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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 6, 2011

Date published:
January 06, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Pereiro vindicated over Puerto denials

    Oscar Pereiro won the Tour in 2006 but retired at the end of this season. He's now a soccer player
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 12:50 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Operation Galgo evidence finally clears 2006 Tour winner of rumoured links to Puerto case

    More than three years after he was implicated in the Operation Puerto doping investigation by Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Oscar Pereiro has finally been cleared of any link to those involved in that affair. The paper had suggested that the 2006 Tour de France winner was the person known as “Urco” in the papers kept by Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Puerto investigation.

    However, evidence collected in the ongoing Operation Galgo case that also involves Fuentes indicates that “Urco” is the nickname given to Spanish middle-distance runner Marta Domínguez. Indeed, Spanish newspaper El Mundo has reported that Domínguez’s mobile phone number was written down next to “Urco” in the original Puerto documents.

    Contacted by La Voz de Galicia for his reaction to the news, Pereiro joked: “Ah! So I am not Urco after all? What a disappointment.” Now attempting to get a career as a footballer off the ground after retiring from cycling at the end of last season, Pereiro added that “this revelation is the proof that on many occasions people talk just for the sake of talking, that they spread rumours that are without any foundation”.

    Pereiro revealed that a team-mate first made him aware of rumours circulating about his alleged link to the Puerto investigation. He ignored the rumours initially, but in May 2007 he took legal action against Il Giornale when it reported that the Spaniard had a dog called Urco, and that the name had been used as a code name for Pereiro by those involved in the Puerto case.

    Speaking at the time, Pereiro affirmed: “I’ve never spoken with Eufemiano Fuentes, I don’t know him at all and I don’t know why they are linking me with him. I’ve never met him in my life.” He also said he was ready to provide DNA evidence to clear his name.


  • Greipel shows off new Omega Pharma-Lotto jersey

    Andrei Greipel shows off his new Omega Pharma-Lotto kit
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 13:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    A photo gallery from the team's training camp

    Andre Greipel and his new Omega Pharma-Lotto teammates have presented their new jersey for 2011 before travelling to Australia to kick off their season at the Tour Down Under.

    The German sprinter recently joined fellow team leaders Philippe Gilbert and Jurgen Van den Broeck and new teammates for a training camp in Mallorca where this gallery of photographs was taken.

    The new jersey is similar to that of 2010, with a white background and alternating sections of red and light blue. Omega Pharma and Lotto swap places on the side panels of the jerseys and on the legs of the shorts. Only Jussi Veikkanen’s jersey is different because he Finnish national road race champion.

    Greipel has moved to Omega Pharma-Lotto after four years with various incarnations of Bob Stapleton's Highroad squad. His new Belgian team has built a dedicated lead out train to help him take on former teammate Mark Cavendish. Greipel won 21 races in 2010 but didn't ride Milan-San Remo and the Tour de France because of a fierce internal rivalry with Cavendish at HTC.

    Greipel will wear number one at the Tour Down Under after winning three stages and the overall classification last year but will immediately go head to head with Cavendish in the Cancer Council Classic criterium on January16. The Tour Down Under begins two days later.

    Also in the Omega-Pharma-Lotto line-up for the Tour Down Under is Jürgen Roelandts, Olivier Kaisen, Vicente Reynes, Marcel Sieberg and Jurgen Van de Walle. They flew from Amsterdam via Kuala Lumpur and will have a week to acclimatise before the racing begins.

  • Valverde training hard during doping ban

    Alejandro Valverde prepares for the start.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 14:11 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Spaniard says he’s determined to be number 1 in the world again

    Alejandro Valverde says that he is determined to regain the world number one position that he held when he started his ban in May last year for involvement in the Operacion Puerto affair. Although the 30-year-old Spaniard is banned from competition until 1 January 2012, he has also revealed that he is still training hard to such an extent that he is going close to his personal best marks on climbs near his home in Murcia.

    Speaking to Meta2Mil, Valverde reveals that he is only 2.5kg over his optimum racing weight of 61kg, despite a seven-month lay-off from racing. “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to count on a fantastic group of training partners and that has made this much easier,” Valverde explained.

    “If I had to train alone every day the ban would certainly be much more difficult to deal with. But I am training every day with the likes of Fran Pérez, Luis León Sánchez and José Joaquín Rojas, as well as with a few amateur riders. Being able to count on this kind of company is the best way of keeping your head straight,” said the Spaniard.

    Valverde insists that he will be an even better rider when he returns to racing in 2012, and says he has no doubt he will be competing with the best again. “When they stopped me I was leader in the UCI world rankings and I will be so again. Once the first three or four months have passed [after the ban] I am sure that the best of Alejandro Valverde will be on show again,” he said.

    Valverde confirmed the rumours that his current training times are as good as they have ever been. “I’ve been testing myself on the Sierra Espuña, which is the first part of the Collado Bermejo [near Murcia]. It’s a 9km climb and my best time is 17mins 15secs in the days before the 2005 Tour de France. At the end of 2010 I clocked under 17-30, so I was very close to my best times, which is a good sign...

  • Armstrong shrugs off FDA investigation

    Lance Armstrong (Radioshack) in his final Tour
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 16:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Texan critical of anarchy within cycling

    Lance Armstrong has insisted he that he does not let the ongoing investigation by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) affect him, despite it casting a long shadow over his final full season of racing as a professional.

    Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald a few days before travelling to Australia for the Tour Down Under –his last ever major race outside of the United States, Armstrong brushed off the investigation. He has made a defiant defence since Floyd Landis made his accusation of doping by the US Postal Service team in May. He has continued to ride his bike and continued to promote the fight against cancer via his Livestrong foundation. He even visited US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in December.

    "I don't let it affect me," Armstrong told the Herald when asked about the ongoing investigation. "I have five kids to raise. I have a foundation to help run and lead. I still have, theoretically, a job - I ride my bike and train every day. It has no effect in what I do on a daily basis."

    Critical of public debate

    Armstrong was more critical about the state of professional cycling and how the sport’s problems are often discussed and dissected in public. He was once considered a possible candidate for the role of UCI President but makes it clear that he has no plans for an influential role in the running of the sport when he retires.

    "Being close to 40, those days are done," he said. "Cycling has been great to me. [But] from now on, I ride for fun. I ride for pleasure. I ride for fitness.”

    ''I plan on keeping the ties I have, whether it's the local bike shop, [my] development team or multi-sport stuff that include bikes - triathlon or mountain bike - or charity rides I enjoy. That will be my connection."

    Armstrong suggested a long series of disputes, including over minor issues such as race licensing, entries and use of race radios, has...

  • Giro d'Italia voted Cyclingnews Stage Race of the Year

    Cadel Evans (BMC) pushes the pace on the muddy Strade Bianche.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 20:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour de France, Amgen Tour of California fill out the podium

    The Giro d'Italia provided the most excitement of the year, from cobblestones to dirt roads to the emergence of young talents to a hard battle in the final week of mountains, to claim the Cyclingnews Reader Poll Stage Race of the Year title.

    The race started in Amsterdam with a spectacular city time trial, and saw the first new name burst onto the scene, the previously unknown Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing Team. The wind and traffic circles caused a lot of suffering on the next two days in the Netherlands.

    No doubt the teams would have been happier to be back in Italy if they hadn't had to immediately take on a team time trial, with many teams riding in heavy rain.

    The bad weather had moved in to stay, and turned the strade bianche, white roads, into roads brown with mud. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) took over the lead on this seventh stage, but it was BMC's Cadel Evans who won the stage, his world champion rainbow striped jersey barely visible under the mud.

    The rain stayed with the peloton, and on stage 11, the favourites decided to take it easy. Perhaps too easy, as a break group stayed away and crossed the finish line 12 minutes ahead of the field. This led to the next young talent to make a stunning breakthrough, Saxo Bank's neo-pro Richie Porte, who promptly wore the maglia rosa for three days.

    There were sprint finishes along the way, but no one dominant sprinter. Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar won two of them, while HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel disappointed with only one victory.

    It looked as if Liquigas could have its pick of winners, as both Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso rode strongly. But Nibali obeyed the team pecking order and supported Basso, who had won the race in 2006.

    He was challenged by Evans up until the 15th stage, a mountaintop finish at the Monte Zoncolan. The Australian cracked while Basso, who won the stage, continued to work his...

  • Zajicek in the centre of a USADA storm

    Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) might be out for a surprise win this week like he did back at the Tour of the Gila.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 21:10 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Appeal by doping agency possible

    Cyclingnews has gathered information that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is in the process of appealing a case against American cyclist Phillip Zajicek. Cyclingnews also understands that the American was cleared of purchasing EPO from the Shandong Kexing Bioproducts company in a hearing that took place last Autumn.

    "I can confirm that the Zajicek case is being appealed," a source who is close to the case, told Cyclingnews. "They say they have a stronger case now. I provided USADA with information about him."

    Cyclingnews contacted Zajicek on Tuesday and were told, "I don't have any comment. There's no story."

    Recent Investigations

    Last Autumn Joe Papp confirmed to Cyclingnews that (USADA) were investigating possible doping violations stemming from sales of EPO and HGH that he facilitated on behalf of the Shandong Kexing Bioproducts company.

    Purchases of the illegal performance-enhancing drugs were made by up to 187 international athletes from a variety of sports, including cycling, from September 2006 to September 2007. American cyclist Jonathan Chodroff was the first and so far only professional cyclist to face a sanction, receiving a two year suspension from USADA. Chodroff admitted to purchasing the products. Several masters riders have also been handed suspensions in relation to the case.

    The transactions took place with Papp as an intermediary between his sportsman clients and the Chinese sellers of the Eposino-brand of EPO and Jintropin HGH.

    Papp confirmed to Cyclingnews that he was in Denver, Colorado on September 14th to give testimony in a hearing, and he said as much via Twitter, writing in the early-morning hours of the 15th: "Gnite from Denver, peeps. Remember - speed kills, EPO works, but doping isn't worth the long term negative...

  • Sella hoping to make Giro d'Italia return

    The mountains leader, Emanuele Sella takes the stage - his third of the Giro.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2011, 22:41 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian grateful to Savio for Androni opportunity

    Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) is hoping to return to the Giro d’Italia this year for the first time since testing positive for CERA in 2008. While the Italian is enthusiastic about the mountainous route, he acknowledged that he grateful simply to have the opportunity to ride in the race once again.

    “It’s a Giro for climbers,” Sella told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I like the Giro regardless, it would suit me as well even to do it in the opposite direction, starting in Milan and finishing in Turin. It’s the race closest to my heart, the one that’s under my skin, the one I dreamt of since I was a child. To be there is a dream.”

    Sella won three stages on his last Giro appearance and his eyebrow-raising performances saw him singled out for targeted anti-doping tests. On July 23 of that year he returned a positive sample for CERA in an out-of-competition test.

    “I made a mistake and I paid for it. Amen. I turned the page and started living again with due humility,” Sella said. “From that day I’ve looked ahead, with trust and calm. And little by little, I’d like to get back to my place.”

    After collaborating with the Italian Olympic Committee by naming his suppliers, including former teammate Matteo Priamo, Sella was handed a reduced suspension of just one year. He returned to racing in August 2009 in the colours of CarmioOro-NGC and admitted that not everybody in the peloton was happy to welcome him back to the fold.

    “There were those who understood me and those who didn’t,” Sella said. “The same as anywhere.”

    Sella’s first full season back in the saddle did not go as smoothly as planned. His CarmioOro team was sidelined from many of the biggest races on the Italian calendar, while he struggled to find motivation at various points in the year.

    “It was a year of transition, a...

  • Michael Matthews storms into the professional arena

    Michael Matthews (Urban) relenquished his lead in the series to stage winner Matt Goss on the final day in Williamstown.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 1:16 GMT
    Chris Graetz

    Performance gives Rabobank youngster confidence for the season

    Under-23 road race world champion Michael Matthews (Rabobank) started his professional career with a standout performance at the Jayco Bay Criterium Series. The 20-year-old enjoyed a stage win and the yellow jersey and held his own over the last four days against some top sprinters in Matthew Goss, Robbie McEwen and Allan Davis.

    “This week has given me a lot of confidence,” Matthews told Cyclingnews at the conclusion of the series. “Matt Goss won a stage in the Giro last year and being up against him and getting close to him in my first year as a professional is an awesome feeling - beating him yesterday was really good,” he added.

    Matthews proved to handle leadership well in front of a huge crowd and relished the opportunity and was proud of what he achieved. “It was awesome having the yellow jersey in my first race in my Rabobank kit. Having Graeme Brown behind me was awesome and I can’t wait to come back next year.”

    With his strong performance, a leadership role at the Tour Down Under for Rabobank certainly isn’t out of the equation, although with Graeme Brown also riding well, it gives the team options for the January 18-23 race.

    “Hopefully they will give me a leadership role at the Tour Down Under. I’ll have a talk to them over the next few days and see what they want to do. First I’ll go to the Nationals for the road race and maybe the time trial and I’m hoping I will get a good result there and see what happens.”

    Matthews is pleased with his early season schedule and his neo-pro year has the Rabobank rider settling into pro life steadily. “I will start off with the Tour Down Under. I will then head over on the second of February to my home in Belgium... from there I will go to the Mallorca challenge and see how I go there. I’ll do a couple more races after that.

    “They don’t want to send me to too...