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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 11, 2010

Date published:
March 11, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Sagan impressive in Paris-Nice debut

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) on the podium after collecting a Paris-Nice stage win
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 19:30 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Slovak youngster wins stage, but vows service to leader Kreuziger

    20-year-old Peter Sagan remained humble after claiming his first professional win in Aurillac at the end of stage 3 of Paris-Nice, but his performances leading up to the victory had already gained the attention of his competitors.

    "I didn't know I could be so strong so quickly at the Pro Tour level," he underlined. "I had a first taste of it in Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under. I did well there. After that I thought I might go down a little bit but it's not the case here at Paris-Nice."

    In Adelaide, he impressed Lance Armstrong when he rode the American off his wheel on Willunga Hill. In the prologue of Monfort-L'Amaury where he came 5th and in Aurillac, Alberto Contador was also made aware of the young Slovakian's talents. Even still, Sagan retains his admiration for the riders who inspired him as a child.

    "All the champions of the Pro Tour are very impressive but Armstrong and Contador are even more impressive than the others. Ten years ago, I was still a very small kid when I watched Armstrong on TV and now, here I am, at Paris-Nice, which is a very nice race. This is my favourite bike race for the moment. When I'll finish it, if I finish it, then I'll have three weeks free to go back to see my family in Zilina, Slovakia."

    Between the races, Sagan lives in Italy near Venice, in San Dona di Piavè, which is the hometown of former world champion Moreno Argentin. While his history in the ProTour is very short, Sagan listed off his long history of racing bikes on and off-road.

    "I started cycling in mountain bike when I was 9 year old," he explained. "Three years later, I quit but my family pushed me to resume racing. I switched from mountain biking to road racing and I did both at the same time until last year [he came 4th at the U23 MTB world championship in Canberra, ed.].

    "I also rode cyclo-cross but only for two years as a junior [he came 2nd to Frenchman Arnaud Jouffroy at the 2008 world...

  • Hincapie beats a blizzard to ride Tirreno-Adriatico

    US champion George Hincapie (BMC Racing) rides along side Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) during the opening stage of Tirreno - Adriatico.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 20:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    US national champion just made it to the start in Italy

    George Hincapie was wrapped up in his stars-and-stripes BMC Racing kit to fight the cold and rain at the start of stage one of Tirreno-Adriatico, but the 36-year-old American was just happy to have made it to the start.

    A snowstorm in southern Europe meant he missed a flight from his base in Girona, Spain on Monday and he only made it to Italy on Tuesday afternoon after battling through a blizzard with some special help from a friend.

    "I tell you, I had a mission to get here in time for the race," Hincapie told Cyclingnews at the start in Livorno.

    "The whole of Girona was shut down because of what looks like was the blizzard of the century. But somehow I made it. I managed to get out due to having good connections.

    "I was booked on three different flights. The first one from Girona was cancelled then I was able to get a ride to Barcelona with a long-time friend of mine. The roads were blocked but he got me there skirting in and out of traffic."

    Hincapie finished 5:09 behind stage winner Linus Gerdemann (Milram), in a group that also contained Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank), after he suffered a late puncture. However, after being ill following his return to Europe and suffering at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he is happy to be healthy and racing again.

    "I need to race. I was sick before Het Volk and I'm perhaps a little bit behind, so I was worried about missing this race and getting into trouble," he said.

    "I had a cold flying to Europe. It got worse and I was really left without any energy that weekend. But I'm still glad I went up there. I suffered but it was good to get the feeling back of what it's like to race in Belgium.

    "I'm healthy now and it'll be good to get a block of racing in here and hopefully get into top form for the Classics."

  • Roche banging on the door in Paris-Nice

    Irish national Champion Nicholas Roche (AG2r-La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 9:25 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Irishman rides aggressively but has to settle for third

    Nicolas Roche showed his continuing strong start to the season yesterday when he sparked off the winning move on stage three of Paris-Nice. The Irish road race champion attacked on the early part of the short, steep Côte de la Martinie, which peaked just three kilometres from the finish line, and led the whole way up.

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas) was the only rider able to take his wheel, with Tony Martin (Columbia HTC) scrambling to get back on towards the summit, and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) Alberto Contador (Astana) and Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) joining up after the prime line.

    It was an impressive show of aggression by Roche, whose father Stephen won the overall classification back in 1981, but his aim of taking a stage was foiled when Sagan and Rodriguez finished ahead of him in Aurillac.

    “Things nearly went to plan, but the plan was to win!” 25-year-old Roche told Cyclingnews afterwards. “The team rode very well for me, and the riders who rode the climb last year in the French national championships told me what it was like.

    “I took a lot of risks to stay up the front before the climb, as everyone was fighting to be there. The roads were really, really narrow but my team-mate Christophe Riblon gave me a great lead-out before the climb, getting me into position. My plan was that if [defending race champion Luis León] Sanchez went, I would go with him. And if he did not go, I would just hammer it as I was feeling really good at that stage.”

    Sanchez didn’t move on the climb and so Roche kicked hard, immediately opening a gap. Sagan joined up, Martin inched his way closer, while behind Contador and Voigt broke clear of yellow jersey Lars Boom plus the other GC contenders.

    “I really, really gave it my all as I knew if I could get on top of the climb without being caught, and if there was a group of 15 or 20 [at the top], I would still be there for the sprint,”...

  • Boom regrets loss of yellow jersey at Paris-Nice

    Lars Boom (Rabobank) lost his yellow jersey to an aggressive Jens Voigt.
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 10:15 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Rabobank leader fades in final kilometres of stage three

    Lars Boom says he let go of his yellow jersey in Paris-Nice on Wednesday with regret, knowing that he lost it rather than someone else winning it.

    The Rabobank rider finished in the third stage's third group, 27 seconds down, instead of the second group at six seconds. “I am particularly disappointed that I was not in the second group. I should have been there,” he said on his team's website.

    “I had expected something more. At forty kilometres I didn't feel so good, but then I came through that and was feeling confident. I rode so well and that gave me a little hope.”

    Those hopes were dashed, however, in the final three kilometres of the stage, after the climb of the Côte de la Martinie. "The team guided me well after the last climb and Tommie Leezer brought me down that final climb perfectly. I wanted to try and then I was confident, but when I stood on the pedals, I had nothing left. I tried again and couldn't do it, it was not a good feeling.”

    Despite relinquishing the leader's jersey to Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Boom reflected on his time in yellow as a good experience. “When I started in the prologue on Sunday, I didn't have the feeling that I had to win, and then I had three days riding in yellow. The team has done a great job and I'm also pretty happy about myself.”

    Boom will now ride out “and still enjoy” the remaining four days of Paris-Nice. “Then I will just rest and then probably to start in Milano-Sanremo. The team management has indicated that I would start there. Di Primavera is, I hear, an experience.”

    Milano-Sanremo would also be a good preparation for the 24-year-old's big ambition, the Spring Classics. “It is good to ride a course of 260 to 300 kilometres in the run-up to the Flemish Classics," he said. "I need that, not that this Paris-Nice and the last few days haven't been hard.”

  • Paris-Nice peloton prepare for battle in Mende

    The peloton climbs the Côte de la Croix Neuve in Mende in the 2005 Tour de France
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 11:00 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Voigt knows yellow will be under threat on 'Jalabert's climb', ready for a fight

    The 2010 edition of Paris-Nice will reach one of its key points on Thursday afternoon with the race's first - and last - uphill finish taking place in Mende on stage four. The ascent up to the local aérodrome, formally called Côte de la Croix Neuve, may be only 3.1 kilometres long, but with its average gradient of 10.1 per cent, it is difficult enough to create substantial gaps in the fight for the overall victory.

    The climb, also called 'Montée Jalabert' in honour of former French pro Laurent Jalabert's Tour de France victory there in 1995, has been visited by many races in the past and always proven to be crunch point for overall contenders. In 2005, the Tour again travelled up the famous Côte, with the finish located further along on the plateau at the aérodrome. Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros) was strongest that day.

    Paris-Nice also already staged a finish on top of the Côte in Mende three years ago. Today's top favourite Alberto Contador (Astana) won the stage - and later took the overall honours in Nice. This year, the Spaniard has shown rapid recovery from his stage one crash and sits only 20 seconds adrift of current race leader Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank). The two-time Tour de France Champion will certainly aim for the yellow jersey on Thursday.

    Tall German Voigt knows his chances of retaining the lead in Mende are only slim and that the climb might turn out to conclusive for the overall classification. "It will be difficult," he told AFP on Wednesday evening. "I think the climb is called Montée Jalabert? I'm almost certain that...

  • Reus diagnosed with mononucleosis

    Kai Reus (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 12:00 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Dutch rider to undergo further tests, but expected to return soon

    Rabobank's Kai Reus has finally learnt why he hasn't been able to come up to speed this season after medical tests in Amsterdam revealed he is suffering from previously-undiagnosed mononucleosis.

    Reus, who celebrates his 25th birthday on Thursday, may continue normal training and “a return to competition is not far away,” according to team trainer Louis Delahaye. However, no date has yet been set for his return to racing.

    Further medical examinations are necessary to determine the precise form of the virus and what, if any, consequences Reus might face. His team have indicated that he may have been been ill since the end of last year.

    Reus finished two races of the 2010 Mallorca Challenge and had to abandon the first stage of the 2010 Tour du Haut Var.

    Last year, he won the second stage of the Tour of Britain and wore the leader's jersey for three stages. His stage win at the British event was his first victory since his return from serious head injuries suffered in a training accident in 2007.

    Reus missed most of the 2007 and 2008 seasons after the accident on the Col de l’Iseran in France, which saw him placed in an induced coma for 12 days.

  • CONI requests two-year ban for Bosisio

    Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) tested positive for EPO
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 12:35 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Former LPR Brakes rider to front TNA hearing in April

    The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has requested a two-year ban for former LPR Brakes rider Gabriele Bosisio, who will face the Italian Anti-doping Tribunal (TNA) next month.

    Bosisio, 29, tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test conducted on September 2, 2009. The test was a targeted control, carried out by the International Cycling Union (UCI), which had detected irregularities in his biological passport blood profile.

    The Italian was provisionally suspended by the UCI on October 6, 2009, and will now front a TNA tribunal hearing on April 28. In addition to a two-year ban, CONI has also requested economic sanctions be imposed against Bosisio, in accordance with the UCI's anti-doping regulations.

    A winner of a stage at the 2008 Giro d'Italia and wearer of the race leader's jersey that same year, Bosisio has continued to maintain his innocence since the announcement of the original test results.

    Last month, Bosisio's teammate at LPR-Brakes, Danilo Di Luca, was issued a two-year ban and 280,000 Euro fine for his use of EPO-CERA during the 2009 Giro d'Italia. The Professional Continental squad folded at the end of the 2009 season.

  • Haussler out of Paris-Nice

    Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 14:37 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Cervélo rider keeps Milan-Sanremo in mind

    Heinrich Haussler was forced to pull out on stage 4 of Paris-Nice after 35 kilometres of racing. Suffering from an injury to his left knee for the past two days, the Cervélo rider opted for retirement in order to protect his body before the Classics.

    "He was scared that the injury would become worse," said Cervélo's directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit.

    "His muscular sensations were extraordinary but the cold brings the pain back."

    Haussler looked in top condition earlier in the season at the Tour of Qatar, although he didn't win the stage he desperately aimed for in the Middle East.

    He crashed at the Volta ao Algarve and missed six days of riding his bike because of his sore knee.

    "He was feeling good at the Belgian races one week before Paris-Nice [he came 2nd in the Het Nieuwsblad behind Juan Antonio Flecha] but he crashed again here with Alberto Contador and the pain bounced back."

    Haussler will remain with his team until the end of Paris-Nice to receive treatment by doctors and physiotherapists.