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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 17, 2011

Date published:
March 17, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Contador's lawyer: "We've got an extremely solid case"

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) takes his first win since his protracted doping controversy
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 18:12 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Spaniard's legal team says it's well prepared for any UCI appeal

    Alberto Contador's lawyer, Andy Ramos, has admitted that he has no idea whether the UCI will challenge the verdict of the competitions committee of the Spanish federation to decide against imposing a ban on the three-time Tour de France champion. But Ramos added that if the case does go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), everyone in the Contador camp is confident that the decision reached by the Spanish federation will be upheld.

    "We don't know what the UCI are likely to do," said Ramos in an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews. "All we can say at the moment is that we've got an extremely solid case. Our dossier is 600 pages long and all of the scientists we've spoken to are convinced that Alberto is innocent. It's going to be a very tough case for them to take on. Of course, we're hoping that they don't."

    The UCI has to announce whether it will be appealing the verdict by March 24.

    Ramos confessed that one of the things that has most concerned Contador and his support/legal team in recent months has been the coverage of his case in the media outside Spain.

    "We've been reading lots of the articles that have been written abroad and a lot of them don't reflect the details of the case and have not been accurate," he said.

    As an example he pointed up the fact that Contador has never in fact been banned after testing positive for clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France and, consequently, it is not the case that a ban has been overturned, as has been widely reported. [Contador was

  • RadioShack's McEwen raring to go for Milan-San Remo

    Robbie McEwen looked focused in his new team's jersey.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 21:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    Aussie hints this may not be his last turn at La Classicissima

    If there's one race that's really captured the imagination of Robbie McEwen, it's Milan-San Remo, and following his absence last year while riding for Katusha the once-dominant sprinter makes a return to the race with Team RadioShack.

    The Australian's best result at La Classicissima was in 2007 where the then 34-year-old finished fourth in a bunch sprint behind Oscar Freire (Rabobank), compatriot Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) and Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic).

    When it comes to this race, McEwen is like a kid as Christmas draws near. He knows he has to be good and his eyes light up at the mere mention of the most prestigious of Italian one-day races.

    "The history; the prestige; the atmosphere; the way it plays out - its unpredictable nature," McEwen reels off as he explains his passion for Milan-San Remo. "Look at the honour roll!"

    But not everything has always gone to plan when it comes to joining the prestigious winner's list as McEwen explained to Cyclingnews.

    "It's always a tough one for me," he said. "I seem to struggle with my health a little bit through February-March in Europe. I'm not much of a cold weather person. It's a bit of a change but also having little kids that come home from school with a sniff and a cough and all the other little kid's germs that makes it tough to stay healthy. That time of the year in Europe, things are just going around. I seem to be a bit susceptible to that.

    "I had a stomach bug mid-February but got over that quickly. I've had a cough and a cold that I picked up from my kids but it seems to be under control and I feel good."

    In fact, McEwen says he feels "strong on the bike, fresh and...

  • Rapha Condor Sharp divides to conquer in Asia and Europe

    Kristian House (Rapha Condor-Sharp) wearing the yellow jersey from start to finish.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 3:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    British Continental team look to build on Tour of South Africa success

    After a successful start to the team's international campaign in South Africa, where Kristian House took home the overall honours, the Rapha Condor Sharp team return to international competition on two fronts this week.

    While a confident House will lead a squad at the Tour of Normandy in France, Dean Downing will be heading up a second team at the Tour of Taiwan.

    In-form House will be looking to improve on his strongest ever start to a racing season, swapping the intense heat of Africa for the rain crosswinds of the Tour of Normandy.

    "After South Africa I have been pretty cautious to make sure I didn't overdo it," he explained. "I've come out of winter in great shape and after a little rest I had a good hit-out in the UK on the weekend (third at the Roy Thame Cup), and I'm really motivated to use my form at an event in Europe now.

    "I've always been there or thereabouts in Normandy, the long, harder days suit me, and I think a stage win is well within my grasp there. I actually learned my trade racing in Belgium, so the gutters and the crap weather are second nature anyway."

    Team manager John Herety added that the time is right for Rapha Condor Sharp to stand on the podium.
    "We have been coming to the Tour of Normandy for a few years now, and there is no doubt it is a hard race – so hard in fact it is something of a rite of passage for my top riders now. But we have also seen our results and racing improve here each year and I think it is about time that our stock matured at this race, a stage win would be ideal here."

    Whereas the aims in Normandy will be quite specific for the team, a revised route for the Tour of Taiwan means that the team will be waiting to see how the first few days pan out in the muggy Taiwanese heat, before working out how to emulate last year's high profile successes there.

    After taking...

  • Race radios: AIGCP press on with Tour of Beijing boycott

    Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) wearing his illegal radio at the start of the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 9:59 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    CPA uninvited to PCC meeting

    The war of words between the UCI and the AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Groups) and CPA took another twist today when it was announced that the UCI had barred the CPA from today's Professional Cycling Council (PCC) meeting. The three bodies were planning to meet today in Milan, Italy in order to discuss matters such as the continuing argument over race radios.

    The ban from today's proceedings has prompted the AIGCP to publicly state that if a ban on race radios has not been overturned by May 1 they will not participate in the Tour of Beijing later this year.

    In a statement released to the press, the AIGCP said, "One of our desires is to help improve the governance of cycling. We cannot be effective in this when we are not allowed to participate in these meetings. Being invited and then removed, in a matter of days, from these meetings, depending on the whim of UCI management is unacceptable. To be clear, the teams remain unified in their stance on the radio issue. Cycling is a team sport and as such, communication is key for the athletes and the coaches. We continue to hope - and push - for an amicable resolution to this issue.

    "However, if the use of radios in all professional cycling events is not permitted by May 1, all of the teams have signed an accord that simply states that we will not participate in the Tour of Beijing, which is the only event in professional cycling that the UCI not only governs, but also promotes. This way we avoid actions that could be damaging for any race organizer that does not have any say or vote in the governance or regulation of the sport or any race that is part of cycling's rich history."

    In the last few days, battle lines between the UCI and the AIGCP and CPA have become entrenched with both sides gaining support. The

  • Evans: Hushovd favourite for Milan-San Remo

    Cadel Evans (BMC) on the podium after his overall victory.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 10:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tirreno-Adriatico winner to watch La Classicissima on television

    Cadel Evans has pointed to Garmin-Cervélo's Thor Hushovd as his greatest favourite for Saturday's Milan-San Remo race. The winner of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico is back in his Italian home and will watch the event on television before travelling to Spain for the Volta a Catalunya, starting Monday March 21.

    "From what I've seen in Tirreno, Cancellara is in form but he will be a very marked man and I can't see him finishing it off solo," Evans told L'Equipe when asked who his favourite rider for the Classicissima was. "There are too many good sprinters in the bunch. Their teams will be allies to block the race on the Poggio. My favourite? Thor Hushovd. In Tirreno, he worked for Farrar and I've never seen him as strong. He'll be hard to beat."

    Hushovd has finished twice on the podium in San Remo, in 2005 and 2009. Garmin-Cervélo will have three potential winners at the event with Hushovd, Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler all in good form.

    Evans refused to list more candidates for the victory, but it was clear that his teammate Alessandro Ballan could also aim at success in the Italian Primavera race. Ballan finished second in the Montepaschi Strade Bianche a few weeks ago and seems to have overcome the difficulties that held him back during the last two seasons.

  • Ruben Plaza leg surgery knocks him out of Tour de France

    Spanish national champion Ruben Plaza (Caisse d'Epargne) before the start.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 11:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider hopes to ride Vuelta a Espana this year

    Ruben Plaza will miss the Tour de France this year after undergoing surgery on his broken right leg earlier this week. The Movistar rider suffered the injury at the Vuelta a Murcia, and hopes to be able to ride the Vuelta a Espana.

    The 30-year-old fractured both the tibia and fibula in his right leg and also had ankle ligament damage. Infections postponed the surgery, which was carried out on Tuesday.

    “The doctors told me it was a demanding operation,” he told “Fortunately it seems that everything went well and now after keeping it completely still for 10 to 15 days, I will be able to gradually move it again.”

    He will not be able to put weight on it for about eight weeks, and will then undergo rehabilitation for several months. That puts him out of the Tour de France this year.

    Plaza hopes to return to the Vuelta a Espana, “but I will not obsess,” he said. “What really matters is that the recovery goes in the right direction and the foot is fine.”

  • Feillu ready for first-time Milan-San Remo participation

    Overnight race leader Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil - DCM) would surrender the yellow jersey on Mont Faron.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 11:51 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    French sprinter hopes to be in the mix in race finale, warns of bad weather

    One of France's best sprinters, Romain Feillu, will be having a go at Milan-San Remo this Saturday. At his first-ever appearance in the Italian monument, the Vacansoleil-DCM rider - whose brother Brice rides for Leopard-Trek - looks forward to mixing it with the world's best sprinters in the hope of a successful outcome.

    "I want to," Feillu told Velochrono when asked if he thought he could battle it out for the victory in the Classicissima. "I don't know. I'm not in perfect condition, that's for sure [Feillu was ill before Paris-Nice and had to abandon the race - ed.]. But the race is 300 kilometres long... I hope to find my form during the race and that the others make mistakes. This kind of race, like Paris-Tours or the GP Plouay, that are very long, are suited to me. Milan-San Remo is less hard than the Worlds in Melbourne [where Feillu finished tenth - ed.]!"

    Feillu has had a great start into the 2011 season by winning an impressive three stages of the Tour Méditerranéen. A flu brought him temporarily off track but as he travelled to Italy on Wednesday, he hoped to come back just as strong.

    "I've decided to recon the last few kilometres on my own in the next couple of days. I'll ride the 'capi' (final hills along the Mediterranean coastline towards San Remo) several times as my inexperience is a little bit of a disadvantage. But I've raced the Cipressa and the Poggio at the Tour Med in 2007 and I remember them well."

    The 26-year-old said that much of the race outcome depended on race position on top of the Poggio climb, and that he would not hesitate to follow any attackers to battle it out in...

  • Petacchi's Milano-San Remo threatened by asthma outbreak

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) makes a last minute adjustment
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 11:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lampre-ISD rider to decide today whether to ride

    Alessandro Petacchi's participation in Milan-San Remo this weekend is in doubt. The Lampre-ISD sprinter is still suffering from a cold and asthma, giving him breathing difficulties.

    Petacchi, who won the race in 2005, was going to do a four-hour trainting ride on Thursday and then determine whether he would ride on Saturday.

    “In the past weeks the bronchial asthma of Petacchi flared up,” team doctor Matteo Beltemacchi said in a press release. “The cold weather  of Tirreno-Adriatico was not so good for his situation and, in addition, the therapy for the asthma caused a weakening of his immune system: Alessandro suffered for a cold that flared up his asthma.

    “Anyway, Petacchi is a very professional athlete and he’s training with toughness in order to be at the start of Milano-San Remo.

    Petacchi already had to delay his first races this season due to his health problems. Instead of riding the Tour of Qatar he was in hospital with serious bronchial asthma. So far this season he has ridden the Giro di Sardegna and Tirenno-Adriatico, although he abandoned the latter race on the sixth stage.