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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 28, 2014

Date published:
March 28, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Does Colombia's anti-doping stand up to scrutiny?

    Sergio Henao (Sky)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 15:20 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    No out of competition blood tests until October 2013

    The thoroughness of out-of-competition doping controls has once again been put under the microscope after Cyclingnews learned that, until the winter of 2013, Colombian professional cyclists were not subject to out-of-competition blood tests while in their native country. This includes Team Sky's Sergio Henao and Omega Pharma QuickStep's Rigoberto Uran, with both riders only having their first tests of this nature in October 2013.

    Henao recently made headlines after Team Sky confirmed that the rider had been removed from racing due to questionable readings within his biological passport. He is set to undergo further tests via a party chosen by Sky and independent of the CADF's biological passport.

    Henao's questionable readings came from two out-of-competition tests carried out during the off-season, the first of which took place on October 30 of last year, while the second reading was taken on January 14, 2014. It is the second reading from January that led Sky to ask questions. Sky, like all WorldTour teams, have access to rider data via ADAMS.

    After Sky confirmed to the media that Henao had been benched pending further tests, Cyclingnews contacted the UCI. The sport's governing body confirmed that Henao had only undergone two out-of-competition blood tests in Colombia during his entire time at Sky, and when asked whether Rigoberto Uran had a similar profile, the UCI confirmed that the Omega Pharma rider had also undergone two tests.

    Uran signed for Sky in 2011 and rode for the British team until the end of 2013. He finished second in...

  • Froome happy with form at Volta a Catalunya

    Chris Froome (Sky) confirms his attendance in the race for stage 3
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 17:36 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Briton completes fifth stage of Volta in good shape

    Chris Froome (Sky) completed the fifth stage of the Volta a Catalunya safely in the front group in 25th place, still in sixth place overall and with a growing sense of quiet satisfaction at how the race - so far - has worked out.

    Following a storming start to the season at the Tour of Oman - even stronger than in 2013 - Froome came to the race with some question marks poised over his condition following his failure to take part in his next scheduled event, Tirreno-Adriatico because of a bad back.

    However, after five days hard racing at the Volta, Froome says he is satisfied with his form, to the point where he is adding in another major race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, into his 2014 program.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews before the start five start in the bright sunshine at Camprodon - a stark contrast with the near-blizzard, fog and sub-zero temperatures of the day before - Froome said he was “feeling really good, I’m in a great place, a great state of mind.”

    “I did have to take a little bit of a break with my back two weeks ago, but it feels great, I haven’t felt it all week and that’s a really good sign. I’m just really happy to be at the top end of a race again.”

    “It’s never a nice feeling when I know I can win against those guys [the other favourites]. But at the same time looking at the bigger picture I know what I’ve done to get where I am so far and I know I’ve got a lot of hard work left to do before I go to the Tour, so I think for where i need to be at the moment, I’m spot on.”

    Froome’s program after the Volta will be to head to altitude at Tenerife “for two weeks and we’ll step the training up quite a bit there and then I’ll do...

  • Hesjedal on the rise in Catalunya

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) has had a low key start to 2014
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 18:15 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Canadian Giro winner slowly building form for rest of season

    Journalists at the Volta a Catalunya were confused to see that Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) was registered on the official results for stage four both as “did not start” - together with teammate Tom Danielson - and also taking 17th place both on the stage finish at Valter and in the overall.

    In fact, the Giro 2012 winner, riding his first 2014 race in Europe since completing the Dubai Tour in 91st, remains in the race - and his double appearance on the stage four race results was a simple computer error rather than any kind of ‘Ghost Rider’ doubling up for the Canadian.

    “He’s definitely here,” Garmin-Sharp sports director Johnny Weltz told Cyclingnews with a smile - and indeed at that point just as Weltz was talking Hesjedal rode past en route to the signing on at the stage five start - “Tom had to go home with a knee injury after crashing on stage three, he didn’t start stage four, but Ryder is doing fine.”

    Reviewing Hesjedal’s condition, Weltz said “He’s getting better every day, he’s been in the action a lot of the time for the last two days and it’s looking good.”

    Hesjedal proved these were by no means idle words on Weltz’s part later in the day, making two lone late attacks on stage five to Valls. The first on the second category climb of Lilla effectively lit the fuse for a series of moves by other favourites, and the second, with around a kilometre to go briefly saw the 33-year-old go clear again before the front pack reeled him in.

    The Canadian’s program is decided as far as the Tour of the Basque Country and the Ardennes Classics, “but after that as yet it’s not certain. A decision will be taken soon.”

  • Boonen injures thumb at E3 Harelbeke

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) in the bunch
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 18:45 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Several crashes caused by course, says Belgian

    Five-time E3 Harelbeke winner Tom Boonen had no luck in the semi-Classic: although the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider finished the race in a respectable 11th place behind winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale), he did so in tears of pain because of an injury to his thumb caused by a crash mid-way through the race.

    The focus of Belgium’s biggest cycling star has been off of cycling after his partner Lore suffered the miscarriage of their first child last week. Boonen skipped Milan-San Remo last Sunday, but then opted not to ruin his Spring classics campaign and got back on the bike.

    On Wednesday, Boonen raced Dwars door Vlaanderen and finished in the peloton, but in Friday's E3 Harelbeke he appeared not to be riding at the top of his abilities. It turned out that Boonen had injured his thumb during a crash halfway into the race.

    "I didn’t expect a lot. Wednesday wasn’t really good either. I had a really rough week," Boonen said after the race. "Forty-eight hours after Waregem you can’t expect miracles. My thumb is my major concern now. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s torn or strained. I rode all race long with tears in my eyes."

    Most of the Spring classics feature several pavé sections in which the whole body but especially the hands get a serious beating. Boonen realized a hand injury is the last thing he needs ahead of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    "It’s never good to ride over the cobbles when your hand hurts. I did 100km with a lot of pain. On the climbs there’s often a gutter so that was fine but on the cobbles it hurts a lot," Boonen said. "I managed to...

  • Sagan wants to savour his E3 Harelbeke win

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) back to winning after a disappointing Milan-San Remo
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 19:12 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Cannondale rider reluctant to discuss Flanders chances

    No sooner had Peter Sagan (Cannondale) retold how he had fended off the challenge of Niki Terpstra and Geraint Thomas in the finale of E3 Harelbeke, than the questioning at his winner’s press conference turned to his chances at next weekend’s Tour of Flanders.

    For any other 24-year-old, victory in the semi-classic would be feted as an achievement in itself, but considering the expectation that has built up around Sagan during his short career, each win seems to be viewed merely as another step in his progression. Heavy lies the crown for the man who is – for now at least – still the king in waiting.

    E3 Harelbeke joins Gent-Wevelgem in a burgeoning palmarès, but the anticipated debut monument win has yet to arrive. That particular coronation was anticipated by many at Milan-San Remo last weekend, but Sagan struggled in the cold and rain on the Riviera and had to settle for 10th place.

    Sagan bristled when asked if he now felt any particular obligation to confirm his lofty credentials by winning the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix this spring. "You ‘mustn’t’ nothing in your life," he said. "I don’t ‘must’ nothing in the life, just die. It’s important, yeah, but I have also a future in front of me. Of course, I want to do well but the important thing for me is to do the maximum in the race, and then I am glad."

    Flitting back and forth between English and his steadier Italian during the press conference, Sagan’s responses ranged from matter-of-fact descriptions of his victory to scarcely-concealed irritation at questions regarding the imminent future and his predictions...

  • Cavendish forced out of Gent-Wevelgem by illness

    Mark Cavendish is race number 141 at Milan-San Remo
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 19:52 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Manxman suffering from viral infection and fever

    Mark Cavendish has been ruled out of Gent-Wevelgem due to a viral infection and a fever, his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team announced on Friday. The Manxman was one of the favourites for victory in the race, where he was set to lead a strong QuickStep line-up.

    Cavendish, who finished in 5th place in a wet and cold edition of Milan-San Remo last weekend, began to feel unwell on Wednesday and his illness deteriorated after a training ride on Thursday.

    "Already on Wednesday I didn't feel well, but I went out on my bike," Cavendish said in a statement released by his team shortly after E3 Harelbeke. "I went out yesterday again, but after an hour I had muscle pain and couldn't keep going. I went home at about 15 kilometres per hour. I couldn't go any faster and I spent the rest of the day on my bed."

    In spite of a slight upturn in his condition on Friday, Cavendish was unable to train and he took the decision to withdraw from Gent-Wevelgem, where André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) are among the fast men slated to line up.

    "Today my situation was a little bit better, but not enough to jump on my bike and train. I am a little bit disappointed because I was really motivated for Gent-Wevelgem. It's a race I've never won," Cavendish said.

    Cavendish’s place in QuickStep’s team for Gent-Wevelgem will be filled by Iljo Keisse. The team also features Tom Boonen, Gert Steegmans, Martin Velits, Matteo Trentin, Nikolas Maes, Stijn Vandenbergh and Zdenek Stybar. Boonen sustained a thumb injury in a crash during...

  • Video: Cancellara rues bad luck at E3 Harelbeke

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 20:35 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider draws lessons ahead of Tour of Flanders

    When Fabian Cancellara (Trek) rode through the finishing line at the end of E3 Harelbeke, he simply kept on going, impassively out-pacing a chasing television crew and flashing past his own team bus.

    Caught up in a crash with 40 kilometres to go, just before the race’s most crucial juncture, the Paterberg, Cancellara was typically generous in his pursuit of the leaders in the finale, but ultimately had to settle for 9th place, 1:19 down on winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

    Cancellara had every reason to feel exasperated by his afternoon’s work, and the group of journalists gathered waiting for him could hardly have blamed him had he disappeared into the swirling traffic on the Kortrijk ring road rather than face any questions.

    Within minutes, however, Cancellara had returned and wheeled to a halt outside the Trek bus. After clambering aboard to clean up and change his jersey, the Swiss rider had a smile and a high five for a young fan when he re-emerged, and a measured view of his race for the assembled microphones and notepads.

    "I had not my luck, that’s all I can say," Cancellara said. "In a moment where a crash happened I was in the middle, and it was a while until the back wheel was changed and I could continue. It was the most important point to be in front because when you go towards the Paterberg and Kwaremont, you know 100 percent that there will be the big explosion. I did just what I had to do: I continued the race and didn’t give up."

    Cancellara started the Paterberg in the fourth group on the road but as he cruised up its slopes and went past rider after rider, it briefly appeared as though he was about to reprise his performance in winning this race three years ago, when he recovered from...

  • Thomas pleased with E3 Harelbeke performance

    Geraint Thomas leaves sign on
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 21:41 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Sky rider looking to perform at Tour of Flanders

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) kicked off his cobbled campaign with a podium placing at E3 Harelbeke on Friday.

    The Welshman rode aggressively and drove the winning break off the front on the Oude Kwaremont. Thomas did his fair share of work at the head of the pack and had just enough in the tank to take the final step on the rostrum. "I was in a really good position all the way and on Kwaremont I just thought sod it, just go for it and see what happens," Thomas told Cyclingnews after returning to the team bus with his day's winnings.

    Unfortunately for Thomas, his dig dragged Peter Sagan with him, who looked like a man on a mission as he continued to attack the bunch, eventually whittling the group down to only four riders. "When I saw him [Sagan] there, I thought "come on boys let's try to stay away from him." But when he got back, it was tough then, because he's one of the best riders in the world especially in these kinds of races. He's super fast as well, so we knew that it would be a challenge. At the same time, he is super strong as well so riding through with him definitely helped."

    "Coming into the finish, it didn't feel like I had the kick that the other boys had like Sagan and Terpstra. I just thought that I would gamble it all on the sprint and who know what can happen. Terpstra had me on the line though. My bars weren't straight either. I stopped again after the crash to straighten them up but I didn't get them quite straight. That's no excuse for the sprint, but it was a good day all in all."

    Thomas was one of several team Sky riders to hit the deck during the race, with Ian Stannard abandoning after a particularly hard tumble. Due to some quick work from his teammates, he was swiftly back in the main bunch from where he was able to...