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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 11, 2013

Date published:
February 11, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Tour Méditerranéen victory long time coming for Löfkvist

    Thomas Lovkvist (IAM Cycling) moves himself up the GC standings with a solid ride at Mount Faron
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 1:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fresh-faced IAM Cycling upstage established ProTeams in France

    It's been a few years between victory celebrations for former Sky Procycling rider Thomas Löfkvist - who signed for the Professional Continental squad IAM Cycling at the end of 2012 and promptly went about winning the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel at the weekend.

    Löfkvist started the final 192km stage in third-overall with his performance into the finishing town of Grasse enough to overhaul former leader Maxime Monfort (RadioShack Leopard) for the final victory. Löfkvist's ride on Stage 5 was just enough to push Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) into second-place, with Francesco Reda (Androni) and Maxime Monfort (RadioShack Leopard) falling to second and third respectively.

    The move to the newly-established Professional Continental outfit has clearly done wonders for Löfkvist who's most recent win came in a stage of the 2009 Sachsen Tour.

    "I am very happy, I felt good all week and I knew we could do something about this race," said Löfkvist on his team site.

    "I have to thank my teammates for their work, I was impressed by the speed with which we found ourselves as a team on the road, it is not always easy for a new group, but there is went better and better every day.

    "The first thing I had in mind after crossing the line? ‘Finally!'.

    "This morning, I knew that the stage would be difficult and that we would need to have a very good strategy to win the race.

    "I waited quite a long time for this and it is a real satisfaction," said Löfkvist.

  • Roche motivated by season start at Tour Med with Saxo-Tinkoff

    There was no holding back for Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) on Mt Faron
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 5:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour du Haut Var next stop for new recruit

    Saxo-Tinkoff's newest recruit Nicolas Roche has opened his season on a promising note after finishing fifth overall at the recent Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel. It's a solid start to the year for the rider who moved to the team after four years at Ag2r La Mondiale.

    Signing with the team managed and owned by Bjarne Riis at the end of 2012 may prove to be a standout moment for Roche after spending his entire carrer to date with French teams - having turned professional with Cofidis in late 2009.

    A pair of top-ten placings on Stage 2 and 4 at Tour Med was enough to put the Irishman in the hunt for the overall and while he came close to stepping onto the final podium, he ultimately fell short and closed the line with eventual overall winner Thomas Lövkvist.

    "Great work from team @TeamSaxoTinkoffthanks a mill' every one," said Roche on Twitter.

    Roche had teammate Evgeny Petrov for company in the final kilometers but was unable to go with the winning move of Jurgen Roelandts.

    "Our plan was to support Nicholas to go for the win today and Petrov did a great effort in front of the field throughout the stage," said Saxo-Tinkoff sports director Dan Frost on the team site.

    With his first race of the year already ticked-off with a successful showing, the 28-year-old will now look to his next outing at Tour du Haut Var-martin. The two-day race kicks off with a 152km stage from Le Cannet des Maures to La Croix Valmer. It was at the French race in 2012 that now Sky rider...

  • Injury update: Swift on classics comeback

    The Team Sky riders trained in Mallorca
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 6:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sky rider planning return from crash at Challenge Mallorca

    Crashing out on the final race at the Challenge Mallorca hasn't hampered Ben Swift's classics campaign, according to the Sky Procycling rider who fell on the descent of the Coll d'Honor during the Trofeo Platja de Muro. Swift, who has no recollection of the fall, underwent medical examination following the incident and has been given the all clear, despite significant bruising and superficial wounds.

    "I don't remember anything about the crash itself and my first recollections are of a paramedic and doctor standing over me," said Swift on

    "After being taken for assessment at a local hospital I flew back to the UK and have undergone some pretty detailed scans in the time since then. Fortunately they've shown no broken bones and no significant head injuries, so there won't be much time off the bike.

    "I've experienced a lot of swelling around my knees, and they're still hurting, but once that goes down I should be good to go again."

    The minor setback was all the more frustrating for the young Brit who seemed within striking distance of taking his first win of the season during the final race of Challenge Mallorca. Swift had picked up a third-place at Trofeo Palma and followed that with two top-ten's in the following days Migjorn and Deia. The victory at Platja however, seemed a real possibility for Swift who had been one of the few sprinters to make the selection on the day's final climb.

    "The most annoying thing about the whole week is knowing that I was in with a great chance of getting a big result on the day I crashed," said Swift. "I'd been climbing really well and had done all the hard work by getting over...

  • Emergency surgery for Ballan

    Alessandro Ballan going back to the team cars.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 8:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC say he could be racing in four months

    Alessandro Ballan (Team BMC) was taken to hospital for further surgery following his crash in December. The Italian complained of stomach pain and later had his appendix and scar tissue from his previous operation removed.

    The BMC Racing Team rider crashed at speed on December 20, fracturing his left femur and a rib, and suffering some abdominal trauma that led doctors to remove his spleen. He spent nine days in intensive care in Spain and a further 10 days in hospital in Spain.

    The Italian had admitted in a previous interview that he would miss the majority of the season, however BMC’s doctor Max Testa believes that the rider could return within four months.

    In a statement released by the team, Ballan said: "Because the pain wasn't that intense and continuous I thought it was a digestive problem."

    "On Wednesday night, the pain became very intense so I went to the hospital."

    Doctors then performed exploratory surgery which found adhesions had formed where Ballan's spleen was removed in December.

    "The surgery to remove the adhesions and his appendix was very successful and he is doing well," Dr. Testa said. "I do not think this will impact the original timetable we had for him to return to racing in four months. But he will stay off the stationary bike for a couple weeks."

  • Rodriguez holding out hope for Katusha in WorldTour case

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 10:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Changing teams now would be a risk, Spaniard says

    Joaquim Rodriguez assumes that his Team Katusha will get a WorldTour licence and is planning his season accordingly. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is scheduled to announce its decision this week on the team's appeal of the UCI's decision not to grant the licence.

    Rodriguez had earlier indicated he would leave the team if it did not receive the licence, but he now seems convinced that such a step will not be necessary.

    "Change now would be a risk,” he told “The truth is that being a WorldTour team at all costs is not the most important, what I want is to make my calendar. We are told that there is hope that we will be reinstated.” 

    Rodriguez, who led the UCI's rider rankings in 2012, has said that his primary goal this year is to win the Tour de France, and wants to be assured of an invitation to the race.

    The Spaniard said that he was very surprised when the UCI announced in December that Katusha was denied the licence for “ethical reasons.” 

    "These things can only happen in cycling. I received calls to switch teams, but from the beginning I said that until the matter was resolved I did not want anything to do with deals."

    The team subsequently received a Professional Continental licence, allowing it to participate in races.

  • Boonen: I almost lost my arm due to infection

    Tom Boonen sprints to victory at the Tour of Flanders
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 11:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian back to racing in Oman

    Tom Boonen was happy to finally make his season debut at the Tour of Oman on Monday after a difficult winter and his recent spell in hospital after an infection in his elbow.

    Boonen spent almost a week in hospital in mid-January. He is relieved just to be healthy and racing again after risking the amputation of his arm.

    "I'm happy…. I've still got my arm. That's a bit more important than having good form," he said before the start of stage one of the race, managing to joke about his problem but confirming that he was just eight hours away from far more serious consequences of the infection.

    "That's what they told me, eight hours. If it hits the bone, the arm was gone and it was only a few millimetres from the bone. On the Friday there was nothing but then on Sunday they told me that if I hadn't done anything, Monday would have been too late."

    Boonen thinks he picked up the infection at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team presentation.

    "Everybody has it on their skin but if it goes in your body and your wound closes and the crust forms, it starts breeding. Your elbow is probably the worst place to have it because there is no blood circulation. Otherwise the white cells kill it. But it had time to breed and got strong enough to attack the rest of my body."

    He has traditionally ridden the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman as key preparation for the spring Classics. He peaked perfectly in 2012, going on to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. What he can do this spring after a stomach problem in December and then his recent time in hospital remains a mystery, even to Boonen.

    "We'll see. Let's talk again in April. I want to do well and will do a lot of work but I have no idea what the...

  • Jaksche provides damning testimony against Fuentes and Saiz

    Jorg Jaksche rode for Bjarne Riis at CSC.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 13:37 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Ex-pro testifies that his relationship with Puerto doctor was based on doping

    Jörg Jaksche has presented a damning insight into the practices carried out by Eufemiano Fuentes, claiming that the Spanish doctor “never offered me treatment for health reasons, but for reasons related to doping.” Appearing as the Operación Puerto trial in Madrid went into its third week, the German ex-pro also declared that Manolo Saiz, his former team boss at ONCE and Liberty Seguros, both introduced him to and was fully aware of the relationship Jaksche had with Fuentes.

    The German’s evidence could have a huge impact on the case, in which Fuentes, Saiz and three associates are facing a charge of crimes against public health. During his long spell on the witness stand, Jaksche alleged that Fuentes’s goal in providing treatment was not to ensure the good health of the athletes he was working with, as Fuentes has previously testified, but to find ways to evade the regulations that were then in force.

    “Fuentes never spoke to me about the risks [involved in his treatment]… On occasions I couldn’t confirm that the blood he was giving me was from one of my bags. I asked him if it was mine and he told me it was. But I don’t know if it was,” said Jaksche, who admitted to being extremely concerned having heard that Tyler Hamilton, who was also working with Fuentes, had been given someone else’s blood. “I could have died,” said Jaksche.

    The German added that both he and Fuentes knew that “the practices that Fuentes were offering us were banned in sport, although legally I don’t know whether that was the case.”

    Jaksche detailed how his relationship with Fuentes developed, explaining that Saiz acted as the initial contact between him and the...

  • UCI releases Armstrong data in attempt to refute Ashenden's doping claims

    Article published:
    February 11, 2013, 14:58 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    War of words between UCI and Ashenden continues

    The UCI has reacted to Michael Ashenden’s assertion that he had not seen Lance Armstrong’s blood profile during his time on the Biological Passport panel by revealing previously unpublished material pointing to the contrary. The UCI has stated that Ashenden, who quit the passport panel last year, studied Armstrong’s anonymous data before the 2009 Giro d’Italia, and reported the profile as ‘normal’. However Ashenden, who claimed not to have seen Armstrong’s data, has always asserted that the American doped during the Tour de France, a period in which it’s unclear whether his data was studied by Ashenden.

    “Michael Ashenden’s assertion that he never had the opportunity to review Lance Armstrong’s profile is very surprising,” said UCI Communication Director Enrico Carpani.

    “First of all, I would like to point out that Dr Ashenden’s claims that the UCI never submitted Lance Armstrong’s profile is not only untrue, but it shows that he would appear to have little knowledge or an astonishingly inaccurate knowledge of how the whole system works.”

    Since Armstrong published his blood profile in 2009 the rider has faced accusations of doping since his return to the sport that year. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey last month he admitted to doping at US Postal in order to win his seven Tours but claimed that he had been clean in 2009 and 2010 during his comeback. Ashenden rebutted Armstrong’s position stating in several interviews that the rider’s blood data pointed towards manipulation. In an interview with Velonews last week, Ashenden stated:

    “With regard to McQuaid’s slippery assertion that I had reviewed Armstrong’s blood profile, I lay London to a brick that I did not. If in fact I’m...