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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 28, 2011

Date published:
March 28, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Sagan shines in Gent-Wevelgem finale

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) impressed in 2010.
    Article published:
    March 27, 2011, 21:21 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Slovak looking forward to Flanders and Roubaix

    While Tom Boonen sprinted to the win in Gent-Wevelgem, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) will carry away a great many plaudits for his impressive show of aggression in the finale. The Slovak gave another firm indication of his Classics potential by animating the closing stages and almost defying the chasing group behind.

    After forcing the on the last ascent of the Kemmelberg, Sagan was then part of a four-man raid that formed in the final 35km. While it was always going to be a tall order to stay clear of a sizeable group containing so many big names, the 21-year-old’s efforts on the front meant that it was a close-run thing, and his escape was ultimately thwarted inside the closing two kilometres.

    “I tried some accelerations on the climbs and then we formed a group at the front and started to work,” Sagan told Cyclingnews after crossing the line in Wevelgem. “There were only four of us left in front with the peloton behind, and a lot of good riders were left behind like Boonen, Bennati, Gilbert and Ballan. All of their teams pulled hard to bring us pack, and there were more of them.”

    Sagan had his teammate Maciej Bodnar, Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Ian Stannard (Sky) for company in the breakaway, as he sought to grab the race by the scruff of the neck rather than wait for the sprint.

    “I wanted to go in a break,” he said. “In the races in Belgium you never know who might win. We were out in front, and there was nothing more to do but go hard to the finish. “

    The breakaway group’s solidarity was shattered two kilometres from the line when Stannard decided to attack alone, and Sagan felt that the Englishman had not collaborated fully during their...

  • UCI looks for new rules to discourage doping

    Pat McQuaid was on hand in Wevelgem.
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 6:42 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Four year bans could become a reality

    The International Cycling Union is currently exploring the possibility of instituting new rules to discourage doping by hitting people in the sport where it hurts most: their wallet.

    One idea would make riders coming back from sanctions less attractive by disallowing them from accumulating any points towards the UCI's team sporting ranking for a to-be-determined period following a ban. The rankings determine which teams enter into the sport's top division.

    A second propsal would be to prevent those who have served doping bans from coming back into the sport in their post-racing careers.

    The first idea was presented at the meeting of the professional cycling council (PCC) by former Credit Agricole manager Roger Legeay, and was accepted for consideration by the UCI's management committee.

    If implemented, it would have an impact on any team which took on riders such as Alejandro Valverde, who stand to do well upon their return, making them less attractive as new recruits.

    The second idea is still being examined, according to UCI president Pat McQuaid; he clarified the new rule would not be applied retroactively to those currently in director, management or staff positions in the professional peloton however, although the involvement in the sport of any rider who tests positive and serves a suspension would stop at the end of their racing career.

    "We're studying it to see if we can legally put this in the rules," McQuaid told Cyclingnews. "It's still being examined, but we know we can't apply this retroactively. There are guys currently in the sport, as we know, who are admitted dopers. But we can't do anything about them now."

    The new rule could prevent former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team manager Manolo Saiz, who was implicated in the Operación Puerto doping affair, from making his desired comeback to the sport. However, it would not affect Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis, who admitted to using...

  • Borrajo dedicates San Dimas win to late brother

    Anibal Borrajo dedicates his stage win at San Dimas to his late brother, Armando.
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 7:12 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Jamis-Sutter Home brothers will support each other in full NRC sprints

    Jamis-Sutter Home's Argentine sprinters, Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo, have returned Stateside to compete in a full National Racing Calendar (NRC) season. Anibal proved his strong early-season form when he won a bunch sprint at stage two of the San Dimas Stage Race on Saturday, a win he dedicated to his late brother, Armando.

    "I want to dedicate my victory to Armando and all the people who have supported my family," Borrajo told Cyclingnews. "We have many friends here in the US and in Argentina and this win was for them."

    The pair recently lost their oldest brother and former Argentine National Champion to a tragic death following a suspicious kidnapping in December. The 34-year-old was kidnapped for two days and released just prior to his death and reportedly suffered from injury and shock. Police are currently investigating his death and are not ruling out a possible homicide.

    "I'm very happy for this win because this is a really hard time for me," Borrajo said. "My brother Armando was a very special guy and we really have to keep going on. I was thinking of my brother in the last moments of the sprint in San Dimas. Armando is always with me and he was with me in that final sprint. But, we really miss him and this is difficult."

    Alejandro and Anibal will next compete at the NRC opener at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, held from March 30 - April 3 in California. Their role on the team is to support one another during sprint finishes. According to Jamis-Sutter Home directeur sportif Sebastian Alexandre, Anibal's recent victory was important on many levels.

    "Most importantly, cycling is the sport that Alejandro and Anibal love," he said. "When Armando passed away they just wanted to keep riding and keep racing. This is a very emotional time for them because they raced with Armando for many years. Anibal's win is a good way to start the season for both of them.

    "Next, the win is good for Anibal because last year he...

  • Dumoulin doubles up in the Volta a Catalunya

    Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) took his second stage win
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 9:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Cofidis finisseur now lays eyes on the Amstel Gold Race

    Samuel Dumoulin had an extremely successful Volta a Catalunya, winning two stages thanks to his fast sprint finish. The Cofidis rider won on Friday in Tarragona, besting Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and then continued in the same vein on the final stage on Sunday, beating Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) and Kenny De Haes (Omega Pharma).

    Dumoulin, one of the smallest riders in the bunch, was overjoyed to have taken his fourth victory of the season, as well as scoring the first, precious UCI WorldTour points for his Cofidis team.

    "It's a great personal satisfaction," the Frenchman told L'Equipe. "When you win in front of Contador, Basso, Evans or Menchov, you take a certain pride in it. So if you win twice, you're on cloud nine..."

    Dumoulin admitted his second win in Barcelona was unexpected. "Contrary to the stage to Tarragona, which ended in a false flat uphill which suited me well, I thought that this large and perfectly flat finish wouldn't be for me. I start the stage without any pressure and didn't think I'd ask my teammates to work, as they had already done a remarkable job for me during the previous few days. So I just stayed out of the wind and then I saw that Rojas and Cardoso (who finished fourth and fifth) were watching each other. I took the wheel of an Omega rider (Kenny de Haes) and I was able to pass him on the line. I'm happy with my how I did it!"

    It could be argued that the big-name sprinters did not ride the Volta a  Catalunya. but Dumoulin pointed out that  "every race needs to be...

  • Leipheimer forced to quit Volta a Catalunya due to stomach problems

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 10:13 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack rider spent Saturday night in hospital

    Levi Leipheimer pulled out of the Volta a Catalunya before the final stage to Barcelona after spending Saturday night in hospital.

    The American RadioShack rider was lying second overall just 23 seconds behind Alberto Contador but quit the race due to stomach problems. The RadioShack team explained that Leipheimer was unable to start the final 124km stage due to an abdominal sub-obstruction.

    “This is an issue Leipheimer has dealt with for a long time, dating back to his childhood when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse,” the team said in a statement.

    “At that time the injury caused intestinal damage and Levi had to undergo abdominal surgery. This surgery caused adhesions and scar tissue. These adhesions reduced intestinal motility and at one point caused a life-threatening intestinal obstruction during the time Levi raced for team Rabobank. When intestinal motility is blocked, first a person gets severe abdominal pain. When the obstruction persists, intestinal fluids can get into the abdominal cavity and cause a lethal sepsis.

    “Saturday night Levi had a semi-obstruction. He had a lot of pain and was transferred to the hospital where he stayed overnight for observation. Fortunately the sub-obstruction didn’t turn into an obstruction and he was able to leave the hospital this morning.”

    Leipheimer talked about his problem in two Twitter messages. He said: “Really disappointed to fall ill on the last day of @VoltaCatalunya Believe me I'd race if I could, but I'm down for the count.”

    He later apologised to his teammates for being unable to finish the race.

    “Thank you to @TeamRadioShack teammates for all their hard work, I'm sorry...

  • Gent-Wevelgem "not selective enough" for Gilbert

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 11:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian on track for Tour of Flanders despite un-testing race

    Belgian Classics contender Philippe Gilbert did not compete with the big sprinters in the bunch gallop of Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, but still affirmed his fitness was where it should be one week ahead of the Tour of Flanders.

    The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider said that race circumstances were not to his advantage, favouring a mass sprint finish in Wevelgem won by his rival Tom Boonen (Quick Step). "There was no wind, or when there was, it wasn't favourable," he told La Dernière Heure. "The race was not selective enough. During 120 kilometres, there was no race, so to speak. I'll be cruel, but if there hadn't been any crashes, we'd have finished with 200 riders in the sprint!"

    Even the series of Belgian 'bergs' that were featured in the finale - to be raced twice - did not make a difference. "It was impossible to test myself in view of the Tour of Flanders. But I know where I stand. I accelerated at the first climb of the Kemmel. The second time around, as I had just punctured, I was too far away. But I wouldn't have made everything break up anyway, it would have been senseless," he added.

    Still, Gilbert went with the attacks he deemed important, even if they were reeled in by the sprinters' teams shortly afterwards. "I jumped when the group with Hushovd and Steegmans went. I thought it could be a key moment. But, before I punctured, not everyone wanted to collaborate."

    Finally, Gilbert put himself at the service of his team-mate André Greipel in the hope of a bunch sprint victory. He drove hard at the front of the bunch to catch the last four-man breakaway, but also stayed out of the final action in...

  • Giro d’Italia organiser laments delays in Contador case

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) wears the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 12:00 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Zomegnan accepts that Contador will ride sub-judice

    Angelo Zomegnan, the director of the Giro d’Italia, has accepted that Alberto Contador can take part in this year’s race but he is not happy that the Spaniard will race sub-judice and could be stripped of victory if he is subsequently found guilty of doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

    Zomegnan reached an agreement with Contador to ride the 2011 Giro d’Italia last spring, before the Spaniard tested positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. That early move to ensure Contador’s presence now seems to have backfired.

    “The judicial system in sport is slower than that we’d hoped and it’s clear that something is not working because it hasn’t protected our event,” Zomegnan lamented to Tuttobiciweb during the presentation of events that will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification during this year’s Giro d’Italia.

    “My hands are tied and I certainly can’t force Contador to stay at home if he and his team want to ride. He’s innocent until proven guilty and a rider cleared in a hearing is free to race. But obviously it’s not an ideal situation.”

    UCI President Pat McQuaid and CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb have both suggested a verdict in the Contador case could be reached before the start of the Tour de France on July 2. However, in a video interview on Tuttobiciweb, Zomegnan suggested the legal battle could drag on until September, meaning Contador could also be allowed to ride the Tour de France in July in the absence of a final ruling.

    “I believe it will drag on until September or even longer,” Zomegnan said before...

  • Pooley set to ride the women’s Tour of Flanders

    Thanks to her win, Pooley also took the lead the women's World Cup
    Article published:
    March 28, 2011, 13:51 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Cervelo rider to show off her World Cup jersey on the cobbles

    After her superb performance in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday, Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo) looks set to start the women’s Tour of Flanders this coming weekend despite her dislike for the cobbles and hectic sprint finishes.

    The British rider was not originally pencilled in for the race but after attacking the bunch after 52 kilometres of racing on Sunday and surviving the remaining 69 kilometres on her own, she’s set to show off her World Cup jersey in Belgium.

    “I didn’t expect it to be a successful move at all, to be honest,” Pooley told Cyclingnews.

    “As a team we were trying to make it hard and there were lots of attacks. It’s just kind of lucky that that one stuck. We could have been very unlucky and I could have wasted a lot of energy and been caught five kilometres from the finish. The race had been quite hard up until that point and as a team we’d been attacking all the time. You have to try though, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

    Next up: the Ronde van Vlaanderen

    The women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen takes place this Sunday. The 142km race covers many of the climbs and cobbles of the men’s race and finishes a couple of ours before.

    With 2009 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Emma Johansson just 25 points behind in the World Cup standings, Pooley isn’t expecting to retain her special World Cup leader’s jersey much beyond the weekend. However with her good form, she is more than willing to play the role of domestique for her teammates.

    “For us for as a team it’s fantastic to have the leader’s jersey in the World Cup. especially as we’re still learning how to work together as we’ve changed a bit since last year,” she...