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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 20, 2010

Date published:
March 20, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Valverde vows to prove his innocence

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has a coke and a smile.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2010, 12:34 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Acknowledges possiblity of world-wide ban

    Following the confirmation of his ban from riding in Italy by the Court of Arbritration for Sport earlier this week, Alejandro Valverde has pledged that he will "fight and do everything that I can" to prove his innocence.

    Valverde was speaking at a reception where he was presented with an award as athlete of the year for 2009 in his home region of Murcia. "I'm going to continue with my normal training after speaking with [Caisse d'Epargne team boss] Eusebio Unzué. We are not going to throw in the towel although this is something that's hard to live with," said the Spaniard, who will be 30 next month.

    "It is possible that I will be obliged to stop competing for a while, but when I return I am going to keep on winning just as I have done up to now. I'm young and I've still got plenty of drive," said Valverde, who finished runner-up to Alberto Contador in Paris-Nice last week.

    He admitted that he had got used to having the fall-out from the Operación Puerto blood doping investigation and the subsequent case at the CAS hanging over him. "I've lived with this for some years now, but in spite of that it does sometimes demoralize you. It's like carrying a 30kg stone around on your back every day, but I consider myself a scapegoat as I've undergone a lot more controls than is normal over the last few years and they've never stopped me from riding," said the Spaniard.

    Currently banned from racing in Italy, Valverde faces a worldwide ban following an announcement from the UCI that it intends to take action against him.

  • Vuelta boss considers North Africa start

    The leader will wear red but not this version
    Article published:
    March 19, 2010, 12:46 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Also reveals that the new red leader’s jersey will be changed

    Vuelta a España director-general Javier Guillén has revealed that as well as considering a return to the Basque Country for Spain’s national tour, he is also investigating the possibility of taking it to North Africa for the first time. Guillén also admitted that the mainly red design of the new leader’s jersey is going to be tweaked again before the next edition of the race kicks off in late August with a team time trial under floodlights in Sevilla.

    Since taking over the race at the end of 2008, Guillén has consistently sought ways of boosting its profile and popularity in the face of competition from other sports in Spain and a drastic reduction in TV coverage. “We’ve got to be innovative,” he said in an interview with sports daily AS.

    Consequently, after a highly successful start in the Netherlands for the 2009 Vuelta, which drew hundreds of thousands of fans out to the roadside and saw the race cover 50 per cent of its costs in just four days, Guillén is looking closely at further innovations. With the Giro already considering what would be the first start for a major tour outside continental Europe, it may just be that the Vuelta will trump their Italian rivals by taking Spain’s national tour to Africa.

    “Our target now is North Africa, But there are difficulties,” Guillén admitted. “First of all because they’ve got no cycling culture. Secondly, because we don’t want to upset anybody. If we go to Ceuta, then we have to go to Melilla, and if we go to both how will that be seen in Morocco?” Guillén said of the two Spanish enclaves that are totally surrounded by Moroccan territory and whose status is disputed by Morocco.

    Guillén’s determination to innovate could clearly be seen clearly in the new red and black leader’s jersey unveiled by Spanish designer Custo Dalmau last month. The...

  • Van Avermaet to have his chances in Milan-San Remo

    Greg Van Avermaet (Silence Lotto)
    Article published:
    March 19, 2010, 13:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Lotto rider can look to escape early on

    Greg Van Avermaet will have a free hand in Milan-San Remo, and will not have to set aside his own ambitions in favour of captain Philippe Gilbert. Omega Pharma-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant confirmed that Van Avermaet will be able to seek his own chances early on in the race.

    The 24-year-old has ridden the race twice before, finishing 52nd in 2008 and 13th last year. "Milan- San Remo is a good race for me," he told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "It is a goal. I have survived the Poggio and Cipressa twice."

    Van Avermaet opened the season with a strong showing in the Tour of Oman time trial, but was then laid flat by intestinal problems. This caused him to do poorly in the opening Belgian weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. "I was disappointed but never panicked."

    His most recent race was Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished 12th overall. He did not contest for any stage wins there, because "the finishes were something for either a pure sprinter or a pure climber. I'm neither." He decided to concentrate on getting the power back into his legs, and "I could better save those forces for Saturday, right?"

    The rest of the team will ride on Saturday for Gilbert, "and I am the only allowed to have a free role. Unless I do not feel good."

    Sergeant confirmed that Van Avermaet will have his chance. "If the race breaks open on the Cipressa, then Van Avermaet and Jurgen Roelandts will go. This is their chance."

    Later in the race, though, Gilbert will be in charge. "Once on the Poggio, then we will be resolute about playing the Gilbert card. Logical, I think," Sergeant continued. "Philippe stands - with such palmares - still a bit above the rest of the team. Until the contrary is proven."

  • Cipollini picks his San Remo favourites

    Mario Cipollini
    Article published:
    March 19, 2010, 18:10 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Former winner hopes for a spectacular race

    Mario Cipollini will celebrate his 43rd birthday on Monday, but for the flamboyant Italian sprinter, this time of year has always been about his obsession with Milan-San Remo.

    When he was a boy he watched his brother Cesare descend the Turchino in the peloton from under his father's overcoat and promised him that he would one day win the sprint in the Via Roma. Cipollini went on to ride La Primavera 17 times during his long career, finally winning in 2002 on his 14th attempt.

    He was there to see Mark Cavendish win last year and will be at the race again this year in his role as a consultant with the ISD-Neri team that uses Cipollini bikes.

    Cipollini has never been afraid to give his opinion on any subject and analyzed the favourites for this year's race for Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Asked to pick a winner, he said: "The first name that comes to mind is Boasson Hagen, but I think Petacchi could win too."

    "Tom (Boonen) is on great form and I'm really happy to see that he's back. Perhaps we've got great champion back and most of all we've got the person back. If he had the same focus for San Remo as he has for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, he'd be unbeatable. But the Belgians see San Remo as an appetizer for their own races. The Belgian's don’t have tiger's eyes like they do on the pave."

    "Daniele [Bennati] is also going really well and we'll see if he can pull it off. It's the first big opportunity of his career. He's got to ride to win. [Fabian] Cancellara isn’t at his best when he dominated the race but he could also win. If he gets over the Poggio, it’ll be a big problem for everyone else."

    "Pippo [Pozzato] is excellent form and the fact that McEwen isn’t in the team is an advantage for him because he'll have more freedom. He won as a domestique, lets see what he can do as a leader."

    Cipollini describes Oscar Freire as a danger and also refuses to totally write off...

  • Clinger given two-year suspension for doping

    David Clinger, second from left, finished second at the 2009 US men's elite road national championships, but has been stripped of his result after a positive doping test.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2010, 19:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Positive test at 2009 US elite road nationals

    The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced today that an American Arbitration Association/Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA/CAS) panel issued its decision that David Clinger receive a two-year suspension for doping violations.

    The 32-year-old Utah resident tested positive for synthetic testosterone and modafinil in a sample collected from him on July 30, 2009, after he placed second in the men's road race at the USA Cycling Elite Road National Championships.

    Synthetic testosterone is prohibited as an anabolic agent and modafinil is prohibited as a stimulant on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

    In the panel's decision, Clinger admitted to taking testosterone as part of treatment by his physician, Dr. Sean Ponce of ATM Counseling and Medial Services in Sandy, Utah. Clinger also admitted to taking Resperdone as a sleep aid, but was not aware that it contained modafinil until he received the results of his drug test. Clinger testified that he was aware of the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) process, but did not apply prior to being tested at the men's elite road championships.

    Clinger's physician testified that he prescribed the substances to Clinger not for performance enhancement purposes, but as a result of a blood test and Clinger's past medical history.

    An endocrinologist, Richard Joseph Auchus, MD, testified as an expert witness for the USADA. It was his opinion that Clinger's blood test was uninterpretable and that Clinger was inappropriately prescribed testosterone.

    Clinger declared that he was taking both testosterone and Resperdone on his Doping Control Form for his test at the US elite men's road national championships.

    Clinger's two-year suspension began September 3, 2009, the date he accepted his provisional suspension.

    As a result of his doping violation, Clinger has been disqualified from all competitive results received at and subsequent to the 2009 road national...

  • Gallery: At the start of Milan-San Remo

    Number 1 belongs to Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2010, 11:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Teams show-off deep, carbon wheels for Italian Classic

    Milan's Castello Sforzesco was buzzing this morning as it played host the 199-strong peloton for the 101st Milan-San Remo.

    With the riders gradually emerging from the team buses, their mechanics were still busy putting the final touches on the bikes that will carry their owners on the 298-kilometre journey to San Remo. With smooth Italian roads to look forward to, deep-dish carbon wheels were the choice du jour.

    Cyclingnews was on hand to grab some pictures of the bikes of race favourites Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and defending Champion Mark Cavendish, as well as a number of teams that could perhaps pull off a surprise coup.

    Click here to view a gallery of images from the start of Milan-San Remo on Saturday morning.

  • Pick the Milan-San Remo podium competition

    Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) surprised many when he won Milan San Remo
    Article published:
    March 20, 2010, 11:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    Win a signed Quick Step 2010 team annual

    Once again Cyclingnews is challenging its readers to guess the podium! Who is going to take the win today in Milan-San Remo? And who will fill steps two and three?

    The first person to answer correctly in the Cyclingnews forum will win a 2010 Quick Step team annual, signed by most of their Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne team (with the exception of Stijn Devolder).

    The competition opens at 12 noon (CET) and closes promptly with 10km to go.

    It might sound easy, but in the past, picking the podium in this or any race has proved to harder than expected.

    The competition is being held in the Cyclingnews forum. If you are not yet a member, click here and sign up!

    Be sure to read the rules before making your picks.

    Good luck!

  • Boonen has no regrets after Milan-San Remo

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) after the race).
    Article published:
    March 20, 2010, 18:41 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Belgian refuses to be disappointed with second place finish

    Tom Boonen took defeat at Milan-San Remo on the chin, like a boxer knowing he'd been beaten fair and square in a heavyweight title fight.

    The Quick Step team leader rode a near perfect race. He was always well placed on the Cipressa and Poggio, survived the twisting descents and started his sprint at exactly right moment. The only problem was that he was beaten to the line by Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

    "If you start the sprint late or get blocked in then you can have regrets but I didn’t do anything wrong. A great Oscar Freire won today," he said.

    "Freire went at the same time as me but got one or two bike lengths immediately. I didn’t get the maximum [result] I could, but I've no regrets."

    This was Boonen's eighth Milan-San Remo and his best ever result at the Italian Classic. Last year he was dropped on the Cipressa and struggled throughout the season after news broke of his positive out-of-competition tests for cocaine.

    He has shown he is back to his best and promised to keep trying to win Milan-San Remo in the years to come.

    "To win Milan-San Remo you need a lot experience because you've got to know how to stay cool throughout the race. I'm 29 and I'll try again next year. Cipollini won after 14 years, right? This is my eighth edition, I've still got time. Perhaps winning my last ever San Remo would be the best thing ever but I'll try next year for sure."

    Despite still feeling the pain of 300 kilometres in his legs, Boonen has already starting to think about the other Classics, on his home roads and cobbles in Belgium.

    "Now it's time for my northern Classics, starting virtually right away, this Wednesday," he said. This race has proved my form is good and I'll be giving everything for both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix."