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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 27, 2011

Date published:
May 27, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Andy Schleck to miss Tour of Luxembourg

    A brave move from Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) was caught before the line
    Article published:
    May 26, 2011, 21:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Leopard Trek riders on Alpine training camp

    Andy Schleck has opted to forgo participating in the Tour of Luxembourg in order to focus on his preparation for the Tour de France. His brother Fränk will lead the Leopard Trek team in his home tour, which begins on June 1.

    After competing at the recent Amgen Tour of California, Andy Schleck decided to remove the Tour of Luxembourg from his programme, and as was the case in 2010, the Tour de Suisse will be his sole stage race in June.

    “When his programme was being made out, it still wasn’t certain that he would take part in the Tour of California,” Leopard Trek manager Kim Andersen told Le Quotidien. “Given that he was in the United States, going on to do a training camp, the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour de Suisse would have been a bit much. It would almost have been the equivalent of a Giro.”

    Schleck's main Tour rival Alberto Contador is currently dominating the Giro d'Italia, and reports from Spain suggest that the Court of Arbitration for Sport would not deliver a verdict on his Clenbuterol case before the start of the Tour.

    For their part, the Schleck brothers began a training camp in the Alps on Thursday as they reconnoiter some of the Tour's decisive stages in the company of teammates Linus Gerdemann, Jakob Fuglsang and Maxime Monfort.

    “Logically, they should all be part of it [Leopard Trek’s Tour line-up – ed.], so long as they’re in form,” Andersen said. “The aim is to go and discover the Alpine stages, which should be crucial. It’s now or never to do this kind of...

  • Video: Matt Wilson forced to quit the Giro d'Italia

    Matt Wilson (Garmin-Cervelo) heads to the sign on
    Article published:
    May 26, 2011, 22:35 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Australia struck by stomach virus

    Australia's Matt Wilson was the maglia nera or lanterne rouge of the Giro d'Italia for much of the last week but was forced to retire during Wednesday's stage due to a stomach virus.

    Wilson dug deep to get through the three mountain stages and especially Sunday's marathon stage to Gardeccia, in the hope of recovering during the rest day. But he was severely weakened by the virus and climbed off at the feed zone during the stage.

    His Garmin-Cervelo teammate Murilo Fischer also climbed off after suffering with the same virus. The American team is now down to five riders after already losing Brett Lancaster and Tyler Farrar.

  • Video: Shayne Bannan talks about the GreenEdge team

    Shayne Bannan posses in front of the Greenedge Cycling van.
    Article published:
    May 27, 2011, 3:14 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Australian manager leads official visit to the Giro d'Italia

    The Australian GreenEdge team is still under construction but management from the team is visiting the Giro d'Italia to allow several VIP and Australia media to get a taste for European grand tour racing. Directeur sportif Neil Stephens and Matt White were also spotted at the Giro d'Italia.

    General Manager Shayne Bannan gave Cyclingnews an update on how the construction of the team is progressing. The Australian team will officially open their European headquarters in Varese on Monday and also present the Scott bikes the team will use in 2012.

    Bannan played down the idea that the GreenEdge management was busy negotiating riders for 2012 even if several key Australian riders have apparently already agreed to join the team for 2012.

  • Pereiro back in cycling with a media role

    Oscar Pereiro talked with Cyclingnews' Jean Francois Quenet in Morbegno.
    Article published:
    May 27, 2011, 4:15 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    2006 Tour de France winner at Giro d’Italia after mountain bike event in Morocco

    Oscar Pereiro is back in the world of cycling less than ten months after taking part in his last professional race, the Tour of Poland, with Astana last year. He arrived at the Giro d’Italia on Monday to give comments on Spanish radio COPE.

    "I’ve signed a three years contract with COPE for the three Grand Tours", the winner of the 2006 Tour de France told Cyclingnews in Morbegno. Pereiro missed the first two weeks of the Giro because he was busy racing the Titan Desert, a mountain bike race in Morocco that has been contested in the past by former road champions Claudio Chiappucci, Laurent Jalabert and Abraham Olano.

    "There were about 500 participants and we did 600 kilometres in six days", Pereiro informed. "I won a stage and [former Vuelta winner] Roberto Heras won the overall classification."

    Pereiro, 34, acknowledged that he still rides his bike once or twice a week but struggles muscularly because cycling has become hardly compatible with the new sport he took up in December: football. "I play for Coruxo, a team of Second Division B", said the Spaniard. "That’s the sport I was doing when I was a kid. I play as left winger. I’m happy with what I’m doing now. I want to stay fit."

    Pereiro also gave his thoughts on the status of the Giro in world cycling.

    "The biggest race in the world remains the Tour de France because all the best riders on form do it very competitively", he said. "But for the spectacle, the Giro is more attractive. This has been a good one for Spanish riders so far but there is a huge difference between Alberto Contador and the other riders. The best cycling is when the leaders of general classification are separated by no more than thirty seconds. Here, there’s only a fight for second place."

    "I truly hope that Alberto and Andy Schleck will both be racing the Tour de France this year",...

  • Video: Downing talks about his breakaway attempt

    Russell Downing (Sky)
    Article published:
    May 27, 2011, 5:55 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton describes himself as 'an old engine that is just getting going'

    Russell Downing (Team Sky) knew the late climb during stage 18 to San Pellegrino Terme would be a test of his climbing legs but he still worked hard to get in the break that contested the stage and fought all the way to the finish.

    He was dropped on the Passo di Ganda near Bergamo but chased hard and then won the sprint for eighth place, beating Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini), Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Bram Tankink (Rabobank).

    Speaking to Cyclingnews, he admitted he had gone too deep on the climb but was pleased to still be in the action in third week of his first ever grand tour. He described himself as "an old engine that is just getting going."

  • Swiss lab director confirms meeting Bruyneel and Armstrong over "suspect" samples

    Article published:
    May 27, 2011, 10:04 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Armstrong defence attorney denies

    Martial Saugy, the current director of the renowned Swiss Anti-Doping laboratory in Lausanne, has confirmed that four of the urine samples taken at the 2001 Tour de Suisse were labeled "suspect" and that he later met with former US Postal sports director Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong to discuss details of the early EPO test method. It is the first time Saugy has reacted publicly to last week's accusations made by Tyler Hamilton, according to which the UCI and the Swiss laboratory covered up "suspect" samples of the seven-time Tour de France winner.

    Saugy, who was the lab's scientific director at the time, told Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung that he remembered four "suspect" samples from the 2001 Tour de Suisse but did not know whether they belonged to Armstrong.

    "They were taken at four different stages, so I don't know whether they were from four different riders or all of the same athlete," said Saugy. "But the tests were not covered up, and it is also not correct that they could have been interpreted as positive. They were suspect, and you wouldn't stand a chance at all with that sole argument in front of a court."

    It was during the 2001 season that the first anti-doping test for EPO was introduced, and the scientific community was still arguing on the validity of the test. "The Paris laboratory of Chatenay-Malabry fixed the criteria for a positive test result," he continued. "An athlete was positive only if 80 percent of the signs typical for the use of synthetic EPO were found."

    A sample was considered "suspect" when "it showed between 70 and 80 percent of the typical EPO parameters. That meant that the probability of doping was high. But because such a result can also be produced naturally, it was all about excluding false positives."

    In 2002, the Paris...

  • Devolder searching for form at Tour of Belgium

    Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) in action during the Tour of Belgium prologue
    Article published:
    May 27, 2011, 10:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Last year winner loses almost 16 minutes on road to Knokke-Heist

    Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) was bluntly honest in his assessment of his performance on stage one of the Tour of Belgium, as he came in over quarter of an hour down on winner André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

    Often criticised for missing crucial splits due to lapses in concentration, the Belgian champion admitted that he simply did not have the legs to stay at the front when crosswinds broke up the peloton with 50km to go.

    “I don’t need to look for excuses,” Devolder told Het Nieuwsblad at the finish. “It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention. I knew that there would be echelons, but I just wasn’t good enough to stay with the best.”

    A former teammate and close friend of the late Wouter Weylandt, Devolder has struggled to focus on training in the weeks since his tragic death on the descent of the Passo del Bocco, during stage three of the Giro d’Italia.

    “My life stopped for around two weeks,” Devolder said. “I’ve barely trained.”

    Winner of the Tour of Belgium twelve months ago, Devolder has ruled himself out of the reckoning for even a stage win on this occasion. Instead, he has limited his ambitions to finding some form as he seeks to make amends for a listless spring campaign.

    Signed by Vacansoleil-DCM at the end of 2010 to lead their charge in the cobbled classics, Devolder made little impact in April, and the 31-year-old will be looking to salvage something from the remainder of the season.

    “I don’t have many hopes for this Tour of Belgium, even for the stage to Eupen on...

  • Christina Watches looking to move up for Giro 2012

    Michael Blaudzun, Christina Hembo and Michael Rasmussen
    Article published:
    May 27, 2011, 10:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Rasmussen claims to have wish list of signings

    Michael Rasmussen and his team Christina Watches-Onfone continue to dream of being at the start of the Giro d'Italia in Denmark next year. The controversial Dane also claimed that his squad had ambitions of signing big name riders in a bid to strengthen their prospects.

    “If you had enough money, you could hire Denis Menchov,” Rasmussen told the Ritzau news agency. “It's certainly something we'd like, but there is great demand for such riders. That means you must have a great many millions if you want to sign riders of that calibre.

    “A rider of that level alone costs about 10 million a year. So you can quickly use up your budget.”

    This year's Giro is currently in northern Italy, near Rasmussen's home, but he has not yet had talks with the race management about the possibility of the team participating next year when the Giro starts in Herning, Denmark.

    “I know how stressful the people are at the Giro d'Italia. It is totally impossible to have a long serious conversation. This is something we can do after the Giro d'Italia.”

    The biggest problem that Christina Watches faces is that it must move up from Continental to Professional Continental ranking, which would mean a a significant increase in budget. The search for additional sponsors has begun, and Rasmussen is already making up his wish list of riders for the coming year.

    "I have a list on paper with the riders, which I would very much like to get. But there's a lot to fall into place,” he said, while refusing to name the names.