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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Date published:
April 24, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Powers, Mancebo to defend NRC lead at Joe Martin Stage Race

    Chad Haga (Optum) riding during the crit.
    Article published:
    April 23, 2013, 23:12 BST
    Cycling News

    USA Cycling series continues in Arkansas

    The second stop on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar comes in Fayetteville, Arkansas at this week's Joe Martin Stage Race, where Redlands Classic winners Alison Powers (Now and Novartis for MS) and Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda) will defend their overall series leads.

    The four-day, four-stage race is one for the strong men: it includes a short time trial, an uphill finish on stage 2 that offers a chance for powerful climbers to gain a few seconds on the challengers, a second road race with a testing 23 mile circuit and a fast run-in back to town for the finish after 115 miles, and a fast but technical 8-corner criterium in downtown Fayetteville.

    Racing kicks off on Thursday with a short but arduous uphill time trial in Devil's Den State Park - the 2.5 mile course that will take the men around eight painful minutes, the women about one minute more. In the past two years, Mancebo has dominated this stage, and as well as coming into the race as NRC leader, he can also claim the title defending Joe Martin Stage Race champion.

    Powers is a two-time winner in Arkansas - having claimed the opening stage in her last outing in 2010 en route to repeating her 2009 overall victory.  After a dominating performance in Redlands, it would be hard to imagine who could beat the Now and Novartis rider. While 2012 winner Jade Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling) will not start, her on-form teammate Brianna Walle and Joelle Numainville could wage a challenge, as may the strong Team TIBCO squad containing 2011 time trial winner Amanda Miller and former German champion Claudia Haüsler.

    Mancebo looked invincible in the final stage of the Redlands Classic, and went on to place second overall in his homeland at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. He will be hard to beat, especially with a team which showed impressive support of its leader at Redlands.

    Chad Haga and his Optum Pro Cycling team will be seeking revenge after being...

  • Cavendish climbing into form at Romandie ahead of Giro d'Italia

    Mark Cavendish (OmegaPharma - QuickStep)
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 2:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Sprint train given shake-up after early season mistakes, says Steels

    With the less than two weeks before the start of the Giro d'Italia Mark Cavendish is putting the final touches on his climbing legs at Tour de Romandie before heading to Italy for the first grand tour of the year. The Manxman, who has 10 individual stages to his name will be hoping to rectify a couple of the errors that occurred in the sprint train during the early parts of the season. Sports director and team trainer Tom Steels suggested that criticism after missing out on a fourth Scheldeprijs win has been enough to shake up the squad.

    Cavendish hasn't exactly missed out completely this year and has delivered praise in his usual style when it has been due. He's already picked up six individual stage wins and the overall at Tour of Qatar but any podium placing is a lost opportunity and his Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team will not want to make costly errors at the Giro. 

    Cavendish is at Romandie having finished 165th in the opening prologue and will be without a dedicated lead-out team as the Belgian squad chase stage opportunities and the general classification. That has given a number of his usual train-mates a free pass to race at the Tour of Turkey with less pressure. This is not such a bad thing, according to Steels. Cavendish will still get his chance for victory on Stage 1 but it is yet to be seen how he copes with the difficult last hour on Stage 2. Either way, he will...

  • Moreno to lead Katusha at Giro d'Italia?

    Daniel Moreno (Katusha) gets ready for Liege-Bastogne-Liege
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 3:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Ekimov believes Spaniard should target general classification

    An emphatic win in the Ardennes at Flèche Wallonne along with a string of results, many of them achieved under the role of lieutenant to Joaquim Rodríguez, has been enough to convince Katusha sports director Viatcheslav Ekimov that Daniel Moreno should aim for the general classification at the Giro d'Italia. Ekimov is reportedly in the process of trying to sway the Spaniard into riding the Italian grand tour in just a couple of weeks.

    "I am still in discussion with him,” said Ekimov on Biciclismo about the possibility of Moreno spear-heading the Russian team at the three-week race.

    Moreno has been a consistent finisher in the grand tours of recent years and has done so while supporting outright leader Rodríguez. Moreno has ridden the Giro every year since 2010 and finished 26th, 29th and 20th in each edition since. His captain was second at last year's Giro and 4th in 2011 but it is the Vuelta a España that Moreno has really shown promise - finishing inside the top-10 for the past two years.

    It may be time for the 30-year-old to separate himself from 'Purito', says Ekimov. The Spanish duo have proven to be a near-inseparable force in recent years, at both one-day races and grand tours but with the older Rodríguez nearing his final years as a professional, it's time for Moreno who is yet to truly appreciate his ability, to stand up and take a leadership role.

    "I think that victory in Flèche Wallonne is very important to him (Moreno),” said Ekimov. "He is a rider with a high level but does not always understand what he is capable...

  • US Justice Department file complaint in Armstrong whistleblower lawsuit

    Ochowicz has also been a long-time employee of Thomas Weisel Partners,
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 5:37 BST
    Cycling News

    US Postal benefits lead to Armstrong being "unjustly enriched"

    The United States Justice Department has filed its complaint and met the Tuesday deadline to join the whistleblower case against Lance Armstrong and his former team director Johan Bruyneel, the US Postal team's management company Tailwind Sports, financier Tom Weisel, Armstrong's agent Bill Stapleton and former Tailwind president Barton Knaggs.

    The complaint states the defendants received payments and other benefits from the United States Postal Service, the team's headline sponsor, in circumstances that were "unjust".

    "Defendants were unjustly enriched to the extent of the payments and other benefits they received from the USPS, either directly or indirectly," read the in The Associated Press.

    Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the wake of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision document and later confessed to using banned methods to achieve his Tour victories. The whistleblower case was reportedly filed by former teammate Floyd Landis that alleges Armstrong defrauded the US government - USPS - by engaging in doping practices. The use of doping substances was in contrary to the contract agreement outlined between Tailwind and USPS.

    Armstrong's people were quick to squash the complaint with attorney Elliot Peters suggesting the US Postal Service benefited greatly during Armstrong's Tour reign from 1999-2004 - the year's the government department sponsored the team. Peters called the complaint "opportunistic, and insincere" before seeking to dismantle their oppositions case.

  • Lapthorne and Hucker lead Drapac at Battle on the Border

    Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) on the descent as he tries to extend his gap
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 7:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Continental team start their Subaru National Road Series campaign

    Former Australian national road champion Darren Lapthorne and his Drapac Professional Cycling Team will open their Subaru National Road Series campaign next week at the Battle on the Border. The team will reportedly be co-lead by Robbie Hucker who, according to Lapthorne may just be the surprise of the tour. Fellow former national champion Will Walker, Tour de Taiwan overall winner Bernie Sulzberger, 2009 Grafton to Inverell winner Malcolm Rudolph and Malaysian rider Amir Rusli fill the six-man squad who no doubt will all be capable of securing a result.

    The Australian Continental squad had chosen to skip travelling to the Woodside Tour de Perth and will instead look to Border and the following week's FK Gardner Tour of Toowoomba to secure their first NRS wins of 2013.

    Lapthorne won three races during last year's NRS, picking up wins at Tour of the Great South Coast, Launceston to New Norfolk and a stage at Tour of Tasmania but with the recent arrival of his first child suggested his motivation may outweigh his current form.

    "I was actually pretty pleased to hear we were getting a start for the Battle on the Border and Toowoomba," said Lapthorne. "They are two Subaru NRS races I've always wanted to do, I think they will suit me pretty well and I'm looking forward to it.

    "My life has changed a lot in the last couple of weeks which hasn't been the most ideal preparation for the Battle on the Border but I am certainly more motivated to get some results for my family, for my wife Jessica and my child."

    With an apparent question mark over Lapthorne's condition the 2007...

  • Gallery: The winning career of Alessandro Petacchi

    Alessandro Petacchi wins on the Via Roma in 2005
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 8:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Ale-Jet pulls the curtain after 18 seasons and more than 180 wins

    Just months after his 39th birthday Alessandro 'Ale-Jet' Petacchi announced he would retire with immediate effect. 'The Gentleman' as he was affectionately called due to his quiet nature and apparent dislike for the hustle and bustle of bunch sprinting, enjoyed a long and prosperous 18-season career and has more than 180 victories to show for it.

    The exact number of career wins is something which even Petacchi disputes but the Italian fast-man was undoubtedly one of the fastest of his time. Even in his twilight years he managed to pull-off some of his biggest achievements including winning two stages and the green points classification at the 2010 Tour de France - at the tender age of 36.

    The Italian had slowed his winning rate over the past few seasons but managed to still pick up enough results to ensue his passion and desire to continue competing.

    The following gallery is a showcase of the man who holds 48 grand tour stage victories, the point classification at the Giro d'Italia (2004), Tour de France (2010) and Vuelta a España (2005) along with victories at Milan San-Remo (2005) and Paris-Tours (2007). Petacchi is not without a few black marks against his name but the now retired sprinter can still look back on a prosperous career that was beyond what he ever expected.

    "My career has been full of satisfactions and enriched by all the most important victories that a rider like me could ever have aimed for," said Petacchi in a statement released by his team. "I feel it's time to dedicate time for myself and to go in search for new interests."


  • Operacion Puerto verdict set for April 30

    Eufemiano Fuentes was at the center of Operacion Puerto
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 10:56 BST
    Cycling News

    Judge to rule on releasing blood bags to sporting authorities

    The verdicts in the Operacion Puerto trial will be handed down in Madrid on April 30, when the presiding judge will also decide whether to pass the blood bags seized from Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes’ freezer onto the relevant anti-doping authorities, according to a report in Spanish newspaper AS.

    Judge Julia Patricia Santamaría has called the five defendants to appear in court in Madrid at 12.45 next Tuesday. The defendants are Eufemiano Fuentes, his sister Yolanda, former Kelme manager Vicente Belda, former Kelme trainer Ignacio Labarta and former ONCE  and Liberty Seguros team manager Manolo Saiz.

    The five are accused of endangering public health through the systematic blood doping of riders. Fuentes’ defence in the trial centred largely on the idea that doping was not a crime under Spanish law in 2006, when the blood bags were seized from Fuentes’ laboratory and that he always worked to protect his clients' health.

    The five defendants face maximum sentences of two and a half years in prison if found guilty, although regardless of the verdict, there is scope for an appeal.

    News of the Operacion Puerto investigation first broke in May 2006, with the arrests of Fuentes and Saiz, while a number of Fuentes clients, including Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, were prevented from starting that year’s Tour de France.

    Other riders who later faced sporting sanctions for their links to Fuentes include Alejandro Valverde and Michele Scarponi, although many of his clients have not been formally identified and criminal proceedings have moved slowly. Operacion Puerto finally went to trial in January of this year and the hearing took place in 23 sessions,...

  • Could Petacchi come back as a lead-out man?

    Stage 1 winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD)
    Article published:
    April 24, 2013, 12:41 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian open to offers

    Alessandro Petacchi has terminated his contracted with the Lampre-Merida team and is spending time with his family but it seems he could make a comeback in time for the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España, working as a leadout for another sprinter.

    The 39 year-old Italian announced he had ended his contract with Lampre-Merida after 18 years as a professional. He said he lacked motivation and wanted to spend more time with is family and especially his son Alessandro Junior. However Petacchi has told Gazzetta dello Sport that he has not retired for good.

    Cyclingnews understands that Petacchi accepts he is no longer competitive in sprint finishes – he has not won a race since last May - but could interested in working for another sprinter.

    Last October, Petacchi confirmed to Cyclingnews that he had been approached by Mark Cavendish to serve as his lead-out man prior to signing on again with Lampre for 2013, while helping Cannondale's Peter Sagan in the sprints could also be a possibility. Petacchi is apparently open to offers, with the right project far more important than the money.

    "It's wrong to say I've retired. I haven't closed the door on cycling and don't know what the future will bring," Petacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "I've got nothing to hide, otherwise I would have just kept quiet. It just didn't make sense to carry on, I haven’t got the right motivation. I felt okay early in the season and only missed out on some results due to making some mistakes. I tried some new things and rode Flanders and Roubaix but then I thought: 'Now what? Ride the Tour? To do what?'

    It seems Petacchi no...