Spanish climber still to decide if he will ride the Tour de France
Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) finished a disappointing eighth overall in the Giro d'Italia, 9:39 behind Ivan Basso, despite gaining time on most of his rivals by being in the breakaway to L'Aquila on stage 11.
The Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper gave the Spanish climber just four out of ten on its report card for the Giro because he started the race as one of the big favourites. He was criticised for only racing for eight days before the Giro and Gazzetta went as far as suggesting he was a rider close to retirement.
However Sastre has revealed that he rode most of the Giro with a back injury sustained in crashes in the opening stages in Holland and then worsened by a crash on the stage to Montalcino on the dirt roads.
Despite his poorer than expected Giro results, Sastre perhaps deserves praise for making to the finish in Verona and finishing in the top ten, rather than criticism.
"I don’t like to make excuses. I crashed and I crashed pretty bad but that's part of the game, it's one of the risks of cycling," Sastre told Cyclingnews.
"It wasn’t something I talked about because I didn’t want it to become an excuse. Everyone in the team knew about it but we didn’t talk about it to the press or the public because they can't help me when I'm on the bike. I just needed the help of my teammates, my soigneur and my osteopath."
"It was a tough experience but I did my best and I'm happy with what I achieved. I'm just happy that I was able to finish the Giro d'Italia. If I'd crashed harder, I might not have even made it to the end."
Tour de France or Vuelta Espana
Sastre has already hinted that he may not ride the Tour de France and opt for the Vuelta Espana instead.
Cervelo TestTeam will target the green points jersey with Thor Hushovd and so many of the riders selected for the Tour team will be there to help the...
Race director hints that the 2011 race could start in Turin
Giro d'Italia director Angelo Zomegnan was all smiles after the spectacular end to this year's race in the Roman arena in Verona.
It is widely accepted that this year's race was one of the most spectacular in recent history, with some thrilling racing, on beautiful roads and a battle for overall success that was unsure and exciting almost to the very end.
"I think the finish in Verona was a spectacular ending to a spectacular Giro d'Italia. I think it perfectly sums up the race because day after day the race was exciting and dramatic," Zomegnan told Cyclingnews, refuting claims that he has made too many changes, perhaps some times to the detriment of the riders because of long transfers and difficult racing conditions.
"The Giro has its roots in the history of the Giro, in it’s traditions, in the pain and suffering of the riders. I think the Giro is changing for the better. It's far less 'artificial', with riders who suffer and who have good and bad days. I think it's all more natural."
"Some people think we're pushing things too far, making too many changes, making the racing too hard. But I don’t think change is a problem. I think it's a good thing. Perhaps, we're changing things a little too fast but better too much than too little."
Zomegnan enjoyed showing Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme the spectacular finish in Verona on Sunday He accepts the Tour de France will always be the biggest race in cycling but enjoys being more innovative and creative than the French organisers will ever dare.
"The Tour de France is the Tour de France. It's the biggest race in the world. And it's stupid for anyone to think they can lower the level of the Tour to help other races, perhaps races without any history and tradition can grow. I think people understand who I'm talking about," Zomegnan said, clearly taking a sideswipe at the UCI.
Bad weather and puncture cost him Tour of Belgium title
Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma-Lotto finished fourth overall in the Tour of Belgium and won the points jersey, but he had hoped to finish atop the podium. Bad luck with the weather in the time trial and lack of assistance with a puncture on Sunday cost him the overall title.
On Sunday's queen stage, he was in the day's escape group along with eventual stage winner Ben Hermans (RadioShack) and overall winner Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), when he punctured. The neutral assistance car was ahead of the group, so it could not help him.
"I think the race commissioners were more panicked than I was," Gilbert told Het Nieuwsblad. "I quickly hear from the team car that I would have to wait a long time for repairs." He was able to stay with the first chase group and finished third on the stage, 48 seconds down.
"This was a particularly serious problem by the organisation, " he said. "And a typical Belgian situation. "
Gilbert had already lost the race lead on Saturday. As the leader, he was the last to ride in the time trial, and rode it in heavy winds and rain. He finished 33rd on the stage, 56 seconds down. "The weather cost me about 40 seconds."
He took it all philosophically, though. "Sometimes it is written in the stars that you will win a race, but sometimes it is written that you will lose. That is sport. You learn to live with it. The strongest doesn't always win."
Gilbert will ride a local Belgian race on Tuesday, to be followed by the Tour de Suisse. "I have seen that there are four stages there which suit me. I am going for stage wins."
HTC-Columbia rider expected back for Dauphiné Libéré
Peter Velits of HTC-Columbia fractured his left forearm and wrist in the second stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt last week. The 25-year-old Slovakian was involved in a mass crash near the finish, and not only finished the stage but started the third stage before dropping out due to the pain.
“Peter was very motivated and wanted to keep on riding, but it didn't make any sense,” directeur sportif Jan Schaffrath told the German website Radsport-news.com.
“An operation is not necessary,” team doctor Helge Riepenhof told Radsport-News.com. “Right now Peter is wearing a custom plastic cast and in five days will get a wrist cuff which will allow him to race. A start in the Tour de France would be possible.”
Velits will only have to sit out training for a few days. “We are planning with him for our training camp and also for the Dauphiné Libéré,” team directors Rolf Aldag said.
Australian Cadel Evans climbed into the lead in UCI's World Rankings after the disqualification of leader Alejandro Valverde. The Spaniard was suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday for his involvement in the Operacion Puerto doping affair, and stripped of his results since January 1, 2010.
"[Valverde] has been disqualified from all competitions in which he has competed since the beginning of the year and all points allocated to him have been removed. Mr Valverde must also return all prizes received. The UCI World Ranking has been modified accordingly," a UCI statement read.
Evans moved up from fourth place in the rankings after taking fifth overall at the Giro d'Italia.
Giro winner Ivan Basso debuted on the rankings in seventh, accumulating 206 points over the course of the race. His fellow Italian Michele Scarponi moved from 24th to 8th thanks to his fourth place performances in his home Grand Tour, while third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali climbed from 63rd to 13th.
David Arroyo's second place finish was good enough to place him in 15th overall and helped to boost Spain's dominance of the country rankings as well as help secure Caisse d'Epargne's lead on the team rankings.
Italy and Liquigas also rocketed up the standings thanks to the double podium placings of Basso and Nibali in the Giro d'Italia. Italy moved up from fourth to second place in nations, and Liquigas shot to second from 10th.
The UCI World Rankings tally points from ProTour and Historic races.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has handed Alejandro Valverde a two-year suspension, effective starting January 1, 2010, for his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping scheme.
The court upheld the request of the UCI and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) against the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), but also refused to nullify Valverde's results prior to the start of the suspension.
"The CAS considered that there was no evidence that any of the results obtained by Mr. Valverde prior to 1 January 2010 was through doping infraction and decided that the appellants’ request to annul those results should be denied," a press release from the CAS stated.
The decision allows Valverde to keep his victories in the 2009 Vuelta a España, Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and Clasica San Sebastian among others even though the races took place after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) matched samples of his blood taken during the 2008 Tour de France to the evidence from the Operación Puerto case.
The CONI imposed a ban on Valverde from racing in Italy from May 11, 2009-2011. The CAS upheld that verdict in March, but had a separate hearing to decide whether the ban could be made world-wide based upon the UCI and WADA arguments.
Operación Puerto dates back to 2004, when the Spanish authorities first began investigating doping operations in Madrid. The case came to a head when in May, 2006, the Civil Guard raided the clinic of Eufemiano Fuentes and seized over a hundred bags of blood, doping products and other evidence of performance enhancing procedures.
The UCI requested in August, 2007 that the RFEC open disciplinary hearings against Valverde when the rider was linked to a bag of blood labeled '18' which also contained the banned blood booster EPO.
The presence of EPO and the DNA evidence gathered by...
Caisse d'Epargne team calls Spaniard's behaviour "irreproachable"
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) may have ruled to give Alejandro Valverde a two-year ban based on evidence from the Operación Puerto case, but the Spaniard has refused to go down without a fight.
Valverde's press agent issued a statement vowing to take the matter to the Swiss Supreme Court. The rider appealed the CAS approval of a previous ban in Italy to the Swiss court, but it was turned back on a technicality.
The CAS released its decision Monday on a case brought by the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency against the Spanish Cycling Federation for failing to pursue disciplinary action against Valverde. It issued a two-year suspension to begin January 1, 2010.
The court stated that it has agreed that the DNA tests linking Valverde to blood evidence from the case was enough to justify a ban for "use or attempted use by a rider of a prohibited substance or prohibited method". However, it refused the UCI's request to nullify all of Valverde's race results prior to the ban.
Valverde and his Caisse d'Epargne team each pointed out the confusing nature of the ruling. The court stated "that there was no evidence that any of the results obtained by Mr. Valverde prior to 1 January 2010 was through doping infraction" even though it agreed that he had committed a doping violation.
Abarca Sports, owner of Valverde's team, called the court's ruling "a confirmation of the position sustained permanently by Abarca Sports about the irreproachable behaviour of Valverde during his five and half years career with Abarca Sports."
Valverde's statement said the court agreed that "none of the victories were obtained through use of prohibited practices, which is confirmed because Alejandro Valverde, possibly the most controlled the athlete in the world, has never failed a doping test."
Four years after vowing that the riders involved in Operación Puerto would be brought to justice, UCI president Pat McQuaid has finally seen Alejandro Valverde incur a worldwide ban for doping.
On Monday, the Spaniard was deemed guilty of a doping offence by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was handed a two year suspension.
McQuaid has long stated that he believes Valverde was indeed linked to the controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and now, after many efforts to push the case forward, he has got the result that he felt is right.
"We are pleased it is over and done with," McQuaid told Cyclingnews this evening. "We have always felt that he was involved in Puerto and CAS has now shown that to be correct. We are pleased this is behind us. The guy has used and abused the system for the past four years and were glad now that CAS has defended both the UCI and WADA's position on this."
However, while celebrating this victory, McQuaid indicated that he wanted to move on from the subject which has plagued the UCI since 2007.
"Let's move forward. As president of the UCI, I prefer to look forward to the cycling of today and the cycling of tomorrow, rather than the cycling of yesterday and years gone by. And that includes Floyd Landis and what have you."
The CAS ruling determined that while Valverde was involved in doping prior to the Operación Puerto raids in May 2006, that there was no evidence that he has doped in the years since. As a result of that, it rejected the push by WADA and the UCI to have all his results since Puerto crossed off.
Valverde will lose some prize money and points, but these will only pertain to races held this year.
Cyclingnews asked McQuaid if he could understand the reasoning behind that aspect of the CAS decision.
"I can see the logic of it," he conceded. "He rode those races, he was tested many times. He was in the bio...