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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, April 14, 2011

Date published:
April 14, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Leukemans rides frustrations away in Brabantse Pijl

    Bjorn Leukemans
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 8:43 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Takes second behind unstoppable Gilbert

    Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) bounced back from a Paris-Roubaix full of bad luck and crashes with a splendid performance in the Brabantse Pijl, where he was nevertheless beaten by Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in a two-man sprint.

    “I didn't expect it myself. I wasn't fully recovered from Roubaix. I hit the deck three times in that race and rode three finales to get back to the front each time. I started today without any expectations.

    “When I attacked during the penultimate lap I looked back and saw Philippe sitting on my wheel. I looked at his face and knew that I wasn't going to drop him. In the sprint he's faster so I knew I was facing a problem,” Leukemans said.

    Moreover, Gilbert hadn't raced Paris-Roubaix, so it was clear Leukemans was facing an uphill task. Still, he continued to share the work on the front with his top-class compatriot.

    “Why I kept riding? It's just my way of racing. I know that the chance for me to finish second was real. There are a lot of fans out there who like me because of my racing style. I'm always going flat out. As a result I'm missing out on the victory once in a while but that's just the way I am. To me the best rider should win the race, but that's not always the case,” Leukemans explained.

    While getting boxed in at the post-race media scrum, one journalist bluntly asked Leukemans what the agreed price had been for his co-operation in the break with Gilbert. Leukemans did not deny or comment the allegation, even though Gilbert claimed they were talking about the weather.

    The combination of Leukemans' attitude and a possible financial bonus could explain the co-operation with Gilbert for the remainder of the race. Further doubt arose as Leukemans did not try whatever possible to get the faster Gilbert to lead out the sprint.

    Instead, Leukemans led out Gilbert towards his almost certain sprint victory.


  • Evans out of Amstel Gold Race

    Cadel Evans (BMC) awaits the start of stage six.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 9:38 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC leader needs rest to heal quadriceps injury

    A quadriceps injury will keep Cadel Evans from starting Sunday's Amstel Gold Race and defending his title at the Flèche Wallonne next week.

    Evans hurt his right knee when he crashed on March 31 while riding near his Swiss home. BMC team doctor Max Testa said an MRI performed on Monday this week revealed there was a still a small bruise on the knee bone. "From a medical standpoint, he's out of competition for at least the next five days," Testa said. "Keeping him out longer will help the ultimate injury outcome and also give him time to get training to return on the top end."

    Evans was disappointed not to be participating in the Ardennes Classics. "Normally, I thought I'd be back by now, but I had a check-up Tuesday and the injury has proven to be more of an obstacle than we first thought," he said. "What seemed and was first diagnosed as bruising to the vasto mediale has since been diagnosed as bruising also to the femur. Something that takes a little longer to heal.

    "I had wanted to be a helper for Greg Van Avermaet at Amstel Gold and on a good level for Flèche Wallonne. But this won't be a long-term problem, especially for my preparation for the Tour. It's just a little hiccup along the way," added the 2011 Tirreno Adriatico winner.

    BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue said the team's approach for Sunday's 260-kilometer race will not change. "We're still riding for Greg Van Avermaet, but we're losing a really good guy with Cadel - first as a teammate for Amstel and also as a leader for Flèche Wallonne," Lelangue said.

    Barring any complications, Evans will return to action at the Tour de Romandie (April 26-May 1).

    The BMC line-up for Amstel Gold Race will thus be: Marcus Burghardt, Matthias Frank, Martin Kohler, Jeff Louder, Manuel Quinziato, Ivan Santaromita, Mauro Santambrogio and Greg Van Avermaet.

  • Gilbert rallies his troops for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) happy on the Brabantse Pijl podium
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 10:24 BST
    Cycling News

    On-form Belgian motivates his teammates for the finale

    Philippe Gilbert has admitted he has put "a little bit of pressure" on his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammates for the upcoming Ardennes Classics and especially for Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 24, his big target of the spring. 

    The winner of the 2010 Amstel Gold Race has shown great form recently and took the honours at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, leaving no doubt that he will be a top contender at the races coming up on his home roads of Wallonne.

    "My goal was to be at my best for the coming week," the Belgian told L'Equipe after his win on Wednesday. "I started the season well, winning three races [as well as Flèche Brabanconne - ed.], but I want to be at a 100 percent in Liège. It's a very different race, much harder, but to win here is already a good sign and gives me further confidence."

    While Gilbert is certain of his own ability, he also needed his teammates to be at a certain level to support him at 'La Doyenne'. "I hope my team will be strong enough," Gilbert said. "I admit I've put a little pressure on them. Riders like Van Den Broeck or Bakelants have gone to prepare at altitude and we have remained in close contact so that I can follow their training. This victory is also to tell them that they didn't do their work for nothing."

    The Omega Pharma-Lotto leader revealed that he was wary of possible attacks coming from teams that have several top men instead of just one designated leader. "I don't need to be protected during the first 200 kilometres, but if I want to beat Katusha with Kolobnev, Ivanov and Rodriguez, I'll need some help in the finale," Gilbert said.

    "Last year in...

  • Locals throw tacks on Amstel Gold Race parcours

    Scenery along the 43rd Amstel Gold Race – Holland's 257.4-kilometre Classic running Sunday, April 20
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 13:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Police investigation is under way

    Dutch police have launched an investigation after finding tacks on the route of Sunday's Amstel Gold Race in Limburg, Netherlands. The parcours located around the city of Maastricht has been the target of one or several "local residents", according to De Telegraaf, protesting against the "nuisance" that cyclists bring to their homes.

    On Wednesday, as Rabobank's Robert Gesink was riding the last 100 kilometres of the first of the Ardennes Classics, a police officer informed team manager Frans Maassen soon after the Eyserbosweg that he should watch out for tacks lying on the road on the Fromberg.

    Police investigators are taking the matter seriously, as several leisure cyclists already reported similar sabotage last week and road signs of the permanent route of the cycling classics disappeared a few months ago. Authorities have announced more controls and severe punishments for those responsible.

    "Local communities and the police are investigating the incidents. They are handling this in a satisfying way," said Amstel Gold Race organiser Leo van Vliet.

  • Wegmann motivated for Flèche Wallonne

    Fabian Wegmann (Leopard Trek) powers his way to third place
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 15:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Leopard Trek rider builds on "great potential" of his team

    With his most important season goals just days away, Fabian Wegmann said he and his team are ready to tackle the Ardennes Classics. The German, who came to Leopard Trek from the defunct Milram squad, is known for his aggressive racing style in the Spring Classics, and he intends to be just one of the several contenders his team has on offer.

    "As a team, our goal is to bring Andy, Fränk, myself or Maxime (Monfort) or Jakob (Fuglsang) to victory. We have a lot of potential and will play it out," Wegmann told the Luxemburger Tageblatt on Thursday.

    The 30-year-old has just returned from Spain, where he scored an honourable third place in the GP Indurain, an event which he has won twice in his career. Now, Wegmann intends to make the best of his peak form in Belgium, especially on the famous Mur de Huy.

    "I have one big dream: to win the Flèche Wallonne. Once, I was very close to it and missed it only by a hair. I was caught with 200 or 300 metres to go. A victory there would be wonderful."

    Having finished in the top 15 of Flèche Wallonne four times, Wegmann knows he has the capacities for a victory or podium placing there. "Amstel and Liège are too long, but maybe at Flèche I can have a little bit more freedom. If everything pans out perfectly, it could be to my favour," he said.

    Recent race circumstances at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, where so-called outsiders took the victories, did not go by unnoticed. Even though Wegmann is meant to fulfill the role of a domestique for riders such as the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara, he knows possibilities may open up if the favourites stalemate each other.


  • Katusha hands over rider medical records to Italian investigators

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 17:06 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Reports of 1000 officers "absurd" says NAS

    Two days after a call from the Italian Olympic Committee president for "strong action" against doping in cycling, reports that an anti-doping operation by Italian police is taking place across Italy.

    It appears the investigation is being coordinated by the public prosecutor in Padova, Benedetto Roberti, and is focused on the activities of a cycling coach.

    The Italian Nucleo Antisofisticazioni (NAS) from Brescia, the equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration in USA, has carried out key parts of the operation and has begun confiscating riders' medical records.

    The Brescia NAS refused to confirm the news of the operation to Cyclingnews, but described reports that 1000 officers had been involved as 'absurd', suggesting the number was in dozens.

    The Katusha team has confirmed that it was visited by two NAS officers but denied their offices near Lake Garda were searched. The team were asked to hand over the records of five Russian riders to the police but were informed that the team is not at the centre of the investigation.

    For legal reasons the team cannot name the riders but Cyclingnews understands one of them no longer rides for Katusha. All five live in Spain.

    More to come as the story unfolds.

  • Amgen Tour of California adds women's time trial

    2009 women's time trial world champion Kristin Armstrong (United States of America).
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 18:20 BST
    Cycling News

    World's top women to compete alongside men in Solvang

    The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California today announced the details of the new Women's International Time Trial Challenge, presented by Specialized and SRAM, which will take place in Solvang, California on May 20.

    Twelve of the top female time trialists in the world will compete for a $10,000 prize list in the invitation-only race, which will take place on the same course upon which the men of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will compete.

    The women's event will begin at 11:30 AM, immediately before the men take to the course an hour later.

    With the announcement, AEG reiterated its support for women's cycling.

    "Beginning with the women's criterium race during the 2008 edition of the Amgen Tour of California, AEG has always been a supporter of women's cycling," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. "We are pleased to be able to celebrate the tremendous athleticism of these world-class competitors by providing an international stage on which to showcase their ability."

    The event will provide the women with a benchmark toward the national championships, 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games in one of the few top-level time trials in the USA.

    Reigning Olympic gold medalist and former world champion Kristin Armstrong is expected to compete along with defending world champion Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervélo), former world champions Amber Neben and Judith Arndt and current US Champion Evelyn Stevens, all of HTC-Highroad.

    "I am honored to be one of a handful of cyclists invited to this world class event," said Armstrong. "This is a great opportunity to showcase women's cycling in America's premiere race. I can't think of a better opportunity to bring exposure and recognition to women's cycling in front of a worldwide audience."

    Messick confirmed...

  • Omega Pharma-Lotto release Matt Lloyd

    Matthew Lloyd (Omega Pharma-Lotto) leads the chase group.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2011, 19:25 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Australian climber struggling after winter accident

    The Omega Pharma-Lotto team has announced it has terminated the contract of Australian climber Matt Lloyd, citing behavioral reasons but specifying it is not because of problems with performance enhancing drugs.

    Lloyd won the climber's competition at the 2010 Giro d'Italia but had a difficult winter after being hit by a car in Melbourne in December. He underwent surgery on his shoulder and also suffered spinal injuries.

    He made a comeback at the recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco in Spain but pulled out of the race before the final time trial stage.

    "We wish to inform you that the collaboration between Matthew Lloyd and the Omega Pharma-Lotto team is discontinued," the team said in a statement on its website.

    "Recent incidents during the first races disputed in 2011 by Matthew for our team made this collaboration impossible. Our team's image cannot be connected to Matthew's behaviour any more, therefore the unanimous decision taken by the BCC board of directors. We follow a policy of zero tolerance of which we cannot divert.

    "For the sake of clarity: this has nothing to do with the use of forbidden products. We also want to respect Matthew's privacy."

    Lloyd had hoped to ride the Giro d'Italia but hinted at his problems in a message on his personal website after he did not ride the Volta a Catalunya.

    "I’m not going to try and smash everyone’s eye-balls in with different physical and mental reasons trying to justify why I didn't race, but it wasn’t happening. Obviously!!" he wrote.

    "Of late, subconscious elements have crept in slowly and steadily leading to a bogus phase of...