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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 20, 2010

Date published:
May 20, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Men in black put an end to Vino rosé

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) at the finish in L'Aquila
    Article published:
    May 19, 2010, 22:31 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Astana captain rates Basso and Nibali as stage 11's biggest losers

    Alexandre Vinokourov looked fed up but not devastated as he lost the pink jersey in L'Aquila at the end of the Giro d'Italia's thrilling stage 11 in the centre of Italy. He was clearly a victim of the men in black at the front of the race as the pace in the winning breakaway was set predominantly by the dark-kitted Saxo Bank, Cervélo TestTeam, Caisse d'Epargne and Sky squads.

    "It's been a long day," Vinokourov said. "The breakaway went and none of the favourites wanted to move. It was too cold and too rainy for taking any risks. It was once again very demanding. For sure, in these conditions, my body didn't respond so well but some riders who didn't handle their responsibilities can have regrets."

    "It'll be up to other teams to handle the responsibilities from now on." 'Vino' told Cyclingnews. "I got the feeling that nobody wanted to chase, so it wasn't up to me to do even more. I've had the pink jersey for five days and riders like Basso and Nibali have more chances than me to win the Giro. Therefore, it wasn't up to me to do their job.

    "Nobody thought the breakaway would take so much advantage. We set tempo with Acqua e Sapone and BMC and then we said 'basta' (it's enough). The Liquigas riders understood too late that there would be some damage on GC. It's their fault if Sastre, Tondo or Arroyo are ahead on GC now."

    One reason for Vinokourov to have difficulty in bringing back the breakaway is the weakness of his team. After losing Paolo Tiralongo in a crash in stage 6, three of his teammates abandoned during this epic stage to L'Aquila: his young Kazakhstani compatriots Valentin Iglinsky and Alexandr Dyachenko as well as Italy's Enrico Gasparotto. "This isn't a good news," Vino said. "But today we've seen a lot of fatigue in the bunch. We aren't the only ones in that situation."

    In fact, as Jeff Louder and Mauro Santambrogio also pulled out, BMC is left with four teammates at the service of Cadel...

  • Kelly Benefit Strategies team banks on Amgen Tour of California jersey

    Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) leads Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies) in the break.
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 5:32 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Anderson to display mountains jersey for sponsors

    Kelly Benefit Strategies became the second Continental team to hold on to the red mountains classifications jersey at the Amgen Tour of California on Wednesday. The result is important not only for the team's profile but also because it is still hoping to secure future sponsorship.

    Canadian Ryan Anderson claimed the honour by slipping into the breakaway for the second stage in a row and claiming both mountain sprints on offer. After Stage 3 to Santa Cruz, he was 11 points behind Team Type 1's Thomas Rabou, but won both the category 1 sprint on Sierra Road and the category 4 climb outside Livermore en route to Modesto to take the outright lead in the competition.

    "I was hurting pretty bad over the climb [on Sierra Road]," said the 22-year-old Anderson. After a long day in the previous day's breakaway, the 5.9km climb coming in the first 10km of the stage was a harsh wake-up.

    "Compared with yesterday, the break was definitely going pretty fast today. I was going to just make it over the second KOM and then go back to the group."

    His job done and the jersey secured, Anderson dropped back to the field to rest up for the battle to come.

    Team director Jonas Carney was thrilled with the result and said the team would continue to fight to keep it. "For us as a Continental team it's a pretty big deal to wear a jersey in a race of this caliber," said Carney. "We'll do our best to hold onto it."

    Having the jersey will put on an important show for the team's sponsors, who are set to arrive tomorrow, and will give a good impression for future sponsorship negotiations. "I spoke with the team owner and they're all pretty psyched. Our first Tour of California in 2008 didn't go so well and we didn't do the race last year, so this is our biggest result here."

    For Anderson the result confirms good performances at the Vuelta al Uruguay, where he placed second on a stage and was fourth overall. "I definitely feel I've stepped...

  • Saxo banks on Schleck, Cancellara in California

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Franchesco Chicchi (Liquigas) roll out towards the start line.
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 6:16 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Haedo's brace of second places can be added upon

    Halfway through the Amgen Tour of California's and ProTour team Saxo Bank has yet to win a stage, although the squad is banking on Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara to bring home a victory before the race concludes on May 23 in Thousand Oaks-Agoura Hills.

    "We weren't focusing on GC realistically from the beginning," said the squad's directeur sportif, Bobby Julich. "It will be Andy's day on Big Bear and we will have Fabian for the time trial. We still have Jens Voigt in the GC so if we could do something for him that would be great. That would be fantastic."

    Schleck showed signs of struggle on stage three's decisive climb over Bonny Doon Road. Three-time defending champion, Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) made an effort that caused a split at the front of the field and the only riders able to follow were Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and current race leader Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions).

    "We wanted Andy to give it a shot," said Julich. "He wasn't feeling great but you can't not try. He tried and he wasn't good and Bjarne [Riis] told him to pull the pin on the climb so that was what he did."

    "He just had a bad day and he definitely had a tough Spring," he added. "He came onto form right for the Classics. He had to take a break and it was right before this. He is just not switched on yet but he will be fine. It won't be the end of the world."

    Schleck pulled out from the Challenge Majorca in February due to a lingering knee injury after which he made a full recovery and raced through the Spring Classics before taking a break to rest up for the Amgen Tour.

    "I had a crash in December with a car and a bike and after that I had knee injury," Schleck explained. "I recovered well and I'm happy to be here and hopefully will prepare for the Tour de France the best way possible."

    The Amgen Tour of California's move from its traditional February spot on the calendar to May allowed race organisers to bank on warmer...

  • Landis drug Revelations?

    Floyd Landis
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 9:52 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Letter claims of widespread drug use has been sent a letter purportedly from Floyd Landis to a senior cycling official with revelations of drug use in cycling in the period up to his Tour de France victory. We are awaiting responses from individuals involved and hope to bring you full details shortly.

    Landis had won the 2006 Tour de France when a urine sample showed the rider had an unusually high testosterone to epitestosterone ratio from a test taken on Stage 17. The Phonak rider was eventually found guilty and disqualified – the first rider to be stripped of the yellow jersey – but not before a drawn out legal battle.

    USA Cycling transferred Landis’ case to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which called a hearing committee to try the Landis case. Landis’ legal team argued that the French National Laboratory for Doping Detection (Laboratoire de Chatenay-Malabry) had been incompetent in its handling of the rider’s sample.

    On September 21, 2007 the American Arbitration Association overturned Landis’ appeal against his sanction. The three member arbitration panel, led by president Patrice Brunet along with Christopher Campbell and Richard McLaren, was split 2-1 in the guilty verdict, with Campbell dissenting.

    Following the AAA decision Landis exercised his final right of appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). CAS announced in June 2008 that it had upheld the findings and Landis would serve out the original two year ban.

    Landis returned to racing after the conclusion of his suspension in early 2009, riding with United States of America domestic team OUCH-Maxxis. The team parted ways at the year’s end and Landis joined the OUCH-Bahati Foundation Cycling Team for 2010.

  • Bos wanted more from California's stage four

    Theo Bos (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 11:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Cervélo Test Team sprinter bags more road experience

    Five-time track sprint world champion Theo Bos (Cervélo Test Team) placed fourth in the stage four bunch sprint at the Amgen Tour of California, his best finish so far. The Dutchman was one of the favourites to capture a win; his proven track sprint didn't translate to dominating the road as well as he had hoped, however.

    "We just tried to work on our lead-out and unfortunately I couldn't finish off their good work but I am very happy with the way we did the finale today," Bos told Cyclingnews. "I think Chicchi was really too fast today."

    The Cervélo Test Team took control of the front of the peloton on the stage four finishing circuits located in Modesto but Bos came up empty handed in the final sprint won by Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo), with JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) rounding out the podium.

    "The lead-out was for my benefit today," Bos explained. "We tried to get to the front as late as possible and today we just wanted to go early to get me into a comfortable position. We started early and we knew that it was a little bit too far."

    "I expected Columbia to take over and just stay in a good position then," he added. "I was in sixth or seventh position but I was little bit too late in the sprint. Haedo, Cavendish and Chicchi were in third, fourth and fifth position and I think I was three bike lengths behind and I couldn't come around."

    The remaining stages will move into the Sierra Mountains where the climbers will test their legs towards the overall classification. Although unlikely, Bos is not ruling out the possibility of another field sprint.

    "I'm looking at things day-to-day and today I didn't expect a sprint so I am pretty happy with the way the day went," said Bos. "It's going to be very hard the next couple of days. Tomorrow might be a sprint but it is on an uphill circuit. My sprint is not so good uphill, I'm faster downhill."

    Bos kicked...

  • Zomegnan criticises UCI calendar

    Giro d'Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 11:15 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Giro boss wants more spectacle for pro cycling

    Angelo Zomegnan, the director of the Giro d'Italia, has directed harsh criticism towards the International Cycling Union (UCI) for permitting the Tour of California to be run at the same time as the Italian race, calling the current racing calendar "insane".

    Comparing cycling with other sports, he said that was an "insult" that the two stage races were being held at the same time. "It's the fruit of an insane calendar," Zomegnan told Swiss Le Temps when asked how he felt about the rivalry between his event and the Tour of California. "There would never be two Formula 1 Grand Prix on the same date, not two Moto GP or two Grand Slams. As a consequence, this concomitance is an insult.

    "But it is also insane to organise two races in Canada [GP de Québec, GP de Montréal - ed.] just two weeks before the World Championships in Melbourne, after which the riders finish off their season in Europe. But there's much talk about the jet lag that a Giro start in Washington would imply!"

    RCS Sport, the organisers of the Giro, are currently working on a possible Tour start in Washington, D.C. in 2012. Zomegnan said plans for the project are coming along well and fit perfectly with his objective of adding more spectacle and glamour to the event.

    "Cycling needs to appeal more. While the Tour is the greatest cycling event, I want the Giro to be the most sophisticated, the most glamorous. [Taking the race start to Washington] is something that has never been done. The history of the Giro is made of of special moments, like the finish in Venice in 1978. We will solve the logistical problems. At the moment, the preparations are half-way. If this start becomes true, then it will be in 2012."

    Zomegnan hopes that US president Barrack Obama will agree to personally assist the Giro start in Washington. "Can you imagine president Obama giving the jersey to Bradley Wiggins, for example? Which other sports event could have the...

  • Landis confesses to doping, implicates Armstrong and Bruyneel

    Floyd Landis (Phonak)
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 11:32 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Update on widespread drug use

    Floyd Landis has confessed to doping during his professional cycling career in an e-mail to USA Cycling chief executive officer Steve Johnson, which Cyclingnews has obtained a copy of. The e-mail, which was sent to Johnson on April 30, details Landis’ history with doping, starting from his first experience with testosterone in 2002 through to 2006 when he won the Tour de France, before abnormalities from a test on stage 17 saw him stripped of the title years later.

    Landis detailed the looming statute of limitations deadline on the information he’s provided as the motivation behind his revelations. "I want to clear my conscience," Landis told ESPN. "I don't want to be part of the problem any more.

    "Now we've come to the point where the statute of limitations on the things I know is going to run out or start to run out next month," Landis said. "If I don't say something now then it's pointless to ever say it."

    Landis claims in the e-mail to Johnson to have been introduced to testosterone by Johan Bruyneel while riding for US Postal in June, 2002. He claimed to have had lengthy conversations with seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong regarding the evolution of EPO testing that year, before traveling to Armstrong’s house in 2003 to collect his first sample of EPO.

    Since turning professional in 1992 Armstrong has never had a positive drug test announced by the UCI or USA Cycling. Both he and Bruyneel have always adamantly denied any involvement with the use of performance enhancing drugs throughout their extensive careers.

    Landis allegations must be viewed with scepticism after he previously denied doping. Landis’ sudden doping admission comes after the rider spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to prove his innocence, including the establishment of the Floyd Fairness Fund which encouraged people to donate to help with the estimated $500,000 legal bill. After the...

  • Gilbert to skip Tour de France

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto) in action.
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 13:40 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Belgian confirms World Championship as key objective

    Philippe Gilbert has ended speculation about his participation in the 2010 Tour de France, confirming that he will not compete in the French race. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider said he will race the Vuelta a España in preparation for the World Championships road race in Australia.

    Last week, Gilbert's team manager Marc Sergeant indicated the chances of Gilbert competing at the Tour as 50/50, but that the final decision would be left to the rider himself. The Belgian classics rider now seems to have made his final decision.

    "It hasn't been on my programme for a long time," said Gilbert, according to French language newspaper Nouvelle La Gazette. "I've raced the Classics and I'll do the Vuelta before the Worlds. To do [the Tour] would be crazy."

    Gilbert's latest confirmation comes as little surprise. The Belgian had indicated as early as November last year that he would skip the 2010 Tour de France in favour of the Vuelta-World Championships double.

    He last raced the Tour de France in 2008, the last of his four participations in the race with Française des Jeux. Since joining the then-Silence-Lotto squad in 2009, he has shifted towards a programme dominated by one-day events.

    The 27 year-old's change of focus has already paid dividends this year at the Spring Classics. He won Amstel Gold Race and assumed first position in the International Cycling Union's world ranking after finishing fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The world title is his major goal for the second part of the season.