The Associated Press reported today that a source informed them that the two met repeatedly since Armstrong announced he had broken his working relationship with Ferrari in 2004.
The split came after Ferrari was convicted of malpractice by an Italian court and banned from working with riders for life by the Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI). Ferrari was later cleared of illegal acting as a pharmacist on appeal in 2006, while the accusations of sporting fraud by doping were quashed due to the slow legal process in Italy and the statute of limitations. Riders found to be working with him still face a possible sporting ban in Italy of between three and six months.
The AP report states that the ongoing investigation found that Armstrong met with Ferrari "over the past several years, usually in St. Moritz, Switzerland, or Monte Carlo, Monaco".
When asked about the information, Ferarri said to AP, "When, last year? Look, right now I don't remember," he said, "but I haven't had a professional relationship with Mr. Armstrong for a long time."
Armstrong's spokesman Mark Fabiani responded, "Lance has not had a professional relationship with Dr. Ferrari since 2004, but he remains friends with the doctor's family and sees them every once in a while. Lance last saw Dr. Ferrari about a year ago."
However, another facet of the investigation centres around the search of Armstrong's teammate Yaroslav Popovych, whose residence was searched last November, allegedly...
Garmin-Cervelo Canadian primed for success in the Ardennes
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo) had a remarkably consistent run of form in last year's Ardennes Classics and the 30-year-old Canadian enters this year's Ardennes week brimming with confidence.
In 2010, Hesjedal opened his account with a bang via his best-ever result in a one-day Classic: a second place finish in the Amstel Gold Race, two seconds down on race winner Philippe Gilbert. He followed that result with a ninth place finish at Fléche Wallonne and a 12th place performance at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Hesjedal made a few tweaks to his spring race calendar this season, choosing Paris-Nice and Critérium International over the previous year's Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, and the adjustment seemed to pay dividends. After a quiet Paris-Nice, the Garmin-Cervélo Canadian earned a seventh place finish at Critérium International followed six days later with a fourth place in the one-day Gran Premio Miguel Indurain.
Hesjedal's final block of racing prior to the trio of Ardennes Classics was the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco stage race, where he finished a career-best ninth overall.
"Pais Vasco was great, the GP Indurain before that was good and also the Critérium International in that stretch there was really good," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews. "I felt better and performed better in Pais Vasco than last year so I'm hoping to keep that going through the end of next week. Already I feel recovered from Pais Vasco, I feel pretty optimistic for the Ardennes to say the least."
2011 marks the fourth straight year Hesjedal will contest Amstel Gold, Fléche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and with experience comes an invaluable familiarity with the parcours.
The Sicilian classics rider is considered one of the outsiders for the race, having both the climbing ability and finishing speed to take on favourite Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
"Giovanni is recovering well and we hope that he'll continue to improve between now and Sunday. If he doesn't have a set back then he'll be able to race," team doctor Daniele Tarsi said in a statement issued by the team.
"He wont be at 100% because these two days of illness have weakened him a little bit, but Giovanni is getting better and he should be on good form."
Visconti will lead the Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli team, with support from Davide Ricci Bitti, Gianluca Mirenda, Leonardo Giordani, Elia Favilli, Luca Mazzanti, Diego Caccia and Francesco Failli.
Directeur sportif Luca Scinto promised the team would race aggressively.
"We won't watch on from the sidelines. As we did in the major Italian classics, we'll show what we can do in the North and make a good impression," Scinto said.
The result was nonetheless impressive for the US-based squad which has been racing in Belgium and around Europe in its first season in the Pro Continental ranks.
Van Poppel is a four-time Dutch National Cyclocross Champion (U23/Juniors) and stage winner at the Tour of Missouri and has been racing well this season for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
Team Director Eric Greene agrees and thinks that the encouraging result is a positive sign looking into May.
"Boy had a good race today and we are pleased with the effort he and his teammates showed today," Greene said.
"The team has spent the past three weeks racing in Belgium against some of the best guys in the world for this style of racing and the experience has prepared them well for the Ronde van Drenthe. Today was a good day and we're looking forward to tomorrow."
Van Poppel was also pleased with his result, but hoped for more come...
At the beginning of April, Jeremy Roy was a very tired rider. But a month later and after a break from racing and a little rest has rejuventated him and the FDJ rider is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Last week he helped Sandy Casar take victory for FDJ at Paris Camembert and he is now looking to advance his own chances at the Tour du Finistère.
"I've been recovering well since last week. Even though my sensations throughout the race weren't great, I was able to harden the course sufficiently for [teammates] Sandy [Casar] and Pierrick [Fedrigo]," Roy told Velochrono.
"My legs are feeling good and I think I can put in a good race at Finistère".
Roy won the opening round of the Coupe de France in late January by snaring the GP la Marseillaise and now sits high amongst the overall standings in that competition.
This weekend is a double for riders chasing the Coupe de France but Roy is trying to just focus on Finistère a race which the Frenchman won last year.
"I'm not too worried about Tro Bro Leon - I think Finistère suits me better as a a rider. For Tro Bro Leon we have Frederic [Guesdon] and Yauheni [Hutarovich] anyway - I'll be there mainly to support them."
The FDJ rider is hoping that he's finally turned a page in his season and hopes for a strong performance on Saturday.
"I'm hoping to get points, but you have to have the legs. Last week I felt like I was almost there so hopefully that means that I can be 100% on Saturday."
The Tour du Finistère is on Saturday, and makes up the fifth round of the Coupe de France.
Philippe Gilbert (Omega-Pharma Lotto) said he is ready for any outcome in the finale of Sunday's Amstel Gold Race and shrugged off the idea that his rivals could stop him winning one of the three Ardennes Classics just as Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) was closely marked and then outmaneuvered in the cobbled classics.
Gilbert won the Amstel Gold Race last year, finished sixth in Fleche-Wallonne and was third in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He again opted to miss Paris-Roubaix this spring to focus on the Ardennes classics, which cover many of his training roads in the French speaking Wallonne region of Belgium.
He told Cyclingnews that he felt he has hit peak form just in time for the Ardennes week.
"I was very good on Wednesday at Flèche Brabançonne and I don’t think my form will not change in just three days. So it’s okay," he said fluently switching from French to Flemish and then English during the Omega Pharma-Lotto pre-race press conference.
"I have no problem with the tactics because I can go with a...
Gazzetta dello Sport claim Roberto Damiani to take over before the Giro
Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Giuseppe Saronni is ready to step down as team manager at the troubled Lampre-ISD team as the sponsors look to make sweeping changes after riders and staff were embroiled in a doping investigation in Mantova.
Last week the Mantova public prosecutor Antonino Condorelli revealed details of a two-year investigation into the relations between pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and riders and staff from the Lampre team. Under Italian law, a judge will now decide if the 32 people named will go on trial, with a decision is expected within the next two months. The 32 include Saronni, several directeur sportif and leading riders such as team leader Damiano Cunego and former Lampre riders Alessandro Ballan, now with BMC, and Marzio Bruseghin, who now rides for Movistar.
Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Saronni has hinted to the Italian Cycling Federation president Renato DI Rocco that he was ready to step aside and Roberto Damiani has been identified by the Galbusera family that own the Lampre company as the person to revolutionise the team.
Damiani is under contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto as a directeur sportif but tried to leave the team last year to work with Lampre. When the Belgian team blocked the move, he took on a consultant role at the Mapei centre, working with some of the young Lampre riders who visited the centre for testing and coaching.
Damiani refused to confirm the news when contacted by Cyclingnews, insisting he was a directeur sportif with Omega Pharma-Lotto. However Gazzetta dello Sport suggest he could take legal...
Eyebrows were raised when Rasmus Guldhammer decided take a step down from the professional ranks with HTC-Highroad last season but the 22-year-old has found his feet in the U23 ranks again and believes he could return to the pro ranks in the future.
Guldhammer turned professional with HTC in 2010 and was seen as a highly rated climber having won Liege-Bastogne-Liege as a U23 rider in 2009. However his debut season began to unravel during the spring of 2010 as he lost motivation and eventually ended his time as a pro rider.
“I think I maybe have turned professional too soon,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I don’t think I was ready in my head to turn pro. But I took the chance and turned pro and even though it didn’t work, I’m happy for the experience. But I’ more happy to have the happiness and the passion about this sport back.”
Guldhammer signed for Danish team Concordia Forsikring - Himmerland at the start of this season and has so far has reveled in his new environment, securing two wins, and another top ten placing. On Saturday he will line up in the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the scene of that all-important win back in 2009.
“I’ve got a smile on my face again and that’s the most important thing for me,” he said the night before the race.
“In 2010 I had some problems getting motivated for the races in June, and after the Tour of Denmark I just didn’t have the energy to travel and do races, because I was not ready in my head. But this year I’ve found my passion.”
So could we see Guldhammer make a dramatic turn around and move back into the pro ranks again? Possibly. He has a contract for the next year but has already thought about the prospect of having a second crack in the WorldTour and while he points no finger of blame at HTC and would even...