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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 10, 2011

Date published:
March 10, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • MPCC calls for teams to be punished in doping cases

    The Paris-Nice peloton in action on stage 1.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 9:59 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Movement seeks four-year bans for "heavy" products

    The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has outlined a number of proposals in the fight against doping that would see the teams of riders who test positive face punishment as well as the riders themselves. There is currently no formally regulated sanction against teams who are hit by doping scandals.

    The MPCC is made up of the Ag2r-La Mondiale, Bretagne-Schuller, Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ, Garmin-Cervélo and Skil-Shimano teams, and according to Le Monde, the group has called on the UCI to take positive doping cases into formal consideration when evaluating a team’s application for ProTeam status.

    Currently, the UCI states that “ethical criteria” are part of its assessment of ProTeam applications, but the precise nature of these criteria has not been made public. The MPCC has requested that a clear points system regarding doping cases be implemented in order to make the process more transparent.

    The MPCC has also proposed that the UCI ranking points of a rider who has come back from a doping suspension should not be counted towards a team’s total during the first two seasons of his return to competition.

    If such a system were in place, among other instances, Vacansoleil-DCM would not have been able to tally Riccardo Riccò’s points in its total for its 2011 WorldTour application, nor would Liquigas-Cannondale have been able to count on Ivan Basso’s haul of points from the 2010 Giro d’Italia.

    As well as new measures to punish the teams of doped riders, the MPCC has called for heavier sanctions for riders...

  • Boonen diminished due to flu

    Tom Boonen lead the Quick Step riders off.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 10:42 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Quickstep's 19th place in team time trial also sign of leader's weakness

    Tom Boonen is not at his best at the start of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Quick Step sprinter revealed on Wednesday that he had been seriously ill just days before the 'race between the two seas', and that he came to the Italian stage race feeling somewhat diminished - which could explain why his team finished only 19th in the opening team time trial in Marina di Carrara.

    "I've been seriously ill in the past few days," Boonen told Belgian newspapers. "On Sunday, I suddenly came down with a flu. I had fever, 39° Celsius. That was a scare."

    The Belgian said that his participation in the race had been in jeopardy. "There were doubts, but when the fever got better on Monday, I knew I was going to be OK."

    Instead of travelling to Italy on Monday as planned, Boonen finally made the journey one day later. "It will be harder now, but if I get through the next few days alright, then the worst will be behind me. There's no panic for the Classics. I'm on schedule to test myself in Tirreno," the top sprinter and Classics specialist added.

    Nevertheless, with Milan-San Remo only ten days away, he conceded to La Dernière Heure that it was "not heartening" considering that the Primavera is his first real objective this season.

    With Boonen not at his best, Quickstep may opt to work for Francesco Chicci in the second stage of Tirreno on Thursday, which looks suited for a bunch sprint finish. Against rivals such as Tyler Farrar and world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) and 2010 Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire...

  • Mollema on track for Tour de France debut

    Bauke Mollema (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 11:54 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Dutchman excited to pair up with Robert Gesink

    Following Robert Gesink's performances at the Tour of Oman, the second young and skinny Dutch climber in line for the throne at Rabobank, Bauke Mollema, is expected to shine in Paris-Nice as the "race to the sun" will hit the hills in its second part.

    "I've had a good winter with two months of training in Spain, in the region of Alicante," Mollema told Cyclingnews on the start line of stage four in Crèches-sur-Saône. "I've done a lot of climbing and I hope it'll pay off here at Paris-Nice and later at the Volta a Catalunya. My condition is good and I keep improving day by day. I also have Liège-Bastogne-Liège in mind. After that, it'll be all for the Tour de France."

    The 24-year-old from Groningen, who was still a university student two years ago, rode his first Grand Tour last year at the Giro d'Italia and finished 12th overall. His 2010 was shortened by an injury following his stage win and third place overall at the Tour of Poland. But these results were enough to convince the management to line him up at the Tour de France alongside Gesink, who carries the responsibilities of being the next flying Dutchman in the mountains.

    "Robert had a great Tour of Oman," Mollema said. "I wasn't there with him but I knew he was going to be good in the mountains. It was more of a nice surprise to see him beat Cancellara and Boasson Hagen in the time trial. I've done a lot of races with him but no Grand Tour yet. The Tour de France will be our first one together. I'll do it for the first time, completely at his service. He's the leader of our team. He can be on the podium in Paris."

    At Paris-Nice,...

  • Contador: This scar will stay with me forever

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) heads to the win in Murcia.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 12:55 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Tour de France champion offers his samples up for retrospective testing

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) has described the trauma of dealing with the doping charge that was laid against him as “a scar that will stay with me for the rest of my life”. Speaking to Spanish sports paper AS, the three-time Tour de France winner revealed that the saga left him unable to sleep and even losing his hair. The affair, he said, had left his parents “upset, crying… You can’t imagine the amount of suffering.”

    Contador stated that he has always supported the fight against doping. “I want the riders who are genetically the best to win. I’m not bitter and I know how to forget, but I don’t want to forget all this. There are things that I will always see differently.”

    Asked about his hiring of Bosman case lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, Contador asked his brother and manager Fran to respond. “We’ve taken on a lawyer who has got great ideas, who was capable of revolutionizing sport. We’ve got documentation that is extremely supportive of our case and he knows international sporting law very well,” explained Fran Contador. “We are prepared in case the UCI or WADA decide to appeal, although we’ve still got no idea of what they will do.”

    Contador said that he believes that the regulations with relation to clenbuterol levels need to be changed to avoid more athletes being caught out in the same way he has been. “I’ve not only done this for me but also for other sportsmen who can’t defend themselves… If all the samples from races in Mexico or Argentina were sent for analysis at the lab in Cologne it would be interesting to see what happened....

  • Moncoutié to return in Catalunya

    The mercurial David Moncoutie (Cofidis).
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 13:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    French climber hopes to cure his knee problem soon

    Cofidis rider David Moncoutié, who had to abandon Paris-Nice on stage two because of a knee problem, hopes to be able to come back to competition in the Volta a Catalunya starting on March 22. The strong climber, three-time winner of the mountains jersey in the Vuelta a Espana, was out of contention on the overall classification due to a wind echelon and preferred to heal his painful knee.

    "I'm going to do three or four days off the bike," he told the French cycling federation website. "I'm also thinking about doing some kinesitherapy, and then starting to ride again. And if everything is back to normal, then I'll come back at the Spanish race."

    Moncoutié has already shown off his excellent form early in the season, winning the Tour Méditerranéen in February. The 36-year-old aims to return to the Tour de France this year, targeting the mountains jersey.

  • Petacchi says respiratory problems were more serious than anticipated

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) has had a delayed start to the season.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 17:30 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian builds for San Remo at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) said that the respiratory problems that delayed his start to the season were more serious than he had anticipated and that he feared his entire spring programme would be ruined. The Italian is currently preparing for Milan-San Remo at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished second behind Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) on stage two.

    “I missed 15 or 16 days of racing,” Petacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the stage. “I thought of giving it all up several times, I thought that I’d lost my entire spring. I should have gone to Qatar and instead I was in hospital with serious bronchial asthma and breathing problems. It was much more serious than you imagine.

    “I did a week-long course of antibiotics and cortisone. I have always suffered from it, but as a young man it wasn’t as serious. Clearly these strains make themselves felt with age.”

    Petacchi returned to racing at the Giro di Sardegna but before his second place on day two of Tirreno-Adriatico, he had not contested a sprint since the 2010 Vuelta a España. With just over a week until Milan-San Remo, he is banking on the race between the two seas to help him get into shape ahead of La Classicissima.

    “My morale isn’t exactly on a high, but I’m suffering more on a physical level because I only have eight days of racing in my legs,” Petacchi said. “On paper [Tirreno-Adriatico] is perfect. I’m hoping for a very hard race. Saturday and Sunday are two very long and difficult stages.

    “You know what San...

  • Klöden leads Paris-Nice 11 years after overall victory

    Andreas Klöden (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 19:19 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    German tips compatriot Tony Martin as biggest rival

    Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) doesn't remember the last time he won a sprint but described as "a nice feeling" the stage win he got in Vernoux-en-Vivarais today at the end of stage 5 in Paris-Nice, a race he won overall in 2000.

    "I was 24 when I won this race, now I'm 35," Klöden said. "It's always a big thing to win at Paris-Nice, so I'm very happy today.

    "It's a surprise for me to beat Samuel Sanchez but I must give a big thank you to Jani Brajkovic," Klöden said. "He told me 'get on my wheel, I lead you out'."

    Klöden, who hails from the former East German town Chemnitz, narrowly outsprinted Sanchez, the 2008 Olympic road race champion, to collect the 21st victory of his professional career.

    "I'm a skinny rider, so I don't like Paris-Nice when it rains but the sun favours me this year," Klöden said. "The first four days of racing have been hard, though. It was a very nervous peloton." In fact, Klöden had words at the end of stage 4 in Belleville with FDJ's Yoann Offredo.

    With the time bonus the RadioShack rider leads Sanchez by four seconds and Carrara by six seconds on general classification. Klöden, however, is most concerned about compatriot Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), who lies fourth overall at 10 seconds, entering tomorrow's 27km individual time trial.

    "I'll try to defend the yellow jersey but I can only do my best," Klöden said. "Tony is a specialist for time trials. It'll be hard to beat him tomorrow."

    Despite Klöden tipping Martin for victory, RadioShack directeur sportif Alain Gallopin noted that the Klöden, as well as his teammates Janez Brajkovic and Levi Leipheimer, all have a shot at winning the time trial.

    "Andreas has proven...

  • Tony Martin says Paris-Nice win may bolster Tour de France status

    Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 21:54 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    HTC-Highroad German favourite for stage 6 time trial

    Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) is seen as the hot favourite at Paris-Nice for victory in Friday's 27.5km individual time trial from Rognes to Aix-en-Provence. The 25-year-old German was part of the decisive eight-man breakaway which formed today on the Col de la Mûre climb with nine kilometres to go. Martin took strong pulls approaching the finish line in order to create time gaps to the general classification riders who missed the move.

    Martin finished fourth on the stage to compatriot Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) and as a result now holds fourth overall, only 10 seconds behind Klöden. Friday's time trial stage may see the German powerhouse move into the overall lead at Paris-Nice.

    "To win Paris-Nice is one of my big goals this year," Martin told Cyclingnews. "My status at the Tour de France could also be different, depending on my final result here. This is a really important race for my career. I'm in good shape and very optimistic."

    Several of Martin's GC rivals, such as Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Richie Porte (Saxo Bank Sungard) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) lost significant time on stage 5. Another Paris-Nice hopeful, teammate Tejay Van Garderen, lost time as well but played a crucial pace-setting role on the Col de la Mûre climb to keep the break of Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM) under wraps.

    "One of us has to finish on the final podium of Paris-Nice, if not both of us," Van Garderen told Cyclingnews at the start of today's stage. With Van Garderen now 1:46 off the lead, the 22-year-old American will use Friday's time trial as a test, and work for Martin this weekend in Paris-Nice's hilly concluding stages.

    Martin and Van Garderen had...