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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 29, 2012

Date published:
March 29, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Kolobnev signs for Katusha

    Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2012, 14:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Russian rider rejoins team after doping acquittal

    Controversial Russian rider Alexandr Kolobnev, who was cleared of systematic doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) at the end of February, has re-signed for Team Katusha for the remainder of the 2012 season. Kolobnev enjoyed plenty of success for Katusha in 2010 and 2011, though his final year with the team was blighted by accusations that he sold victory at the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege to Alexandre Vinokourov.

    Katusha released Kolobnev pending the outcome of his hearing, which found in his favour when the court ruled that the hydrochlorothiazide found in his system at the last year's Tour de France was the result of medication used for a vascular disease that he has suffered from for many years. Now that he is free to ride again, he has been reunited with his former teammates on the Russian-based squad.

    It is not known exactly when Kolobnev will return to the peloton as he is currently recovering from a training accident.

    "I am very happy to receive a proposal to become a part of Katusha Team," Kolobnev said. "I had a very hard period of time in my life, but I passed it. Already, its behind me. I thank the Russian Cycling Federation and its President Igor Makarov for the big support that was provided to me. With the help of Mr Makarov I can ride for Katusha again. I think I have enough power and motivation to strengthen the team in the Classics as well as in other races of the season."

  • Oss expects war of attrition in Tour of Flanders finale

    Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2012, 18:21 BST
    Barry Ryan

    New course to force selection

    Daniel Oss is anticipating a war of attrition when the Tour of Flanders' new finish at Oudenaarde is inaugurated on Sunday, where the Italian lines up alongside the in-form Peter Sagan at the head of a youthful Liquigas-Cannondale team.

    Gone is the classic finale of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg, replaced by a combination of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, which will each be tackled on three occasions before the finish in Oudenaarde. Although Oss has not yet reconnoitred the new lay-out, he is familiar enough with the terrain to understand what kind of ordeal awaits.

    "We haven't tried it, but we know it because it's a part of the old Flanders route that repeats itself," Oss told Cyclingnews at his team's classics base at the Kennedy Hotel in Kortrijk. "It might well be that there'll be an initial selection on the first lap and then maybe fewer opportunities for the riders who've been dropped to get back on. If you're dropped the first time around, it's going to be very hard to get back on, and even if you do manage it, you're going to be empty by then anyway."

    As Belgian cycling's Holy Week draws on, there is a growing sense of expectation that De Ronde will eventually prove to be a battle between the individual might of Fabian Cancellara and the collective force of Tom Boonen's Omega Pharma-QuickStep team.

    "That could really make the difference for Boonen because we've seen that the team in these races are really important," said Oss, who agreed that a tactical standoff between RadioShack-Nissan and Omega Pharma-QuickStep...

  • Phinney disappointed with Flanders non-selection

    American Taylor Phinney (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2012, 19:25 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American turns his attention to Paris-Roubaix

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) has missed out on selection for Sunday's Tour of Flanders but remains optimistic over his chances of starting Paris-Roubaix. The American had made the long-list for Andy Rhis's Flanders squad but missed out, with the team edging for a more experienced line-up.

    "Obviously I'm disappointed not to make the team but honestly I have to be realistic. I knew that going into this year that it would be a hard selection to make, especially for Flanders. I respect the team's decision and just wish the guys all best of luck, and it's the most star-studded team at the race," Phinney told Cyclingnews from his base in Italy.

    "I'm sad to miss out but I wish them good luck and I'll hopefully look forward to Paris-Roubaix which is my all-time favourite race and I'm really hoping that I get selected for sure."

    Phinney raced Milan-San Remo earlier this month and Gent-Wevelgem last weekend, finishing both races. His race in Gent-Wevelgem appeared to be centered around gaining experience. He followed teammate George Hincapie throughout the morning's start procedures before helping his team with a number of domestique duties.

    However, Phinney will now turn his attention to Paris-Roubaix, a race he won twice as a U23 rider before signing for BMC. Having missed the entire Classics season last year through injury he's hoping to make up for lost time by taking part in the cobbled French Classic for the first time as a professional. And with BMC making three changes from their Flanders squad before Roubaix last year, his chances remain high.

    "The team and the organisation understand that Roubaix is the one Classic that suits me because being dead flat and having won the under 23 race...

  • Kristoff surprised with De Panne lead

    Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is the new overall leader at the Three Days of De Panne.
    Article published:
    March 28, 2012, 21:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Sagan sits up, gives away white jersey

    While he did not get the sprint victory he desired on stage 2 of the VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff pulled off one of the biggest coups of his career by taking over the lead in the general classification from Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

    Kristoff took second to Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) in a chaotic sprint into Koksijde today. The Norwegian profited in the general classification from the 1:41 time loss Sagan suffered after sitting up from the peloton as it wound up for the finale. Sagan has stated he is only using the race as training for the Classics.

    Tied on time with stage 1 runner-up Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana), the jersey went to Kristoff based upon his fourth place on stage 1 compared with Guarnieri's sixth place on stage 2, and the 24-year-old was surprised to learn he would be awarded the white jersey of overall leader.

    "Actually I'm quite surprised with this leadership," Kristoff said. "I'm obviously very happy to be in first position both in general classification and point ranking. I would have been even happier if I won: I went very close to the victory, but Kittel is a great sprinter, he did a perfect sprint while maybe I started a little early, losing some power in the last metres."

    After the day's lone breakaway rider Andy Cappelle (Accent.Jobs-Willems Veranda's) was brought back, Katusha came to the fore to help drive the pace into the sprint finish, keeping Kristoff out of trouble and in good position.

    "All the team was great: we proved we can work very well together, and we can obtain some good results. Tomorrow in...

  • Powers exorcises demons with Redlands stage win

    Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) takes the win
    Article published:
    March 28, 2012, 22:52 BST
    Pat Malach

    Victory one year after crash shattered her elbow

    Although it sounds a bit counter-intuitive, Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS), winner of the Sunset Road Race at this year's Redlands Bicycle Classic and second overall, may owe her continuing cycling career to a horrific crash that shattered her elbow at the same race just one year ago.

    The 32-year-old rider from Boulder, Colorado had already decided that 2011 would be her last season of racing when she went down during the Redlands criterium, causing multiple fractures to the olecranon bone in her right arm. She spent four days in a southern California hospital, recovering from a surgery that required 11 screws and a metal plate to piece her damaged limb back together.

    "I honestly was pretty unmotivated going into the 2011 season," said Powers, the 2009 NRC champ who was racing for TIBCO-To the Top at the time. "I had two teams in a row, with Team Type 1 and Team Vera Bradley Foundation that folded the women's teams. We don't do this for the money anyway, but when it seems like the sponsors don't even care no matter the results or anything, and the team folds, it's really un-motivating."

    Already doubting her career trajectory, Powers faced six weeks of immobilization and an equal amount of time in painful, challenging rehabilitation. But in an ironic twist, it was the difficult months off the bike that helped convince Powers she wanted to return to the sport.

    "I started working almost full time with my broken arm, and I didn't really like it, having to go somewhere everyday," Powers said. "The lifestyle that you have as a bike racer is amazing, getting to just ride your bike. I have a side job as well, which is coaching, but it's very flexible. It just made me appreciate how cool racing bikes is."

    Before she could test her...

  • 32 named in Mantova investigation to learn if they will go on trial

    Alessandro Ballan (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    March 29, 2012, 0:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Ballan, Cunego and Saronni among those waiting

    The long-running Mantova-based doping investigation centred around the Lampre squad and pharmacist Guido Nigrelli has taken another step towards resolution following the confirmation that a judge will soon decide on whether to charge the 32 people named in the final report made by the public prosecutor in the case last year.

    According to reports in Gazzetta dello Sport and on Wednesday evening, the 32 people who were named in Antonino Condorelli’s final report in April 2011 will learn in the next three months whether or not they will be charged with offences including the trafficking, prescription, administration and use of prohibited substances.

    Among the riders understood to be listed are Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD), Marco Bandiera (Omega-Quick Step), Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar), Mauro Da Dalto (Liquigas-Cannondale), Manuele Mori (Lampre-ISD), Massimiliano Mori (formerly of Lampre) Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre-ISD), Simone Ponzi (Astana), Mauro Santambrogio (BMC) and Michael Rasmussen (Christina Watches). Others on the list are Lampre-ISD manager Beppe Saronni, directeurs sportifs Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani, and former professional Mariano Piccoli.

    The matter now passes from the Mantova public prosecutor to a preliminary hearing judge, who will announce a date for a hearing within the next four months. At that point it will also be decided who is to be prosecuted and who is to be...

  • Video: Kittel takes aim at Scheldeprijs

    Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) wins stage 2
    Article published:
    March 29, 2012, 1:30 BST
    Barry Ryan

    German wins stage two of De Panne

    Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) gave another exhibition of his talents by cruising to a dominant sprint victory on stage two of the Three Days of De Panne near Koksijde on Wednesday. On the long, flat finishing straight at Oostduinkerke, he unfurled a powerful sprint to distance new race leader Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and secure his fourth win of the season.

    Kittel will have another opportunity to add that tally on morning stage to De Panne on Thursday, but he already has one eye on next week's Scheldeprijs. "That's the last big goal of this part of the spring for me and I want to be good in the Scheldeprijs," Kittel told reporters after his victory.

    While Kittel admitted that he would relish the opportunity to go head to head with Mark Cavendish (Sky) at Scheldeprijs next Wednesday, the world champion is by no means certain to take the start of the Antwerp-based race as he awaits the birth of his daughter. When one Belgian journalist pointed out that Peta Todd will have the last word on whether or not the Cavendish-Kittel match does indeed go ahead, the German allowed himself a smile. "That's true but that's something where I have no influence," he said shyly.

    As befits his status as a former time trial world champion, Kittel is not an explosive sprinter in the Cavendish mould, but instead prefers longer efforts. The final kilometre of Wednesday's stage proved to be the perfect amphitheatre for his abilities.

    "When I saw the finish line for the first time I said to Bert De Backer ‘that's perfect for me.' It was 1,000 metres long, straight, wind on the back, high speed. That's something I really like."

    By contrast, the finale to Thursday's morning stage is a sinuous one,...

  • Court date for Landis computer hacking appeal set

    Floyd Landis during his 2007 doping case.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2012, 3:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Former pro has always denied involvement

    Floyd Landis' appeal against a 12-month suspended sentence for computer hacking will be heard in Versailles from November 7 to 9 later this year, according to French newspaper L'Equipe.

    The once 2006 Tour de France champion was convicted in November 2011 of ordering the hacking into computers of WADA-accredited labratory, Chatenay-Malabry, but was found guilty only of receiving the hacked documents after prosecutors could establish no link between the cyclist and the confessed hackers. He could have been handed an 18 month sentence but was given 12 months.

    AFP reported that, "prosecutors say Landis and coach Arnie Baker masterminded a plot to hack into the lab's computer system to obtain documents as they sought to defend the cyclist's name."

    Landis tested positive for testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France. His doping controls were handled by the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory. In November 2006, the lab reported that its computer systems had been infected with a "Trojan Horse" virus, which was used by someone to access the lab's confidential documents. The lab said that data had been removed or changed, allegedly in an attempt to discredit the work of the organisation.

    An email carrying the virus was alleged to have been sent from a computer with the same IP address as that of Landis' coach Arnie Baker. Both Landis and Baker denied any involvement in the hacking, but authorities maintain that the pair made use of pilfered documents in Landis' defence argument.

    The investigation by the French Interior Ministry in 2009 led to the arrest of a French national living in Morocco named Alain Quiros, who confessed to hacking into the lab, according to the New York Times. He said he'd been paid several thousand euros to hack into the AFLD computer as well as several other European corporations including Greenpeace France - the hacking scheme...