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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Date published:
October 10, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Txurruka surprised but not bitter about leaving Euskaltel

    Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) gives a pre-race interview
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 14:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Basque plans to continue career

    Amets Txurruka had not expected to have to leave Euskaltel-Euskadi after six years of loyal service with the Basque team. But then he got the phone call from team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, saying the team would not renew his contract for 2013 due to a lack of UCI points.  

    “It is true that I did not expect my departure and I was a bit surprised that I had to leave the team,” he told Marca.

    Txurruka was a victim of the UCI points system, in which individual rider's results bring in points towards a team's WorldTour licence. The team manager told him “I had no points and he wasn't counting on me.  He was within his rights because my contract was also coming to an end,” Txurruka said. “He made that decision and I have no choice but to accept it.”

    He insisted there are “no hard feelings,” saying: “I leave proud of everything I have contributed to the team.”

    Txurruka is a good climbing domestique, who finished the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana this year. He intends to stay in the professional peloton in 2013 and has several options. The 30-year-old turned pro with Barloworld in 2006 before joining Euskaltel the year after..

    “I wouldn't mind resuming my career in Italy because I had some really good years there, but also to be with Caja Rural would be a very good option,” he said.


  • Viviani still going strong in Beijing

    Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) in the race leader's red jersey
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 15:21 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian to target the track at the Rio 2016 Olympics

    In an era of marginal gains and ever-increasing specialisation, Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) is something of an anomaly; a throwback to a less calibrated era of cycling. He has no qualms about switching back and forth between road and track during the season. Indeed racing a full season seems to be a particular point of honour for the young Italian sprinter.

    Viviani began racing and winning at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January. Now, almost ten months on, he is ending his season in committed fashion at the Tour of Beijing, and took his seventh victory of the season on Tuesday’s opening stage.

    During the ten-month season, the 23-year-old suffered a fractured pelvis at the track world championships in Melbourne in April, recovered to fall cruelly short of the medals in the Omnium at the London 2012 Olympics in August, and then completed the Vuelta a España for good measure.

    After pulling on the first red jersey of overall leader at the Tour of Beijing, Viviani shrugged off the idea of fatigue at the end of such a demanding campaign, saying he was simply tired of the fact that he had not won a race since taking a stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in late March.

    “I’m a bit tired alright, but mainly because it’s been a while since I’ve had a win,” Viviani told Cyclingnews.

    “It was a big disappointment to miss out on a medal at the Olympics, and it was tough to finish second in two stages at the Tour of Poland and then to have a couple more second places at the Vuelta. More than being physically tired, I think I was tired from not winning. That said, after this Tour of Beijing, I’ll be resting up for the winter so that I can get to 2013 a bit fresher.”

    At the London...

  • Video: 2012 could and should have been better, says Malori

    Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD).
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 16:43 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian on the offensive at the Tour of Beijing

    While the flat roads on the opening stage of the Tour of Beijing meant that any breakaway attempts had little chance of success, Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) was one of five escapees who looked to defy the odds by zipping off the front of the peloton shortly after it had left the imposing surrounds of Tiananmen Square.

    Malori and his comrades’ task was complicated still further by the wind that cleared Beijing’s famously smoggy skies at least for one day, but which made staying clear on the long straights of the finishing circuit a somewhat Sisyphean task.

    The Italian told Cyclingnews afterwards that his main objective was simply to allow his teammates a quiet afternoon’s work in the service of sprinter Alessandro Petacchi.

    “My attack was planned so that my teammates could be quiet in the peloton and so that the other teams would have to work,” Malori said. “I knew that it would be very hard to get to the finish with all this wind because the peloton can decide when to bring you back but I tried.”

    Malori picked up the prize for the day’s most aggressive rider for his troubles, but Petacchi was unable to make an impact in the sprint and finished ninth place behind winner Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale).

    Like most members of the peloton, the Tour of Beijing brings down the curtain on Malori’s season. Despite of a brief spell in the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia, the third-year professional was harsh in his assessment of his campaign. National time trial champion last season, the Parma native failed to pick up a win in 2012 and admitted that his report card reads ‘could do better.’

    “I am not so...

  • Houanard provisionally suspended for EPO

    Steve Houanard (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 18:29 BST
    Cycling News

    AG2R Frenchman fails out-of-competition test

    The UCI has provisionally suspended Steve Houanard (AG2R La Mondiale) for EPO use following the results of an out-of-competition test conducted on September 21, 2012.

    "The decision to provisionally suspend this rider was made in response to a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Barcelona indicating an adverse analytical finding of EPO in a urine sample," read a statement from the UCI. "The provisional suspension of Mr Houanard remains in force until a hearing panel convened by the French Cycling Federation determines whether he has committed an anti-doping rule violation under article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. Houanard has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample."

    The 26-year-old Frenchman is currently at the Tour of Beijing, the final WorldTour event of the 2012 season, where he finished 21st on the opening stage. AG2R La Mondiale has withdrawn Houanard from competition and he will remain sidelined while the French Cycling Federation conducts its disciplinary proceedings.

    The suspension of Houanard comes during the time AG2R La Mondiale is seeking a renewal of its WorldTour licence for the 2013 season.

    "It is with sadness that I heard this unfortunate news," said AG2R La Mondiale general manager Vincent Lavenu in a statement from the team. "Above all, I’m driven this evening by a strong feeling of anger because of the damage to the team and our sponsors. I want to reiterate our commitment to the biological passport and to the values upheld by the International Cycling Union. We have full confidence in the competent authorities in their fight against doping."

    Houanard turned professional with Skil-Shimano in 2009 and remained with the Dutch team through 2010. In 2011 Houanard joined...

  • Leinders not renewed after Team Sky investigation

    British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 19:31 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Sky would not confirm the reason

    Team Sky will not renew Dr. Geert Leinders' contract with the team. The former Rabobank doctor was signed to the team in the winter of 2010 but found himself at the centre of a media storm during this year's Tour de France due to his links to alleged doping practices during his time with Rabobank.

    Although the doctor was not part of Sky's Tour de France staff, the team's principal, Dave Brailsford, informed the press that he would lead a full investigation into the hiring of Leinders and his alleged links to doping.

    The investigation has now concluded and a Sky spokesperson confirmed to Cyclingnews that Leinders would not work with the team in the future. Sky would not confirm why Leinders had not been offered a contract for the future.

    "Dr Leinders worked with Team Sky on a freelance basis and that has now ended. This summer as promised we looked fully into his work and interviewed him and talked to riders and the full medical team. We have no doubts about his work with us or approach. Over the summer we have added to the medical team using staff from outside cycling and we continually look for the best way to work and to support our riders."

    The spokesperson added that it was not accurate to state that Leinders had been fired from the team although Cyclingnews understands that the decision not to renew the doctor's contract was made at least a fortnight ago.

    Leinders was the team doctor with the Rabobank team in 2007 when Michael Rasmussen was expelled from the Tour de France while in yellow for evading doping controls in the build-up to the race. He left Rabobank in 2009.

    In May of this year, former Rabobank manager Theo De Rooy told...

  • Zanini joins Astana as directeur sportif

    Zanini at the 2000 Tour de France
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 21:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian back in the WorldTour peloton

    The Astana Pro Team has announced the addition of Italian Stefano Zanini to its team of directeurs sportif for the 2013 season.

    The 43-year-old Italian retired from his professional career in 2007, having racked up wins in Giro d'Italia and the prestigious Tour de France Champs-Élysées finale in 2000. He also excelled in the Classics: as part of the powerhouse Gewiss-Ballan team in 1995 and 1996 he finished on the Milano-Sanremo podium and won the Amstel Gold Race. He then spent six seasons with Mapei, with which he placed second in the Tour of Flanders in 1998 and won the Champs-Elysees stage of the 2000 Tour de France.

    He retired in 2007, moving into a directeur sportif role with Silence-Lotto. He last held that position with Footon-Servetto and the now defunct Geox-TMC team.

    Zanini will join fellow directeurs Alexandr Vinokurov and Giuseppe Martinelli, who will rely on the Italian's knowledge of the Classics to boost the team's springtime results.

    "I am absolutely thrilled about the great opportunity that Pro Team Astana and Alexandr Vinokurov have offered me," Zanini said. "I will do everything I can to repay their faith and will give 100% to help the team conquer new heights."

  • Armstrong lawyer attacks pending USADA report

    Lance Armstrong at the 2009 Tour de France
    Article published:
    October 09, 2012, 23:32 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Questions the use of Big Tobacco lawyers in Agency's case

    A lawyer for Lance Armstrong has renewed his attack on USADA for their case against his client, criticising the impending "reasoned decision" that is set to be handed to the UCI and WADA this week. In a lengthy letter sent on October 9 to William Bock, III, the General Counsel for USADA, Timothy Herman suggests that the agency's use of lawyers who have represented Big Tobacco is further evidence that its case is about less than perceived doping infringements, but more about Armstrong, a noted anti-tobacco advocate.

    Herman continues to employ the same arguments shot down by the Texas district court judge Sam Sparks, questioning jurisdiction, procedure and motives, asking why USADA has singled out Armstrong for treatment it claims is different to any other athlete. Herman claims that USADA is not required to provide a reasoned decision to the UCI, "it is required to produce the complete file of evidence, not more allegations by USADA about what it says it could prove in a one-sided arbitration hearing," he wrote.

    USADA's media relations manager Annie Skinner commented, “The rules require us to provide a reasoned decision in every case and we are happy to let the evidence speak for itself.”

    Herman pointed to a bill that two U.S Congressman have introduced called the "Athlete Due Process Protection Act". The act aims to curb the alleged misappropriation of the taxpayer funds that prop up the Agency.

    The bipartisan bill was introduced on September 21 by Wisconsin Republican representative Jim Sensenbrenner and Michigan Democrat John Conyers. In July, Congressman Sensenbrenner sent an open letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) querying the $9 million dollars of taxpayer funding given to...

  • Van Der Ploeg set to close out impressive season at Melbourne to Warrnambool

    Neil Van Der Ploeg (Search2Retain) entered the breakaway to collect sprint classification points
    Article published:
    October 10, 2012, 1:24 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Search2Retain sprinter proud of Tasmania efforts

    A behind-the-scenes spoof video may have left you thinking otherwise but Neil Van Der Ploeg's sprint classification victory at the Tour of Tasmania was no fluke.

    Search2Retain continue to make inroads in the Australian National Road Series with the Victorian-based outfit aggressive in their pursuit of some of the more powerful Continental-registered teams like Genesys Wealth Advisers, Budget Forklifts and Drapac. At the pointy-end of the battle for Search2Retain all season has been two ex-mountain bikers, Van Der Ploeg and Luke Fetch - the pair former winners of the Tour de Timor - with both intently focusing on their ambitions on the road just as the team looks to progress over the coming years.

    According to Van Der Ploeg, the team's racing nous has improved as he and his teammates have gained more experience on the road with the race calendar spanning two disciplines.

    Fetch, 22, the team's general classification hope started the tour a bit below par having been on a course of antibiotics but worked his way back to finish second in the final stage kermesse in Devonport. Meantime Van Der Ploeg was forced to fight tooth-and-nail to ensure victory in the Sewell Sweepers Sprint Championship with Felt NZ's Daniel Barry throwing down the challenge.

    "It's not a good one [classification] to come second in because it takes a lot of effort to get the sprint jersey." Van Der Ploeg told Cyclingnews having finished runner-up to Drapac's Will Walker at the Tour of Gippsland.

    Van Der Ploeg had the lead in the classification from stages 2 through 4 before Barry took a two-point lead on Stage 5. A determined effort in the face of attacks by Barry reduced the Kiwi rider's lead to one point on Stage 6. Heading into the Burnie Criterium on Stage 7, Van Der Ploeg...