HTC-Highroad takes first major stage race of the year
Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) HTC Highroad sealed the Ladies Tour of Qatar with an impressive fourth-placed finish on the final stage and believes that the stage is now set for the men’s team to follow suit in their race, which begins on Sunday.
Van Dijk started the final stage with a 15 second lead over her teammate, Charlotte Becker, and road defensively in order to keep her GC position. Towards the end of the stage the bunch regrouped and Monia Baccaille (SC Mcipollini Giordana) took the win.
In an exclusive Cyclingnews video Van Dijk talks about her win, her team’s tactics and the men’s race.
Sky rider talks Classics, turning pro in the 90 and motivation
Since the start of the New Year, Jeremy Hunt (Sky) has been based in Spain, training for the spring, and the oncoming Classics season. He’ll start racing in Qatar and Oman, then ride Kuurne-Bruxelles–Kuurne, and Paris-Nice, before his main goal of the spring – the Classics. He’s due to start in the team for all the Classics that Sky races, except Milan-San Remo, and he’s confident that the team will be successful.
“With Edvald [Boasson Hagen] and Flecha, if Edvald’s back to what he can be, you’ll have two of the strongest riders - with those two you can win a big one, especially with enough help”, Hunt told Cyclingnews.
“Every guy in this Classics squad, you know that if they’re given a chance, they’ve got a good chance of winning. Hayman, he’s good, Sutton too - they all can sprint, which is what makes a difference.”
As for his own role, Hunt is happy to ride according to the team’s tactics, supporting other riders, or taking opportunities. Although the end of Cervélo was hard for Hunt, it has given him the chance to ride with Sky, and the English rider is happy to be riding for the British team.
“It’s what I wanted when I was a kid, looking at 7-Eleven, and teams like that. Cycling has changed a lot but it’s good to be a British rider in a British team”
It’s a big change from when Hunt turned pro with Banesto, back in 1996, with only a handful of British riders in the peloton. When he started, Chris Boardman, Malcolm Elliott and Sean Yates were the only British professional cyclists, and it was hard to be British and find a pro team – very different from 2011, where there are...
Scientific advances have outpaced the rules, Spaniard claims
Doping regulations are outdated in light of scientific advances, Alberto Contador has said. The minimal amount of Clenbuterol found in his body through the ingestion of contaminated meat could neither give him a competitive advantage nor could it have been taken voluntarily, he claimed. Clenbuterol is currently on WADA's banned list and the anti-doping body have no acceptable levels for the substance. They have publicly dismissed Contador's argument over whether the traces were enough to give him an advantage.
Writing on his personal website, Contador, who is facing a one-year ban and the loss of the 2010 Tour de France title, said that the anti-doping rules list substances “that are taken by some athletes to improve performance, leaving the rest of the competitors at a disadvantage, and one of these substances in Clenbuterol.”
Therefore, if Clenbuterol was discovered “in an amount sufficient to improve performance, and could only have appeared in the body if taken voluntarily, it was taken with that end in mind.”
Today, however, he continued, saying scientific advances “are able to detect minute amounts” of substances – quantities so small that they could neither be performance enhancing or have been taken voluntarily. “This is my case with Clenbuterol."
“But whereas scientific advances have arrived in the year 2010, the rule remains stuck in the '60s,” Contador said.
“Only by combining scientific advances with modifications to the anti-doping rules will it be possible to talk about honest and fair sport, as I have always practised it."
Monia Baccaille (MCipollini-Giordana) claimed the final stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar in a thrilling sprint finish. It was very much an Italian affair in Doha, as Baccaille beat world champion Giorgia Bronzini into second place.
Ellen Van Dijk's (HTC-Highroad) fourth place finish was enough to seal her overall victory in the event.
Van Dijk’s HTC-Highroad team controlled the stage and despite letting a group of ten up the road and a state of confusion when the bunch took a wrong turn on the course, the peloton regrouped with Baccaille taking the win.
Van Dijk ended the race with the overall win, as well as jerseys for best young rider and the points classification. HTC-Highroad won the team classification.
Team prepares to make an impact at the Amgen Tour of California
Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth held their team training camp along the western seaboard’s sunny beaches of southern California, a sharp contrast to last month’s winter meet-and-greet held on the slopes of Winter Park, Colorado. According to directeur sportif, Jonas Carney, the fifteen-man roster is tasked with logging in more than 30 hours of warm weather riding during the seven-day camp.
“This will be our fourth training camp in Oxnard, California,” Carney told Cyclingnews. “We've found it to be the perfect location and atmosphere for our team. The weather is ideal and the training is phenomenal. There is no place in southern California where the riding is better than the Santa Monica Mountains. It doesn't hurt that the team is housed on one of the nicest stretches of beach. For the last two years we have been fortunate enough to find a house right on the beach that can accommodate the entire team.”
The team is making use of a rented house in Oxnard, located on the outskirts of Santa Monica. According to Carney, the riders prefers the home-style atmosphere with a kitchen for cooking dinners each night and a feel that is more convenient than spending a week in a hotel rooms.
The roster includes new riders US Pro Criterium Champion Dan Holloway, Mike Friedman, Mike Creed, Jason Donald, Thomas Soladay, Julian Kyer, Colton Barrett and Michael Sherer. Returning riders include Andrew Bajadali, Alex Candelario, Reid Mumford, Jesse Anthony, Marsh Cooper, Dan Bowman and Cheyne Hoag. Riders suit up and depart on their bikes every morning at 9:30 and head toward Malibu and through the mountains.
“The bulk of the riders go for 90 to 100 miles and hit several canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains a day,” Carney said. “I expect the majority of our guys will ride roughly 30 hours in the first seven...
Chicago event bolsters North American pro calendar
The sixth Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove was added to the growing list of events on the International Cycling Union (UCI) America Tour when it upgraded to UCI 2.2 status this year. Organizers of the three-stage race are eligible to invite Professional Continental and Continental teams to the race on August 5-7 in Chicago, Illinois.
“The Tour of Elk Grove wanted to increase its international appeal along with the level and stature of the event,” said Special Events Management’s Chief Executive Officer, Hank Zemola.
“It is a great opportunity to offer international teams the ability to attend and compete.”
The Tour of Elk Grove has traditionally offered an opening 7.2 kilometre time trial, a 155 kilometre circuit race and a 110 kilometre criterium. However, this year’s UCI stage race will replace the closing criterium with a second circuit race held on a 10 kilometre loop to meet UCI regulations.
“The minimum distance for a circuit race is 10 kilometre,” said Andrea Smith of USA Cycling. “As submitted to the UCI, Tour of Elk Grove will have time trial and two circuit races, each at a minimum distance of 10 kilometres per lap.”
The Tour of Elk Grove has always attracted a well attended peloton because of its lucrative prize purse of nearly $150,000, which makes it the richest three-day event in the world. Former winners of the event include Canada’s David Veilleux, Australia’s Jonathan Cantwell and Karl Menzies.
“We are hopeful that all the top teams will compete in addition to several international teams,” Zemola said. “We will continue to produce a great experience for riders with top level competition.”
The US will host a series of UCI-sanctioned races beginning with the Amgen Tour of California, TD Bank International Cycling Championships, Tour of Elk Grove, Tour of Utah, Quiznos Pro Challenge and the...
The UCI announced today that it has cleared Danilo Di Luca to compete again after receiving a payment of 173,600 Euros from the Italian as a fine for his 2009 Giro d'Italia EPO positive.
However, Di Luca must pay another 8,000 Euro in procedural costs by 11 February, the UCI said.
Di Luca tested positive for EPO CERA on stages 11 and 18 of the 2009 Giro d'Italia, in which he placed second to Denis Menchov. He had been subjected to targeted testing by the UCI as a result of his biological passport's blood profile.
It was the Italian's second doping offence after he served a three-month suspension in the 'Oil for Drugs' affair for working with a banned doctor, Carlo Santuccione. Di Luca received a reduced sentence after an original recommendation for a three-year suspension was first dropped to two years before being reduced down to nine months after he cooperated with the Italian anti-doping authorities.
The UCI imposed the 173,600 Euro fine based on his salary and the length of his ban.
Di Luca signed with the Katusha team for the 2011 season.
Olympic champion pleased with form at Ladies Tour of Qatar
Nicole Cooke (MCipollini-Giordana) believes that she will benefit from riding as part of a strong trade team in 2011. The Welsh rider was left without a team last year when Equipe Nürnberger folded at the beginning of the season, and she competed in the colours of the British national team.
"It added extra difficulty," Cooke told Cyclingnews. "Instead of being on a team on the same level as the top teams, I was finding myself alone at the important end of the races. But I just had to do my best and then at the world championships when we were racing as the Great Britain team, I was able to do a really good ride there."
Cooke's 2010 campaign ended with that strong fourth-placed finish in Geelong and soon afterward she signed for the MCipollini-Giordana team. The squad includes Cooke's fellow ex-world champions Marta Bastianelli and Tatiana Guderzo, as well as double Italian champion Monia Baccaille.
"I'm really happy with the new team," Cooke said. "The way things are setting up is really good, especially heading towards the start of the European season."
Cooke explained that she and her squad will divide out their objectives over the course of the season. "The one day races will probably be my forte and then other girls like Guderzo are going more for the stage races like the Giro d'Italia," she said.
MCipollini-Giordana enjoyed success at the Ladies Tour of Qatar thanks to a stage win from Baccaille and Cooke herself was part of a dangerous move on the final day of racing. Although she was in Qatar to complement her winter training, Cooke came close to being part of the race-deciding breakaway that came in the wind on stage two.
"I made my way to the back of the echelon but then with the HTC and Garmin girls I wasn't actually able to get into the echelon and get that little bit of recovery and then I popped and went out the back," she explained.