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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Date published:
May 04, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Freire to lead Rabobank in Giro d'Italia debut

    Oscar Freire pumps his fists at the finish
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 13:17 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Team looking for early success in the Netherlands

    Oscar Freire will ride the Giro d'Italia for the first time in his career this year as the Dutch ProTour team looks for success in the sprints, particularly during the early stages of the race that will be held in the Netherlands. 

    Freire, 34, will look to add a Giro stage win to his long list of Grand Tour victories. He has won seven stages at the Vuelta a Espana, four stages in the Tour de France and so could join the exclusive club of riders who have won stages in all three Grand Tours. He has four wins so far this season, including his third success in Milan-San Remo.

    However the three-time World Champion will face some stiff competition at the Giro. HTC-Columbia is sending sprinter Andre Greipel, who has already racked up 11 wins this season. The German has ridden the Giro only once before, in 2008, winning one stage while helping set-up sprints for teammate Mark Cavendish. Alessandro Petacchi also has to be an overwhelming favourite for the Giro sprints based on past performance. The Lampre-Farnese Vini rider has won 21 Giro stages and one points jersey during his career. Freire will also face Garmin-Transitions sprinter Tyler Farrar who has a strengthened lead out train this year after being shut out by Cavendish last year in the Giro. Freire will have Graeme Brown to help him in the sprints, with the Australian giving Rabobank an alternative option in the sprints if Freire is not at his best. 

    This year's Giro includes five high-mountain stages and Rabobank will look to Columbian Mauricio Ardila and Dutch rider Bauke Mollema on the climbs. Mollema is making his Grand Tour debut. Despite winning the 2009 Giro d'Italia, Denis Menchov is skipping the race this year in order to concentrate on the Tour de France.

    Russia's Dmitriy Kozontchuk and Dutch riders Jos van Emden, Rick Flens, Koos Moerenhout and Peter Weening round out the Dutch squad.

  • Valverde tops UCI world rankings

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) celebrates as Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) punches the air in anguish
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 14:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Caisse d'Epargne, Spain also continue on top

    Alejandro Valverde has moved atop the World Classification of the International Cycling Union (UCI). The controversial Caisse d'Epargne rider used his overall victory in the Tour de Romandie to claim the lead in the world rankings.

    Valverde has 392 points, which moved him up from second place. Former leader Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) dropped to second place. There were no other changes in the top ten.

    Valverde called the ranking “an honour and a dream for any rider.” He said that he had been winning points since the Tour Down Under in Australia, “and to become the new number one before the major tours begin shows how regular I have been all through the first four months of the season.

    “Moreover my team is leading the teams classification and that is also very important. I am surrounded with very good riders and I can rely on the team at any moment in any race.”

    Valverde has been banned from riding in Italy for two years, and faces a possible worldwide ban by the UCI. That decision is pending a further ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is expected momentarily.

    The biggest leaps up the rankings were Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) from 46th to 17th, and Lampre's Simon Spilak entering the rankings at 23rd.

    Thanks to the success of Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez, Caisse d'Epargne still leads the UCI World Ranking for teams. The Spanish squad has a total of 620 points, 120 more than second placed Katusha, who has 500 points. The Astana team is third with 434 points thank to the success of team leaders Alberto Contador and Alexandre Vinokourov. HTC - Columbia moved up from eighth to fifth place.

    Valverde's ranking also helped Spain stay as the number one nation. Belgium, Australia, Italy and the United States rounded out the top five with no changes this week.

    The world rankings are usually published Monday afternoons, but the next one will...

  • Simoni named for Lampre Giro roster

    Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Farnese Vini) in his new jersey
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 15:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Last hurrah for two-time Grand Tour champion

    Lampre-Farnese Vini team management today confirmed today that Gilberto Simoni will be competing in the upcoming Giro d'Italia for their squad.

    The winner of the 2001 and 2003 editions of the Italian tour had announced in April that he would end his career in his home Tour with the Lampre team, but then shed doubt on that decision a week later after failing to find good form in the Giro del Trentino.

    Simoni will be reuinted with his former teammate and rival Damiano Cunego as well as sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, Matteo Bono, David Loosli, Marco Marzano, Daniele Righi and Alessandro Spezialetti.

    At 38, Simoni will be the oldest rider on the team and one of the most experienced Giro riders in the peloton, having competed in 13 editions of the race.

    In 2004, Simoni was aiming for his third win in the Giro when his younger then-Saeco teammate Cunego emerged as the stronger rider and he claimed the overall victory. The inter-squad rivalry was the subject of intense press scrutiny, although the two remained together when the team was re-named when Lampre came on board in 2005.

    The two went into the 2005 Giro as co-leaders, but Cunego faded from contention and was later diagnosed with mononucleosis. Simoni placed second overall to fellow Italian Paolo Savoldelli.

    In 2006, Simoni was third behind Ivan Basso and Jose Enrique Gutierrez. He did not make the podium the following year, but enjoyed a win on the Monte Zoncolan on stage 17 over teammate Leonardo Piepoli and went on to place fourth overall.

  • Quick Step, Footon-Servetto and Androni announce Giro squads

    Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 18:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha adds Karpets to its line-up

    Italians will lead the Quick Step, Footon Servetto and Androni Giocattoli squads in the Giro d'Italia, with Matteo Tosatto, Eros Capecchi, and Michele Scarponi heading up their respective teams. Team Katusha announced a change n its line-up, adding Vladimir Karpets.

    Quick Step's team is made up of five nationalities, with only one Belgian, sprinter Wouter Weylandt. Tosatto won a mountain stage in the Giro in 2001. Two further veterans will be Marco Velo, in his 12th Giro, and Addy Engels, in his eighth Giro, more than any other Dutch rider.

    They will be supported by Dario Cataldo, Mauro Facci, Francesco Reda, Jerome Pineau, and Branislau Samoilau.

    “Our team is a mix of veteran athletes and young athletes hungry to prove their worth,” said Directeur Sportif Davide Bramati. “In the stages dedicated to sprinters, the guys will race n support of Wouter Weylandt. In the other stages we will try to attack. The goal of the team is to make the most out of timely opportunities and to try to win a stage.”

    Androni Giocattoli will be led by Michele Scarponi, who won two stages in last year's Giro. The Italian team's squad will feature three South Americans: Colombian Jose Serpa and Venezuelans Carlos Ochoa and Jackson Rodriguez.

    Francesco Ginanni was forced off the squad because he is suffering from severe allergies. The rest of the squad consists of Leonardo Bertagnoli, Alessandro Bertolini, Alberto Loddo, Rubens Bertogliati and Cameron Wurf.

    Footon-Servetto is going with a very young team, which averages only 25 years old. Giampolo Cheula is the eldest at 30, with Austrian Matthias Brändle only 20. Directeur Sportif Stefano Zanini is looking to another youngster, 23-year-old Capecchi, who, he said, “can perform at a high level. In Romandie he showed that he is good condition and we believe and hope that this is the time to offer more and show what he can actually do.”

  • UCI names riders snared by Biological Passport

    King of the mountains Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 18:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Pellizotti, Prado and Valjavec facing disciplinary action

    The UCI has confirmed it has requested disciplinary proceedings to be opened against Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo), Jesus Rosendo Prado (Andalucia-Cajasur) and Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r-La Mondiale) for apparent violation of the Anti-Doping Rules on the basis of the information provided by the blood profiles in their biological passports.

    Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport first named Pellizotti mid-day on Monday but the news was only confirmed much later when the President of the Italian Cycling Federation Renato di Rocco named Pellizotti and then the UCI finally issued a statement.

    The Liquigas-Doimo team refused to comment on the media reports but confirmed it would issue a statement on Tuesday. Pellizotti is expected to be replaced in the Liquigas-Doimo team for the Giro d'Italia by Vincenzo Nibali.

    32-year-old Pellizotti finished second in the 2009 Giro d'Italia and was set to be joint leader of the Liquigas-Doimo team with Ivan Basso. On Saturday he finished third in the GP Larciano race in Tuscany, showing some first signs of form after a low-key early season. Last week Pellizotti joined Cadel Evans (BMC) and several other riders on a training ride on the course of the Plan des Corones mountain time trial stage of the Giro d'Italia. He won the Plan des Corones stage in the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

    Valjavec has been a professional since 2000 and rode for Fassa Bortolo, Phonak and Lampre before joining Ag2r in 2008. He has won only a handful of races during his career but finished in the top 20 at the Tour de France in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Last year he finished ninth overall in the Giro d'Italia and led the Tour de Suisse for five days before losing the lead to eventual winner Fabian Cancellara.

    28-year-old Jesus Rosendo Prado has been a member of the Andalucia-Cajasur squad since 2007. He is the second rider from the team to fall afoul of the UCI's anti-doping rules in a week. Teammate Manuel Vasquez Hueso...

  • Ag2r team manager furious with Valjavec

    Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 19:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Slovenian named by UCI for biological passport irregularities

    Vincent Lavenu, the team manager of Ag2r-La Mondiale, was furious when he heard the news about Tadej Valjavec being one of the riders identified by the International Cycling Union (UCI) for having irregular blood profiles in his the biological passport. Lavenu announced that the Slovenian will be fired as soon as his national federation will sanction him.

    "I got to know about it at the same time as the media," Lavenu said. "I'll face the situation because in our team we strongly believe in the biological passport and we finance it - like the other teams who are part of this program. We'll respect the rules.

    "Valjavec will not take part in the Giro d'Italia. He's temporarily suspended as a precaution until the sanction is pronounced by the Slovenian cycling federation. After that, he'll be fired."

    Valjavec, 33, joined Ag2r-La Mondiale in 2008 after transferring from Lampre. He never won a race for the French team but finished the 2008 Tour de France in ninth overall and the 2009 Giro d'Italia in eighth place.

    "He wasn't a captain in our team but a senior rider who delivered regular results in big races," Lavenu said. "It's painful. I hope this won't harm the team. We never know the potential consequences of such an affair. I'll ask my riders to not give up because this is not what our team is about."

  • Procycling's exclusive Giro d'Italia stage analysis

    The Tuscan hills are what makes Strade Bianche so special
    Article published:
    May 03, 2010, 20:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Input from top pro riders on the 93rd Italian Tour

    From the flat, technical terrain of bike-crazy Amsterdam to the soaring peaks of the Zoncolan, Mortirola and Gavia - this year's Giro d'Italia could prove to be the most difficult edition to date.

    The strade bianche and an unpaved ascent to the Plan de Corones only add to the insanity which will whip the tifosi into a frenzy cheering for their favourites.

    The Giro d'Italia will also pay tribute to the sport's fallen heroes: Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil and Marco Pantani with iconic stages as well as pass through the town of L'Aquila which was devastated by an earthquake in 2009.

    "Stage 11 will be a very long and emotional day, as we visit some of the areas devastated by the earthquake last April," Filippo Pozzato says in the stage preview. "The course itself is very hard and lends itself to breaks and also attacks on an uphill finish in L'Aquila. There won't be big gaps between the very top riders, but someone between fifth and tenth place on GC could make a big move."

    Want to get more insights into the stages of the 93rd Giro d'Italia? You can start with stage one and scroll through the entire race, view the course maps and profiles and get exclusive insights from race director Angelo Zomegnan, Pozzato, Marco Pinotti and Michele Scarponi and analysis courtesy of Procycling magazine.

  • McQuaid on Pellizotti, Prado and Valjavec cases

    UCI president Pat McQuaid speaks at the ProTour dinner
    Article published:
    May 04, 2010, 9:23 BST
    Shane Stokes

    UCI President won't deny more cases are imminent

    UCI President Pat McQuaid has neither confirmed nor denied that more riders could be announced as facing disciplinary action following yesterday's declaration that Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo), Jesus Rosendo Prado (Andalucia-Cajasur) and Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r-La Mondiale) had all returned abnormal findings through their biological passports.

    Despite rumours that between five and eight riders would be announced as facing disciplinary sanctions, Monday saw just three names emerging as McQuaid told Cyclingnews that he deliberately avoids being drawn into the disciplinary process and is therefore not in a position to know.

    “I don’t know if there are more,” he insisted on Tuesday evening. “I specifically request those in charge of anti-doping not to tell me of these things until they are ready to go. I don’t know anything until the press communiqué is ready.”

    A fourth name was mentioned on Monday but this was later played down. Italian media sources had also claimed that Carlo Scognamiglio (ISD-Neri) was due to incur disciplinary action over his bio passport values.

    Italian Cycling Federation president and vice president of the UCI, Renato Di Rocco, told Italpress that Scognamiglio was in the same situation as Pellizotti, Rosendo Prado and Valjavec. His team angrily denied this on Monday evening, saying that the rider had received no notification of any suspicions or disciplinary proceedings. It said that it would take the necessary legal action to defend the rider and the team.

    McQuaid reacted to the three confirmed cases, saying that the news should have a deterrent effect on other riders. “These are another couple of guys that the UCI thinks have been involved in doping and they have been caught,” he said. “Once again, it is a pity that these [doping cases] are happening, but the riders will eventually learn.”

    BMC Racing Team...