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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 23, 2013

Date published:
March 23, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Merckx fitted with pacemaker

    Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 11:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Retired pro at home resting after operation

    Eddy Merckx has been fitted with a pacemaker it was announced on Friday. The 67-year-old and most successful cyclist of all time has suffered from cardiac arrhythmia and was operated on at a clinic Thursday in Gent.

    According to, Merckx is reported as saying, "I was operated by Dr. Johan Van Lierde. It was therefore prudent to take preventive measures to avoid certain problems. This will normalize the frequency of my heart rate... "

    Merckx returned home on Friday and is set to spend the next 10 days resting.

    Last year it was reported that Merckx may have ridden throughout his career with a persistent heart problem. According to an Italian cardiologist. Dr. Giancarlo Lavezzaro In “Eddy Merckx, the Cannibal” by Daniel Friebe, Lavezzaro claims that anyone presenting an equivalent cardiogram today would be denied a racing licence.

    At the time, Merckx said, “On my father's side there are many heart problems. He and several uncles died young. I have myself examined every year. I do sport and take medication to keep everything under control. But during my career I never had any problems."

  • Gent-Wevelgem organisers play weather waiting game

    The peloton lines up in Deinze for Gent-Wevelgem.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 12:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    Deny race will be moved to Monday

    Keen to avoid a repeat of the weather-disrupted Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem organisers will do reconnaissance over the 235km course on Saturday to check its readiness given snow flurries in the region in the 24 hours leading up to the Flanders Classic.

    Various contingency plans can be activated should the weather conditions demand and a meeting with the teams is scheduled for 3pm on Saturday afternoon to discuss the race and any changes that have been made to the parcours.

    "We will not make the mistake of Milan-San Remo" race director, Frank Hoste told Nieuwsblad. "The health and safety of the riders have priority."

    Snow began falling on Saturday morning before conditions cleared a few hours later. More snow was originally forecast for Sunday however revised indications are that will temperatures will continue to hover from -2 to 3 degrees, no snow should fall on race day.

    Several options are on the table for Sunday with race organisers refuting suggestions that the WorldTour event will be held on Monday as an alternative in a press release issued late on Saturday night. The two Casselberg ascents loom as the most troublesome, given it's slightly higher than the others and unprotected, could be removed with the race resuming 50 metres up the road. The race could be cancelled altogether should conditions deteriorate to a level deemed necessary with the other option of deleting the French segment of the race impossible due to the notice required for authorities


  • WADA issues warning on black market GW501516

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 14:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Developmental drug removed from pre-clinical studies after toxicity demonstrated

    The World Anti-Doping Agency has taken a rare step to warn athletes about toxicity of a potential doping substance known as GW501516. The drug, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, was withdrawn from research studies after mice showed increased incidence of tumors when dosed with the substance.

    The experimental drug was being developed as a potential to raise HDL cholesterol or "good" cholesterol, but according to a GlaxoSmithKline spokesperson, the development was halted in 2006.

    Although GW501516 never made it through the clinical approval process, it has already made it out onto the black market, and anecdotes of athletes it can be found in fitness forums. The drug has been shown to stimulate the same metabolic pathways that are activated through exercise, and together with the drug AICAR (Acadesine) was shown to increase endurance in animal experiments.

    Both substances are banned by the WADA code, and doping controls can detect the drugs. But that has not stopped some athletes from experimenting with them, and according to WADA, anti-doping authorities have already noted "a number of positive cases".

    "GW501516 is not approved for use in humans and GSK does not manufacture or authorize its sale," said GSK's Melinda Stubbee. "Furthermore, GSK is not affiliated in any way with Uniquemicals or any other suppliers of GW501516."

    WADA took the unusual step to warn potential "cheats" about the toxicity, "to ensure that there is complete awareness of the possible health risks to athletes who succumb to the temptation of using GW501516 for performance enhancement".



  • Oss saves BMC's day in E3-Harlebeke

    Podium: Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Leopard) in first, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in second, Daniel Oss (BMC) in third
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 14:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Podium place for Italian as team leader falter

    Daniel Oss spared BMC’s blushes with a fine third place in Friday’s E3 Harelbeke. The 26-year-old formed part of an elite chase group that included Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and Sebastian Langeveld (Orica GreenEdge) after Fabian Cancellara had launched his race winning move on the Oude Kwaremont.

    Oss worked along with his breakaway companions but was unable to reel Cancellara in, who soloed to his third title in four years. Up against former teammate Sagan in the sprint, Oss launched an attack in the final kilometre but narrowly missed out on second but managed to push Thomas into fourth.

    "I felt good during the week and today I was also feeling good," Oss said at the finish.

    "I waited until the moment in the race for the big men to make their move. Yesterday, I looked at the parcours so knew where I could go in front. I gave my best."

    While Oss delivered the rest of the BMC team were left with little to show for their day. Designated team leader Thor Hushovd, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet were all dropped, with the world champion looking off the pace with the Tour of Flanders just over a week away. All three were put on the back foot on the Taaienberg before being cut adrift for good on the Oude Kwaremont.

    "Oss made a good move when Cancellara and Tom Boonen went on the attack," BMC’s Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said.

    "I told him to stay quiet and stay on the wheels. I was hoping Greg Van Avermaet or Phillipe Gilbert would come back to the front."

    "He's done good work to help his teammates and finally had his own opportunity to make a result himself," he said.


  • Gent-Wevelgem start moved to Gistel

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won Gent-Wevelgem for the third time in his career
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 16:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Worst of the weather to be avoided

    Gent-Wevelgem will definitely go ahead on Sunday after race director Frank Hoste did a reconnaissance of the course on Saturday. However the WorldTour race will start from Gistel, to the north-west of Gent, shortening the parcours by 45km.

    Hoste met with teams on Saturday afternoon, announcing the changes.

    With more snow forecast to fall from around 10pm on Saturday evening and with temperatures plummeting to around -3, a decision will be made on Sunday morning before the race over the inclusion of the two ascents of the Casselberg.

    "We will not make the mistake of Milan-San Remo" Hoste told Nieuwsblad. "The health and safety of the riders have priority."


  • Video: Inside Alex Dowsett's suitcase

    Alex Dowsett
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 17:55 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Movistar rider takes Cyclingnews through behind the scenes at the Classics

    Have you ever wondered what a professional bike rider packs for a stint of racing at the Classics? Movistar’s Alex Dowsett takes Cyclingnews behind the scenes and into this hotel room for an insight into what a professional rider takes with him on racing trips, from the typical wardrobe race attire, foam rollers, and laptops.

    Dowsett is currently in the middle of a stint of racing in Belgium as Movistar tackle the Belgium Classics with Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem their last outing before the Tour of Flanders next week.

    Dowsett moved to Movistar at the tail end of 2012 after two years at Sky and has enjoyed a more robust racing programme so far with Tirreno-Adriatico already under his belt and a probable start in this year’s Giro d’Italia on the cards.


  • Sergeant defends Gilbert over cortisone allegations

    Philippe Gilbert (Lotto) at the start
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 18:57 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Lotto boss has complete faith in former rider

    Lotto boss Marc Sergeant has defended team doctor Jan Mathieu and his former rider Philippe Gilbert after an anonymous source claimed that Gilbert was administered cortisone by Mathieu in a bid to boost the rider’s performance.

    Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad alleged that Gilbert used cortisone to enhance his performance during his time at the Lotto team.

    Currently at BMC, Gilbert raced for Lotto from 2009 to 2011 and won six classics in his three seasons at the Belgian squad.

    Gilbert responded to the allegation by writing to the publication. He stopped short of denying the use of cortisone but said:

    "I’ve always done my job in a serious manner and in the best way possible,” he said. “I won big races both before and after my years at Lotto, and for the most part in the same fashion. I hope that says enough about it.”

    At the finishline of E3-Harelbeke Sergeant told Cyclingnews, “It’s easy to accuse someone anonymously."

    “We’ve been working with this doctor for nine year and if the allegations were the case then sure in all those years someone would have told me, ‘watch out you’re using too much’. I never had a warning or a remark so I don’t think it’s true.”

    Riders are allowed medication such as cortisone under the TUE system. However, the allegations also centred around the abuse of the system and that Mathieu had concocted injuries in order to facilitate cortisone injections.

    “A few years ago riders had books in which they had to write things like that in, but nowadays doctors have to call it in to the UCI and Dr Zorzoli and he makes a note of it. If it this happened several times as was written in the article then Zorzoli...

  • Devolder supports decision to shorten Gent-Wevelgem

    Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard)
    Article published:
    March 23, 2013, 21:23 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    RadioShack with 'less pressure' after Cancellara's E3 win

    RadioShack-Leopard classics specialist Stijn Devolder admits that this spring is the toughest he's encountered throughout his career and suspects that much of the peloton is struggling to get motivated to race in the brutal conditions.

    Devolder overcame mechanicals and a crash to finish in the main bunch 2:15 behind teammate Fabian Cancellara during Friday's E3 Harelbeke, along with fellow RadioShack rider Gregory Rast.

    "I had a lot of bad luck but very good legs and this is good for the team in the next races," he told Cyclingnews on the eve of Gent-Wevelgem.

    While RadioShack DS Dirk Demol has indicated that he believes the 33-year-old can return to the form that helped him win two editions of the Tour of Flanders, Devolder is on the fence with regards to any comparison to 2008 and 2009.

    "I don't know if I'm close to that - it's difficult to say but I feel a lot better than the past year when I had a bad spring season," he admitted. "I feel good and I feel that I can ride against the other good riders who will be in the final in those big races."

    With bad weather forcing the removal of 45km from this year's edition of Gent-Wevelgem, and Deinze hosting the race start, Devolder was cautious over whether race organisers had been proactive enough, but admitted that they faced a difficult decision with race infrastructure also to be considered. Race director Frank Hoste announced on Saturday that a decision would be made in the morning as to whether additional safety measures would be enforced.

    "After San Remo we had bad weather again in Waregem on Wednesday and you feel that everybody is a little scared on the start," he exaplined. "After...