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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 27, 2010

Date published:
May 27, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Hondo second in a difficult Giro d'Italia stage

    Danilo Hondo (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
    Article published:
    May 26, 2010, 18:36 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Fast German in action 24 hours before sprinters' day

    Danilo Hondo emerged into the spotlight of the Giro d'Italia one day ahead of schedule, coming in second place to Cofidis' Damien Monier in stage 17 at the top of Peio Terme. It wasn't the place one would expect to see a sprinter like Hondo, who was expected to shine tomorrow in Brescia in the only flat stage of the third and last week of the race.

    "I had good legs," Hondo told Cyclingnews on the finishing line in Peio Terme. "In the first breakaway today, we had nobody, so we rode to close the gap, and I told my teammates: now we have to be careful."

    Hondo and teammate Marco Marzano were part of a 19-man breakaway that went clear 50km into the stage and held nearly 10 minutes on the peloton by the day's end.

    Hondo called Monier's victory "a great win". He didn't know either of the two riders who were with him in this final breakaway of three that took shape with 15km to go. Monier had never won a pro race before and Steven Kruiswijk is a 22-year-old neo pro.

    "I had a very good feeling that the composition of this group could turn to our advantage. At the end, it was like a poker game. When the Cofidis rider attacked, he was really strong. The Rabobank rider was strong too but he also didn't manage to catch the French guy."

    The German veteran returned in the Pro Tour this year with Lampre with the role of lead-out man for Alessandro Petacchi after racing for Lamonta, Tinkoff, Diquigiovanni and PSK Whirlpool once his ban was over. It was a controversial suspension with opposite decisions by different authorities following his positive test for carphedon at 2005 the Tour of Murcia, the same month he finished second in Milan-San Remo. He eventually won an appeal in civil court.

    At the age of 36, Hondo's passion for cycling remains high. He finished 9th in the Tour of Flanders this year. On the way to Peio Terme, he took his chance for the stage win despite Marzano being known as a better climber than him. He...

  • Monier storms to first pro win at Giro d'Italia

    Damien Monier (Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne) celebrates his victory in stage 17.
    Article published:
    May 26, 2010, 19:29 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman finally scores for Cofidis

    Damien Monier wasn't even supposed to race the Giro d'Italia, but after his teammate Tristan Valentin fell ill, the Frenchman took over his spot, beginning the path to the highlight of his career. On stage 17, Monier attacked his two breakaway companions, Danilo Hondo and Stefan Kruijswijk, and soloed for three kilometres to his first professional win.

    Already in his eighth season with the Cofidis squad, Monier explained that his veteran status belies his young age.

    "Probably I turned pro too young, only four years after starting cycling at 17," the 27-year-old Monier explained in a post-race press conference. "I almost returned to the amateur ranks because I didn't have the level of professional cycling.

    "I fought for results and only last year I started to get some," said Monier who finished 4th in the 2009 Tour de l'Ain and was courted by other French teams after that.

    The Cofidis team has now been rewarded for their patience with the former U23 French time trial champion (2003) twice national pursuit champion (2005 and 2008).

    "We knew he had a big engine but he also had a lot to learn in road racing," directeur sportif Bernard Quilfen told Cyclingnews in Peio Terme.

    Prior to the start of stage 17, all of the Cofidis riders were encouraged to enter breakaways, but the management said it would prefer to see David Moncoutié or Monier in the move. Because the break went before the first major climb of the day, it was Monier and not two-time Vuelta a España king of the mountains Moncoutie who entered the escape.

    "Damien succeeded while I lacked the experience to beat Jérôme Pineau on stage 5. That makes the Giro d'Italia a success for Cofidis," neo-pro Julien Fouchard, who finished second in Novi Ligure, told Cyclingnews.

    Monier's win makes it two for France at this year's Giro. The other Frenchman to win a Giro stage before Pineau was Christophe Le...

  • Evans reveals fatigue of the Giro d'Italia peloton

    Cadel Evans (BMC) overtook Carlos Sastre on GC with his strong ride up the Kronplatz
    Article published:
    May 26, 2010, 19:56 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Race not a three-way battle, Evans says

    Even after a relatively quiet day in the peloton for the overall contenders in the Giro d'Italia, Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo), Cadel Evans (BMC) and race leader David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) all looked fatigued and in pain as they crossed the line in Pejo Terme, after the 17th day of intense racing.

    After trying to hang onto the Liquigas train on the climb to Pejo Terme and then having to dig deep to go with Michele Scarponi's late surge, Arroyo looked like he had just climbed Plan de Corones for a second time. He needed help from his soigneur to make it up the final 100 metres of the climb and into the podium area.

    Cadel Evans also went deep but looked far better than the Spaniard. However, he confirmed to Cyclingnews that the stage was anything but a so-called 'transfer stage' taking the race from one mountain range to another.

    "It wasn't like a transfer stage at all. It was fast at the start because of the descent but it was a head wind all the way too, which made getting the break difficult," Evans explained.

    "It was a bit strange at the bottom of the final climb too, there was all kinds of chaos going on. You spend more energy trying to get in a good position than you actually do in the finale. Liquigas rode a solid pace to hold back any attacks and they kept a pretty progression going all the way to the finish."

    "I wasn't feeling comfortable. I don't know how the others were feeling but after the last couple of days we've had, meant it was anything but a transfer day."

    Giro as hard as the Tour de France

    After 17 stages of racing on testing roads of every kind, often in bad weather, Evans said it has been a tough Giro d'Italia, admitting this year's race was almost as demanding as the Tour de France.

    "The thing with this Giro is that is that there have been so many hard stages, even the transfer stages have been difficult. It's not that the break goes or the sprinters' teams...

  • White investigation referred to ASADA

    Aussie Matt White performs some seat adjustments pre-ride.
    Article published:
    May 27, 2010, 0:45 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Anti-doping Authority to establish facts

    Cycling Australia has confirmed to Cyclingnews that it has referred a requested investigation into allegations against Matthew White to the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA). The International Cycling Union (UCI) formalised its request to the Canadian, French, Belgian and Australian federations yesterday, asking the organisations to establish whether any UCI rules had been broken by the implicated persons.

    The request came after Floyd Landis made remarkable accusations about doping usage within the peloton while admitting his own use in an e-mail to USA Cycling’s chief executive officer Steve Johnson. The UCI highlighted that its request for investigations into the allegations didn’t imply it believes the allegations have any basis.

    “The UCI's request is aimed at establishing, in an objective manner, whether or not events potentially constituting a breach of the Anti-Doping Rules occurred,” read a statement from the UCI. “This does not in any way imply that the UCI considers the allegations made by Mr Landis to have any basis.”

    In his e-mail to Johnson Landis claimed to have shared EPO and discussed its use with White and Michael Barry while training for the 2003 Vuelta a Espana. White is a former professional cyclist who rode with the US Postal squad from 2001-2003, and is now a sport director at the Garmin-Transitions ProTour squad.

    “While training for that Vuelta I spent a good deal of time training with Matthew White and Michael Barry and shared the testosterone and EPO that we had and discussed the use thereof while training,” wrote Landis.

  • Gerrans determined to make Sky’s Tour selection

    Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) looks cool at the team presentation
    Article published:
    May 27, 2010, 5:18 BST
    Cycling News

    Aussie hungry after 2009 snub

    Tour de France stage winner Simon Gerrans is determined to make the cut for Team Sky’s Tour de France roster, as the team prepares to make its debut in the French Grand Tour. Motivating the Victorian is his surprise snub from Cervelo TestTeam’s roster in 2009, as the team unsuccessfully focused on defending the title of Carlos Sastre.

    Gerrans has just returned to his European base after a training block in Colorado, USA, where he’s been training at altitude. He will contest the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour de Suisse during June, as final preparation for the Tour where he’ll work for team leader Bradley Wiggins.

    “These races will give me the race fitness and speed that I need going into the Tour de France,” Gerrans wrote on “Team Sky is yet to name their Tour de France line up, so all the members in the squad are working hard to be prepared for the race. After missing last year, I'm keener than ever to race with the goal of helping Wiggo in the overall classification.”

    The weather in Colorado at this time of year makes it Gerrans’ preferred altitude training location. He has opted to train there instead of another favoured altitude location at St Moritz, Switzerland, due to the heat in Colorado.

    “I really enjoy coming to Colorado as the training here is so diverse,” he said. “In one direction there are endless roads to climb and in the other direction it’s flat, as far as the eye can see. The roads are also quiet.

    “Each year for the past 10 years I have made an effort to do a block of training at altitude and after each training block I have learnt something that I can change or improve for the next time,” he said. “I find by doing this block of training at altitude in May, it really sets me up for the second half of the season.”

    Gerrans won the Giro d’Italia’s Stage 14 last...

  • Biological passport expert taking Landis seriously

    Floyd Landis was helping out at the OUCH-Bahati Foundation VIP tent in California.
    Article published:
    May 27, 2010, 5:54 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Ashenden commends "moral courage", finds important information in allegations

    A member of the UCI's panel of experts that reviews the blood passport data of professional cyclists has come out in support of Floyd Landis and his confessions of past doping practices. Dr. Michael Ashenden, one of a nine-person panel that reviews passport data, supported Landis in his claims and said the information will help anti-doping authorities to crack down on doping.

    "Floyd Landis has shown immense moral courage to take the stand he has, and one of the benefits from his disclosures is that we now have the missing piece of the puzzle," Ashenden told Cyclingnews.

    The missing puzzle piece was how cyclists have continued to use man-made erythropoeitin (EPO), the synthetic version of our body's own red blood cell-inducing hormone that has haunted cycling since the Festina scandal of 1998 and before, even in the wake of improved testing for the drug itself.

    Landis, in confessing to practices he used during his time with the US Postal Service and Phonak teams, not only detailed the techniques he used but also said the practice was condoned by team management and adopted by his fellow teammates. He revealed that riders combined small doses of the drug with undetectable transfusions of the rider's own blood to boost performance, giving anti-doping authorities important details on how cheaters continue to evade positive tests.

    "Now that we know how they are evading the [UCI's Biological] Passport, we can take steps to counter their strategy. I don't expect we will suddenly become 100 percent successful, but I do anticipate we will be more successful than beforehand."

    Part of the method was to inject small amounts of EPO at frequent intervals instead of one larger therapeutic dose at one time. That technique, called 'microdosing', ensured the drug was undetectable outside a short window of time following injection. In theory, if a rider administered the drug intravenously before bedtime, he would be negative in any...

  • Willems to move to Omega Pharma-Lotto?

     Frederik Willems (Liquigas - Doimo)
    Article published:
    May 27, 2010, 10:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Interested in returning to Belgian team after four years with Liquigas

    Frederik Willems of Liquigas is thinking of signing with Omega Pharma-Lotto for the coming two years. The Belgian has had serious talks with the team.

    Willems, 30, is currently recovering from knee surgery. He had his most recent talks with Omega Pharma-Lotto general manager Geert Coeman on Tuesday evening.

    “They know my needs, I am going for two years,” Willems told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “The deal is not final, but we are on the right way. I want it wrapped up within two weeks.”

    He added, “I have also talked to Liquigas, but returning to Belgium appeals to me.” His manager spoke with Katusha, but they were unable to agree on financials.

    Willems started his pro career with Vlaanderen-T-Intern in 2003, and has ridden for Liquigas since 2007. He did not finish his last three races this season (Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, and Flèche Wallonne).

    The Belgian underwent surgery on his left knee at the end of April, and this week returned to light training. According to his personal website, his first race back should be the Belgian national road championship at the end of June.

  • Gilbert satisfied with condition in Tour of Belgium

    Stage 1 winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) dons the red jersey.
    Article published:
    May 27, 2010, 10:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Focusing on Tour de Suisse, then the fall season

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) won the first stage of the Tour of Belgium, taking the sprint from a five-man break. It was his first race back after a period of rest.

    His last racing day, after a full early season, was the fifth stage of the Tour de Romandie earlier this month. “I was good in training, but didn't have any idea of my condition after my short rest ,” he told the Belga news agency.

    Gilbert did not know whether he would try to defend his leader's jersey. There are “two difficult days” before Saturday's time trial, followed by a climbing stage on Sunday. “The Tour of Belgium is still long and far from over. “

    Gilbert is using the Tour of Belgium as, “a stepping stone to a higher level in mid-June in the Tour of Switzerland. This is my next big goal,” he told the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.

    Gilbert is skipping the Tour de France, which passes through Belgium this year, in favour of peaking around the second half of the year. “That has never been in my programme. However much advertising interest there may be in my presence in riding in my own land, it doesn't outweigh the ambitions I have for the second part of the season.”

    The 27-year-old was successful in October 2010, winning the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, Giro del Piemonte and the Giro di Lombardia, all within 10 days. He not only wants to repeat those, but is looking to do even better.

    “I want to win all the Classics: Hamburg, San Sebastian, Paris-Tours, Lombardy.... And 'le grand moment' is reserved for October 3 in Geelong in Australia, where I want to become World Champion.”