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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Date published:
May 05, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • UCI confirms there is no Scognamiglio bio passport case

    Carlo Scognamiglio (ISD - Neri)
    Article published:
    May 04, 2010, 16:16 BST
    Cycling News

    ISD-Neri angered by false accusation, may register team abroad in 2011

    The Italian Pro Continental team ISD-Neri received confirmation today from the International Cycling Union (UCI) that the rider Carlo Scognamiglio is not under investigation for irregularities in his biological passport, negating rumours which linked the Italian to the investigation that snared Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo), Jesus Rosendo Prado (Andalucia-Cajasur) and Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r-La Mondiale) on Monday.

    ISD-Neri's team manager Angelo Citracca received an email Tuesday morning from the UCI Anti-Doping Coordinator Office which stated: "The UCI confirms that no letter has been ever sent to the rider for any abnormality that would concern the rider's biological passport," according to Italian cycling site tuttobiciweb.

    Before the UCI identified Pellizotti, Rosendo Prado and Valjavec as having irregularities with their biological 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 the trio and would incur disciplinary actions as well.

    The ISD-Neri team angrily denied the allegations, saying that the 26-year-old Italian had received no notification of any suspicions or disciplinary proceedings, which the UCI confirmed today.

    As a result of the situation, ISD-Neri's management is considering registering the team outside of Italy for the 2011 season.

  • Larpe positive for EPO

    Mickaël Larpe (Roubaix-Lille-Métropole) at the 2010 Tour Méditerranéen.
    Article published:
    May 04, 2010, 18:21 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman faces two-year ban

    Mickaël Larpe from the Continental team Roubaix-Lille-Métropole has tested positive for EPO, the French professional league announced today, just 10 hours after the police raided his house in Angoulême. The Frenchman faces a two-year ban and an inquiry is ongoing about trafficking of doping products.

    Larpe, 24, returned a positive sample when he was tested by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) at the Cholet-Pays de Loire race on March 21.

    A few days later, a controversy was made public as the AFLD wasn't supposed to conduct tests in French professional bike races. French cycling federation president David Lappartient criticised the initiative since the UCI is the only governing body entitled to test pro cyclists on French soil this year. "This is illegal," Lappartient said.

    The AFLD targeted several members of the Roubaix-Lille-Métropole team. Some riders were tested the day before the race and once again the day after the race. The UCI, however, has agreed to validate the tests made by the AFLD.

    Larpe is the first French cyclist to test positive this year. The 24-year-old Frenchman is in his fourth year with Roubaix-Lille-Métropole and his best result was a second place at the 2009 GP de Plumelec-Morbihan, a race organised by Lappartient. Larpe is the son of Michel Larpe who was himself a professional cyclist with La Redoute from 1981 to 1983.

  • Wurf Giro-bound after solid start with Androni Giocattoli

    Cameron Wurf (Androni Giocattoli - Serramenti Diquigiovanni)
    Article published:
    May 04, 2010, 21:08 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Australian to play key support role for captain Scarponi

    Cameron Wurf will make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia on Saturday after impressing his Androni Giocattoli squad throughout his first two months with the team. The 26-year-old Australian will be a key domestique for the Italian squad's captain, Michele Scarponi, but will be ready to seize his own opportunities at the three-week race.

    "I'm pretty excited. This is the biggest race of the year for our team, so I'm looking forward to being a part of that," Wurf told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.

    Wurf's major role at the Giro will be to support Androni leader Michele Scarponi, who has shown strong general classification form so far this season. The Italian finished first overall at Settimana Lombarda last month and second at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. In both cases, Wurf formed part of Scarponi's support crew.

    "We're going to the Giro to support Michele. He wants to finish high in the overall, so we'll all be there to support him. After that I expect we'll all be asked to see what we can do during the race, but first-and-foremost we're going there to support Michele," said Wurf.

    The two have spent time together outside of their racing schedules in an effort to build a rapport their team hopes will pay dividends in the opening fortnight of the Giro. With the race's brutal final week expected to decide the final order of the general classification, Wurf said the team will be focused on keeping Scarponi as fresh as possible for latter stages of the race.

    "Personally I've spent quite a bit of time training with Scarponi recently. I think the main idea was so that we can build a bit of a relationship with one another," he said. "As a team we'll be looking to protect him in the same way as the leaders of other teams, but in the third week hopefully he'll be able to take care of things himself."

    Wurf's position in Androni's Giro roster has come by virtue of his consistent debut with the squad, after joining them...

  • Pellizotti insists he is clean

    Franco Pellizotti
    Article published:
    May 04, 2010, 21:14 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Expert suggests the UCI may have misinterpreted the blood values

    After the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced this week that he was in apparent violation of the biological passport parameters, Franco Pellizotti and his team of specialists and lawyers have insisted there is nothing irregular with his blood values and claim the variations detected by the UCI could have been caused by dehydration.

    Looking saddened but defiant as he spoke at a press conference in Milan on Tuesday afternoon, Pellizotti was convinced he can prove his innocence and questioned why he was named so close to the start of the Giro d'Italia.

    "I would have liked to have been at another press conference, perhaps in Amsterdam…" he said according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

    "If I think about all the sacrifices I've made and all the work I've done and all the times I've overlooked my family, and now I can't race. I'm not interested in talking about the rider I am but about the person I am. I want to come out of this clean because I'm convinced I am. I'm not worried but it's very annoying that I could be in Holland for the Giro. That's why it feels like it's all a joke."

    Pellizotti's lawyer Rocco Taminelli and the Liquigas-Doimo team doctor, Roberto Corsetti both questioned how the UCI experts came to decide that the Italian rider should face disciplinary proceeding for breaking anti-doping rules.

    They claimed that only two of the 22 values included in Pellizotti's Biological Passport caused concern and said that only three of the nine UCI medical experts had considered the values unusual. They revealed that the two irregular haemoglobin and reticulocytes values tests were done in November 2008, a month after Pellizotti had ended his season, and then on July 2 last year, just before the start of the Tour de France.

    "We're not contesting the actual Biological Passport, It's the right instrument. But in this case it's been wrongly applied," Taminelli told Gazzetta dello...

  • Farrar primed for return to the Giro d'Italia

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) wins Scheldeprijs
    Article published:
    May 04, 2010, 21:28 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Garmin-Transitions sprinter seeks a stage win

    One year has passed since Tyler Farrar made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia, and after a bit of down time following a full spring campaign the Garmin-Transitions sprinter is coolly confident ahead of the Italian Grand Tour.

    After early frustrations at the Tours of Qatar and Oman, Farrar notched a pair of victories later in the spring, taking a stage at Driedaagse De Panne plus his first victory during the Classics season at Scheldeprijs.

    "I'm really happy with how my spring campaign went. For the most part I met all the goals I set for myself over the spring," Farrar told Cyclingnews.

    "Once we wrapped up the Classics with [Paris] Roubaix I had a week completely off and enjoyed some down time. I then spent a week at home getting into the swing of things training and then I came down to Girona for the past 10 days to really hit it hard and bring the form back for the Giro.

    "It's always a little strange jumping into a race when you haven't raced in a month, but I feel like my fitness is pretty good."

    With a lead-out train bolstered by the addition of Brazil's Murilo Fischer, the 25-year-old American enters the Giro with a stage win as his goal after coming tantalizingly close to victory several times at last year's Giro. "My level of experience is much higher going into the Giro than last year," said Farrar.

    "For the sprint days I'll have Julian [Dean] and Murilo [Fischer] and also probably Dave Millar chipping in a bit to try to really string it out in the last kilometre or two and take control of the race. Hopefully that will pay off with a stage win."

    Farrar is familiar with his sprint rivals at the Giro, including Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), André Greipel (Team HTC-Columbia), Robbie McEwen...

  • Roulston focused on improving health for Tour selection

    Hayden Roulston fresh from his strong performance in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
    Article published:
    May 05, 2010, 9:00 BST
    Cycling News

    California start still in question for New Zealander

    New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston is hoping to recover from an illness that has dogged him since last month’s Paris-Roubaix, in order to prove himself worthy of HTC-Columbia’s Tour de France roster selection. Roulston was forced to miss last week’s Tour of Romandie and admits he probably shouldn’t have contested Roubaix, where he finished an impressive 10th.

    “I’ve still got time to be at my best and make the Tour team for July,” said Roulston. “I’m confident I will do this and that’s what’s driving me now, to get healthy, strong again, and come back fighting.

    “It’s been a huge shame as I missed the Tour of Romandie last week and also I’ve missed out on really enjoying my time with my family,” he added.

    Roulston was sick heading into Roubaix but said he ignored the issue while he focused on a strong performance in France. He originally tried to resume training after the event, but has since spent two weeks trying to recover after the Spring Classic.

    “I’ve been really sick since Paris-Roubaix with on and off flu type symptoms and have really struggled with my health,” he said. “Heading into Roubaix I didn’t want to even acknowledge to myself how sick I felt, and looking back maybe I shouldn’t have raced but I really wanted too and I’m thankful I did as I had a good race, but know I could have had an even better result if I hadn’t been so sick; it really took it out of me.”

    While the Amgen Tour of California is on Roulston’s schedule for May, he will monitor his condition as he returns to training this week before making any decisions on the United States of America race. “The team still wants me to go but I have to get well and have missed some training so will see how this week goes,” said Roulston.

  • No Giro d’Italia for Kessiakoff

    Fredrik Kessiakoff at the finish of the 2009 Giro d'Italia's fifth stage in Alpe di Siusi.
    Article published:
    May 05, 2010, 9:11 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Fatigue leads Swede to miss his third Grand Tour

    Garmin-Transitions rider Fredrik Kessiakoff will miss one of his main season goals, the Giro d’Italia, after experiencing fatigue during his first season with the squad.

    “I still have not heard from the team, so at this point I’m pretty sure I’m not going to the Giro,” he told Cyclingnews on Tuesday morning. “After my disappointing spring campaign, I have left it 100 percent with the team to decide wheather I should go or not. I totally respect their decision, whatever it may be.”

    He later spoke with the team management and decided to change course for 2010. “I have had a really hard time finding my form during the spring. The season is long and my focus will now be to come back for the later part of the season,” he confirmed via his website.

    Kessiakoff is a former mountain biker who placed third in the 2006 world MTB championships and twice represented Sweden at the Olympics. He refocused his career towards road racing in 2009, competing with the Fuji-Servetto team, and made an immediate impression.

    Fourth overall in the Tour de Langkawi was a strong start and this was followed by ninth in the Tour de Romandie and tenth on a stage of the Giro d’Italia. Kessiakoff then completed his second Grand Tour of the year in September when he finished the Vuelta a España.

    Moving to Garmin-Transitions was the next step in his evolution, but things haven’t gone to plan thus far. The 29-year-old crashed in the Volta ao Algarve, being forced to pull out, and then broke a rib when he fell again in training. Fatigue issues then led to his withdrawal from the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

    “I am struggling this year,” he admitted recently. “I am convinced that it is mainly due to a heavy racing schedule last year, which has set me back. My body just really doesn’t want to rev as much as I would like it to.

    “I can train...

  • Valverde accuses UCI and CONI of vendetta

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) adjusts his collar after winning the 2010 Tour of Romandie
    Article published:
    May 05, 2010, 9:39 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Spaniard emphasises that he has never tested positive in his career

    Alejandro Valverde has accused the presidents of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) of having “an institutional and personal viciousness” against him. The Spaniard also continued to protest against claims that he has been involved in doping, saying, “No banned substance has ever been detected in my body and my biological profile is flawless.”

    CONI banned Valverde from racing in Italy for two years after matching his DNA to blood bags taken in Operación Puerto. The UCI is looking to extend the ban worldwide.

    Gianni Petrucci, the head of CONI, has said, "It doesn't give a good impression of cycling to see an athlete who continues to compete after the sentence has been confirmed by all agencies, sporting and judicial.” Valverde most recently won the final stage and overall title at the Tour de Romandie on Sunday.

    "These statements by these leaders can only be understood within the institutional and personal viciousness that exists against me, and for the sole purpose of putting pressure on institutions, especially the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to make decisions even if this penalty has to go against the applicable regulations," said the Caisse d'Epargne rider.

    The accusations "refer to events that allegedly occurred more than six years ago. My main victories (including the Tour of Spain, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Dauphiné Libéré, Tour of Catalonia, stages at the Tour de France, Tour de Romandie) are indisputable," he said. "They seek to cast doubt on the victories gained over my career and to damage my public image."

    He added that his attorneys are looking into possible legal action against McQuaid and Petrucci for their statements and the harm to his image.