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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 25, 2012

Date published:
February 25, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Boonen eager to perform well in Omloop

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick Step) wins the final stage in San Luis
    Article published:
    February 24, 2012, 20:50 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian star's first race this season on home soil

    Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - formerly Omloop Het Volk and Ghent-Ghent - marks the traditional opening race of the Spring Classics season. After building up their form in the Middle East a part of the peloton now hits the cobbles and hellingen for the first time this season.

    At the Omega Pharma-QuickStep press conference in Kortrijk, Belgium the team's leader Tom Boonen showed up an hour late due to a traffic jam. Meanwhile co-leader Sylvain Chavanel entertained the press with his view on the opening weekend but when tv-crews suddenly entered the hotel he realized it was time to leave the room.

    "I'll make some space for le grand," Chavanel smiled. Boonen entered, apologizing for the delay. "Sorry everybody... my apologies," Boonen said, taking a seat and started talking about the season so far and his view on the Omloop.

    "I've done three stage races already and this doesn't really feel like the first day at school. It's a new start for our team. Two important days are coming up and we'll see how we fare on these roads. I feel some nerves but in a positive way. There's no need to worry. The birds start to sing, the spring is in the country so the most beautiful time of the year is coming up," Boonen said.

    Being a local hero Boonen once again is among the top favorites for the win at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad even though he somehow never won the race. "It's the only Spring Classic that I didn't win even though I can win it. Why? Because if you peak to this one then it's harder to be good at the other Classics. I've always been the top favorite and other riders were able to exploit that in their favor," Boonen said.

    Boonen didn't want to talk about the other favorites. "Some riders who I...

  • UCI releases report for its anti-doping foundation

    Article published:
    February 24, 2012, 22:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Summary of CADF's activities for 2010-2011

    The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today released a 20-page business report for the activities of its Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) for the previous two years, 2010 and 2011.

    "During 2010 and 2011, CADF activities were focused on consolidating and improving the Biological Passport Program (BP)," the report stated. "The use of this very important tool in the fight against doping was progressively modified in order to emphasize quality instead of quantity. By applying "intelligent testing", we were able to perform fewer tests on riders having normal ABP profiles (based on a significant number of samples already collected), while more tests were performed on riders having abnormal blood profiles."

    Highlights of the report include such data as the total amount of testing carried out in 2010 and 2011 for all cycling disciplines. In the former year, a total of 13,019 tests were carried, subdivided into the amount of blood and urine tests conducted in three categories: in-competition, pre-competition and out-of-competition. For 2011 the total amount of blood and urine tests remained at a comparable size, with a marginal increase to 13,057.

    The report noted that those figures did not include the 600 samples collected for medical monitoring before the Grand Tours and also that the 2011 figures are not entirely complete as the CADF is still receiving Doping Control Forms for samples collected in 2011.

    The report provided the total number of professional male road riders who were included in the biological passport. In 2010, 848 riders from 18 ProTour teams and 17 Pro Continental teams took part. The following year 955 riders were included in the biological passport, from 18 ProTour teams and 23 Pro Continental teams.

    Among the total tests for all disciplines of cycling, the biological passport testing accounted for 8,346 tests in 2010 and 8,660 tests in 2011. The report cited the new targeted testing approach in 2011 as...

  • Video: Patrick Lefevere ahead of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    General manager Patrick Lefevere at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step Cycling Team press conference
    Article published:
    February 25, 2012, 6:33 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep hopes to keep momentum

    Patrick Lefevere was in good spirits ahead of the opening weekend of the Belgian road season, which kicks off with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 24 hours later.

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep is the most successful team so far this season, with 13 wins, and Lefevere will be looking to pick up a win this weekend with marquee riders Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel both in form.

    In this exclusive video with Cyclingnews, Lefevere talks about how he and the team were criticised over the past two seasons for being ‘too old fashioned’ and not winning enough races.

    In the winter the team signed a raft of talented, proven winners with Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer among the new signings.

    Lefevere is well aware that those 13 wins will count for little in the eyes of the Belgian press if the team fails to make a major impact on the Classics and a win in either of this weekend’s races would be the perfect way to kick start their campaign.


  • Modolo and Coledan shot at during training ride

    Sacha Modolo (Colnago - CSF Inox)
    Article published:
    February 25, 2012, 10:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Riders not seriously hurt in air gun attack

    Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF) was one of five riders shot at with an air gun by a motorist during a training ride near Scomigo di Conegliano, Italy on Friday.

    The Italian was training with his teammate Marco Coledan and three riders from the UC Trevigiani under 23 team – Mattia Mosole, Massimo Coledan and Andrea Dal Col – when a motorist passing the opposite direction fired plastic pellets at the riders. None of the five were seriously injured, although Marco Coledan and Mosole were struck by pellets.

    “I wasn’t hurt at all,” Modolo told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I just felt a heavy blow, like it was a stone throw, but Coledan and Mosole had marks on their knees. What if one of us had been hit in the eye? The car was a grey Alfa GT. Whoever did something like this is a madman.”

    The motorist drove off immediately and has not been identified, although Mosole pointed out that a similar incident had occurred in the area the previous day. “It was on the Treviso ring road. Some people were at a petrol station when a car passed and there were shots fired.”

  • Startline Gallery: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
    Article published:
    February 25, 2012, 11:17 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Blue skies for opening weekend of Belgian season

    We’ve had the Tours of Oman and Qatar but for many of the real traditionalists the road season really begins this weekend with the double header of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

    Omloop is the first race on the menu, starting in the picturesque setting of Gent, Belgium. In the last few years the race has begun in typically Belgian spring weather of rain, cold and gusty winds..

    However Saturday’s race set off under clear blue skies, warm temperatures and huge degree of anticipation.

    The 67th edition of the 'Omloop' began at 11:30, with the women’s race starting a few minutes before. Both races will finish back in Ghent’s St Peter’s Square later today.

    Cyclingnews was at the start to capture the special atmosphere of Flemish cycling with a unique photo gallery.

    There is also live coverage of the race throughout the day, and a full race report, racing photograph gallery and rider interviews after the finish.


  • 2011 Giro d'Italia title a "statistic" for Scarponi

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre - ISD)
    Article published:
    February 25, 2012, 12:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian begins new season at GP Lugano

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) enters the record books as the victor of the 2011 Giro d’Italia following Alberto Contador’s suspension, but he has admitted that he does not feel like the winner of the race.

    The Italian was promoted to first place after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that all of the results earned by Contador since his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France should be expunged.

    “You celebrate wins on the road, with the flowers, the podium girls and the people. On that day, at the Duomo in Milan, with the national anthem and a blue sky,” Scarponi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Being awarded first place afterwards doesn’t bring emotions, it’s a statistic.”

    Scarponi fended off the challenge of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) to claim the second step of the podium last May, but he pointed out that had Contador not been in the Giro, the complexion of their private duel could well have been altered.

    “It would have been another race, another story,” Scarponi said. “And maybe I wouldn’t even have won it. The battle with Nibali for second place was exciting, but who’s to say it would have been for first?”

    While Scarponi acknowledged Contador’s superiority on the road at the 2011 Giro, he revealed that he continued to harbour hopes of overall victory right up until the third week of the race.

    “Deep down, I was hopeful,” he said. “I was hoping he’d have a bad day and I’d have a marvellous one. We’re not always the same every day and on every road. And I...

  • Tour of the Basque Country and Clasica San Sebastian at risk

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) won the Clasica San Sebastian for the first time.
    Article published:
    February 25, 2012, 13:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    Races to drop down from WorldTour level due to lack of funding?

    The future of the Tour of the Basque Country and the Clasica San Sebastian is at risk as the autonomous Basque government has been unable to sustain its commitment to funding the races.

    In a statement released on Friday, organisers warned that the two races may have to drop down from WorldTour level due to ongoing financial difficulties.

    “After 51 editions of the Tour of the Basque Country and 31 of the Clasica, 2012 could see our races disappear from the international cycling map at its highest level, the WorldTour,” read the statement from Jaime Ugarte Arce.

    In 2009, the Basque government signed an agreement with Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi to provide sponsorship to both races for four years. However, in May 2011, the Basque government informed the organisers that it would not be able to honour its commitment fully in 2012 due to the effects the economic crisis in the eurozone has had on public spending.

    “Aware of the problem that had been created, the Basque government directly involved itself in the search for a new sponsor to fill the void,” Ugarte Arce explained.

    That search has thus far been unsuccessful, with a touted sponsor understood to have declined to follow up on its interest during the week. After an emergency meeting in Vitoria on Friday, the Basque government has indicated that it will offer 60% of the necessary funding for 2012. Nonetheless, that sum alone is unlikely to be itself sufficient to ensure the races’ survival.

    Friday was also the deadline for the organisers to indicate to the UCI if they wished to apply for WorldTour status for 2013. “We don’t know that to do for 2013 if we might possibly not even be able to organise the races in 2012,” Ugarte Arce admitted.

  • Has Rujano already won the 2012 Le Tour de Langkawi?

    Jose Rujano (Androni)
    Article published:
    February 25, 2012, 16:11 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Venezuelan climber in perfect position ahead of Genting Highlands on stage 6

    Andrea Guardini has found the way to success again at Le Tour de Langkawi where he launched his career as a sprinter with five stage wins on Malaysian soil last year, but a question arose after the opening 20.3km time trial: has Jose Rujano (Androni-Venezuela) already won the overall title, given that he recorded the fifth fastest time and only conceded nine seconds to the other race favorite Tom Danielson?

    At the start of stage 2 in Putrajaya, the home of the Malaysian government, Androni-Venezuela team manager Gianni Savio was prompt to firmly reply: “No!”

    “Rujano’s performance in the time trial is a good result but not a victory”, the “Prince” insisted. “[Race leader] David Zabriskie has demonstrated that he’s in great shape and he’s got an advantage of 1:26 over Jose. He’s able to defend himself in the new version of the ascent to Genting Highlands that has really steep gradients in its last five kilometres but before that, it’s just up and down. The second factor is that Danielson has managed to ride an excellent time trial too and he’s ahead of Rujano on GC. He’s got a slim advantage but an advantage nonetheless.”

    After maintaining a low profile, which is not unusual and also reflects his humility, Savio continued by commenting: “Our results in the time trial are definitely good. I’m not only happy about Rujano but all our six guys. We came here with climbers only and the six of them have finished this flat time trial in the top 35.”

    The Italian stated that the time trial hasn’t determined which one of the past...