Danilo Di Luca has told reporters that he is "surprised" by the news that he tested positive for EPO. The Italian tested positive for the substance in an out-of-competition test on April 29, with the news breaking Friday morning. He has subsequently been fired by his Vini Fantini team and removed from the Giro d'Italia. However, the rider's B sample must be analyzed before any sanction can be considered.
As he left the team hotel in Dimaro, Italy this morning reporters gathered in search of a comment or reaction. While admitting he was surprised, he also refrained from adding any substantial comment, saying that he would wait for the results of the B test before making a statement.
"We'll wait for the contra-analysis and then we'll see,” he told reporters in a video posted on Gazzetta’s website.
When asked by one reporter if he aware of the damage he’d caused to the sport, Di Luca said. "We’ll speak later for sure. Not now."
As he entered a car and left the scene Di Luca was finally asked if he as surprised by the news. "Yes. Arrivederci," he said.
Di Luca had not answered the phone when Cyclingnews attempted to make contact earlier this morning.
The Italian had previously tested positive for the EPO variant CERA at the 2009 Giro d’Italia and was handed a two-year suspension, that was subsequently reduced to 15 months after he apparently provided information on doping methodologies to the Italian Olympic Committee.
He also served a three-month suspension in 2007 for his implication in the Oil for Drugs doping investigation centred around Dr. Carlo Santuccione.
Snow is currently general in the Dolomites at altitudes above 1,000 metres but even though the summit of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo stands at 2304 metres, Vegni is confident that the show will go on.
"Ci arriviamo – we'll get there," Vegni told a press conference in Val Martello's biathlon centre on Friday afternoon, where he and Michele Acquarone also gave their reactions to Danilo Di Luca's positive test for EPO.
"The feedback we've got from the riders after cancelling today's stage is important. We've looked to take any dangerous descents out of the route and they have told us that they are ready to make sacrifices to bring the stage home even if the weather isn't optimal."
The altered stage – now 211km in length – will see the peloton cover largely valley roads from the start in Silandro until reaching the foot of the Tre Croci, although the final 60 kilometres of the stage, from Monguelfo onwards, will all take place at an altitude in excess of 1,000 metres.
"We can finish on top of Tre Cime di Lavaredo for the simple reason that it's not a...
Giro d'Italia director angry after EPO positive overshadows the Giro d'Italia
Michele Acquarone rarely loses his cool and has the natural propensity to be optimistic. However, his anger about the effects of Danilo Di Luca's positive test for EPO on the Giro d'Italia were clear to see during an afternoon press conference in Val Martello to announce that Saturday's stage will finish at the summit of Tre Cime di Lavaredo whatever the weather.
Despite bad weather disrupting the final week of the race and snow forcing RCS Sport to cancel stage 19 and redesign stage 20, Vincenzo Nibali's dominance had returned the Giro d'Italia to the front page of Gazzetta dello Sport and produced some spectacular racing that had been admired around the globe.
The news of Di Luca's positive suddenly dragged Italian cycling back into its murky past and quickly overshadowed any good feeling about the Giro d'Italia.
"It's been a very unique day in lots of ways. We hope that these 17 great days of the Giro aren’t cancelled by snow or by the mud," Acquarone said, making it clear who he was referring to.
"In our hearts we've got the warmth of Naples and the sun of Ischia. It's been a spectacular Giro with lots of people along the roadside and watching at home. The snow won't cancel the Galibier stage and the finishes at Ivrea and Vicenza.
"Regarding the mud, we can only say that every time it happens we feel we're a victim but we won’t allow a single case to damage a new cycling generation of clean riders. I'm not trying to minimize things but I think it's a case of an old rider who hasn't understood that the world has changed."
Acquarone's anger was evident as soon as Di Luca's name was mentioned.
"I'm angry because I think: 'How can a rider or a person of his age be so...
"Blanco Update: @RGUpdate did not feel well during and after the time trial. In consultation with the medical staff he won't start anymore."
Gesink came into the race as a contender for the podium and came through the first week skirmishes unscathed and in third place overall.
However last year’s Tour of California champion wilted in the mountains, and despite appearing to recover in recent days, the Dutchman dropped out of the top ten after yesterday’s mountain time trial, lying 12th, 10:19 down on Vincenzo Nibali.
Although team leader Michele Scarponi faded over the second half of the time trial course and conceded further ground to maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), he did enough to edge closer to the podium and now lies 1:08 behind Rigoberto Uran (Sky). For his part, Niemiec took 12th place on the stage, and he retains his 5th position overall, 6:09 behind Nibali.
"The route was pretty hard especially because you needed to push a pretty big gear and I'm happy with how I did because I've managed to hold on to fifth place in general classification," Niemiec told Cyclingnews after the rain-soaked time trial. "But from tomorrow we've got two very hard stages even if we don't know exactly what climbs we'll have."
It seems unfair to say that Niemiec has crept into fifth place overall given the prominent role he has played in working for Scarponi in the mountains, but there is no arguing that his progress has been overshadowed by that of his high-profile leader, who last winter served a three-month ban for frequenting Dr. Michele Ferrari.
Indeed, their places in the hierarchy were reflected starkly by the scenes in the Hotel La Betulla, shortly past the finish of Thursday's stage, where the riders were able to shower and change before descending the mountain. While a camera crew waited anxiously by the elevator for Scarponi to emerge with his thoughts on the afternoon's action, Niemiec was able to slip into the lobby completely unnoticed...
French team to sit out Dauphiné after doping positive
The UCI's Pro Cycling Council has voted to allow the Ag2r-La Mondiale team to forfeit its participation in the Critérium du Dauphiné without being subjected to the financial penalty normally applied to WorldTour teams missing WorldTour events.
The French team opted to skip the race under the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), which calls for any team in the organisation to suspend itself for eight days, starting from the next WorldTour race, after its second doping infraction.
"The PCC decided no fine will ensue (art. 2.15.128) on the grounds that the sporting penalty was sufficient and that the organizer was supportive. The team nonetheless remains solely responsible for its actions," the UCI statement read.
Planning, braking and time splits result in early lead
They were one of the favourites to take out the opening team time trial in the fourth round of the National Road Series at the Jarvis Subaru Adelaide Tour, but few expected Euride Racing to beat the dominant time trial squad of Huon Salmom-Genesys or the ever-consistent Budget Forklifts. But the local team that formed out of the existing South Australian Institute of Sport squad had done their homework well in advance of the 20.9km team effort.
Denied a spot on the TTT podium at the recent FKG Tour of Toowoomba by the slimmest of margins, Euride Racing put in the hard yards and ensured that come race day they could exploit every ounce of their local knowledge. Practice makes perfect as they say and while the South Australian squad may not have had the firepower to topple Huon Salmon-Genesys, Drapac or Budget Forklifts in Queensland at Toowoomba, they knew Adelaide's test would come down to much more than just watts.
"What helped us here is local knowledge," explained team manager and rider Fraser Northey to Cyclingnews.
"We looked at a lot of time splits throughout training, the tight corners, we know we can go through them without braking too much and we knew exactly where to rotate our riders and who would go over each climb. I guess it was a bit of a risk in some of the tactics we chose but it paid off."
The course started at Cudlee Creek and flew down the primarily downhill Gorge Road - the same used by the peloton at this year's Tour Down Under before they turned off to climb the decisive Corkscrew climb - and knowing how fast each bend could be negotiated was key to Euride maintaining their speed along the flatter, middle section. A few minor...
Garmin Sharp DS on the weather and tough conditions
Garmin Sharp came into this year’s Giro d’Italia with high expectations following Ryder Hesjedal’s 2012 victory. However since the Canadian's abandonment in the second week the American team has forced to change tactics.
Ramunas Navardauskas rescued the team with a win on stage 11 but the race has been a tough event for the team with David Millar and Nathan Haas joining Hesjedal on the sidelines.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Garmin-Sharps’ director sportif Charly Wegelius discusses the team’s race. The former domestique, who rode as a loyal climber for many Giro champions also discusses the parcours and the weather that has dominated this year’s Giro.
With stage 19 cancelled and stage 20 modified and losing multiple climbs, Wegelius, who spoke during Thursday’s time trial, admits that Vincenzo Nibali has been the strongest rider in the race, and that despite the course changes, the Italian is a worthy winner.