I can't do it. I'd rather go hike."
The only interruption in her competition schedule leading up to the Olympics will be skipping the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, where she wanted to race with the men, Armstrong said. She had already planned to skip the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota June 13-17, choosing to focus instead on USA Cycling Road Nationals June 20-24 in Augusta, Georgia. She'll race the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend July 7-22 and then hopes to compete for her country one more time at the Olympics July 29 and August 1.
"The original plan after the Exergy Tour was to take a little bit of a break." she said. "I would take a few weeks to build a few miles and work into my threshold and build some strength, and I would top it off with racing. That was the original plan."
While a broken collarbone is obviously not ideal preparation for the Olympics, Armstrong said the injury could be a blessing in disguise, forcing her to refocus her efforts on leaving nothing undone in preparation for a contest that is usually decided by seconds.
"I think that drawing that focus back in, for an athlete, is key to making the difference on whether you win or maybe get fourth, fifth place," she said. "I think that drawing my focus back in and knowing that, OK, it's go time, I have to focus fully, is really good."
Armstrong appears more determined than ever to compete and perform in London, saying that if anything, the crash will ensure she avoids the complacency that can set in when success comes too often.
"One of my favorite quotes is, 'You learn to win by learning to lose,' and that happens a lot," she said. "You know, you go and win a race and you go home and you think you're doing everything right. But you go home from a race and you got second, and I'm telling you that person who got second place learned a lot more that day. They're ready to come out and take you down."
- Article published:
- June 1, 2012, 00:19
- Jane Aubrey
Weening the man to watch, says White
Orica GreenEdge sports director Matt White has told Cyclingnews that the team's line-up for the Tour de France is far from being settled with three races left to decide the final nine.
"I don't want to speculate on exact numbers but there are a couple of spots," he said ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné which begins Sunday.
Three programs are being run by the team in the lead up to the second grand tour of the season, with performances at the Tour de Suisse and the Tour du Slovenie also being taken into consideration along with how recovery from illnesses and injuries are progressing.
Already believed to be locked in for Orica GreenEdge are Matt Goss, Simon Gerrans, Stuart O'Grady, Pieter Weening, Sebastian Langeveld and Daryl Impey.
While the team is "not expecting much" from Gerrans given the Australian national road champion will be coming off an altitude block, White says that the Dauphiné is an important race for Weening. The Dutchman had been planning to start his season at the Tour of Sardinia having spent much of his pre-season preparation in Australia. The race was cancelled meantime, Weening developed a knee injury pushing his season back a further six weeks. The 31-year-old eventually began racing at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire, a performance that really impressed White.
"It just shows the professionalism of Pieter," he told Cyclingnews. "First race back he helped Luke Durbridge win the tour overall and then did Romandie after that where he was very solid for a guy who had only had four days of competition in his legs."
Weening then went on to the Tour of California, where he finished 10th overall, the best placed rider of Orica GreenEdge, 03:05 behind former teammate Robert Gesink.
Along with Gerrans and Weening, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Leigh Howard, Wes Sulzberger, Travis Meyer and Daniel Teklehaimanot will also be lining up for the team at the Dauphiné.
"The rest of the guys they know that they're not doing the Tour de France but it will play a very important role in their development this year and a big chunk of that group will be heading off to the Vuelta later in the season," White explained. "It's a good test for them. It's a very, very difficult race the Dauphiné but also it's a race where those guys can take opportunities when they arise for stage wins for themselves."
- Article published:
- June 1, 2012, 02:17
- Cycling News
Ten riders vie for nine spots in July
The Movistar team today named a list of ten riders from which will come the final nine-man selection for the Tour de France. The contenders, who have been training at altitude in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain, include Alejandro Valverde, winner of the Vuelta a Andalucia, runner-up on the Tour Down Under and third place in Paris-Nice this year, as well as 2011 Vuelta champion Juan Jose Cobo.
Also on the list is Rui Costa, who claimed third in the Tour de Romandie, José Joaquín Rojas, David Arroyo, Rubén Plaza, Imanol Erviti, Iván Gutiérrez, Vladimir Karpets and Vasil Kiryienka. Ignatas Konovalovas and David López will act as reserves.
Most of the team has been in the mountains in Granada for the past two weeks, but will soon be heading to either to France for the Critérium du Dauphiné or to the Tour de Suisse.
While the team did not reveal which riders will participate in which races, the preliminary rosters for the Critérium du Dauphiné list Cobo, Arroyo, Erviti, Kiryienka and Plaza while Valverde, Costa, Gutierrez, Karpets and Rojas are listed under the Tour de Suisse.