Young, all-Italian Pro Continental squad primed for new season
Colnago-CSF Inox were officially presented today at the factory of their team sponsor in Cambiago, Italy. With all but three of their 16-rider, all-Italian roster under the age of 25, the young Professional Continental squad will aim to perform strongly at a schedule of races that it hopes will include the Giro d'Italia.
The team will be lead by two of the riders to have surpassed a quarter of a century in age. Sprinter Mattia Gavazzi, 26, and Domenico Pozzovivo, 27. The latter finished ninth overall at the 2008 Giro d'Italia and will the team's main hope of a high finish, should it be granted an invitation by race organisers this year. Gavazzi is coming off a successful final season with Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli, where he recorded eleven victories in 2009.
Manuel Belletti is another rider to have come across from Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli and will also be joined by neo-pros Gianluca Brambilla, Alberto Contoli, Sascha Modolo and Stefano Pirazzi on the team's roster.
The team will be directed by Bruno Reverberi.
Colnago CSF Inox for 2010 Manuel Belletti Alessandro Bisolti Gianluca Brambilla Federico Canuti Alberto Contoli Marco Frapporti Michele Gaia Mattia Gavazzi Alan Marangoni Sacha Modolo Marcello Pavarin Stefano Pirazzi Domenico Pozzovivo Filippo Savini Simone Stortoni Enrico Zen
Court validates UCI's extension of AFLD ban for EPO-CERA
German Stefan Schumacher has lost his appeal against a two-year ban resulting from his positive anti-doping test for EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced today that it has upheld the decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI) to make world-wide the ban imposed by the French anti-doping agency (AFLD).
The decision follows one from last October where a French superior court shot down Schumacher's appeal against the AFLD ban.
While the CAS soundly defeated all of the points raised in Schumacher's defense, it granted him one small victory, with the start date of the ban pushed back to August 28, 2008 - a ruling that makes him eligible to race by the end of this year.
The decision by CAS is a landmark ruling in that it is the first time it has allowed a regional ban by a national anti-doping authority to be extended world-wide by a sport's governing body.
The court said that the recognition of the extension came only because the AFLD was a "competent anti-doping organisation" and that it was "valid from a procedural point of view". The court also explained that it would not extend a decision which would be contrary to the anti-doping rules in force.
The ruling will be of particular interest to Alejandro Valverde, who is currently trying to stop the UCI from making his two-year ban by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), which allegedly linked his blood samples to evidence from Operación Puerto, effective to the rest of the world.
Schumacher's defense attorneys argued that the positive test was fraught with procedural errors and should be thrown out, but the CAS rejected each argument.
The German was one of four riders found positive for the third-generation erythropoeitin, CERA (Mircera) at the 2008 Tour de France. Italian Riccardo Riccò was declared positive during the race from a urine test, while...
UCI gives Italian team two months to rectify finances
The Lampre-Farnese Vini team will be able to begin the 2010 season, but will do so with the weight of a possible premature end to the team on its shoulders. The UCI announced today that its License Commission accepted a proposal to grant the team a temporary ProTour license until March 31.
The commission rejected the team's license last fall after auditors noted "serious administrative non-compliances" in its application.
The UCI then recommended the temporary license to give Giuseppe Saronni's squad more time to meet the requirements for a license.
Should the team fail to meet those requirements, it will not be eligible for a demotion to Professional Continental status and would likely cease to exist, according to UCI president Pat McQuaid.
"If Lampre has not set ts financial house in order on time, the team will certainly be withdrawn from the peloton," McQuaid said, speaking from the ProTour's first race of the season, the Tour Down Under in Australia, where Lampre was notably absent.
"Lampre will not only lose its ProTour license, but would not be eligible for a Professional Continental license. We have given the team enough time to do everything they need to so that the staff and riders do not become unemployed."
The team of Damiano Cunego and Alessandro Petacchi is currently training in Tuscany in preparation for the squad's debut race for the year, the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria which runs from January 30 through February 2.
Former mountain bike world champ happy after his Liquigas-Doimo debut
Peter Sagan turned many heads during his debut racing Down Under with his new professional Team Liquigas-Doimo over the past week. The young Slovakian star, a former mountain bike World Champion, is in his second year as a road racing professional and will turn 20 years old on Tuesday.
On Sunday, he finished 29th overall and as sixth best young (under 26) rider at the Tour Down Under, scoring several top stage placings including a fourth in stage 3 and fifth in stage 5, when he was part of a four-man break with Cadel Evans (BMC) and Alejandro Valverde and eventual stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez (both Caisse d'Epargne). He was also 11th in stage 6.
After hearing words of praise for his performance from his Liquigas team's management, Sagan said, according to aktualne.sk, "Those (words) are good for the soul. Supposedly it was not expected that I would be mixing it up at the head of the peloton."
Sagan might have finished even higher overall at the Tour Down Under if he hadn't been involved in a crash on stage 2 and ended up with 18 stitches. According to www.ta3.com, his Liquigas-Doimo teammates nicknamed him "Rambo" after the incident. They were impressed by his perseverance.
"I'm happy with my debut," said Sagan to www.tasr.sk, " especially with such big stars competing like (Lance) Armstrong, (Alejandro) Valverde, (Cadel) Evans, (Andre) Greipel, (Luis Leon) Sanchez, (Greg) Henderson and other chaps. I would have been in the top 20 if I hadn't suffered damage from the fall on the second stage."
Just prior to the Tour Down Under, at the Cancer Council Classic on January 17, Sagan made a break with Lance Armstrong (Radio Shack) and Oscar Pereiro (Astana), Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne) and Mikael Cherel (Française des Jeux). Armstrong noted the young Sagan's talent although when calling attention to it, he mistook Sagan's nationality for Slovenian instead of Slovakian.
With his victory in the Tour Down Under, German André Greipel has assumed the early lead in the UCI's World Rankings. The HTC-Columbia sprinter's efforts also put his team at the top of the standings, while strong performances by the Australian riders pushed the host country to the top of the nations rankings.
The World Rankings are calculated based on finishes in all ProTour and Historic races on the UCI's calendar, and are intended to classify the world's best riders.
Last year, the individual ranking was won by Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, with fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde in second.
Valverde begins the season in 11th, while his teammate and TDU stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez sits in second overall, 33 points behind Greipel.
New Zealander Greg Henderson handed the new Sky team two victories last week, although the pre-TDU Cancer Council Helpline Classic was not included in the rankings. His stage victory and third place overall in the TDU lands him in third in the rankings.
Australia leads the way in the teams rankings thanks to strong performances by Robbie McEwen (Katusha), Luke Roberts (Milram) and Cadel Evans (BMC), who placed 4th-6th on the general classification in Adelaide.
Fourth overall at Tour Down Under a sign of things to come
Robbie McEwen is happy with his performance at Tour Down Under, where he made his return to ProTour level racing for the first time since injuring his knee early last season. Concerns had arisen just one week before the South Australian event when McEwen withdrew from the Australian Open Road Championships (AORC) mid-way through the criterium due to concerns over his knee.
"I’m pretty happy with how I’m going considering where I’ve come from with the knee injury and everything," said McEwen. "After a whole seven months out of competition to be competitive like this in a ProTour race, I think I can be pretty pleased with myself."
The Katusha sprinter fractured his tibia and cut through tendons in his knee when he ran into a street sign in the Tour of Belgium last May. He spent the better part of the season trying to rehabilitate the injury, making an aborted attempt to return to racing at the end of July before calling the 2009 season quits.
McEwen’s best placing on a Tour Down Under stage was second to eventual race winner André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) on the stage four to Goolwa. He also claimed a third place in Hahndorf and fourth place in the final stage, which held him secure fourth overall in the race.
"I’m looking forward to getting more racing in my legs and building up a bit more power again," said McEwen. "I’m looking forward to getting back up on the podium again as a race winner.
"I'm happy with where I am at the moment, and if I can keep building on this form and just keep building up the strength in my left leg then I think I can be in for a good season, but its early days," added the Katusha star.
McEwen’s withdrawal from the AORC events came after he aggravated his knee injury by bumping it while doing his laundry. He only returned to racing at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic at the start of this month.
Wild card team hopes for upgrade from Pro-Conti ranks
The BMC Racing Team has stated its intention to move into the UCI's ProTour in 2011. The US-based team's Director John Lelangue said that the Pro Continental team would apply to the International Cycling Union (UCI) for the top-level next year.
"Nothing changes for us. We will continue to race as a Pro-Continental team and depend on wild card entries," Lelangue told The Australian newspaper. "We have a strong team for the Classics. I'm not afraid of our [racing] calendar for this year, but plan to apply for a ProTour licence for 2011."
The US-based, Swiss-backed BMC squad was boosted earlier this month when awarded status as a wild card Professional Continental team for 2010. The "wild card" tag ensures invitations to the UCI's ProTour and Historic calendar events, but is also an indication that the team has met the type of strict criteria that the UCI applies to ProTour teams.
BMC undertook an ambitious off-season recruitment drive, signing road World Champion Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan. Evans made the move from Silence-Lotto; Hincapie transferred from Columbia-HTC, and Ballan made the move from Lampre, a team now fighting to keep its ProTour status.
Last week, the Italian team Lampre-Farenese Vini was granted a temporary ProTour licence by the UCI, due to "serious administrative non-compliances" in the annual re-assessment carried out by an independent auditor. The team's provisional status will expire at the end of March unless it meets the UCI's ProTour team requirements.
Should Lampre lose its ProTour license, the door may be open for another team. However, BMC will not seek to accelerate its plans for promotion to the ProTour as Lelangue believes the UCI is unlikely to make changes to the formation of the ProTour before next season. "If they lose their licence, I don't see them being replaced for the rest of this year," he said.
Bruyneel says stage races remain team goal, sprint wins are welcome bonus
RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel has made it clear the team will keep its focus on general classification victories, despite bringing sprinter Gert Steegmans into its roster for 2010. The Belgian said while Steegmans will get some protection in races from the squad, he won’t benefit from a HTC-Columbia- or Team Sky-like lead-out train.
"I think it would be too big of a change our whole dynamic and strategies to work around a sprinter because I think we’ve proved we can do what we do in the stage races so let’s try to keep doing that," said Bruyneel. "Then, if we have a sprinter on the team who can win a race now and then that’s a good extra and very welcome.
"We have Steegmans on the team and of course when we got him on board we told him ‘you’re going to get some protection but this is not a team which is known to be a team for the lead-out train’," he added.
Despite the lack of a lead-out Bruyneel expects Steegmans will still be able to win races for the squad. He said the team’s focus will remain on general classification success, with Bruyneel having overseen a total of nine Tour de France victories.
"You have to make choices and obviously we have Gert on the team, but I’ve said and will say it again, he’s a sprinter that when he’s in good shape and the conditions are right he can beat any of the strong sprinters," he said.
"Having said that, we’re a team that’s more focused on stage races. You have to make a choice. We can have a few guys leading him out, protecting him or bringing him to a good position, but we will never be a team – as long as we have those ambitions for the big tours – that is centred around a sprinter because you have to sacrifice so many other things.
"If you look at, for example, a team like Columbia they have a team that is really centred around André Greipel and Mark Cavendish. They...