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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 30, 2012

Date published:
March 30, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • BMC stand behind Ballan and Santambrogio with Mantova charges pending

    Alessandro Ballan is one of many options for BMC.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 0:49 BST
    Cycling News

    "Presumption of innnocence" to be respected by the team

    Following confirmation yesterday that a decision is due over whether to charge any of the 32 people named in the final report into the long-running Mantova-based doping investigation, BMC Racing Team has said via a statement that they are yet to be "notified or contacted officially" regarding the case.

    "We will take no action regarding Alessandro Ballan or Mauro Santambrogio unless we receive an official request to do so from an appropriate authority (i.e., WADA, UCI, CONI or the Italian Cycling Federation)," said BMC Racing Team general manager, Jim Ochowicz. "Throughout its entirety, both riders have fully cooperated with investigators. For both riders the presumption of innocence is to be respected also by the team."

    The investigation focused largely on the activities of Nigrelli and the Lampre squad in 2008 and 2009, and damning transcripts of phone conversations implicating Alessandro Ballan were published in Gazzetta dello Sport on the eve of last year's Giro d'Italia.

    As was the case when news of the investigation first broke in 2010, Ballan and his teammate Santambrogio were both pulled from racing by BMC before returning to action a number of weeks later. Ballan appeared before an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) panel to discuss the matter last summer.

    According to reports in Gazzetta dello Sport and on Wednesday evening, the 32 people who were...

  • Vanmarcke's strength earns leadership role for Tour of Flanders

    Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 5:20 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Vaughters says it's up to RadioShack, QuickStep and Liquigas to control the race

    Jonathan Vaughters has announced that Sep Vanmarcke will be Garmin-Barracuda's sole leader at this year's Tour of Flanders. The Belgian rider has had a breakthrough season with victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, followed by 7th in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and 5th in E3 Harelbeke.

    "Sep is going to be the sole leader in Flanders. With the parcours this year, it's a race of attrition and strength, not tactics, so the best chance is to focus on the strongest rider, as opposed to playing a broader tactic, like you can in Roubaix," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.

    Last year Garmin headed into the race with a three-pronged attack consisting of then world champion Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Tyler Farrar. However with the Norwegian now at BMC and Haussler and Farrar unsuited to the harshness of the new Flanders course, Vanmarcke will shoulder the burden as the team's only leader, something Vaughters believes his rider is well capable of.

    Starting with his win in Omloop Vanmarcke has proved to be one of the strongest riders on the Spring Classic circuit. However with Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen to contend with, the young Belgian will be competing against the two Classics riders of their generation.

    "I think the race will come down to legs not tactics. I don't see any other clear favorites.

    "Sep will have to be a bit better than he was in E3 in order to contend. He was the only guy that could follow Boonen's attacks, but just barely...and he paid for his tenacity following those attacks later in the race. In Flanders he'll need another two per cent, or he'll need to be very intelligent and miserly with his energy."

    While Vanmarcke started the spring in fine form the likes of Boonen have improved their fitness since the early...

  • Live Streaming: 1T4i reveals new sponsor

    Team 1T4I in Altea
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 9:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Live on Cyclingnews from 11:30 CET

    Join us live in Rotterdam, at 11:30 am CET, for the presentation of 1T4i's new sponsor.


  • Kovalev likely to ride in Track World Championships

    Stage four podium (l-r): Valentin Iglinskiy (2nd,Astana), Kenny Van Hummel (1st,Skil - Shimano), and Ivan Kovalev (3rd,Russian National Team).
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 9:24 BST
    Cycling News

    Russian suffered only minor injuries after being hit by car

    Ivan Kovalev was not seriously injured after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in Australia earlier this week, the Russian Cycling Federation has announced. He will likely be able to participate in the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne, but not in all the disciplines as earlier planned.

    Kovalev was hit by the car and thrown over its bonnet. The driver fled the scene but was subsequently apprehended.

    "His injuries are minor so he should be fit for the championships," a Russian Cycling Federation spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

    "He will probably have to miss the team pursuit but should be available for individual events."

    The Russian team, including Kovalev, won the silver medal in the team pursuit at the 2011 world championships.

  • Sagan primed to take on Boonen at the Tour of Flanders

    Stage one winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 10:28 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Tougher course may not mean tougher race, says Slovak

    It’s sometimes easy to forget Peter Sagan’s tender years, but the Liquigas-Cannondale rider’s first memories of watching the cobbled classics on television are a stark reminder of how far he has travelled since turning professional two years ago.

    “Tom Boonen was the first one that I knew as the strongest for the classics, so he stuck in my mind,” Sagan told Cyclingnews in Kortrijk, as though Tommeke’s first triumphs on the cobbles belonged to some distant, sepia-tinged era.

    “I watched the classics when I started off cycling, they were always on Eurosport. To be honest I would have watched Paris-Roubaix more than the Tour of Flanders, but I can see now how important Flanders is too.”

    On Sunday, Sagan will do battle against Tom Boonen on his home patch at the Tour of Flanders, but any inhibitions the 22-year-old may have had when he turned professional in 2010 have been loosened by the steady flow of success he has enjoyed since. “It affected me at the start to be alongside a rider like that, but now when I ride with him I don’t see him like that anymore, I’m more used to it,” he said.

    Sitting in the bar of the Kennedy Hotel in Kortrijk, which Liquigas shares with Omega Pharma-QuickStep as its classics base, Sagan nursed an espresso as he mulled over his performances in the build-up to De Ronde. At both E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, he went on the offensive rather than bide his time for the sprint. Given that he then managed a close second behind Boonen in Wevelgem, he could have been forgiven for regretting his impetuousness.

    “I certainly made some errors on Friday and on Sunday but a second place isn’t too bad and in the end I think Boonen was...

  • Argos-Shimano cycling team presented in Rotterdam

    Thierry Hupond, Christian Prudhomme and Marcel Kittel at the Argos Shimano roll-out
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 10:44 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Spekenbrink presents new sponsor in front of Tour and Vuelta organisers

    At a press conference in Rotterdam this morning, Iwan Spekenbrink revealed that the Argos North Sea Group have become the new title sponsor for his Project 1T4i cycling team. The sponsorship deal lasts 3 years and the team will race as Team Argos-Shimano, with their first race this weekend at the Tour of Flanders. With Tour and Vuelta organisers in attendance at today’s press conference, the news marks an important moment in the development of Spekenbrink’s team as they reach for WorldTour status and selection for the world’s biggest races. As a Pro Continental team they will need to rely on wildcard invites to this year's Tour and Vuelta but having raced last year's Vuelta - and picking up a stage - they are among the favourites to receive invites for both races in 2012.

    “This means a lot to the team’s development,” Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews.

    “This isn’t’ an extension to Skil-Shimano, it’s a new start. The team is more ambitious, it has more staff, better riders, a better programme at the highest level and is active on the highest level in the biggest races.”

    The Argos North Sea Group has until now focussed on a B2B platform but with a desire to reach consumers in Europe they selected the sponsorship of a cycling team in order to project their image.

    “The good this is that we’ve clearly worked out with them that we’ll maintain our important principles,” Spekenbrink added.

    The team, a pro continental outfit, pride themselves on a philosophy of clean sport and rider development and while they have improved their line-up each winter with a number of strong signings, Spekenbrink has...

  • Tour of Flanders: The contenders

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) trains on the Taaienberg
    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 11:31 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Cancellara versus Omega Pharma-QuickStep

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

    The Belgian rediscovered his mojo during the winter and after a spirited start to the year has only improved over the last fortnight. His wins in E3 and Gent-Wevelgem were both markers of form and intent, while a tepid run at San Remo remains the only low point so far. Having raced over 30 days this season, more than any other pro according to CQ ranking, he’s at his peak.

    Along with a team that possesses enough leadership talent for four WorldTour squads, Boonen also has the strongest array of weapons from any of the top contenders. He can climb, he can attack, he can use his brain and he can sprint.

    Sunday’s race could be an historic moment in Boonen’s career. Win and he’ll enter an elite club of four riders who have won the Ronde three times, and cement his place his Classic folklore.

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan)

    Erik Zabel called the new Flanders course the hardest one-day race in the calendar and if such a statement holds true then Cancellara may have the edge over his opposition. The Swiss rider complained about the demands of the new course earlier this year, and rightly so. While he stands as the strongest rider in the race there remains a question mark over his support. Daniele Bennati and Yaroslav Popovich are handy foot soldiers but against Boonen’s henchmen they’ll be out-muscled over 260 km. But Sunday’s race may not come down to tactics, in which case a pure old fashioned war of attrition will decide the winner. While Cancellera may fancy his chances in a direct battle with Boonen, if he’s isolated early on he could find himself making a forced attack from too far out.

  • Video: Fabian Cancellara on his new Trek classics bike

    Article published:
    March 30, 2012, 14:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss star presents his Trek Domane

    The Tour of Flanders may be less than 48 hours away but Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) still found time to show Cyclingnews his new Trek Domane bike.

    The Classics bike was launched today in Belgium, with a full extensive report right here.

    But Cancellara is the rider who will be putting the bike through its paces on Sunday as he bids for his second Tour of Flanders title. Trek and Cancellara have worked on producing the best possible race equipment and the Swiss rider talks about his new bike, including the IsoSpeed in the rear section of the frame.

    “There’s no engine,” Cancellara tells Cyclingnews, “there’s just something to give you a bit more comfort.”