- Article published:
- April 30, 2010, 21:27
- Cycling News
Additional controls, bio-passport detailed
Riders taking part in this year's Amgen Tour of California will be subjected to additional doping controls and monitoring as a part of a stepped-up initiative to ensure the race is clean, organizer AEG announced today.
The tests will include new analyses for human growth hormone (hGH), the blood boosting drug CERA as well as advanced techniques for detecting the use of man-made testosterone (CIR). Additionally, samples taken as part of the program will be held for up to eight years so that samples can be re-evaluated as new tests are developed.
Both blood and urine will be collected before the start of the race and during competition and screened for the usual battery of substances banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list: steroids, masking agents, stimulants, blood manipulations and hormones.
"We wanted to make sure that we were doing everything possible to give us great comfort that the Amgen Tour of California is as clean as it can be," said AEG president Andrew Messick. "We partnered with USADA to provide a deterrent to doping both during the race and in the lead-up to it."
In addition to the riders' bodily fluids, USA Cycling and the UCI will be examining the rosters provided by teams to ensure that all riders, coaches, trainers and staff are clear of "any pending doping investigations at the time of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California".
Domestic teams will be getting extra scrutiny to bring them on par with the ProTour teams. The Continental squads are not required to be a part of the bio-passport program, but the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) has already begun conducting out-of-competition testing, and will continue in the weeks leading up to the race, to mimic the bio-passport.
In addition, domestic riders who are part of USADA's Registered Testing Pool are tested out-of-competition throughout the year and will continue to be subject to testing before the Amgen Tour.
During the race, the UCI in-competition testing will include the stage winner, current leader of the general classification and three other riders from the peloton.
“We are grateful for our partnership with USADA and the UCI to ensure that we are doing all we can to guarantee a fair competition for the athletes,” said Messick. “We are committed to continue to explore additional ways to ensure a clean race.”
The methods are largely similar to those which were successful in catching CERA use in the 2008 Tour de France, when the French Anti-doping Agency was employed by Tour organizer ASO.
Since then, AEG has partnered with ASO to extend the Amgen Tour's worldwide media presence, but Messick said the French company did not directly influence his race's anti-doping policies.
"Both the ASO and AEG share the philosophy of providing clean athletes a chance to compete and win on a level playing field, but beyond that there was no formal cooperation with this anti-doping initiative."
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 00:55
- Greg Johnson
12.9km TT to be a decisive stage in May's Giro d'Italia
With the Giro d’Italia set to start in Amsterdam in just over one week’s time, some of the Grand Tour’s overall hopefuls have commenced final reconnaissance on one of the event’s key stages to Plan de Corones. World Champion Cadel Evans was one of the riders scouting the key climb on Friday, as were Gilberto Simoni, Franco Pellizotti, Matteo Bono and Michele Scarponi.
While the Tour de France remains Evans’ main focus for 2010, the BMC Racing Team rider will mount a serious challenge at the Giro. The Australian is in good form having won last month’s La Fléche Wallonne, one of the Spring Classic season’s final races.
Pellizotti was shocked at Evans’ approach to the climb, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Evans took off after three kilometres. Just like that. A man solo and in charge."
Lampre-Farnese Vini's sport director Fabrizio Bontempi said the nature of the climb means a thorough reconnaissance is required in order to approach the stage correctly on race day. "Only if you try to pedal on the Plan de Corones climb can you understand how tough it is,” he told tuttobiciweb.it. “So this training will be very important in order to understand the proper way to face this stage.”
The Plan de Corones stage will play a vital role in the Giro’s outcome, with riders taking on the 12.9 kilometre route from San Vigilio di Marebbe in the Stage 16 individual time trial. The stretch of road not only includes 5353 metres of dirt road but also reaches 24% in gradient in parts.
RCS Sport attempted to use Plan de Corones in 2006 however it didn’t debut until 2008 after it was removed at the last minute due to destabilisation of the roads caused by snow. When it was finally included in the Italy race’s route, Pellizotti claimed the stage victory.
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 01:00
- Greg Johnson
From nervousness to success in three days
After spectacularly flying over a barrier during Tuesday’s prologue at the Tour de Romandie Australia’s Richie Porte admitted to being a little shaken up. Just three days later, faced with a 23.4 kilometre individual time trial in Moudon, Porte put the nerves behind him to claim his maiden ProTour stage win.
The victory comes just under a year after Porte won the Baby Giro’s individual effort, however this time the Tasmanian was faced with a much stiffer list of opponents. The victory over riders like former world champion Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and all-rounders like Alejandro Valverde and Denis Menchov came thanks to Porte’s work with Saxo Bank’s Brad McGee and Bobby Julich.
“It’s exciting and a big confidence booster, especially a time trial,” Porte told Cyclingnews. “There is nowhere to hide in a time trial.
“I knew that I had the form. Training has been going well and I have been working with Brad McGee and Bobby Julich, who are two of the best time trial riders of their generation,” he added. “Then to crash in the prologue shook me up a bit but today I just went out there and hurt myself...it was worth it though.”
While delighted to lay down a quicker time than multiple world champion Rogers, Porte was quick to share his success with his compatriot. Rogers claimed Romandie’s general classification lead with his ride to fourth place, 29 seconds behind the 25-year-old Porte.
“It’s nice to win any race but then you look at the result sheet and it even sweeter to see some of those names behind you,” he said. “Also with Mick Rogers taking the overall it was a great day for us Aussies.”
Despite his Swiss success Porte isn’t making any bold predictions ahead of his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia, starting next weekend. While the idea of backing up his Baby Giro win with a victory in the elite Giro appealed to Porte when suggested, he’s keeping his feet firmly grounded.
“I guess it gives me a bit of confidence, still though I will have to take it day by day,” he added. “It is a big confidence booster. It’s just nice to be able to repay the faith which Bjarne Riis showed in me when I signed with Saxo Bank.”
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 06:45
- Kirsten Frattini
Bahati rider rues poor equipment selection
Cesar Grajales (Ouch-Bahati Foundation) started the SRAM Tour of the Gila’s stage three time trial hoping to hold on to his third place position overall. Mother nature however had other plans for him, with dangerously high winds hampering his time trial effort and dropping the rider down to seventh overall.
“I am very disappointed and it was a really, really bad day for me,” Grajales told Cyclingnews. “I checked the weather the night before and it said 15 to 20 miles an hour winds, which is normal. Because I had a later start I had more wind. I didn’t warm up on the road, just on the rollers, and that was a big mistake.”
Grajales started the day’s stage in third place overall behind race leader Levi Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny’s) and Tom Danielson (DZ Nuts). He finished the 26-kilometre time trial nearly two and half minutes behind Leipheimer. Leipheimer and Danielson continue to hold the top two places respectively and Dave Zabriskie (DZ Nuts) is now sitting in third.
Grajales attributed his disappointing time trial to a poor selection of wheels under such windy circumstances. “I know I lost a lot of time today and things couldn’t have been worse for me being cold and windy, plus I made a bad decision by using a front wheel that was way too deep, a 75, which is really deep for this kind of wind,” Grajales said. “I couldn’t stay in my aero bars because of the cross winds and I couldn’t handle my bike on the descent. I had to hold the outside of my bars and at some points I wasn’t even pedaling because I was just trying to stay on my bike.
“It was so frustrating to watch Danielson pass me on the descent, flying, when I couldn’t even pedal,” he added. “I know Danielson would have beat me anyway but I would rather get beat knowing that I had used the right equipment and was able to ride the time trial properly.”
Grajales nabbed a third place finish atop the steep 10-kiloemtre ascent to Mogollon in the opening stage, behind winner Leipheimer and Danielson, then maintained his podium place in the stage two road race. With the time trial behind him, he is aiming to make a comeback during the final two race days at the stage four dowtown criterium on Saturday and the ultimate stage at the Gila Monster Road Race on Sunday.
“Sprinting could be an option for me tomorrow,” laughed Grajales. “The crit is an easier crit because we don’t really have crit riders here, just a lot of climbers. I usually do well in crits too. Sunday I’m hoping to do a good result and we will see how it goes in the general classification.”
Grajales is best known for winning the Tour de Georgia’s queen stage atop the famed Brasstownbald in 2004, beating Lance Armstrong by 17 seconds. He was aiming to perform well at the SRAM Tour of the Gila, where Armstrong is again in attendance.
A turbulent two-year term with the Rock Racing team, in 2008 and 2009, caused him to miss nearly every major stage race in North America. Team owner Micheal Ball reduced his contract from the professional team to its amateur counterpart at the beginning of last year, his final season with the team.
“I didn’t do races because I didn’t really have a race schedule,” Grajales said. “The year before was the same thing with Rock. I did a few races and never knew what races and I was on the amateur team so I wasn’t going to be doing good races.
“I pretty much lost two years of cycling so racing Gila is a good opportunity,” he added. “Being on a good team with a solid program that is organised has given me a good chance to be really racing again.”
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 10:56
- Susan Westemeyer
German believes Saxo Bank replacement must be found before Tour
Former-Gerolsteiner director Hans-Michael Holczer has expressed empathy for the situation of Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis, as the Dane contines his search for a replacement sponsor. Holczer was unable to find a title sponsor after Gerolsteiner pulled away from his team, and the German was forced to close his team down in 2008.
Saxo Bank will end its two-and-a-half seasons of sponsorship at the end of 2010. Holczer believes Riis must find a new sponsor no later than the Tour de France.
“D-day is one to two days into the Tour de France. If you do not have a sponsor for next year by then, you will lose your riders to other teams," he said in an interview with the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
Riis has headed his team since 2000, guiding the then-CSC sponsored team to eviable success at the Tour de France and the spring Classics. As owner of the team Riis has the advantage of possibly continuing the team without a sponsor, but Holczer said the squad's decade of development will be the biggest barrier to this.
"When the team was smaller, Riis has perhaps the personal and financial power to keep the team going. But now the team is much bigger, and it is an expensive team,” he said.
Holczer had sympathy for Riis's situation. “As a leader you must still focus on your team, so it does not collapse. And you shall chase a sponsor while at the same time you must calculate a risk that you will not find a sponsor and that you must abandon everything. It is a difficult balancing act.”
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 12:16
- Kirsten Frattini
Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita give Cuban his chance on GC
Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita) captured his first victory of the season at stage two of the SRAM Tour of the Gila on Thursday in Silver City, New Mexico. The Cuban has been considered a serious threat amongst his competitors in the professional peloton during the past two season as a strong breakaway rider, however, this week he plans on showing off his GC ability at the well-attended five-stage race.
Amaran won the second stage’s Inner Loop at Fort Bayard by two seconds ahead of current race leader Levi Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny’s) and a further five seconds over the main field. His win also granted him a 10-second time bonus that moved him into fifth place in the overall classification; a position he was able to defend in the stage three time trial on Friday.
In Fort Bayard, Leipheimer attacked just over one kilometre to go and was quickly followed by Amaran, who caught and passed him inside the final few hundred to take the stage win. The winning manoeuvre caught the race leader’s attention, Leipheimer labelling Amaran's performance "impressive".
"I think I can be with the podium riders but it will be difficult," Amaran told Cyclingnews. "I am strong now and I think I can make it. It is a really good feeling to have a rider like Levi notice the good form I have right now."
A podium finish will be a tough goal to achieve considering the six ProTour riders in attendance at the race. Race leader Leipheimer is joined by RadioShack teammates Lance Armstrong and Jason McCartney, who are racing for Mellow Johnny’s, and Garmin-Transitions riders Danielson, Dave Zabriskie and Tom Peterson racing for DZ Nuts.
The event kicked off on Wednesday with the Mogollon Road Race where Amaran first displayed his top-form by attacking a lead group of five riders, including Leipheimer, Tom Danielson and Cesar Grajales (Ouch-Bahati Foundation), Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) and Dave Zabriskie (DZ Nuts). He held a slim lead of approximately 10 seconds for several hundred metres but was caught by the small group with one-kilometre to the finish line and placed seventh.
"My main goal was the Tour of California and I trained seriously over the winter with that goal in mind," said Amaran, who's team was not invited to contest the eight-day race in May. "So I trained very hard over the winter to be in very good shape in the early season. Now that we are not doing that race, I want to do well here and at the Joe Martin Stage Race."
Amaran has also been a valuable member of the Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light’s lead-out train. The squad, formerly called Colavita-Sutter Home, is currently the number one ranked team in the nation on the National Racing Calendar (NRC), based on its 2009 results.
The squad has traditionally been renowned for its sprint ability with Argentine talents like Alejandro Borrajo and Sebastian Haedo garnering the team wins at many of the NRC series’ criteriums, one-day races and stage races.
"We have had good GC guys, but for different reasons it hasn’t worked out for us in the past so we have always gone for stages and one day race wins," said the outfit’s Directeur Sportif Sebastian Alexandre. "Over the last two years Luis has been doing a lot of work for his teammates and we wanted to try to give him the opportunity in the GC. I’m happy to try to expand our team into trying for the overall. He wants to show that he can do it and we, as a team, want to show that he is capable of doing it. We want to show that we are not just a sprint team."
Amaran defected from his birth country of Cuba in 2005 when he travelled to Spain to compete in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon with the Cuban National Team. He continued to race for a Spanish-based team for the following two years before joining Colavita-Sutter Home in 2008. He is currently living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and attributed his strong performances at the Gila to his off-season training regime.
"I live in Albuquerque now because my girlfriend goes to school there," Amaran said. "But I went to Albuquerque before to train for the Gila race in the past. That is another thing that helped me – it's a great place for training."
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 14:34
- Richard Tyler
Dutchman critical of senior riders' Classics performances
Former Rabobank professional Michael Boogerd has called for a review of the Dutch ProTour team’s roster after their disappointing Classics season. The Dutchman urged the team to remain patient with its younger riders, but suggested that senior members of the squad should be held accountable for the team's lack of results this spring.
While Oscar Freire was able to secure the team a major Classics victory at Milan-San Remo, the team failed to fire through the remainder of the spring and finished outside the top-ten at every subsequent Classic.
Commenting on the largely lacklustre performance of Dutch riders throughout the Classics in his column for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Boogerd believed Rabobank need to be prepared to let the axe fall on some members of the team.
"In any event it is clear that the composition of the Rabobank team needs to be thoroughly scrutinized," wrote Boogerd.
"Outside Freire in San Remo the team came up short. Paul Martens' performances were nice, but for the most part the Rabo riders were nowhere. The team should ask whether a rider like Nick Nuyens has achieved what he was hired for. If that is below expectations, then you must be prepared to change things."
He was also critical of the generation of Dutch Rabobank riders that took up the mantle of team leadership following his own retirement in 2007. Joost Posthuma, Pieter Weening, Laurens ten Dam and Bram Tankink were singled-out by their former teammate.
"There should be criticism of the generation which succeeded Erik Dekker and me. Men such as Posthuma, Weening, Ten Dam and Tankink were expected to carry the standard, but they have not made that step."
But Boogerd defended the performances of younger riders Robert Gesink, Lars Boom and Sebastiaan Langeveld. While Gesink was unable to repeat his podium position at the 2009 Amstel Gold Race, Boom and Langeveld finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at E3 Prijs Harelbeke. Boogerd argued that the trio remain a force for the future.
"We must be not too negative concerning these racers. We must have patience, because riders like Gesink, Boom and Langeveld have time to build up for the long Classics [in the future]. They have the potential, they've proved that in the past already. This year their development has stalled a bit."
- Article published:
- May 1, 2010, 19:08
- Kirsten Frattini
US track Champion proves she can climb at the Gila
Track rider Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) has turned her focus toward competing in the road race for the 2012 London Olympic Games after the International Olympic Committee removed her specialty, the points race, from the Olympic track program. She is currently racing on the road at the mountainous SRAM Tour of the Gila, a five-stage race that concludes on Sunday in Silver City, New Mexico.
"I’m trying to raise my game and show that I can be versatile," Evans told Cyclingnews. "I can be a support rider and not just a sprinter, you don’t lose me on the climbs and I can be there to offer something to a team. I want to be able to be there with the climbers. I am here because I want to be able to show that I can be a part of the race."
Evans is currently riding in support of her Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 teammate and overall race leader Mara Abbott. With two stages remaining, Abbott leads the race by over a minute to Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) and an additional two minutes to Erinne Willock (Webcor-Builders).
"We have an excellent team here and we have a number of cards to play," Evans said. "I know I have one of the best climbers in the world on my team and my goal is to support her as best I can."
Evans’ cycling career began on the track, where she progressed into a position as one of the US's top point race riders. She is currently the US Track Scratch Race National Champion and finished on the podium in three track World Cups in Manchester, Melbourne and Copenhagen last year. She spent the previous three years focused on her dream of competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in the points race.
However, in December the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Cycling Union (UCI) agreed to make changes to the Olympic track program to provide more gender equality. Part of the adjustment meant removing the points race as an individual event and adding it to a five-event omnium format, which also includes the flying lap, individual pursuit, scratch race, 500-metre time trial and elimination race.
"I started to focus on the track and my Olympic goals were on the track in the points race," Evans said. "They changed the Olympic track program and took my race out. When they took my track event out, along with my hopes and dreams, I was like, 'well, now I'll focus 100 per cent on the road.'"
Evans took to road racing with the Proman-Hit Squad last year with immediate success. She won the overall omnium at the Tulsa Tough, finished second in the overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix and was third place at the prestigious Liberty Classic. The US National Team rewarded her for her success with an invitation to the women's Giro d' Italia, where she place second in stage eight.
This summer, Evans is scheduled to compete in the Liberty Classic, Nature Valley Grand Prix and the US Elite National Championships. She hopes to receive another invitation to the women's Giro. The ten-stage race will begin on July 2 in Muggia and conclude on July 11 in Monza.
"I’m really hoping to go to the Giro," Evans said. "That is really a big goal for me and my only goal right now is for Europe. It’s a big enough goal because I want to go over and do well." Asked if she thinks the US National Team will consider her for the 2012 London Olympic Games in the road race, Evans said, "I hope so."