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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 22, 2010

Date published:
March 22, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Neben returns to Redlands Bicycle Classic

    Amber Neben is protected by her USA National Team teammates.
    Article published:
    March 21, 2010, 17:49 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Dare To Be Project expands in 2010

    Amber Neben will begin her racing state-side season as a guest rider for the BMW-Bianchi Elite Cycling Team at the Redlands Bicycle Classic set to take place from March 25-28 in California. The former UCI World Time Trial Champion will focus on a lighter race calendar this year to allow time to launch her latest charity endeavor, The Dare To Be Project.

    "I'm really thankful that the BMW-Bianchi team found a space for me and will be taking me in for the week during Redlands," said Neben who won the overall title on two occasions. "Hopefully we can have some fun. I have no idea what to expect form-wise but it's a local race, and it's good to go race hard early in the year to bring the top end fitness around."

    Neben recently won a stage of the Tour of New Zealand while racing under the US National Team. She admitted that her form is a little behind as she is still recovering from a broken hand sustained at the World Championships held in Mendrisio, Switzerland last September.

    "I need to recover a little bit longer so I decided not to race in San Dimas and instead start in Redlands," Neben said. "As soon as I get the national team schedule dialed down, I can start adding in more US racing. With most of the American stuff, I will look for a team to jump in with."

    Neben found herself in a bind when her German-based squad Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung's new sponsor Skyter GmbH backed out of its funding obligation in December. The team's top riders included Neben, Trixi Worrack, Charlotte Becker and Nicole Cooke, all forced to look for a contract elsewhere.

    The collapse of what would have been called the Skyter World Team left Neben, a former time trial World Champion and two-time winner of the Tour de L'Aude, without a team for the 2010 season.

    "It happened so late that all the other teams were full," Neben said. "Myself, Cooke and Trixi were all in the same situation. I think we are going to end up racing for our...

  • RadioShack not invited to 2010 Giro d'Italia

    Lance Armstrong surrounded by his Radioshack team.
    Article published:
    March 21, 2010, 19:55 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Riccò facing spell in "quarantine" and unlikely to be at Amsterdam start

    The organizers of the Giro d'Italia RCS Sport will announce the teams invited to ride this year's race on Monday, but Lance Armstrong's RadioShack squad will not be amongst them. There also seems little chance that Riccardo Riccò will be welcomed back to this year's Giro, despite his ban for doping ending on March 18.

    In recent weeks, RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel had publicly hoped the RadioShack team would be invited to the Giro. However with Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer targeting the Tour of California at the same time as the Giro, the US-registered team failed to convince the Giro organisers they deserved a place and did not push particularly hard to have a team in the race.

    "On Monday, we're going to announce 22 teams, but RadioShack won't be in the race," race director Angelo Zomegnan told Cyclingnews when asked about the teams expected to line up in Amsterdam for the start of the Giro on May 8.

    Lance Armstrong rode the centenary edition of the Giro d'Italia in 2009 with the Astana team. It was his first ever start in the Giro, but his special relationship with Zomegnan seems to have soured following the rider protest over safety concerns during the Milan circuit stage.

    Armstrong was brought into the protest by other riders but Zomegnan seemed to publicly chastise him, telling the Associated Press, "There's a certain age at which your legs start to get shorter and your tongue longer."

    Armstrong was due to ride Milan-San Remo on Saturday, perhaps to help RadioShack secure a place in the Giro d'Italia, but pulled out less than 24 hours before the start. The team said in a press release that he was suffering from gastroenteritis.

    Riccò: persona non grata

    On Friday La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, which is part of the same RCS media company that organises the Giro d'Italia, claimed that Riccardo Riccò (and perhaps as a...

  • Xacobeo Galicia ready for 2010 ProTour debut

    One of the Xacobeo Galicia riders a bit out of his element in the Netherlands.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2010, 9:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mosquera sees Catalunya as vital preparation

    As the ProTour moves back to Spain today with the start of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Spanish Professional Continental outfit Xacobeo Galicia is ready to makes its 2010 debut in the series.

    Having ridden the Volta ao Algarve and the Clasica de Almeria, team captain Ezequiel Mosquera says that although he's anticipating the event it probably doesn't suit his strengths.

    "My intention is to test [myself] in the Volta a Catalunya but this year the race route is not exactly one I favour," said Mosquera.

    "There are no summit finishes and the climbs are second and third category, although there is one of first category [climb] on the second day of racing, so I think it is a race more suited route to other riders. Anyway, it's clear that I won't waste any opportunities that come my way," he added.

    The team performed admirably in both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España last season, securing the teams classification in the latter race and helping Mosquera to fifth overall in Madrid.

    The squad, lead by experienced manager Alvaro Pino, will be aiming for a similar storyline this season, with this week's event in the Catalunya region an important stepping stone to another ride in this year's Giro.

    It will then head to the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Vuelta a Castilla y León, which will likely see the team line up against the likes of Lance Armstrong and 2009 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador.

    The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya starts today in Lloret de Mar with a 3.6-kilometer prologue.

    Xacobeo Galicia for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya: Ezequiel Mosquera, Gustavo C. Veloso, Delio Fernandez, Serafin Martinez, Gonzalo Rabuñal, Marcos Garcia, Rodrigo Garcia and Jose Antonio de Segovia.

  • Greipel not happy with Milan-San Remo exclusion

    Andre Greipel clearly very pleased with his performance today.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2010, 9:56 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    HTC-Columbia's German sprinter to head to Giro d'Italia

    After missing out on a place in the HTC-Columbia squad for Milan-San Remo, Andre Greipel has expressed his displeasure with what he perceives to be second-billing on the team when he has outshone his British teammate, Mark Cavendish, so far this year.

    Greipel opened the season by winning three stages, the points jersey and the overall title at the Tour Down Under. Since then he has won the Trofeo Magalluf-Palmanova at the Mallorca Challenge, and a stage at the Volta ao Algarve, giving him six wins so far on the year. His wins in Australia made him the first leader in the International Cycling Union (UCI) rankings, in which he is currently second.

    Cavendish, on the other hand, has had suffered with severe dental problems and crashed several times. He is yet to bring in any results from the few races in which he has appeared.

    Nevertheless, HTC-Columbia took Cavendish to Milan-San Remo, and have named him as their protected sprinter for the Tour de France.

    Greipel believes he should have ridden La Classicissima, telling “That was a real blow for me. My riding hasn't been so bad that I didn't deserve to start.”

    Greipel didn't even watch the race, instead taking his young family to the zoo. “You have to take advantage of days like this, if you aren't even nominated.

    “Cavendish is having his problems right now. I have ridden some good races,” Greipel continued. “When it comes down to a sprint, you can count on me.”

    The team has made it clear, at least to Greipel, that Cavendish is its number one, and he sees this as an indication that he – once again – won't be nominated for the Tour de France. “I have been satisfied with the team so far, but when I wasn't even at the start of Milan-San Remo, then I have to figure that I will be making my summer vacation on the Baltic Sea.”

    Team manager Rolf Aldag would not...

  • Sastre returns to racing after eight months off

    Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Cervélo)
    Article published:
    March 22, 2010, 11:08 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Spaniard fine-tunes for Giro d'Italia in Catalunya

    Carlos Sastre will return to racing for the first time in eight months at the Tour of Catalunya on Monday. The Cervélo TestTeam rider has not raced since finishing 17th in the Tour de France last July.

    “It's the only race I'm going to ride before the Giro d'Italia and I'll use it to see how my training is going and what I have to improve on to arrive at the Giro in the best condition," the Spaniard explained to Europa Press. "It is a very important test for me, because I can see everything I have done well or what I still need to do.”

    Catalunya “has always been a demanding race,” the 2008 Tour de France winner continued. “I decided to be here this year because I think it can give me the chance I am looking for, which is to be at the start of the Giro in the best condition.”

    While Sastre did not elaborate on why he has stayed out of racing for so long, he gave an indication, saying, “I've regained the spark and desire to race and compete.”

    Last year, Sastre finished fourth in the Giro d'Italia, moving up to third after Danilo Di Luca was disqualified for doping. He started his  Tour de France title defence strongly, but faded in the race's final week, eventually finishing 17th overall. 26:21 behind overall winner Alberto Contador.

    After reviewing the routes of the three Grand Tours for 2010, Sastre announced in December that he would concentrate his efforts on the Giro d'Italia. However, he subsequently added the Tour de France to his list of priorities.

  • Wiggins out of Catalunya

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at the head of the peloton.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2010, 11:21 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Pauwels to replace ill Sky captain for Spanish race

    Bradley Wiggins has been forced out of this week's Tour of Catalunya due to a stomach infection. Despite his illness, the Briton's Sky team is confident the disruption to his race programme will not affect his preparation for the 2010 Tour de France.

    "Unfortunately, Bradley wasn't able to race in Spain this week, but we’re going to assess the situation quickly and adjust his race programme so that nothing is jeopardized," said Sky's Principal Dave Brailsford.

    Wiggins, 29, has shown strong condition this season, including third overall at the Tour of Murcia earlier this month. While Sky are yet to indicate when he will return to competition, Brailsford said he didn't expect the team's major hope for a high overall finish at the Tour de France to face a long period on the sidelines.

    "He has already proven this year that he is well on his way form-wise so we’ll be able to get him back into our race programme fairly easy. It’s not uncommon that riders have to struggle with illness at this part of the season, but luckily Bradley has already been able to build up a lot form, so this won’t be a setback," said Brailsford.

    Belgian Serge Pauwels has replaced Wiggins in Sky's line-up for the Tour of Catalunya.

  • Valverde denies naming teammate in CAS appeal

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    March 22, 2010, 13:14 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Spaniard adamant Puerto defence did not include names of other riders

    Alejandro Valverde has denied implicating a former Kelme teammate in the Spanish doping investigation Operación Puerto, during the course of his appeal against a two-year ban from racing in Italy.

    Valverde's appeal against the ban, enforced by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), was last week rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Spanish media sources alleged that Valverde's legal team had attempted to attribute the blood bag linked to their client, marked '18 Valve. Piti', to another rider who remains in the professional peloton. The two were teammates in 2002 with Kelme-Costa Blanca.

    "Alejandro Valverde has never accused any rider forming part of the peloton and, as a consequence, what [has been] written in relation to that point is totally wrong," read a statement released by representatives of Valverde on Sunday.

    "Mr. Valverde’s lawyers limited themselves exclusively to defend the rider’s interests and they never made such accusations against the cyclist mentioned in the [Spanish] newspapers."

    The statement acknowledged that a witness called during the CAS hearing had declared that the bag marked '18' could be attributed to another rider, but refuted any suggestion that one had been specifically named during the proceedings.

    "A witness called to declare in the hearing that took place in front of the CAS let it be known that among the archives of the Operacion Puerto there was a file with number '18' that could correspond to a cycling rider which is not Mr. Valverde."

    The CAS's decision to uphold the CONI ban means Valverde will continue to be excluded from competition in Italy until May 2011. However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has already indicated that it will look to have CONI's ban extended worldwide.

    Valverde's last race in Italy was the 2008 World...

  • BMC confirmed for Giro d'Italia

    World champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) shares a word with Angelo Zomegnan.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2010, 13:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    22 teams named for Italian Grand Tour

    Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport announced today the names of 22 teams which will participate in this year's opening Grand Tour. 15 ProTour teams and seven wild cards from the Professional Continental ranks will contest the three-week race which begins in Amsterdam on May 8.

    The BMC team of World Champion Cadel Evans earned a spot, as Evans has been open about wanting to race the Giro to win it. Also in from the Professional Continental ranks is the Cervelo team of Carlos Sastre, the French teams Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Cofidis, as well as Italian teams Acqua & Sapone, Androni Giocattoli and Colnago-CSF Inox.

    Not on the list are ProTour teams Francaise des Jeux and Euskaltel-Euskadi, as well as Italian Professional Continental teams De Rosa-Stac Plastic, Carmiooro NGC, ISD-Neri, and the team of Riccardo Riccò, Ceramica Flaminia. Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil also applied for an invite but did not make the cut. As a result, the Rabobank team of defending champion Denis Menchov will be the only Dutch squad on the start line in Amsterdam.

    As announced this weekend, the event will go off without Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team, with the squad opting to send its top riders to the Tour of California. Armstrong also soured his relationship with the race director Angelo Zomegnan by helping to lead a protest of the Giro's circuit race in Milan last year.

    Teams for the 2010 Giro d'Italia


    Ag2R-La Mondiale
    Caisse d'Epargne
    Lampre Farnese Vini
    Omega Pharma-Lotto
    Quick Step
    Saxo Bank
    Sky Pro Cycling Team

    Professional Continental

    Acqua & Sapone
    Bbox Bouygues Telecom
    BMC Racing Team
    Cervelo TestTeam
    Cofidis, Le Credit en...