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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, May 14, 2011

Date published:
May 14, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • UCI defend the creation of an index of suspicion

    The Tour de France peloton passes a windmill
    Article published:
    May 13, 2011, 22:02 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    International Riders Association to take legal action against L’Equipe

    The UCI has moved to turn the embarrassing leak of the so-called index of suspicion into an example of how the use of the biological passport system is making the fight against doping become increasingly more effective.

    The French newspaper L’Equipe published details of the list drawn up on the eve of the 2010 Tour de France on the 198 riders due to compete in the sport’s biggest race.

    It is based on the rider’s biological passport and the final blood tests they underwent before the Grand Depart in Rotterdam. Each rider is given a score of between zero and ten. According to L’Equipe, the large majority of riders received scores of four or less but a score of from six to ten apparently indicated that the possibility of doping was "overwhelming". Some of the riders located to the top of list have already been singled out by the biological passport and evaluated by the panel of nine experts, even if no procedure was opened.

    Carlos Barredo and Yaroslav Popovych were the only riders with a score of ten. Denis Menchov scored nine, while 2010 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was given a five, while Lance Armstrong was ranked as a four in his final Tour de France. The RadioShack team had the highest combined index of suspicion as a team. 

    The UCI was forced to admit the index was created before the Tour...

  • Garzelli critical of lack of interest in Giro stage victories

    Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) signs on
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 0:29 BST
    Barry Ryan

    2000 winner praises De Clercq's courage

    Stefano Garzelli praised the grit of winner Bart De Clercq during stage seven of the Giro d'Italia, but criticised the failure of other teams to help his Acqua & Sapone team chase down the day's earlier break on the run-in to the finishing climb at Montevergine.

    "I'm happy that a rider with a bit of courage won, it's something that might have been missing from a few teams," Garzelli said pointedly to reporters atop the mountain. "It almost seems sometimes that people aren't interested in winning stages at this Giro."

    However, the veteran Italian, who won the Giro in 2000, acknowledged that the race's extremely tough final week meant that none of the contenders for the maglia rosa in Milan were prepared to show their hand this early in the race.

    "It's justifiable in the case of the overall contenders because they'll want to save their energy ahead of a very difficult final week," Garzelli said. "It's normal, but it's something I've noticed in the opening stages, that everybody is leaving it to the big teams. Perhaps they are worried about two very tough weeks to come."

    Third on at Montevergine in 2001 and 5th in 2007, Garzelli clearly fancied his chances on the shallow climb overlooking the town of Mercogliano and he duly set his team to work at the front of the bunch. He would ultimately have to settle for 4th place on the stage.

    "It can't always go well, but the important thing was to try and to believe," he said. "It's a stage that I liked; I've always done well in it in the past. Given that it was such a short stage it was dangerous to let the break go."

    Nonetheless, Garzelli declared himself pleased with his own performance, and his team's pace-setting at the base of the final climb, but he again...

  • Kreuziger: Scarponi was strongest on Montevergine

    Roman Kreuziger (Pro Team Astana)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 2:10 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Czech rider pleased with 3rd on first summit finish

    While Roman Kreuziger was among the sharpest of the group of favourites on stage seven of the Giro d'Italia, the Astana man acknowledged that Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) was the most impressive of the overall contenders on the race's mountain-top finish at Montevergine.

    Kreuziger's first instinct on crossing the line at the sanctuary was to wheel to a halt in front of the podium and watch the replay of the finishing sprint on the big screen. After reviewing the images of those frenetic closing metres, he declared himself pleased with his own third place in a finale that he felt rewarded raw strength over pure finishing speed.

    "I certainly put in a fine performance," Kreuziger told Cyclingnews as a soigneur helped him into a jacket. "I knew that I wasn't the quickest but in the end it was strength that counted, and Scarponi had more than anybody."

    Although stage winner Bart De Clercq (Omega Pharma-Lotto) had a sizeable gap entering the final two kilometres, his lead was slashed to half a wheel by the finish, and Kreuziger felt that Scarponi's Lampre-ISD teammate Prezemyslav Niemic was one of the day's most notable performers, as he put in a solid stint driving at the front of the group of favourites.

    "Scarponi also showed how strong he is thanks to Niemic, who did great work," Kreuziger pointed out, before assessing his own squad's display. "For my part I'm very happy. Over the past few days, the team is starting to become very united, and so I think that we can expect a good Astana come the Dolomites."

    Ahead of the Giro, Kreuziger spoke of his desire to go on the attack on...

  • Sutherland says it's time to step up to the podium

    Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 2:59 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    UnitedHealthcare leader focussed ahead of Amgen Tour of California

    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling's Rory Sutherland is particularly keen to get going at this year's Amgen Tour of California. His schedule this afternoon in chock-a-block full of media interviews and the Australian just wants to get back on the bike and start racing. It could be said, that time is ticking.

    Sutherland heads into the 2011 event with his best-ever result in 2010, seventh overall, following two 34th placings in 2009 and 2008 and a 13th for his 2007 debut. This year, it's a different ball game.

    "A top 10's not really enough for me anymore," he admitted to Cyclingnews. "Once you've done it one year, it's like of course you always want to be in the top 10 again, but you always want to keep moving forward, be it the top five or in the range of the podium."

    Upgraded to Professional Continental status for the 2011 season, UnitedHealthcare have had the benefit of racing in Europe while not losing focus on the team's primary goal of a strong showing in California.

    Sutherland's excursion back to Europe netted him third place on the 4th stage time trial at the Settimana di Coppi e Bartali in March, followed by another third in the time trial at the Vuelta a Asturias and a second in the 4th stage. The 29-year-old describes the shift as a "turbo-charge" that you can't find when your racing is restricted to America.

    "It's always a more...

  • Leopard Trek racing for Weylandt in California

    Wouter Weylandt will be fondly remembered by the entire peloton
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 3:51 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Amgen Tour to honour Weylandt with moment of silence

    The Amgen Tour of California marks the first race back for the Leopard Trek team after it left the Giro d'Italia following the tragic death of their teammate Wouter Weylandt.

    Race organisers AEG announced today that there will be a moment of silence before the start of the first stage in South Lake Tahoe on Sunday, and the Leopard Trek riders will lead off the stage in honour of the Belgian's memory.

    Cyclingnews spoke with Jens Voigt and directeur sportif Torsten Schmidt, while Andy Schleck spoke at the press conference about getting back to work following the difficult week since Weylandt died of injuries he sustained in a crash of the third stage of the Giro.

    "The loss of Wouter last week was personally for me a big shock - he was a good friend of mine before and this year we were teammates," Schleck said. "There are no words to describe the feelings we've been going through - myself, my brother and the team, and you have to think of his family...

    "It's been hard to stay focused on training in the last days, but I am sure he would have liked that I would stay in the race and do my best, and I talk for the whole team and we ride for Wouter."

    All of the riders of the Amgen Tour of California as well as the race organisation and staff will be wearing black wristbands in memory of Weylandt, and the bands will also be distributed to the peloton in Europe later on.

    "It's a very sad situation for the team, for the staff and management," said Schmidt. "The team was really down. But Wouter's passion was...

  • Stybar says Four Days of Dunkirk results a good sign

    Zdenek Stybar in his new Quick Step kit
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 4:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Quick Step rider surprised himself with third-place finish

    Zdenek Stybar goes into his second road race for Team Quick Step with less pressure on him than he had in his first race.  Having placed third overall in that race, the Four Days of Dunkirk,  he is now preparing to take on the Tour of Picardy.

    Stybar, the reigning world cyclo-cross champion, moved into third overall in Dunkirk on the fourth stage, where he finished third and was the last rider to be able to follow eventual stage and overall winner Thomas Voeckler.

    “I surprised myself,” he told L'Equipe.  “I experienced a feeling of ecstasy.”  He called it “a very hard day,” but took it as sign that he made the right decision in signing with Quick Step. “Many people were skeptical about my ability to make a career on the road.  I have the initial answer now, even though I know that I have not yet arrived.”

    The Czech is trying to keep his two disciplines separate.  “I don't want anyone treating me like the world cyclo-cross champion where I am nothing on the road, where my rainbow jersey is worthless,” he said.  “I give myself three years to succeed, but if I don't get some wins, I am afraid of quickly losing my motivation.”

    From Picardy, he will work for captain Tom Boonen at the Tour of Belgium, before tackling the mountains for the first time at the Tour de Suisse.


  • Kocjan chases elusive season victory in California

    GP Regio Insubrica top three: Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis), Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli) and Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 5:45 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Strong-man eyes first and final stage

    Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis) is looking to secure that elusive victory this season at this week's Amgen Tour of California. The Slovenian strong-man accomplished a series of podium finishes and top 10s overseas this spring and is hoping to kick it up a notch, eyeing a victory in stage one's kick-off around Lake Tahoe on Sunday and at the stage eight finale on May 22 in Thousand Oaks.

    "The only thing I was missing this spring was a victory," Kocjan told Cyclingnews. "I hope to get one here but I don't know. Yesterday I looked at the stages and I will try to do my best to get a stage win in the first stage, maybe the fifth stage and the last stage. I think these are the ones that suit my ability and I will do my best. But, the first and the last stage are for sure."

    Stage one is a course well-suited to Kocjan with a 191kms race in the Sierra Mountains around the Lake Tahoe. The race will start in the city of South Lake Tahoe, travel counter-clockwise around the scenic blue lake for one-and-a-half laps and finish in the city of North Lake Tahoe. Stage eight will begin in Santa Clarita and venture toward Thousand Oaks where they will complete five challenging finishing circuits for a total of 132.4kms.

    Kocjan added a series of stellar results to his resume this year with podium performances at the Fleche d'Emeraude, GP Regio Insubrica along with top ten finishes at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Montepaschi Strade Bianche, GP di Lugano, Tour du Haut Var and GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise.

    "The best day for me this year was at Strade Bianche because I had good results and if you look at the riders who were...

  • Schleck hopes for a strong performance at the Amgen Tour of California

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) would love to win today
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 9:30 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Main target remains the Tour de France in July

    Andy Schleck will not be Leopard Trek's overall contender at this week's Amgen Tour of California. However he does hope to win a stage and put up a strong performance. The Luxembourg native is using the eight-day race as his first block of preparation for the Tour de France in July.

    "It's not a big secret if I tell you that my goal of the year is the Tour de France, which is still a long time from now," Schleck said. "But, I believe that if I can follow Levi [Leipheimer] on the climbs then I can do a nice race. I will take it as it comes."

    Leopard Trek is expecting Linus Gerdemann to put forth a strong showing in the overall classification this week. The remaining riders on the team include Stefan Denifi, Martin Mortensen, Jakob Fuglsang, Anders Lund Den, Martin Pedersen and Jens Voigt.

    "We have three guys here to focus on a nice classification," Schleck said. "If I could choose to win a stage, I would love to win a stage. I'm not going to sit back in the peloton and relax. I'm going to fight for as long as I can. If I see that I am up there then I will try to be in the classification. Like I said before, I have been here for a week, I trained good and I feel pretty good but I will have to take it on the road as it comes."

    This year's parcours includes the addition of two uphill finishes at stage four on Sierra Road and at stage seven on Mt Baldy, the more significant of the two ascents. Both climbs are well-suited to Schleck's ability and are likely the two places that he will perform well.

    "I did the Amgen...