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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Date published:
April 28, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Saxo Bank, Cofidis for the Giro d'Italia

    Cofidis' Leonardo Duque took out the Cholet - Pays De Loire.
    Article published:
    April 27, 2010, 14:23 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Danish team without top stars in Italy, French with two captains

    As the days countdown to the start of the Giro d'Italia in Amsterdam on Saturday May 8, teams continue to name their squads, revealing their strategies for the Corsa Rosa.

    Saxo Bank is not sending its top stars such as Andy and Fränk Schleck or Fabian Cancellara to the Giro d'Italia, preferring to hold them back for the Tour de France. But the Danish team will be represented by the Olympic and World runner-up time trial champion Gustav Larsson and two sprinters. French Team Cofidis is going with two leaders, one for the mountains and one for the sprints.

    Larsson, who won silver in both the Beijing Olympic time trial and in the World's last year, in both cases behind teammate Fabian Cancellara, will look to do well in the opening time trail in Amsterdam and in the final 15km time trial in Verona.

    For the sprint finishes, Saxo Bank will have experienced Australian Baden Cooke, who won a stage in the 2003 Tour de France on his way to winning the green jersey, and Argentina's Lucas Sebastian Haedo, who will be taking on his first Grand Tour.

    In the mountains, the team will look to Chris Anker Sorensen to take stage wins Allrounders Laurent Didier, Riche Porte, Anders Lund and Nicki Sorensen, who won a stage at last year's Tour de France, fill out the team. Also there will be Michael Mørkøv, who along with teammate Alex Rasmussen won the world track titles in Madison and team pursuit in 2009.


    Cofidis will be led by David Moncoutie and Leonardo Duque. Moncoutie, 34, has won the climber's jersey at the Vuelta a Espana for the last two years ans has won two stages at both the Vuelta and the Tour de France. Moncoutie, who finished third overall in the recent Presidential Tour of Turkey, will surprisingly be riding the Giro for the first time in his career.

    Colombian sprinter Duque  has won in the Cholet-Pays de Loire race and finished second...

  • Frei confesses to EPO usage and is released by BMC

    Thomas Frei (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    April 27, 2010, 22:02 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Swiss rider admits to taking micro-dose of EPO

    Switzerland's Thomas Frei has confessed that he has doped for the last two years, revealing he tested positive for EPO after taking a micro-dose the evening before the early-morning test.

    He said he would not have his B sample tested and admitted that he doped without the knowledge of the BMC Racing Team.

    While Frei was confessing, BMC Racing issued a statement from co-owner Jim Ochowicz thanking him for his honesty but immediately terminating his contract.

    “It is correct, that I have taken EPO. Therefore there is no sense in opening the B sample. There is no point in hoping for the off-chance that it will be negative,” the 25-year-old said Tuesday in a press conference in Olten, Switzerland, according to the Basler Zeitung newspaper.

    Frei said that he had been doping since the summer of 2008, and that his inner circle was aware of it. “I am not a hardcore liar, I had to talk about it.” Frei rode for Astana in 2007 and 2008, before joining BMC in 2009.

    He said that his positive test on March 21 happened almost by chance, revealing details of how athletes try to avoid being caught. The previous day he had given himself a micro-dosage of EPO for the first time in three months.

    Frei claimed that if he had drank enough water after the injection, the urine test would not have shown the EPO. He didn't drink the required litre of water however, even when the controller arrived at six o'clock the next morning.

    “I would otherwise now be preparing for the Giro d'Italia,” he noted.

    Team reaction

    BMC said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon that Frei confessed his doping violation to the team management after he was officially informed by Antidoping Switzerland of the positive test.

    BMC team president Jim Ochowicz disavowed Frei's actions, stating that the team "regrets this situation for Thomas Frei and his...

  • Contador gets guidance from Van Petegem on pavé

    Peter van Petegem joined Alberto Contador on the pave' of Northern France.
    Article published:
    April 27, 2010, 22:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Defending Tour champ recons cobbled sectors for July

    Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador completed a course reconnaissance of the cobbled sectors which will be used in the upcoming Tour de France in July, and he enlisted the help of Belgian Peter Van Petegem to help him hone his technique on riding over "the stones".

    Van Petegem, a former winner of both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, is an expert at tackling the worst that the area has to offer. He escorted the Spaniard as he rode sections of the route for the third stage, a 207km route from Wanze in Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, which heads across some of the same pavé sectors used in Paris-Roubaix.

    "Having ridden both yesterday and today with a great champion like him is a huge advantage," said Contador. "He gave me a lot of advice on how to go into the pavé and about the equipment, etc. In these two days, I learned more about the pavé than in my whole life. His advice will be very important."

    Scouting the route, Contador said, was also very important. "It was essential to get to know the route and test the equipment. I came away with good feelings about the behavior of the bike in the pavé sectors and a sense of security," he said.

    Recent Tour de France history demonstrated how a treacherous section of the route can put paid to the hopes of a race favourite. In 1999 it was Alex Zülle who fell on the Passage du Gois and lost six minutes on the second stage.

    Contador said he was not afraid, but had respect for the stage. "It will be very complicated, there will be a lot of pressure to be at the front, but in the end, the differences will not be important or non-existent. It is an important stage, but I am not obsessing about it."

  • Kroon's surgery successful

    Karsten Kroon (BMC)
    Article published:
    April 28, 2010, 11:08 BST
    Cycling News

    Good news for BMC Racing star

    Having undergone surgery successfully on Monday, Karsten Kroon is now recovering at home in Holland from injuries suffered in a fall during last week's Flèche Wallonne.

    The 34-year-old underwent a procedure to address the fractures suffered to his nose and cheekbone, whereby his nose was rebroken and titanium plates inserted to support the area. Radsport-news reports that the Classics specialist could be back on the bike later this week.

    "My surgeon, Dr. Van den Broeck, was very happy with the outcome," explained Kroon. "He made all the incisions from the inside of the mouth, although my cheek bone was broken at the top. Fortunately, there remain barely visible scars."

  • Cardoso quietly confident in form

    Manuel Cardoso (Footon-Servetto)
    Article published:
    April 28, 2010, 11:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Portuguese champ hopes to contest Romandie's fast finishes

    Portuguese national champion Manuel Cardoso believes he can capitalise on the limited chances for sprinters in this year's Tour de Romandie, the first stage of which gets underway later today.

    The prologue was won yesterday by HTC-Columbia's Marco Pinotti, who will wear the leader's jersey on the 175.6km journey from Porrentruy to Fleurier. It's on this stage that Cardoso sees one of his chances coming.

    "All of the stages in Romandie are hard days, but I hope to play a role in the sprints," he said. "I'm still not at my best but I've arrived [in Romandie] at an acceptable level. Spring allergies and quality of the rivals make it hard to prevail in some of the stages but we must try."

    The 27-year-old started his season in spectacular fashion at January's Tour Down Under, during which he won the tough third stage to Stirling ahead of Alejandro Valverde and world champion Cadel Evans. And whilst these two riders have been prevalent in the top 10 of many race since then, Cardoso has faded from view somewhat.

    That wasn't helped by a crash in the third stage of the Volta ao Algarve, where he fell eight kilometres into the 180km journey to Alto do Malhão. Cardoso will again be pitted against Valverde, although this time round there's a certain Mark Cavendish to contend with in the sprints. The Portuguese rider rode the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold Race and said that both races have helped him prepare for Romandie.

    "There are four stages of the race in the mountains, but there are two possibilities for it to finish in a sprint because they [the climbs] are far from the finish, though of course that depends on the pace on the climbs and if it breaks up the race," said Cardoso, adding, "The team will attempt to be seen and look good overall and win some stages.

    "The two classics have helped me to gain experience in this type of event. It is always difficult to judge what these races are like but to do so is...

  • Vinokourov to lead Astana at the Giro d'Italia

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) waves from the Giro del Trentino podium after winning stage one
    Article published:
    April 28, 2010, 11:17 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Kazakh to go for the pink leader's jersey

    Alexandre Vinokourov will lead a largely Kazakh Astana line-up at this year's Giro d'Italia. Vinokourov has recently won Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro del Trentino, making him a possible outsider for overall victory. The Astana team also includes Italian sprinter Enrico Gasparotto and the Ukraine's Andriy Grivko.

    36-year old Vinokourov has said that his aim is to wear the leader's pink jersey “for one day” during his Giro debut. He told the Belgian website Sporza, “I don't want to talk about winning” the race, because I don't want to put too much pressure on myself.”

    Vinokourov will be supported by fellow Kazakhs Alexandr Dyachenko, Valentin Iglinksy, Roman Kireyev as well as Gorazd Stangelj, Enrico Gasparotto, Andriy Grivko, Josep Jufre and Paolo Tiralongo.

    Vinokourov first announced that he would be riding this year's Giro in December. "I will start the Giro for the first time, without any pressure; [I'll take it] step-by-step. If I have good condition and motivation then maybe I can arrive on the podium. There is not a long time trial, which would suit me. There are lots of mountain stages, but if I have good condition then all is possible. If not then I will just aim for a stage win."

    However, the Giro is only one of Vinokourov's goals for the season. He also hopes to ride the Tour de France alongside Alberto Contador. It will be the first time he rides the Tour de France since testing positive for blood doping during the 2007 edition of the race.

    “Taking part in the Tour de France, supporting Albert and winning the Tour with him is my next one,” he said after his win in Liege.

    "After riding the Giro d'Italia I will try to recover as much as possible. I hope to be at the start of the Tour and I'll try to support Alberto. He's young and has the potential to win again."

  • Riis announces Saxo Bank's long list for the Tour de France

    The Saxo Bank team took responsibility for the chase.
    Article published:
    April 28, 2010, 11:38 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Schlecks, Cancellara and at least three Danish riders

    Saxo Bank team owner Bjarne Riis has confirmed that the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara top the team's long list for selection for the Tour de France, with seven riders competing for the remaining six spots.

    Matti Breschel looks sure to ride the Tour for the first time this year, Riis said, despite the young Dane having a difficult Classics season, due to a knee injury.

    “The medical bulletins on his damaged knee are extremely positive and it is purely as a safety measure that we making Matti rest for a while yet,” Riis said. Breschel will return to racing at the Amgen Tour of California, and most like thereafter ride the Tour de Suisse.

    The remaining candidates for the Tour de France squad are Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Gustav Larsson, and Danish riders Jakob Fuglsang, Nicki Sørensen, and Chris Anker Sørensen.

    Sørensen will ride the Giro d'Italia “and if everything develops as planned, I expect indeed that he is among the nine starting 3rd July in Rotterdam,” Riis said. Larsson and Nicki Sørensen will also ride the Giro.

    “The final Tour selection will be made probably only during the Tour de Suisse, but with reservations, … I can now state that the team this year will consist of at least three Danes and probably four,” Riis said.

  • Italian coach Aldo Sassi under treatment for a brain tumor

    Ivan Basso with his coach Aldo Sassi
    Article published:
    April 28, 2010, 11:46 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Former Mapei manager gets support from Basso and Evans

    Italian coach Aldo Sassi, who works with world champion Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers and Charly Wegelius has revealed that he is fighting a life-threatening brain tumor. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport on the day of his 51st birthday, Sassi revealed he has already undergone brain surgery and chemotherapy.

    "I've got to roll up my sleeves and fight against an aggressive enemy," he bravely told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "I've been operated on for a brain tumor. I've had the first cycle of chemotherapy and tomorrow I'm starting radiotherapy. It's something I've got to put up with, with the conviction that I can beat it. There's no such thing as an incurable disease. I'm a scientist and I'm full of hope. I can do it."

    Sassi was the youngest member of the team of sports doctors that worked with Francesco Moser when he broke the hour record in 1983. He was at the time general manager of the Mapei team and created the Mapei coaching and testing centre in Castellanza, near Varese. Sassi has always taken a clear stance against doping and played a key role in fighting the problem. He only agreed to coach Ivan Basso on his return from a doping ban when he allowed Sassi to test his blood haemaglobin volume, one of the best way to detect blood doping.

    Sassi revealed that he suffered with a headache for four days before being diagnosed with a high-grade Glioma brain tumor.

    "I fought back well and immediately realised I wasn't alone. I'm lucky to be surrounded by a team of champions, starting with Professor Solero (the doctor treating him). I've had the best from life: a great family, the job I'd dreamed about and many, many friends."

    "I've been working with statistics for more than 25 years but at the moment I am not interested. Because the life expectancy with a cancer like mine isn't more than 15 months. I just hope to be the one who escapes from the statistics. I think I can do it."

    "When I...