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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 10, 2009

Date published:
August 10, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Netherlands will only have six riders for Worlds road race

    The Dutch national team lead the peloton at the 2007 World Championships in Germany.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 12:55 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Head coach points finger at Dutch teams

    The Netherlands' cycling federation (KNWU) will only be able to select six riders to represent the country in next month's world championship road race after Dutch riders failed to return the nation to the top ten in world rankings. The head coach of the KNWU, Leo Van Vliet, has directed blame for the reduced Worlds representation at Dutch professional teams and, in particular, Rabobank, according a report published in De Telegraaf on Sunday.

    "As association coach I have however no influence on the performances of the Dutch riders in the large races," Van Vliet told the Dutch newspaper. "There are other people who have influence on that development, however."

    Dutch riders have failed to earn enough International Cycling Union (UCI) points to rank inside the top ten nations, which would have allowed them to start with nine riders on September 27 in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Underwhelming performances by Dutch riders - and the strength of Norweigian, British and American riders - at the Tour de France saw the nation slip from seventh to thirteenth on the UCI's world rankings during July.

    The fate of the reduced Dutch men's worlds team was sealed at the Tour of Poland this week as Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) claimed two stage wins and finished in third place overall on general classification. Boasson Hagen's performance has secured Norway's position inside the top ten in the UCI's world ranking and left it now impossible for the Dutch to get back inside the select group of nations before the World Championships.

    It has been 24 years since a Dutchman won the World championship. Joop Zoetemelk claimed the title at the1985 championships in Montello, Italy. Since then the nation's best result was in 1997 when Léon van Bon finished third behind France's Laurent Brochard and Denmark's Bo Hamburger in San Sebastián.

    Van Vliet lamented the handicap of taking a smaller squad into a tough Worlds...

  • Vinokourov cleared for return at Tour de l'Ain

    Alexandre Vinokourov will return to racing.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 17:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Kazakh says he is ready for return to top competition

    Alexandre Vinokourov will make his return to professional stage racing on Sunday in France as he starts the first stage of the Tour de l'Ain. The Kazakh rider was confirmed as a competitor in the race following the release of the final start list by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Saturday.

    The release of the UCI's start list for the race brings to an end speculation over whether Vinokourov would be allowed to start the in the Tour.

    He told French newspaper L'Equipe on Saturday that he is prepared for the return to top level competition. "In the last two years I have done a lot of riding," he said. "I have also completed altitude training in Tenerife."

    Despite racing in a French criterium on Tuesday, where he finished seventh, the Tour de l'Ain will be the first real test for Vinokourov since he completed a two-year ban for blood doping on July 23.

    The race includes nine ProTour squads, including Astana, with whom Vinokourov has been unable to reach agreement to race. Instead, Vinokourov leads a six-man Kazakh national team in the five-stage race.

    He finished the first stage in 81st place in the bunch sprint.

  • Burgos stage win good news for Danielson

    Tom Danielson took over the lead in the Vuelta a Burgos.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 17:41 BST
    Richard Tyler

    American overtaken by Valverde in overall, but still happy

    Tom Danielson's stage four win at the Vuelta a Burgos on Saturday was his first of the season and is a strong indication of a steady build up towards top form after a disrupted season. He came within seconds of hanging on to the overall victory, but lost time to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde on the final kilometre of the tough final climb, the hors categorie Lagunas de Neila.

    "[It was a] great battle with Valverde today. My team was flawless and I definitely felt very strong on the climb," Danielson remarked on Twitter. "Tactically Valverde played me very well. Hats off to him and a great ride by my team. Stage with and overall podium is something to be very happy with!"

    Danielson fell to third overall behind stage winner Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) and overall winner Valverde. Yet the stage win on Saturday was encouraging for the American who has had a difficult time living up to his early career's promise.

    “Today was a big test,” said Danielson after Saturday's stage win. “I have been working relentlessly on my condition as well as my head. It is nice to see what happens when both come together. The course was very challenging as it was a power course with a lot of wind."

    Danielson's win in the 15 kilometre individual time trial around Ribera del Duero led a Garmin-Slipstream one-two; teammate Danny Pate finished 10 seconds behind. The two American riders also moved into first and second on general classification as a result of their strong rides.

    "This result shows that I am a complete rider and I am coming into form," said Danielson. "I am very happy to say the least. To be leading the race is another bonus. However, right now I am just going to enjoy today and deal with tomorrow."

    Danielson led Valverde by just five seconds after the time trial on Saturday, and while the American clung to the Spaniard's wheel for the majority of the climb, an attack by...

  • Valverde aiming for overall glory at Vuelta a España

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 18:29 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Vuelta a Burgos a confidence boost for Spaniard

    Alejandro Valverde has described his overall victory at the Vuelta a Burgos on Sunday in Spain as an important step towards his next major goal: overall victory at the Vuelta a España.

    "I had the necessary forces and motivation to [win the overall today]," said Valverde. "It is very important for me because the Vuelta a España will start in less than three weeks."

    Valverde finished fourth on the final stage of Vuelta a Burgos and was able distance Tom Danielson with one kilometre remaining on the final climb to Laguna de Neila. Five seconds behind Danielson at the start of the stage, Valverde finished the five-stage race 0:12 ahead of the American, who slipped to third overall behind Xavier Tondo (Andalucía Cajasur).

    "Because I was only 5 seconds behind in the general classification, I knew that today's stage was a great opportunity to win the final classification," said Valverde. "But I also knew that it would not be easy because our rivals would fight to the end."

    Caisse d'Epargne had worked hard to control the final stage for Valverde to make his race-winning move. The former Spanish champion was quick to thank his teammates for their support throughout the race.

    "Just as they do every time, my teammates did a fantastic job to make things easier for me," he said. "I must thank them because it was on the final climb that I had to make the difference."

    Valverde said he will now aim to win his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España. In 2006 Valverde finished second behind Alexandre Vinokourov in the 2006 edition of the Vuelta a España, his highest finish at a Grand Tour.

    "I will keep on working to arrive at one hundred percent of my condition in Assen on August 29," he said. "There I will try to claim my first victory in a three-week major Tour."

    This year the Vuelta a España begins in Assen, The Netherlands. The race will commence with a 4.5 kilometre...

  • Walsh hits out at UCI over passport

    Some forms of blood doping can only be detected through the passports.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 21:09 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Author thinks sophisticated cheats are still ahead

    David Walsh, one of the sport's leading anti-doping fighters and chief sports writer for the Sunday Times has hit out at the UCI and the biological passport programme, saying that cycling's governing body is still some way short from catching the leading cheats.

    Walsh, author of, From Lance to Landis and LA Confidentiel told Cyclingnews, "The passport seemed like a good idea but I don't believe that the system can catch the sophisticated cheater. The evidence we have so far is that the guys towards the winning end of the classification in big races are still significantly ahead of the UCI's checks."

    Asked for evidence to back up these claims, Walsh pointed to Antoine Vayer, a former coach from the Festina team, who now analyses data from the Grand Tour's major climbs and rider's power outputs.

    "I look at the times and Vayer's take on it. He looked at this year's race: the speed, the speed on the climbs and he said ‘sorry, this sport has not seriously changed'. I'm sure it has changed to a degree but if it hasn't changed at the very top then it hasn't changed in the way we wanted it to."

    The biological passport, which is a record of every rider's blood profile, is paid for by the sport's professional teams at a cost € 5.3 million in 2008. The UCI spent over a year collecting data by testing riders in order to build up long-term profiles.

    The data is analysed by independent experts. It has already led to several doping cases being opened, with former Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca the highest profile case.

    The Italian's career now looks to be in tatters, but according to Walsh, cycling's purification lies with the sport's governance and not just the actions and behaviour of the riders.

    Attacking a lack of consistency by the UCI, Walsh pinpointed the body's president, Pat McQuaid, who had previously ruled out retesting of last year's drug test from the...

  • Stetina ready to step up to ProTour with Garmin

    Peter Stetina repeats as U23 national time trial champion.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 21:43 BST
    Peter Hymas

    US elite time trial champion itching to race a Grand Tour

    The Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin squad is in its second year as the official farm team for the Garmin-Slipstream ProTour squad, and have already enjoyed ample success in the US professional scene. Having swept the titles at the US elite national championships, some of the riders will graduate to the sport's top tier next year.

    Elite time trial champion Peter Stetina is one of the riders who will join Garmin-Slipstream next season. He signed a two-year contract and is already looking forward to moving overseas to Europe and perhaps taking on his first Grand Tour.

    "I'll be in Girona most likely, or somewhere in Spain. I like Spain a lot, I can speak Spanish. I haven't really talked to anyone about a schedule. I think they foresee me as being a stage racer and a climber so I think they'll be putting me in climbing stage races like Tour of the Basque Country and that kind of stuff. Maybe Paris-Nice would be fun in the early season.

    "My goal next year is to complete a Grand Tour so I think it's either going to be the Giro or the Vuelta. If I'm riding well enough then I think I'll get chosen for that. My goal is to finish one of those and get my feet wet."

    Stetina was one of the first riders to join the developmental team started by Jonathan Vaughters.

    "I've been riding for Jonathan since I was 15 years old," said Stetina. "I was one of the original guys when it was just a local Colorado team. He's always kind of believed in me and kept me on the team from year to year even when I've had a couple of bad seasons. He's given me a slot and the chance to show that I'm strong enough. He brought me up. "

    Stetina already got a taste of riding with his future teammates when both teams rode together at the pre-season training camp in Boulder, Colorado.

    "I have a bit more contact with them because I trained with them in the past," said Stetina. "I was on the pro team in 2007 before they had the...

  • UCI: Valverde free to race until CAS decides his appeal

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) won the Dauphiné Libéré for the second year in a row.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2009, 23:27 BST
    Shane Stokes

    McQuaid hoping for decision before Vuelta

    Over a month after being told he was not welcome in the Tour de France, Alejandro Valverde topped a victory podium again when he won the Vuelta a Burgos. The Spanish Caisse d'Epargne rider got clear of race leader Tom Danielson (Garmin Slipstream) on the final climb of the race and eked out enough of an advantage to finish twelve seconds ahead of him in the general classification.

    However many are wondering how he is still racing, given what CONI (The Italian Olympic Committee) says is clear evidence that he was involved in Operación Puerto. It said that DNA tests carried out proved that Valverde's blood was stored by Eufemiano Fuentes, and that he is the rider known as Valv. Piti.

    CONI has banned him from racing in Italy and this ruling preventing him from being able to take part in the Tour de France, as stage 16 of the race crossed into Italian territory. Valverde requested permission to start the race and to ride the first fifteen stages, but Tour organisers ASO said that he was not welcome.

    Both WADA and the UCI have indicated that they want disciplinary action taken against Valverde, who could face a worldwide ban. However the Spanish federation refused to take the case further.

    This, according to UCI President Pat McQuaid, is why Valverde is still competing. "The UCI/WADA appeal against the decision of RFEC not to proceed against Vaverde is still outstanding with CAS," he told Cyclingnews on Sunday. "Also, the Valverde appeal against the CONI decision is still with CAS. Until those processes are concluded, he is free to race."

    McQuaid will be hoping that WADA can make a ruling prior to the start of the Vuelta a España. If the Spaniard is successful in the race but is then served with a worldwide ban, it would bring a lot of negative attention to the race.

    For his part, Valverde will also hope for a resolution, although clearly he'll be hoping CAS supports his side of...