The Lampre-Farnese Vini team has confirmed that Andrei Kashechkin has joined the Italian team for the rest of the 2010 season.
The 30 year-old Kazkhstani rider will make his debut in the blue and pink Lampre-Farnese Vini jersey at the Brixia Tour stage race in Italy that begins on July 21. He is likely to be the team's leader for key races in August and for the Vuelta Espana after team manager Giuseppe Saronni secured extra sponsorship from the Spanish company AMPO.He is likely to ride the Vuelta with veteran sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who has returned to form at the Tour de France, winning two stages in the opening five days.
Kashechkin finished third overall in the 2006 Vuelta when he raced with fellow Kazkhstani rider Alexandre Vinokourov at the Liberty Seguros team. The two rode for the Astana team at the 2007 Tour de France. Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping during the race and Kashechkin failed a blood test a few days later when he was tested out of competition while on holiday in Turkey. He appealed against the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost and served a two-year ban.
He was unable to find a team in 2009 after his ban and was snubbed by the Astana team. However he rode for Kazakhstan in the time trial at the world championships in Mendrisio.
Lampre-Farnese Vini signed Kashechkin after being given the all clear by the UCI.
Sprinters get their chance to shine in first clean, mass sprint
Robbie McEwen (Katusha) – 4th on stage, 23rd overall @ 2:52: "I was on Petacchi's wheel, and going well. But then I tried to come past him but I felt so still. Then, I was passed by a few other riders. It came to nothing. It's not so much the elbow [that bothers me]. When I crashed in Spa, I also fell on my right hip, and it hurts. I just don't have power because of it."
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) – 12th on stage, 109th overall @ 9:11: "I'm disappointed about today. I felt really good during the stage. I feel sorry for my teammates who rode unbelievably and I just didn't finish it off at the end. We're really motivated as a team and I'm going to go out there tomorrow and give it hundred percent again. Congratulations to Alessandro Petacchi for another great stage win."
Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) – 2nd on stage, 146th overall @ 17:32: "I was a bit surprised, you never start out after being in the hosptial two days ago thinking you're going to do that. I'm over the moon to achieve this but wish I was 100 percent for the sprint. I feel like maybe I could have won. But that said I'm really proud of what the team's acheived - fourth yesterday and second and fifth today."
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) – 23rd on stage, 165th overall @ 22:03: I'm really happy for Julian and proud of our team for what we've accomplished yesterday and today. After a day like Monday its impossible to know what's in store so it really shows our depth and determination. I knew I wasn't going to be able to really go for the sprint and I was happy to help Julian and Robbie - espeically given how much they lay on the one for me. I don't know what the next few stages hold, I'm just taking it day by day, hoping I'll continue to recover and helping the team any way I can.
Russian champion searching for breakaway opportunities
Newly crowned Russian champion Alexandr Kolobnev (Itera-Katusha) is carrying some battle scars after the early Tour de France stages, but that hasn’t dented his hopes of winning a stage at the French race. The 29-year-old is making his Tour debut, having moved to the Russian squad from Saxo Bank despite having a year left on his contract with the Danish squad.
Kolobnev has been used to skipping the Tour to reserve his strength for the end of the season. He has finished second at the UCI world road championship on two occasions, in 2007 and 2009.
“I’ll have more opportunities to win a stage here at the Tour de France,” he said of the change in focus. “I’m in a period of good shape. I hope to recover from this crash and then… via! (let’s go)
“Every stage is good to win,” he added. “The good thing is our captains haven’t crashed and haven’t lost too much time either in a stage that we feared a lot.”
Kolobnev started the Tour’s stage four looking like a mummy, after crashing on the previous day’s cobbled stage. “I fell after 115 kilometres on stage three,” he said. “There was a cyclists lane and a couple of riders fell because of the walkside. It’s a pity because I was feeling really good. I wanted to do well in that stage but I also liked the previous one.”
While Kolobnev didn’t win stage two, he can still be considered one of the luckier riders on the day. Mechanicals aren’t normally welcomed by riders, but it prevented Kolobnev from joining the large group of riders to crash on the Stockeu descent.
“I didn’t crash during stage two only because I had broken my back wheel before everybody crashed,” he said. “As I was coming across to the bunch my directeur sportif told me to be careful because there was a big crash that just happened before I reached that...
Japan’s Yukiya Arashiro (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), who is the only Asian rider at this year’s Tour de France, has vowed to attack on today’s stage five. Riders aren’t often open about their strategy for stages, but Arashiro told Cyclingnews: “Tomorrow I’ll make the breakaway”.
Arashiro has proven to be a man of his word in the past, saying the same thing prior to the Giro d’Italia’s stage 5 when he finished third in Novi Ligure behind Quick Step’s Jérôme Pineau and Julien Fouchard of Cofidis. So there’s a good chance he’ll be in action from Epernay to Montargis today.
Bbox Bouygues Telecom wants to be visible every day during the Tour. Pierre Rolland was in the breakaway on stage 3 prior to entering the cobblestone sections while former French champion Nicolas Vogondy was one of the five men away on stage 4 from Cambrai to Reims.
Last year Arashiro showed that he was a bit of a sprinter as he finished fifth on stage 2 in Brignoles. At the start of this year’s Tour de France, HTC-Columbia train driver Bernhard Eisel said: “One of our biggest rivals for the bunch sprints is Arashiro”. The Japanese rider ruled out this option in Reims: “No, I’m not fast enough to beat these guys,” he reacted.
Bbox Bouygues Telecom chose Sébastien Turgot as its sprinter once Vogondy was caught yesterday. The winner of stage 2 at the Three Days of De Panne finished sixth on the stage.
“I had to position myself correctly,” Turgot said. “I had to follow the wheels of the pure sprinters to get a good place on the result sheet. I think I’ve got the legs for delivering results. I hope I’ll have more opportunities to do well in the coming sprints.”
Arashiro was pleased to survive the cobblestones on stage 3 without major incident. The rider admitted he’s not made for...
With the battle for the yellow taking a back seat until the weekend, today's 187.5km fth stage from Epernay - Montargis is another opportunity for the Tour de France sprinters to shine.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini)) is on the look out for his third win of this year's race and how many of us thought we’d be saying that back in Rotterdam? While Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) will be looking to improve on a disappointing result yesterday and extend his lead in the green jersey.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) is still searching for his first win in the race, while the likely suspects of Oscar Friere (Rabobank), Gerald Ciolek (Milram) and Robbie McEwen (Katusha) will also be in the hunt.
It was hot at the start in Epernay but the riders were ready for another day in the saddle.
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Admits he organised Ullrich's trips to see Fuentes
Jan Ullrich's former directeur sportif and mentor Rudy Pévenage has revealed that he organised trips for the German rider to visit Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in Spain, confirming, for the first time, his involvement with the blood doping scheme unearthed in Operación Puerto.
"I organised Jan Ullrich's trips to Madrid to see Dr. Fuentes. What's the point in continuing to lie," he told French newspaper L'Equipe in a long interview published on Thursday.
"I want to make it clear that at the time, I never had the feeling that I was doing anything wrong. I knew a lot of Fuentes clients, including some good riders who rode the Tour in 2006. Everyone knew. It was a normal thing to do."
Pévenage revealed that he was caught up in the Operación Puerto investigation after mistakenly using his personal mobile telephone to call Fuentes from the 2006 Giro d'Italia.
"I used to communicate with Fuentes using a pre-paid unknown number. But at the 2006 Giro, I wanted to call him after Jan had won the stage. I didn't have any credit left and so I used my personal phone. Fuentes' phone was being tapped and so they got my number."
Pévenage was subsequently sacked by the T-Mobile team and Ullrich was stopped from starting the 2006 Tour d France in Strasbourg.
Pévenage first hinted of his knowledge of Fuentes' operations in Madrid in 2007, but refused to name the clients involved in the doping ring. In 2008, he revealed that Ullrich had meetings with Fuentes, but insisted they were only for training plans.
Ullrich has always denied doping during his career. He won the Tour de France in 1997 but was always beaten after that, first by Marco Pantani in 1998 and then by Lance Armstrong. He retired in 2006 following the Operación Puerto scandal and has promised to one day reveal what he did during his career. He has so far kept silent.
Garmin-Transitions down a man for first time in Tour
After crashing out of the Tour de France, Christian Vande Velde has headed home to Girona to recover. The Garmin-Transitions rider crashed heavily on stage 2 and failed to start the following day due to his injuries. Team boss Jonathan Vaughters, has given his full support to his rider’s recovery, stressing that he must be ready to race when he comes back and that there will be no pressure to rush his GC candidate back.
Garmin had finished both of their previous two Tours with all nine riders, but Vande Velde has had a horrendous run of luck in the last 18 months, crashing out of last two Giros an now this year's Tour.
"We've always finished with all nine riders, every year since we started doing this, and obviously that's not going to happen this year. Of course it's disappointing, but we've got a lot of guys who were dedicated to Christian who have been itching for their own chance for quite a while so today they're going to get it," Vaughters told Cyclingnews, the day off the crash.
But when asked where Vande Velde's latest crash left his career Vaughter's replied, "That's a reasonable question. At this point in time, Christian needs to go home and forget about bike racing for a while and get back to the things that he enjoys in life and then decide when he feels like he's ready to race and wants to race again. He's got to decide that he really wants to get back into it. That's going to be something that he's going to have figure out."
"You have to remember that Christian and I started being friends in 1997. He's my friend first and my employee second and so at this point in time I just want him to figure out the motivation to really race again."
Garmin-Transitions has certainly countered its bad luck with a number of brave performances in the last two days. Ryder Hesjedal went on the attack on stage 3 and finished fourth, while Julian Dean took second on yesterday's stage to Reims.
USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar is currently being led by two foreign riders after the latest round, the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic.
Cath Cheatley, a New Zealander racing with the Colavita-Baci team, assumed the series lead from Alison Powers after claiming the overall victory in Fitchburg over teammate and fellow Kiwi Rushlee Buchanan.
Canadian David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the men's race ahead of South African Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia), moving himself into fourth on the NRC standings.
Cuban Luis Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home-Colavita) extended his lead in the men's individual NRC overall standings, while Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) jumped ahead of Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis). Jamis Sutter Home continues to lead the team standings while the Vera Bradley Foundation team remains atop the women's side.