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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 11, 2010

Date published:
April 11, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Lampre refuses to suspend riders over Mantova investigation

    The Lampre team in formation
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 14:52 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian Riders Association calls for fair treatment

    The Lampre-Farnese Vini team has confirmed it has no plans to suspend or withdraw from races any of the riders under investigation in Italy for their links to pharmacist Guido Nigrelli.

    On Friday the BMC team withdrew former Lampre rider Alessandro Ballan from their Paris-Roubaix line-up. Fellow Italian and former Lampre rider Mauro Santambrogio was also withdrawn from future races until their involvement is fully clarified.

    However Lampre-Farnese Vini has no intention of taking a similar stance.

    "We believe that at the moment there are too few details known about the investigation to decide to suspend any riders, so for the moment, the team does not believe it will stop any rider (from racing). We'd like to understand the situation better so that we can evaluate, make a comment and take any eventual action," the team told Cyclingnews.

    On Friday the Lampre-Farnese Vini riders studied the key cobbled sections of Roubaix and then travelled to Compiègne for Sunday's start. Alfredo Balloni, Vitaliy Buts, Mauro Da Dalto, Danilo Hondo, Mirco Lorenzetto and Marcin Sapa have been named in the team for Paris-Roubaix.

    On Saturday, the President of the Italian Professional Riders Association (ACCPI), Amedeo Colombo, issued a statement condemning doping but criticising anyone for 'deciding that some one is guilty before it's known what they've been accused of.'

    "We hope that those who have the responsibility to decide if riders race or not, do so with the necessary prudence and fairness," he said.

    "The Mantova case is still in the investigation phase (those involved have only received a request to extend the investigations, not a notification that they will be formally accused) and the judge handling the case has said that he needs more time to define, decide, who and what and based on what facts."

    "We believe that blocking a rider and or their team on the basis a of a simple request to...

  • Paris Roubaix team presentation

    Christopher Sutton (Sky)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 17:42 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Photos and reactions from Compiegne, France

    Traditionally Paris-Roubaix has kicked off with a team presentation in the centre of Compiegne a day before the race, and this year was no different. The market square outside the Place du Palais was awash with cycling fans as the team buses arrived on Saturday afternoon and with sunny skies above the atmosphere was a mix of excitement.

    Tomorrow's race is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the entire season. It wasn’t just the fans that were caught up in the events, with many of the riders taking time to pose for photographs, sign caps and jerseys, and wax lyrical as to why Paris-Roubaix is such a special date in cycling's calendar.

    Adam Blythe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) First year professional enjoying his first year in the top ranks of the sport
    "I did Flanders last week, and that was the biggest race of my life, it was brilliant so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll be looking after Hoste and trying to keep him out of trouble. It's a Belgian team so it's almost as big as the worlds to ride in these types of races for these guys so for me to be in the team and be part of it is special. I'll do my job and hope to finish."

    George Hincapie (BMC) Perennial Roubaix contender has five spare bikes for tomorrow and won’t let Ballan’s situation distract him
    "Ballan was a great teammate and a great guy so we're missing him already. I'm focused on the event and I've got so many things going on in my life that if I let that every event distract me, then it could be hard. Obviously it's a disappointment for the team but they're doing what they think is right. There's nothing that saying he's guilty, they just want him to work things out in his own time. We all respect that."

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) drafted in to help the team’s position in the team caravan. He hasn't ridden Robaix since the 90s.
    "I've ridden...

  • Boom and Posthuma lead Rabobank

    Lars Boom (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 18:00 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Time trial specialist and former cyclo-cross champ in Paris-Roubaix

    Last year Rabobank had Juan Antonio Flecha but with his departure to Sky the team doesn't have a true, single leader. However in Joost Posthuma and Lars Boom, Rabobank has two dangerous cards to play in Paris-Roubaix. Time trial specialist Posthuma usually has a go in the long breakaway but former cyclo-cross world champion Lars Boom could go well after making a strong impression during last week's Tour of Flanders.

    Boom makes his debut in the pavé classic after riding a strong first part of the season. The 24 year-old Dutchman won the prologue of Paris-Nice and wore the leader's jersey for three days.

    "During the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad I was going well too. I'm satisfied with my performances so far. I made progression compared to last year," Boom told Cyclingnews.

    While many riders in his position would be unsure whether or not they can go well on the cobbles, Boom is confident. "It went well in the Tour of Flanders," Boom said. In Flanders there's a mixture of cobbles and climbs while Paris-Roubaix only has the cobbles. For Boom the difference didn't matter. "I could easily follow on the hellingen, but they take a lot of energy. At the end of the race I was thrown backwards," Boom said, adding that the distance makes these Monuments extra difficult.

    While one would think his cyclo-cross skills will help him a lot during Paris-Roubaix, Boom played down their importance. "Those technical skills might come in handy when you end up riding in the gutter but that's about it," Boom said.

    Team-mate Joost Posthuma is more experienced in Paris-Roubaix. He told Cyclingnews how he felt about the race. "It's an honest race. Everybody's encountering some bad luck," Posthuma said.

    "For me, I'm feeling good during the training rides but that's not the same as the actual race. When hitting the first sectors you quickly know how you're going."

    Posthuma's experience taught him that the...

  • Paris-Roubaix remembers Franco Ballerini

    Franco Ballerini after Paris-Roubaix
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 20:08 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Organizers create a special cobblestone prize in memory of the former winner

    Franco Ballerini will be remembered with a special prize at this year's Paris-Roubaix. Race organisers ASO have decided that a cobble stone trophy will be awarded to the first Italian rider at the finish in the Roubaix velodrome, as a way of remembering Ballerini after his death in a car rally accident on February 7.

    Ballerini loved riding Paris-Roubaix and personified everything that is special about the race. He only won ten races during his professional career but he won Paris-Roubaix twice, in 1995 and 1998. He also finished second in 1993, after a famous battle with Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle, and was third, fifth and sixth on other occasions.

    When he retired in 2001, Paris-Roubaix was his last major race and despite only finishing 32nd, he got a standing ovation and an emotional cheer in the Roubaix velodrome when he unzipped his jersey to reveal a t-shirt saying 'Merci Roubaix'. He was a real 'Monsieur Roubaix'.

    At the team presentation on Saturday it was as Ballerini was still alive and somewhere in the crowd. He was always easy to spot because of his long sideburns and smart looking Italian clothes. He was always friendly and happy to talk. And a smile would fill his face with pride whenever someone recalled his victories at Paris-Roubaix and he'd love to discuss which riders were on form and possible tactics for the race.

    The special Souvenir Ballerini prize will be a good way to remember him. Filippo Pozzato told Cyclingnews that he hopes to be the first Italian into the velodrome and so collect the special cobblestone.

    "I hope to win it because it's a great way of remember Franco," Pozzato said. "Unfortunately it's all we've got to remember him. He taught me how to ride on the pave and I just hope I can put it to good use in the race."


  • Paris-Roubaix team presentation part two

    Cancellara was lean and hungry for a Flanders-Roubaix double
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 21:28 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    We talked to more of the big names the day before the race

    The Place du Palais in the centre of Compiegne was packed with cycling fans, autograph hunters, team buses, directuer sportifs and 195 riders on Saturday for the official team presentation. 

    After a few hours sleep, everyone would be back in the square to see the race off on Sunday morning. The fans were excited, the directeur sportifs were worried, and the riders were both excited and nervous about racing on the pave.

    Cyclingnews spoke to many of the big names and key players.

    Christian Prudhomme on why Lampre-Farnese Vini are in the race

    "I don't know anything about Lampre. We're waiting to know more like everyone else. But I will say that the decision of the BMC team, is a good decision."

    Fabian Cancellara on why he's not worried about Tom Boonen

    "I've won a lot of big races but I was perhaps missing something a big win in Belgium. Cycling is about passion and in Belgium the people are crazy about cycling and there are some great races. I won Harelbeke and then the Tour of Flanders and it doesn't get much better than that.

    "People perhaps think I'm from another planet now, but I've worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices to be successful. Others have, too, but when I aim for something, I've always managed to do it. I've made mistakes in Paris-Roubaix so far and in others race in last like year's World Championships. How strong was I that day? But I've learned to more focused in races. I watched the Tour of Flanders ten times on television this week and watched how I raced and how the others raced. I think I raced perfectly. I don’t know if I can manage to race like that at Paris-Roubaix. But I know who is going well and who isn't. I know who made mistakes. I'm ready."

    You're very strong but can you still win if you're very unlucky?

    "I don't know because I've never had to comeback from a problem, I've...

  • Breschel content at Saxo Bank

    Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) rides towards his teammates
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 22:19 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Other teams interested in Danish Champion for next season

    One day before racing Paris-Roubaix, Danish champion Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) was distracted by the ongoing speculation about his team affiliation in the future.

    The Rabobank team was said to be interested in signing Danish champion; however, Breschel said a move from his current team, Saxo Bank, was unlikely. "Saxo is the best team for me right now," he said. "If the team remains competitive, there's no reason to move," Breschel said Cyclingnews.

    A spokesperson from the Rabobank team declined said the team did not want to comment on rumours about negotiations.

    Rolf Sörensen, manager of the Danish champion, explained that it isn't just Rabobank which is interested in Breschel. "Almost every team is interested now. Teams like Quick Step and Radioshack would be good for him as they have a team that's built for the Spring Classics," he said to Cyclingnews. "Quick Step showed its interest many years ago."

    Saxo Bank's Manager Bjarne Riis is seeking new sponsorship to replace Saxo Bank after 2010.

    "If Bjarne Riis doesn't find a new sponsor, then we'll have to look elsewhere. It's up to Matti to decide whether he wants to be the sole leader in a team or share the leadership like he's doing now with (Fabian) Cancellara. He can do both as he's a guy who's capable of dealing with pressure."

    "There's time for us to wait on Riis, but we should know where Breschel's future lies by the end of May, maybe June," said Sörensen.

    If Breschel pulls off more stellar performances - like he did during the Spring Classics - he'll be worth that much more in the transfer marketplace in the coming months.

  • Cozza confident for second career Paris-Roubaix

    Steven Cozza (Garmin-Transitions)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 22:28 BST
    Peter Hymas

    No lingering effects of early season broken collarbone

    While Steven Cozza had what he called "the coolest way to experience your first Paris-Roubaix" last year, making the early 11-man break, leading the race through the Arenberg forest and ultimately persevering through to the Roubaix velodrome, this year the 25-year-old California native is approaching his second start at the "Hell of the North" with a different game plan.

    "My role will take more in the early part of the race, leading up to the Arenberg," Cozza told Cyclingnews. "We'll probably put 100 percent of our energy getting Martijn [Maaskant], Johan Van Summeren, Tyler Farrar and David Millar in good position going into the Arenberg forest. If we can get them in good position there we'll have four guys to take over after 160km."

    The American ProTour squad reconned the critical pave sections of Paris-Roubaix on Thursday, taking in the sectors from the Arenberg forest all the way to Carrefour, and Cozza confirmed that he's fully recovered from his broken collarbone suffered in the Tour of Qatar on February 8.

    "I was really surprised, I actually felt good on the cobbles," Cozza said. "My injury hasn't caused me any grief at all. The hardest part for me now is fitness. I only have eight or so race days in my legs while all the other riders have 20 to 30 races in their legs. My biggest challenge now is getting as much fitness as I can as fast as possible, plus getting distance in my legs."

    While Cozza's fitness is not quite where it was as compared to last year's Paris-Roubaix, he's hoping his prior cobbles experience coupled with exceptional team morale will pave the way for his team's success.

    "It's kind of a balance. I'm definitely not as fit, but I have a lot of confidence," said Cozza. "Confidence is a huge part of Paris-Roubaix, you have to believe in yourself. I know I can ride the cobblestones really well, I have good bike handling skills and I know the course like the back of my hand. I'm definitely better off...

  • Win a Road to Roubaix DVD and T-shirt!

    Article published:
    April 11, 2010, 0:36 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Pick the podium for Paris-Roubaix

    Pick the podium for the 2010 Paris-Roubaix and you can win one of five DVD's of the 2008 film “Road to Roubaix”, plus an “I (heart) Roubaix” t-shirt. And remember to follow the race on Sunday on Cyclingnews' start-to-finish live coverage.

    Like in our previous competitions, you only have to pick the race podium. Obviously it is better to have the top three in the proper order, but if no one has the correct order, we take the top three in any order. And since we have five prizes, your chances of winning are better than ever.

    The competition is run through our forum. If you aren't yet a member of the forum, go sign up.

    “Road to Roubaix”, directed by David Deal and David Cooper, is a feature-length documentary film which premiered in 2008. It takes viewers along for the ride of those 259 incredibly difficult kilometres, including lots of cobblestones. Interviews in the film include Lance Armstrong, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sean Kelly, and Jean Marie Leblanc.

    Good luck, good picking, and be sure to join us for our live report, starting at 10:15 CET.