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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 6, 2010

Date published:
May 06, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Radcliffe to return home after 13 months rehabilitation

    Newcastle cyclist Brian Radcliffe has been left in a wheelchair following an accident last year.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 0:19 BST
    Paul Verkuylen

    Club raising funds for Radcliffe’s homecoming

    A dramatic crash on the banks of Newcastle’s velodrome left Brian Radcliffe - a veteran of some 40 years of cycling in all disciplines - in a coma for over three weeks and with a serious brain injury. While doctors have given no assurance that the 57-year-old will recover entirely from the accident, the Hunter District Cycling Club is helping raise funds to allow the 2008 World Masters Championships bronze medallist to return home.

    Riding high on the bank during the last race of the night, Radcliffe – who won his division at the Grafton to Inverell Cycling Classic in 1984 – swerved to avoid a fall after two riders clipped wheels ahead. With nowhere to go Radcliffe hit the riders, sending him face first into the concrete track.

    The much-loved aficionado of cycling has spent last 13 months at the Rankin Park Rehabilitation Centre, bound to a wheel chair, partially paralysed and unable to recall any events or people from the past 10 years of his life.

    As Radcliffe prepares to return to his family home in Greenhills for the first time, local cycling clubs in the Australian city of Newcastle are helping raise funds to help make his homecoming possible. The funds will contribute to the estimated $50–60,000 required to modify Radcliffe’s family home and car to accommodate the wheel chair, to which doctors believe Radcliffe will be bound for the rest of his life.

    A fund raising event, which will take place on Saturday, May 8 at the South League Club in Newcastle, has so far raised $7000 in ticket sales and donations. Organisers hope to double that on the night through further donations and auctions of items which include an autographed Chris Hoy jersey, supplied by Cycling NSW.

    While seats for the event have sold out, donations to the Radcliffe family can still be made to Brian and Robyn Radcliffe care of Hunter District Cycling Club, PO Box 211, Cardiff NSW 2285, Australia or by contacting organising...

  • Giro fuels Vande Velde's fire

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin - Transitions) climbs the Côte de la Redoute.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 0:45 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Garmin-Transitions coach wants moderation before Tour

    Officially, Christian Vande Velde is using the Giro d’Italia to build his form for the Tour de France, but the American would undeniably gain confidence from a strong Italian Grand Tour performance, either in terms of stage performances or a high general classification result.

    He had a complicated start to the season with injury and illness somewhat hampering him but has shown improving form of late and certainly seems to be moving in the right direction.

    Garmin-Transitions team coach Adrie Van Diemen said that he is satisfied with Vande Velde’s shape heading into the Giro. “My opinion is that if you look where he was at the beginning of the year - the problems he was having with his hip and some illness - he was struggling then but now it's going okay," said Van Diemen.

    “He did a decent ride in Romandie, a decent general classification; if you look to the time trial, there was only one guy with a ridiculously fast time. If you look at the other guys who were the general classification contenders, he was not too far off them in the time trial. So I am okay with the situation now.”

    Vande Velde was 15th in the time trial and then 16th and 18th in the final two mountainous stages. He finished 14th overall, 2:47 behind Alejandro Valverde. Compared to his 79th in Paris-Nice, 31st in the Volta a Catalunya and 75th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it marked clear progress.

    The question remains: with many of the Giro riders choosing to miss Romandie, would he have enough time to recover?

    “Okay, it is always a little bit short [doing both],” explained Van Diemen. “But if you can try to avoid too much travelling, too much stress… the trick is to avoid all kinds of obligations. The time available should be used as recuperation time rather than time off the bike doing a lot of other stressful things. There is not much planned [for Christian] before the race, and that...

  • Howard’s form returning in Dunkerque

    Victorian speedster Leigh Howard has been added to Columbia-HTC's line-up from the AIS U23 setup.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 2:12 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian star gets settled back into road season

    While the first stage of 4 Jours de Dunkerque didn’t go exactly to plan for Australia’s Leigh Howard, the neo-professional says he’s starting to find his legs again. Howard contested just a handful or road events earlier in the season, which saw him claim his first professional stage victory at the Tour of Oman, before moving his focus to the UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    After winning the Madison world champion Howard contested one road race, Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, immediately after the worlds before taking a month away from racing. The Victorian returned to competition at Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt at the weekend where he, like all his HTC-Columbia team-mates, failed to finish the event after they were pulled from the race.

    “I’m starting to find my legs again,” Howard wrote on his website, “I felt quite good all day, just stuffed up the last corner and that’s all it took to wreck a whole days work on the bike…maybe tomorrow.”

    “It was all looking good until about 50m before the last corner,” he added. “I glanced left and glanced right and within three seconds I was surrounded by about 30 guys, all trying to get around the same left hand corner and I was staring up the rear end of a Mercedes Vito van. Not the best situation at 65km/h, but I just made it out and by this stage was way too far back to even consider winning the stage.”

    Howard finished 21st on the stage while another track rider, Denmark’s Alex Rasmussen (Team Saxo Bank), won the stage. There’s four stages remaining in the French race which runs through to Sunday.

    After Dunkerque, Howard will contest the Bayern Rundfahrt in Germany later this month before heading to the United States of America, where he’ll contest the Philadelphia International Championship event. When he returns to...

  • Valverde case gets further support

    Alejandro Valverde prepares for the start.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 10:00 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Spanish court backs CONI's use of Puerto evidence

    Madrid's provincial court has ruled that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) was within its rights when, in 2008, it obtained bags of plasma that linked Alejandro Valverde to the Puerto investigation. This ruling follows a similar assessment by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in March.

    The Madrid court that was overseeing the Puerto case had previously ruled that the CONI's actions were "fraudulent". This was primarily because the magistrate overseeing the Puerto case, Antonio Serrano, was on holiday in December 2008 when CONI requested the plasma bags be sent to them for analysis. That court subsequently ruled that any verdict based on this action would be invalid.

    The Madrid provincial court overturned that decision, saying that the CONI's right to assess the Puerto evidence should have been given "wider interpretation". The court added that the CONI "had a legitimate interest" in being involved in the proceedings "as an organisation that has an ultimate say in the direction, control and regulation of cycling under all its forms in both national and international areas".

    The ruling effectively supports the action taken by CONI in banning Valverde from competing on Italian soil until 2011. The organisation has been pushing for that ban to be extended to the rest of the world.

  • Roche out but not down

    Irish Champion Nicholas Roche (AG2R-La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 10:12 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    AG2R rider needs to take three-week break due to injury

    Irish national champion Nicolas Roche has to take three weeks off the bike after an MRI scan on Tuesday showed a torn muscle in his left thigh. The injury comes at a bad time in the season as the AG2R rider achieved good results lately and fine-tuned his form in view of the important stage races of the European summer.

    Roche had to withdraw from the Tour de Romandie last Saturday because of the pain in his thigh, which was now revealed to be more than a tendonitis. "There is nothing much I can do at the moment, except to rest completely," Roche told Cyclingnews from his father's hotel on the Côte d'Azur, where he is staying for a few days after hospital doctors made the diagnosis. "I will do some swimming to keep fit, and later on there will be physiotherapy, but for now, I have to rest."

    Despite this being a real setback in his 2010 season, Roche took the bad news philosophically. "It's not the end of the world. Of course injuries are always annoying, but just look at what happened to Nocentini: he's been off the bike for two months now. I just need to concentrate not to put on any weight - even during the winter, I find it hard to do three weeks without riding."

    Still, the timing of this injury left Roche somewhat disappointed as it will certainly result in a re-shuffling of his racing schedule, possibly even putting his Tour de France participation in jeopardy. But the 25-year-old did not want to think about this now.

    "I'll take this step by step. In two weeks, I will have a second MRI scan to check how the muscle has healed, and then we'll see about my race schedule. It's annoying as this injury came in the lead-up to the Dauphiné and the Tour, so it means that my plans will have to be reviewed.

    "I don't want to panick about the Tour now," he added when asked if he feared not being able to participate in the event. "I still hope to be there, although my hopes for the race may be slightly less...

  • Riders snowed out of exploring Tour de France Pyrenees stages

    Spring time snow for the peloton
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 10:28 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Gesink, Ten Dam, Van den Broeck forced to change plans

    Rabobank has had to cancel plans to explore this year's Tour de France Pyrénées mountain stages, due to bad weather. A heavy snowfall put an end to the idea, with Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jurgen Van den Broeck also having to cancel his plans.

    Robert Gesink and Laurens ten Dam together with directeur sportif Adri van Houwelingen had flown to the mountains to check out the four Pyrenees stages to be faced in July. On Monday, they were able to ride stage 14, from Revel to Ax-3 Domains and checked-out the mountaintop finish. “The two cols, the Port de Palheres and the finish in Ax-3 Domains, were new to Laurens and Robert saw the final climb for the first time,” van Houwelingen said on the team's website.

    The three saw some some snow that day, “but it was not a problem and the passes were open as usual.” Things changed the next morning, however. There was a heavy snowfall overnight, and although they waited for a change in weather, it didn't come. “So we cut the knot and went home. At least the boys can train there.”

    Van den Broeck didn't even make it to France. “Normally Jurgen would leave for France on Thursday with team manger Herman Frison, where they would explore the Pyrenees stages of the Tour de France and stay for six days. But heavy snow in the mountains makes cycling impossible,” according to the team's website.

  • AG2R team doctor reacts to Valjavec

    Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 11:23 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Claims of Slovenian rider "totally unfounded"

    Two days after Tadej Valjavec claimed his innocence in his biological passport case revealed on Monday, the doctor of his AG2R La Mondiale team has denied the Slovenian's claims that his blood values were altered because of an illness.

    On his personal website, Valjavec had claimed he had a certificate regarding his illness and subsequent treatment, but, "a doctor on our team did not do his work. The certificate was not forwarded to the International Cycling Union, which then began proceedings against me."

    AG2R head team doctor Eric Bouvat firmly countered this on Thursday morning, telling Cyclingnews, "Valjavec had better find other explanations for the anomalies in his blood profile. The certificate he talks about does exist, but it was never up to me to forward it to the UCI in the first place. And even if I had done it, it would not have changed anything in the conclusions of the biological passport expert panel."

    Bouvat went on to explain the timeline of events. "Valjavec had to abandon last year's Tour of California because of digestive problems. On his return home, he was examined by a Slovenian doctor who diagnosed his pathology. Valjavec then sent me the certificate of this doctor for my information."

    But contrary to what Valjavec alleged - that Bouvat should have sent this certificate to the UCI - the doctor said that "the UCI does not keep medical records of the riders. We only have to send them the certificates in case the riders have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take a forbidden substance, which was not the case."

    After this, Valjavec was subject to repeated blood controls, and the abnormal blood profile which resulted in the expert panel's final conclusions only showed several weeks afterwards, Bouvat said.

    When Valjavec was notified of the suspected blood manipulation earlier this year, the rider was given the possibility to explain his values to the independent expert panel that...

  • Rossi sees more passport violation cases

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2010, 12:23 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    UCI will focus on micro-dosing and steroids

    The International Cycling Union's new anti-doping manager expects more doping cases under the biological passport programme but is convinced the system is improving and expects cases to be resolved much faster in the future. 

    “We will have new cases but I can’t say to you the timing. You never know when,” Francesca Rossi told the Associated Press. “We are continuously testing (riders) and involving our experts. When, statistically, the case is solid we can proceed.”

    Rossi took over as head of the UCI's anti-doping section in February, taking the place of Anne Gripper. The UCI this week announced that doping charges should be opened against three riders: Franco Pellizotti, Tadej Valjavec and Jesus Rosendo Prado. “It’s the beginning of the story,” Rossi said. “I am sure that in time the procedure is improving and we are going to be faster when we have a case.”

    Before joining the UCI, Rossi worked at the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited lab in Rome, where she helped develop steroid profiling, which will soon be introduced in cycling. “As usual, we will be the first to implement,” Rossi said, highlighting how cycling is at the forefront of the fight against doping.

    The UCI also intends to crack down on “microdosing”, which involves an athlete taking smaller but regular amounts of banned drugs such as EPO. The smaller doses mean that the drug quickly clears from the body and so is far more difficult to detect. BMC rider Thomas Frei, who recently tested postive for EPO, said that he used the microdosing technique.

    “You have to target the rider (for testing) as close as possible to the microdose,” Rossi said. “Everything is really like a chess play. You have to make provision for what is the next move you have to do.”