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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Date published:
March 30, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Chavanel frustrated by lack of collaboration at Three Days of De Panne

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) will have a lot of freedom at De Panne.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2011, 18:24 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Peeters says Flanders is Cancellara's to lose

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) was again on the offensive on stage one of the Three Days of De Panne, but his bid to bridge across to the winning breakaway ended in frustration. The Frenchman said that he failed to find collaborators in the chasing group on the stage won by André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

    “The legs were good but there wasn’t too much collaboration to get back up to the front, so after that I didn’t persist,” Chavanel told Cyclingnews immediately after crossing the line.

    It was the second time in three days that Chavanel had been on the attack in Belgium, as he had contributed generously to the four-man break that animated the finale of Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem. Although neither raid was to end in victory, Chavanel declared himself pleased with his condition ahead of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

    “The form is coming back,” he said. “I was very ill but now the condition is coming, so I’m hopeful for the coming days.”

    While Tom Boonen will lead Quick Step at the weekend, the nature of Chavanel’s recent aggression suggests that he may well be sent on the offensive inside the final 50km. The Frenchman refused to be drawn on his team’s tactics, however. “I’ll just be trying to do a good race,” he smiled, as he headed for the Quick Step bus.

    Peeters puzzled by Rosseler’s tactics

    Quick Step directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters echoed his rider’s feelings on the finale, and said that he could not understand why Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) had not...

  • Greipel's Three Days of De Panne win "impressive", says Sergeant

    André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) wins stage one in Zottegem.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2011, 19:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    German bounces back from disappointment of Gent-Wevelgem result

    André Greipel bounced back from a disappointing result in Gent-Wevelgem to take his biggest win since signing for Omega Pharma-Lotto, claiming the first stage and leader's jersey in the Three Days of Panne.

    The 28-year-old German, who wasn't originally down to ride the race, attacked the bunch on the Valkenberg and was joined by a select group of three riders.

    Despite several climbs before the finish the German hung on, responding to attacks from his breakaway companions Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling), Dmitriy Muravyev (Team RadioShack) and Vladimir Gusev (Katusha Team).

    "I felt really good. It's something special for me today," the German said at the finish.

    "At the end it was pretty tough but when Westra came from the back nobody wanted to ride anymore and they were attacking each other. I was just looking at him because he was the strongest today."

    Greipel's aggression stemmed from his disappointment at finishing fourth in Gent-Wevelgem, with his team boss, Marc Sergeant, telling Cyclingnews that the rider had a "point to prove after finishing Sunday's race with mixed emotion."

    "It's always nice to try something different for me," Greipel said. "For me it was just unexpected today. My teammate Jens Debusschere was in the breakaway today and when I came across I asked him to keep the speed up and he did a great job. It's his first year as a professional so it's also a victory for him today and the team."

    At his winner's press conference Greipel confirmed that Gent-Wevelgem had been a bitter-sweet day for him - pleased to have survived the punishing set of climbs he was one...

  • Hoste crashes out of Three Days of De Panne

    Leif Hoste (Katusha) crashed heavily and suffered injuries to his face.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2011, 20:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Belgian examined at hospital after hard blow to the head

    Leif Hoste (Katusha) was forced out of the Three Days of De Panne after a crash on stage one. The 33-year-old Belgian, who was using the race as a warm up for this weekend's Tour of Flanders, crashed hard, hitting his head. He lost at least one tooth, while also suffering a wound above his right eye.

    He was taken to hospital where scans revealed no lasting damage. It is not yet clear whether he will race this weekend but he will undergo surgery tomorrow on his teeth.

    "Leif suffered from a really bad fall," said Bart Leysen, Team Katusha's sport director

    "He won't be able to finish the competition. Now he's at the hospital for more examinations, and especially suturing the bad wound over his eye. Tonight, after the medical response, we will decide if he can make some training [rides] before Ronde Van Vlaanderen or keep him for the race, where he is an important rider for us."

    Hoste signed with Katusha for 2011 after four seasons with Lotto. He has finished fourth in Paris-Roubaix and has been a runner-up on three occasions in the Tour of Flanders.

    His best result this season was seventh in Dwars doors Vlaanderen.

  • Ballan happy to be rid of the world champion's jersey

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 29, 2011, 20:45 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC Racing Team rider names Cancellara the top favourite for the Tour of Flanders

    Alessandro Ballan is living proof of the “rainbow jersey curse”. The BMC Racing Team Italian is back in contention in races for practically the first time since winning the world championship in 2008, even though he is now up against the seemingly-indomitable Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek).

    "I have two horrible years behind me,” he told the Gazet van Antwerpen, as reported on “I could not get used to the rainbow jersey. The stress got to me and literally made me sick, unfortunately.”

    Ballan was with Lampre when he won the title. For his year in the rainbow jersey he won only one stage and the overall title in the Tour of Poland. He changed to BMC Racing Team in 2010, but had no wins all season.

    "I underestimated the change to BMC,” he said. “Now I can only say I feel good here. This is the most important time of the year for me.”

    While he has yet to stand atop the podium this season, his second place in the Montepaschi Strade Bianchi and fourth place in Milan-San Remo make him optimistic. “I am delighted to be a contender again.”

    The 31-year-old is looking forward to the Tour of Flanders this weekend, but says there is only favourite to win. “Whoever is not afraid of Cancellara after the E3 Harelbeke is not very wise.

    "I knew Fabian was good, but so strong? It was extraordinary and rarely seen. Last year Cancellara was very good and I think he is even stronger than then."

    Ballan is not ready to concede the race, though, and...

  • Baldwin sets his sights on Quiznos Pro Challenge

    Chris Baldwin (Team juwi solar/First Solar) is back this year and riding strong with a seventh place today.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2011, 21:30 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Domestic all-rounder searches for mid-season pro contract

    Former US professional time trial champion Chris Baldwin is on the hunt for a professional contract after being left off the UCI Continental V Australia roster earlier this year.

    The Boulder native is currently competing with local outfit Juwi Solar-First Solar but is hoping to find a place on one of the domestic UCI Continental or Pro Continental teams in time to participate in his home-state's UCI 2.1-ranked Quiznos Pro Challenge, scheduled to take place August 22-28.

    "I think I deserve a team," Baldwin told Cyclingnews. "I feel fortunate to be a bike racer and to be doing what I love to do. Ideally, I would still like to do the Quiznos Pro Challenge, that's the dream and I don't want to miss out on that.

    "I have to find a team and I'm hoping that later in the year there might be an opportunity. This team has a lot of potential and it certainly is something I would like to be a part of in the future, if it happens, but I want to be on a professional team - that is the end game."

    Baldwin is a two-time USPro time trial title champion, in 2003 and 2005, and his race resume includes a mixture of podiums and victories in top-level domestic stage races, including the San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour de Toona, Colorado Classic Stage Race, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Tour de Beauce, Cascade Cycling Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila and the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Over the years, he has competed with Navigators Insurance, Toyota-United Pro, Rock Racing and UnitedHealthcare.

    He was registered to compete with the Australian-based UCI Continental V Australia for the 2011 season. The team is run by Pegasus Sports owner, Chris White, and won the National Racing Calendar (NRC) overall team competition last year. Riders, including Baldwin, were left off the roster at the last moment to make room for those who lost their jobs when White's proposed Pegasus Sports Pro Continental outfit fell...

  • WADA announces Contador appeal

    Alberto Contador forges ahead in the lead while Levi Leipheimer and Michele Scarponi try to limit their losses.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 1:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Agency's appeal will run separately to the UCI's

    The World Anti-Doping Agency has announced that it too will appeal the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation's decision to acquit Alberto Contador of clenbuterol use charges.

    "The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has filed today a declaration to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne against the Spanish Cycling Federation's (RFEC) decision in the case of Alberto Contador," it announced via statement. "Mr. Contador was acquitted following a positive test for clenbuterol during an in-competition test carried out on July 21, 2010."

    WADA says it will not be making any further comment on the matter.

    Last week, the International Cycling Union (UCI) also announced its appeal to the CAS "an in-depth study of the file received from" the Spanish cycling federation.

    Unlike in the case of Alejandro Valverde, the organisation's appeals are being raised separately. Contador meantime, is free to race for the duration of the appeals process.

    The Spaniard will race both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, where he is defending champion, under a cloud. Officials from both events have been open in their frustration over the situation.

    "The judicial system in sport is slower than that we'd hoped and it's clear that something is not working because it hasn't protected our event,"  Giro d'Italia director Angelo Zomegnan lamented to Tuttobiciweb during the presentation of events that will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification during this year's Giro d'Italia.

    "My hands are tied and I...

  • Pozzato gets in extra miles on cobbles at Three Days of De Panne

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is building form in De Panne.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 2:24 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian punctured in finale of Gent-Wevelgem

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) finished safely in the bunch on stage one of the Three Days of De Panne as he continues his build-up to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Less than a week from his season’s biggest objectives, the Italian was in relaxed mood after he crossed the line in Zottegem.

    “We all arrived in the peloton together, it was a case of being tranquil and seeing how things were,” Pozzato told Cyclingnews, before explaining that he had come to De Panne not to find form, but simply to clock some extra racing miles on the cobbles ahead of the weekend.

    “It’s important to do it as it’s good practice on the pave, but my condition is already good, so I’m very calm here,” he said.

    Pozzato began his cobbled classics campaign on an unfortunate note at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, when he punctured in the finale and eventually rolled in over three minutes down on the winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step). Nonetheless, the man from Sandrigo was satisfied with his positioning on the two ascensions of the Kemmelberg.

    “I did Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday and I was in front, but unfortunately I punctured in the finale,” he said. “If it wasn’t for that, I would have been up there at the end too.”

    On the day before Boonen’s Wevelgem win, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) appeared to have closed the book on Tour of Flanders betting with an ominously strong showing en route to victory at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in Harelbeke. Pozzato acknowledged that the Swiss rider’s was the more striking performance ahead of De Ronde.

    “Cancellara definitely impressed at the weekend,” he said. “In Tom’s case, it was normal, he won a group sprint. It’s not as though he did something astonishing. So certainly I think Cancellara is the number one favourite.”

    Pozzato is happy to let Cancellara line up in Bruges as...

  • Riccò's Italian Olympic Committee hearing postponed

    Riccardo Riccò shows his attitude
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 3:16 BST
    Cycling News

    Sacked rider faces up to three years in jail and life ban

    Sacked Vacansoleil-DCM rider Riccardo Riccò's hearing with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has been postponed at the 27-year-old's request.

    Riccò had been scheduled to meet with the organisation on Friday but this will now be delayed until April 13.

    The Italian was hospitalised on February 6 with heart and lung infections following an alleged botched autologous blood transfusion. According to police records obtained by Gazzetta dello Sport, Riccò admitted to transfusing blood he had kept in a domestic fridge for 25 days. However, in the same publication earlier this month, Riccò has since denied admitting such a thing.

    Under Italian law he could face between three months and three years in jail for doping offences. Should the World Anti-Doping Authority find Ricco guilty of doping, he faces a life ban following his 20-month suspension for his 2008 positive for CERA.

    Riccò was sacked by Vaconsoleil-DCM on February 19.