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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 26, 2010

Date published:
April 26, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Chavanel's Liège ends in hospital after team car crash

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 10:00 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Frenchman suffers broken tooth, concussion in late-race incident

    Sylvain Chavanel spent Sunday night in a Liège hospital after crashing into a team car near the end of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Ans, Belgium, on Sunday.

    The Quick Step rider was chasing back to the front peloton when he impacted heavily with another team's car, 1.3 kilometres from the finish. The Frenchman was transported to a nearby hospital in Montegnee, where he was treated for injuries including a broken tooth, a laceration to his right cheek and a concussion.

    Chavanel was held overnight at the hospital for observation.

    The incident overshadowed what had been an active day by the Quick Step team. Dries Devenyns was the last member of the race's early breakaway to be caught, at the foot of the Côte de la Redoute, with Spaniard Carlos Barredo then attacking on the slopes of the famed climb.

    Barredo ended the day as the team's best placed finisher, in 20th, 1:18 behind race winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).

  • Rabobank shut out of later spring Classics

    The Rabobank team got the biggest cheer on the podium
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 10:17 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    No top-ten results after Milan-San Remo win

    Rabobank opened the spring Classics with a bang when Oscar Freire won his third Milan-San Remo, but after that victory the Dutch team faded into relative obscurity as they failed to bring in a single top-ten finish in any of the remaining Classics.

    German rider Paul Martens came closest, finishing 11th in the Amstel Gold Race, and Freire was 12th in Gent-Wevelgem.

    “We don't forget Oscar's win, but after that it was indeed not good,” said Rabobank technical director Erik Breukink's on Sunday.

    The team had looked to Robert Gesink for victory in the Ardennes Classics, but the 23-year-old's chances were foiled by a cold. He finished 23rd in Amstel Gold Race, 15th in the Flèche Wallonne and 16th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    “We cannot blame Robert,” Breukink said on the team's website. “He intended to peak this week. Usually he does well wherever he rides.”

    The team's other hope was Lars Boom, but the former-Cyclo-cross World Champion proved no match for the 200 kilometre-plus races of the spring. His top finish in the Classics was 77th in the Tour of Flanders. He finished outside the time limit in Paris-Roubaix and did not finish the Amstel Gold Race.

    Looking at the winners of this year's Classics, Breukink recognised a common theme. “All guys with great experience, all at a good age.” In contrast, Gesink and Boom are 23 and 24 years-old, respectively.

    “You cannot have all the pressure on the shoulders of one man,” he said. “Of course we want to do better in the Classics. We tried to take the pressure off of Robert.”

    Looking to the future, Breukink noted that signing a top rider “would be the easiest option. But that is not an option. Gesink, Boom and the guys have special qualities. They just need time.”

    Gesink: "Not good but fighting"

    Robert Gesink was done in...

  • Gilbert assumes world number one ranking

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto)
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 15:55 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Ardennes re-shuffles UCI rankings, Sanchez drops to fifth

    Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma-Lotto has leapt to the top of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) world rankings after finishing fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The week of the Ardennes Classics saw significant changes occur to the top ten.

    Gilbert, one of the most consistent riders in this year's Spring Classics, had moved from sixth to third last week with his victory in the Amstel Gold Race. This week he took the top placing in the rankings with 292 points, 11 points ahead of Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, who moved up from fifth to second place.

    After the Flèche Wallonne last Wednesday, Katusha had announced Joaquim Rodriguez as the leader virtuel in the rankings. The Spaniard finished second at Flèche, but finished only 44th at Liège, moving into third place in the official UCI list.

    World Champion Cadel Evans of BMC Racing Team took a big leap up from ninth place to fourth place, while former leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) went the other direction, falling from first to fifth.

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) also fell four places, and Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara went from sixth to seventh. Neither rider has raced since Paris-Roubaix.

    One of the biggest winners of the week was Alberto Contador of Astana. The defending Tour de France champion finished third in Flèche Wallonne and 10th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, moving himself up from 15th to eighth place.

    Christopher Horner of RadioShack and Cervélo's Thor Hushovd round out the top ten.

    The winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), secured his first UCI ranking points of the season and moved into 17th place.

    There were no changes at the top of the team rankings. Caisse d'Epargne continues to lead Katusha, but Omega Pharma-Lotto and Astana swapped places, with the Belgian team now fourth behind the Kazakhstani...

  • Contador content with Vino victory

    Alberto Contador (Astana)
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 16:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Liège completes early season preparations

    Alberto Contador has expressed his delight with Alexandre Vinokourov's Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory overnight, making it a great day for the Astana team, which had two men in the top 10.

    Vinokourov's star teammate hit out with an attack before the man who took third overall in the 2003 Tour de France showed his trademark kamikaze style off the front of the bunch in the last 145km.

    He held off fellow escapee Alexandr Kolobnev to secure his first win in the event for five years. "It was impressive, I'm happy that Vino won, it's as if I had won," said Contador after congratulating his teammate on the finish line in Ans.

    "It was the result of team work and I'm very happy," he continued. "We had talked before the start that we had two options: mine was through attacking on the St. Nicholas or Roche aux Faucons."

    Of his tactics late in the race, Contador explained: "I started a little late - I got to go with Andy Schleck, but we were caught and when Vino went, I really tried to slow it down, especially with the Schleck brothers and Joaquim Rodriguez [in the group].

    "I saw that Vino was very strong and was very touched listening to how they cheered him on the radio. When I heard that he had won, I was very happy," he added.

    Contador paid tribute to Astana's team work, noting that it was a complete effort. "We had two good chances of winning and when Vino went ahead it was clear to me: I had to do what Saxo Bank did with Andy Schleck last year. The result was perfect."

    Despite looking good throughout the race and displaying strong form after a solid Ardennes campaign, Contador admitted that there were a few hiccups with today's performance, however. "I have great taste in my mouth after these [Ardennes] races, but today I noticed a lot more allergies than in the Fléche [Wallonne], although I saved the day because I had good sensations.

    "I only gave a hint of cramps cresting St. Nicklas...

  • UnitedHealthcare returns to winners' circle

    Rory Sutherland (United HealthCare) finished the prologue in first place, 14 seconds up on Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia).
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 16:47 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Menzies and Sutherland top podiums this weekend

    UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis broke out of its winning slump this weekend when it captured double victories on opposite sides of the country. Karl Menzies took top honours at the famed Athens Terrapin Twilight criterium held in Georgia while his teammate Rory Sutherland won two stages at La Vuelta de Bisbee in Arizona.

    "Sometimes you have all the right tools and you just have to put them together right," said the outfit's directeur sportif, Mike Tamayo. "We've been trying and trying so, it hasn't been for a lack of trying, that's for sure. We've done consistent leadouts and have consistently been second or third."

    "These wins were much needed," he added. "We didn't change anything, it just finally clicked. We got the wins and hopefully that will start the winning streak that we are looking for."

    Sutherland won the opening 1.8km uphill Mule Pass time trial and took the early lead at the four-stage La Vuelta de Bisbee. After falling behind in the overall classification to Darren Lill (Fly V Australia) in stage two, he captured his second win in stage three's 7.2km Warren time trial.

    Lill won the overall classification ahead of Roman Kilun (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) who placed second and Christian Helmig (Metro VW) in third

    "Rory's been training hard in the time trial and really trying to gear up for California and he is showing that he is getting his form," Tamayo explained.

    The USA Crits Speed Week, a seven-criterium series kicked off at the Terrapin Twilight in Athens, Georgia on April 24. Menzies won the final sprint from a breakaway of six riders to take the victory ahead of Alessandro Bazzana (Fly V Australia) and Hilton Clarke (Bahati Foundation).

    "That was an awesome race," said Menzies. "It's an historical race to win and I'm pretty happy to get the feather in the cap, I guess. This series is great for us because we get a good block of racing in to practice breakaway, sprints and leadouts."

  • Vazquez Hueso suspended for EPO use

    Manuel Vázquez (Andalucia - Cajasur) finished 2:52 behind the stage winner.
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 17:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Andalucia-CajaSur rider caught under UCI's biological passport programme

    Manuel Vazquez Hueso of Andalucia-CajaSur has been provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union after testing positive for EPO. The UCI announced that the Spaniard had been tracked under the biological passport programme.

    A urine sample was collected in an out-of-competition control on March 20, and the anti-doping laboratory in Barcelona indicated a positive finding for EPO.

    Vazquez Hueso has the right to request and attend the opening of his B sample. The provisional suspension will remain in force until the Spanish Cycling Federation can rule on the case.

    The 29-year-old turned pro with the Andalucia team in 2006. He rode for Contentpolis-AMPO in 2008 and 2009 before returning to Andalucia this season.

    In 2008, he won a stage of the Volta a la Comunidad Valenciana, and the opening stage of the Rothaus Regio Tour, where he wore the leader's jersey for three stages. Vazquez finished 15th overall in the Vuelta a Espana last year.

  • Vinokourov fights back against the press

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) with his winner's trophy.
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 17:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Astana rider rejects criticism over his Liège victory

    Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Alexandre Vinokourov fired back at the press for being critical over his return to the top of the sport following his two-year suspension for blood doping.

    The Astana team rider issued a letter to the press defending his right to win. Below is the letter in full:

    "While reading the press comments regarding my last victory in Liège - Bastogne - Liège I was deeply saddened. I don't understand this persecution against me.

    "I can't do anything against the doubts hanging over me since the 2007 case, but I reject all the accusations brought against me today, without any evidence.

    "Since my return in August, I have always been honest with the press, I responded to all requests for interviews, I have hidden nothing. Ironically, my victory in Liège seems to revive old jealousies for which I am not responsible.

    "The media comments contrast with the hundreds of congratulatory messages from fans that I keep getting on my website and my Facebook page. I don't understand this discrepancy. As if I had to be forbidden of success on my bike to leave everyone with a clear conscience.

    "In which sport are we allowed to be at the start of a competition without the right to win? I love cycling, it gave me everything and I want to give it good things in return.

    "I paid two years on suspension for the dark years of my career. If I repeated that I didn't want to talk about it, it's only for the sake of my sport. I don't think cycling needs to reconsider all these dirty stories to move forward.

    "This is my personal vision of this problem, everybody is not obliged to share it. Obviously my attitude that I consider the most correct and most respectful way possible is one more time misinterpreted. I'm...

  • Swiss court dismisses Valverde appeal

    Former Liège - Bastogne - Liège winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) after his third place finish.
    Article published:
    April 26, 2010, 17:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Updated: Valverde must re-start his case against CAS arbitrator

    The Swiss Court of Civil Rights has denied Alejandro Valverde's appeal of his ban from racing in Italy. The court ruled that Valverde's appeal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to enforce the two-year ban was made too early, before the CAS verdict had been issued.

    Valverde must now re-file the complaint to the Swiss court for consideration.

    The Italian Olympic Committee issued the ban against Valverde after matching his DNA to blood taken into custody during Operación Puerto. Valverde appealed that decision to the CAS, which upheld the ban.

    The Caisse d'Epargne rider further appealed that decision in the Swiss civil court system. He claimed that one of the arbitrators on the panel, Ulrich Hess, was not neutral because he had worked for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

    Valverde is currently prohibited from riding in Italy until May 10, 2011.

    The International Cycling Union is seeking to extend his ban worldwide.