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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 17, 2012

Date published:
May 17, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Ferrari puts Giro d'Italia pile-up behind him with stage win

    An ecstatic Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) has just won his first Giro d'Italia stage.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2012, 19:31 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian motors to victory in Montecatini Terme

    After a bunch sprint at the Giro d'Italia, the victor's press conference normally hangs on a breathless description of the final metres of his winning effort. There was a slight twist on the formula in Montecatini Terme on Wednesday, however, as stage 11 winner Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) spent much of his time revisiting another bunch finish altogether.

    Ferrari was responsible for sparking the mass pile-up that brought down Mark Cavendish (Sky) and maglia rosa Taylor Phinney (BMC) in the finale of stage 3 in Horsens, and has been painted as the pariah of the sprinting world ever since, with the world champion himself among those wielding the brush. In the face of such negative publicity, the Italian readily admitted that his first Giro stage win could not have come at a more opportune time.

    "I really wanted to win a stage because I wanted to show that I had the legs to win a stage that day [stage 3]," Ferrari said. "I didn't mean to do what I did, and I'm still apologising for what I did. Unfortunately, it was the kind of manoeuvre that happens a lot in a sprint and we only talk about them when there's a crash."

    Ferrari hadn't been involved at the sharp end of a bunch finish since the Giro returned to Italy, but he denied that he had felt any kind of psychological block as he hurtled into the final bend almost shoulder to shoulder with the rainbow jersey.

    "In the last kilometre when I was alongside Cavendish, he gave me a look and I understood what he meant but you know, I'm a sprinter and the important thing is to do your sprint," Ferrari said. "I found...

  • Brutt believes Rodriguez can keep the Giro's maglia rosa to the end

    Russian champion Pavel Brutt (Katusha) at the 2012 Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2012, 20:51 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Russian champion says that calculation has replaced courage at the Giro d'Italia

    While Giro d'Italia leader Joaquim Rodriguez has a cadre of Spaniards for support on the Katusha Team - Daniel Moreno, Alberto Losada and his roommate Angel Vicioso - he's also reaping the benefit of riding for a Russian team with the likes of strong rouleurs Pavel Brutt and Mikhail Ignatiev at his side. Team Katusha was built in 2009 on the foundations of the Tinkoff that made its debut at the 2007 Giro d'Italia. Five years ago, Brutt and Ignatiev were true attackers who fired up the corsa rosa.

    "Now we're riding a more structured kind of cycling," Brutt told Cyclingnews in Assisi. "It's out of question to break away. We're here to win the Giro with Joaquim."

    Rodriguez was adamant that Katusha would set the pace of the bunch in case of a breakaway "as the mark of respect for the pink jersey," the Spaniard said, but at the start of stage 11, Brutt revealed that the Russian team intended to let all the work to the sprinters. Eventually, Katusha contributed to the chase behind the five escapees but the bunch was cruising between 36 and 37km/h only.

    "We expect more work in the coming days," said Brutt. "But we don't know how things will go really because all the protagonists for the overall classification are kind of watching each other. Compared to my first participation to the Giro d'Italia five years ago, I've noticed a very significant difference of behavior. Efforts are more calculated these days. Five years ago, it was more about courage."

    Brutt is fully committed to playing his part in delivering the first Grand Tour victory for a Russian team. "Being the national champion makes me proud of doing this work for Purito," said the 30-year-old St. Petersburg resident, who won the

  • Armstrong 'not wasting any more time' fighting doping allegations

    Shades of Paris 2005. Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) addresses the crowd.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2012, 22:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Seven-time Tour winner to appear on US talk show Friday

    Following his interview with Men's Journal, Lance Armstrong will also appear on a US talk show, hosted by the California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, saying he's "done" answering questions regarding his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

    When the Gavin Newsom Show debuts on Friday (local time) Armstrong will appear in a pre-recorded interview where, according to Associated Press, the seven-time Tour de France winner says:

    "This has been a (13)-year question... Blood, urine, hair, whatever they wanted to take. At some point, somebody's going to have to answer that question. I'm not wasting any more of my time."

    Last week, following his printed interview with Men's Journal, former teammate Floyd Landis told Cyclingnews that the interview is the nearest Armstrong has come to an admission of guilt. Armstrong has always denied the use of performance enhancing drugs. In the past he has fought several legal battles to clear his name, and when allegation from former teammates washed up in 2010 and again in 2011 he brushed them off.

    For Landis, who admitted to the use of performance enhancing drugs and who accused Armstrong and several US Postal teammates of organised doping, the interview spoke volumes of the American's position and possible stance should USADA decide to bring any doping violation charges.

    "It's always difficult when he's called me and Tyler Hamilton liars. The fact is there are a lot more liars out there, they've just not admitted it.. He can keep trying to spin it however he wants but at the end of the day he's no better than anyone else and one of these days he's going to have to accept it," Landis told Cyclingnews.

    Twelve months ago, Hamilton fronted...

  • Video: Matthews back in the swing in California

    Michael Matthews (Rabobank) catches back up to the field.
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 1:55 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Rabobank sprinter rebounds with Stage 4 podium

    Rabobank has had a huge presence at the Amgen Tour of California, with beer flowing freely in huge VIP tents in each finish town as the company tries to increase its market share in the state, but so far in the Amgen Tour of California its team has come up dry in the race. That changed today when Australian sprinter Michael Matthews claimed third in stage 4 from Sonora to Clovis and landed on the day's stage podium behind winner Peter Sagan and Heinrich Haussler.

    It wasn't necessarily a day for the sprinters considering the six classified climbs and a few more thrown in for good measure, and Matthews said that he very nearly was dropped on a late climb.

    "I only thought there were six climbs, and when we got to the seventh climb I got dropped with 2km to go to the top," he explained. "Luckily I was with Tom Boonen and his team, and they rode me back to the bunch."

    It's been a tough second professional year for Matthews, who crashed spectacularly in Tirreno-Adriatico and then again in the opening stage in California. The falls had shaken his confidence but today his team rallied behind him and put him in a prime spot in the finale.

    "I think my team just got me motivated and said 'stay on our wheel and we'll put you in a good position'," Matthews explained. "It was just about trust and I had to try again after the first day when I accidentally crashed

    "It was hard for the confidence to get going again after crashing."

    Four sprints in four days, and nobody has been able to get the better of Sagan. Can Matthews get one in on the

  • Amgen Tour of California general classification set for shake up

    'Captain America', Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo)
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 3:32 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Sagan tipping he will lose overall lead

    The Amgen Tour of California has so far been a stalemate between the top contenders, but that should change on Thursday when the race hits Bakersfield for the 29.7km time trial on stage 5. The stage will finally shake out the general classification, where all the names are clustered at 40 seconds from race leader and winner of all four previous stages, Peter Sagan.

    Sagan has stated definitively that he will be giving up his jersey in the test.

    "Tomorrow I think I will lose this jersey. I will do bye bye. I don't time trial well," he said.

    But which riders will come out with that yellow jersey?

    Chris Horner, the race's defending champion, admits that the time trial isn't his kind of day and that he will lose some time not only on his main opponents but the stage winner as well.

    "Tomorrow we'll find out who's good and who's not," he said. "It's still not a day for me in general, I'll lose some time, but hopefully not much. We'll definitely figure out where Levi's form is, and after that we'll find out the other GC guys too: Tejay [van Garderen], [Andrew] Talansky, [Tom] Danielson, all those guys. We'll see how the race has evolved, who's tired and who's not tomorrow."

    Horner said he expects on this flatter course to lose 20 to 50 seconds depending on which rider you look at.

    "Maybe 20 seconds on Tejay, if Levi [Leipheimer]'s on really good form maybe he can get 50 seconds on me, I'd imagine," he suggested. "Of course we don't know where his form is and we'll have to wait and see."

    Van Garderen knows that Thursday is an important day if he is to gouge as much time out of GC rival Horner ahead of some big climbing days on Friday and Saturday.

  • Gallery: Contador rides the Tourmalet

    Alberto Contador was shooting a commerical for a mattress company on the Tourmalet
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 5:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard re-lives epic battle with Schleck for tv commercial

    He may be without a team and currently serving a ban for clenbuterol use, but Alberto Contador took to the famed Tourmalet in France on Wednesday, re-living his epic battle with Andy Schleck in the 2010 Tour de France on the misty slopes of the Pyrenees.

    This time, the purpose of Contador's ride not to retain the yellow jersey but to film a television commercial for a Spanish mattress company.

    Contador said that it was a tough day in the saddle as he rode from Pau, via the col de Marie-Blanque and col du Soulor. He continued that he had "very good memories while passing through each location. I really enjoyed the experience and we have also had luck with the weather."

    The Spaniard explained that the idea to film the commercial on the Tourmalet had left him with "a very good feeling" despite his recent troubles.

    Specifically, Contador said he remembered "the attacks we did, Andy Schleck and me, on the Tourmalet."

    Contador was sanctioned by CAS in February after one of cycling's most high profile and protracted doping investigations, and he is banned from competing until August. He will miss the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics but is scheduled to return at the Eneco Tour ahead of a tilt at the Vuelta a Espana. He is reportedly closing in on a new deal to ride for Saxo Bank, who has struggled without him, when he returns to racing - something that he admits can't some soon...

  • Basso: the first rule at the Giro d'Italia is not to lose time

    _V6O7052 - Luka Mezgec with the local fans in Chaqia
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 7:32 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Caution reigns among overall contenders as Schleck loses time

    Over halfway into the Giro d'Italia and just a shade over two minutes separates all of the principal contenders for overall victory. After the spettacolo that marked the opening half of the race in recent years, the 2012 edition has seen the pretenders proceed with a touch more caution, perhaps mindful of the brutal final week in the Dolomites.

    As anticipated, the scattering of summit finishes in the opening 10 stages have seen the deck reshuffled every couple of days, but as yet, the pre-race favourites have been reluctant to show their hands.

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) neatly summed up the prevailing air of prudence at the top table when he wheeled to a halt at the end of stage 11 in Montecatini Terme. "The first rule of winning this Giro is not to lose time or to lose as little as possible, and then look to gain it when you have a chance," he said.

    The 255 kilometres from Assisi to Montecatini made it the longest stage of the Giro, but the day passed off scarcely a frisson in the main peloton, even if the race did fleetingly sparkle into life on the finishing circuit. In another Giro, the final climb of the Vico might have roused more than a flicker of interest from the contenders for top honours, but Basso reiterated the safety-first philosophy that has dominated to date.

    "Today was a hard stage like every one that we've done in this Giro d'Italia," he said. "A few riders showed themselves in the finale but it wasn't anything major, and then it finished in a sprint marred by another crash."

    One of the overall contenders who briefly seized the initiative on the finishing circuit was Roman...

  • Schleck blames Rasmussen for lost time in Giro d'Italia's 11th stage

    Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and Christian Vandevelde (Garmin - Barracuda) have words at the finish
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 10:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Rasmussen calls it “a lie” and says crash was Schleck's own fault

    Fränk Schleck said that Alex Rasmussen of Garmin-Barracuda caused him to lose time in Wednesday's eleventh stage of the Giro d'Italia. The Dane called that “a lie”. Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) was held up twice by crashes and lost 46 seconds, dropping him from 13th place to 23rd, where he is now 2:11 down on leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

    “Just before the final lap Alex Rasmussen gave his teammate Christian Vande Velde a big push to launch him upfront,” Schleck said on the team website. “While doing this he was practically going backwards himself and he was like a wall in the middle of the pack. Incredible. I hit him from behind and stood completely still. Then I started chasing like hell and I made it back to the peloton that had already started the last climb.

    “But then bad luck struck again, because there was another crash and everybody was standing still again. Normally, I would have been in the front before the crash, but because of Rasmussen's move I was completely behind. I lost precious time there and it was impossible to get back to the group once I got rolling again."

    The team didn't know about the first time he had to chase the field, sport director Kim Andersen admitted. “It wasn't until he was chasing for the second time that we found out and then we could tell the others team riders to wait for Fränk. But then again, with a peloton going super fast before a bunch sprint, it's impossible to get back in the group."

    Schleck noted that while “I didn't have a good day yesterday [Tuesday, ed] - I have to be honest - but today was different. It's really frustrating that I lose so much time because of that stupid move of Rasmussen.

    “Both crashes were out of my control and I had to...