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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 16, 2013

Date published:
May 16, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • McQuaid backed by Swiss Cycling Federation for UCI Presidency

    UCI President Pat McQuaid tried to defend the UCI's record on doping
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 9:26 BST
    Cycling News

    Irishman bases candidacy on his past record

    With uncertainly over Cycling Ireland’s willingness to back Pat McQuaid ahead of this year’s election for a UCI Presidency, the Swiss Federation has come the Irishman’s aid. McQuaid needs a national federation to back his candidacy and with the Irish board members wavering McQuaid has had to take the embarrassing step of relying on the Swiss to endorse his bid. Typically a candidate is backed by his own national federation.

    “I am delighted that the board of Swiss Cycling has endorsed my nomination,” McQuaid said in a statement released by the UCI. “I put myself forward to serve another term as UCI President on my record of developing the sport throughout the world and on combating the scourge of doping in cycling.

    “I have an ambitious agenda to continue developing the sport. I look forward to presenting myself for election with the support of Swiss Cycling and other federations worldwide.

    “I took up residency in Switzerland in 2005 when I assumed the role of UCI President and I have had a long association with Swiss Cycling.
    “It has become clear that my nomination in Ireland has been politicised by a small group of people. However, I have received a wealth of letters from national federations all around the world urging me to stand for President again and I strongly believe that it should be for our national federations around the world to decide democratically on their next president.”

    The news sees McQuaid avoid the possible embarrassment of seeing Cycling Ireland retract their support for the current president. In April the Irish federation board members voted 5-1 in favour of endorsing McQuaid, who is seeking his third term as president. It...

  • Tired legs in Giro d’Italia peloton, says Gesink

    Robert Gesink (Blanco)
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 10:25 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Dutchman in the dark on Blanco sponsorship rumours

    It was a rare day of détente in the Giro d’Italia gruppo on stage 11 as the general classification contenders opted to temporarily lay down arms after their ferocious combat on the summit finish at Altopiano del Montasio the previous day.

    Robert Gesink (Blanco) was among those to suffer a blow on Monday’s stage but his wound is far from a fatal one. He floundered and lost contact with the leaders when the road pitched up to 20 per cent in the finale and when hostilities ended, he had slipped to 5th overall, 2:12 down on maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

    “I hoped for a bit more on the first mountain finish yesterday but that’s the way it was and there’s still a lot to come,” Gesink told Cyclingnews at the finish near the Vajont dam on Wednesday, after his soigneur had carefully wrapped a towel around his neck and dutifully zipped up his long-sleeve jersey for him.

    Gesink admitted that he was glad of the temporary ceasefire in the fight for pink given the difficulty of the preceding stage. The Dutchman came home alongside all of the other general classification contenders, 5:41 down on stage winner Ramunas Navardauskas.

    “Thankfully, it was only in the last kilometre that they went at a higher tempo. It was not my best day but there’s still a lot to come,” said Gesink. “I think everybody was really, really tired today. You could see that in the peloton on the climb before, everyone was happy to ride tempo and let the big breakaway go up the road. I think it’s been a really tough Giro so far and you can see that in a lot of riders already.”

    In the past, Gesink’s grand tour ambitions have been scuppered by crashes in the opening week, but after negotiating the pitfalls of the opening stages in southern Italy, he...

  • Gavazzi out to spoil Cavendish's 100th victory party in Treviso

    Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli)
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 11:45 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian wants a stage win after suffering on the climbs

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) could celebrate his 100th career victory at the Giro d'Italia on Thursday but his sprint rivals are looking to gatecrash his party and win the expected high-speed sprint in the centre of Treviso.

    Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) showed his speed by taking fifth on stage six in Margherita di Savoia despite being boxed in during the final five hundred metres. He almost got into a fight with Robert Hunter (Garmin-Sharp) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) after fighting his way out and swerving across the road but his aggression highlighted his hunger to win.

    Gavazzi is enjoying a second chance in his career after overcoming problems with cocaine. He tested positive for the drug in 2004 and again in 2010. He returned to racing with the Androni Giocattoli team this year, winning a stage in his first race, the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

    He is racing with a smile on his face at the Giro d'Italia despite suffering on the climbs and would love to win in Treviso.

    "It's our turn after suffering in the mountains for a few days. It's one of the few chances to win a sprint that are left in his year's Giro," Gavazzi told Cyclingnews.

    "I'm feeling good, a lot better than last week when I got the placing in Margherita di Savoia. Margherita di Savoia. I'll try and spoil Cav's party. I'll try and get on his wheel and then try to beat him."

    "He'll be up for it, he will be the favourite and the one everyone else will use to judge their sprint. He's got an incredible leadout and so can produce incredible sprints. We'll see what happens."

    Gavazzi finished 188th on the stage to Vajont, near the back of the big gruppetto that eased back on the climb and finished 13:35 behind stage winner Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp).

    "We tried to suffer as less as possible...

  • Georges takes blame for positive doping control

    Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale) shows the side effect of podium time
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 12:50 BST
    Cycling News

    AG2R could be out of Dauphine and Tour de Suisse

    Sylvain Georges has said that his positive doping control could be traced to a “harmless drug” he took to improve circulation in his legs, but accepted the blame for not reading the packaging, calling the situation “stupid”.  Team AG2R-La Mondiale has suspended him, but now the team may be in the position of suspending itself, after two positive doping controls within 12 months.

    In a statement issued on Wednesday, Georges said, “I took Ginkor Fort, which is freely available without a prescription. Now it appears that that medicine contains a very small dose of the prohibited Heptaminol, a substance which I had never heard of before today. I did not study the composition of the drug and did not consult the team doctor before taking it. Stupid.”

    The 29-year-old said that he has always tried to use homeopathic remedies and “lives as naturally as possible for my sport. I have always detested doping.”

    He concluded by saying that “I want to apologize to my team and sponsors for the negative publicity resulting from this. I never tried to cheat and will do everything to prove I didn't.”

    Team director Vincent Lavenu said that “there was no intention to dope. But it's a silly mistake that hurts him and the whole team. The consequences are disastrous compared to the original action." He added that as far as he knew, Georges had already requested that the B Sample also be tested.

    Lavenu now faces a difficult decision. His team is a member of the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC), which has an internal rule that a team with two positives within twelve months must suspend itself from racing for eight days as of the start of the next WorldTour...

  • Snow expected for Giro d'Italia mountain stages

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 13:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Riders wake to heavy rain for Treviso sprint stage

    The Giro d'Italia awoke to the sound of heavy rain this morning with weather forecasts predicting six continuous days of bad weather and possible snow in the Alps for the weekend mountain stages to Bardonecchia and the summit finish on the Galibier.

    Today's twelfth stage from Longarone to Treviso is just 134km and so the riders face just over three hour of racing in the rain. However Friday's stage from Busseto to Cherasco is the longest stage of this year's race at 254km in the saddle.

    Italian weather forecasters have issued several warnings with three waves of bad weather expected to hit the north of Italy for the next six days.

    The rain might ease on Thursday afternoon and possible Friday afternoon but a further weather front will pass across northern Italy on Saturday and is expected to bring wet and cold conditions.

    Snow in Bardonecchia and on the Galibier

    According to Gazetta dello Sport, snow is expected or Saturday's finish at Bardonecchia and at the summit of the Col di Galibier. Web-cam images show that it is also snowing at the summit of the Passo Stelvio, where the Giro d'Italia is due to pass next Friday.

    The so-called 'quota-neve' -the altitude when snow is expected, is 1370m for Saturday, when the weather is forecast to be at is worst. The finish is at 1908m. The weather may improve for Sunday's stage from Cesana Torinese to the summit of the Galibier but snow falls in the next few days could force the race organisers to shorten the stage, with an alternative finish in Valloire (1405m) after the Col du Télégraphe, the most likely solution.

    It is not only the climbs to the finish that will be difficult. Both mountain stages include high climbs mid-way and long descents that could leave the riders freezing and cause crashes.

    On Saturday's stage the riders climb to the...

  • Majka making good on origin story

    Rafal Majka (Team Saxo - Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 14:45 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Pole on Giro d'Italia hopes and matching Contador

    As origin stories go, Rafal Majka's is of the "Roy of the Rovers" variety, but until he matched maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali pedal stroke for pedal stroke on the Giro d'Italia's first summit finish at Altopiano del Montasio on Tuesday, the young Pole's fledgling professional career had not yet lived up to its fabled beginning.

    Invited to the Saxo Bank training camp as a callow 21-year-old in early 2011, so the legend goes, Majka dropped no less a figure than Alberto Contador on the climbs, to the shock of the Spaniard's teammates. So impressed was Bjarne Riis that he offered him a professional contract on the spot, plucking him from the relative obscurity of Italian amateur outfit Gragnano and thrusting him into the light of the WorldTour.

    The reality, Majka quietly insisted to Cyclingnews, was slightly different. "I didn't drop him but I did stay with him," he said shyly. "We were in Mallorca. I wanted to stay with him because I'd just arrived as a young rider and I wanted to test myself by staying with him for as long as I could. He's a great rider."

    Humble though Majka is about his beginnings as a professional, the Saxo-Tinkoff rider is politely sure of himself when it comes to his performances at this Giro to date. At Altopiano del Montasio, Majka managed to stay with Nibali and Cadel Evans (BMC) all the way to the summit, while established contenders such as Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and Robert Gesink (Blanco) slipped back.

    "I don't think that it's a surprise because I came to the Giro hoping to be up there with the leaders," Majka shrugged. "I'm just very happy because you need to have good legs to be able to finish with people like Nibali and Evans, especially on a climb like that."


  • Eight years on from Hincapie, Farrar gets a sprint win for the US in California

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) takes the podium after his stage win.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 15:24 BST
    Pat Malach

    Hanson makes it a 1-2 finish, breaking international domination

    With his win Wednesday at the Amgen Tour of California's stage 4 sprint into Santa Barbara, Garmin Sharp's Tyler Farrar became only the second US rider to win a bunch gallop in the race's eight years. George Hincapie won a field sprint in 2006, ironically along the same coastal stretch in Santa Barbara.

    "This is a really important race for us," Farrar said. "We're an American team, and for our sponsors and our riders this is a really big deal. It was my big goal for the last month in training, so I'm happy it worked out."

    Farrar has a mixed history with the California race. During his first attempt in 2008, he placed third on the prologue and earned the leader's jersey by picking up time bonuses in the intermediate sprints. He wore yellow for one day but then crashed out of the race. He competed in the race in 2009 and then sat out 2010, 2011, and 2012.

    During that time Cannondale's Peter Sagan has made the race his own. The 23-year-old Slovakian won five of eight stages last year and added his ninth career California win Tuesday in Santa Clarita. But Wednesday's finish in Santa Barbara was a decidedly American affair with Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies' Ken Hanson following Farrar across the line for second.

    "Over the past years the sprints have been dominated by foreigners," Hanson said. "It's good to see two Americans take the top two spots on the podium."

    Aside from adding his name to the list of US bunch-sprint winners, Farrar finally exorcised a demon by beating Sagan at his own game. Although he finished third in Santa Clarita behind Sagan and Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge), Farrar was confident he could pull off a win this week.

    "I think if I ride a little smarter sprint," Farrar said after Tuesday's stage, "I...

  • Demol also under investigation for tax fraud in Belgium

    Dirk Demol clings on.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2013, 16:05 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack DS said to have used illegal Luxembourg mailbox

    The same Belgian tax-fraud investigation that is looking into Tom Boonen's affairs is also taking on RadioShack-Leopard sport director Dirk Demol. Demol is suspected of  using a Luxembourg company address as an illegal mailbox.

    The investigation centers on Belgian accountant Jan Vanden Abeele, who is suspected of helping his Belgian customers circumvent taxes. In Demol's case, he is said to have set up a “false” Luxembourg mailing address, to enable him to avoid Belgian taxes, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

    The newspaper said that there was evidence of the Luxembourg mailbox.  “We are also investigating whether he committed offenses by sending invoices from that company while his activities were actually in Belgium,” the court told the newspaper. 

    Demol, whose house was searched yesterday, said that he did not know much of the matter, and at the moment is with the team at the Giro d'Italia. He indicated that his relationship with Banden Abeele was in the past. “The man in question gave me advice which I was at his customer. I assumed, of course, that everything was legal and that everything went by the book went. That is logical, isn't it I have always had the utmost confidence in Jan Vanden Abeele as an accountant.

    Boonen is under investigation for the time he lived in Monaco, 2005-2012, for allegedly not declaring enough of his income to Belgian authorities.