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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, May 15, 2011

Date published:
May 15, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Riis: Contador's attack was not planned

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) silenced his critics
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 20:38 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Saxo Bank manager confident before the Etna finish

    Saxo Bank-SunGard manager Bjarne Riis revealed that Alberto Contador's late attack on stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia was not premeditated and dismissed the idea that Contador had landed psychological blow to his rivals’ morale in Tropea.

    In the closing kilometres of the stage, as the peloton tackled the twisting, rolling roads along the coast to the finish, the Saxo Bank squad massed to the front, but Riis was adamant that their intention was simply to keep Contador out of trouble in a potentially treacherous finale.

    "It was not planned to do something," Riis told Cyclingnews at the finish. "The plan was to bring him to the last 3-4km at the front to stay safe. But you know Alberto, when the opportunity is there, he goes, he takes it. At the start that was not the plan, but when the opportunity is there, you go, you have to take it."

    On Friday's stage to Montevergine, Contador showed little interest in contesting the stage victory, and was content to follow in the wheels as Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) sprinted for the bonus seconds. Riis denied that Contador's move on stage 8 was a sign that he was disappointed with his showing on the previous day.

    "Yesterday was special and the climb was not that hard. He just decided to follow," Riis said. "Normally he would have decided to follow today too, but when the opportunity is there you take it."

    No psychological warfare

    Although Contador fell just short of catching winner Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) before the line, he gained five seconds on the peloton as well as an additional 12-second time bonus, which moved him ahead of Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in the overall standings. He is...

  • Farnese Vini celebrates good times at the Giro d'Italia

    Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini) on the attack.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2011, 22:50 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Small team shows its big heart

    Pro Continental team Farnese Vini-Neri's Giro d'Italia went from good to excellent on Saturday afternoon when one of its riders, Oscar Gatto, took a spectacular stage 8 win at Tropea.

    The Farnese Vini-Neri team, which is directed by Luca Scinto, had been selected by Giro d'Italia organiser Angelo Zomegnan because it had in its ranks the Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti. Scinto, who in his days as a pro racer rode for his team captains Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini, was overjoyed by Gatto's win.

    "This is my first stage win as a DS at the Giro, and I have no words for that," said an emotional Scinto after Gatto's stage win.

    Scinto and his riders have a good rapport and he describes himself as "affectionate" with his riders. He eats with them, travels with them, talks to them as much as he can.

    During stage 1 of the Tour of Oman in February, in a race where communication via radio was prohibited, Gatto went to the back of bunch and called his team car.

    "What do you need?" Scinto asked him.

    "Absolutely nothing," Gatto answered. "But I miss you."

    During his own racing career, Scinto at times had raced in Italian national team colors in the service of Mario Cipollini, including when the Lion King won the 2002 World Championship in Zolder. The Farnese Vini-Neri team now races MCipollini bikes.

    Cipollini made negative comments, including one about Scinto's tactic on stage 6 to Fiuggi, when the team paced the bunch to set up a sprint finish for Gatto.

    "I have nothing to answer to someone who reproached me for not having brought our young sprinter Andrea Guardini to the Giro," Scinto had said in reply on Thursday. "Look what kind of opportunities there are for sprinters in this race; Mark Cavendish has done one sprint in one week!"


  • Video: HTC-Highroad looks to defend Amgen Tour of California title

    USA's Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) races home to fifth place for the stage.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2011, 0:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Van Garderen for team GC, Goss for sprints

    HTC-Highroad's directeur sportif Allan Peiper successfully marshaled the team to the overall victory in the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, but despite the off-season departure of last year's winner Michael Rogers to Sky, the team is looking to defend its title with the young American Tejay Van Garderen.

    Fast men Matthew Goss, the winner of Milan-San Remo, and three-time Madison world champion and sprinter Leigh Howard are also on the team.

    Cyclingnews spoke to Peiper on the day before the first stage about the team's goals, and he mused that the race this year is perhaps a bit harder than necessary.

  • BMC's Butler forced to abandon debut Giro d'Italia

    BMC Racing rider Chris Butler leads Levi Leipheimer in the chase.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2011, 0:43 BST
    Cycling News

    Young American suffered pelvic fracture on Monday

    Chris Butler's Giro d'Italia debut has come to an unfortunate end, diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his right pelvic bone.

    The BMC neo-pro crashed on Monday's 173km third stage between Reggio Emilia and Rapallo, however still managed to finish only 1:40 down on stage winner Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocatolli). The stage was overshadowed by the tragic death of Leopard Trek's Wouter Weylandt.

    Butler raced on with x-rays taken following Saturday's 217km stage revealing the full extent of his injury.

    BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said Butler did not want to stop. "But it would be worse if he crashes again, and, because of the pain, he was riding completely twisted," Testa said.

    "We'll keep him off the bike for a few days, the put him on a rehabilitation program and hopefully he'll be back in a few weeks."


  • Photo gallery: Anticipation builds at Lake Tahoe

    The UnitedHealthcare team out taking in the scenery.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2011, 2:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Bears and snow ploughs amid the Amgen Tour of California countdown

    With less than 24 hours before the 2011 Amgen Tour of California gets underway at Lake Tahoe, make of the riders took the opportunity to get out on the roads of the Sierra Mountain Range and surrounds.

    What they found ranged from snow ploughs to bears – yes, bears!

    Meantime, in much warmer indoor climes HTC-Highroad had their team presentation and took questions from both the international media as well as via social media.

    Jon Devich has this insight from behind the lens.

  • Sagan a favourite to win stage one in North Lake Tahoe

    An exultant Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2011, 4:44 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Slovak targets Philly, Tour de Suisse and Vuelta

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) returns as one of the favourites to win a stage at the Amgen Tour of California, after winning two stages last year. Despite the predicted foul weather conditions he is eyeing a stage one victory in North Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

    "I looked at the stage profiles and tomorrow one of the problems is that we are at altitude," Sagan said. "Whether it ends in a sprint or in a small group, I will play it by ear and do my best to give it a go, in either case."

    Sagan opened last season with two stage wins at Paris-Nice and a stage win at the Tour of Romandie. He dominated the Amgen Tour of California by winning two stages and securing both the green sprinter's jersey and the white young rider's jersey.

    "Last year, I had a different program leading up into this race as an objective," Sagan said. "This year, the last race I did was Amstel Gold, which was an important race, but it was not necessarily an objective. I took three weeks off and now I'm starting the Tour of California fresh.

    "I would still like to win a stage here though," he added. "But I don't think I'm in good form enough to go for a special jersey. I'll have to take it day-by-day."

    Following the Amgen Tour of California, Sagan will remain stateside until the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling championships held on June 5, where he hopes to improve on his second place performance from last year.

    "I really like the course, but last year I felt awful on the first four laps," Sagan said. "I...

  • Decision on California stage 1 re-route won't be made until 9am

    RadioShack riders ride through the snowy mountain scenery.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2011, 7:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Weather constantly changing in the Sierras

    A decision will be made shortly before the start of the Amgen Tour of California's first stage as to whether the race could be forced to use contingency plans.

    With the stage set to start from South Lake Tahoe at 10.30am PT, a final decision will not be made by race organisers until 9am, according to a release late on Saturday evening by Tour organisers.

    "As everyone is aware, there is a storm front predicted to reach the area," explained the release. "Therefore race organizers, in conjunction with the commissaires, teams and public safety organizations, have developed a number of contingency plans with the safety of the riders and fans being the number one priority."

    Snow has been predicted to fall on the area for a number of days.

    "The weather is constantly changing in the Sierras, and our team will be assessing weather conditions throughout the morning," said race organisers.

    Unlike some states where roads are sprayed with brine or sprinkled with salt to help melt snow and ice, environmental concerns prevent the use of chemicals on the roads around Lake Tahoe, leaving ploughs as the only option for snow and ice removal.


  • Belgian rider agent could sue UCI for defamation

    Carlos Barredo (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2011, 11:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Protest against release of 2010 Tour de France suspicious list

    A major cyclists' agency in Belgium is considering legal action against the International Cycling Union (UCI) for its leaked “suspicious” list of riders at the 2010 Tour de France.  Celio Sport & Image, along with the riders involved, will look at the possibility of suing for defamation of character and asking for damages.

    In addition, “we will demand total transparency concerning the methodology and assessment criteria for this system, and total access to their file for all riders,” the agency said in a press statement.

    On Friday, L'Equipe published the list, which ranked the riders on a scale of 0 (not suspicious) to 10 (highly suspicious).  The rankings were said to be based on a combination of the first blood tests taken before the start of the Tour and the blood values from the biological passport.  Many of the riders on the list have protested against the rankings.

    The  Belgian-based agency particularly questioned the role played by the biological passport values, because of the infrequency of testing, noting that, “most of these riders have even not yet been tested once in the year 2011.”

    One of its clients is Carlos Barredo, one of only two riders to be given the “top” ranking.  “Carlos Barredo, who received the maximum ranking of 10/10 and as such could be considered 'public enemy number 1' for the UCI, has not been tested at all for the biological passport since October 2nd, 2010! Therefore we think that the problem of credibility lies largely...