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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, May 12, 2012

Date published:
May 12, 2012, 00:00
  • Thomas Frei signs with Christina Watches-Onfone

    Thomas Frei and Christine Hembo of Christine Watches-Onfone
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 16:48
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider just finished two-year ban for admitted EPO use

    Thomas Frei has served his two-year doping ban and is returning to the peloton with Christina Watches powered by Dana.The Swiss rider tested positive for EPO in the spring of 2010 whilst riding for BMC Racing Team.

    Frei admitted to having doped for several years. His ban ended last month.

    “I am happy to have been given the chance by this team to start racing directly and to work my way step by step back to the professional level,” he said in a team press release. “The Danish team has a good functioning infrastructure and clear goals, to be at the start of the Giro d'Italia or also at the Tour de France in the foreseeable future.”

    Team owner Christina Hembo welcomed him to the team. “Everyone who has sat out their sanction and now repudiates doping, earns a second chance. It makes me very happy to greet Thomas in our team.”

    Hembo, who designs and sells Swiss Made watches, said “My watches have the quality seal Swiss Made, now we also have a top rider who is also Swiss Made. 

    “Without being overly religious, my team is built on the Christian principle that we should forgive mistakes. Thomas made a mistake, has learned from it, has promised me that it will never happen again and so is heartily welcome in our team.”

    Frei, 27, turned pro in 2007 with Astana and joined BMC in 2009.

  • UCI confirms no passport controls for Amgen Tour of California

    The 2011 Amgen Tour of California GC podium was all-American: Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cerv
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 18:20
    Daniel Benson

    USADA compiles pre-race tests

    For the second year in a row the UCI will not carry out any blood tests at the Amgen Tour of California. The blood tests form part of the UCI’s Biological Passport programme. This year, as in 2011, out of competition testing has been carried out by USADA while the UCI has confirmed to Cyclingnews that standard EPO urine tests will be carried out at the 8-day race.

    A UCI spokesperson said, “I've been told we will do all the controls foreseen by UCI anti-doping rules. Some urine samples will be checked for EPO.

    “For USADA, no cooperation is planned, but they will be allowed according to the rules to make out-of-competition tests until tonight at midnight.”

    A USADA spokesperson confirmed their plans to Cyclingnews earlier in the week.

    “USADA is conducting the out-of-competition testing program for riders under USADA’s jurisdiction prior to the Tour of California. We are not conducting the in-competition testing program at the event.”

    The UCI told Cyclingnews that although no blood tests would be carried out during the race that their Biological Passport system would not be effected. The governing body of cycling has repeatedly stressed that due to its new format of 'intelligent' and targeted testing in cycling, that controls were sufficient. However, targeted testing has been seen as a smoke screen for less testing by some.

    Last year Michael Ashenden told Cyclingnews that he had seen several gaps in biological profile tests carried out by the UCI. He did admit that this may have been due to targeted testing, but said he had not been made aware of any such plans by the UCI. Ashenden resigned from the UCI Passport panel earlier this year.

  • Video: Gianni Savio describes Rubiano’s Giro stage victory

    Gianni Savio
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 19:04
    Jean-François Quénet

    Androni-Venezuela’s team manager believes in his own successful future

    Gianni Savio is nicknamed “The Prince” for his seemingly classy attitude despite all the troubles he has experienced. Often confronted by doping controversies, he’s been cleared of accusations made by one of his former riders, Luca De Angeli, but the most recent polemic he has faced was the misbehaviour of his sprinter Roberto Ferrari who took Mark Cavendish to the ground in stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in Horsens, Denmark. As always, Savio handled the matter in a very diplomatic way.

    The stage victory of his Colombian rider Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez in Porto San Elpidio has put his Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela team back on a positive note. The 27-year-old from Bogotà was also close at some stage to deliver Savio’s first pink jersey.

    “But I’m a young team manager and I have big hopes for the future," said the 64-year-old who came from the world of football when he created his first professional cycling team: Santini-Galli, in 1984.

    Savio is an expert in South American cycling and talked to Cyclingnews the same way he does every summer for Colombian radio RCN. He apologized for his supposedly poor English despite being married to an English language teacher.

  • Landis's view on Armstrong’s lack of fight

    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 20:20
    Daniel Benson

    Former US Postal teammate comments on Men's Journal feature

    Lance Armstrong may have claimed he will not fight any possible action from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) but it remains to be seen whether or not the USADA will file any case against him.

    However, Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, believes that Armstrong's recent interview with Men's Journal is the nearest the seven-time Tour winner has come to an admission of guilt. Armstrong has always denied the use of performance enhancing drugs. In the past he has fought several legal battles to clear his name, and when allegation from former teammates washed up in 2010 and again in 2011 he brushed them off.

    However, in the interview with Men's Journal, Armstrong told the magazine that, "I'm truly done. You can interpret that however you want. But no matter what happens, I'm finished. I'm done fighting. Case closed."

    For Landis, who admitted to the use of performance enhancing drugs and who accused Armstrong and several US Postal teammates of organised doping, the interview spoke volumes of the American's position and possible stance should USADA decide to bring any doping violation charges.

    "It's always difficult when he's called me and Tyler Hamilton liars. The fact is there are a lot more liars out there, they've just not admitted it.. He can keep trying to spin it however he wants but at the end of the day he's no better than anyone else and one of these days he's going to have to accept it," Landis told Cyclingnews.

    Armstrong had a case against him closed earlier this year. However that case was investigating whether fraud charges should be raised. The closure of the case by the United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr, marked the end of a two year period that saw Landis and Hamilton make accusations of drug use.

    Both riders admitted their own guilt but claimed that Armstrong as well as several other individuals were also involved. Landis's claims weren't just denied. Soon after the UCI, the sport's governing body, stated they would sue Landis for allegations he made surrounding a covered up doping positive. Landis, however, is still awaiting formal notification of a legal case.

    "Unless he's completely deluded himself at this point he knows that virtually nobody believes that he didn't dope. You'd have to have no internet connection to think so," Landis added.

    Landis believes that Armstrong could soon face charges from USADA. Two days after the Federal investigation closed, in February, the head of USADA told Cyclingnews that every task would be carried out to uncover if any doping rules had been broken.

    "What were his choices?" Landis asked.

    "If Armstrong says he's going to fight then he's admitting that there's something to fight. I don't know what USADA or WADA might be bringing but they're the only ones who could take his Tour wins away. I don't know if they've told him they're going to charge him. To me it says, I know I'm about to be charged and my choices are to either ignore it or let them take some Tour wins away. At which point I don't know what would happen. He probably is well off ignoring it because that just leaves everyone else with the dilemma of how to deal with it.

    "It sounds to me like he's resigned to the fact he's going to be charged with a doping violation. He might lose it and if that happens he's going to pretend he doesn't care. Rest assured, he cares. In that entire piece the biggest lie is that he doesn't care.

    "That article was as near an admission as I've seen from the guy. He's just going to try and convince people that they shouldn't care. Obviously coming from me it's personal but all the cancer awareness in the world doesn't change the fact that he broke the same rules as everyone else."

    With USADA not forthcoming with a comment, it remains to be seen what action will follow. A question mark may remain over the statute of limitations however a recent independent arbitration case suggests that although doping allegations date from 1999 to 2004, USADA would pursue a case if evidence warranted it.

    Eddy Hellebuyck's case was resolved earlier this year but dated back to offences between 2001 and 2004. At that time, USADA issued the following statement: "We are pleased the Panel has upheld the fundamental principle of fairness for clean athletes. This decision sends a clear message that you can't use performance enhancing drugs to cheat, conceal your violations, and when the truth is revealed, attempt to hide behind the statute of limitations."

    "To me it doesn't matter one way or another," Landis said when asked if a USADA case would give him some vindication.

    "I know the facts and I think anybody who is capable of coherent thought knows the facts. As far as the Tour wins go, if they take them away, who are they going to give them to? That's the other problem. Literally there would be no one to give them to."

  • A day of mixed fortunes for Garmin-Barracuda at the Giro

    Christian Vande Velde and Tyler Farrar at the start of the race
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 20:50
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Farrar out, Navardauskas loses lead but Hesjedal in pole position

    Garmin-Barracuda had a day of extremely mixed fortunes at the Giro d'Italia on Friday. The action started when Tyler Farrar crashed out, badly injuring his hand, and continued with Ramunas Navardauskas losing the leader’s pink jersey. However the good news was that Canadian Ryder Hesjedal moved ever closer to the top spots - he’s now third - and Christian Vande Velde, the 2008 Giro leader, moved up to fifth.

    As if that wasn’t enough to make stage six a day to remember for both the right and the wrong reasons, Jack Bauer came a cropper in the same accident that saw Pablo Lastras (Movistar) abandon, but team sources confirmed the Kiwi rider was ok.

    Farrar’s injury was undoubtedly the blackest spot of Garmin-Barracuda’s stage. The sprinter fell heavily early on, and according to a team press release “suffered multiple lacerations to his hand and numerous abrasions....preliminary x-rays show no fractures and an examination didn’t reveal any tendon injury.”

    Farrar “crashed after 20 kilometres, someone took his front wheel out,” Allan Peiper, team sports director on the Giro told Cyclingnews. “He’s got two holes in his hand that are very close to his tendons and they put a lot of bandaging on. But the blood was still coming through and there was no way that he could continue racing for another five hours. All in all he was very lucky.”

    Farrar will now rest up for at least a week, team sources said, before starting riding again.

    Ramunas Navardauskas’s losing battle to defend the pink jersey was another major story, with the Lithuanian finally throwing in the towel and waving the team cars ahead with about 40 kilometres to go.

    “I was just empty,” Navardauskas said. “I wasn’t going much worse than yesterday on my first day with the pink jersey but today’s stage was much harder.

    “I was dropped maybe three times. Robbie Hunter helped me a lot and encouraged me as much as he could but eventually I couldn’t hold the speed of the peloton. Today was one of my hardest days on a bike, but it’s been a fabulous experience to wear the pink jersey.”

    Yet another negative of stage six for Garmin was when Jack Bauer, away in the big break of the day, came down in a crash involving Pablo Lastras (Movistar) but team sources confirmed the New Zealander is ok. “Having him in the break for as long as we did meant we didn’t have to work behind,” pointed out Peiper.

    On the plus side, after Garmin upped the pace radically in the final hour, Hesjedal is exactly where the team want him to be, in third overall “and that’s what the plan was. We were hoping to take the jersey, but we just missed it by five seconds and then Malori got the time bonus too.”


  • Watch live streaming coverage of Amgen Tour of California pre-race press conference on Cyclingnews

    Stage 7 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 21:00
    Cycling News

    Live coverage has started!

    With the 2012 edition of the Amgen Tour of California to begin on Sunday, May 13, the race organisation will hold a pre-race press conference today which will be streamed live on Cyclingnews.

    Beginning at 2pm PDT at Santa Rosa, California's Hyatt Vineyard Creek, the press conference will feature race officials, sponsors, athletes and team managers. Among those scheduled to appear are:

    • Kristin Bachochin, Executive Director, Amgen Tour of California and Senior Vice President of AEG Sports
    • Jim Birrell, Race Director, 2012 Amgen Tour of California
    • Kathryn West, Advocacy Director, Amgen Oncology
    • Chris Horner, RadioShack-Nissan, defending Amgen Tour of California champion
    • Levi Leipheimer, Omega Pharma-QuickStep
    • Tom Boonen, Omega Pharma-QuickStep
    • Tejay van Garderen, BMC Racing Team
    • Tom Danielson, Garmin-Barracuda
    • Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas-Cannondale
    • Phil Liggett, NBC, NBC Sports Network

    Tune in here to watch the coverage.

  • Rubiano racks up Colombia's first Giro stage win in six years

    Miguel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli) won a thrilling stage 6 of Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 21:30
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Androni Giocattoli rider may be new maglia rosa wearer after tomorrow's stage

    After three bunch sprints and two time trials, Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli) has taken the Giro d'Italia's first solo breakaway win of 2012, as well as Colombia's first victory in six years in Italy's top stage race.

    For Rubiano, raising his arms in the long finishing straight at Porto Sant'ElPidio also represents a breakthrough on other levels. At 27, this is the biggest win of his career by a long way, with his most important previous victory a stage at Argentina's Tour de San Luis in 2011.

    The reason for that gap in high-level results is that after his first two years as a fully fledged pro in Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare, 2006 and 2007, Rubiano found himself back racing at the Continental level.

    "That's why I'm so grateful to Gianni Savio and Androni Giocattoli for giving me a chance to get back into real racing," said Rubiano.

    But barring a handful of results, 2008 to 2011 will remain ‘lost years' in Rubiano's career.

    Born in Bogota in a poor area of the city, Rubiano started racing at eight when his father, an electrician, gave him a bike. After rising through the ranks of Colombian cycling, the Panaria squad, which used to have several South Americans in their books, gave him his first professional contract. He rode and completed the Giro for them in his first year. "I was less of a climber back then than I am now, though," he said during today's winner's press conference, "but I got through all the same."

    He has lived all over Italy since 2006 - Bergamo, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Parma - and said that knowing the terrain today beforehand was a huge advantage.

    "I did know these routes, and I thought the bunch would catch us on the Montegranaro, which is why I attacked there. And then Gianni [Savio] was there in the team car, encouraging me, and that helped."

    There has never been a Colombian leader of the Giro, and Rubiano says that was his one regret. If the team had not waited for leader Jose Rujano during the team time trial, he would be wearing pink today.

    However, with just 30 seconds between himself and race leader Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), tomorrow, on the mountain top finish of the Rocca di Cambio, Rubiano has a great opportunity to give Colombian fans a second big triumph in two days.

    "There is no change of leader in the team," said team director Gianni Savio, "but we will see what happens tomorrow. Miguel Angel isn't a climber for long mountain ascents, but Rocca di Cambio should be good for him."

  • Malori reverses the Giro fortunes of Lampre-ISD

    Adriano Malori (Lampre - ISD) enjoys his time on the podium
    Article published:
    May 11, 2012, 22:12
    Jean-François Quénet

    Italian national time trial champion comes of age

    Adriano Malori is the man who made the wheels of fortune turn back in favor of the Lampre-ISD team after their poor start at the Giro d'Italia in Denmark. The 24-year-old Italian took the pink jersey today at the conclusion of stage 6, the day the race visited the Marche region of his captain Michele Scarponi. When "the eagle of Filottrano" passed near his house, Malori was cruising in the front group that eventually put him on top of the overall classification with the help of time bonuses gained along the way as well as at the finish line where he came second to solo winner Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli).

    "I caught the breakaway for being a point of reference for Scarponi," Malori said. "Our group eventually played for the stage win and maglia rosa. In the last 15 kilometers, the hills were really hard. With 60km to go, I focused on conquering the pink jersey but I had a double fear: [Omega Pharma-QuickStep Michal] Golas was close to me on GC and likely to beat me with the time bonus, and in the front, there was Rubiano who – I imagined – was at ease in the steep climbs. To get the pink jersey, I've given even more strength than I had."

    A former time trial world champion in the U23 category in Varese (2008), Malori is the current Italian champion against the clock, a title he won in the absence of five-time champion Marco Pinotti who was absent after crashing at the Giro d'Italia. At the age of 24, he has already experienced critics in his country where expectations were high.

    "I'm not a fuoriclasse (extraordinary) like Fabian [Cancellara]," he said. "I have a good engine. I race at the front. For now, I focus on what I do the best: time trialling."

    Eager to break away, he's been noticed at the Tour de France, which he rode twice prior to making his debut at the Giro d'Italia this year. He was awarded the prize of most aggressive rider on stage 6 in Normandy last year.

    "With this pink jersey, I hope to prove the critics wrong and demonstrate that I can do something else than time trialling," the rider from Parma said. "I suppose my improvements will be noticed. Since last year, I've been working closely with coach Andrea Morelli at the Mapei Centre. We've mostly worked on undulating courses like today's and my time trialling position. I've also become fitter with the efforts made at the races. Lampre-ISD isn't considered a big team but we have a great leader with Scarponi and we're united."

    The blue-fuchsia team began the Giro with controversies around Damiano Cunego's late inclusion and poor performances in the inaugural individual time trial, but after only three days on Italian soil, they lead the race with one of Italy's most promising young riders.