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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 3, 2012

Date published:
September 03, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Bad day for Rabobank in Vuelta mountains

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) lost some ground on the climb
    Article published:
    September 02, 2012, 12:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Gesink, Mollema both lose time

    Saturday's Vuelta a Espana stage was a hard one for Rabobank, with both Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema losing major time. Gesink fell from fifth to sixth and Mollema dropped out of the top ten, but Laurens ten Dam was the bright spot for the team, finishing eighth on the stage and holding on to his ninth place overall.

    In the first of the high mountains stage at this year's Vuelta, Gesink lost over two minutes and Mollema over three minutes, to drop to fifteenth place.

    On the penultimate climb, Gesink told his teams he didn't have good legs. That news so late in a stage “does not bode well,” directeur sportif Adri van Houwelingen said on the Rabobank website. Mollema and ten Dam were still with him, but Gesink sent ten Dam forward to see what he could accomplish.

    Mollema stayed with Gesink, along with Juan Manuel Garate, but also “had to take care that the damage still remained within bounds. In the last three kilometers, he was empty,” van Houwelingen said.

    “This does not mean that we've suddenly had a bad Vuelta. It is a blow, but I don't rule out that we will come back.”

    ten Dam saved the day for the Dutch team. "As for me, it was a good day ,as far as Robert is concerned, less so,” he said. “I had good legs throughout the day, but the disappointment prevails though. I stayed with Robert until Garate came along. Then Robert said: 'Lau, do your thing.'"

    Gesink hasn't given up hope entirely. "It was a very difficult day,” he said. “For me, it sucks. Hopefully it's better tomorrow.”

  • Covadonga: The Vuelta's Lucky Lakes?

    Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r) leads Sorensen on the Lagos de Covadonga climb in the 2007 Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 02, 2012, 13:04 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Legend says race leader at top wins in Madrid

    Remember that legend that the leader of the Tour at the top of the Alpe d’Huez is the one who ends up wearing yellow in Paris? Well, in the Vuelta a Espana they have the same legend - except it’s about the Lagos de Covadonga climb, tackled for the 18th time in the race’s history this year - and the leader’s jersey is red.

    That was certainly true in 1984, when France’s Eric Caritoux led after the Lagos, and on another ten occasions between then and 2010, when Vincenzo Nibali was in la roja after the 13.5 kilometre climb and in la roja again in Madrid.

    Located deep in the Picos de Europa mountain region in northern Spain, and home to some of the last wolves in Europe, the Lagos has three really tough segments.

    First off is the Mirador de los Canonigos, which comes after three kilometres and although not really steep, is the first time the road starts to climb, with gradients of 10 percent, then there’s the Huesera, with gradients of around 15 percent, half way up for about four kilometres and finally the Mirador de la Reina segment, which is equally steep and comes just before the final three kilometres which are flatter and even have a couple of long downhill sections before the last little kick up to the finish.

    Covadonga isn’t just important for predicting who will win the race outright. In 1983 when Marino Lejaretta won, that was the first time the Vuelta had its whole last hour broadcast live on Spanish and international tv, and the Lagos ascent was one of the high points of the race. Up until the arrival of the Angliru, it was considered the ‘queen stage’ of the race, too.

    Three riders have won there twice: Pedro Delgado in 1984 and 1986, Lucho Herrera in 1987 and 1991 and Laurent Jalabert, in 1994 and 1996, and the biggest time...

  • Contador unable to crack Rodriguez in Vuelta mountains

    Albergo Contador attacks on the climb to Ancares
    Article published:
    September 02, 2012, 17:39 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Saxo leader says he had a bad day despite attacks

    No less than five attacks by Saxo Bank-Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador failed to distance race leader Purito Rodriguez (Katusha), but the Madrileño said that he had had a rough day on the Vuelta stage to Lagos de Covadonga. The 29-year-old explained that was why Saxo Bank-Tinkoff had taken things more calmly on the stage itself, compared to yesterday, when they were constantly on the front.

    “I didn’t feel good this morning so I told the team we’d switch tactics, and rather than try and control the race throughout, we’d play it all on one card at the end,” Contador, who finished alongside Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Rodriguez, said afterwards.

    “I didn’t feel as good as I did yesterday, but then I realised that other people were feeling worse than me, and at least I tried it as hard as I could. You never know when they are going to have a bad day.”

    Asked if he was ring-rusty following his suspension, Contador said “it could be. Rodriguez is in the form of his life, for sure, and maybe it’s a bit tough for me to find that little extra gear that makes all the difference.”

    “But that said, I’ll keep on fighting, I’ll fight until the last moment possible, and I’m just enjoying racing again. If I feel as good tomorrow or better, I’ll keep on attacking. I lost count of how many times I tried today.”

    “The attacks didn’t work out, but I hope people have enjoyed the show.”

    Chris Froome (Sky) faded again on the final climb, losing time. He finished 35 seconds down on Contador and and is now fourth overall, at 2:16.

    “I’m not sure where I’ll finish, but I’ll...

  • McQuaid says UCI not afraid to sanction Lance Armstrong

    UCI President Pat McQuaid speaks to the press
    Article published:
    September 02, 2012, 19:38 BST
    Daniel Benson

    UCI President backtracks, awaiting USADA evidence

    Pat McQuaid has for the first time gone on record stating that the UCI could ban Lance Armstrong if USADA follow through and provides the relevant evidence to back their lifetime ban of the former cyclist. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins – as well as other titles won from August 1, 1998 – after USADA sanctioned him last month on the grounds of several doping violations.

    While the UCI have been notified of USADA’s actions they are still waiting for the American agency to deliver evidence to substantiate their ban. Once any documents fall into the hands of the UCI they have a 21-day window to decide whether they will appeal the decision to CAS or ratify Armstrong’s ban. Armstrong himself announced that he would not fight USADA’s charges, calling their actions a ‘witch-hunt’. He has always denied taking performance enhancing drugs.

    "If ultimately the UCI has to sanction, we will have no problems. We've sanctioned many good riders in the past, we've put them out of the sport and we're not afraid to do it with anybody," McQuaid told Cyclingweekly.

    The UCI has altered their stance regarding the case several times. At first they distanced themselves from USADA’s efforts, claiming that it was a matter of US jurisdiction.

    “People can say what they want, and make statements but the UCI is not involved in it so don’t ask me to comment. We’re not commenting on the Armstrong investigation and that remains the case. Let USADA carry on with this investigation,” McQuaid said in July.

    That message changed when USADA referenced an alleged cover up of a positive test between Armstrong and the UCI. McQuaid and Armstrong then fought USADA for

  • Report: USADA in possession of positive Armstrong samples

    Leading Armstrong to Paris in the Tour de France
    Article published:
    September 02, 2012, 20:36 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    French TV show claims American agency retested Armstrong's samples

    Stade 2, the weekly television sports show by France 2, claims that the American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is in possession of blood samples from Lance Armstrong, which they have retested and have now come back positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

    A reporter from France 2, Nicolas Geay, claimed he had exclusive information from a source, according to which he "could now reveal" that blood samples taken earlier during Armstrong's career had been retested under the authority of USADA and "ultimately came back positive".

    USADA is expected to send the final report to the UCI in two weeks time, according to French television, and make it public at the same time in order to put the governing body of the sport under pressure to ratify their life-time ban for Armstrong.

    Armstrong did not want to comment when approached by French television in Montreal, Canada, last week, where he was invited as a guest speaker at the World Cancer Congress. He has always denied taking performance enhancing drugs but chose not to contest USADA's charges, leading to a life-time ban and all results from August 1, 1998 being stripped from his palmares. Armstrong went on record to later state that in his eyes he was still a seven time Tour de France winner.

    Cyclingnews attempted to contact USADA but were unable to reach them for comment.

  • Surgery brings an end to Hayman's season

    Team Sky's Matthew Hayman
    Article published:
    September 03, 2012, 0:19 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    No complaints from Sky domestique despite painful 2012

    Mathew Hayman was an obvious omission from the Australian long list for the UCI Road World Championships when it was announced last week, but for the 34-year-old it was a case of enduring short-term pain for long-term gain.

    The Sky Procycling domestique and classics specialist underwent arthroscopic surgery to a tear in his left labrum - the cartilage that holds the ball at the top of the femur to the pelvic bone - on August 2. Hayman had thought it was a muscular injury for some years and had always just dealt with the discomfort but there was something that drove him to biting the bullet and fixing the issue once and for all. Training with Bobby Julich. The Australian has been working with the Sky race coach since late 2011.

    "I could have just soldiered on for however many years I'm going to race for with a bit of pain and just lumped it," Hayman told Cyclingnews. "I feel as if the training that I've done this year with Bobby that I'm still improving. I still feel like I'm a young kid who wants to get out there and do better and get better results."

    It was still by no means an easy decision for Hayman to make. He admits to "pushing because you never really want to stop, especially when you've got good form" but Sky said that it wasn't worth the risk to continue and given the team's UCI points lead, there was no better time to have the injury taken care of.

    "I don't mind doing this operation and stopping early," said Hayman. "It's something that I feel every day in training and I feel in racing. It's hard enough as it is."

    From his home, Hayman can...

  • Rodríguez says he was close to cracking on Lagos de Covadonga

    Rodriguez was able to match Contador for the second mountain top finish in a row.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2012, 2:21 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Race leader lost count of attacks on Vuelta's seventh mountain finish

    "How many attacks were there? 32? 33?" Joaquim ‘Purito' Rodríguez (Katusha) asked with a grin after Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) launched a blistering series of accelerations on the steepest segments of the Lagos de Covadonga in stage 15 of the Vuelta a España.

    Although ultimately unsuccessful, Rodriguez said that Contador's multiple charges had had him ‘on the rivet' and on hearing that Contador was on a bad day, instantly responded that "heaven help us when he's on a good one, then!"

    "There were a couple of moments when I simply couldn't respond," Rodriguez said, "he was dominating the race in the way that he wanted to. If he'd done one more attack then I would have been suffering like a dog."

    "Fortunately I remembered from other years [Rodriguez rode up Lagos in 2010] that there are some false flats and descents, otherwise I'd have been in real trouble. Just as well I have that thing where I can can dig deep for 500 metres and hang on."

    Looking ahead at Monday's ‘queen stage', Rodriguez predicted that "it's going to be mad if it's anything like today. I had thought about using a 39x28 gear but they told me to use the gears I had on the Angliru."

    His humour, though, remains intact despite the hard racing: "Valverde has won one Vuelta, Contador's lost count of what he's won...this morning I said to Valverde, ‘come on, let me win something, please.'"

    Stage winner Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural) effectively justified his team's invitation to the Vuelta in one fell swoop with his well-timed solo ride to victory on the Lagos.

    The 26-year-old's biggest win to date was a stage of the Tour of Portugal in 2009. Racing his fourth Vuelta, his best result in Spain's top race...

  • Report: Bettini to select worlds team from suspicion-free riders

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale) went on the attack on stage 2
    Article published:
    September 03, 2012, 5:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Nibali to lead the Azzurri in Limburg

    Italian national coach Paolo Bettini is set to run with a new generation of riders for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships in Limburg, the Netherlands.

    Gazzetta dello Sport reports that riders with who have been previously suspended for doping offences - Ivan Basso, Danilo di Luca, Alessandro Petacchi, Michele Scarponi - and riders identified in on-going investigations - Alessandro Ballan, Filippo Pozzato and Giovanni Visconti - will not be eligible in the squad due to the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) zero tolerance policy. Visconti was a part of the 2011 team that raced in Copenhagen.

    The full line up is set to be announced following the Giro di Padania and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Montreal, however it's believed that the team will be led by Vincenzo Nibali while Eros Capecchi, Eliva Favilli, Oscar Gatto, Moreno Moser, Rinaldo Nocentini, Luca Paolini and Diego Ulissi should also get a start. Adriano Malori and Marco Pinotti will represent Italy in the individual time trial.

    The team will be attempting to improve on their disappointing result from the 2011 when Bettini built the Italian team around sprinter Daniele Bennati but he and the other ‘Azzurri' riders struggled in the chaotic finish and Bennati finished a lowly 14th place, behind Mark Cavendish. That was Italy's worst result in the men's road race since 1983, when Giuseppe Saronni finished 19th in Altenrheim, Switzerland.

    Italy finished sixth in the world championship medal table, winning just a gold medal thanks to Giorgia Bronzini in the women's road race.