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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, September 30, 2010

Date published:
September 30, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Florence to host 2013 road world championships

    Italian Cycling Federation boss Renato Di Rocco (l)
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 10:26 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Worlds come to Tuscany for first time

    Florence will host the 2013 world road championships. The UCI Management Committee announced the awarding of the event to the Italian city after a meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday.

    “It’s a victory for Italian cycling,” said the president of the Italian Cycling Federation Renato di Rocco. “It’s a victory for Tuscany’s great cycling tradition. It’s a victory for Franco Ballerini. It’s a victory for the great sage Alfredo Martini.”

    Remarkably, it will be the first time that the Worlds will take place in Tuscany, one of the heartlands of Italian cycling. While the finish in Florence will provide a spectacular centrepiece to the event, nearby towns of Lucca, Montecatini Terme and Pistoia will also host part of the week of racing.

    “The organising committee, together with the local councils, have put together a winning project that brings together the beauty of the area and the hardship of cycling,” Di Rocco said.

    The Florentine bid beat off opposition from Ponferrada in Spain and Hooglede-Gits in Belgium to host the Worlds. Genoa also submitted its candidature to the UCI, but without the support of either the Italian Cycling Federation or the Italian Olympic Committee, the Ligurian city’s bid was defeated, as had been the case in 2009.

    The UCI Management Committee also awarded the 2012 Mountain Bike and Trials world championships to Leogang-Saalfelden in Austria, the 2010 track Para-cycling world championships to Montichiari in Italy after they were cancelled in Cali, Colombia,  and the 2011 and 2012 track Para-cycling world championships to Los Angeles.

  • Lim and Livingston set for grand jury hearing on Wednesday

    Radioshack's Allen Lim checks his messages
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 10:50 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Armstrong’s former teammate and physiologist next to face questioning

    Lance Armstrong’s former teammate Kevin Livingston and current physiologist Allen Lim are expected to testify before a grand jury in Los Angeles on Wednesday according to a report by the Associated Press news agency.

    The testimonies are part of an on-going investigation headed by the former BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky into possible doping and financial fraud at the state-funded US- Postal Service team that was captained by Lance Armstrong.

    Livingston was part of Armstrong's Tour de France winning team in both 1999 and 2000. He is still close to the Texan and now works as a coach, based in Armstrong’s Mellow Jonny’s bike shop in Austin.

    Lim began working with Armstrong at the RadioShack team this year after working with the Garmin team for several seasons. He previously worked with Floyd Landis, who claimed Lim helped him dope during his professional career. Lim has always denied the accusations.

    Lim refused to confirm he will appear in front of a grand jury appearance, but told "I am cooperating with the federal investigation and look forward to setting the record straight. When I worked with Floyd, I repeatedly told him that he didn't need to dope and should not dope, and I was absolutely not hired to help him to do so. Since then, I've spent my career promoting clean sport and keeping innumerable athletes from cheating, as well as assisting in catching those who are."

    Lim and Livingston are the latest people called to testify in the on-going investigation headed by the former BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky. Last week Stephanie McIlvain spent seven hours testifying before the grand jury in Los Angeles.

    McIlvain, who worked as a representative for the Oakley sunglasses company, was present in the hospital room where Armstrong was being treated for cancer in 1996, when former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy claim the cyclist told doctors he used performance-enhancing...

  • Boonen set for Circuit Franco-Belge comeback

    Belgian star Tom Boonen is interviewed before the start.
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 12:19 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian returns from knee injury

    Tom Boonen will make his long-anticipated return to racing at the Circuit Franco-Belge stage race, which starts on Thursday. The Belgian Quick Step rider has been out of action since June with a knee ligament injury.

    “I’m looking forward to being back in the peloton again,” Boonen told RTBF. “I’ve been able to train well in the last two weeks, with long and intense sessions in Monaco. My knee is good, my morale is good and I’m very motivated.”

    Boonen’s knee problems began in the spring and were compounded by crashes at the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse that forced him out of the Tour de France. He underwent knee surgery on July 15 but his initial hopes of returning in time to ride the world championships were dashed as the scale of the rehabilitation process became apparent. Ultimately, Boonen was only able recommence full training at the beginning of September.

    “Obviously the pace during a race is different from what it is during training, so the four stages of Circuit Franco-Belge will be important most of all to get acclimated with competitions again,” he explained. “I hope I’ll be able to race smoothly, with no accidents involved.”

    Boonen is just one of a number of big names on show at the four-day Circuit Franco-Belge, which gets under way in Templeuve, France on Thursday and finishes on Belgian roads in Tournai on Sunday.

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) has his first competitive outing since his controversial exclusion from the Vuelta a España for late night drinking, while fellow Tour de France stars Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) will also be present.

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), who were each disappointed to miss out on Worlds selection, will be to the fore in the sprints, while Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil) will have a rare...

  • Schleck hopes for world championship success

    Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) is Luxembourg national champion.
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 12:48 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Luxembourg leader quietly optimistic despite three-rider team

    Fränk Schleck believes he and his Luxembourg team can pull off a result in the men’s road race on Sunday despite facing a numerical disadvantage. Schleck, who finished fifth in the recent Vuelta, will lead just a three-man squad including Saxo Bank teammate Laurent Didier and Ben Gastauer of AG2R.

    “I finished the Vuelta with some good form,” Schleck, who finished fourth in the 2007 Worlds, told Cyclingnews.

    “I took it easy last week, had two long rides and then flew over. I needed that rest just to prepare for the race mentally but I’m motivated for this race because it’s a long way to come just to ride around. I’m not going to say I can win but I want to do a good result.”

    Since arriving in Geelong, Schleck has ridden the road race course along with his two teammates. After being initially sceptical of his chances, he now believes that the steepness of the climb could play into his hands if the race comes down to a war of attrition.

    “Everyone told me it was going to be warm over here but it has been raining and wet so far with a lot of wind. Apart from that everything is fine. We checked out the course. It’s hard. A couple of months ago everyone said it was for the sprinters but it’s going go be too hard for them. If you can recall Stuttgart (in 2007), it’s going to be even harder than that.”

    Schleck is experienced enough to know that predictions can count for little at the world championships, as national teams and different trade team leaders come together for just one day in a bid to take home the coveted rainbow jersey.

    “It’s going to be very difficult in terms of predicting what will happen,” he said. “The race will be decided on the last lap. I can’t see a group of five or six going clear though. Big leaders never work together so we could see a group of 15 to 20 riders move clear with...

  • Monaco Federation confirms Rebellin’s doping ban

    Davide Rebellin in action during the 2008 Olympic road race.
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 16:06 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian suspended until April 2011 for Olympic CERA positive

    The Monaco Cycling Federation has confirmed Davide Rebellin’s suspension for doping. Rebellin has been banned from competition for two years after testing positive for the banned blood booster CERA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    The 39-year-old Italian has always denied doping and has fought the ban all the way. However, he lost an appeal to the Court for Arbitration for Sport in July and the Monaco Cycling Federation has now formalised his ban. Because Rebellin’s positive for CERA was only announced in April 2009 and he stopped racing immediately, his ban will end on April 27, 2011.

    Rebellin hails from San Bonifacio near Verona, Italy but was suspended by the Monaco Cycling Federation because he was a resident in the tax haven and raced with a Monaco licence. He will be almost 40 when his suspension ends but has always said he will try to make a comeback.

    During his career Rebellin won many of the hilly one-day classics on the calendar. In 2004 he completed an unprecedented and unrepeated hat trick of victories in the Ardennes classics, winning Amstel Gold Race, Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the same week.

    Rebellin will go down in history as the first Italian Olympic medal winner to ever fail a drug test.

    The International Olympic Committee has already announced it will give Rebellin’s silver medal to Fabian Cancellara, who finished third in Beijing behind Spain’s Samuel Sanchez and Rebellin. Fourth-place finisher Alexander Kolobnev of Russia will move up to the bronze medal position.

  • Bettini hopes attention to detail will pay off for Italy

    Italian manager Paolo Bettini before the start of the race
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 18:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian coach selects his racers' gears after riding the course

    For Paolo Bettini, the devil is in the detail. And he is hoping some tiny but important details can help the Italian men's team win another rainbow jersey in the road race on Sunday.

    Bettini took over the high-pressure role of Italian national coach from the late Franco Ballerini in June but has been working hard to ensure he continues Ballerini's impressive record of success.

    Bettini traveled to Australia in July to carefully study the course of the road race world championships. Seeing the two climbs on the Geelong circuit convinced him to leave sprinter Daniele Bennati at home and select a more aggressive team that will try to eliminate the likes of Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire before the finish.

    In Australia, Bettini is the first person down at breakfast in the morning and the last to go to bed in the evening. Nothing seems to escape his attention to detail, even if he feels like a babysitter as much as a coach.

    "If I was a pain in the backside as a rider, then these guys are even worse," he joked to Gazzetta dello Sport about his riders.

    "I knew part of the job when I used to race. Now I'm discovering the other part. I realise that we've got to organise things so that the riders' day goes smoothly, without any kind of problem."

    Bettini has been out training with his riders several times in Australia and even went out alone in the rain on Monday, to study the course one last time on the bike and to reflect on his race strategy for Sunday.

    "Riding my bike helps me think. I've made a lot of decisions about my career and my life while out on the bike on my own. While I was riding I also noticed a few details about the course that I hadn't seen before."

    One is the gears that the Italian riders will have on their bikes for the race and for the slightly uphill finish.

    "The riders who will have to be up there in the finale and for the sprint (Pozzato, Visconti and...

  • Kessiakoff leaves Garmin for Astana

    Fredrik Kessiakoff (Garmin - Transitions)
    Article published:
    September 29, 2010, 20:49 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Swede gains two-year deal

    Swede Fredrik Kessiakoff has signed a two-year contract with the Astana team, leaving Garmin-Transitions after one year with the American squad.

    The 30-year-old former mountain bike racer made the switch to a full-time road programme with Fuji-Servetto in 2009, catching the eye of Garmin's manager Jonathan Vaughters at the Tour of the Basque Country, where he placed eighth on the queen stage, and the Tour de Romandie where he finished ninth overall.

    He inked a deal through the end of 2011 with Garmin, but had a rough transition, suffering from injuries and fatigue this season and having little luck getting results.

    "I had to undergo a massive adaption, going from what I had been doing to a full ProTour career, and I am still learning what it takes," Kessiakoff told Cyclingnews.

    "It was a mutual decision between me and the team. When Cervelo and Garmin came together, I was given the opportunity to leave the team - they needed to free up spots for the incoming riders, and I felt it was their way of saying that they weren't interested in keeping me."

    After looking for teams at the same level, Kessiakoff was happy to be offered a two-year contract at Astana. While he will now be a competitor he still hopes to stay in touch with his former teammates.

    "I will still be based in Girona, and I still consider them friends," he said.

    Next season he will aim to get back to his normal level and focus on the Giro d'Italia, which he said would be a major goal for the team.

  • Alberto Contador tests positive for clenbuterol

    Article published:
    September 30, 2010, 0:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Tour de France test carried out on July 21, Spaniard blames food contamination

    Alberto Contador has revealed he has failed an anti-doping test for the banned substance clenbuterol during this year's Tour de France.

    Contador won the Tour de France for a third time in July, beating Andy Schleck by 39 seconds.

    The doping control in question was carried on July 21 during the second rest of the Tour in Pau, in the Pyrenees. The day after, Contador set up overall victory by finishing in the same time as Schleck at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet.

    A message issued by Contador's personal press officer said Contador had been a victim of food contamination and would give a press conference in his home town of Pinto, near Madrid at mid-day on Thursday.

    "Alberto Contador is affected by a doping control at the last Tour de France on July 21, where it was found the substance clenbuterol," the automatically translated message reads.

    "From the time of the first communication from the UCI, August 24, Alberto Contador alleged food contamination as the only possible explanation of what happened and has been turned over to the cyclist authorities since then in the confidence that this very serious problem could be clarified, which now is public."

    "The experts consulted so far have agreed also that this is a food contamination case, especially considering the number of tests passed by Alberto Contador during the Tour de France, making it possible to define precisely both the time the emergence of the substance as the tiny amount detected, ruling out any other source or intentionality."

    "Alberto Contador will offer today, 30 September, at 12.00 hours, a Press Conference at Hotel Las Artes in Pinto (Paseo de las Artes, n º 15), in order to give his version of what happened to the public."

    Contador rode for the Astana team this year but joined Bjarne...