- Article published:
- May 10, 2011, 19:12
- Cycling News
Last minute withdrawal for Colombian Continental team
The Movistar Team, Colombia's Continental squad, will not be participating in the Amgen Tour of California. Contacted by Cyclingnews, the team's communications officer Juan Pablo Molinero confirmed that the team would not be at the start in Lake Tahoe on May 15.
Not to be confused with the ProTeam Movistar, which is currently participating in the Giro d'Italia, the Continental team is based in Bogotá, Colombia and has not yet participated in any UCI sanctioned races as a team, although some riders took part in the recent Panamerican Championships under their national federations.
When asked for a reason, Molinero directed Cyclingnews to contact the race organiser, saying "he is the only one that knows the reasons".
However, according to the Movistar team's website, the squad is only just getting its gear delivered "due to the paperwork required to bring the equipment into Colombia". The team is currently having its first team camp in Colombia.
Michael Roth, AEG's Vice President of Communications, said "the team made the decision based on operational factors" in recent weeks.
AEG president Andrew Messick confirmed that the race would continue with 18 teams, as was originally planned.
The Amgen Tour of California normally runs with 18 teams, but Movistar was added without fanfare in March, presumably because of a newly announced UCI rule which requires organisers of races in the UCI continental tour calendars to invite the top three teams on the UCI's sporting rankings in their respective tours.
The top three teams in the UCI Americas Tour were Movistar, Gobernacion De Antioquia – Indeportes Antiquia and EPM-UNE, all from Colombia.
Roth said a preliminary start list for the Amgen Tour of California will be announced soon.
- Article published:
- May 10, 2011, 21:13
- Cycling News
Riders decide not to continue after Weylandt's death
The Leopard Trek team announced it would leave the Giro d’Italia tonight, following the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt in a crash on stage 3.
The team completed the neutralised fourth stage today, with the team's eight riders crossing the line, arm in arm ahead of the field, along with Weylandt's close friend Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervelo.
Garmin-Cervelo said today that Farrar would also leave the Giro d'Italia early.
General Manager Brian Nygaard said that the riders made the decision with the full support of the team staff. “The decision needed to be taken by the riders, because they are the ones that participate in the race. We have always said that we would stand behind their choice.
“We wish to thank the other teams, the race organisation RCS, the Italian authorities and all the fans on the road between Genova and Livorno on today’s stage, as the peloton paid tribute to Wouter Weylandt.”
Team Captain Fabian Wegmann said, “We have a lot of respect for the Giro d’Italia and for cycling, but we simply cannot continue racing given the circumstances. We are professional athletes, but we feel this is the right thing to do.”
- Article published:
- May 10, 2011, 22:42
- Barry Ryan
Italian coach says cycling can never be fully free of risk
Italian national team manager Paolo Bettini was team leader at Quick Step when the late Wouter Weylandt began his professional career with the Belgian team, and speaking in Genoa on Tuesday, he remembered a young man who had made a career out of his greatest passion.
"I knew him, he signed for Quick Step when I was at Quick Step," Bettini told journalists ahead of stage four of the Giro d’Italia, which was neutralised in honour of Weylandt’s memory. "He spent the first few years of his career with me before I retired. He was a guy who was full of energy and who turned his favourite game – something he really loved – into his job."
Weylandt died after crashing heavily on the way down the Passo del Bocco during Monday’s stage and Bettini pointed out that Weylandt had already safely negotiated the most dangerous section of the descent prior to his crash.
"I was on the race and I saw the descent," Bettini said. "I was about two minutes ahead of the race. It was a technical and demanding descent, but we’ve done worse. Over the years I’ve seen worse descents, and certainly between now and Milan they will see worse. The fall came almost at the end of the descent where the road was a lot more straightforward than what they had done a couple of kilometres before."
While Bettini did not feel that the descent of the Passo del Bocco required undue risk from the riders, he expressed the hope that lessons would continue to be drawn on how to improve the safety of the riders.
"When I was a rider, we protested a lot about difficult courses, dangerous finishes and dangerous roads, but I don’t think that yesterday’s situation could be viewed like that," he said. "I do hope that this will still serve as a step towards finding safer courses, but as I’ve said before, we don’t ride on a track, we don’t ride on a race-car circuit, we ride on roads."
However, Bettini acknowledged that in cycling, as in life, risk can never be wholly eliminated, and he mused on the unspoken dangers that professional cyclists have to face.
"They’re ready from the morning of the first day to the evening of the last," he said. "It’s not that somebody just picks up a bike and goes to the Giro. These guys have been preparing their seasons since December, racing all over the world since January. It’s their job, and a fatality is something that nobody can predict."
Stage 14 to the summit of the fearsome Zoncolan includes the much-hyped descent of the Monte Crostis. Bettini said that he could not judge whether the Dolomite downhill posed too much of a threat to rider safety, but that the important thing was that cycling continued its efforts to reduce risk insofar as it is possible.
"I don’t know the descent," he said. "I only hope that moments like this serve to limit risks in the future, even if it would be impossible to eliminate them completely. The possibility of a fatality will always be there, but we will keep trying to avoid it."
- Article published:
- May 11, 2011, 00:19
- Barry Ryan
GreenEdge among the possible options for Australian fastman in 2012
Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) is set to continue racing for another season and the 38-year-old Australian admitted that the new Australian GreenEdge project was among his possible options for 2012.
"I don’t know if it’s going to be the last one, I might race again next year," McEwen told Cyclingnews at the Giro d’Italia, ahead of Monday’s tragic stage to Rapallo. "Actually, I think I will race again next year."
McEwen is currently on a one-year contract with the RadioShack team, which he joined following the collapse of the nascent Pegasus project in December of last year. With RadioShack’s backing due to expire at the end of the year, the team is understood to be in talks with a potential replacement sponsor. Regardless of the team’s future, however, McEwen is keeping his options open for next season.
"I don’t know, I haven’t got that far yet," he said. "I’ve just made the decision that I want to race again next year. It’s only May so it’s a bit early to speculate on where that will be yet."
One hugely enticing potential destination for the evergreen McEwen would be the new GreenEdge squad, set to debut in the peloton in 2012. Shayne Bannan’s squad has been linked with a number of high-profile Australian riders, and the addition of a rider of his considerable experience would be a considerable asset to the squad.
"Of course it would be interesting because it’s an Australian team and being an Australian and having been in the peloton for 16 years, it’s always been a dream to have an Australian team in the bunch," McEwen said. "It’s definitely interesting, but it’s at the moment probably not the only option."
While a decision on his 2012 team will have to wait until the end of the summer, there is already one Australian super squad that McEwen wants to be a part of this year. With the world championships course in Copenhagen widely expected to produce a mass sprirnt finish, McEwen is one of a number of Antipodean sprinters willing to throw his hat into the ring.
With fast men of the calibre of Matt Goss, Mark Renshaw, Allan Davis and Heinrich Haussler at their disposition, the Australians have a wealth of straight line speed for Denmark and the leadership will be hotly contested. However, McEwen maintains that having more than one option could benefit rather than hinder the Australian challenge.
"I think on a course like that and having seen previous Worlds, it’s probably good to go into a race like that with maybe three protected riders," said the 2002 world championship silver medallist. "You’d maybe have one guy who you’d call your absolute team leader that day, but you’d probably have three guys protected and the rest to pull the sprint or work towards the sprint.
"I’d love to ride, I’d love to be part of the Australian team at the Worlds again. It’s a course that suits me. I missed out last year [in Geelong – ed.], but I’d love to be there this time in Copenhagen, so hopefully I’ll get selected and have the form to warrant that."
In the meantime, McEwen is competing in the Giro d’Italia, where he is hoping to use the Italian race to build his form back up again after a hectic beginning to life at RadioShack.
"I’ve got to say I came here under-prepared as I only did two weeks of training beforehand," he admitted. "I’d basically been going since November, raced since January and all the way through until after Roubaix to Denain, so I’m hoping to ride my way into this race."
With so few sprint finishes up for grabs at the Giro, McEwen explained that it was simply a question of attempting to make it over the final climb every day as best he could.
"Every day it will be a question of whether I can get over the hill or not, and if not one of the other guys will have a go," he said. "A lot depends on the circumstances of each stage and how aggressive the punchy riders are in the finale."
One man who has caught McEwen’s eye is the wily Alessandro Petacchi, and he believes that the Italian’s strength as much as his speed could be telling in this Giro.
"Petacchi is climbing really very well and is obviously 100 percent in form, like we saw in Turkey when he won the hardest stage there," he warned.
- Article published:
- May 11, 2011, 01:44
- Jane Aubrey
Australian recovering from virus
In 2010 Michael Rogers held off challenges from David Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer to win the 5th edition of the Tour of California, however it appears as though the Australian will not return to defend his title.
Rogers left HTC-Columbia at the end of 2010 to join Sky, explaining to Cyclingnews at the Tour Down Under that: "I feel like I reached my limit with HTC with California... Sky's goals are more suited in my direction now."
The three-time world time trial champion season has so far consisted of the Australian World Tour race where he finished 53rd overall; he was down to race the Volta ao Algarve but did not start; he then finished 12th at Paris-Nice, was 83rd at Milan – San Remo before taking on Pais Vasco where he was 111th.
Rogers' twitter feed has given some insight into his interrupted schedule, explaining that as early as March 26th, he had been struggling with his health. A month later, he said: "Unfortunately no Tour of Romandie for me! I'm out with a virus that's been lingering around for a few months!"
Fortunately, his health seems to be on the way back, explaining on May 7: "Nice to be back into some serious training again. I will be back racing again in the near future!"
Rogers sat out most of the 2008 season after he contracted glandular fever.
Meantime, Sky has announced a line-up of Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Alex Dowsett, Chris Froome, Mathew Hayman, Greg Henderson, Jeremy Hunt, Ian Stannard, and Ben Swift for the Amgen Tour of California.
Rogers is next expected to race at the Bayern-Rundfahrt which starts May 25.
- Article published:
- May 11, 2011, 05:10
- Sarah Connolly
Italian rider hopes to recover and take a stage win in the Giro
Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R-La Mondiale finished stage one of the Giro d’Italia in 205th place, yesterday, over six minutes behind the race winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre ISD). But this surprising result for the Italian rider, who held the yellow jersey for eight days in the 2009 Tour de France, is down to health problems, according to Tuttobiciweb.
“For some days I've been fighting bronchitis, I am treating it with antibiotics and yesterday was hard.”
The Italian is hoping that his condition will improve as the race progresses, then not just survive, but get a win for the team.
“I will not give up and I'll hold on until I recover, and then try to go hunting for a stage victory."
The Giro's first rest day doesn't come until next week so the Italian will be looking to ride within himself, keep warm, and improve for the second and third weeks of the race.
- Article published:
- May 11, 2011, 05:53
- Cycling News
Investigation unaffected by fallout from Barry Bonds case
News agency AP reports that prosecutors are progressing with plans to pursue Lance Armstrong on drug-related fraud and corruption charges, despite a less than convincing result in a similar case against former US baseball player Barry Bonds.
U.S authorities have approached their European counterparts for assistance in gathering evidence about the recently retired RadioShack rider along with members of his former US Postal team.
Should such evidence be available, it would boost the Food and Drug Administration’s case against the seven-time Tour de France winner, which is currently before a grand jury in Los Angeles, and have a large bearing on the decision to press criminal charges in relation to his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong could also find himself charged with fraud and conspiracy if it’s found that an alleged doping program was allowed to flourish while the team received government sponsorship.
"This case isn't like Bonds and Clemens," a source familiar with the case said to AP – the latter facing trial for perjury following the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. "Those were about lying. This is about corruption to the core."
Officials have described the investigative process as an incredibly complex procedure which of course means it has to take time. Some within the US however have questioned the use of public funding on cases like Armstrong, particularly considering it has an uncertain outcome.
"There is a substantial investment in the investigation which makes it less likely that they'll walk away from it," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor.
"I don't think they would spend this time or money as a witch hunt against Lance Armstrong."
The US professor believes the investigation has more substance to it than much of the mainstream media would have you believe and dismisses comparisons with the Bonds case. As does a European official co-operating with the investigation.
"Was (Bonds) also accused of fraud involving federal funds? I know Novitzky isn't the only one investigating."
Because of the enormity of the case, investigators from other agencies including the FBI and IRS have also been conducting separate inquiries. It is Novitzky, however who has the most scope and has continued his pressure on European authorities to get access to past drug tests undertaken while Armstrong was in his peek. Many were stored and frozen by the French anti-doping agency from the period of 1999-2005 but some being requested are also from the period of Armstrong’s return in 2009.
US investigators will also be asking for witness statements from a number of officials and people within France, including former head of the French anti-doping agency Pierre Bordry and a number of Armstrong's former US postal teammates.
Meanwhile, Novitzky, who also has been involved in the Bonds and Clemens cases, is insisting on the need for secrecy from the Europeans, warning that leaks could compromise the probe.
"They want the procedure to be solid," one official familiar with the case said to AP.
"He is doing a very good job," the official added, referring to Novitzky's conduct during the probe. "When he bites, he doesn't let go."
- Article published:
- May 11, 2011, 07:43
- Jean-François Quénet
Former stage winner highly motivated in 2011 race
As the racing resumes at the Giro d'Italia after the procession honouring the memory of deceased rider Wouter Weylandt, a man to watch is Christophe Le Mével. The Frenchman from Garmin-Cervélo is on sixth position in the overall classification and might find himself at ease in stage 5 using 19.3 kilometres of gravelled roads on the way to Orvieto in Tuscany. He's the climber who made the selection on the final hill preceding the arrival in Rapallo on Monday.
"Before the stage, looking at the profile with a hill located with 10 kilometres to go, I promised to myself that I wouldn't hesitate to attack if there was an opportunity," Le Mével told Cyclingnews after the neutralized stage 4. "As I was on a good position, I attacked. Pablo Lastras made our group of four ride very fast in the downhill. Only with one kilometre to go, I've realized that my teammate David Millar had come across, so I rode flat out for the jersey."
Finishing second to Angel Vicioso, the Scot became the new race leader thanks to the time bonus instead of the Frenchman. "I'm happy for him," Le Mével said. "He deserves the jersey more than me for now because he has done most of the work during the team time trial."
The Garmin-Cervélo team has now two cards to play for the pink show. "It's up to us to create other opportunities like on Monday', Le Mével added. "We'll ride at the front for sure." As a climber who came from mountain biking, he's an obvious potential successor to Cadel Evans for winning stage 5 using the roads of the Strade bianche in Tuscany. "I'll do my best for being at the front and ride for the stage win," Le Mével warned. "If I happen to take the pink jersey in Orvieto, it's gonna be super! But if I don't, I might have another chance in Montevergine on Friday. I believe David can be good on the Strade bianche as well."
Millar's late discovery of the classics make him a valuable contender for stage 5 too. He sadly missed the Flemish classics this year due to a virus, so the gravelled roads from Tuscany give him an opportunity to overcome his frustration. In any case, the Garmin-Cervélo team still has a lot to do at the Giro after the abandon of Tyler Farrar due to the death of his good friend Weylandt.
"It's good to see that all the good work I've done at home pays off," said Le Mével who hails originally from Brittany but recently moved from Nice to Lugano in Switzerland. He's making his return this year to the race where he won a stage in 2005. That year, he met his Italian wife Laura.
"Italy is my second country," he added. Even though he was the best French rider finishing tenth with Française des Jeux in 2009, he doesn't have the Tour de France on his race program this year and focuses on the Giro d'Italia only.