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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Date published:
April 20, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Volcano strands Arvesen on North Sea oil rig

    Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen makes some last-minute adjustments.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2010, 14:19 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Team Sky rider forced to improvise as he maintains his training

    Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen may have the most unusual travel and cycling experience of all the riders delayed by Volcano Eyjafjallajökul. Last Wednesday he flew by helicopter to an oil rig 200 kilometres off the coast of Norway to give a lecture and spinning demonstration to the workers stationed there, however, the subsequent closure of European airspace prevented his flight home on Thursday.

    "I first realised I was stranded on Thursday morning when we were told no helicopters were flying,” he said on the Team Sky website. “They couldn't use boats to get people on and off because the sea level was 40 metres below the platform and it was too dangerous to dock.”

    Despite the delay, the 35-year-old was able to find ways of continuing his training. "Thankfully they have a lot of equipment out there so it wasn't a problem to fill my time. I kept busy by doing lots more spinning and weight training.”

    He also used the particular characteristics of the rig to his advantage. "I went right down to the bottom of the rig, which is about 155 metres below sea level, and that meant I used thousands of stairs. I did that trip about 10 times so that will definitely have kept me fit.”

    The Sky rider was able to retain his fitness on the oil rig, but also took advantage of the unique opportunity to experience life on the remote station. “It was interesting to see how life works aboard a platform, and I am impressed with the installation. It is a separate community, but with all amenities. There are many clever minds behind such structures. And the people on the platform were very nice," he told the Norwegian website VG Nett.

    The biggest problem for Arvesen was at meal times, as he has to keep his weight down. “There is much good food out there, and it's served 24-hours-a-day. I tried to steer away from the dessert table, but eating was a little consolation for the...

  • Gilbert closes on Sanchez in UCI world rankings

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was on fire in the Amstel Gold Race.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2010, 16:41 BST
    Stephen Farrand and Richard Tyler

    Omega Pharma-Lotto keen to secure Amstel winner until 2012

    Philippe Gilbert's victory at Amstel Gold Race has boosted the Belgian to third in the International Cycling Union's (UCI) latest world rankings, released on Monday. Reports have also emerged that the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider is on the verge of signing a new two-year deal with his current team.

    Gilbert, 27, indicated immediately after his victory on Sunday that top spot in the UCI rankings is an objective for him this season. He moves up from sixth place on the list and now sits just 12 points shy of Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), who retained his number one status despite missing Amstel as a result of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökul volcano.

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) retained his second-placed position in the rankings, but Gilbert's ascension pushed Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) down one spot each.

    Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) were the most significant movers. The Czech leapt from 24th to 13th after a fifth placed finish at Amstel and Hesjedal, who finished second to Gilbert on Sunday, moved from 39th to 16th.

    Omega Pharma-Lotto move to retain their talisman

    Gilbert's upward movement in the individual rankings was mirrored by his team, with Omega Pharma-Lotto now third behind Caisse d'Epargne and Katusha in the UCI's list of team rankings.

    The Belgian squad was the final member of the ProTour to secure its maiden 2010 victory, but according to a report in the La Dernière Heure newspaper on Monday they are expected to confirm a contract extension with the man that broke their eight month win-less streak.

    "Philippe is ready to sign a two-year extension with the team that will last until December 31, 2012," Gilbert's agent, Eddy Billen, told the French language paper.

    When Gilbert joined the team in 2008, he signed a two-year contract with an...

  • Giro favourites warm up in Trentino

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    April 19, 2010, 19:48 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Basso, Pellizotti, Vinokourov and Riccò in action in the Dolomites

    The Giro del Trentino stage race kicks off with a 12.5km time trial on Tuesday, but as usual it will be the mountain stages in the Dolomites that will decide the race and show who is on form for the rapidly approaching Giro d'Italia.

    The 34th edition of the race has one of the strongest fields for years, with Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Riccardo Riccò (Ceramica Flaminia), Jose Rujano (ISD-Neri) and Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) going head-to-head during the four days of racing.

    The Lampre-Farnese Vini team officially announced that Gilberto Simoni had signed with the team on Monday and the Italian veteran will make his debut on home roads at the Giro del Trentino. He may struggle in his first race of the season but got the loudest applause at the pre-race presentation and press conference at Riva del Garda on Monday afternoon.

    "This is my life and it's not easy to close an important chapter on your life. I keep seeing my 25 years of racing as a series of flashbacks in a movie in my mind. But I'm happy to be here and I know it's almost time to call it a day," Simoni said.

    Basso and Pellizotti have only recently returned from a training camp at altitude at Monte Tiede on the island of Tenerife and looked tanned and fit. Basso won the Giro del Trentino last year and the two uphill finishes at San Martino di Castrozza on stage two and to Alpe di Pampeago suit him perfectly. It will be the first indication if he and Pellizotti are coming into form in time for the Giro d'Italia.

    "Last year I rode Trentino for a confirmation of my form and I went on to take an important win. Then I had a good Giro d'Italia but not an excellent one. This time I want to do even better and the minimum I hope for is another win," Basso said before raising a glass of the local Trentino spumante in a toast.

    Pellizotti again accepted the role of outsider: "I'm not often...

  • Contador arrives for Ardennes after marathon journey from Spain

    Alberto Contador has his Audi wrapped with his personal logo and web site.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2010, 20:11 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Tour winner scopes Flèche course ahead of 2010 Classics debut

    Alberto Contador (Astana) has arrived in Belgium for the Ardennes Classics after a 1900 kilometre drive from central Spain.

    Contador won the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon on Sunday afternoon and then set off by car with Astana teammates Oscar Pereiro, Josep Jufre, Benjamin Noval and Gorazd Stangelj.

    They had originally planned to catch a high-speed train from Pau to Paris, but Contador and Noval opted to do the entire journey by car with Fran Contador, Alberto's brother, behind the wheel. They managed to cross the Pyrenees on Sunday night and arrived in Poitiers, central France, where they slept for a few hours. They eventually reached Liège at 3:00p.m. on Monday afternoon, after almost 24-hours of travelling.

    Pereiro, Jufre and Stangelj took an afternoon train on Monday and will be picked up by an Astana team car for the final portion of the journey Liège.

    Contador went for a short ride on arrival, doing 30 kilometres on some of the route of Liège-Bastogne–Liège with several local riders. Noval opted to ride on the rollers. The whole team will study the route for Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne on Tuesday.

    "It has been a hard journey, but we have done it relatively comfortably and fast," said Contador. "In the end we were right not to take the train because it was really full of people, as our teammates have told us. It wasn't an advantage."

  • ASO to respect procedures on Valverde

    Alejandro Valverde won the 2008 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
    Article published:
    April 19, 2010, 20:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard allowed to race Ardennes Classics despite doping case

    The Amaury Sport Organisation, organizer of the Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège Classics, has stated that it will respect the process which is underway regarding Spaniard Alejandro Valverde's doping ban in Italy and alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto. However, ASO will not block his participation in both races this week.

    Race director Christian Prudhomme told AFP,  "Sure it has been a long time and we would like to see things move faster. It has been five seasons since the Puerto affair poisoned cycling."

    News reports linking Valverde to the Spanish doping scandal surfaced in 2007 when his name was said to be coded as 'Valv.Piti' and '18' in the dossier of evidence collected by the Spanish Civil Guard in May, 2006.

    The case was repeatedly blocked by the Spanish judge, who ruled that activities which took place in the Madrid clinic of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes were not in violation of Spanish law at the time. He also ruled that the evidence, some 100 bags of blood as well as paperwork and doping products, could not be used by any outside agency to impose punishment on the athletes.

    That did not stop the CONI's (Italian Olympic Committee) anti-doping prosecutor from obtaining the evidence in December, 2008 and matching the blood evidence to samples taken from Valverde during the Italian stages of the 2008 Tour de France.

    The bag coded 18 was found to have traces of the banned blood booster EPO, which led the Italian authorities to pursue the case as a doping offense.

    CONI handed Valverde a two-year ban from racing on Italian soil, the maximum penalty possible within its jurisdiction. The move prevented him from racing in the 2009 Tour de France, which crossed over the...

  • Rock Racing leads Vuelta Mexico team GC

    Rock's not dead afterall!
    Article published:
    April 19, 2010, 21:23 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Sevilla's search for a professional contract continues

    The Mexico-based Rock Racing team took the early lead in the overall team classification at the Vuelta Mexico Telmex that kicked off in Veracruz on Sunday. The amateur level elite squad is anything but that, however, fielding a fleet of former Tour de France contenders Oscar Sevilla, Victor Hugo Pena and Francisco Mancebo.

    "In the end I decided to compete with Rock [Racing] at this race because I hope that it might find a sponsor," Sevilla told Cyclingnews. "We have a great group of guys and together we are leading the overall team. It is not just for the sponsor, we hope to have a very good race here with a strong team of Mancebo, Sarabia and all the guys. I hope to do well in the mountains here, maybe find some support for Rock Racing but if not, I hope to look for a team to compete with for the rest of the year."

    There are 20 teams registered to participate, including Rock Racing who has registered eight riders. Four of those are Sevilla and Mancebo from Spain, Pena from Colombia and Glen Chadwick from New Zealand. The squad added Carlos Alzate from Colombia and three Mexican riders Ignacio Sarabia, Luis Fernando Macias and Juan Pablo Magallanes.

    Sevilla competed for the team in 2008 and ‘09. However, this year, the International Cycling Union (UCI) denied the team the Professional Continental and Continental licenses that it requested. He now hopes of find a professional team to race for this year.

    The Vuelta Mexico Telmex kicked off on April 18 in Veracruz and will conclude on April 25 in Mexico City. It is a UCI 2.2 sanctioned event that is notorious for showcasing tough terrain and lengthy stages.

    "This Vuelta this very hard and has many strong riders, mainly the Colombians and the rider [Georgio] Ladino," Sevilla said. "The race is also very mountainous so, I hope to make a good position final and to win some stages. Last week I won a race in Columbia so I am feeling very good. But, I am tired...

  • Liquigas unleashes Cimolai and Viviani

    Elia Viviani (Liquigas) won stage 7 of the Tour of Turkey.
    Article published:
    April 20, 2010, 0:44 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Italian youth stocks on show at the Tour of Turkey

    The Liquigas-Doimo team again displayed its expertise in scouting and developing young talent, with two new names emerging at the Presidential Tour of Turkey. Davide Cimolai finished second to André Greipel on stage six in Finike and Elia Viviani took stage seven in Antalya.

    Questioned at the beginning of the 'Tur' about the developing riders he had seen emerging this year, Giovanni Visconti was prompt to answer: "Oh! The young guys from Liquigas." He named Daniel Oss, seen excelling in this year's Gent-Wevelgem (fifth) and Slovakia's Peter Sagan, who won two stages of Paris-Nice at the age of 20.

    On his way to Alanya, Visconti, the eventual winner of the Turkish event got to know two more recruits of the team managed by Roberto Amadio. He even had some bad words about the way Viviani prevented him from winning stage seven although the next day he apologised to his young compatriot.

    "I shouldn't have been pissed off," Visconti admitted. "I got too emotional because I always want to win when there is an opportunity and I wanted the time bonus too because my lead on general classification wasn't that big. But I was wrong, I'm sorry." For his part, Viviani was relieved when the controversy with Visconti was sorted. "I'm a fan of his!," said the 21-year-old from Verona.

    The Tour of Turkey was Viviani's first race with his new pro team after spending three months with the U23 Italian national team - he won a stage at the Tour of Cuba in February - in preparation for the track world championships from which he returned empty handed. "Liquigas is a team that provides space for young riders," he explained. "Once our sprinter Francesco Chicchi pulled out, Cimolai and I were given total freedom to try and get results."

    Cimolai also comes from a track cycling background but his focus is fully on the road now. In contrast to Viviani, the man from Fontana Fredda - the same village in Friuli from which 1920s legend Ottavio...