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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Date published:
February 05, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Armstrong unlikely to repay Tour de France bonus money

    Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong in the good old days
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 0:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    "Money was paid to Tailwind, not Armstrong," says lawyer

    After years of denying having used performance-enhancing drugs to win his seven Tours de France, Lance Armstrong finally came clean. Within the opening minute of his interview with Oprah Winfrey, the entire world heard the news they had waited to hear: he cheated to win. However, admitting to using a range of doping substances to win his Tour titles doesn't mean he will be paying back any of the bonus money he received from his history-making career, according  to his lawyer Tim Herman.

    According to a report by the BBC Sport late last year, Armstrong stood to lose $7.5 million after SCA Promotions - the company that insured US Postal and Discovery Channel's management company Tailwind Sports - announced they would seek a "return of funds". Coupled with the Texan's $3.9 million in Tour de France prize money, many thought a large pay check would have to be sent to SCA and Tour organisers ASO. Not so, says Herman.

    "My only point is no athlete ever, to my understanding, has ever gone back and paid back his compensation," Herman told USA Today. "Not (New Orleans Saints coach) Sean Payton or anybody else. They were suspended, but nobody said you've got to give your paycheck back."

    Armstrong had been stripped of his Grand Boucle titles in the aftermath of USADA's damning report into doping at the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams and was subsequently banned for life by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and the sport's governing body, UCI. Even with his recent admissions and willingness to assist with the proposed truth and reconciliation commission Herman says it's unlikely Armstrong will...

  • Tour de Perth organiser takes global approach to lure teams

    Rottnest Island, host to the 2013 Tour de Perth
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 1:13 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Significant financial support for rebooted NRS event

    Organisers of the new Australian National Road Series opener the Tour de Perth are taking a global approach to the running of the April event, gaining the support of locally-based mining giant Woodside Petroleum as naming rights sponsor and additional support from retailer, Target.

    The Tour de Perth will kick off the NRS on April 11, with a 20km individual time trial taking around Rottnest Island. April 13 will see a tough double-header starting with a 120km road race around the Perth Hills, followed by a one-hour criterium in Kalamunda Town Centre. The Tour concludes on April 14 with a 112km road race in central Perth and Kings Park.

    In 2013, the NRS is very much a national competition, with events taking place in all states and territories with the exception of the Northern Territory. While on paper, the expansion of the series is a good thing, there have been rumblings of concern from east coast-based teams that the costs of transporting riders, staff and equipment to the other side of the country makes the trip prohibitive. It's an issue that Tour de Perth organiser Craig Smith-Gander confronted head-on.

    "I recognise that it's a long way to come to Perth," he told Cyclingnews. "It's always an issue as an event owner in Western Australia that people have to come across the Nullabor. When it's going the other way, West Australians understand it - we travel all the time.

    "We're going out of our way to have a really good prize pool - which is much better than any comparable race in Australia, have accommodation and motor vehicles thrown in which will make it easier on their budgets."

    Teams will be provided with transportation from the moment they reach the airport in Perth and as a "worst case scenario" accommodation will be heavily subsidised by CIC Events.

    "Hertz has sponsored all of the events we've...

  • Huffman makes professional debut at Tour of Qatar

    American Evan Huffman is among Astana's new arrivals in 2013.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 2:08 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    An American at Astana

    In bygone eras, professional debuts took place in the frigid February air of southern France or perhaps in the watery sunshine of Andalusia, rather than in the sparse expanses of the Qatari desert, but the fundamental concerns of the neo-pro have remained unchanged amid cycling's ongoing process of globalisation.

    When Evan Huffman lined up for Astana on stage one of the Tour of Qatar on Sunday, he carried with him many of the same fears and hopes of debutants from generations past. As he timidly negotiated his way through the peloton, brushing shoulders with its heads of state, Huffman admitted that he sometimes felt out of place. That evening, his roommate Dmitriy Muravyev gently reminded him not to allow such inhibitions to calcify.

    "I still feel kind of like a fan in a way, and I'm like, 'wow, look at this rider, look at Cavendish,' and I need to think of myself as one of them now and act like more of a pro," Huffman told Cyclingnews on the afternoon after the day before. "That was my problem yesterday, I was riding so far back and I was a little bit intimidated by everybody. I need to step it up a little in the next few days.

    "I should have been a little more aggressive in positioning myself. I'm obviously not one of the best guys here but I'm feeling strong and I think I can certainly help my teammates a little bit near the front so I need to be more assertive. That's classic Huffman, that's how I've always been."

    All new professionals are thrown into the deep end at one point or another, but Huffman had originally been slated to enter the fray only in late February in Italy, before a spate of knee injuries in the Astana squad last month meant that the Californian was a late addition to the roster for the Tours of Qatar and...

  • Perfect execution lands Howard on top step at Trofeo Migjorn

    First win for Orica GreenEdge in Europe for 2013 - Leigh Howard takes out the Trofeo Migjorn
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 4:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Finish-line preview gives Orica GreenEdge advantage in final

    Orica GreenEdge wasted no time in bouncing back from yesterday's lack of results at Trofeo Palma by taking out the second race at the Challenge Mallorca with Leigh Howard at Trofeo Migjorn. The team's protected sprinter was once again Howard but this time there would be no mistakes in the finale.

    Howard and his sports directors Neil Stephens and recently retired professional Julian Dean previewed the finishing kilometers of the 167km race to ensure the team hit the front at the right time. The team demonstrated their strength in the prior day's race but committed to controlling the front much too early. By the time the sprint opened up Howard was essentially isolated.

    This time however, Howard and the team knew exactly what to expect in the finale and with two corners coming in the final 300m, position was crucial. The team worked perfectly to drop Howard and his lead-out man Mitch Docker into the perfect spot and Howard was left to finish the job - pipping Garmin Sharp's Tyler Farrar and José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) to second and third respectively.

    "We knew it would be a crazy, hectic and potentially dangerous sprint," explained Howard at the finish. "I'm glad we had the preview. It allowed us to formulate a plan that we stuck to it almost to a T. I came out on top because everyone did their jobs. The team has given me a great opportunity here and put a lot of faith in me. It's nice to repay them."

    It was a significant improvement for the team's second European race of the year with Christian Meier picking up the most aggressive award for his...

  • Doubts over health standards used by Puerto defendants

    Eufemiano Fuentes was at the center of Operacion Puerto
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 9:01 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    "They were transporting blood in cool bags for the beach"

    The officer who led the investigation into the Operación Puerto blood doping ring has said some of the five defendants on trial for a crime against public health did not adhere to "existing regulations" when they were transporting blood. Giving evidence as the Puerto trial in Madrid went into its second week, the former lieutenant and now captain in the Guardia Civil said that, "they used to transport blood with cool bags of the type used for going to the beach, packing them with bottles of Coca-Cola in order to keep them cool."

    The officer went on to outline the lack of precautions taken by some of the defendants, including Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, when storing blood intended for future transfusions. "There were bags of blood [in Fuentes's Madrid apartment] in Alonso Cano that were kept in the freezer section of a fridge that didn't have any temperature gauge fitted," he said. He added: "The blood bags from División Azul [Fuentes's second Madrid apartment] were kept there for days and days without anyone entering the apartment."

    He went on to explain that one of the fridge freezers in the División Azul apartment did have a temperature gauge fitted, but lacked any back-up system in the event of a power outage. When asked last week whether there was any way that he could guarantee blood was stored at a stable temperature, Fuentes declined to answer.

    According to the officer, the paperwork seized when raids were carried out on these and other properties was not in order. He continued by saying that the investigating team did not find any documentation that enabled them to link the blood donors with their blood bags. He added that neither Fuentes nor José Luis Merino Batres, the haematologist who carried out most of the transfusions, had a list with the names of the athletes they were treating.

    Asked whether he was able to provide the names of athletes who had met with Fuentes and Merino Batres, the officer...

  • Movistar close to the mark at Challenge Mallorca

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) worked for the team's sprinter during Trofeo Palma
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 10:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    Podium spot for Rojas at Migjorn, Valverde building for Tour de France

    Entering the second month of the New Year and the Movistar squad is actively hunting its first win in Spain. The team came close with its sprinter José Joaquín Rojas at yesterday’s Trofeo Migjorn, taking the final podium spot but it’s the early season victory that often serves to set the tone for the opening races of the year.

    Around this time last season Alejandro Valverde was winning a stage in Australia at the Tour Down Under and would have won the overall, if not for Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) taking the title on count-back. With a full season of racing behind him - after serving time away from the competition for anti-doping infringements - the former Vuelta a España winner can enjoy a slower start to the year.

    Valverede’s teammates however, have been full-tilt at the four-day event and have once again demonstrated the strength of the squad as a whole. The team finished with two riders in the top-ten at the opening round’s Trofeo Palma before placing three inside the top-six at Migjorn. Those who raced Migjorn, including Rojas and new recruit Alex Dowsett voiced their motivation to get the first victory run on the board soon.

    "First podium of the year with a great work by the entire Movistar Team, thank you and the first [win] will come soon," Rojas said on Twitter.

    "Good day today, got a bit excited in the lead out and cooked myself a touch early. @ jjrojillas 3rd though, happy days #onwardsandupwards," Dowsett tweeted.

    Valverde decided to sit out the...

  • Gallery: Team Colombia prepare for season debut

    This kind of climbing is easy
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 13:44 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    The Escarabajos to start 2013 at the Tour Mediterranèen

    Team Colombia has been preparing for its 2013 season debut at the Tour Mediterranèen on February 6, with a training camp in the Italian Dolomites.

    The team of talented Colombian climbers gathered in Arco last week, a few days after the young Colombian riders in the squad arrived in Italy. For some of the riders the cold and even snowy conditions were a shock to the system but with a wild card invitation to the Giro d'Italia already secured and with hopes of riding the Ardennes Classics, the have plenty of races to aim for.

    Last year the 'Escarabajos' (the Beatles) won six races, including the mountain stage of the Giro del Trentino with Darwin Atapuma and the Coppa Sabatini with Fabio Duarte. Both riders have stayed with the team for 2013 and Italian team manager Claudio Corti has signed Leonardo Duque from Cofidis and brought in six more talented young Colombians.

    The riders showed off the new jersey and the new Wilier Triestina bikes at the get together and studied the Sega di Ala climb that will be climbed on the final day of this year's Giro del Trentino and the Mori-Polsa climb that will host the mountain time trial in this year's Giro d’Italia. The team also hopes to secure an invitation to the Tour of Poland WorldTour race in the summer, which starts in the Dolomites.

    “The Dolomites is a perfect place to train for us because there are plenty of hard climbs and we found the course of both these two races very demanding and challenging." Atapuma said.

 “The Polsa climb is quite constant and so in some ways pretty similar to the ones we have in Colombia. I immediately felt good on it."

    Colombia General manager Claudio Corti has an 18-rider roster for 2013,...

  • Cavendish downplays Milan-San Remo chances

    Stage 1 winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2013, 15:57 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian classic “not a big priority” says 2009 winner

    A brace of early-season sprint victories is normally enough to nudge a rider towards the top of the list of favourites for Milan-San Remo but Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) moved to downplay his chances of triumphing at La Classicissima for the second time when he spoke to reporters at the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday.

    During pre-season training in Calpe, Cavendish had already made known his belief that the pace on the climb of Le Manie severely limits his chances of repeating his 2009 victory in Milan-San Remo, and he reiterated those thoughts after sprinting to victory on stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar.

    “I’m not looking forward to Milan-San Remo. I’ve written it off for the last month, it’s not really a race for me anymore,” Cavendish said. “It’s not a big priority for me anymore. I’ll race it but it’s not a big objective at the beginning of the year, it’s too difficult.”

    Of course, it’s worth noting that Cavendish made similar protestations ahead of his debut in 2009, citing his inexperience over the distance, before popping up with the win on the Lungomare Italo Calvino.

    However, on Tuesday Cavendish expressed his wish simply to win consistently between now and the Tour de France, and “to be successful there.” Perhaps after building his last two seasons around very specific objectives with the British national team – the 2011 world championships in Copenhagen and the London 2012 Olympics – Cavendish is keen to enjoy his victories as they come rather than as a means to some far-off end. In any case, he declared himself pleased with his condition after descending from the podium in Mesaieed.

    “I’m incredibly light, even lighter than I was this time last year,”...