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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 9, 2013

Date published:
February 09, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Katusha, NetApp - Endura granted Amstel Gold Race wildcards

    The Amstel Gold Race is made up of 31 climbs
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 4:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Will Rodríguez be on the start line for Katusha?

    Organisers of the Amstel Gold Race have announced that ProContinental outfits Katusha and NetApp - Endura are the first two beneficiaries of wildcards for the April 14 event.

    It's particularly good news for Katusha after they surprisingly missed out on a UCI WorldTour licence in December last year - their case against the sport's governing body set to be heard by the the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne later today. Katusha are currently registered as a Pro Continental team, and have already been overlooked for wildcard invitations to the Giro d'Italia and Paris-Nice.

    The event says that the Katusha team will be led by Joaquím Rodríguez, who finished as runner up to Philippe Gilbert in 2011. However, Rodríguez's appearance for Katusha must surely hinge on the success for the team's appeal to the CAS, given it's been made clear that the 33-year-old will leave in order to ride the Tour de France.

    Meantime, NetApp - Endura team manager Ralph Denk said that the newly merged outfit will not just be on the start line to make up the numbers.

    "We applied for the Amstel Gold Race this year quite deliberately," he said. "Our achievements last season convinced the organizers, so we got one of the coveted wildcards. We are grateful for their confidence and, as always, will do our best to make this an interesting race.

    "In the context of our new signings, we have clearly become stronger for the classics," Denk continued. "We really want to show our strengths during the week in the Ardennes. With the Amstel Gold Race we were able to secure one of the three classics we wanted. Participation at Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Flèche Wallonne would be the icing on the cake."

  • Rathe gets second pro season under way at Tour Mediterranean

    Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) working in a break
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 10:04 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Garmin-Sharp rider mixes it up with the sprinters

    The second pro season for Garmin-Sharp's Jacob Rathe literally blew into action on the windswept roads of the Tour Mediterranean this week as the former Paris-Roubaix Espoirs podium finisher begins his preparation for the upcoming semi-classics.

    Rathe started his season Wednesday by finishing with the same time as stage 1 winner André Greipel in a mass sprint. He was surrounded near the top quarter of the bunch by potential Garmin overall threats Andrew Talansky and Michel Kreder, who was runner-up at last year's race.

    The chaotic racing in the crosswinds of Southern France turned into a thrown-into-the-deep-end start for a rider who hopes to shake some cobwebs loose in the early season leg openers and hit the Northern semi-classics in stride.

    "Obviously the goal - my favorite race last year was Flanders; I learned a lot from that race and it was a pretty special day - so my goal would be to do Flanders again," Rathe said last month in an interview shortly before before he appeared with teammate Tyler Farrar at a publicity event in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. "But a race of that distance isn't very realistic for me at this point, whereas a semi-classic is a reasonable distance, and I could make the selection at the end of a race that goes to the line."

    Focused on improvement, opportunities

    But visions of sprinting for a win in a cobbled semi-classic aside, Rathe said, his working goal this season is continued improvement. His early season efforts last year earned him a spot on Garmin-Sharp's Classics squad, and he got a full platter of the northern races during his debut season, culminating with rides in both Flanders and Roubaix. A tangle with a traffic-marking sign ended his...

  • Phinney sets his sights on more Giro d'Italia success

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) wore the maglia rosa for the first three days
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 10:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC rider ready to be the new face of American cycling

    Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) has confirmed he will again ride the Giro d'Italia, with the goal of taking the race leader's maglia rosa in the stage two team time trial.

    Phinney came of age in last year's Giro d'Italia, winning the opening time trial in Denmark and wearing the pink jersey for three days. He went on to finish in Milan – his first Grand Tour finish of his career, and then used his form to build for the Olympic and world championships time trials; finishing fourth and second in each event.

    Phinney tested his form at the Tour of Qatar on Thursday, going on the attack in the final part of the stage. The move was pulled back but Phinney remains third overall behind Mark Cavendish and seems to be on track for a success season.

    "I've finally had a winter without any physical problems. I've never had such a complete preparation. I'm healthy, happy and relaxed," Phinney told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "I'm 85kg, about the same as I was at the end of the Giro d'Italia. Finishing the Giro changed me as a person and as a rider. I always knew I had the physique for the track and time trials and so climbing all the mountains wasn't easy for someone of my weight. But now I'm more complete as a rider."

    Phinney has no regrets about his fourth place at the London Olympics and second at the world championships in Limburg. However he is determined to make up for losing the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia.

    He was taken down in the high-speed crash on stage to Horsens, when Roberto Ferrari cut across the peloton and chopped down Mark Cavendish. Phinney injured his foot and crossed the finish line in an ambulance but ignored the pain and returned to the podium area to pull on the pink jersey....

  • Gallery: Astana's final training camp

    A rider drops back to the team car to talk to Gorazd Strangelj
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 11:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    WorldTour team top up on training in Spain

    The Astana team have already begun competing on a number of fronts with squads having raced at The Tour Down Under, Tour Down Under and with a team currently at the Tour of Qatar. However that didn't stop them from one last stint of training on the roads around Alicante, in Spain -a haunt for number of major teams during the off-season.

    Janez Brajkovic and Fredrik Kessiakoff were both in attendance, and both will be looking for similar form to last year.

    Brajkovic finished in the top ten at the Tour last year but has already stated that he will help Vincenzo Nibali win the Giro d'Italia before looking to race for himself at the Vuelta.

  • Prudhomme wants more revelations from Puerto trial

    General director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 15:21 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Tour director says other sports need to outed in order to avoid case being “a farce”

    Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has called for those involved in the ongoing Puerto trial in Madrid to reveal details of athletes and sports outside cycling that are implicated in the blood doping case. Speaking at the launch of the Paris-Nice route, Prudhomme said the trial would be “a farce” if “all of the cheats” weren’t named.

    "If this case is doing anything it’s to make us realise that cycling wasn’t the only sport involved in Operación Puerto. Up to now, we’ve known the names of the cyclists implicated, but not those of athletes from other sports and it could be that we will never know,” said Prudhomme. “It would be a shame if in the end not all of the truth comes out in the trial."

    The Tour director acknowledged that cycling had made mistakes and needed to be cleaned up, but pointed out that only small part of the truth about the Puerto affair has emerged up to now. “It would be a shame if the full truth didn’t come out during the process,” he said.

    Prudhomme said, "All the cheats and all the liars weren’t simply gathered in the sport of cycling. A barrier wasn’t raised between cycling and other sports when it came to certain products… If all the disciplines are treated with equality, then we will be satisfied.”

    His comments came just a day after French cycling federation (FFC) president David Lappartient branded the Puerto trial a “veritable farce”. Lappartient suggested that a major cover-up was taking place in order to protect the names of high-profile Spanish athletes in other sports.

    “One of the accused [Eufemiano Fuentes] was ready to provide names and he wasn’t asked to do so. There is no doubt that very high-level protection in being provided, notably at government level,”...

  • Cancellara denies Dr. Fuentes links

    Fabian Cancellara sports the new, 2013 RadioShack Leopard kit at the team presentation.
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 16:06 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider reacts to Hamilton interview

    Fabian Cancellara has denied that he was a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, refuting speculation that he was the individual listed as "Luigi" in files seized by Spanish police in 2006 as part of the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation.

    The recent online innuendo concerning Cancellara stemmed from an interview that Tyler Hamilton gave to Cyclingnews on Wednesday, in which he recalled a clash at the 2008 Tour of California between the Rock Racing Team and a rider known as "Luigi" in the Puerto files. Hamilton did not divulge the rider's identity, but speculation quickly spread on social media that he may have been referring to Cancellara.

    Speaking to reporters before the final stage of the Tour of Qatar, Cancellara said that he was bemused by the matter and refuted the allegation. "We don't know from where the connection is coming. I mean, I remember in 2008 I already said everything there is to say, and now a few years later something gets turned on. I don't know if it comes from Hamilton or not, and it looks like everyone is believing what Hamilton is saying."

    Hamilton and his Rock Racing teammates Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla had been barred from participating in the 2008 Tour of Calfornia but rode ahead of the caravan during the race. In his Cyclingnews interview, Hamilton recalled how a prominent rider had been vocal in his opposition to their actions, and he said a group of his Rock Racing teammates had subsequently heckled the rider, calling him "Luigi," his purported Puerto codename.

    On Friday, Cancellara said that while he had voiced his disapproval of Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla's actions, he had not been subjected to intimidation by Rock Racing riders...

  • Radioshack defend Schleck after Tour of Med retirement

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) was taking a relaxed approach to the start of Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    February 08, 2013, 18:15 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Equipe report suggests Tour contender lacks motivation

    Radioshack Leopard team manager Luca Guercilena has moved to defend Andy Schleck after a report in French newspaper Equipe suggested that his comeback from injury is being hit by a lack of motivation rather than a lack of fitness.

    Schleck climbed off during stage one of the Tour Méditeranéen on Wednesday after suffering with breathing problems. He has not finished a race since the Circuit Sarthe in April 2012. However a detailed report in Equipe suggests that Schleck is struggling to find the motivation and discipline to train and race.

    "He's got some breathing problems but at the moment the biggest problem with Andy, is what's going on his head," Equipe quote Guercilena as saying.

    Cyclingnews has also heard stories of Schleck struggling to find the self-discipline and desire to make a successful comeback after missing the second of the 2012 season after fracturing his pelvis during the time trial stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in early June.

    Equipe titled their report "Andy a-t-il jeté l’éponge?" – Has Andy thrown in the towel?

    The newspaper compared Schleck to Jan Ullrich, whose career was blighted by a lack of winter discipline and the need for intense training camps to ensure the German rider was competitive for the Tour de France. Ullrich failed to live up to the huge expectations he created when he won the 1997 Tour de France and was never able to beat Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France. Ullrich was eventually suspended for doping after retiring in 2006, for his involvement in Operacion Puerto and his links to Dr. Fuentes.

    Equipe also quotes the newspaper's photographer motorbike pilot Marc Meilleur, who said he saw that Schleck...

  • Report: Mario Cipollini was a client of Fuentes

    News breaks in Italy that Mario Cipollini was a client of Dr Fuentes
    Article published:
    February 09, 2013, 8:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian said to have blood-doped in 2002 World Championship year

    Mario Cipollini was a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian is said to have been given blood transfusions, EPO and growth hormones in the year 2002, when he won amongst other the World Championship title and Milan-San Remo.

    Cipollini, also known as the “Lion King” for his flamboyant personality, told Gazzetta that he had “no comment” on the charges until he'd studied the documents involved. 

    The Italian sports newspaper claims to have evidence of the doping relationships, with headlines of “Here are the documents which accuse Cipollini” and “The truth hurts.”  It published what it said was Cipollini's doping scheme, with what Het Laatste Nieuws called “a clearly structured doping program with EPO, growth hormones, blood transfusions and other doping products” for 2002.

    Cipollini's code name in the Spanish doping scheme is said to have been “Maria”, and records are said to be available for the years 2001 to 2004. The records for his outstanding year of 2002 are said to show a blood transfusion three days before Milan-San Remo and further transfusions before Gent-Wevelgem, the start of the Vuelta and a last one four days before the Worlds road race in Zolder.

    That year, the 35-year-old Cipollini rode for the Italian team Acqua e Sapone – Cantina Tollo.  He won not only the World road title but also Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, six stages at the Giro d'Italia and three stages at the Vuelta a Espana.

    Cipollini, with 191 professional wins in his long career, was considered the greatest sprinter of his generation, if not of all time. He turned pro in 1989 and retired in 2005, making a brief return to the peloton in 2008 with Rock Racing. He won a total of 12 Tour de France stage and 42 stages at the Giro d'Italia.