Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, April 19, 2012

Date published:
April 19, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Riis willing to sign riders to keep Saxo Bank in WorldTour

    Smile if you want to go faster: Bjarne Riis made the trip to Australia
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 11:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Danish team sitting bottom of WorldTour rankings

    Team Saxo Bank is already struggling with gaining points this season to ensure its WorldTour licence for 2013. Team owner Bjarne Riis is still convinced that the riders will do well enough on the road to ensure the team's continuation in the top ranks, but he has not ruled out the possibility of buying riders with the necessary points.

    The Danish team did not gain any points in Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne, where Nicki Sorensen was the best finisher as 33rd. Saxo Bank is last in the UCI's WorldTour team rankings, with only 32 points.

    “I don't see why we shouldn't be able to get enough points for the coming year,” Riis told

    But if that doesn't work, then he acknowledged another possibility. “If we don't have enough, we will have to go buy riders who have points. Those are the conditions.”

    Riis' main difficulty is the Alberto Contador case. With Contador's two-year backdated doping suspension, the team lost more than two-thirds of the points with which it obtained this year's licence.

    Contador is expected to return to Saxo Bank in August when his ban is over, but under UCI rules, any points he gains over the next two years would not count for the team. Riis has indicated he is willing to challenge those UCI rules.

    “It's a tricky case, because there are many other rules to be observed. It's more complicated than that,” he said. “I'm getting tired of it, but it is evidently a part of the game. Right now though we ride our races and that is where we try to keep our focus.”

  • Marco Pinotti to lead BMC Racing Team in Giro d'Italia

    Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) in pink
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 12:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Ballan to make Giro debut, Hushovd and Phinney for the early stages

    Marco Pinotti will lead the BMC Racing Team in the Giro d'Italia, looking to finish in the top ten. Alessandro Ballan wants a stage win in his first Giro, while Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney both have their eye on the race's prologue in Herning, Denmark, on Saturday, May 5.

    Sporting director Fabio Baldato announced the US-based team's starting lineup to the Gazzetta dello Sport. The team will send Pinotti, Ballan, Hushovd, Phinney, Mauro Santambrogio, Ivan Santaromita, Mathias Frank, Johan Tschoop and Danilo Wyss.

    Pinotti wore the leader's maglia rosa at the Giro in 2011 for one stage after his HTC-Highroad team won the opening team time trial. He subsequently had to abandon the race after a crash on the 19th stage left him with a broken hip.

    Ballan, who will be making his Giro debut at the age of 32, “will try to win a stage, after two third places in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix,” Baldato said. He will also be “the man to escape.”

    Hushovd and Phinney “will have immediate ambitions and goals for the prologue. It would be a double blow: the stage and the jersey. They are worth a lot for the two Danish stages.”

    The Italian, who himself rode the Giro 13 times, said that the start in Denmark “is logistically inconvenient, but technically it favours us. Afterwards there will be few transfers, and this should also help.”

    As for the the route, he said it's “balanced, and the difficulty of the last week is now a tradition. But this year there is at least one stage for the...

  • Leipheimer uncertain for Amgen Tour of California

    Levi Leipheimer is in town
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 14:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider still suffering after crash with car

    Three-time Amgen Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer's participation in the 2012 edition of the race is uncertain after he fractured his left leg in a crash with a car earlier this month.

    The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider was training alone before the Tour of the Basque Country when he was hit from behind by a car traveling at high speeds.

    In speaking with Cyclingnews two weeks ago, Leipheimer was optimistic about recovering before his home Tour, since the fracture to his left fibula did not require surgery, but he has found recovery to be more difficult that previously imagined.

    "The situation isn't pleasant at all," Leipheimer said in a team press release."Ever since the day of the accident I haven't managed to get back on my bike out on the road, and I honestly don't know when that will be possible. Recovery is slower than we expected. I still have pain in my leg and I'm having trouble walking. I also have pain in my ribs and hips due to the fall, this is limiting my movement."

    Back home in Santa Rosa, Leipheimer is now hoping just to get to the start line on May 13, much less contend for his fourth overall victory.

    "The Tour of California was one of the objectives for my season," Leipheimer said. "I wanted to be competitive in order to win a fourth overall title. At this point, merely participating will be a success. I will put in my best effort to manage to be on the starting line, even though it won't be easy."


  • Ricco receives 12-year ban

    Riccardo Riccò promised much when he won at Offagna in 2007.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 14:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian tribunal's verdict effectively ends his career

    The Italian National Anti-Doping Tribunal has today issued its verdict in the Riccardo Ricco doping case, banning the 28-year-old for 12 years after he admitted to self-administering a blood transfusion in February 2011.

    Ricco had previously served a two-year ban for EPO use and the verdict from the Italian authority, which finds in favour of the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) recommendation, will effectively end his career in professional cycling.

    Ricco ended up in hospital in February 2011 due to kidney problems, and eventually admitted several months later that they may have come about from a self-administered transfusion. CONI subsequently announced, in October 2011, that it was requesting a 12-year ban for Ricco - a request that was upheld today.

    Ricco enjoyed a highly promising start to his career with Saunier Duval-Prodir, winning two stages at the Giro d'Italia and finishing second overall in 2008 as a 24-year-old. However, just weeks later he tested positive for CERA, a variant of EPO, at the Tour de France, and received a two-year ban, which was reduced to 20 months after he co-operated with the investigation.

    Ricco returned to racing, and to form, in 2010, winning the Tour of Austria and finishing second at the Giro del Trentino in the colours of Vacansoleil-DCM. But temptation was never far away from the Italian and his life and his career unravelled again the following year. Ricco will be approaching his 40th birthday when his ban runs out, meaning that he will have to forge a new life away from cycling - something his countryman Mario Cipolloni advised him to do late last year.

  • Bernard Hinault leaps to Gilbert defence

    Philippe Gilbert was mobbed by the press after Fleche Wallonne
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 16:16 BST
    Cycling News

    French icon says BMC rider can silence his critics in Liege

    It's been a long, hard struggle, but Philippe Gilbert's performances in the first two Ardennes Classics in recent days have offered signs that the 2011 Velo d'Or winner is fighting back to something close to his best form. Gilbert has under-performed by his own lofty standards since moving to BMC from Omega Pharma-Lotto in the off-season with a combination of new surroundings and niggling fitness problems hindering his progress.

    A sixth place finish at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday was followed by a third place finish at Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday. Gilbert won both of those races in 2011 on his way to completing a memorable Ardennes treble at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and with the latter coming up this weekend, Gilbert's fans will be hoping that he can improve again and finish the Classics season in style.

    There have been more voices of dissent than encouragement in recent weeks but Gilbert has found an ally in the shape of Bernard Hinault. The Frenchman, one of cycling's all-time greats and the winner of ten Grand Tours and seven Classics in his glittering career, has rounded on Gilbert's critics and said he has a chance to shut them up on Sunday.

    "I do not understand why some people have already placed his head on a chopping block," Hinault said of the Belgian. "A bad Spring is not a bad season - there is still a long time to go," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

    "In the Amstel Gold Race he did well, and he was third in the Huy [La Fleche Wallonne]. On...

  • Jelly Belly heads to Tour of Korea

    The San Diego area provides certain advantages for a training camp, including weather and spectacular coastal riding.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 17:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Van der Velde, Powers among line-up

    The American Continental team Jelly Belly presented by Kenda is heading to Asia this week to participate in the eight-stage Tour of Korea, which begins April 22.

    The team is hoping to recapture the kind of results they obtained in 2010 when Mike Friedman won the overall while riding for Jelly Belly, and perhaps go one better and win a stage or two.

    "This is a good race for us. I know we can win," said director Danny Van Haute. "The riders are very motivated to race and to win next week."

    The team will line up with Nic Hamilton, Alex Hagman, Emerson Oronte, Brad Huff, Jeremy Powers and Ricardo van der Velde, who will be one of the team's protected riders.

    "We all are coming to this race in good shape. We are fresh and very motivated to win stages," Van der Velde said.

    22-year-old Oronte will be getting his first taste of international racing, and the second year professional said he's feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness. "Pretty much the range of emotions you would expect whenever you embark on something new and challenging," Oronte said. "I've been training hard and trying to get as much advice from some of the veteran riders on what to expect. We plan on racing hard and representing our sponsors and ourselves to the best of our ability."

    The team will split its squad between Korea and the Sea Otter Classic in California, where Menso de Jong, Sean Mazich and new rider Christiaan Kriek will compete in the April 19-22 race.

  • Stephen Roche: Team Sky face Tour de France conundrums

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky)
    Article published:
    April 19, 2012, 19:48 BST
    Cycling News

    Questions over yellow or green, Wiggins or Froome and more

    As he prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Tour de France victory, Stephen Roche has revealed his major concerns ahead of Team Sky's bid for glory in the great race this July. According to the Irishman, the team's embarrassment of riches means that boss David Brailsford has numerous conundrums to solve and that he could well be in for a few sleepless nights over the next few weeks.

    Both Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins have solid claims to be the team's number one in terms of overall GC, while Mark Cavendish will be looking to retain the green jersey that he won last year. On top of this, there are other riders in the squad, such as Edvald Boasson Hagen, who have proved themselves capable of winning individual stages.

    "It's going to be a complicated mix and wanting to take all the cream on the apple tart could make the cream turn sour," Roche said.

    "Generally it doesn't work out [an assault on both green and yellow jerseys]. You only have nine men in the team. Wiggins and Froome can't be riding in the sprint lead-out or chase down groups, so your nine-man team is now seven. Do they ride flat out on all those flat stages for Cavendish and lose energy for the climbs?"

    Despite his reservations, Roche was full of praise for what the team has achieved in a short space of time and admitted that its progress had surprised him. With Wiggins and Froome both performing well at last season's Vuelta a Espana, and with Wiggins winning Paris-Nice last month, Roche feels that the team are genuinely double-handed as they look to win the Tour.

    "A couple of years ago, when Team Sky was launched and its ambitions were...

  • Watch the Sunny King criterium live on Cyclingnews

    Men's top three (l-r): Rahsaan Bahati, 3rd; Jonathan Cantwell, 1st; Michael Northey, 2nd.
    Article published:
    April 21, 2012, 22:32 BST
    Cycling News

    NCC men's and women's races streaming on Saturday

    The USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar picks up with the Sunny King criterium in Anniston, Alamaba, one week after the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational. On Saturday, April 21, Cyclingnews is bringing you the race action streaming live. The event is the third stop on the pro men's NCC calendar and the second stop for the women.

    The race will be shot by five high-definition video cameras, covering nearly the entire course. The women's pro race will begin at 6:20pm (Central Daylight Savings Time), with the men's pro NCC event beginning at 7:30pm.

    While last year's winner Janel Holcomb races in Europe, the race will be one for returning champion Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom), who will try to recapture her crown. She will be facing strong competition from Erica Allar (RideClean/PatentIt) and Jade Wilcoxson (Optum) who are tied for third in the NCC.

    The men's field will include riders Issac Howe and Carlos Alzate Escobar, also currently in the top five on the NCC standings. Along with Howe and Alzate Escobar, Kyle Wamsley (Jamis/Sutter Home), John Murphy (Kenda), Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell), Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis/Smartstop), and Jeff Louder (United Healthcare) will be just a few of the riders to watch on Saturday night.