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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, October 18, 2010

Date published:
October 18, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Liquigas to sue Ettore Torri over doping comments

    Franco Pellizotti and Ivan Basso peruse their maps
    Article published:
    October 17, 2010, 11:17 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Company CEO claims Torri has damaged team's image

    Paolo Zani, the CEO of the Liquigas company that sponsors the Italian cycling team, has revealed plans to sue Ettore Torri, the head of the Italian anti-doping prosecutor's office because of his suggestions that doping was rife in cycling.

    Zani told Gazzetta dello Sport that Liquigas will sue Torri for five million Euro because his comments have damaged the success of Ivan Basso at the Giro d'Italia and Vincenzo Nibali's victory at the Vuelta a Espana.

    "Liquigas feels it has the right to defend itself. With what he said, Torri has caused us huge damage to our image," Zani said. "Our lawyers are studying the matter and in the next few days we'll begin legal action against Torri: we want five million Euro as compensation for the damage to our image."

    Torri did not specifically name any of the Liquigas-Doimo riders during his interview with the Associated Press news agency.

    However he played a fundamental role in forcing Ivan Basso to confess his involvement in Operacion Puerto in 2007. Torri is currently investigating Franco Pellizotti, who was snared by the UCI Biological passport just before this year's Giro d'Italia. Liquigas-Doimo has fervently defended Pellizotti, who claims his blood value fluctuations are physiological and has questioned the legality and precision of the Biological Passport screening process.

    Pellizotti is due to face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday in Rome and risks a two-year ban from the sport.

  • UCI reveal biological passport data in defence of cycling

    Defending champion Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto) passes the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel.
    Article published:
    October 17, 2010, 11:24 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    'Ethics in Cycling' conference held at Madonna del Ghisallo on Saturday

    On Saturday UCI Anti-doping manager Francesca Rossi and UCI Doctor Mario Zorzoli both rejected the Italian anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri's comments that doping is rife in cycling and defended the sport's reputation by revealing data from the UCI's Biological Passport programme.

    The two UCI officials were speaking at a congress called 'Ethics in Cycling' held at the Madonna del Ghisallo cycling museum just before the Tour of Lombardy passed by. Ivan Basso and his coach Professor Aldo Sassi also attended.

    "It's not true that all cyclists are doped. The truth is that a lot of cyclists follow the rules. The values studied in their biological passports prove it," Gazzetta dello Sport reported Rossi as saying.

    She told the Corriere della Sera newspaper: "The athletes Torri speaks to are all under investigation and so he's got a pessimistic view of the situation. But the biological passport controls tell us that the mentality of most of the athletes is changing."

    Zorzoli gave further details: "So far 850 riders have been followed with the passport programme and their whereabouts is monitored 365 days a year."

    "Between 2008 and 2009, more than 19,000 test were done, 80% of them out of competition and 65% of them were blood tests."

    "The percentage of tests showing suspicious data has dropped from 11% to 2-3%."

    Rossi and Zorzoli refused to speak about the ongoing Alberto Contador Clenbuterol positive case or Franco Pellizotti's biological passport violation. However Rossi insisted that any suspension based on the biological passport data only comes after a process of right to reply, so that riders have the chance to justify any unusual blood value fluctuations that could be caused by illness or perhaps altitude training.

    "Riders are only deferred for disciplinary action after a long process. It doesn't happen automatically. There's a dialogue: the rider has the right of reply to...

  • Nibali rues costly Lombardy crash

    A determined Vincenzo Nibali (Liguigas - Doimo) powers past the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel.
    Article published:
    October 17, 2010, 12:44 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian felt he could have stayed with Gilbert to the finish

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) saw his dreams of Tour of Lombardy victory slide away on the rain-soaked descent of the Colma di Sormano on Saturday. After the race, the Italian was bitterly disappointed to have crashed out of contention on the type of terrain that normally plays to his advantage, a technical downhill stretch.

    “I slipped like a fool; right when I wasn’t taking risks on a descent for once,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “My front wheel went away from under me.”

    Nibali tumbled on a sharp left hand bend on the treacherous descent, but he refused to blame the falling leaves that help to make the Tour of Lombardy the season’s most scenic classic. The Vuelta a España winner was also adamant that he had chosen the correct equipment for the conditions.

    “It was nothing to do with the leaves,” Nibali explained. “It was just one of those days. Halfway through the race, my gear lever broke and I had to change bike. But I had slick tyres on that, so I had to stop again to change to tyres suited for the wet. But when I crashed, everything was ok. All told, there were no technical problems.”

    Nibali did admit that he was intent on following eventual race winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the descent but rejected the hypothesis that he may have been better served by riding his own race at the front of the group on the way down the Colma di Sormano.

    “It was my choice not to take risks. Where would I have been able to go alone?” he said. “After the fall, Gilbert, who I was man-marking, started to pull on the front and at that point getting back on was very difficult. It’s a pity, perhaps I could have formed an alliance with Scarponi, but it didn’t pan out like that.”

    While recognising that Gilbert was the man in form on the day, Nibali felt that he would at least have been able to stay...

  • Martin optimistic despite Lombardy fall

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions)
    Article published:
    October 17, 2010, 13:30 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Garmin rider to undergo nose operation after Japan Cup

    Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Transitions) was not among the 34 riders who finished the Tour of Lombardy but the bandages on his leg and hip explained why. Yet the pain did not dent his constant optimism and enthusiasm for racing.

    Martin was expected to be a major rival for Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) after his impressive second place at last week's Giro dell'Emilia but his crashed ended any chance of repeating his excellent eighth place of 2009. He was one of the many riders who fell on the rain-soaked slippy descents.

    "I think that was the fastest crash I've ever had," Martin told Cyclingnews. "It was on the run-in to Lecco after about 170km. I just touched the front brake and down I went. I'd just looked at my computer and I was going at 68km/h. I don’t think I've ever slid for that long either…"

    Martin only suffered some road rash and bruising but it ended his race. Tom Peterson was the only Garmin-Transitions rider to finish the race. However few teams had more than a couple of riders in the results, while some totally abandoned the race because of the terrible weather and hard terrain.

    "I'm not really that disappointed. The important thing is I'm okay," he pointed out.

    "With the weather being so bad, it wasn't going to happen for us. It’s a disappointment but you can't change the weather. The guys did a great job and even waited for me and made sure I was okay. That shows the team spirit we have."

    Nose operation

    Martin had an excellent second part of the season, winning the Tour of Poland UCI ProTour stage race and the prestigious Tre Valli Varesine one-day race in Italy.

    Those results helped ease the disappointment of a frustrating spring, when an allergy stopped Martin ever reaching his maximum heart rate. He has since seen a British allergy specialist and will undergo minor surgery on his nose during the winter to help his...

  • Cavendish revels in Commonwealth Games support role

    Mark Cavendish celebrates on the podium in Salamanca.
    Article published:
    October 17, 2010, 15:12 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Manxman still frustrated by lack of HTC-Columbia contract deal

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) has criticised riders who cited health concerns in opting not to travel to Delhi to compete in the Commonwealth Games. The Manxman finished 7th in the road race and then stayed on in India to act as an unpaid helper to the Isle of Man team.

    “The guys who stayed away made a mistake,” Cavendish told The Observer. “If you look after yourself you won’t catch anything. As a single guy you run a risk if you sleep with a girl. Risks come with everything.”

    After the road race, Cavendish was fulsome in his praise of his five amateur teammates. In recognition of their efforts, he delayed his return home by four days in order to act as a helper to the Isle of Man team, driving the team car during Andrew Roche’s 12th-place finish in the time trial.

    "I didn't want to just swan about in sunglasses; I was even wiping his back after the warm-up,” Cavendish said. “The thing is, I know what it's like to be looked after, and these guys gave 100 per cent for me in the road race."

    Cavendish recently cited his frustration that his HTC-Columbia team had not offered him a new contract commensurate with his achievements on the bike and he said that the blame lay with the team’s failure to land a replacement sponsor for Columbia. The sportswear company is ending its association with the team at the end of 2010.

    "We're the most successful team on the planet and something is wrong when we don't have enough sponsors,” Cavendish said. “Ninety nine per cent of people on the team, riders and staff, are not just performing, but over-performing. There are a couple of people whose job it is to get new sponsors and it's frustrating when they can't and we suffer for it. I'm just frustrated because I've been massively underpaid this year and next because for some reason we can't get more sponsors."

    In spite of his frustration at his salary,...

  • Specialized takes the Highroad with HTC

    The Specialized bikes await the Saxo Bank riders
    Article published:
    October 18, 2010, 1:53 BST
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    American manufacturer secures third squad for 2011

    Three major road teams will use Specialized’s equipment in 2011, following the announcement it will supply bikes for Team HTC-Highroad’s men’s and women’s teams from next season. Specialized will replace Scott as the bike supplier at Bob Stapleton’s ProTour squad, with Scott already announced as the supplier for ProTour hopeful Pegasus Racing.

    HTC-Highroad’s men’s squad will use the company’s S-Works Tarmac, S-Works Roubaix and the Shiv TT throughout the season while the women’s team will use the Amira road bike and the same time trial model as the men. Both teams will use helmets from the Specialized range.

    “We are thrilled by this foundational partnership with the iconic global cycling brand of Specialized,” said Stapleton. “Our partnership is focused not only on athletic success but also on developing superior products and promoting cycling as a part of a healthy lifestyle for the more than 160 million enthusiasts in Europe and the USA alone.”

    Specialized renewed its deal with the Astana squad last week and will also supply Bjarne Riis’ Saxo Ban-SunGuard outfit again in 2011. The pairing with Team HTC-Highroad was described as a “multi-year partnership beginning in 2011”, but no set period for the deal has been announced.

    Specialized’s Mike Sinyard was enthusiastic when speaking about the new partnership with the American squad. “I’ve always respected Bob (Stapleton) and the teams he has built,” said Sinyard. “Our organizations have a lot in common: Their team headquarters is just down the road from ours, both crews focus on riders’ needs first, and we’ve both achieved great results that are fueled by the love of cycling. High Road will drive us hard to continually improve our bikes and helmets, and we’ll deliver the best materials in the world to help them win races.

    “We...

  • Bakelants among Lombardy injury victims

    Jan Bakelants (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) out the back after some mechenical problems.
    Article published:
    October 18, 2010, 9:03 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Di Paolo also suffers fracture

    The Giro di Lombardia, raced on Saturday in wet and windy conditions, has made for a handful of injured riders. Not only did many abandon the event because of the heavy rain, but the slippery descents around Lake Como caused several riders to crash. Among them were Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), who would go on to finish 5th, and Dan Martin (Garmin-Transistions), who abandoned the race with road rash and bruises.

    Belgian rider Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Lotto) also fell on the descent of the Sormano climb, breaking his left wrist and elbow. He was one of the last teammates of eventual winner Philippe Gilbert to help his leader in the finale, but couldn't savour the victory in the end.

    "It wasn't even my own fault," Bakelants told Het Laatste Nieuws. "A Garmin car went badly into a corner and had to brake hard, so I couldn't do anything else than to follow his example. Down I went..."

    Even though the Giro di Lombardia was Bakelants' last race this season, the timing of the fractures still left him annoyed. "It never happens at the right time. Normally, I would have started my holidays on Sunday, nicely relaxing and enjoying my time. The plaster will be a hindrance. Moreover, I will have it at least for six weeks, which means that my preparation for next season is also disturbed."

    Another rider who suffered injury in Lombardia is Italian Francesco Di Paolo (Acqua e Sapone). He broke his left femur.

  • Italian cycling celebrates the 2010 season

    Best in show: Ivan Basso, Thor Hushovd, Vincenzo Nibali and Giorgia Bronzini took home some of cycling's biggest prizes in 2010.
    Article published:
    October 18, 2010, 9:49 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Hushovd, Merckx special guest at awards night in Conegliano

    The Gran Gala Ciclistico Internazionale awards night in Conegliano, Italy, brought down the curtain on the Italian cycling year on Sunday. Those within the sport celebrated the successes of the season and remembered the late Franco Ballerini.

    Broadcast live on Italian television, the evening celebrated Ivan Basso's victory at the Giro d'Italia, Vincenzo Nibali's success at the Vuelta a España and Giorgia Bronzini's world title in the women's road race.

    New men’s world champion Thor Hushovd was given a special prize for winning the rainbow jersey, as was Eddy Merckx, who this year celebrated his 65th birthday.

    Hushovd rode 130km of Tour of Lombardy on Saturday, traveled to Belgium for the Flandrian of the year awards and then flew back to Italy to ride the Borgomanero two-up time trial on Sunday morning, before appearing at the Gran Gala.

    He will also be in Paris for the 2011 Tour de France presentation on Tuesday but revealed to Cyclingnews that he will then head home to have surgery to remove plaque from the collarbone he fractured at the start of the season, before finally going on holiday with his family.

    The Gran Gala brought numerous world champions together. Merckx, Francesco Moser, Paolo Bettini, Bronzini and Hushovd all raised a glass of the finest Italian prosecco to celebrate the season.

    Merckx was awarded a special gold Lion of Flanders decorated to remember his incredible career. "Cycling is my life and it always will be," Merckx said, admitting he had been out for a ride on Saturday morning before celebrating with Philippe Gilbert after his win at the Tour of Lombardy.

    Nibali and Basso shared the stage as Italy forget about its poor showing in the Spring Classics and celebrated it success in Grand Tour stage races.

    The two Italians are yet to decide who will target victory at the 2011 Giro d'Italia and who will target the Tour de France, but Basso hinted that he...