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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 6, 2010

Date published:
February 06, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Tour of Murcia bars Italian teams

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2010, 15:18 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Organisers take revenge for Valverde verdict

    The field for next month's Tour of Murcia won't include any Italian squads after race organizer Paco Guzmán took the decision to bar them as a protest against the treatment of local cycling hero Alejandro Valverde, who is currently banned from racing in Italy.

    "There will be no Italian teams participating due to the fact that they aren't letting Valverde race in that country," Guzmán told sports daily AS. "Alejandro is Murcia's best rider and I don't want them in our race."

    Valverde has been banned from racing in Italy for two years after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) alleged he had been linked to the Operación Puerto blood doping ring based what they have insisted is DNA evidence. Valverde has challenged the ban with an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is due to give a ruling on the case next month.

    Asked how he would feel if the CAS ruled against Valverde, Guzmán was adamant he would not be swayed. "We might be mistaken, but I don't like to see how they have treated Valverde and the fact that he is banned in Italy. For that reason I don't want the Italians coming here."

    What seems a bizarre decision was described by Spanish cycling federation president Juan Carlos Castaño as "rather illogical". Castaño added: "No action should be taken while the CAS is drawing up its judgment. The Italian teams have got nothing to do with this."

    The news is made even more surprising given the fact that Spain's top-line teams have already said that they will not be taking part in the race. This is due to an ongoing dispute between the Spanish race organisers' association and the teams' association about safety issues and appearance payments.

    Consequently, the Caisse d'Epargne team that features Valverde as well as fellow Murcian riders Luis León Sánchez, Francisco Pérez and José Joaquín Rojas won't be starting...

  • Crashes topple hopes for Gilmore, Leleivyte in Qatar

    Rasa Leleivyte in the blue best young rider jersey was one of the crash victims.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2010, 15:53 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Final stage pile-up just one wreck of many

    The Ladies Tour of Qatar may have been the start of the season, but for some it came to a rather abrupt stop for an unfortunate few. Fourth place overall coming into the day, Australian Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto), and former overall leader and best young rider Rasa Leleivyte (Safi Pasta) lost hopes of improving their placing due to a crash in the final sprint today.

    The wreck was just one of several in a week that started with Amben Rais crashing out before the start and ended with the high-speed crash in the final metres of the final stage on the Doha Corniche. In between other riders went down on stage two, including Lizzie Armistead (Cervelo Test Team) and Katherine Carroll (USA).

    The official race communique ruled that 12 riders were involved on the final stage crash, and they were all given the same time for the stage because the crash happened inside the final three kliometres.

    The crash in the final metres of the final stage happened as the Cervelo Test Team worked to lead out eventual overall winner Kirsten Wild. Behind them several riders touched wheels and pedals ripped out spokes, causing several riders to crash.

    HTC-Columbia rider Chloe Hoskings was not among the 12 listed on the communique, but she hit the ground hard and was taken to hospital. Fortunately she did not suffer any serious injuries and should be well enough to set off on her long journey home to Australia.

    Cyclingnews diarist Liz Hatch and Lotto teammate Gilmore were both caught up in the crash. Gilmore did not fall, but her forward progress was halted when another rider's pedal ripped out several spokes in her wheel. Hatch was unluckier and hurt her wrist as she landed. Initial suspicions of fractured wrist seem incorrect but Hatch is suspected to have broken at least one finger in her right hand.

    The Safi-Pasta Zara team were perhaps the unluckiest team in the crash. Stage one winner Rasa Leleivyte, Lorena Foresi, Eleonora...

  • 16 teams gain UCI wild card status

    The De Rosa - Stac Plastic team of race leader Matteo Montaguti sets tempo.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2010, 16:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    De Rosa-Stac Plastic, Voralberg don't make the cut

    The International Cycling Union granted "wild card" status to 16 Professional Continental teams today. The list already included the BMC Racing Team, which was given the status ahead of the Tour Down Under in order for it to compete there.

    The De Rosa-Stac Plastic and Voralberg squads were both denied wild card designations.

    The “wild card” status is required for Professional Continental teams before they can be given invitations to ProTour events, but is not necessarily required for Historic races. The status is awarded based on strict sporting, legal, administrative and ethical criteria.

    The designation was crafted to resolve objections from organisers, teams and riders who argued that any Professional Continental teams which were invited to ProTour races should have to meet the same criteria for transparency.

    All ProTour and Pro Conti teams must be enrolled in the UCI's biological passport in order to gain their racing licenses. The wild card status adds additional requirements above and beyond the Pro Continental license standards.

    In December, 19 teams applied to be given the status, including the Rock Racing team which was not granted a Professional Continental license.

    17 of the remaining 18 teams were given the status with De Rosa-Stac Plastic being denied.

    The CCC Polsat Polkowice, Scott-Marcondes and Voralberg-Corratec teams did not apply for wild card status.

    2010 Wild Card teams:

    Acqua & Sapone
    Andalucia Cajasur
    Androni Giocattoli
    Bbox Bouygues Telecom
    Carmiooro - NGC
    Ceramica Flaminia
    Cervélo Test Team
    Cofidis, le crédit en ligne
    Colnago - CSF Inox
    ISD - Neri
    Saur - Sojasun
    Skil - Shimano
    Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
    Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
    Xacobeo Galicia Team

  • Men's teams arrive in Qatar

    'Hands off! The BMC SLX01 is mine' Burghardt says.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2010, 17:05 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Riders fine-tune bikes, prep for Sunday's team time trial

    The Ladies Tour of Qatar may be over but the men's race is just about to begin, with teams arriving in Doha before Sunday's opening team time trial stage.

    Quick Step, BMC, Topsport Vlaanderen and Omega Pharma flew in on Thursday night from Paris, arriving in the Qatar capital Doha at midnight as lightning lit up the sky.

    Stuart O'Grady, J.J. Haedo and Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank), Matt Goss (HTC-Columbia) and Britain's Russell Downing (Team Sky) arrived during Thursday night from Australia via Kuala Lumpur, while the other teams arrived during Friday. Sixteen teams of eight riders will compete in both the Tour of Qatar and the new Tour of Oman.

    The Trek-Livestrong Under 23 team arrived early from the USA and was making the most of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, where the teams stay for the whole race.

    Most are planning to test their team time trial strategy on Saturday, so Friday was a chance for the riders to stretch their legs after a long flight and fine-tune their new 2010 bikes.

    Bike adjustments

    Tom Boonen opts for his red Sidi shoes for his first ride in Qatar.

    Tom Boonen carefully adjusted the height of his saddle and the angle of his bars, then checked his cleat position on his new Sidi shoes.

    At the BMC section of the outdoor tent, Marcus Burghardt checked his bike after the mechanic had changed his stem. A quick spin around the car park, a slight adjustment to his brakes and he was happy and ready to ride. Alessandro Ballan checked the height of his massive seat post and the whole BMC area was a hive of activity as the riders put on their shoes, collected bottles and bars and got ready to roll.

    While most riders went for a spin, directeur sportif John Lelangue called his riders together and detailed the ride. There would be three hours with some...

  • Cooke to ride with British team

    2008 Olympic and World Champion Nicole Cooke on the podium in Monzambano after winning the Giro del Trentino in 2009.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2010, 19:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Olympic champion chooses National team over Noris

    Olympic champion Nicole Cooke has chosen to ride the season with the British National Team after her trade team, the former Equipe Nürnberger, lost its title sponsor. The team is continuing as Team Noris, but is still seeking sponsorship to fund the team for the season.

    On the British team's website,, Cooke said she was excited about her new course, which allows her to work with developing riders toward her home Olympic Games in 2012.

    "GB is a fantastic environment to be setting myself up in. We're working together now and have started the build up to London 2012 and I'm very exciting about this new path ahead and the momentum which is building.

    "Within GB, I know all my teammates, the staff and to race with the Academy riders, who are developing into future champions themselves, is a challenge in itself where I'll be in a position to help them on their way. This brings with it different goals and responsibilities compared to riding in a professional team and adds a very inspiring dimension to the season ahead."

    After a winter trip to Australia, Cooke is now swapping time in Switzerland and Tuscany for training in advance of the team's first camp in Mallorca on March 3. She has her schedule planned out for the Spring, and is working with team manager Simon Cope on her calendar ahead of the Worlds in Melbourne in October.

    "It looks like a nice plan with many of the races already in place for the academy riders balanced out with higher level races like the Worlds Cups which is great for me".

  • Luca Damiani's season at risk over visa issue

    Luca Damiani (Italy)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2010, 20:20 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Team launches 'FREE LUCA' fundraiser

    Italian Luca Damiani's debut season with the Kenda team is at risk after he was denied a traveler's visa to enter the United States of America by the US Consulate in Milan, Italy on Tuesday. Damiani was expected to arrive in Stateside this month to begin his road racing season with team Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Gear Grinder.

    "The problem is the paperwork and now the team wants to have the athletes visa ready in time for the end of February," Damiani said. "This is a problem because it will cost more to have it done quickly. If everything is going OK, I should have my visa in time for the training camp."

    Damiani applied for a B1-B2 Visa, a temporary non-immigrant visa used to enter the US on business or pleasure. The US Consulate denied him the visa citing him as a possible immigration risk, according to Kenda Pro Cycling Team owner Chad Thompson.

    "Our attorney asked Luca to apply for a B1-B2, since we are not paying him a salary, instead of a P1 Visa that is a corporate," Thomson said. "They denied him because he does not have a stable paycheck or job in Italy nor own a home in Italy. So, the US Consulate officer thought he was an immigration risk. He contacted me right away."

    Thompson has hired 'visa specialist' Michael Hoops of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP Attorneys at Law to complete the paper work for a P1 Visa for athletes and entertainers on Damiani's behalf. Costs of the P1 Visa reach as high as $3000 USD.

    "Since he wasn't getting paid he opted to apply for a B1-B2 Visa and now that he's not getting that one he is getting a P1 Visa." Thompson said. "The P1 is in process we are confident it will be ready and he will be at camp on February 26. We've already purchased his flight tickets."

    Damiani recently completed his European cyclo-cross season with the Italian National Team at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships held in Tabor, Czech Republic. He was expected to return to the US in time for his...

  • Fränk Schleck hopes to stay with Bjarne Riis

    Frank Schleck and team manager Bjarne Riis take part in a Team Saxo Bank training ride
    Article published:
    February 06, 2010, 9:00 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Schleck brothers to remain together regardless of Team Saxo Bank's sponsorship woes

    Fränk and Andy Schleck hope to stay with Bjarne Riis' team after their contracts expire the end of this season but say the most important thing is that they ride on the same team. “What is certain is that Andy and I will always stay together,” Fränk said.

    The elder Schleck has ridden for Riis since turning pro in 2003 and told Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien he would like the co-operation to continue. “I am really happy. I was able to grow there, to progress slowly over time. I would be happy it if went even beyond the 2010 season.”

    Saxo Bank recently announced it would end its sponsorship of the squad at the end of the current season, leaving team owner Riis to search for a replacement.

    But wherever Schleck rides in 2011, it will be on the same team as his brother. “Right now, we concentrate on riding and this should not upset us," he said. "Because we know we will still be riding in 2011. We will discuss it again after the Tour [de France].”

    Fränk, who turns 30 the middle of April, is looking forward to 2010, both personally and professionally. He and his wife are expecting the first child this spring and he is eager to return to racing after knee surgery shortened his season last year.

    One of his goals this year is to finish in the top-three of the Tour de France, along with his brother, of course. Andy Schleck has said his elder brother could even win the race. “I like especially that Andy never does the calculations without me,” Fränk said. “And I also think that I can do better than last year. … For 2010, I say: why not the podium? And if I get onto the podium, why not win?”

    Fränk finished fifth at both the 2008 and 2009 Tours de France. Brother Andy finished second overall at the 2009 edition of the race, 4:11 behind winner Alberto Contador (Astana).

  • RadioShack begins Spanish training camp in Calpe

    Chris Horner enjoying the sunny morning in Spain
    Article published:
    February 06, 2010, 10:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Riders get decked out with team gear as European season approaches

    While RadioShack's 2010 racing season has already kicked off for some of the team, 23 members of the squad have come together in Calpe, Spain for one final training camp before the European calendar commences in earnest.

    Apart from the opportunity to train beneath sunny skies, the camp is being used to get the majority of riders to be fitted up with the full array of their RadioShack clothing and equipment. On day one, as riders trickled in from all over the world, the team were busy trying on their official racing and casual apparel, and making the necessary tweaks to their new bikes.

    With a most of the riders being reunited for the first time since last December's team get-together in Arizona, the day was also a chance to catch up on the last few months of gossip. Several riders had made the long journey from their home countries, with Sam Bewley flying in from New Zealand, Levi Leipheimer from California, USA, and Fuyu Li from China. For Japan's Fumiyuki Beppu it was also his first chance to ride with his new teammates after he settled affairs with former team Skil-Shimano mid-week.

    Day two of the camp saw Team Manager Johan Bruyneel prescribe a four-hour ride, with the riders split into two groups as they made their journey north towards Valencia. Those whose flights to Spain had fallen into the long-haul category were sent back to the team hotel early while the remaining riders pushed on for a final hour in the local hills.

    The RadioShack training camp continues until the end of next week.

    Click here to view a gallery of images from the opening days of the Team RadioShack training camp.