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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 26, 2010

Date published:
February 26, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Washington DC a front runner for Giro 2012 start

    Angelo Zomegnan, Danilo Gallinari Italian ambassador Giulio Terzi and Mark Sommers
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 4:56 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    VIPs mingle to sell US start to Italian tour

    The striking architecture of the Italian embassy in Washington, DC provided a grand setting on Thursday evening for one of cycling's most ambitious initiatives: bringing a Grand Tour to United States of America soil. The members of the Giro DC 2012 Working Group, the Washington Convention and Sports Authority (WCSA), the DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Guilio Terzi, the Italian ambassador to the United States and Giro organiser Angelo Zomegnan came together with the purpose of educating city leaders and potential sponsors about the race and its grand objectives.

    Under the banner ‘History is made but once’, a pre-recorded presentation video emphatically stated that the Giro d'Italia would start in Washington in 2012, but the chair of the working group responsible for the bid, Mark Sommers, and Giro director Angelo Zomegnan were more cautious in their pronouncements. Zomegnan expressed optimism about bringing his country's biggest race to the US capital, promising to prepare "something special" and to bring "great days to a great town". Speaking with Cyclingnews, he said that the city is one of three bidding for the 2012 departure, but Washington is "the front runner".

    The only obstacle in his mind is the issue of jetlag and its effect on the riders. "The athletes are our greatest asset, and we must consider carefully how this will affect them," he said.

    The final confirmation for the host city of the 2012 Giro d'Italia start is still several months off, but Zomegnan said he was confident that the city and working group will be able to assemble the necessary resources to host the event. A corporate sponsor has not yet been named, but the desire to bring the race to DC is clearly there on both sides.

    Mayor Fenty, an avid cyclist, vowed to do everything in his power to ensure that the bid can go forward, praising the work of the working group. "We're in the final processes, we have our fingers crossed - it looks good, but we're...

  • Guatemala suspends Velásquez for life

    The Guatemalan team
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 9:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Second doping violation results in life ban, teammate given two years

    The Guatemalan national cycling federation has banned Nery Velásquez for life for his second doping violation. It has also stripped Velásquez of his victory in the 2009 Vuelta de Oro (Vuelta a Guatemala).

    His teammate Alfredo Ajpacaja, who also tested positive at the race, was suspended for two years.

    Both riders tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid developed for veterinary use.

    Velasquez had previously been suspended for two years in 2004 for using EPO.

    The president of the federation, Alfredo Flores, said that neither rider was able to provide any evidence against the charges. They were notified in writing of their suspensions on Wednesday of this week.

  • Eisel: HTC-Columbia can still spring surprises

    Bernhard Eisel on TV after his stage win in Suisse
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 10:33 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Austrian says newly restructured team has shown it can win

    Bernhard Eisel believes that despite losing several big name riders, HTC-Columbia could still spring surprises in Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this weekend. Last year’s Columbia outfit included both Edvald Boasson Hagen and Marcus Burghardt, but with both moving on to Team Sky and BMC respectively, the American team look a little lighter on paper.

    In the off-season the team signed several up-and-coming young riders including Leigh Howard, Jan Bakelants, Tejay van Garderen, Peter and Martin Velits, as well as the more experienced Lars Bak and Hayden Roulston.

    “We can certainly surprise people,” said Eisel, who will race Het Nieuwsblad before catching a plane to join up with Mark Cavendish for training.

    “We have good names but not the big stars and no real captain. Okay, I know the roads a bit better because I’ve done Het Nieuwsblad a few more times but that doesn’t mean anything or that I’m the captain,” Eisel told Cyclingnews.

    Eisel believes that the team are turning over a new chapter in their history as they aim to build another successful team. “It’s like when we had a new team: We won loads of races. This year we restructured again and everyone said all the good guys had left but we’ve won the same amount of races, even without Cavendish racing. We saw Mick Rogers winning yesterday. We have a lot of talent.”

    “We’ve got Goss who is quick, Velits was in the front group last year and Lars Bak is always good in those races. I think we can play a role but probably not like Quick Step or BMC.”

    Eisel himself is no stranger to the Classics and has raced Paris-Roubaix multiple times, finishing in the top ten in the cobbled Classic. It’s a race he still dreams of winning and after working for the likes of George Hincapie in the past, his chance could come this year.

    “I still dream...

  • Cavendish reveals the pain of his dental problems

    Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC)
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 10:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    HTC-Columbia sprinter happy to back in action

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) failed to finish the Ruta del Sol stage race but is just happy his 2010 season is underway after some painful dental problems wrecked his January training and planned debut at the Tour of Qatar.

    Cavendish was part of a big group of riders who failed to finish the rain-soaked last hilly stage to Antequera on Thursday. He was in good company, with time trial winner Alex Rasmussen (Saxo Bank) and 18 other riders climbing off. Only 61 riders finished.

    Cavendish's teammate Michael Rogers won overall after a strong ride in the stage four time trial.

    Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Cavendish admitted his dental problems had been more painful than anything he suffered on the bike. He is set to wear a dental brace for the next 12 months.

    "It's over now and my condition's improving fast but it was the worst pain I've ever felt, it hurt so much I was crying like a baby," Cavendish told the Independent.

    "Once I had a wisdom tooth out without anaesthetic, this was more painful. The infection killed the nerve on one tooth and another had to be taken out. There was one point where to swab it they had to cut it with a knife. The truth is that I wouldn't wish the pain I felt on anybody."

    While Cavendish has been suffering, his rivals have been racing and winning. However with Cavendish targeting the green jersey at the Tour de France and then the world championships in Australia in September, a slower start to the season could play to his advantage.

    "What happened could end up being a blessing in disguise as it'll force me to come into form later than planned. It's a long season. Andalucia is only the starting point," he said.

    Cavendish's next race is expected to be the Strade Bianche race on the Eroica dirt roads in Tuscany on March 6, followed by Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.

  • Gripper leaves UCI

    Anne Gripper
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 12:14 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Head of Anti-Doping department returns home to Australia


    Anne Gripper, the head of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) Anti-Doping Department will step down from her role in the next few days. Francesca Rossi will take over and leave the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), where she was Administrative and Scientific Manager. Gripper has served at the UCI since 2006 and overseen the creation of the Biological Passport.


    Gripper plans to return to Australia for personal reasons but hopes to remain close to the sport in the future. In 2009, she lost her partner to a tragic accident and had hoped to move back to Australia before the end of the year. However, with a successor needed, Gripper remained at the UCI, and will officially hand over duties on March 5.

    "I decided I want to be back in Australia with family and friends. It's purely personal reasons," Gripper told Cyclingnews.

    "I need to do something a bit gentler on my soul for the time being. I'm going to do something completely different. My partner left a moderately sized estate and what she wanted was for it to be used as a foundation to support projects in sport, education and medical issues and focus on Africa to start. She was raising funds for Tanzania when she died so I'll continue to support that and some other projects as well. I've got a lot of learning to do and I don't have a strong financial background and make sure it's set up in the best practical way."

    Gripper hopes to remain close to sport and cycling though: "I'll keep connections within Australian sport, that's my real passion and I'd love to stay connected to cycling and to WADA."

    Gripper had overseen the creation and first cases of the biological passport, a programme that has taken two years to get off the ground.

    "In some ways I'm disappointed that I won't be able to see the journey through. I think we've done the hard work and that it will become easier now. We have begun the...

  • Sunderland reveals the secrets of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    Geraint Thomas and Team Sky directeur sportif Scott Sunderland celebrate the team's success on the podium
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 12:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    20km section of climbs and cobbles expected to decide the Belgian season opener

    Team Sky senior directeur sportif Scott Sunderland has predicted that Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be decided during a 20km section of the race that is packed with steep climbs and cobbles.

    Sunderland rode the traditional Belgian season opener numerous times as a professional and still lives in Belgium. He drove the course and took detailed race notes during the week. With bad weather forecast in Belgium, Sunderland reckons the race will be a tough start to the Belgian season.

    "This is the first race of the season on cobbles, the first race in crap weather, the first Flandrian race. It's a whole different ball game to what the riders have been racing in do so far this season. It's going to be pretty grim," Sunderland told Cyclingnews.

    "I know the route from racing and living in Belgium, but I wanted to se what damage the winter had caused. The roads have been frozen and so there are some new pot holes out there."

    "The race will be decided in the 20km section between 60km and 40km. There are three climbs together starting with the Taaienberg and then three sections of pave. That part of the race is super complex, super hard and super important. Whoever emerges from that will go on to fight for the win."

    Boasson Hagen leads Team Sky

    The Team Sky riders selected for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad arrived on Belgium on Thursday and will study the important final section of the race today.

    Edvald Boasson Hagen will lead a team that also includes Juan Antonio Flecha, Michael Barry, Matt Hayman, Russell Downing, Ian Stannard, CJ Sutton, and Davide Vigano.

    Boasson Hagen is considered a favourite for the race but Sunderland insisted that Team Sky would not fall into the trap of pushing for early season results and risk jeopardising more important races in April.

    "We're not going to be intimidated and think we've got to get early results just because we're a new team,"...

  • UCI bans Cancellara's time trial bike

    Fabian Cancellara: The world's foremost time triallist
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 13:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Riis angry at UCI for banning Saxo Bank's Specialized TT bikes

    The International Cycling Union has banned Fabian Cancellara's Specialized time trial bike, and that does not make Saxo Bank team owner Bjarne Riis happy.

    The World time trial champion rides the same Specialized “Shiv” model as Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Astana. The UCI recently stopped Contador from using his bike in the time trial at the Volta ao Algarve.

    “It is very disturbing. We have been told that we must not use the bicycle because the UCI will not approve it,” Riis told “Fortunately we have not had a really big time trial yet, but before long there is a major one in Paris-Nice.”

    Riis continued, “The rules are so specific and complicated that no one can really understand it. It is beneath contempt, the bicycle is both durable and safe. Then they suddenly say that the front of it is illegal - it is always about little details such as this.”

    The problem apparently lies with the Shiv's aerodynamic nose cone. Specialized claims that its unique design makes the bike more stable, while the UCI says it is solely there to increase aerodynamics.

    “Right now we are working hard to find a time trial bike model that can be used. But it is a strange thing to run into at this stage of the season, when we have already started racing. We can't really do anything else than to wait and see what they come up with," Riis concluded.

    Cancellara has ridden only one individual time trial so far this season, in the Tour of Oman. Road bikes were used by all participants in that race, and not time trial bikes. The Saxo Bank rider finished second in the time trial to give him the overall title.

  • Van Garderen eager for Omloop cobbles

    Tejay Van Garderen (HTC - Columbia), right, in action at the Challenge Mallorca.
    Article published:
    February 26, 2010, 14:34 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    HTC-Columbia rookie determined to use Belgian experience

    Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) will make his professional cobbled debut in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, this Saturday. The American will line up alongside Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Phillippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in his biggest one-day race since turning professional with HTC.

    Van Garderen comes to the event with excellent form after finishing in the top ten at the Vuelta ao Algrave, but asserted that gaining experience remained the aim for Saturday's Belgian semi-classic.

    "I don't think I'm the type of rider for these Belgian races but you never know when these skills can come in handy. Look at the Tour this year: there's 14 kilometres of cobbles in one stage and it'll be pretty decisive. Guys that have experience in that have the advantage over some of those 50 kilo Spanish climbers who have no idea what to do," Van Garderen told Cyclingnews from the HTC hotel in Gent.

    Van Garderen specifically requested that Het Nieuwsblad be added to his race programme after the team initially left him out of the race. His request to race was met with a measure of respect from HTC-Columbia, who signed him from Rabobank's Under 23.

    "I'll be glad when it's over but I asked them to put this race on my schedule. I was thinking it was important to have this experience of cobbled races, where they throw their elbows around so I'm going to get as much out of it as I can, learn and be aggressive. There's no point in dropping out early."

    Van Garderen is fighting the steep learning curve that all first-year professionals go through, and while his results have been promising he's developed mentally as well, getting used to the different approaches of the sports directors at HTC.

    "Each director has their different style. Brian Holm is more of a hard ass. He'll say, 'I tell you to do something and you do it." And then I worked with Tristan Hoffman in Algarve and he was more, 'Lets give this...