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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, December 16, 2012

Date published:
December 16, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Ferrari denies doping Armstrong

    Dr Michele Ferrari leaves a tribunal in Bologna, Italy in 2004.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2012, 23:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    “I never saw any doping practice from Lance Armstrong," claims Italian doctor

    Dr. Michele Ferrari has denied doping Lance Armstrong and claimed that the American never sought any information on doping from him. Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after a US Anti-Doping Agency investigation found him guilty of doping, while USADA has also banned Ferrari for life.

    “I never saw any doping practice from Lance Armstrong,” Ferrari told Al Jazeera in a television interview on Friday. “I can say I never saw or heard something about that. He never asked me for information about doping. There are six riders that accused me but these riders, I didn’t have any relationship or any consulting with these guys.”

    Former US Postal Service riders Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Michael Barry, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and George Hincapie all provided evidence to USADA regarding Ferrari’s activities, but the Italian attempted to dismiss their allegations and described the investigation as a conspiracy.

    “What I can say about the USADA investigation is that there is no evidence, in particular no evidence against me,” Ferrari said. “I can say also there is no evidence, no smoking gun about the accusations. Probably I can suppose that for some of these athletes, the federal investigation was able to demonstrate their doping practice, which they organised by themselves, and to save themselves, they agreed with the USADA conspirations [sic].”

    Two of Ferrari’s other clients, Michele Scarponi and Giovanni Visconti, have been handed three-month bans this week for consulting with him, but the doctor claimed that his role consisted of “advising athletes of the best way to train and proposing...

  • Boom ready for life after Rabobank

    Lars Boom (Blanco) is looking to make another stride forward in the classics in 2013.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2012, 9:59 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Blanco rider on classics challenge and Van Vliet

    When Lars Boom took his first, fledgling pedal strokes as a competitive cyclist, the year was 1996 and the race sponsor was Rabobank. That same year, the Dutch bank had entered the professional peloton, backing a team featuring the likes of Johan Bruyneel and Viatcheslav Ekimov, but from the outset, there was another, evangelical aspect to their commitment to cycling.

    So it came to pass that the ten-year-old Boom formed part of a ragtag peloton of youngsters aboard mountain bikes and hybrids who answered the call and competed in the Rabo Dikke Banden races, a fat tyre road series designed to attract newcomers to the sport. As the years progressed, so too did Boom advance through the ranks, graduating to Rabobank’s junior and under-23 set-ups before joining the ProTour squad in 2009.

    By the time Boom reached the Big Show, however, a litany of vaudeville doping villains had already trod the boards in the famous orange and blue of the senior team. The nadir seemed to have come with the Michael Rasmussen case of 2007, but while some changes were enacted within the team in the years that followed, Rabobank eventually lost patience with professional cycling following the release of USADA’s reasoned decision on the Lance Armstrong case and pulled the plug in October.

    “It was really frustrating because we had a really good and loyal sponsor, and they judged us on something that happened ten years ago when we weren’t even pro cyclists yet – we were just small kids looking up to these guys who were riding their bikes really fast,” Boom told Cyclingnews at Blanco Pro Cycling's first training camp in Fuerteventura. “Now we’re trying to do that ourselves, but in an honest and truthful way. We’ve already been doing things the right way for the last...

  • Katusha appeals WorldTour exclusion to CAS

    The Katusha team training on the time trial course
    Article published:
    December 15, 2012, 11:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Russian team angered by lack of clarity

    Katusha has confirmed that it has appealed its exclusion from the 2013 UCI WorldTour to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

    Although Katusha finished second in the 2012 WorldTour team rankings and Joaquim Rodriguez topped the individual standings, the squad was not among the 18 teams awarded WorldTour licences on Monday.

    In a brief statement released on Saturday morning, Katusha confirmed that it had lodged an appeal with CAS, stating that “applying to the CAS became a direct consequence of the policy of isolation, pursued by the UCI License Commission, and was made in strict accordance with all law regulations.”

    The UCI’s evaluation report on Katusha’s application initially found that the squad did not comply with the required financial criteria for WorldTour status. Katusha representatives were then called to provide further documentation at a meeting with the UCI Licence Commission on November 22, and the team insists that auditors Ernst & Young confirmed that the “explanation and information were unconditionally accepted and sufficient.”

    The Russian Cycling Federation, which is closely linked to the Katusha set-up, described the situation as discriminatory and said it will “defend the interests of the team, meaning Russian cycling in general.”


  • Bartali's son disappointed by Yorkshire Tour de France start

    Bartali leads Valetti at the 1939 Giro
    Article published:
    December 15, 2012, 11:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Florence bid had planned to honour 100th anniversary of Gino Bartali's birth

    Andrea Bartali, the son of Gino Bartali, has expressed his disappointment at ASO’s decision to award the start of the 2014 Tour de France to Yorkshire rather than to Florence.

    Florence had hoped to host the Grand Départ as part of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of Gino Bartali’s birth. The double Tour winner, who died in 2000, hailed from Ponte a Ema on the outskirts of the city.

    Publicity for Yorkshire bid had included a series of adverts in L’Équipe and a sizeable presence in Paris on the final day of the 2012 Tour, and its campaign was enough to see off competing bids from Florence and Edinburgh. Speaking to Tuttobici, Andrea Bartali criticised ASO, saying that it had based the decision to award the start to Yorkshire on financial considerations alone.

    “I’m asking myself how they can ask to riders and experts to give a good example when the ones who should be doing that in the first place act like this. All of this is absolutely not moral,” Bartali said.

    “In effect, champions like my father, Gastone Nencini, Fiorenzo Magni, Fausto Coppi and many others were put up for auction, and that’s not a correct way of acting,”

    While Bartali labelled Friday as “a sad day for the sport of pedalling,” he expressed the hope that the 2014 Giro d’Italia might start from Florence to pay tribute to his late father. The Tuscan city is already hosting a stage finish next year, taking in part of the circuit of the 2013 world championships road race.

    “The idea is to seek the start of the 2014 Giro d’Italia from Florence,” Bartali said. “That would be a nice response and I’ll act from tomorrow to reach...

  • Gallery: Blanco Pro Cycling Team's first training camp

    Graeme Brown has been part of the set-up since 2006.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2012, 15:30 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Gesink, Renshaw and Mollema in new kit

    100 kilometres off the coast of Africa, the quiet island of Fuerteventura seems a lifetime away from the clamour of the professional cycling season, but it is here that Blanco Pro Cycling Team – formerly Rabobank – takes the first steps of its 2013 campaign.

    The mounds of scorched earth that characterise the island are broken only by the occasional golf course and resort, but while the landscape scarcely inspires, the quiet roads and the climate – a pleasant 20 degrees Celsius in mid-December – make it a prime winter training location.

    Blanco Pro Cycling has spent the past week at the Playtias resort on the south of the island. The camp follows a two-day survival course in the biting cold of the Netherlands last weekend, and with the team bonding session behind them, the squad was happy to begin work on the road under rather more amenable skies.

    The squad began the week training in their Rabobank kit, but Thursday’s low-key team presentation marked the beginning of a new era, as Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema, Mark Renshaw et al swapped the famous orange and blue for the black, white and blue of Blanco.

    Newly-installed manager Richard Plugge is charged with overseeing operations but also with finding a new sponsor for the team to ensure its survival beyond 2013, when Rabobank’s parachute payments run out.

    To that end, the squad has already announced that Robert Gesink will ride the Giro d’Italia in a bid to attract backers, but Plugge told the press on Thursday that there had already been considerable interest from potential sponsors.

    There will be no changes to the name or the kit...

  • Gallery: Best shots of 2012 from Sonoko Tanaka

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) on the podium after stage2 in Tour de France 2012.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2012, 18:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Images from Asia, Turkey to the Tour de France

    Cyclingnews is fortunate to have received the colourful images from Japanese photographer Sonoko Tanaka. She's provided images from far-off locations such as Indonesia, Taiwan and Rwanda, as well as unique vantage points from the Tour de France, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    In this collection of 26 photos, Tanaka takes us to from the Tour of Langkawi, Tour of China, the Tour of Taiwan and the Singkarak Tour to the Japan Cup and Tour of Japan, offering glimpses of the countryside and culture of Asia. 

    She captures the excitement of the European Classics and Tour de France, and then heads to Rwanda to capture bike racing in Africa.

    We hope you enjoy this gallery, which can be viewed here.




  • Wiggins remotivated to train by crash with car

    Bradley Wiggins at the presentation of the 2013 Tour de France route.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2012, 19:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sky's reluctant star back on track after post-Olympic partying

    Cycling's most reluctant superstar, Bradley Wiggins, with his Tour de France victory and his Olympic title behind him, is just now coming to accept his place in his country's history - one that could earn him the distinguished title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year. After his remarkable year and the fame and public adulation that followed, the Team Sky rider is back on track for the 2013 season.

    Speaking to the Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward, Wiggins admitted that his post-Olympic break included days of public appearances and partying, and that it was his crash with a car in November that snapped him out of the excesses and brought him back to the austere lifestyle necessary to win a Grand Tour. The crash interrupted a string of television appearances and gave him back his motivation to train.

    "It was a bit of a blessing in disguise. I thought – right, let’s get back to training now. I had a week off after the accident then I came out here [to Mallorca] for a week’s training. That was it. I just got the hunger back for it. It was a dramatic way to put a stop to it all, but it worked.”

    Wiggins has never been comfortable with the attention of the fans and media, even giving the finger to the press as he left the hospital last month, but he explained how the chaos which surrounded the minor incident set him off.

    “I was in the hospital with police outside my ward room all night. They said 'whenever you want to go the toilet tell us because the press are walking round the hospital trying to get a snap of you'. I thought, 'this is weird, this isn’t happening. I’ve only had an accident to my ribs'.

    “When I got out, the road at the end of our lane was just...

  • Lavenu: Pozzovivo didn't come just for the money

    Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago - CSF)
    Article published:
    December 16, 2012, 11:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Roche left on good terms, says Ag2r manager

    Ag2r-La Mondiale was once again busy in the transfer market during the off-season as it worked to ensure its continued presence in the WorldTour in 2013. The gambit paid off and Ag2r was formally awarded a WorldTour licence last week.

    The arrival of Domenico Pozzovivo from Colnago-CSF was the squad’s major transfer coup, and Ag2r manager Vincent Lavenu denied that the Italian had made the move purely for financial reasons.

    “He was reaching an age to go abroad and he wanted to ride in the WorldTour but didn’t have other offers,” Lavenu told L'Equipe. “Of course, the financial aspect counts, but it was mainly because of the work we put in to convince him and reassure him. We’re also based in Chambéry, near the border, and he knew that we have a big Italian programme.”

    As a late arrival to WorldTour level, Lavenu explained that Pozzovivo “wanted a nice international calendar above all,” but the Italian is almost certain to line up at the Giro d’Italia, along with fellow new arrival Carlos Betancur.

    “As for John Gadret, we’re not sure. In any case, I’d rather have two leaders than one, and if both Domenico and John do the Giro, there won’t be any hierarchy between the two. We just need to manage them, and that’s the role of the staff, I’m not worried.”

    Ag2r staff famously had to manage Gadret and Nicolas Roche’s relationship at the 2010 Tour de France, when the pair argued over Gadret’s failure to wait for Roche when he punctured on the Port de Bales. Roche has now moved on Saxo-Tinkoff, and Lavenu said that the Irishman had left the squad this winter with no ill feeling.

    “There was no problem at all,” Lavenu...