Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) has warned that the latest scandal to involve Riccardo Riccò will have consequences for the credibility of the sport. Riccò is understood to have suffered from kidney blockage on Sunday and is alleged to have confessed to blood doping to a doctor in Padullo hospital.
"I think it's certainly something that does damage to all of cycling, and it damages all of us who are doing everything possible to ensure that cycling goes well and is credible in the eyes of the public," Pozzato told Cyclingnews in Qatar. "When things like this happen, it's a big blow to everybody. Let's hope that it's the last time that something like this happens, because I think it's very, very serious."
While Riccò's dramatic illness and apparent confession have dominated the headlines in recent days, out on the road, the thorny topic of the UCI's ban on radio earpieces continues to be a bone of contention in the peloton. Like many of his peers, Pozzato is in favour of the use of radios, and he is disappointed that the riders have not been consulted on what they view as a serious security issue.
"They should listen to what all the riders are saying because in the end, we're all in favour of radios," Pozzato said. "Yesterday we were in an echelon and there were cars in the middle of the peloton. With the radios you can talk without a car coming into the middle of the peloton, so we want them for our security."
As the UCI and the teams association the AIGCP continue to be at loggerheads on the matter, Pozzato and the riders have been somewhat sidelined in the debate.
"We'll just have to see how it's going to finish, because certainly we won't be the ones to decide," he said.
Using the track to build for the road
Speaking on day four of the Tour of Qatar, Pozzato told Cyclingnews that he is pleased with his form so far in his first competitive outing of the...
Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) took control of the overall lead of the Tour of Qatar with his second consecutive sprint victory on Wednesday. The Classics specialist exclusively told Cyclingnews that he and his teammates had targeted the leader's jersey - previously held by Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and treated stage three as a one day race.
Haussler had a disappointing 2010 due to injury and despite starting 2011 with a slight Achilles problem, the Australian looks to be closing in on fine form ahead of the Spring Classics.
Spaniard clashed with Gilbert over doping two months before '06 Tour de France win
The Spaniard Oscar Pereiro’s insistence that he was a clean winner of the Tour de France in 2006 will come under new scrutiny today, following Omega Pharma-Lotto star Philippe Gilbert’s revelations about a clash with Pereiro in that year’s Dauphiné Libéré.
Speaking in January to Cyclingnews’s sister publication Procycling magazine, Gilbert said that Pereiro and his then Caisse D’Epargne team-mate Alejandro Valverde verbally abused him after his victory in stage two of the Dauphiné and subsequent comments by Gilbert’s then Française des Jeux manager Marc Madiot. Referring to the unfolding Operacion Puerto scandal after his win in Saint-Galmier, Gilbert pleaded with journalists “don’t make me talk about those idiots”, while Madiot was both harsher and more direct.
Gilbert said that his boss’s outburst earned him a mid-race tirade from Valverde, who is currently serving a ban for his involvement in Operacion Puerto, and from Pereiro, once mistakenly rumoured to be the “Urko” listed in doctor Eufemiano Fuentes’ patient files.
“What Madiot said used to impact directly on us; we had La Francaise des Jeux’s logo on our jersey but we were essentially representing Marc Madiot, so when he talked it was as though we were talking,” Gilbert recalled. “I can remember that Dauphiné in 2006 – I’d won the second stage and Madiot had made some inflammatory remark, I’m not exactly sure what. Anyway, the next day, I had Valverde and Oscar Pereiro in my face, really attacking me in the...
Even though Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) raised his arms at the finish in Pertuis after stage one, it was Voeckler who was declared the winner as he threw his bike on the line to pass Mangel by half a wheel. The French champion took the jersey of overall leader and his team aims at keeping it until the finish of the five-day race.
"It's great to win today and we have to savour the victory, especially considering the fact that Europcar saved us at the end of last year," a happy Vockler told velo101.
"We have already found a successful spirit," directeur sportif Dominique Arnould said. "Things are starting out incredibly well and we will defend this jersey."
Taking the win from a five-man breakaway, five seems to be the magic number for Europcar at the moment as it is also the squad's fifth victory of its inaugural 2011 season. "I am together with several teammates that come from the Tour de Langkawi and the Tropicale Amissa Bongo [which the team won - ed.]. The idea was that Pierre Rolland concentrates on the overall and I take risks in front. It paid off: 120 kilometres without race radios, when I saw that we had a lead of 3'50" I told the four other riders in the break that we had to take advantage of that to further extend it."
Coming out of the winter, Voeckler admitted that he was still about three kilos overweight and needed more racing kilometres to attain top form for his first real season objective, Paris-Nice in March. "We will defend this yellow jersey. But seeing the other teams and riders... My form is not too bad, I am...
The cycling world is still in shock after the hospitalisation of Riccardo Riccò, and the subsequent allegations made about the Vacansoleil rider.
Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews before today's fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar, HTC-Highroad’s Rolf Aldag describes his anger and lack of surprise, and need for teams to act together to make it clear that doping is unacceptable.
Sean Kelly, Eurosport commentator and manager of Continental team An Post-Sean Kelly, says he can't understand Riccò's risk-taking, and that he would never have signed Riccò to his own team.
However, the strongest reaction comes from HTC-Highroad's Mark Cavendish, who while hoping Riccò will recover, reiterates his view that the sport is better-off without him, and he has some strongly-worded suggestions for what the Italian rider's future may hold.
Many in cycling have no doubt been hoping they had seen the back of him, but it seems that ex-ONCE and Liberty Seguros team boss Manolo Saiz is set to return to cycling’s top level in some capacity next season. Although Saiz is refusing to drawn on his precise plans for 2012, he has admitted that he wants to return and believes that he will do so with a new sponsor.
Saiz has been out of the sport since being implicated in the Operación Puerto blood doping investigation in 2006. In subsequent years he often stated that he had no desire to get involved in the sport again. Instead he focused on running a restaurant and wedding catering business in his home-town of Torrelavega in Cantabria, northern Spain.
However, last year Saiz admitted he had regained his passion for cycling and has, more recently, been providing the Cueva el Soplao under-23 team with coaching advice. Just last month, Saiz posted a cryptic message on his Twitter page saying: “On the 11th of the 11th of 2011 something will happen.” Although he has not clarified what this “something” will be, it is believed to refer to a gathering of all of the staff and riders he worked with during his 15 years at the head of the ONCE team.
Suggestions that he will also announce the identity of a new team on that date will be fuelled by comments Saiz has made to Spanish paper ABC this week. “I want to return with a small set-up and with young cyclists. And I won’t be looking back at the past,” he said.
Saiz has already been speaking to prospective backers for his new team, and insists that his involvement in the Puerto scandal won’t work against him. “I want to return and I think that I am going to. I’m not afraid of what people say about me. That’s never bothered me. I can look all of my friends in the eye. The judge came down on my side on three occasions,” said Saiz in typically bullish...
Spanish city mayor presents plans for Grand Départ to organiser
Jordi Hereu, mayor of Barcelona, has today presented the city's candidacy to host the start of the 2014 Tour de France to race organiser ASO. At an official presentation in Barcelona, race director Christian Prudhomme and ASO CEO Yann Le Moënner were shown the possibilities the Spanish city could offer at a Grand Départ of the French Grand Tour.
Because the Tour has established a tradition of starting from outside France every two years (2010 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and 2012 in Liège, Belgium), Hereu hopes that his candidacy can be successful. Moreover, the Tour has only started from Spain once in its history (from San Sebastian in 1992), and Barcelona can look back on a very successful stage finish in 2009.
The city of Florence, Italy, has also issued its candidacy for 2014, pointing out that it would honour the centenary birthday of the late Florence native Gino Bartali, who won the Tour in 1938 and 1948.
If successful, it would be the fourth time that Barcelona would welcome the French Tour after already hosting stages in 1957, 1965 and 2009.
Official route launched, cycling to open competition at London Games
London Olympic Games officials predicted exciting contests for the men's and women's road race gold medals, following the official launch of the race route in Surry, England on Thursday.
The London Olympic Games Committee's cycling director Simon Lillistone told Cyclingnews that the route had been designed so as to ensure a thrilling race in both the women's and men's events. The latter is scheduled to open competition at the Games when it starts 10:00 am on July 28, 2012.
"I think its going to be a great course for the riders and the teams. It's going to be a technical and very tactical course. I think that the fact that the riders are coming across new roads all the time, not just one big circuit, will mean it's not familiar to them and will be a big factor in the final result," he said.
Both the men's and women's races will start and finish in front of Buckingham Palace, in central London. However the route's loop through the Surrey Hills is expected to play the biggest role in the final result.
Riders will make their way from central London towards Surrey, southwest of the city, where they will race a short, but hilly circuit in the area around Box Hill. The men's race will include nine loops of the Box Hill circuit, with the women to complete five circults. The total distance of men's race will be 250km with the women to complete 140km.
With teams limited to five riders, the course will pose a significant tactical challenge, especially to those teams hoping to control the race for a sprint finish in front of the Palace. The UCI's push to ban race radios could also affect tactics, with the hilly terrain around Surry likely to make judging a breakaway's advantage difficult. Lillistone said LOCOG had consulted the UCI during the planning of the course.
"I think there are different types of challenges. This is something I've discussed with...