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First Edition Cycling News, March 21, 2009

Date published:
March 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Ireland gets RAAM-like event

    Article published:
    March 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Ireland is getting its own Race Across America-like ultra-endurance race in September with the...

    Ireland is getting its own Race Across America-like ultra-endurance race in September with the inaugural 1,350 mile Race Around Ireland Challenge. The non-stop event will loop around the country past some of Ireland's most famous landmarks and cross the country's highest mountains with 23,000m of lung-busting climbs.

    "This is designed to be one of the most gruelling cycling challenges in the world," read a statement from organizers.

    The course will not be closed to traffic and will have no aid stations. Racers will have to arrange their own support. It will start and finish in Navan, Co. Meath and travel through no less than 22 counties. Some of the highlights of the course include Newgrange, Giants Causeway, Malin Head, Connemara, The Burren, Ring of Kerry, Mizen Head, Carrick on Suir and the Wicklow Mountains.

    The race is sanctioned by the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA), which has placed the event on its International World Cup Series. It is the second longest event in its calendar after the legendary Race Across America.

    Solo, four-person and eight-person teams may compete, and solo racers will be required to ride at least 22 hours per day for four days. World number one ranked cyclist Caroline van den Bulk of Canada has already signed up.

    The race is being organized in association with Navan Road Club and the Irish Sports Academy. For more information, visit www.racearoundireland.com.

  • New Zealand mountain bikers aim for the top at Oceania Championships

    Article published:
    March 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    A 25 strong team of New Zealand's elite and junior mountain bike athletes are in Thredbo, Australia,...

    A 25 strong team of New Zealand's elite and junior mountain bike athletes are in Thredbo, Australia, this weekend competing at the 2009 Oceania Mountain Bike Championships. The team comprises 18 cross country and seven downhill athletes, with competition scheduled for Saturday for the cross country and Sunday for the downhill at the popular, chairlift-serviced resort in New South Wale's Kosciuszko National Park.

    At stake in the Oceania Championships are spots for the New Zealand National Team for the 2009 UCI World Championships. As extra motivation, any athlete who wins a title in their category automatically qualifies themselves as an additional position for their country at the World Championships.

    Lower Hutt's Stu Houltham, fresh from winning his sixth New Zealand National Championship elite cross country title, will renew his rivalry with Mangakino's Mike Northcott in Thredbo. Houltham and Northcott have traded wins all summer during the New Zealand Cup and will be looking to not only gain the upper hand over each other but will also work together to counter some of Australia's best cross country racers.

    A strong elite women's field will also be on course Saturday with Christchurch athletes Sara Taylor and Jeanette Gerrie, Hokitika's Cathy Hamer and Dunedin's Sara MacDonald all seeking a top performance.

    2009 Under 23 New Zealand cross country National Champion Ashley Hough will be well supported by Rotorua's Scott Green, with first year Under 23 athlete and 2008 World Champs representative Samara Sheppard looking for a win on Australian soil after an up and down domestic, summer season. Three Under 19 athletes will take on Oceania's best on Saturday; Adrian Retief is going into this event with high hopes and confidence, after a very solid third place at the Australian National Championships at the end of January.

    The downhill component of the team carries a strong development aspect in the form of the Under 19 athletes. Elite...

  • CSF Group-Navigare back in the saddle for Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali

    Article published:
    March 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    CSF Group-Navigare riders will race the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali starting on March...

    CSF Group-Navigare riders will race the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali starting on March 24 and running through March 28. The UCI 2.1-ranked stage race will take place in the areas of Rimini, Ravenna, Bologna, Reggio Emilia and Modena. The team will be extra motivated as the race passes through the region where some of its sponsors are located and also where director sportif Roberto Reverberi's family lives.

    Abel Richeze and Tiziano Dall'Antonia are looking forward to possible sprint finishes, while Domenico Pozzovivo, Mauro Finetto and Fortunato Baliani are aiming for strong GC results with the hilly stages like the ones ending in Faenza and Sassuolo. The finish in Serramazzoni may see a breakaway succeed, so riders like Marco Frapporti, Federico Canuti and Alan Marangoni will be ready to take advantage of any such opportunities.

    CSF Group-Navigare for Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali: Domenico Pozzovivo, Fortunato Baliani, Federico Canuti, Tiziano Dall'Antonia, Alan Marangoni, Mauro Abel Richeze, Marco Frapporti, Mauro Finetto under directors Roberto Reverberi and Giuseppe Lanzoni

    Lastras off for two weeks

    Caisse d'Epargne's Pablo Lastras will have to rest for the next 15 days before he can resume riding again on his home trainer. X-rays taken at a hospital in Madrid confirmed that Lastras, a victim of a crash during the fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, suffered a fracture of his second, upper right rib.

    "I will respect this period of inactivity which is very important so that the mending of the rib happen perfectly and not compromise my participation in the 100th Giro d'Italia, which is the main goal of my season," Lastras said Friday.

  • Austrian cyclist arrested for dealing in doping products

    Italian Damiano Cunego previews 2009 Giro d'Italia stages
    Article published:
    March 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    An Austrian cyclist has become the first athlete to be arrested in the country for dealing in doping...

    An Austrian cyclist has become the first athlete to be arrested in the country for dealing in doping products. The case is said to involve EPO and testosterone.

    The name of the rider was not released, but according to the Kurier newspaper, it is a 32-year-old who rides on the national level, in which he is highly ranked.

    Public prosecutor Gerhard Jarosch confirmed to the Kurier that "the gentleman is in custody". He added that the rider is suspected of obtaining doping material from a pharmacist and passing it on to others, over an extended period of time. If found guilty, he could face up to five years imprisonment.

    According to oe24.at, the case concerns extensive dealing with EPO and testosterone. The website quotes Jarosch as saying, "This isn't just about a few pills, but a lot more."

    The pharmacist was also arrested, but according to oe24.at, the two arrests "are just the tip of the iceberg", with "numerous athletes from many sports" involved.

    Otto Flum, the president of the Österreichischer Radsport Verband (ÖRV, national federation), noted that the arrest did not stem from a doping control "but in an action by the Kriminalpolizei (federal police)," and the ÖRV is not in any way involved.

    "Apparently we still have in our ranks incorrigible, stupid athletes, who continue to throw us back in our fight against doping," Flum continued. "This case surely does not help our sport, and especially the races, the teams and everyone involved."

    Cunego to lead Lampre-NGC at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali

    Damiano Cunego will return to racing at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali from March 24 to 28. The Lampre-NGC rider will be there with the teammates who accompanied him during his recent training on Tenerife Island: Marco Marzano, Mauro Santambrogio and Paolo Tiralongo. Pietro Caucchioli, Francesco Gavazzi, Andrea Grendene and Volodymyr...

  • King Armstrong holds court in Milan's Castello Sforzesco

    Armstrong spoke to the press on the eve of Milano-Sanremo
    Article published:
    March 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    By Gregor Brown Lance Armstrong is on the eve of his return to racing in Europe. The American from...

    By Gregor Brown

    Lance Armstrong is on the eve of his return to racing in Europe. The American from Texas arrived at Milan's Castello Sforzesco Friday to hold a press conference one day before the 298-kilometre Milano-Sanremo, three years and eight months since he ended his career at the 2005 Tour de France.

    The team Astana rider, 37, started his comeback journey in the fall of 2008 with some local races, but he pinned on his race number for the first time at the Tour Down Under in January. In February, he continued his racing programme in the Tour of California, but the Milano-Sanremo is the first time he is racing in an event that is so much a part of cycling's history.

    Armstrong retired from the sport immediately after his seventh Tour de France victory. In his post-cancer career he excelled in stage races, not one-day races, although he did race a few of them. His last one was the 2005 Ronde van Vlaanderen, and his last appearance at Milano-Sanremo was in 2002.

    "My first Milano-Sanremo was in 1993, with Motorola," said Armstrong. "I remember it well, even if I was not a factor because I was there to work for Max Sciandri."

    "I think it is my sixth or seventh time here [at Milano-Sanremo]. For me it represents a lot of the history and beauty in cycling. It has a certain mystique. Unfortunately, I could not do the Tour of Flanders because of scheduling, but I wanted to do more Classics."

    "It is good for training as well. It is hard to go out and do 300 kilometres in training."

    What follows are some of the questions asked by members of the press attending the conference and Armstrong's replies.

    What is your main ambition?

    Lance Armstrong: I want to have a good and safe day. We know this race can be dangerous. If there are 30 or 40 guys in the end, I hope I am there with them. This race was never my strong suit, but I hope to be somewhat...