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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 12, 2011

Date published:
March 12, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Scarponi happy to share Lampre-ISD leadership with Cunego

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) stays serious as he celebrates
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 13:58 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Cunego to forgo Giro d'Italia

    Michele Scarponi is confident that he and Damiano Cunego are gelling well as co-leaders of the Lampre-ISD squad. Scarponi will lead the team at the Giro d’Italia, while Cunego will target the Ardennes Classics.

    Before that, however, both men are aiming for top honours at Tirreno-Adriatico, but Scarponi points to the recent Giro di Sardegna as proof of their ability to work together.

    “The beginning has been without doubt positive,” Scarponi told “I helped him to win a stage in Sardinia and I saw that he really appreciated it and that couldn’t but make me happy.

    “I know well why [Giuseppe] Saronni wanted me in the team and I think that he [Cunego] knows it too, so I’m sure there won’t be misunderstandings between us.”

    In 2010, Cunego led Lampre’s challenge at both the Giro and the Ardennes, and ultimately ended the season without a single victory to his name. The team thus opted to bring in Scarponi to share the burden of leadership with Cunego, who revealed to Cyclingnews as long ago as last September that he would not ride the 2011 Giro and instead focus on the Classics.

    “The team wanted me to look to win the Giro d’Italia or at least get on the podium and I’m working principally for that,” said Scarponi, who just missed out on the final step on the rostrum in Verona last May. “The...

  • Saiz: Fuentes is a "great psychologist"

    Manolo Saiz finds himself at the centre
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 16:50 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Manolo Saiz says he got mixed up in Puerto inquiry by accident and voices backing for Contador

    Former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team boss Manolo Saiz has continued his emergence from a self-imposed absence from cycling with a typically bullish performance in an interview with Spanish press and radio. Among the highlights were his claim that he and everyone else involved in the Operación Puerto inquiry will be declared “innocent” and his belief that Alberto Contador will win the Tour de France this year because no other rider has a palmarès to compare with the Spaniard’s, and certainly not Andy Schleck.

    Speaking to Europa Press and Spanish national radio (RNE), Saiz said that he got involved in the Puerto case because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Guardia Civil made their initial arrests on 23 May 2006. He says he went to a hotel cafeteria that day to speak with doctors Eufemiano Fuentes and José Luis Merino Batres to talk about the health and prospects of a blind girl.

    “When I got there I saw some strange things and went back to my car… But then I returned to the hotel. If in that moment I had followed my instincts and had not gone back there would have been no recordings and Manolo Saiz would have sailed through Operación Puerto without any kind of problem. I got myself wrapped up in it all,” he explained.

    Saiz said that he believes all those that were implicated in the Puerto investigation will be cleared of any wrongdoing, and added that when the case is cleared up he will go on the record “about things, not related to doping, that the press have not talked about”.

  • Tony Martin has overall Paris-Nice victory in sight

    Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) seized control of Paris-Nice in the time trial
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 18:59 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    HTC-Highroad rider hopes to bring German fans and media back to cycling

    Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) has taken a strong step towards overall victory at Paris-Nice with today's win in stage six's 27km individual time trial. The 25-year-old German took over the race lead from Andreas Klöden (RadioShack), the 2000 Paris-Nice champion, and now leads his compatriot by 36 seconds overall with two stages remaining. For Martin, the Paris-Nice stage win was the 18th victory of his professional career and his 12th time trial success.

    "To wear the yellow jersey is super nice for me," Martin said. "It's like the Tour de France here. Paris-Nice can give me the confidence I need for my future. Today I've showed that I can handle the pressure and be a real captain for the team."

    Martin found his inspiration for cycling at a time when the sport garnered plenty of coverage in Germany but this is no longer the case.

    "When I was a kid, Jan Ullrich was my big idol but I also watched Klöden racing," said Martin of Klöden, 10 years his senior. "He's a big rival for me in this race but we're good friends. We live close to each other."

    Martin commented on the absence of German media on hand to cover Paris-Nice. "I'm sad about it," Martin said. "I know the situation. In my country, cycling is always in relation to doping. Fans and media don't trust us. Now we have to convince them that we're doing a clean sport.

    "Today I went to doping control. I hope that fans and media will come back. Fortunately, all over the world, there are fans and media for cycling. Our sport is popular everywhere else in Europe. I'm not concerned about Germany only."

    Twenty-four hours prior to Martin's call for German media to come back to cycling, Klöden stated that journalists from his country don't have his...

  • 18 ProTeams to contest Quebec, Montreal races

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) celebrates his win in Montreal
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 21:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    SpiderTech, Europcar, FDJ and Cofidis given wild cards

    The organisers of the Canadian World Tour races, the Grand Prix Cycliste Québec and Montreal, will once again host cycling's top teams, with all 18 ProTeams receiving invitations for the September events.

    The only North American Professional Continental team to make the cut is the Canadian SpiderTech-C10 squad, while French teams Cofidis, FDJ and Europcar completed the 22-team roster.

    The Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec will take place on Friday, September 9, and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal on Sunday, September 11, 2011.

    SpiderTech powered by C10, the team of the Canadian legend Steve Bauer, earned its Professional Continental license this year, becoming the first Canadian team to reach that level. Its roster includes Québécois riders Guillaume Boivin, Kevin Lacombe, Martin Gilbert and David Boily, as well as other Canadians Svein Tuft, Zach Bell and Will Routley.

    Team Europcar earned its invitation as the team of last year's Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec winner Thomas Voeckler as well as the presence of Quebec's David Veilleux on the team. FDJ will likely bring hometown rider Dominique Rollin to the races.

    Organisers also announced that the races would be longer last year upon request from the teams.

    "Given last year's experience and the fact that the riders have said they would like the distance to be closer to that of the great Classic races, this year's competitions in Quebec and Montreal will be over 20 km long," Charly Mottet, the organisation's sports manager stated. "The pack will ride one more lap, and will have the daunting hills of Côte de la Montagne in Quebec City and Camilien Houde Road in Montreal to contend with."

    AG2R La Mondiale
    BMC Racing Team
    HTC – Highroad
    Katusha Team

  • Péraud's morale a roller coaster at Paris-Nice

    Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R), a former French time trial champion, en route to a fifth place finish in stage six at Paris-Nice.
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 22:23 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Former mountain bike star regained confidence in time trial

    Entering Friday's time trial stage at Paris-Nice, Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) held 15th on general classification and didn't hold out much hope of duplicating his top-10 overall finish achieved last year in his pro debut season with Omega Pharma-Lotto.

    "The top ten is jeopardized," Péraud said after stage five in Vernoux-en-Vivarais on Thursday. "There are too many big time trialists ahead of me on GC. I can't hope to regain time on them. My condition isn't as good as last year."

    The 33-year-old Frenchman was particularly disappointed because he had reconnoitered the course of that crucial fifth stage. Péraud felt that the final climb of La Mûre really suited his characteristics, particularly with its steepest gradient at 12 percent providing an opportunity to showcase his climbing prowess which had led to his success as a mountain biker prior to turning pro on the road in 2010.

    Péraud climbed with the lead group on the final ascent, but missed the eight-man move which went clear at the summit and stayed clear through to the finish. Péraud finished in the first chase group, 19 seconds down.

    Péraud, however, finished fifth in today's 27km individual time trial and jumped to fifth overall on general classification, 1:14 behind overall leader Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad). Péraud has shown time trialing ability before as he won the French time trial championship in 2009.

    "Jean-Christophe was defeatist yesterday but it was my role to not let him think so," AG2R La Mondiale team manager Vincent Lavenu said after the time trial. "I told him to not lose confidence....

  • Rasmussen's Christina Watches team gets UCI license

    Michael Rasmussen, Christina Watches
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 22:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team to start at Istrian Spring Trophy

    The International Cycling Union approved a Continental license for Michael Rasmussen's new Christina Watches - Onfone team. Its official roster still is yet to include Italian Angelo Furlan, whose contract was signed earlier this month.

    There are 14 riders, not including Furlan, on the squad, leaving one space open for an additional rider. German Jörg Jaksche has been rumoured to be in line to complete the team's roster.

    The team, which will be run by Michael Blaudzun, bought out the license from the Bianchi M1 team and has been working with the UCI to finalize its license in order to begin the 2011 racing season.

    ''After our meeting with the DCU, where Claus Hembo and Tom Lund agreed only to look forward and forget the conflicts ... things moved fast," team owner Christina Hembo told "I am happy that, in theory, the last obstacle for my cycling team now been removed and that we can begin our season as early as next week."

    The team will be officially launched next week at the Istarsko proljece - Istrian Spring Trophy in Croatia.

  • USA Cycling ends radio ban for NRC races

    Riding at Redlands
    Article published:
    March 12, 2011, 9:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    More national federations predicted to ignore UCI stance

    USA Cycling, the governing body of the sport in the USA, has announced that race radios will allowed in National Racing Calendar races in 2011, overturning the ban of 2010 and defying the UCI’s plans to gradually ban radio use across the sport.

    The U.S. Professional Racing Organization board of trustees recommended lifting the radio ban for both safety and racing reasons.

    “As we approached the 12 month anniversary of the radio ban in domestic races, we listened to input from the various affected stakeholders including officials, race directors, team directors and riders,” USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson said in a press release.

    “In the process, we considered all of the categories of the racing environment that are impacted by radios including rider and spectator safety, caravan and peloton management and team/rider communication; frankly, radios won on every count.”

    Bob Stapleton, owner of the HTC-Highroad professional cycling team and a member of the USA Cycling board of directors USPRO representative backed the decision: “The vast majority of athletes, teams and event managers agree that safety cannot be compromised, and that progressive sports use more communications technology, not less,” he said.

    “The goal is to make cycling both safe and exciting and to ultimately bring the audience further into the action.”

    Other federations may follow USA Cycling

    USA Cycling board of directors President and USPRO representative Bill Peterson gave a damning verdict against the UCI’s reasons of banning race radio. He accepted the opinions of the riders, teams and organisers and suggested that USA Cycling’s decision will open the gates to...

  • Tirreno-Adriatico remembers the victims of the Japanese earthquake

    Fumiyuki Beppu during the minutes silence
    Article published:
    March 12, 2011, 10:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu leads a moment of silence

    The Tirreno-Adriatico peloton gathered for a minute's silence before the start of the fourth stage on Saturday morning to remember the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

    Japanese rider Fumiyuki Beppu (RadioShack) stood head bowed at the front of the peloton, as the riders respected the moment of silence.

    He revealed his parents were safe and plans to continue in the race. On twitter he thanked the riders who had shown their support but said “I'm worried. My parents were safe but there is so much damage because of this disaster. When I think about it, my heart is very painful.”

    Today’s stage passes through the central Italian city of L’Aquila which was hit by a massive earthquake in 2009.

    “We felt we had to do something to remember the victims of the tsunami,” race director Mauro Vegni told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Ivan Basso expressed the sentiments of the riders in the race: “It’s an incredible tragedy and hurts us all. We wanted to offer our support just as they helped us when we had an earthquake in L’Aquila,” he said.

    The 240km fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico is from Narni to Chieti and is the first of two long days of the saddle. Sunday’s stage is from Chieti to Castelraimondo and is also 240km long.