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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 7, 2010

Date published:
January 07, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Axelsson positive for EPO, faces lifetime ban

    Niklas Axelsson (Utensilnord) along with Andrey Mizurov (Tabriz) broke free.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2010, 14:37 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Swedish rider yet to request B-sample

    Swedish rider Niklas Axelsson has tested positive for EPO for the second time in his career. The 36-year-old returned the positive control from a doping control conducted in September. He now faces a lifetime ban if the B-sample confirms the result.

    He rode for the Polish Continental team Utensilnord Corratec in 2009.

    Axelsson had previously tested positive in 2001 at the World Championships in Portugal. He was originally given a four-year suspension, but it was later reduced to two years and eight months.

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed the most recent positive test, according to Swedish newspaper Sportsbladet. “According to the information I have, this is EPO. The reason we have not publicised it is that we are awaiting a decision on the B-sample," a UCI spokesperson said.

    The Secretary General of the Swedish Cycling Federation, Anders Karlsson, also confirmed the report. “There is a positive A-sample from September,” he said. “It is a tragedy.”

    Axelsson finished sixth overall in the Giro d'Italia in 1999. In 2000 he finished second overall in the Giro del Trentino and third in the Giro di Lombardia, while riding for Team Panaria-Gaerne.

    He returned to riding in 2004 after his suspension, and rode for Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni from 2006 to 2008. In late 2006 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, from which he recovered after surgery.

    Karlsson was particularly surprised to hear of the new positive control in light of the rider's prior positive, “he has been suspended before, and really suffered from it,” he said

    Axelsson has not yet decided whether to have the B-sample tested. “It's up to the cyclist. But it's incredibly rare for a B-sample to show something different from the A-sample,” Karlsson noted.

    After the rider decides whether to have the B-sample tested or waive that right, the...

  • 2009 Reader Poll: Electronica dominates new category

    There's no spring in here; just a powerful stepper motor. Best get used to it.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2010, 17:00 GMT
    James Huang

    Electronic shifting judged tech innovation of 2009

    Your votes in the new 'Best Tech Innovation' category signal loud and clear that the future of bicycle technology lies not in improved structure but rather the increased use of advanced electronics. Whether designed to enhance functionality of mechanical function, optimize our training efforts, or simply provide more information to satiate our ever-increasing hunger for data, these systems have surged to become the technology du jour.

    In first place is electronic shifting, which, for the time being, is also synonymous with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group (Campagnolo's system is still in development). Skeptics have loudly proclaimed the concept as a 'solution to a problem that didn't exist', yet interestingly enough, many of those voices have quieted down now that more people have had an opportunity to use it in person.

    The benefits are subtle but substantial nonetheless: shifts are more precise and consistent over time, there is less maintenance required, less user effort is needed to initiate a shift (not an issue with the vast majority of us but notable for riders that spend as much time on a bike as we do behind a desk), and a generally more precise and accurate feeling across the board. Though not yet the case right now, electronic systems also have the potential to be lighter than mechanical ones, too.

    To be fair, Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system isn't quite perfect and is still incredibly expensive but all things considered, it's a major leap forward and a sign of things to come.

    Once exclusive to sponsored pro athletes and trustafarians everywhere, power meters occupy the second rung of this year's Reader Poll. Technological advances, increased competition and economies of scale have brought prices down to somewhat more reasonable levels for the top direct-measurement models while other approaches such as the iBike have proven to be sufficiently accurate for many users at a cost of just a few hundred dollars. Not...

  • Haselbacher re-ups with Vorarlberg for a year

    René Haselbacher trains in South Africa
    Article published:
    January 06, 2010, 18:39 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Austrian not ready to stop after troubled 2009 season

    René Haselbacher has finally decided to ride with Team Vorarlberg-Corratec for another year, the Austrian Professional Continental team announced on Wednesday .

    Haselbacher, 32, admitted that it took him a long time to make up his mind. “For a long time I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life.” He finally decided he wasn't ready to end his career after a frustrating 2009 season plagued by injury and illness.

    A crash in the Ronde van Vlaanderen left him with a broken elbow and multiple fractured bones in his face. He struggled the rest of the season before being diagnosed with a severe case of mononucleosis in September.

    Haselbacher had another reason for continuing on another year, his 17-month-old son, René junior. ”I absolutely want to present him with a victory. Until then I can't stop riding.”

    “Rene is athletically and personally an important part of the team,” said Vorarlberg manager Thomas Kofler. “He brings us 12 years of professional experience, has ridden all the important races from the Tour de France to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and has made his name in the peloton.”

    The Austrian is training at his winter home in South Africa. “The conditions here are perfect and I can gather strength for the coming season in the best of weather,” he said.

    Haselbacher's first race is expected to be the Tour de Langkawi in March.

    He rode for Team Gerolsteiner from 1999 to 2006, and for Astana from 2007 to 2008, before joining Vorarlberg last season. He was Austrian national road champion in 2002 and won the Rhineland-Pfalz Rundfahrt in 2006.

  • 2009 Reader Poll: Wiggins tops most improved

    Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) climbed his way into third place overall in the stage to Verbier.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2010, 20:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Garmin 1-2's category for up and comers

    For the second year in a row, the Tour de France performance of a Garmin-Slipstream team rider has topped the most improved category, and with good reason. Bradley Wiggins's remarkable fourth overall in the Tour this year earned him the most votes by our readers. In 2008, it was Christian Vande Velde who defied all predictions to finish fourth overall (after Bernhard Kohl's disqualification for doping) and win the prize for most improved.

    Wiggins was well-known as a strong time trialist, but with a focus on trimming off almost every ounce of fat from his body, the nearly skeletal remains of the two-time Olympic pursuit champion turned into a tenacious climber able to hang tough with all except Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.

    Second place in the category went to Wiggins's teammate Tyler Farrar, who finally claimed the first Grand Tour stage win of his career in the Vuelta a España's 11th stage.

    Farrar took his first win of the year in the Delta Tour Zeeland in the Netherlands by claiming the prologue and hanging on for the overall win. His Tour de France was an exercise in frustration as he was never able to get the better of Mark Cavendish.

    However, the 25-year-old American bounced back to win the Vattenfall Cyclassics and three stages of the Eneco Tour. Farrar's success continued at the Vuelta where he claimed one stage followed by the overall win at the Circuit Franco-Belge.

    Third place went to Heinrich Haussler, the sensation of the Spring Classics who not only gave Milano-Sanremo a nearly successful go, but also placed second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Cervélo TestTeam rider finally got his big win of the year with an emotional victory in the 13th stage of the Tour de France at Colmar.

    Cyclingnews reader poll results - Most improved rider

    1. Bradley Wiggins: 6312
    2. Tyler Farrar: 2526
    3. Heinrich Haussler:...

  • 2009 Reader Poll: The grandest of them all

    Mission accomplished: Alberto Contador keeps yellow and helps teammate Lance Armstrong.
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 3:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Le Tour the pinnacle according to Cyclingnews readers

    Ahhh, the Tour de France - picturesque, thrilling, the essence of summer in France... Cyclingnews readers took these into account by voting it the year's best stage race in our annual poll.

    La Grande Boucle was a clear winner, with 8,329 votes, a massive 59 percent of the ballot.

    It's clear to see why this year's edition of the world's biggest annual sporting event captured the imagination of our readers; the return of Lance Armstrong and subsequent spat with Alberto Contador, the continued rise of Andy and Frank Schleck, encapsulated in their performance on stage 17 (pictured below), Bradley Wiggins' brilliant fourth place overall - the equal highest ever for a British rider - and the dominance of a resurgent Astana squad.

    Fränk Schleck leads brother Andy, r, at the Tour de France

    Over 4,000 votes behind was the Giro d'Italia, the centenary edition of the race and a blistering three weeks of competition enthralling readers from the start in Venice to the final day and all its drama in Rome. The likes of Carlos Sastre, Armstrong, Danilo Di Luca and overall champion Denis Menchov provided a fantastic event, befitting the amazing parcours, weather and atmosphere served up in cycling's sentimental homeland.

    A fairly distant third was the Vuelta a España, and although it garnered only 480 votes, it was by no means a poor cousin in terms of entertainment and drama. The heartbreak of Cadel Evans' stage 12 mechanical, Alejandro's triumphant statement in his homeland and Samuel Sanchez's gutsy fightback to finish second overall made it an entertaining spectacle.

    Races such as the Tour of California, which last year suffered from bad weather blues that forced a date change to May for this year's edition, plus Paris-Nice and Criterium du...

  • Bani says team doped him without his knowledge

    The Italian team are presented before the race. It would prove to be a good day for the girls in blue.
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 9:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Prosecutors investigating team for doping practices

    Eugenio Bani has said that his former team Ambra Cavallini Vangi “forced” him to take medications and that he did not know what they were. The 18-year-old, who tested positive for the pregnancy hormone HcG (Human chorionic gonadotrophin), has signed for this year with Amore & Vita despite a 21-month ban within Italy.

    “I never took substances myself,” Bani told the Gazzetta dello Sport. Team representatives “forced me constantly to take the substances. I was frequently injected with liquids. I was told they were important for my recovery from races.”

    Bani has filed suit against the team and public prosecutors are investigating. According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the investigation has uncovered everything from intravenous and intramuscular ampoules, folic acid, vitamins, painkillers, and stimulants, as well as syringes stored in the refrigerator.

    He said he was surprised by the positive control last summer, saying he never took any medication on his own. “The only people who were giving me things were from the team,” Bani said.

    "The fact is you have to trust the team,” Bani noted. “That is the system. Otherwise there is no place for you, either there or in any other team. I am convinced that this is the case in many if not all youth teams.”

    Once a week he was given injections. "They said they were vitamins, were taken out of the refrigerator, already packaged in syringes. I have asked many times what was inside and always reassured me: tonics to regain strength. In the end what should you do? You trust them.”

    Despite everything, the youngster did not see the situation as hopeless. “We must start from here to review everything. What has happened to me can happen to anyone. I am convinced that I was not the only one who took the substance unwittingly. Only I have tested positive."


  • Fleeman volunteers to publish blood values online

    Dan Fleeman (Cervelo Test Team), Alan Marangoni (CSF Navigare) and Darren Lapthorne (Rapha Condor)
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 9:50 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Team Raleigh rider's results will appear on Bike Pure website

    British hill climb champion Dan Fleeman has undertaken to provide regular blood samples in 2010, despite being under no obligation to do so as part of a Continental squad.

    The Team Raleigh rider announced today that he has decided to personally pay for the screening in order to show that he is committed to the anti-doping cause. The test results began in October and will be taken at intervals of approximately a month and a half to every two months. They will be displayed on the website, with the first data to be published in the next few days.

    Fleeman was part of the biological passport in 2009 when he raced for the Cervélo Test Team. ProTour and Wildcard teams are obliged to undergo regular testing but this requirement is not in place for Continental squads. However he wants to continue providing samples in the interests of transparency.

    "I had a difficult season at Cervélo. My results weren't as good as I would have liked but I'm training hard for 2010 and very motivated to prove myself in Team Raleigh,” he said. “With the unfortunate distrust there is within the sport, if I have a great season, some small minded people will point the finger saying that as I'm no longer part of the bio-passport, the temptation to dope may be there.

    “I wish to show that, as I have done throughout my career, an athlete can be competitive in top level cycling without doping."

    The testing will be carried out by UK doctor Michael Stokes. Fleeman said that he will be providing samples more frequently than if he was part of the UCI’s monitoring system. "Under the bio-passport, riders have to be tested at least four times in any one year, whereas I will be testing every six to eight weeks. I would have liked to have been tested more often but Dr Michael Stokes, who will be carrying out the tests, advised against this as the volume of blood taken can have a detrimental effect on performance...

  • Hushovd lays out season goals

    Cervelo's Thor Hushovd before the start.
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 10:25 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Norwegian pleased with form as season approaches

    This time last year, the big Norwegian sprinter and Classic rider Thor Hushovd was getting to know his new Cervélo Test Team companions, settling into the new squad and hoping a good season was in store.

    Things ultimately worked out very well, with the rider taking a number of wins including a stage of the Tour de France, the maillot vert of best sprinter plus the Het Nieuwsblad semi-Classic. The victory list was supplemented by stage triumphs in the Tours of California, Catalunya and Missouri, while third in both Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo showed that his ambition of winning a one-day Monument is getting ever-closer.

    “The sensations are good,” Hushovd told Cyclingnews. “I think that is because I didn’t go too deep at the end of last year, so I could recover a bit, have a long break and then start back in training. I am feeling quite good.”

    In recent weeks, Hushovd did some road training from his base in Monaco, then at Christmas he switched locations and did some cross-country skiing for a change.

    Preparations now begin gaining pace, starting with a team training camp in Portugal that will put the final touches on his form prior to the start of the season.

    “After the camp, I’ll do Etoile de Bessèges, then the Tour of the Algarve,” he said of his schedule. “I think the next races are Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno [Tirreno-Adriatico] and Milan-Sanremo. I will also do Flanders and Roubaix; in fact, the three main goals in the spring are Sanremo, Flanders and Roubaix.”

    After taking third behind Mark Cavendish (Columbia HTC) and Cervélo team-mate Heinrich Haussler in the first of those races last season, he had another near miss in Roubaix. He was away with eventual winner Tom Boonen coming towards the finish, but hit the deck and lost his chance.

    “Paris-Roubaix was good, although of course it was...