Colnago rider suffered fracture in eighth stage crash
Stefano Pirazzi of Colnago- CSF Inox rode most of the Giro d'Italia with a broken bone in his wrist.
The Italian, who was very active in the mountain stages, had crashed on the eighth stage, injuring both his left shoulder and right wrist.
“In hospital they told me I was crazy to finish the Giro d'Italia in this condition. The team doctor said I had a possible fracture,” the 23-year-old said on the team website. “But my legs felt good and I wanted to finish the Giro.”
Pirazzi will wear a cast on his wrist for 30 days but can start training on the rollers again soon.
Nearly three weeks after crashing out of the Giro d'Italia, Christian Vande Velde is back on the bike and searching for form in the Spanish Pyrenees.
The Garmin-Tranisitions' Tour leader broke his collarbone in the third stage of the Giro (pictured right) - the sixth occasion he's suffered that injury in his career - but he has spent the last six days training at altitude in Spain. He'll remain there until June 9, before starting the Tour de Suisse two days later.
"It's going well and it's good to be up in the mountains riding my bike," Vande Velde told Cyclingnews from his training base near Andorra.
"I have a soigneur with me and Matt Wilson comes out soon. I'm just trying to recruit as many people as possible, and then my family are coming up too."
Vande Velde's Giro crash mirrored last season's events when he crashed out of the race but with far more serious injuries. That year he sustained three fractured vertebrae, a cracked pelvis in addition to the two broken ribs, meaning that this year's recovery period has been much shorter and far less painful.
"With a collarbone break you don't have to take any real time off - it's just for mental wellbeing - but I was on the trainer after two days."
"But when I crashed I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and go away. I had my days when I was down but you just pick yourself up and dust yourself down. There's no reason crying about it."
Vande Velde's collarbone surgery was carried out in Belgium and he now has matching metal plates in each shoulder, something he joked about with his friends and family. "I'm bionic now, right?" he asks.
"Overall I can't complain about the recovery. It's going really well and I've been doing five hour rides," he explained.
Still, without hard racing in his legs from the Giro, Vande Velde is aware that his training programme has been about making the best of a bad situation; the pressure isn't...
Fabian Cancellara has denied using a motor in his bike during the Spring Classics, while Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere thinks the possibility of motorized doping within the peloton could be a reality.
Last month the International Cycling Union (UCI) denied that such “mechanical doping” existed, but confirmed that they were investigating the issue. The theory is that small motors could be hidden inside the bike tubes, giving riders an unfair advantage.
Most recently, Italian journalist Davide Cassani tested such a bike and told Het Nieuwsblad, “Now I could ride and win the Giro. Even though I'm 50 years old.”
Most attention has been paid to Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara, whose impressive showings of strength saw him ride away alone in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this spring. The Swiss rider laughed the story off. “I've already heard that. Rest assured, my achievements are the result of hard work."
Patrick Lefevere, Quick Step team manager, took the possibility of “bike doping” seriously, but was careful to point out, “I don't accuse anyone.”
Unlike Cassani's comments he hadn't brushed it off so lightly. “Laugh? No, I do not laugh about it. It's too serious to laugh. That movie made me suspicious.”
"For a long time I also belonged to the non-believers, now I begin to doubt gradually," he said "Watch out. For me, everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. I do not participate in gossip, and I try not to be paranoid but now that I have seem the movie of Cassani, I see why the UCI is examining the matter thoroughly."
"It would be worse than doping,” Lefevere said. “Even pure theft.”
Reaction to the two-year ban imposed on Alejandro Valverde by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has been generally supportive of the Caisse d’Epargne rider. In line with his team’s description of the ban as “unjust and incoherent”, commentators have questioned the severity of the sanction, pointing that Valverde has already missed the opportunity to ride the Giro and Tour in 2009, and cannot now consider competing in either until 2012. He has effectively been banned for three years, they say.
Writing in El País, renowned cycling journalist Carlos Arribas pointed out that “no cyclist implicated in Operation Puerto has received a sanction as harsh as this”. Referring to the UCI’s decision to strip Valverde of the results he’s gained this year, Arribas commented, “Ivan Basso wasn’t stripped of the 2006 Giro title which was won while the Operation Puerto investigation was under way”. Arribas added that “no other Spanish rider of the dozens said to be implicated has been sanctioned and neither the UCI nor the World Anti-Doping Agency has requested that action be taken against them.”
El Mundo cycling correspondent Pablo de la Calle commented that what had already been a long-running case was further extended by an “absolute” desire to avoid a clash with the Giro. “The Giro’s organisers have a close relationship with the CONI [Italian Olympic Committee], and they couldn’t allow the CAS’s verdict to replace the action taking place at the race as the principal focus of attention,” De La Calle wrote.
There was further criticism of the length of the whole procedure from Spanish cycling federation lawyer Jorge Ibarrola. With Valverde facing payment of costs amounting to about €80,000, Ibarrola said: “Without the delays being any fault of his own, Valverde is having to pay for the...
Lance Armstrong is confirmed to ride the Tour de Suisse, the race organisers have announced. It will be the first time the RadioShack rider has ridden the race since winning it in 2001.
The Tour de Suisse runs over nine stages from June 12 to 20, for a total of 1353.1 kilometres.
The 38-year-old will use the race as a final preparation for the Tour de France, which starts in the Netherlands on July 3. His last race was the Tour of California, which he had to abandon after a crash. He is scheduled to ride the Tour of Luxembourg, starting Wednesday.
"Lance is a big star and it is important to have him in the starting line-up," said race spokesman Rolf Huser.
Armstrong will face strong competition at the race, particularly from Team Saxo Bank. The Danish team is sending not only defending champion Fabian Cancellara but also brothers Andy and Fränk Schleck, who last year finished second and fifth in the Tour de France.
"It's going to be interesting to see the difference between Fabian and Lance," said Huser, who is also Cancellara's agent. "There is the new generation and one of the biggest riders that cycling has."
In addition, the race announced that it has issued its final wildcard invitation to the Dutch Professional Continental team Vacansoleil.
The disqualification of Alejandro Valverde from the UCI's world rankings dropped his Caisse d'Epargne squad from the top of the team rankings down into ninth. The points gained by Joaquin Rodriguez from the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco were enough to move the tiny Katusha rider into third in the individual rankings and push his team to the top of the standings.
Valverde was removed from the standings after being handed a two-year ban, back-dated to January 1, 2010, by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. His win in the Tour de Romandie, second overall in Pais Vasco and Paris-Nice and a third place in Liège - Bastogne - Liège were among the results taken away from the Spaniard.
Rodriguez, fourth overall in the Basque tour, was promoted to third after Valverde was removed from the runner-up spot. He now sits third in the individual rankings behind new leader Cadel Evans (BMC) and Omega Pharma-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert.
Spain still leads the nations rankings despite the loss of Valverde's 392 points.
Three years after its reintroduction, the Tour of Ireland has been put on hold following a shortfall in sponsorship for this year’s edition. The race organizers confirmed yesterday that the 2010 race – which was due to be held in mid-August – is off, but said that they hope the five day, 2.1-ranked event will resume in 2011.
"Despite significant commercial and public sector funding, current economic conditions have meant that the additional investment required to make the event viable has not been forthcoming in time for this season," they said in a statement.
"We fully intend to bring it back for 2011 when the private sector environment is stronger," added organizer Alan Rushton.
The race returned in 2007 after a long absence, and enjoyed strong support from the public and the media. Images from the event were shown worldwide, justifying the investment put in by the Irish Tourism body Failte Ireland.
The previous incarnation was titled the Nissan Classic, and ran until 1992. UCI President Pat McQuaid was involved in the organization of that with Rushton, and he said that he regretted the news.
"I understand the situation because the economic situation in Ireland is very bad at the moment. I would hope that over the next 12 months that they might find another sponsor that can come on board. I know that there is genuine support from the government and companies like An Post that the event would continue," he told Cyclingnews. "It just needs another commercial sponsor to make it viable. I would hope that over the next twelve months that the conditions would improve a bit to make that happen."
The race was reduced from five to three days last year due to a tight economic environment. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong competed in the race, but the organizers denied that he had been paid a fee to do so. Armstrong had previously received an appearance fee in races like the Tour...
Defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador wrapped up a four-day reconnaissance of the critical Pyrenean stages of this year's race, stating, "We've seen the stages that will decide the Tour."
Contador rode all four stages with seven of his teammates who make up the Astana team's pre-selection for the race: Dmitri Fofonov, Paolo Tiralongo, Benjamin Noval, Daniel Navarro, David de la Fuente, Jesus Hernandez and Oscar Pereiro
Stages 14 through 17 of the Tour will take place in the Pyrenees, with the first day ending on Ax-3 Domaines, then two mountainous days without hilltop finishes before the second rest day followed by the race's grande mountain finale atop the famed Col de Tourmalet.
Contador called the Tourmalet finish "the last chance of victory for the climbers" and said the race should be almost decided after this stage.
During his reconnaissance, Contador happened to meet some of his main competitors at the top of the Tourmalet: brothers Andy and Frank Schleck of the Saxo Bank team, who had climbed from the opposite direction from the Col de Soulor.
With little more than one month before the Tour de France, the Astana captain said he is satisfied with his form, but has not yet reached his peak. "The [sensations] are good, yes, but not yet like those of the Tour, because there are still three and a half weeks before the start and this is not a good time, it is still a time of allergies, and that limits me a little," Contador said.
He will compete in the Dauphiné Libéré beginning this weekend before topping off his pre-Tour preparations with a preview of the Alpine stages.
"I'm doing the preparation as I wanted," Contador said. "After a serious stop after the Classics (about 10 days off the bike) it was hard to start again, but everything has gone as planned. I'll do the Dauphiné without pressure, as a tune-up, because the preparation is perfect," he said.