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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, May 5, 2012

Date published:
May 05, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Hunter discusses Garmin-Barracuda's options for early Giro d'Italia stages

    New South Afrrican road champion Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda)
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 21:34 BST
    Cycling News

    South African says team "a force to be reckoned with"

    Veteran professional Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda) will be starting the fourth Giro d'Italia of his career and the 35-year-old South African spoke exclusively to Cyclingnews the evening before Saturday's opening stage. The reigning South African road champion believes his teammate Alex Rasmussen, racing on home soil, will be a contender to win the opening 8.7km time trial on Saturday in Herning, Denmark.

    "I think our main guy is going to be [Alex] Rasmussen," Hunter told Cyclingnews. "I think he's in with a shot but it will be difficult. There's a couple of guys out there really going for it."

    If Garmin-Barracuda doesn't claim the maglia rosa on Saturday, Hunter noted that the stage four team time trial plays to the team's strengths and will provide the American ProTeam a chance to put a rider in the pink jersey.

    In addition to the two early stages against the clock, Hunter also discusses the team's options for Sunday's and Monday's road stages in Denmark where he believes himself, Rasmussen, Jack Bauer and Tyler Farrar can work together to open Garmin-Barracuda's stage win account at the Italian Grand Tour.

  • Gallery: 2012 Giro d'Italia teams presented in Herning

    Damiano Cunego and Michele Scarponi, Lampre's two Giro winners
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 22:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Pink pageantry in Denmark

    On the eve of the start of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, Herning, Denmark rolled out the pink carpet for the 22 teams which will take part in the race. The 95th edition of the Italian tour gets underway on Saturday with a flat, fast 8.7km prologue that winds through the Danish town.

    The teams were presented to the fans, with riders being led to the stage along the stretch of pink pavement behind a Danish cargo trike, commonly used by businesses in this bicycle-centric country.

    New defending champion Michele Scarponi stood aside his fellow Giro champion teammate Damiano Cunego as the Lampre-ISD team was led to the podium.

    Frank Schleck, a late addition to the RadioShack-Nissan roster, was the focus of much attention as he arrived to the stage, as was Danish prologue hopeful Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) and Danish general manager of Saxo Bank, Bjarne Riis.

    Earlier in the day, riders were allowed to preview the prologue course while the streets were closed to traffic. But Garmin-Barracuda's Peter Stetina, who was apparently on course before the closure, was hit by a car during his reconnaissance. He was uninjured.

    Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli) will be the first rider down the ramp at  3:40pm local time. The full list of Giro prologue start times is available here.



  • Rabobank tolerated doping on cycling team, De Rooy claims

    Michael Boogerd would always target the race
    Article published:
    May 05, 2012, 8:40 BST
    Cycling News

    UPDATED: Sponsor responds; Medical staff said to have overseen riders' activities; Boogerd claimed as HumanPlasma client

    Team Rabobank tolerated the use of doping up until at least 2007, according to a Dutch newspaper. The riders could select their own products, but the team medical staff made sure that they did not hurt their health, the Volkskrant newspaper claimed. At least three former riders, including Michael Boogerd, were also said to have been involved in the HumanPlasma blood doping ring, as well.

    Sponsor Rabobank said that it would not investigate the story, saying that there had been an investigation earlier. “Since 2007 there is a new board of directors and new leadership,” a spokesman said. He also pointed out, “We want to stress that within the team there is a zero tolerance policy.”

    The team has not made a statement on the matter.

    According to the Volkskrant, Theo de Rooy who was team manager from 2003 to 2007, did not deny that there was doping on the team. “If it happened, it was a deliberate decision by the medical staff,” he said, but claimed not to know of the HumanPlasma involvement.

    De Rooy, who refered to the whole matter as “medical care” rather than doping, indicated that the efforts were to some extent overseen by someone within the team structure. "If you have a number of knowledgeable people who pick up the right signals from the riders, you can brake and steer them."

    The former manager said that the team took no “unreasonable risks” in the matter. "But when it comes to medical care, you need to find the limit. You can't say you risk your life (in dangerous descents, for example, ed.), but when it comes to medical care, it does not matter. Then you're not an  athlete? For me it has always been: the health and well being of the rider in the short and long term.”

    De Rooy said it was the responsibility of each rider “to determine how far he...

  • The most international Giro d’Italia ever?

    Fans watch the Giro teams parade by
    Article published:
    May 05, 2012, 10:08 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Time trial in Herning is furthest ever Giro start from Italy

    This afternoon’s 8.7km opening time trial of the Giro in Herning, Denmark, is the Giro d'Italia’s most distant start from Italy, and - together with the Vuelta’s start in Assen in 2010, at 1,300 kilometres away from Spain, a similar distance to Herning from Italy - is the equal furthest from its home country for any Grand Tour in cycling history.

    The Giro is better-travelled than the Vuelta, which ‘only’ had its first foreign start in 1997, in neighbouring Portugal. Eleven years after the Tour’s first start abroad, in 1954 in Holland, the Giro began abroad on foreign soil for the first time, in San Marino.

    So are these long-distance starts for Grand Tours really worth it? Reactions vary widely, but one fan is Matt Goss. As an Australian, he is pretty well-travelled:

    “On a personal level, for me it’s good, I started my career here,” said the Orica-GreenEdge pro, who first raced at this level with Danish outfit CSC back in 2007.

    “It’s always a little bit of a drama because one of the rest days is spent travelling a little bit, and recovering from travel. But it’s also nice to start somewhere different, like we did when the race began in Holland a couple of years back. It gives a bit of a new flavour to it.

    “I remember racing up in Holland and there were some of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen in my career. It’s not always a bad thing, it brings a new light to the race and maybe some new spectators as well.”

    As for the terrain itself, the former Giro and Tour of Denmark stage winner says the country’s flat, open countryside will make for “very similar racing to Holland, it’s pretty windy up here. It definitely threw a few spanners into the...

  • Mixed emotions for Farrar as he returns to Giro d'Italia

    For Wouter: Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) remembers the late Wouter Weylandt in Redon.
    Article published:
    May 05, 2012, 11:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Tragic Weylandt never far from his thoughts

    Having won two stages at the 2010 renewal of the race, the following year's Giro d'Italia was supposed to offer further evidence of Tyler Farrar's rise to the top of world sprinting. Instead, the 2011 race was marred by the tragic death of Farrar's friend and training partner Wouter Weylandt, who died after a crash in the third stage.

    Belgium's Weylandt was killed instantly after being thrown 10 metres from his bike and landing face down. The following day Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) and Weylandt's Leopard Trek teammates rode in stage four as a mark of respect, before pulling out of the race. Farrar bases himself in Belgium and spent countless hours on the road training with Weylandt, whose race number 108 from last year will not be worn by any of this year's riders as a mark of respect.

    As he returns to the Giro d'Italia today, his friend isn't far from his mind. Farrar is all too aware of the dangers of the sport - his father is paralyzed from the waist down after being knocked off his bike by a car several years ago.

    "What happened in the Giro was pretty horrible," the 27-year-old American told The Seattle Times. "It was a rough time. That kind of thing doesn't go away. I don't think it ever completely goes away. But cycling is my life, my job, and even though it happened, I still love the sport. I still love racing my bike.

    "It was painful. There's no denying that, but that's life. You know, it's not nice. It's not the way anyone wants it to happen, but you don't have a say in it sometimes. You have to roll with the punches. You have to work through the hard to get to the good."

    "Cycling has certainly taken some things away from me in my...

  • NetApp bus broken into before 2012 Giro d'Italia opener

    The NetApp team has special pink-themed jerseys for the Giro
    Article published:
    May 05, 2012, 13:00 BST
    Cycling News

    No major losses or damage for German wildcard team

    Team NetApp had an unwelcome start to its first Grand Tour, as its team bus was broken into overnight in Herning, Denmark. The German Profesional Continental team received a wildcard for the 2012 Giro d'Italia as its first three-week race.

    “They talk bad about Italy but last night thieves broke into our bus and here it's Denmark,” tweeted Italian rider Cesare Benedetti. 

    "There were no major losses, fortunately. GPS systems, clothing and shoes. Not something big. It's more damage to the bus..."

    “It was not too bad. The bus is ok. They ripped out the GPS and left some dangling wires,” team spokeswoman Sandra Schmitz told Cyclingnews. “We have good mechanics, they can even fix the bus.”

    The bus had been parked in the open lot in front of the hotel. “We didn't see anything. It must have been early in the morning. Thank goodness they didn't break into the truck."

    The riders won't let the break-in deter them today. “Of course this won't affect us,” Schmitz said. “It isn't nice for the riders that their shoes are gone but they have others. It won't affect our performance.”

  • Video: Lund pride at Danish start for Giro d'Italia

    Anders Lund
    Article published:
    May 05, 2012, 14:09 BST
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank rider hoping for a change of luck for the troubled team

    Saxo Bank was the last team to be introduced to the crowd at Friday’s team presentation for the 2012 Giro d'Italia in Herning, as the honour of being the local team. The race itself will start in the native town of Denmark’s biggest cycling name, Bjarne Riis. Known as “the eagle of Herning” in his glorious and controversial days as a rider, he remains the pivotal figure in Danish cycling at the helm of the country’s only Pro Team.

    Saxo Bank’s approach to the Giro d’Italia is obviously different this time around from one year ago when they arrived with arch-favourite and eventual winner Alberto Contador, who was later stripped off the title as a consequence of the clenbuterol affair at the 2010 Tour de France. Without the Spaniard, who is suspended until August 5, the Danish team haven’t performed like they normally do. In the Spring Classics, they badly missed the winner of the 2010 Tour of Flanders, Nick Nuyens, who was injured.

    Anders Lund told Cyclingnews that the Giro is “an opportunity to try and change things”. The Danish rider has high expectations on home soil for his team-mates Manuele Boaro and Juan José Haedo. He talks about the pride of hosting the pink race only seven months after the road world championships in Copenhagen. A Grand Tour has never started so far north in Europe before the Giro came to Herning.

  • Top American sprinter Ken Hanson ready for Tour of California

    Ken Hanson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
    Article published:
    May 05, 2012, 16:47 BST
    Neil Browne

    Optum's new recruit has most wins of any US Pro in 2012

    What American racer has already racked up six UCI wins this season? Levi Leipheimer has two stage wins and the overall general classification from the Tour de San Luis. However, it’s not that Californian – it’s Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies rider Ken Hanson.

    At 30 years old, it’s easy to think that Hanson has been racing for many years. He got his cycling career started later than most, cutting his teeth on the collegiate racing scene. His big break was with BMC in 2007, but by his own admission he wasn’t ready for how quickly that program progressed.

    “I didn’t have that many years of racing or the experience. I don’t think I was strong enough to go over and do a lot of those races in Europe and be a factor,” said Hanson.

    Known for a fast sprint, Hanson has progressed to more of a well-rounded racer, finishing in eighth place at the US Pro road race.

    “This year I decided I’d make the shift to more of a road racing sprinter than just a criterium sprinter,” said Hanson. “In the US very few of the stage races have sprint stages. Most stage races here, I think, are geared toward a more one-dimensional type of racer: an uphill prologue, a couple of road races and a criterium thrown in.”

    In order to make that transition to a road sprinter, Hanson needed a change.

    “A lot of of off season training was endurance and being a better sprinter after five to six hours of racing.”

    As a result he knew he needed to spend some time racing out of the US so he could prepare for one of his major goals:  the Amgen Tour of California.

    One of those races where the team could get in the quality racing necessary was the the