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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 17, 2013

Date published:
March 17, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Lotto doctor denies cortisone doping charges

    The back of the Lotto Belisol bus
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 9:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cortisone used only for medical reasons, he claims

    Lotto Belisol doctor Jan Mathieu has said that he doesn't understand the fuss regarding claims of  cortisone shots at the team, and denied having given cortisone for anything other than medical reasons.

    The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that Philippe Gilbert and others received cortisone on prescription from Lotto doctor Jan Mathieu with the aim of boosting his performance. The use of cortisone is forbidden unless the rider holds a therapeutic use exemption stating that he is taking it to treat an injury.

    An anonymous former Lotto rider is said to have claimed that he also received the cortisone from Mathieu, “and he told me that he did the same thing with Gilbert.” Gilbert, now with BMC, has denied all the allegations.

    "I do not understand the fuss,” Mathieu told "I'm proud that I've worked with Gilbert and that has nothing to do with steroids."

    "With my hand on heart I can say that I would only give a cortisone treatment for medical reasons. So it is indeed 100 per cent legal because it is not on the WADA list."

    The doctor noted that he often prescribes it in his private practice. “Cortisone is in ointment, nasal spray, eye and ear drops, in many (products). Why should an athlete not use this prescription?"

    He also applauded the UCI's decision to hold a cyclist out of racing for eight days after receiving cortisone. “ It's definitely not a good idea to exercise when you have received a cortisone shot in your knee."

  • Gallery: On the startline at Mlian-San Remo

    Race favourite Peter Sagan looks focused ahead of Milan-San Remo
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 10:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Images from the start of La Classicissima

    Milan-San Remo begun in near freezing conditions this morning with the peloton set for 300 kilometres of gruelling conditions on the roads to San Remo.

    Rain and snow were forecast for the race with mounting speculation that the Turchino, situated at the half-way point, would be neutralized.

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) leads the list of pre-race favourites for today’s La Classicissima but with the weather set to play havoc, almost any outcome is possible.

    For complete live coverage, click here.

  • Snow forces Milan-San Remo route reduction

    Taylor Phinney (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 11:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Turchino taken out of course

    The snow and bad weather which have hit Europe has forced a change in the course of Milan-San Remo. Snow on the Turchino climb was ruled too dangerous for the peloton to take on.

    Instead of riding the first and biggest climb of the race, the breakaway and peloton climbed into team buses in Ovada to bypass the snow-covered climb, from the 117km mark to the 163km mark on the other side, cutting some 47 km from the route. Cyclingnews crossed the Turchino by car but it would have been impossible for the riders to reach the summit due to snow.

    The six-rider breakaway will be allowed to start from Arenzano with the same seven-minute advantage it had on the peloton in Ovada.

    Riders were covered in snow as they climbed off their bikes and onto the team buses. Some tweeted images of themselves and their teammates.

  • Freire: Rabobank was "always against doping"

    Always a solid team helper too: Freire at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 15:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Three time Milan-San Remo champion names Sagan as favourite

    Three-time Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire has said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País that he saw “nothing strange” during his nine years in Rabobank.

    Recently a number of riders have claimed they doped whilst on the Dutch team, amongst them Michael Rasmussen, Michael Boogerd, Marc Lotz, Thomas Dekker and Danny Nelissen. But Freire, who retired last December after a career in which he was never involved or implicated in any kind of doping affair, says he believes the team was “always against doping.”

    “The doctors never offered me [banned substances] in the teams I’ve been in,” he said, with those teams being Mapei, Rabobank and Katusha. “Other riders had their own doctor, but I was just with the team doctors, and not with one in particular.”

    Asked directly if he ever took banned drugs, the former triple World Champion told El País, “no, no, no....that’s a stupid question.”

    “I can answer yes or no and people can think what they want about what I say, they can believe me or not. I’ve always given it everything and I’ve had some disappointments in cycling and with some cyclists, but also some great moments of happiness. And I didn’t dope.”

    Reviewing cycling’s problems with banned drugs in general, whilst stating that the riders who doped “were the most to blame,” Freire said that “The problem was that the methods of detection were not sufficiently efficient. We would have to blame the riders, who were the most guilty, but also those who carried out the tests, who acted the fool.”

    Looking at today’s edition of

  • Phinney fights back in the finale of Milan-San Remo

    Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 18:46 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    BMC rider almost catches leaders

    Taylor Phinney could hardly talk as he headed to the BMC team bus after almost catching the breakaway in sight of the finish at Milan-San Remo.

    The young American made a late surge to try to get across to the riders that went clear on the Poggio. He could see them in the finishing straight but was unable to catch them as Sagan and Ciolek started their sprint.

    Phinney finished seventh but proved he was a real fighter when the conditions turn nasty. He was not the designated team leader for the BMC Racing Team but outshone world champion Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaert and Thor Hushovd.

    "What a day," Phinney said, clearly exhausted.

    "I was in the second group and hanging on but then I moved up on the descent and had some speed coming out of it and just went for it. I gave everything I had. I almost caught them with four hundred metres to go but then they started to do their sprint."

    After getting a shower he talked more about his day in the wet and cold condition that will make the 2013 Milan-San Remo go down in history.

    "It was an interesting day for the riders and the spectators. It was an ok day for me too," he said.

    "I went through some different feelings in the snow and then on the bus and then when we started again. I just hung on and couldn't tell what was happening. It was chaos, cold and wet."

    "I stayed around Phil Gilbert and Greg (Van Avermaert) and saw I had a chance to bridge across. It was a split second decision that I made at the bottom of the Poggio. I just went for it. It's a good result for me considering the conditions but it was a crazy day."

    BMC directeur sportif Fabio Baldato praised Phinney for his ride.

    "It was good what Taylor did. We saw him come back onto the front group from the team. To get seventh is better than nothing after a hard...

  • Dash of winter brings Cavendish close at Milan-San Remo

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) at the finish
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 19:29 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    9th place but no regrets for Manxman

    After spending the early months of the season writing off his chances of Milan-San Remo victory, a sharp blast of winter suddenly brought Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) bounding back into contention at La Primavera.

    Heavy snowfall around the 100 kilometre mark meant that the riders climbed the steps of their team buses instead of the ascents of the Turchino and Le Manie, as the race was neutralised and the peloton shuttled ahead to an ad hoc second start over two hours later at Arenzano.

    The unusual measure ironed out two of the most significant creases on the road to San Remo, and Cavendish was primed to try and take advantage. Although the Manxman ultimately finished the day in 9th place, he came away from his Italian excursion with few regrets after his best showing in La Classicissima since he won on his debut in 2009.

    “Definitely, without Le Manie it made my chances easier,” Cavendish said as he sat on the steps of his team bus afterwards. “We gave it everything. I had support from all the guys. We didn’t come away with the win but we’re still happy with how we stuck to the plan.”

    While the elimination of Le Manie – the graveyard of Cavendish’s ambitions in recent years – had sharpened his motivation ahead of the re-start, that boon was tempered by the fact that he had lost three of his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates. With one eye firmly fixed on the cobbled classics, Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh opted to stay aboard the bus after the lengthy stoppage.

    The fierce pace-making of Cannondale after the resumption complicated things still further, as it left Cavendish with...

  • Ciolek proves his sprinting pedigree with Milan-San Remo win

    2013 Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 19:55 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    MTN-Qhubeka sprinter back from the wilderness

    They say revenge is sweet, but Gerald Ciolek insisted that his victory at Milan-San Remo was not about making up for six years in the cycling wilderness.

    The German sprinter was national champion in 2005 and then became under 23 world champion in 2006. He was expected to become one of the great sprinters of his generation. Instead he was quickly eclipsed at T-Mobile by Mark Cavendish's faster finish and more intense ambition.

    Ciolek never showed signs of fulfilling his huge potential until joining MTN Qhubeka for 2013. He confirmed his pedigree by beating Peter Sagan after a race of attrition in the rain, snow and cold.

    "This is an unbelievable success for us and just an incredible day. We just came here as a wildcard and now we're standing here with the trophy," he said in the winner's press conference, while his bigger name rivals tried to wash away their disappointed in hotels or team buses dotted around San Remo.

    "I've been riding my bike for the six years, but people maybe expected too much. If you have great success people expect more success, but it's doesn't always go that way. I was riding at good level and close to victory for example at the Tour de France stage. Of course I'm happy today that it's finally worked out."

    "A few people were perhaps surprised when I joined MTN-Qhubeka, but when I heard about this project and the people building the team I always trusted them. They offered me full support and I think I paid them back a bit today. This win is important for my team and myself and I hope that African cycling can benefit from this and the Qhubeka project too. I hope it makes more people aware about it."

    No longer a domestique

    Ciolek explained that he is now a protected leader at the South...

  • Sagan rues missed opportunity at Milan-San Remo

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2013, 20:55 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Script torn up on dramatic day

    When Peter Sagan launched his sprint on the Lungomare Italo Calvino, it seemed as if Milan-San Remo was finally returning to the pre-determined script after a day of snow-enforced ad-libbing.

    Beyond the line, the Cannondale entourage certainly thought so as they watched the finale on a television monitor, their staccato cries of "Vai, vai, vai!" growing in intensity as the pre-race favourite powered to the front. But this most curious edition of La Classicissima had one more plot twist, and their cheers turned to a guttural howl of despair as Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) came past the Slovak and claimed a shock victory in La Classicissima.

    It wasn't supposed to end like this, at least not according to the bookmakers, who had installed Sagan as the most overwhelming favourite for victory in the race's recent history. Sagan, too, seemed surprised as he crossed the line, shaking his head in a mix of disbelief and disappointment.

    In the mixed zone afterwards, Sagan took little solace from being reminded that at 23 years of age, time is very much on his side as he bids to open his Classics account. "I'm getting better, yes, but I'm pretty upset to throw away a Milan-San Remo like that," he said ruefully.

    On the eve of the race, much emphasis had been placed on the burgeoning rivalry between Sagan and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard), and the pair looked to match each other pedal stroke for pedal stroke in the finale. When Cancellara attacked on the way up the Poggio, Sagan was promptly across to his wheel, and the Swiss rider returned the favour when Sagan accelerated over the other side.

    As the six-man leading group careered through the sodden streets of San Remo in the finale, Sagan was focused primarily on Cancellara and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega...