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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 29, 2013

Date published:
July 29, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Basso shows his form at the Tour of Poland

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale) returns after his difficult spring caused by a saddle sore
    Article published:
    July 28, 2013, 17:40 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian targets the Vuelta podium, reveals some power data

    Ivan Basso's season has been disrupted by a nasty saddle sore and suggestions that he is past his best but the veteran Italian is determined to bounce back and prove his critics wrong with a successful second part of the season.

    The 35-year-old Italian was forced to miss the Giro d'Italia due to a golf-ball sized saddle sore and spent four weeks off the bike. However since then he has been training hard and is convinced he can finish on the podium at the Vuelta a España that starts on August 25. Basso last rode the Vuelta in 2009, finishing fourth after serving his ban for blood doping and links to Dr. Fuentes.

    Basso finished fifth on the opening stage of the Tour of Poland on Saturday and was equally as strong on Sunday, crossing the line just a few seconds behind new race leader Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff). He is 11th in the general classification, 20 seconds from the yellow jersey.

    "My season been like riding against a headwind so far but I don’t think anyone is pessimistic about what I can do. I'm not lowering my ambitions," he told Gazzetta dello Sport recently.

    "My season starts again with the Tour of Poland and I'm convinced that after the Vuelta people will have changed their opinions. I don’t know if I'll win in Spain but I think I'll finish in the top three overall."

    Back in the top five and some pseudo science

    Basso hadn't secured a top five finish since winning the Japan Cup last October to end Liquigas sponsorship of the team. He was pleased to see his name in the results again.

    "It gives me a lot of faith for the racing to come," he said. "It shows I'm on the right road.

    "The Tour of Poland is a hard race, with the two Dolomite...

  • Zabel admits to doping from 1996 to 2003

    Erik Zabel won an incredible six consecutive green jerseys at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 28, 2013, 18:36 BST
    Cycling News

    German sprinter utilised EPO, cortisone and blood doping

    Having previously stated he'd only doped once in his career, Erik Zabel told German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung that his doping regimen extended from 1996 through 2003 in an interview to be published on Monday.

    Zabel was recently identified as one of the riders who tested positive for EPO at the 1998 Tour de France, which was at odds with his confession in 2007, along with Rolf Aldag, that he'd only used EPO during the first week of the 1996 Tour. Now, the 43-year-old German admits to a much more extensive utilisation of doping products.

    "EPO, cortisone, then even blood doping. It was a whole lot," Zabel told Süddeutsche Zeitung.

    Zabel related that he started doping in 1996 with EPO, then moved to blood doping once EPO became detectable.

    "In 2003 I got a re-infusion before the Tour de France," said Zabel.

    Zabel is sorry for having lied at the 2007 press conference where he had stated that he only doped during the 1996 Tour de France but had stopped immediately due to the side-effects of EPO.

    "Above all I wanted to keep my life, my dream job as a pro cyclist," said Zabel. "I loved it so much, this sport, the traveling. This egoism, it was simply stronger."

    Zabel rode professionally from 1993 to 2008. He won the green jersey at the Tour de France six consecutive times, from 1996 to 2001, plus won 12 stages at the French Grand Tour. Since 2012 he has been a coach at Team Katusha.

  • Chavanel considering his options for 2014

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) drives the pace as the Belgian team split the peloton in strong crosswinds
    Article published:
    July 28, 2013, 20:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Talented Frenchman concerned about his role at Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    Sylvain Chavanel has revealed that he may not stay with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in 2014 after receiving several offers, including one from Ag2r-La Mondiale.

    The multi-talented Frenchman has been with the Belgian team for five seasons, targeting the Classics and the Tour de France with success. He is the current French national time trial champion plus won two stages at the 2010 Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for two days.

    He played a key role in Omega Pharma-Quick Step's successful Tour de France, helping Mark Cavendish win in Saint-Amand-Montrond after echelons formed in the final part of the stage. He went on the attack on several stages, including on Bastille Day, but missed out on a personal stage win.

    Chavanel's consistency, huge public support in France and his haul of UCI points make him a important signing for any team.

    He would like to stay with Omega Pharma-Quick Step but is worried about his role and opportunities in the team. The Belgian squad has reportedly strengthened Cavendish's lead-out train by hiring Mark Renshaw and secured Rigoberto Uran as the team's Grand Tour contender.

    "It's new for me not to have ended the Tour de France without knowing what I will do next season but I'm not worried," Chavanel told French newspaper La Nouvelle République.

    "I've got several proposals, one of the French team AG2R La Mondiale. I've been with Omega Pharma-Quick Step for five years now. The management want me to stay and I'd like it but we've got see what specific role they want to give me. I'm going to make my decision within a fortnight."

  • Riblon: King of the queen stages

    Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) soloed to victory in stage 2 at the Tour of Poland after dropping his breakaway companions on the ascent to Passo Pordoi
    Article published:
    July 28, 2013, 21:20 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Alpe d'Huez winner triumphs on Passo Pordoi at Tour of Poland

    When it rains it pours for Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) as the 32-year-old Frenchman has claimed two huge stage victories in the space of 10 days at two national Tours, the Tour de France and the Tour of Poland.

    After not winning a race for three years, Riblon first prevailed on the queen stage of the Tour de France, replete with the historic double ascent of Alpe d'Huez in a single stage. Part of the early break in the Tour's 18th stage, Riblon soloed to victory on the historic summit after chasing down and passing fellow breakaway companion Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in the closing kilometres of the second ascent of Alpe d'Huez. Three years to the day after his previous victory, also at the Tour de France, Riblon scored the biggest win of his life in the Tour's endgame and provided France with its sole stage win of the 2013 Tour. At the Tour's conclusion Riblon was also honoured as the most combative rider of this year's race.

    Riblon was supposed to take a break after the Tour de France, but due to his teammate Jean-Christophe Peraud breaking his collarbone in stage 17 Riblon took Peraud's place on the AG2R La Mondiale roster for the Tour of Poland, which started six days after the Tour's conclusion in Paris. The first two stages of the Tour of Poland took place outside of Poland's borders in the Italian Dolomites and after finishing 29th on the first mountain finish, claimed by Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) from a 15-man lead group, Riblon's Tour de France fitness kicked in on Sunday's second stage, culminating with a summit finish on the Passo Pordoi.

    Once again Riblon found himself in the day's early break and was among the lead group of six which reached the base of the...

  • Majka returns home in Tour of Poland leader's jersey

    Rafa Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) is the new Tour of Poland leader and will be resplendent in yellow when the racing resumes on Tuesday in his home nation.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2013, 0:41 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Saxo-Tinkoff Pole earns yellow in Italian Dolomites

    Sunday marked the first time in Rafa Majka's nascent professional career that he earned a leader's jersey in a stage race and the 23-year-old Pole's timing couldn't be better as the Tour of Poland wrapped up its two-day sojourn in the Italian Dolomites and will resume on Tuesday on Polish soil in Krakow. The Saxo-Tinkoff Pole had two solid days in the Dolomites, with a third place finish on Saturday as part of a 15-rider lead group on the Madonna di Campiglio summit finish followed today with a fifth place finish on the Passo Pordoi.

    With stage 1 winner and Tour of Poland leader Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) as well as stage 1 runner-up Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) both faltering on the second straight day in the mountains, the stage was set for Majka to move into the yellow jersey which he did by the slim margin of four seconds ahead of Sergio Henao (Sky), third overall at the 2012 Tour of Poland. Stage 2 winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) holds third overall at six seconds.

    With five stages still remaining, all in Majka's native Poland, the top of the general classification is still tight with the first 11 riders separated by just 20 seconds, but most importantly for Majka when racing resumes on Tuesday's stage 3, 226km from Kraków to Rzeszów, he'll be resplendent in the leader's yellow jersey.

    "I am very happy to have the leader's jersey and to be the best Pole in the race for now," said Majka. "It means a lot to me. I like the idea of arriving in Poland with this jersey on my back. It's important for me and for the team, which worked a lot for me today."

    "Trentino and the Dolomites have given us two extraordinary...

  • Henao into second overall at Tour de Pologne

    Sergio Henao (Sky) pushes the pace on the climb to the finish
    Article published:
    July 29, 2013, 5:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Wiggins finding his legs as domestique

    Sergio Henao is yet another Sky rider to throw his hat in the GC ring after a fourth place finish in the gruelling stage 2 queen stage of the Tour of Poland. With breakaway riders filling the top three places on the day, Henao surged ahead to be best of the rest and cement a small lead over fellow GC rivals.

    Earlier in the day an all star cast breakaway of 16 riders, including Giro d'Italia Champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and recent Alpe d'Huez stage winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), went clear with the gap settling at five minutes.

    Following a struggle to defend the lead of overnight leader Diego Ulissi the Lampre-Merida receded as Team Sky enacted yet another successful plan.

    Team Sky Sports Director Dan Hunt indicated that work done by 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins was crucial in setting up Henao's success.

    "It was a super ride by Sergio today, supported really well by Brad – right up until the last climb," he said. "Sergio looked really strong and he's in a great position now."

    Aside from teamwork, Hunt asserted that Henao was ably assisted by the tough parcours set by the Tour of Poland organisers.

    "That was hard. Over 5000 metres of climbing with three cat one climbs back-to-back. You just went down one but up another. The first one, Passo Pampeago, was absolutely brutal. The peloton was in bits. It smashed the whole race apart. The second climb was tough but Sergio was good on there. The Colombia squad set a decent tempo.

    "Then onto the final climb Brad made sure Sergio had everything he needed and from there on he did great."

    Aside from the race on the road, it is the logistical...

  • Zabel: Nobody forced me to take EPO

    Erik Zabel won the green jersey six straight years. This one was the Tour de France 2001
    Article published:
    July 29, 2013, 10:22 BST
    Cycling News

    German admits partial doping confession of 2007 was "a mistake"

    The French Senate Commission's anti-doping report, which included a list of riders who tested positive or suspicious for EPO use at the 1998 Tour de France, has branded German sprinter Erik Zabel a liar. He confessed six years ago to having tried EPO one time, in 1996, but now in light of the positive test a year later, he has finally admitted to having doped from 1996 through at least 2003.

    It all started in 1996, he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “As a young rider I didn't really think about what a big step it was. But it was clear: I knew clearly that it was not allowed, and nobody forced me to take EPO. It was my own decision.”

    Zabel added, “I never had a structured doping plan, never had any experts around me, and so never saw myself as a superdoper. I only had recommendations.”

    He did not name any teammates who also doped at that Tour, saying “there are enough reports as to how it was then. But I can only speak concretely for myself.”

    Zabel admitted that in 1997 “I myself took EPO before the Tour started and throughout the whole race.”

    This contradicts his 2007 confession that he tried EPO only during the first week of the 1996 Tour and stopped because of the side effects. That confession was complete with tears when he talked about his then-9-year-old son.

    He now regrets that. “That was a really stupid mistake, I knew that on my way home.” Son Rick, who turns 20 in December, is on the verge of a professional career, as he will ride for BMC Racing Team as of next year.

    “I demand things from him that I myself have never been able to do. I...

  • Tinkov withdrawal will not alter Contador's plans

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    July 29, 2013, 11:19 BST
    Cycling News

    No Vuelta a España defence, says Saxo DS

    Oleg Tinkov’s impending withdrawal as a backer of the Saxo-Tinkoff team will not alter Alberto Contador’s late-season plans and the Spaniard will not defend his Vuelta a España title, according to directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit.

    After finishing fourth at the Tour de France, Contador immediately ruled out the possibility of lining up at the Vuelta, only for Saxo-Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis to insist that a final decision had not yet been reached.

    Speaking to Biciciclismo after Contador’s appearance at the Clásica San Sebastian (where he finished 46th), Saxo directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit confirmed that the two-time Vuelta winner will not be on the start line in Vilanova de Arousa on August 24.

    “This week we spoke with Bjarne and Alberto, and we’ll continue with what we had planned,” Mauduit said.

    Contador is due to participate in the Critérium de Lacq near Pau on Monday evening and the Critérium de Castillon-la-Bataille on Tuesday but is not expected to make another competitive appearance until the Grand-Prix Ouest France in Plouay on September 1.

    L’Équipe reports that Contador may also take part in the two Canadian WorldTour races, the GP de Québec on September 13 and the GP de Montréal on September 15.

    Contador’s Tour de France performance had been publicly criticised by Oleg Tinkov, owner of Tinkoff Bank, early last week, with the Russian taking to social media to claim the rider’s “salary doesn’t match his performance.”

    On Thursday, Bjarne Riis issued...