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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, April 9, 2010

Date published:
April 09, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • RadioShack denies Armstrong's Suisse preference

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) returned to the Tour of Flanders for the first time in eight years.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 8:14 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Decision to be made after Tour of California

    Team RadioShack denies that Lance Armstrong has decided to ride the Tour de Suisse in June instead of the Dauphiné Libéré. The decision as to which race the American will use as his final preparation for the Tour de France has not yet been made, according to the team.

    “I don't know who sent this story into the world,” team spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews Friday morning when confronted with the rumour. “We will decide after the Tour of California.”

    The two races are the traditional wind-up for the pre-Tour preparations. The Dauphiné Libéré is held this year from June 6 to 13, and the Tour de Suisse from June 12 to 20, so Tour de France riders have to choose which event will best suit them to fine-tune their form for July.

    Armstrong most recently had to drop out of the Circuit de la Sarthe due to stomach problems. He is now at his home in Austin, Texas, and had announced earlier that he would not ride the Amstel Gold Race as was planned.

    The team said that his programme may have to be changed yet again. His next scheduled race is the Tour of California in mid-May, and only after that will the team decide whether he will be in France or Switzerland in June.

  • Steegmans to return to racing in Castilla y Leon

    Gert Steegmans (RadioShack) speaks about his collarbone injury at a press conference in Waregem, Belgium.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 11:54 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack rider recovered from Paris-Nice crash

    Gert Steegmans of Team RadioShack will return to racing next week almost six weeks after a bad crash which saw him literally blown out of the Paris-Nice prologue. His broken collarbone is now healed and the Belgian plans to start in the Vuelta Ciclista Castilla y Leon from April 14-18.

    Steegmans, who was supposed to be RadioShack's rider for the Spring Classics, first suffered a concussion in a crash at the Volta ao Algarve. The more serious injury came in the beginning of March, when a tornado-like wind hit him during the Paris-Nice prologue, blowing him off the road. “It was a terrible crash,” said RadioShack directeur sportif Dirk Demol. “I've never seen anything like it in my life.”

    He will return to the peloton next Wednesday in Burgos, Spain, and already knows that “the first competition will not be easy.”

    After Castilla y Leon, his participation in the Tour of Romandie (April 27 – May 2) is possible, while his presence at the Tour of Belgium (May 26 – 39) has been announced as definite.

    Steegman's first season highlight is now the Belgian championship in June. “I want to be in top form for that race. In any case the race is a good one for me.”

  • French investigation reveals doping "protocols"

    Pierre Bordry
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 12:15 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Ukrainian U23 riders admitted ways to mask EPO use

    A French police investigation following the Tour de l'Avenir in September 2009 has revealed the existence of "masking protocols" to hide the presence of blood booster EPO in anti-doping samples.

    Last year, two riders from the Ukrainian team competing in the U23 event, as well as the father of one of them and the team's physiotherapist, were arrested in Besançon for "possession and use of illegal substances used for doping". One of the substance was Actovegin, a calf blood derivative used for recovery which is not on the list of banned substances but is illegal in France. While in police custody, the riders reportedly admitted that they had doped, and revealed procedures to mask their use of EPO during controls.

    According to the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD, a civil party in the subsequent legal investigation, the riders said that they were "heavily doped, notably with EPO. But their samples were negative, because these athletes took the products according to a protocol, elaborated by specialists, that allows them to dope without testing positive in an anti-doping control," said AFLD president Pierre Bordry at a press conference on Thursday.

    The investigation concluded that these protocols involved "personal kits to use for each athlete. There is not one substance used [to mask the presence of EPO] but several substances with combined effects. At the same time, it is being done very carefully as each of the substances is administered on such a [small] level that will make it very hard to be detected," said AFLD scientific counselor Michel Rieu.

    It seems the uncovered procedures are highly complicated and could only be elaborated by medical experts. "The protocols are very astute and could not have been created by 19- or 20 year-olds. There has to be extremely powerful networks behind them," continued Rieu.

    The AFLD and police investigators now hope to uncover these networks, which are believed to operate not only...

  • Omega Pharma-Lotto looking to strengthen team for 2011

    André Greipel (Team HTC - Columbia) celebrates his victory in Lagos.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 12:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Greipel and Willems on potential shopping list

    Omega Pharma-Lotto is the only ProTour team without a victory so far this season, and the team is already looking at some new signings for the coming year. According to the Gazet van Antwerpen, it is interested in signing Andre Greipel and Frederik Willems.

    Lotto lost its biggest name rider, World Champion Cadel Evans, to BMC Racing Team this year. Captain Philippe Gilbert finished last year with a series of top wins, but did not bring in a win until the Giro d'Italia.

    Greipel, 27, has six wins this season, including the overall title in the Tour Down Under. His contract with HTC-Columbia expires the end of this season, and in light of recent critical comments from teammate Mark Cavendish, the Belgium media deem it possible that Greipel will look for a new team. The German is one of the top sprinters, a position which at Omega Pharma-Lotto has been empty since Robbie McEwen left the team after the 2008 season.

    The other rider of interest is 30-year-old Belgian Frederik Willems, who has been with Liquigas since 2007. While he has not had any wins this season, he won the Driedaagse van De Panne in 2009 and the Etoile de Besseges in 2006. Team Katusha is also said to be interested in Willems.

  • Bahati rider killed during training ride

    Jorge Alvarado
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 13:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Jorge Alvarado hit by a car in California

    Bahati Foundation rider Jorge Alvarado was tragically killed while training in California on Thursday, Rahsaan Bahati revealed on his Facebook page.

    Local media reported that a rider was hit by a mid-size sedan while riding in San Bernardino County. The news was also confirmed by the team.

    The accident occurred at 9:52 a.m. near Greenspot and Santa Ana Truck Roads and police closed the road for most of the day as they investigated the accident.

    Alvarado was originally from Mexico and was one of five amateur riders added to the Bahati Foundation team for the 2010 season.

  • HTC-Columbia and Garmin-Transitions announce Paris-Roubaix squads

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Transitions) wins the 98th Scheldeprijs.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 13:58 BST
    Cycling News

    American teams feature recent winners Eisel and Farrar

    American ProTour teams HTC-Columbia and Garmin-Transitions are sending strong teams to Paris-Roubaix, with both Gent-Wevelgem winner Bernhard Eisel and Scheldeprijs winner Tyler Farrar riding in the “Hell of the North”.

    Eisel will be supported by seven Paris-Roubaix veterans, plus race rookie Adam Hansen. Lars Bak, Matt Goss, Hayden Roulston, Vicente Reynes, Marcel Sieberg and Martin Velits round out the HTC-Columbia team. Sieberg was the team's highest finisher last year, coming in 20th.

    HTC-Columbia's secret weapon may be directeur sportif Tristan Hoffman, who rode the race three times between 2000 and 2004. He achieved a second placing in 2004, after finishing fourth in 2000 and 2002.

    Garmin will have an equally strong team at the start, with Farrar, David Millar and Martijn Maaskant all with good chances. Maaskant finished fourth in the race in 2008, but hasn't shown much this season yet. Farrar, who has had better results so far this year than his Belgian teammate, has said that he will act as a helper in the race.

    Garmin will also send Julian Dean, Steven Cozza, Johan Vansummeren, Danny Pate and Ricardo van der Velde.

  • Flecha ready for anything at Paris-Roubaix

    I've got a feelin': Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) looking relaxed at the start
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 13:59 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky leader not afraid of Boonen and Cancellara

    Juan Antonio Flecha knows he will have to beat Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara if he wants to win Pais-Roubaix on Sunday, yet the experienced Spaniard refuse to be overawed by his rivals and is ready for any race scenario on the cobbles on Sunday.

    Flecha is always on form for the Spring Classics and especially Roubaix. He finished second in 2007, sixth last year and has other top five placings.

    "I can remember every Roubaix I've ridden. I remember my first one and second one when I was in the front and from there all the big results started to come," the Team Sky rider said before going for a final training ride in Belgium and traveling to Compiègne on Friday.

    "I think I love this race for the same reason as many other riders. It's because they're epical. There's a lot of adversity during the race. It defines me and all the 200 riders who will be on the start line on Sunday."

    Flecha is considered one of the big favourites for Paris-Roubaix and will be absolute team leader at Team Sky after Edvald Boasson Hagen was sidelined by an Achilles heel injury. He was not quite as strong as Boonen and Cancellara in the Tour of Flanders and would struggle against Boonen in a sprint. Yet he rightly refuses the idea he cannot beat then both in any race scenario and his victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad backs up his claim.

    "I rode perfect at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and it could happen again on Sunday. Why not? But it’s going to be about many factors, not only being strong," he said.

    "I'm not going to think about the ways I can't win this race otherwise it'd be better if I don't even start the race. If there is only one way I can win that's wrong. At the start everyone has the same chance of winning."

    "People say Cancellara is really strong and can win by a minute and Boonen is fast in the sprint, but I have to adapt to the situation of the race. If I'm there at the end, I have to try and see how I can beat...

  • Ballan and Santambrogio pulled from racing

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team) makes his way to the sign-on in Gent
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 14:07 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC pulls riders out of competition due to Mantova investigation

    The BMC Racing Team has announced on Friday morning that Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio will not be racing pending the outcome of the Mantova police investigation, an anti-doping investigation currently being held in Italy.

    The team management, represented by team president Jim Ochowicz, announced in a press release that the squad decided to put both Ballan and Santambrogio on inactive status until the matter is resolved.

    "It has come to our attention that two of our riders, Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio, are the subject of an investigation by Italian authorities stemming from incidents that took place more than two years ago - when they were members of the Lampre team and not affiliated with the BMC Racing Team," the team said.

    "The BMC Racing Team and its members were not aware of this investigation until a few days ago and we hope to obtain more information about the proceedings. However, we have already made the decision to withhold the two from competition, in accordance with the BMC Racing Team's own policy and the UCI's Code of Conduct (Section IX, Item 2). This should not be seen as pre-determination of guilt in connection with the Italian investigation. Both will have to personally address the accusations."

    The decision means that former world champion Ballan, who was planned to race Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, will miss out on the event. A replacement rider has not yet been announced.

    Cyclingnews caught up with Ballan immediately after the news broke, and found out the rider hadn't been notified yet by the team. "I don’t really want to say anything," Ballan said on the phone. "I haven't heard anything from the team since last night. I'll just respect the decision of the team because they pay my wages."

    In the Mantova investigation, the Italian Tour of Flanders winner is believed to have ties to Guido Nigrelli, the pharmacist at the centre of the investigation. Nigrelli...