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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, May 3, 2010

Date published:
May 03, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Omega Pharma-Lotto favour youth for Giro

    The Omega Pharma Lotto riders
    Article published:
    May 02, 2010, 9:36 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Moreno to lead in Italy, Spaniard to race Giro-Tour double

    Omega Pharma – Lotto boss Marc Sargeant will give younger members of his Belgian squad the opportunity to shine at this month's Giro d'Italia. Briton Adam Blythe, Dutchman Michiel Elijzen and Belgian Jan Bakelants have been confirmed as part of the nine-man Giro team and will all make their Grand Tour debut when the race begins in Amsterdam on Saturday, May 8.

    Bakelants has been selected in order to give the 24-year-old an opportunity to test his future potential as a general classification rider. The winner of the Tour de l'Avenir in 2008, Bakelants will race alongside Daniel Moreno, who will be the team's main hope for a high overall finish.

    Omega Pharma-Lotto have confirmed that the Spaniard will do the Giro-Tour de France double, rather than competing in his home Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. Moreno will be supported in Italy by Australian Matthew Lloyd and Francis De Greef, who will aim to win a mountain stage in his third participation at the event.

    After a strong performance in the spring Classics, Adam Blythe will be given the opportunity to race the Giro in his first full season as a ProTour rider. The 20-year-old Briton will be joined by compatriot Charlie Wegelius. Experienced riders Olivier Kaisen and Sebastian Lang will also be on hand to bolster the team.

    Dutchman Elijzen, 27, is the eldest of the debutants. The time trial specialist will be targeting the Giro's 8.4 kilometre prologue on home soil.

    Omega Pharma-Lotto for the 2010 Giro d'Italia: Jan Bakelants, Adam Blythe, Francis De Greef, Michiel Elijzen, Olivier Kaisen, Sebastian Lang, Matthew Lloyd, Daniel Moreno and Charlie Wegelius.
     

  • Wegmann caps comeback with repeat win in Frankfurt

    Fabian Wegmann (Milram) savours his victory after crossing the line
    Article published:
    May 02, 2010, 11:32 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    German tops the podium seven weeks after breaking collarbone

    After a strong performance at the Ardennes Classics Milram's Fabian Wegmann completed his comeback from a broken collarbone by taking victory at the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt on Saturday. Seven weeks and one day after breaking his collarbone at Tirenno-Adriatico, the German rider attacked to win the event for the second year in a row.

    “All of the bad luck of the past few weeks is gone. Now I have fulfilled my childhood dream by winning my favourite race twice,” Wegmann told Radsport-News.com.

    After battling an ongoing back injury for most of 2009, the 29-year-old's 2010 season got off to a satisfactory start, but it came to an abrupt end with only five kilometres left in the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The German was brought down in a crash, breaking his collarbone. He flew home to Freiburg that same day, and underwent surgery the next day.

    The healing process went smoothly and he was able to return to racing at the Amstel Gold Race. Neither he nor the team expected much of him in this first race back, but he finished 25th, the best placed Milram rider. Wegmann then avoided major injury in a mass crash in Flèche Wallonne, before finishing Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 17th, again the best placed rider of his team.

    That brought him up to the race in Frankfurt, last year known as the Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop and previously called the Rund um den Henninger Turm. Things looked bleak for him as he struggled up some of the climbs in a chase group. “That really hurt,” he said, “I had to take it easy after that.”

    But with 400 metres to go, Wegmann opened his race winning margin. “I couldn't even see anything the last few metres. That's why I didn't celebrate when I crossed the finish line. I didn't know if anyone was coming up behind me.”

    Afterwards, Wegmann celebrated enthusiastically with his teammates and team...

  • Garmin's Martin confirms Giro start, looking forward to debut

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions)
    Article published:
    May 02, 2010, 11:35 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Irishman will target mountain stages in Italy, uncertain about Tour de France

    Irish climber Dan Martin has confirmed that he will start the Giro d’Italia next week, possibly passing up the chance to ride this year’s Tour in order to test himself on high mountains such as the Zoncolan and Plan de Corones.

    The 23 year-old will have greater freedom in Italy as there will be no clear GC leader on the Garmin-Transitions team; Christian Vande Velde is using the race to build form prior to a tilt at the Tour. Tyler Farrar is likely to be the team’s main protected rider, but that will be for the flatter stages.

    “I am Amsterdam-bound,” Martin confirmed to Cyclingnews on Saturday evening. “I originally hadn’t even considered it, but the team asked me how I felt about it. They can see the way my form is progressing…over the last couple of years, they have learned from me that you can see my form coming from a mile off. I just get better and better, and suddenly I hit some form.

    “I have been pretty consistent this year, compared to previous years. I definitely feel that my legs are getting stronger. I just need to get over these allergies and then I reckon I will be going really well.”

    Just over a month ago, Martin finished 13th on the mountain stage at Critérium International, en route to a final position of 14th overall. He then took ninth on a stage, plus 15th in GC at the Tour of the Basque Country. He was hampered by allergies in Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but nevertheless netted an 18th place finish at the former. He expects that his reaction to grass pollen will settle down soon, and that he’ll be able to dig deeper on the bike.

    “It is yet another adventure,” he said, when asked about his thoughts on starting the second Grand Tour of his career, after the 2009 Vuelta a España. “I am really excited – I always loved racing in Italy – great roads, a...

  • Frei explains the motivation behind his doping

    Thomas Frei (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    May 02, 2010, 13:40 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Swiss cites financial incentives, ambition as the source of his temptation

    Thomas Frei has admitted that he would have continued to dope if he had not tested positive for blood booster EPO in a doping control conducted in March. The Swiss racer confessed to using the drug and was subsequently dismissed by BMC Racing Team.

    "Of course I would have gone on doping. The money tempts you, it is the same for everyone," said Frei in an interview with Swiss website NZZ.ch.

    Frei had been running sixth overall at the Giro del Trentino last month when his positive test result was announced. The 25-year-old said he had been in negotiation with team management for a higher salary for the coming year, due to his good work throughout the spring.

    "Everything was going well," he said. "After Tirreno-Adriatico, where I was once again the most important helper for team captain Cadel Evans, the bosses talked to me about a better contract. I was on a contract of 120,000 Franken (approx USD110,800) a year, but if things had continued, I would have gotten a lot more in 2011."

    Frei began his career at Astana in 2007, a year which saw multiple doping cases on the team, including those of Matthias Kessler, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin. "I never really knew who was doping. I just a very small fish on the team," said Frei of his experience with then Swiss-registered squad.

    As for himself, he said that he started his pro career clean. "Then came the hard stage races, and I learned that infusions were used for recovery. Everything was legal, but I still didn't want any of it. But at some point it started [for me], because everybody does it. The doctor gives you the first shot, and then it isn't long until you give yourself the first illegal shot."

    He said he took EPO, because "you stand in front of a huge mountain and don't know how to get over it. Your ambition eats you up. After all, you want to become more than just a helper."

    But Frei said there was never pressure from within his...

  • BMC return Santambrogio to active status

    Mauro Santambrogio (BMC Racing Team)
    Article published:
    May 02, 2010, 19:05 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    US squad conclude internal investigation, Italian may return at Giro

    The BMC Racing Team released Mauro Santambrogio from non-active status after concluding its own internal investigation into the Italian's alleged links with the Mantova doping investigation.

    BMC had placed Santambrogio and Alessandro Ballan on non-active status on April 9, after the two former-Lampre riders were linked to the anti-doping investigation currently underway in Italy. In a statement released on Saturday, BMC said they were satisfied that Santambrogio had been absolved from any involvement and that he is free to return to racing.

    "The BMC Racing Team has concluded that there is no indication that Mauro Santambrogio was involved in any doping in connection with his former team, Lampre. The findings of the BMC Racing Team are also in line with the view of the police investigation to date," read the statement.

    "Hence, the BMC Racing Team will no longer withhold Mauro Santambrogio from competition. We are pleased that the findings from our own investigation and that of the police have turned up no evidence of wrong-doing by Mauro Santambrogio."

    BMC indicated that Santambrogio may return to competition with the team at the Giro d'Italia, which begins in Amsterdam on Saturday.

    "The view of the Italian inquiry police comes at good time, as it encourages us to enter Mauro Santambrogio in the Giro d'Italia," said the team.

  • Roche facing MRI scan after knee issue crops up

    Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    May 02, 2010, 20:23 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Hoping he can resume training soon

    Irish road race champion Nicolas Roche will learn on Tuesday if a knee problem that flared up during the Tour de Romandie will have any significant effect on his season.

    The AG2R La Mondiale rider rode solidly during the race, clocking up third and ninth on stages, but was further back than expected in Friday’s time trial when he placed only 49th. However a bigger disappointment was in store that evening when he started feeling an ache. This got gradually worse and forced him to withdraw prior to the start of Saturday’s mountain stage to Chatel.

    “I am not sure yet what is wrong, but I think I have torn a muscle in the back of my knee,” he told Cyclingnews. “It happened in the time trial. It was painful that evening and we thought it was muscle knot. But when I woke up, it was really painful and swollen behind it. We decided that I shouldn’t take any risks and so I didn’t start the stage.”

    Sudden injuries are comparatively rare in cycling, with the obvious exception of those caused by crashes. Others such as tendonitis tend to develop over time; the quick onset of Roche’s problem caused him obvious concern. “It was my first long time trial, it could be something to do with the position. It could be anything,” he said. “Maybe tiredness, as well, as I have been doing so much lately. I go for an MRI on Tuesday and then we will see after that. At the moment, all I can do is put ice on it and rest.”

    Roche has had a strong season thus far, benefiting from a good winter and also careful attention paid to diet and his racing weight. He was 11th overall in Paris-Nice, taking four top-10 stage placings including third and fourth, then collected another four top-10 finishes en route to fifth overall in the Volta a Catalunya. He was a solid 22nd in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    The 25-year-old has clicked up a level from last year and should...

  • Aldag says cycling is doing more than other sports in the fight against doping

    Rolf Aldag chats at the start.
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 11:13 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    HTC-Columbia manager hopes his mistakes can help current riders

    Rolf Aldag believes cycling has accomplished more in the fight against doping than any other sport. The HTC-Columbia Senior Sport Director says the most important thing is to now help young riders fight against doping.

    Aldag, 41, rode for Team Telekom from 1993 to 2005, and then became one of the team's Sport Director. In May of 2007, together with former teammate and good friend Erik Zabel, he confessed to have used EPO during his riding days.

    He confirmed that the temptation for a rider to use illegal products is still there, “but carries an extremely high risk today. A lot has changed there,” he said in an interview in the Sunday edition of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The control system has become much better and everyone who decides for doping and is caught, must pay the consequences.”

    Aldag said the UCI's biological passport “is a good way” to control things, along with the team's own anti-doping programme. “Our results also go into the UCI passport, that means that our riders' database is even bigger. Those are our possibilities to more or less have a feeling of security. Just talking to the cyclists isn't enough.”

    There has been some criticism of Aldag and others of his generation being able to continue working in professional cycling in light of their doping background. “You can't say, everyone has to stay or everyone has to go. That is too arbitrary," he said. "But of course, you have to look at it critically and you also have to prove that you have earned a second chance.”

    He continued, “I can't change the mistakes I made in the past, they should never have happened, but I can't whitewash them. But does that really mean, that I can't learn from them, in order to give others a change to do things better and to do them right?"

  • High profile Italian doping case close

    UCI President Pat McQuaid: Biological Passport suspensions in 2009
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 15:43 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Updated: Gazzetta dello Sport suggest six riders could be named

    Having announced two months ago that the UCI's biological passport had detected suspect profiles with the likely cause being doping, cycling's governing body appears close to declaring which rider has fallen foul of the sport's anti-doping governance.

    And apparently it could be a high-profile scalp ahead of next Saturday's Giro d'Italia start in Amsterdam.

    According to Italian cycling site tuttobiciweb, sources close to the UCI have stated that one of the suspected riders is "an Italian high-level athlete, [set] for a starring role in the Giro d'Italia."

    UCI president Pat McQuaid revealed to Bloomberg in late February that a handful of riders had been asked to explain their blood values to the independent expert panel that examines the biological passport readings. "We see no other reason other than a possible potential doping reason," said McQuaid.

    Riders were notified and given a month to present clear and justifiable evidence supporting the presence of an abnormal profile. Following examination of this evidence from riders by an independent commission of nine experts, the UCI has been preparing statements regarding the situation, with the announcement due to be made later today or tomorrow.

    Gazzetta suggests between five and eight riders involved

    Monday's Gazzetta dello Sport reported that between five and eight riders could be named, suggesting that they could include a Russian, two Spaniards, a Slovenian and probably two Italians, of whom one is riding the Giro d'Italia with ambitions of success. Gazzetta added that this rider's passport problems refer to the 2009 Tour de France.

    Gazzetta dello Sport suggests the names will be revealed today (Monday) because the Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport has to make a final decision on the teams and riders it confirms for this year's race which begins in Amsterdam next Saturday.

    Last year, five riders were identified as having...