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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 16, 2013

Date published:
February 16, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Rodriguez happy to stay at Katusha after CAS verdict

    Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha celebrates after winning the Fleche Wallonne
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 17:43 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard eyes Ardennes before focusing on Tour de France

    Joaquim Rodriguez finished third on stage five at the Tour of Oman but hugged his Katusha directeur sportif Valerio Piva as if he had won, after hearing that the Russian team had won it's appeal to the Court of Arbitration and secured its return to the UCI WorldTour.

    Rodriguez and Piva refused to confirm their good news, under strict orders not to talk by the team's management, but the big smiles and hugs between the riders and staff as they whispered the news, made it clear that Katusha had finally received some good news.

    Since being turned down for a WorldTour spot by the UCI Licence Commission on December 10, the team's future has been up in the air.
    It was granted a provisional Professional Continental licence so it could compete but the team had been snubbed for wild invitations to the Giro d'Italia, Paris-Nice, the Criterium du Dauphine, and most recently the Tour de Romandie.

    On Thursday night, Rodriguez confirmed that he would leave Katusha if the team failed to secure a WorldTour place. He is determined to ride the Tour de France and was unwilling to let the team's problems impact on his season.

    Fortunately the team's future now appears safe. Rodriguez's contract with the team is valid and he insisted he was happy to continue racing in the red and white Katusha colours.

    "I'm happy to stay with the Katusha team because I've been in the team for several years now. The team has given me a lot and I've given a lot to the team. This is the best possible solution for everyone," Rodriguez said in a hastily arranged press conference in the permanence of the Tour of Oman.

    "In the days before the verdict, we were optimistic and we always believed we'd...

  • Acquarone: the WorldTour must have 18 teams

    Michele Acquarone.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 18:50 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Giro left to ponder CAS ruling on Katusha

    Michele Acquarone has reacted to the news that CAS has ordered the UCI to grant Katusha a WorldTour licence, saying that the sport’s governing body must clarify the situation quickly. Acquarone is the head of RCS Sport and organises Italy’s premier races including the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of Lombardy and the Strade Bianche.

    Katusha’s WorldTour status would create 19 teams in cycling’s top tier, however the 18 existing WorldTour teams and four wild cards have already been invited to the race. Katusha missed out on a wildcard position this year, meaning that if they were shoehorned into the race 23 teams would take to the start in Naples on May 4.

    “What a mess. Now we have 19 teams so I’m curious to see what’s going to happen. We’ve planned everything for 18 teams and then the wildcard teams. We’re not ready for 19 WorldTour teams. Logistically everything has been set up for races like Tirreno and the Giro. I really don’t know how we’d have one more team in the race,” Acquarone told Cyclingnews.

    UCI regulations are clear that the WorldTour is comprised of 18 teams, meaning that one team may have be forced to sacrifice it’s current status for Katusha.

    “I’m curious to see what the UCI are going to do. Maybe they’ll take one team out of the WorldTour because as it stands we’ve got an agreement for 18 teams, not 19. I just don’t know. At the moment I think we have to go back to 18 teams but I will speak to the UCI next week and help to work on finding a solution.”

    A bit of history

    The number of teams in the sport's top tier has been just one source of

  • Operación Puerto: Transfusions “could have led to deaths” says expert

    Eufemiano Fuentes arrives to a mob of press at the Madrid court
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 19:59 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    WADA expert hugely critical of methods employed by Eufemiano Fuentes

    The scientific expert called by the World Anti-Doping Agency has been highly critical of the blood transfusion methods employed by Operacion Puerto trial defendant Eufemiano Fuentes, saying they “could have caused serious health issues ranging from kidney problems to death.”

    During almost five hours in the witness box at the end of the third week of the trial in Madrid, Dr. Yorck Olaf Schumacher said that Fuentes had failed to follow protocols relating to blood transfusions as laid down by the European Union and by royal decree in Spain. Backing up his evidence with medical and technical data, Dr. Schumacher described how Fuentes’ methods were dangerous at every part of the transfusion process, from the moment the blood was drawn from athletes, through its transport, storage and transfusion back into the athletes.

    Regarded as a world expert on blood and its importance within the world of sport, Dr. Schumacher rejected the defence Fuentes had put forward on January 29 that he had carried out transfusions on cyclists and other athletes for “therapeutic reasons”. Fuentes had, said Dr. Schumacher, exposed his clients to the risk of being infected with illnesses such as hepatitis and AIDS.

    He also dismissed the claim made by Fuentes, who is one of five defendants on trial for a crime against public health, that transfusions were necessary to prevent athletes being affected by anaemia. “Anaemia in athletes is not real, it’s only a case of dilution of the blood. They recover with two or three days’ rest,” he said. He was also critical of the use of transfusions during competition, saying that an athlete with weakened immune system was more at risk of infection and other health difficulties.

    He made it clear that drawing blood carries a greater risk than other medical procedures,...

  • Gallery: NetApp-Endura at the Tour of Oman

    A NetApp-Endura rider in the desert
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 20:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Voss satisfied with 14th overall

    Paul Voss cemented his top 15 overall ranking by a strong performance in the Tour of Oman's queen stage on Thursday, when he was in the escape group which stayed away until nearly the end. While he was unable to repeat that performance on Friday, the NetApp-Endura rider was happy with his results.

    “Today I had planned to stay with the favourites and to sprint in the finale,” he told Cyclingnews after the stage. “Unfortunately it didn't work out.

    He is currently 14th overall, “which may not sound convincing at first, but with the good riders here, and when you think that we are only at the beginning of the season, I think I can be very satisfied.”

    From Oman, Voss will travel to the different world of Belgium racing. His next race is the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, “which is of course an entirely different kind of race.” He also knows that he faces a massive change in weather conditions.  “We will just have to wait and see how everything goes.”

    2013 is the team's first appearance in the Tour of Oman, and the team has been active in breakaways.

  • Brailsford impressed by Froome's success in Oman

    Chris Froome (Sky) is the new leader at the Tour of Oman.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 22:33 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky manager plans step by step preparation for the Tour de France

    Dave Brailsford has followed every stage of the Tour of Oman, carefully supervising the team as it gels as a unit early in the season and helping groom Chris Froome as he begins his long road to becoming the team's leader for the Tour de France.

    Brailsford and head coach Tim Kerrison watched Thursday's mountain showdown from the roadside, 300 metres from the finish, so they could cheer on Froome from close up in the key moment of the race.

    The British team manager is famous for his self-control and marginal gains but he shouted at Froome as passionately and emotionally as the many ex-pat British cycling fans carry union jacks and wearing Team Sky kit at the finish line.

    On Friday, Brailsford rode in the Team Sky team car during the stage as Froome and the team responded to Alberto Contador's series of attacks and then beat the Spaniard in the sprint to win the stage and seal victory.

    There is no love lost between Brailsford and Team Saxo-Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis and Froome's defeat of Contador is making the Tour of Oman especially satisfying.

    "It doesn’t matter how long I've been involved in the sport, it still gets me jumping up and down. And I'm glad I'm still feeling that," Brailsford confided to Cyclingnews as he analysed Froome's performance and development during the race.

    "For where Chris is at the moment, he showed he's in good shape and has the confidence to take it on in the final. That's a good sign. He's got the self-confidence to attack and go for it," Brailsford pointed out with pride.

    “He's had a consistent winter. He's done a lot of good basic training back to back. He's had the consistency and that's the platform you need to...

  • Gilbert building his form for a long assault at the spring classics

    World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) rolls along in the peloton.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2013, 9:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    World champion working hard in Oman to avid the problems of 2012

    At the Tour of Oman, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) has stood out more for his rainbow jersey than for his results but he has dismissed off any doubts about his form and is convinced he will be a contender in the spring Classics, from Milan-San Remo until Liège-Bastogne- Liège.

    Gilbert is always polite and professional, but he is more protective of his time and privacy after the scrutiny and thousands of questions, especially in Belgium, about his difficult 2012 season. He answers further questions about last year but they clearly touch a nerve.

    "There's been a lot of talk about my spring season last year but it's only three months in a career of ten years. I have nothing to complain about," Gilbert said, firing a warning shot while speaking to the media, including Cyclingnews, at the Tour of Oman.

    "I was there in the finale in almost every classic but everyone said things were very bad. But bad is when you get dropped and climb off in races. I was not that bad and got better week after week. Eventually my best form came back."

    Gilbert concedes that his hugely successful 2011 season left him tired for 2012. Poor results in 2012 were the price he paid for his long run of victories in 2011, although he recovered his powers sufficiently to win the world championships in Valkenburg in September.

    "Maybe in life you only have one big season and perhaps it was 2011 for me," he said.

    "But it was also long season: I did all the classics, rode the Tour de France and went for the green jersey, I was at full gas everyday but then I never rested afterwards because I won the WorldTour. After the Tour de France I targeted San Sebastian, the Eneco Tour, the Canadian races and the...

  • Bos happy to get off the mark at Volta ao Algarve

    Theo Bos (Blanco) wins the second Volta ao Algarve stage
    Article published:
    February 16, 2013, 10:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mechanical problem thwarts Cavendish in sprint

    Theo Bos claimed his first win of the season when he unleashed a powerful sprint at the end of stage two of the Volta ao Algarve on Friday, and his victory ensured that the leader’s jersey stayed within the Blano Pro Cycling team’s ranks.

    Bos’ teammate Paul Martens had pre-empted the sprinters to take a canny victory on the opening stage and Blanco was again to the fore in attempting to set up the sprint in Lagoa on Friday.

    “It was a collective victory once again, the guys did a really great job,” Bos said. “The last kilometre was difficult, because it was uphill initially, then it went downhill for a bit before it dragged back up to the line.”

    In the testing finale, Bos had looked to position himself on the rear wheel of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), but he had to change that tactic when the Manxman suffered a mechanical mishap in sight of the line.

    “Tom Leezer had dropped me off around 300 metres from the line,” Bos explained. “I chose Cavendish’s wheel first but he had problems with his chain. I had to come from a little further back, but it went perfectly.”

    With Cavendish out of the equation, the powerful Bos had more than enough in reserve to overhaul Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack Leopard) and local rider Bruno Matos (Carmim-Tavira) in the sprint. It is now four years since the former track rider made his debut on the road at the 2009 edition of the Volta ao Algarve. “I’m really happy with this win as it’s only my fifth race of the season,” Bos said.

    For Cavendish, meanwhile, there was the frustration of missing out on a sprint finish and the chance to add to his running total of five victories in 2013....

  • Report: Leinders to face criminal investigation

    Dr Geert Leinders
    Article published:
    February 16, 2013, 11:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Rabobank and Sky doctor implicated by former riders

    Belgian public prosecutors are to open a criminal investigation against former Rabobank and Team Sky doctor Geert Leinders, according to a report in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on Saturday.

    A spokesperson for the pubic prosecutor in Dendermonde, East Flanders did not give details as to the nature of the investigation but told NRC Handelsblad that it pertained to “the statements of Rabobank riders.”

    In recent months, a number of Rabobank riders have confessed to doping during their time at the team and directly implicated Leinders. Danny Nelissen named Leinders when he confessed to using EPO at the team in 1996, while Levi Leipheimer is also reported to have told USADA that he was assisted by Leinders with his doping from 2002 to 2004.

    In January, Leinders was questioned on the allegations by the Belgian Cycling Federation in a hearing that lasted over three hours.

    Leinders worked for Rabobank from its inception in 1996 until 2009. He most recently worked for Team Sky in 2011 and 2012, although the British team opted not to renew Leinders’ contract in light of the revelations concerning the Rabobank team during his tenure.