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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Date published:
January 22, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Fireworks at the Tour de San Luis team presentation

    Contador hands over the new Saxo-Tinkoff jersey
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 12:20 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Cavendish, Contador, Nibali ready for season debut in Argentina

    The 2013 Tour de San Luis starts today and the local population was treated to an impressive teams' presentation on Sunday night that included a firework display and a warm welcome for the teams and riders set to take part in the seven-day Argentinean stage race.

    Around 4,000 cycling fans turned out for the late night extravaganza which was televised live, and showcased live music. It was testament to the growing nature of this race and its improved profile in the UCI calendar with Mark Cavendish, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali all receiving huge applause.

    The event took place at the grand, if a little remote, Independence Hall, which was built in 2010, as a bicentennial honour of Argentina's independence from Spain in 1810. The structure is a replica of an important government building in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, where independence from Europe power and talk of sovereignty were cooked up.

    While Contador and his WorldTour companions attracted the attention of the international media it was the San Luis Somos Todos team who received the warmest cheers from the partisan crowd. The eight-man team comprise of seven Argentine riders and one Chilean, however they represent the cream of local cycling and were allocated the final, headlining slot, as teams were brought on stage in quick succession.

    The race kicks off on Monday with a 164 kilometre stage from San Luis to Villa Mercedes, with the sprinters expected to shine.

  • Report: Belgian Federation to investigate Dr. Leinders

    Dr Geert Leinders
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 13:14 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Rabobank team doctor said to have facilitated doping at Dutch team

    The Belgian Cycling Federation will open an investigation into the former Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders, according to Dutch media reports. Leinders is alleged to have helped several riders to dope.

    Leinders worked for Rabobank from 1996 to 2009. Recent reports have indicated that team doping started at the Dutch team as far back as 1996. Leinders went on to work part-time for Team Sky in 2011, and this fall it was announced that his contract with the British team would not be renewed.

    According to, the Belgian Federation had been following the stories of Leinders and doping, but did not take action until comments from former rider Danny Nelissen this weekend, who specifically named the Belgian doctor.

    Amongst his comments, Nelissen said, “I never had to spend a cent for EPO. That was arranged by team doctor Leinders,” adding, “You had to have shots, and it was nice that someone else would do that for you.”

    Levi Leipheimer is also said to have named Leinders in his affidavit attached to the USADA's 'Reasoned Decision' in the Lance Armstrong and US Postal Service Team investigation.

    Leipheimer rode for Rabobank from 2002 to 2004, and according to, said: “I continued to use EPO while with Rabobank in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was also assisted by the Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders, from whom I purchased EPO.”

    The name of the doctor was originally blacked out in the publicly released version of the document.

    UPDATE: The Belgian Cycling Federation today released a statement confirming their investigation of Leinders. "Dr. Geert Leinders was invited last week to come in for questioning by the Federal Prosecutor on January 24 at 2:00 p.m.,"...

  • Van Garderen downplays expectations at San Luis

    Tejay van Garderen was the best young rider in the Tour de France in 2012
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 15:00 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    BMC rider says he won't put himself under pressure

    Tejay van Garderen was quick to play down his chances for overall success at the 2013 Tour de San Luis, despite Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali both labelling the American as the pre-race favourite.

    Van Garderen, who was fifth in last year's Tour de France, and who stands a chance of leading BMC come July, spoke to Cyclingnews at the teams' presentation in San Luis, saying that despite a favourable parcours there would be no pressure from the team to secure the overall.

    "I've had a good winter of training but when I travelled to Belgium last week for BMC's team presentation, and then here to Argentina, I picked up a bit of a bug. With that to deal with in the last couple of weeks I've been a bit jumbled, but I'm happy with how I'm going into the season," he told Cyclingnews.

    Upon being told of Contador's and Nibali's prediction, he said, "We'll see. Like I said, with the travel and the bug I've had I'm not going to put myself under further pressure."

    Part of his rivals' predictions come from the fact that stage 4 is a 19.2 kilometre time trial, and while there are a number of quality time trialists in the field, van Garderen is perhaps one of the few who can cope with the climbing talent in the race. Last year Levi Leipheimer cemented his overall win with a dogged set of performances in the hills and a win in the time trial.

    "Well I want to do well in the TT but in terms of the overall form coming into the race and trying to win it, I...

  • Anne Gripper describes Armstrong as a pathological liar

    Anne Gripper spearheads the biological passport.
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 16:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former head of UCI anti-doping claims he was clean in 2009

    Lance Armstrong's partial confession to doping during his interview with Oprah Winfrey sparked varied reactions and comment but one of the harshest has come from Anne Gripper -the former head of anti-doping at the UCI, who has described the disgraced Texan as "a pathological liar."

    Armstrong said he hopes to return to competition but Gripper, now the head of Triathlon Australia, said there was no place for Armstrong in her sport.

    "If he was just a drug cheat, I always believe you should do a sanction and have the right to come back to the sport,'' Gripper told the AAP in Australia.

    "He's not a drug cheat - he's a bully, he's a manipulator, he's been incredibly unfair to a whole lot of people and he's a dead-set liar."

    ''(He's) not a single, one-off liar, he's a pathological liar. I don't want those people in our sport.''

    Armstrong claimed he raced clean in 2009 when he made a comeback, after promising his former wife Kristin that he would never "cross the line". Gripper, who managed the UCI's Biological Passport programme until 2010, insisted there was nothing unusual with his blood profile at the time. She believes the Biological Passport has greatly cleaned up cycling.

    "The big one was always Lance - I always knew the sport could never, never really move forward until the festering bubble that was 'did he or didn't he?' ... had been fully exposed,'' she said.

    "The 2011 Tour de France was a bit of a landmark ... the fact that Cadel (Evans) won, that was the cherry on top of the cake,'' she said. "But there were all sorts of other things that happened in that Tour ... to indicate a much more level playing field.''

    Gripper left the UCI for personal reasons. The international governing body has been accused...

  • Philadelphia's Keystone Open canceled for 2013

    With the cancellation of both the TD Bank International Cycling Championship and the inaugural Keystone Open, there will be no UCI-sanctioned road racing in Philadelphia for 2013.
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 17:25 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Men's, women's UCI races "not financially feasible" said organisers

    Organizers of the inaugural Keystone Open in Philadelphia confirmed today that they have canceled their men's and women's UCI-sanctioned NRC race in July because they determined the event is not financially viable this year.

    "After consulting with the City of Philadelphia, we informed [USA Cycling] last Friday that we will have to cancel the event for 2013," race director Robin Morton told Cyclingnews Monday in an email. "While we are eager to produce an event in Philadelphia, we are unwilling to do so if it is not financially feasible."

    The news comes one day after organizers of the 28-year-old Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and its NRC women's race, the Liberty Classic, announced that the early June races would not return in 2013.

    The Keystone Open was originally scheduled for July 7 in conjunction with the Jerry Casale Memorial Ride benefiting ACS. Promoters had hoped to feature the women in a stand-alone event, which would have run prior to the men's and featured equal prize money. After the June races were canceled, Morton said, USAC asked the Keystone Open to move to the June 2 date.

    Morton said failure to pin down a date, combined with the current extremely negative perception about cycling and the expense of shutting down Philadelphia roads for a day, left organizers short of the sponsorship funds necessary to run the race.

    "It's expensive to close down the City of Philadelphia for the amount of time required to put on a bike race," Morton said, adding that the City of Philadelphia has been very supportive of the event. "In order to reduce these costs, we have been working closely with them on shortening the route, holding the men's and women's simultaneously (which we do not want to do) and eliminating the Jerry Casale ride."

    But promoters decided implementing any of those...

  • Boonen in hospital with infected elbow

    Belgian road champion Tom Boonen takes to the track during Omega Pharma-Quick Step's team launch.
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 19:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider likely to delay his season debut

    Tom Boonen's 2013 season has suffered another minor setback, after the Belgian Classics rider underwent a minor operation in his left elbow, forcing him to take antibiotics and spend several days in hospital.

    The Omega Pharma – Quick Step squad revealed the news in a press release, as his teammates were racing the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Boonen was replaced by Mark Cavendish in the race after spending three days in hospital in late November due to a severe intestinal infection.

    Boonen is currently recovering in a clinic in Herentals but considers himself lucky the infection did not cause more serious problems. The need to operate was sparked by bacteria entering Boonen's body through a small cut on his left elbow, which he suffered after an apparently harmless accident that happened on Sunday, while training on his mountain bike in some woods near his home.

    "I fell on my left elbow. I didn't even think about it, it was just a little scrape to the elbow, which I cleaned and disinfected once I got back home. During the week everything was going well, I wasn't having any problems. Then suddenly on Saturday, January 19th, my elbow started swelling. I started to get concerned and so together with the team medical staff I decided to go to the hospital in Herentals," Boonen explained in the press release.

    "After specific checks and therapy and a prescription of some antibiotics I went home. The following morning I went back to the hospital for a check up. When the doctors saw how swollen my arm was they immediately decided to operate. I have to thank the medical staff who understood right away that the infection was spreading, and who organized things to...

  • Eisel ready to race Down Under without Cavendish

    Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 22:01 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Team Sky super domestique to have more freedom to win in 2013

    Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky) has been a regular at the Tour Down Under over the years. His appearance in 2013 is significant with the race experiencing another evolution, while the 31-year-old Austrian begins the next chapter of his career.

    "The time for Andre Greipel to win this race is over," Eisel told Cyclingnews, referring to the hillier race route. The German sprinter took his second Tour Down Under title in 2010. The first major shift in the race occurred the year after- the last time Eisel raced in Adelaide - alongside Mark Cavendish with HTC-Highroad, meaning it was no longer an event tailor made for sprinters. Cavendish's debut at the Tour Down Under wasn't a happy one following a heavy crash on the opening stage but the experience didn't dampen Eisel's love for the race.

    "For me it's still one of the best races in the calendar. It deserves to be WorldTour," he said, full of praise. "In a half an hour, you can reach everything. The hills, the beach, the vineyards - it is definitely nice here. I would move here."

    The new challenging parcours of the 15th edition of the Tour Down Under also marks the start of Eisel's new career, where he no longer has to work for Cavendish. The Manxman left for Omega Pharma – Quick Step and is currently racing at the Tour de San Luis. The decision not to move to the Belgian team with Cavendish and instead stay with Team Sky was a difficult one, Eisel explained.

    "It wasn't easy. It definitely wasn't easy. It will still take us some time. I think the first real test will be in Qatar when we race each other. That's going to be strange. He's going to be in my way. I'm going to be in his way. He's still one of my best friends."

    Moving with

  • Cavendish opens his Omega Pharma account at the Tour de San Luis

    Mark Cavendish wins stage 1 at the Tour de San Luis ahead of Sacha Modolo and Alessandro Petacchi.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2013, 8:58 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    "This is an incredible victory for me"

    Mark Cavendish began his career at Omega Pharma-Quick Step with a perfect start at the Tour de San Luis, winning the opening stage and pulling on the leader's jersey after a hectic, high-speed finish. It was the first time Cavendish has won his first race of the season and eased any early season nerves.

    The British sprinter's decision to move from Team Sky during the winter was due to the lack of support he was offered in 2012, with his previous team anchoring their ambitions around success in Grand Tours. It left Cavendish with limited options, and although he will have greater ambitions than stage wins at San Luis this season, this early-season win was an indication in the belief his new squad has in him.

    "This is an incredible victory for me. I've joined a new team and I joined them because I wanted to be successful and I wanted to part of a successful team. They've really worked well with me over the winter and they put everything in place for me to perform. The first thing I wanted to do was to come here and be successful for them," Cavendish said at the winner's press conference.

    "This is about working together and trying to build a new team. We've the dedication, because all day we had a jersey in the top three. It was a perfect finish. We've only done one stage but I already want to come back here next year."

    With a virtually flat stage opening the race the responsibility for controlling affairs was always going to rest with the sprinters' teams. With Cavendish in his new colours the other teams in the bunch knew that the 2011 World Champion would be eager to impress and open his account with a win. However with WorldTour teams limited to six riders Omega Pharma-Quick...