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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, August 6, 2009

Date published:
August 06, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Guarnieri takes first pro win

    Jacopo Guarnieri (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    August 05, 2009, 15:51 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Liquigas' 'Prince' sprints to victory in Poland

    Jacopo Guarnieri, 21, made the first step toward translating his prolific wins as an amateur into the professional ranks with a solid sprint victory in the third stage of the Tour of Poland on Tuesday.

    The Italian of team Liquigas nabbed his first win as a professional ahead of seasoned sprinters Allan Davis and André Greipel on the 225km stage from Bielsk Podlaski to Lublin.

    Guarnieri earned a spot on the Liquigas team in 2008 as a trainee after a successful amateur career. "I am not sure exactly, but it was more or less 15 wins a season," Guarnieri told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    He began his first professional season with the team at the Tour Down Under in January. Upon his return to Europe, he came close to victory, taking second only to Italy's great sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi, at the GP Etruschi in February

    Since then, victory has eluded the young Italian, but after a rest during the month of July, he restarted his season with more success at the Tour of Poland. He finished the first two stages in fourth and 15th before perfecting his sprint on stage three.

    "What did I say to you after the first two sprints? I used them to measure things, even if I had already understood I had that little extra than the others."

    Guarnieri sprinted ahead of Davis, Greipel and fellow Italian Danilo Napolitano to take the victory in Poland, thanks to perfect positioning by teammates Maciej Bodnar, Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss.

    "I am always asking for a hand, that's how I got my nickname," said Guarnieri, who is known as the 'Prince'.

    The Tour of Poland continues today with a stage to Rzeszów, a likely sprint finish and a chance for Guarnieri to up his season's average to two wins. The race enters the mountains tomorrow and Liquigas will start to work for Ivan Basso.

  • Third suspicious sample for Di Luca?

    Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes)
    Article published:
    August 05, 2009, 18:05 BST
    Shane Stokes

    ‘B’ sample analysis done, being verified in Vienna and Montreal

    Italian rider Danilo Di Luca continues to deny using CERA, but it has emerged that a third sample taken from the rider during this year’s Giro has aroused suspicions that he used the substance. Two of Di Luca's Giro samples were declared to be positive for CERA last week.

    The third test concerned was taken on May 31st, the day of the final time trial, and was analysed in the Chatenay Malabry laboratory in Paris. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the lab has not confirmed the third result as an analytical positive. It has, however, finished its analyses of the B samples and have send them to Vienna and Montreal for confirmation.

    The result of those is expected to be released on Friday or Saturday.

    Di Luca has continued to train and maintains his innocence. "Even if the results of the counter-analysis are positive, I will continue with my battle as regards the methods used.”

    Meanwhile UCI President Pat McQuaid has dismissed a web report which claimed that Di Luca’s B samples were judged negative by the laboratory in Barcelona.

    “That’s just a rumour – I don’t know how Barcelona was mentioned," said McQuaid. "The samples were analysed in Paris and we have no news yet as to those results,” he said.

  • Greipel loses Poland lead in relegation

    Andre Greipel looking serious on the startline of the final stage
    Article published:
    August 05, 2009, 19:52 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Run-in with Davis costs team two jerseys

    Team Columbia-HTC celebrated the stage victory in the Tour of Poland on Wednesday, but the win by Edvald Boasson Hagen came at a steep price for the squad.

    Boasson Hagen was leading out race leader André Greipel when Quick Step's Allan Davis placed himself between the two. Greipel, in the fight for his teammate's wheel, took his hands off the bars and grabbed Davis' jersey - a move which the judges later decided was worthy of relegation.

    The fight for the sprint at the end of the 239.7km stage was more heated than normal, since Greipel, Davis and the other top sprinters were separated by mere seconds. With the race heading into the mountains tomorrow, the mad dash for the line was their last chance to wear the coveted yellow leader's jersey.

    Davis lodged a protest after Greipel's move, but the tension was quickly diffused after the German offered a sincere apology.

    "It  was a pity today, but [it is] all solved now," Davis told Cyclingnews. "I have respect for André, who came to my room after the finish and said sorry man to man."

    Greipel said in his personal newsletter that he instantly regretted taking his hands off the bars. He explained that his action was pure reflex, and was made to protect himself when he and Davis tried to occupy the same space behind Boasson Hagen.

    "I have never done that before and was later very upset with myself and how I reacted. I immediately cursed myself and it was clear to me that I would be relegated," said Greipel.

    "I can live with that, and I am very happy that nobody was injured by my thoughtless action."

    Neither man came out a winner. While Boasson Hagen continued his lead-out uninterrupted and took the stage win, Greipel finished second but was later relegated to last place on the stage, which cost him a critical time bonus.

    The decision by the race jury put Silence-Lotto's Jurgen Roelandts into the race lead...

  • Steegmans, Katusha dissolve contract

    Gert Steegmans
    Article published:
    August 05, 2009, 20:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Team says it still has a contract

    Gert Steegmans and Team Katusha may have terminated their contract effective immediately after the Belgian refused to sign the team's anti-doping charter prior to the Tour de France. Media reports today indicated that the relationship was over, but the team has now it.

    Team manager Andre Tchmil "said that there has not been a contract annument," team press spokesman Andrea Agostini told Cyclingnews. "Steegmans was near our headquarters during the Tour de France, but did not take the opportunity to meet and clarify his position."

    The team put Steegmans on inactive status in late June when he refused to agree to the new requirement, which requires riders to pay five times their salary should they break anti-doping rules.

    Steegmans had no comment on the matter.

    The 28-year-old has not ridden for the Russian team since the Dauphiné Libéré in June. The team placed him on inactive status when he refused to sign a contract which would require him to pay a fine of up to six times his annual salary if he were convicted of a doping violation.

    Several riders objected to the new requirement, but most eventually signed. Kenny Dehaes refused, and was released from his contract in June. He later signed with the Silence-Lotto team.

    "Gert never wanted to sign our anti-doping charter," Katusha Sport Director Jef Braeckevelt told the Belga press agency. "I think this is a good thing for both parties. He can now look forward to a new team where he can ride again. We don't need to pay him any longer for not riding."

    Steegmans had two wins this season for Katusha, the first at the Trofeo Mallorca and the second in a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia.

    The sprinter turned pro in 2002 with Lotto, where he remained until he joined Quick Step for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He has won two stages in the Tour de France in his career including the final stage on the Champs Elysée...

  • UCI wants 2008 Giro samples re-tested for CERA

    It's all about blood. Increasing the ability of the blood to deliver oxygen to the muscles is a potent performance-enhancer. Athletes are prepared to go to tremendous lengths to beat the tests.
    Article published:
    August 05, 2009, 21:04 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Italian police in possession of samples

    Samples from the 2008 Giro d'Italia were due to be retested for the blood booster CERA after the subsequent high-profile doping positives of several top riders who participated in the event. Yet there has been no news on the retests since the Italian police seized the urine samples this May. Now the UCI has indicated that if those authorities don’t retest the samples, it will try to do so.

    "The Italian police have the samples. We tried to get them but can’t do so," said UCI President Pat McQuaid on Wednesday. "We would be interested in testing them but haven’t been able to access them. If we get them back, we will carry out the examinations."

    The 2008 Giro d’Italia took place several weeks before that year’s Tour was plunged into controversy, when riders such as Riccardo Riccò, Stefan Schumacher, Leonard Piepoli and Bernhard Kohl competed with the assistance of CERA and ultimately tested positive.

    At the time it was claimed that CERA was new to the peloton but, as Cyclingnews reported last December, the product was most likely in use long before that. It was approved for public use in July 2007 and was said by Spanish media to have been seized during the Operación Puerto raids over a year earlier.

    Riccò finished the Giro d'Italia in second place behind Spaniard Alberto Contador in May, 2008, then two months later tested positive for CERA. He claimed to have only used it in preparation for the Tour de France, but many have questioned the claims that he and Emanuele Sella competed clean in that Tour of Italy. Sella won three stages and the mountains classification, but then tested positive for CERA in July 2008.

    In October of last year McQuaid played down thoughts of re-examining the Giro...

  • Beltman to finish career with Holland Tour

    Chantal Beltman (High Road) hung on to her dimishing lead
    Article published:
    August 06, 2009, 6:16 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Dutch star to retire next month

    Team Columbia-Highroad rider Chantal Beltman has announced her decision to retire from cycling after next month’s Holland Ladies Tour. The Dutchwoman will draw her 15 year long career to a close at the September 1-6 event.

    "It was not an easy decision," Beltman told "But in this post-Olympic year, it is hard for me to even be 100 per cent for sport and life every day: it’s hard to train. I can no longer participate for victory, which doesn’t give me enough satisfaction."

    Despite a highly decorated career, the 32-year-old hasn’t claimed a win this season. Beltman has come close to victory in 2009, taking second at Parel van de Veluwe, third on Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden’s Stage 3 and second in the overall classification.

    The downturn in Beltman’s results follows two years with as many UCI Women’s World Cup wins. She claimed victory at Ronde van Drenthe in 2008 after taking a win at the previous year’s Open de Suede Vargarda in Sweden.

    Chantal Beltman (T-Mobile) celebrates as she takes

    Beltman’s first professional victory was at the Ronde rond het Ronostrand in 1996 while riding for Libertas – Technogym, the team she debuted with one year earlier. Beltman spent much of her career with Rabobank and Vrienden van het Platteland before moving to T-Mobile, her current squad’s former name, in 2007.

    Beltman’s younger sister Ghita was also a professional cyclist, claiming a Tour de l’Aude stage victory during her career. Ghita retired from professional cycling at the end of 2004.

  • Boonen out of Tour de l'Ain

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    August 06, 2009, 9:38 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Belgian champion to return at Vattenfall

    Tom Boonen will not race the Tour de l'Ain, due to a longer than expected recovery from the virus that saw him abandon the Tour de France.

    The Quick Step sprinter had been scheduled to start the Tour de l'Ain on Sunday as part of his preparations for  the Vuelta a España. However, directeur sportif Rik Verbrugghe told het Laaste Nieuws that Boonen will not be sufficiently prepared for the four-day race.

    "There is nothing wrong," said Verbrugghe. "It's just a little too early for him to ride in a race as heavy as de l'Ain."

    This year's Tour de l'Ain features two big days in the Alps. Stage three features two category 1 climbs, while the final stage will see the peloton race up the hors category Col du Colombiere.

    Verbrugghe said that Boonen, who has been competing in post-Tour criteriums, will return to top level racing at the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg on August 16. He will then complete his preparations for the Vuelta at the Eneco Tour of Benelux, August 18 to 25.

    The Vuelta a España will be an important race for Boonen. Despite claiming the Belgian championships in June, he performed below expectations at the Tour de France. His best result was 16th place on stage 11. He with withdrew from the French Grand Tour on July 18, prior to stage 15.

  • Rabobank extends contracts with three riders

    Grischa Niermann (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    August 06, 2009, 9:57 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    No new contract for de Groot

    Rabobank announced on Wednesday that it has extended the contracts with Graeme Brown, Grischa Niermann and Paul Martens, but Bram de Groot will leave the Dutch squad at the end of the season.

    Brown received a one-year extension. The Australian sprinter has been with the Dutch team since 2006 and has brought in 12 victories over that time, including four this season. “Brown is our man for the first victories in the cycling season,” said general manager Harold Knebel.

    Niermann also extended for one year. The 34-year-old German has been with the team since 1999. Martens, 25, is in his second year with the team. The two Germans “are real team players," according to Knebel. “Niermann is like the invisible force: riders who we do not always see in pictures, but who are of inestimable value to a team.”

    De Groot, 34, did not receive a new contract from the team. The Dutchman joined the Rabobank Continental team in 1998 before moving up to the professional squad the following year. De Groot proved to be “a worth and valued helper,” the team said. He started the Tour de France six times, finishing it four times, and rode both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España twice.

    The team previously announced this week that Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha was leaving the team, and denied rumours that it was downsizing for the coming season.