A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Dutchman was stood down for a fortnight for "health reasons"
The hematologist who cleared Erik Dekker of using EPO in 1999 now says that the report on the matter "belongs in the trash."
Dekker, while riding for Rabobank, was found to have a hematocrit value of 52 on October 9, 1999 and was not allowed to race for the Dutch team in that year's world championships road race. He was stood down for a two-week period for "health reasons" as per UCI regulations.
An independent commission was established by the Dutch federation to determine whether Dekker's high haematocrit was due to EPO use. Hematologist Jo Marx presented his findings to the commission and explained at the time that there were abnormal conditions during the blood control, namely that the tourniquet was held in place for too long.
"Scientifically, this research stood for nothing," the now-retired Marx told Volkskrant. "Research was applied with very poor means. Work that belongs in the trash. In my field there is a rule: if you can not publish something, it does not exist. This research does not exist. "
Marx said that, at the time, it was legally impossible to determine whether Dekker had used EPO.
"We could not rule out 100 per cent that he had used EPO," he explained. "But the question was actually different: was there sufficient grounds to accuse someone of EPO use? We could not say. "
Marx said that he asked Dekker if he had in fact used EPO but the rider denied it. There is speculation that Dekker, currently a directeur sportif with the Blanco team, will make an announcement today, and Marx said that he would not be surprised if the former Amstel Gold winner and four-time Tour de France stage winner were to confess to doping during his career.
"But I hope he did not do it," said Marx. "At least, not in the period in which...
Garmin-Sharp rider informed by UCI of registration issue on Sarthe start line
Standing on the start line at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire, Alex Rasmussen (Garmin Sharp) had been set to return from his 18-month ban from whereabouts violations when he was told by UCI officials that he could not proceed.
"UCI came 5 minutes before the start and told me I couldn't start because of ‘insurance'," Rasmussen told Cyclingnews. "Didn't specify [the reasons], so now I'm in the camper.
"It's really weird since I got the back numbers and everything," he continued. "I'm just stunned at the moment. Can't really believe that I'm not racing."
Rasmussen re-signed for Garmin Sharp last month, having been fired by the team when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in July 2012 that the Danish rider's three missed tests from before he joined Garmin were enough to enforce a sanction. The Danish Cycling Federation had previously cleared him to race.
Rasmussen's immediate response on Twitter was an angry one: "Just got taken out of La Sarthe by the evil and powerful UCI. Lifetime ban in effect by the UCI apperantly [sic]."
A UCI spokesperson told Cyclingnews that: "He was not eligible to race as the documents he was required to provide to Ernst & Young to allow registration were not provided in time. However the required documents have now been provided and he is now registered."
Directeur sportif on team's early season success
Team Sky’s stage racing dominance has been one of the features of the season to date, but directeur sportif Nicolas Portal has insisted that there are “no secrets” behind the British team’s success.
Sky have picked up where they left off at the end of their 2012 campaign and have already claimed overall victory at the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice and Critérium International in the new season.
“We have no secrets, we follow our own path,” Portal told Biciciclismo, though he acknowledged that Sky’s success has not been universally popular. “But they are not comments from other riders, we don’t feel some thing special in the peloton. We’re following the best path we can, which is our own. We always have. We don’t have secrets.”
Sky’s startling level was highlighted starkly by their control of the final stage of Critérium International. After Vasil Kiryienka strung out the peloton on the lower slopes of the Col d’Ospedale, Chris Froome powered clear to claim the stage and overall victory, while Richie Porte jumped away from the chasers near the summit to complete a one-two for Team Sky.
“During Critérium International, some French journalists told me that the team was riding too strongly. But I said, [Jean-Christophe] Péraud was only 15 seconds down on Porte, is he too strong too? It’s not a big difference, just a few seconds in the last three kilometres,” Portal said.
While Sky’s “marginal gains” philosophy and training camps at Mount Teide are the subject of much interest and scrutiny, Portal said that the team’s...
Tour of Flanders winner at Ronde museum in Oudenaarde
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) may have broken Flemish hearts by cruising to victory in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday but the local fans have a passion for cycling that goes beyond national boundaries. And so, far from being vilified, the visiting conqueror was feted by his Belgian fan club at the Centrum Ronde van Vlaaderen in Oudenaarde on Monday evening.
Like Sean Kelly before him, Cancellara’s feel for racing on the cobbles has made him a firm favourite in Flanders and it is fitting that his dedicated fan club established its base to the café at the Tour of Flanders museum last winter.
Cancellara visited the fan club’s inauguration last November and he made good on his promise to return on Monday evening, when the crowds massed outside the centre gave Cancellara’s arrival the feel of a Papal visit.
“I’m taking the opportunity to greet my fans when I can," Cancellara said, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. "I feel tired after De Ronde but I’m very glad to be here. My Flemish fans are always there for me so this is a small effort. These people give me a really warm and fantastic feeling."
Cancellara confirmed that he will take part in Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs. The Antwerp race will be his final tune-up for next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix, where he takes the start as the prohibitive favourite.
Actions were "legal", regardless of moral issues
The last segment of the Operación Puerto trial hearings concluded today with the defense lawyer for Eufemiano Fuentes summing up his case by claiming that Fuentes may or may not have acted immorally, but he did not act illegally.
Today's hearings were the last in the 24 sessions since the case began on January 28 this year in Madrid's criminal courts, and contained final statements from the defense and a brief statement from Fuentes himself.
Although Fuentes is charged with crimes against public health, his defense continued to centre their case on the idea that doping in 2006 was not a crime under Spanish law, and therefore Fuentes should be acquitted. His lawyer also argued that blood was not a medication in itself and therefore Fuentes's involvement in blood transfusions could not, under Spanish law at the time, be considered a penal offense.
Furthermore, the defense lawyer Tomas Valdivieso claimed, Fuentes had shown his extreme concern for his clients' health by purchasing two ultra-expensive deep freezes denominated ACP 215 to preserve the blood they gave to him. The appliances in question were so exceptional, the lawyer claimed, that "only three other machines of this type existed in Spain at the time." He asserted that the Barcelona anti-doping laboratory which received and stored the 200-plus blood bags that police seized during Operación Puerto had reported that they were all in perfect condition.
"Regardless of any ethical or moral considerations," Valdivieso told the court, Fuentes and his partner José Luis Merino Batres carried out operations which were "legal and licit."
Fuentes himself claimed that in "35 years of exercising my profession, I have never damaged the health of any patient, nor have I had any knowledge or claim for damages from my treatments."
Manolo Saiz's lawyer,...
Italian suffering flu-like symptoms
Bennati rode the Tour of Flanders at the weekend but failed to finish. He was dogged by flu-like symptoms which he continues to suffer from, according to the team. Bennati has returned to his home in Italy to recover after consulting with the team's sport management and the team doctor in Belgium.
"We have decided to bring Marko into the team for Paris-Roubaix instead of Daniele," confirmed sport director Lars Michaelson. "Daniele was feeling really bad during Tour of Flanders, and as many other riders, he has been greatly affected by the extreme weather conditions in some of the spring races and simply never felt he returned to his best form.
"Of course this is a tough decision for Daniele and for the team, but we also know it is the right one. Now he has returned home, and we have decided to give him a break from racing, until he is completely recovered. We know how strong he can be, when at his best, and we look forward to see him back at his top level."
Saxo-Tinkoff's full team for Paris-Roubaix: Matti Breschel, Matteo Tosatto, Jonathan Cantwell, Michael Mørkøv, Anders Lund, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Jonas Aaen and Marko Kump.
Dehaes will lead Lotto Belisol at Scheldeprijs
André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) has opted to skip tomorrow's sprinter-friendly Scheldeprijs in favour of resting up for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, a decision made with the team's blessing. Greipel rode an aggressive Tour of Flanders on Sunday, helping lay the groundwork for teammate Jurgen Roelandts's podium finish, and wants to arrive at the French monument fully rested.
"André Greipel was registered as our first reserve rider here, but André wants to focus on Paris-Roubaix," Lotto Belisol directeur sportif Bart Leysen told Het Nieuwsblad. "We gave him that choice."
Greipel was Lotto's best finisher in last year's edition of Scheldeprijs in 12th place, a race won by Marcel Kittel in a typically hectic field sprint finale. Greipel's team, however, has other options for the expected sprint finish with Kenny Dehaes and Greg Henderson suiting up to start in Antwerp.
"I want to stand on the podium tomorrow, I am able to finish in the top three," said Dehaes, who has tallied two sprint victories thus far in 2013. "I hope to get as high as possible of course. The team with which I will ride the Scheldeprijs is for a big part the same as that which we have been riding with since Le Samyn. In the Handzame Classic that turned out to be a good combination, I won the race.
"Each one of us knows what his task is and we are all riding well at the moment, so tomorrow we definitely should be able to set up a nice train. I think Omega Pharma-QuickStep, with Cavendish in the team, will control the race. We have...
No new confessions in national probe
The anti-doping declaration initiated by the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) concluded this week, and with no new confessions to prior doping from the country's three WorldTour teams, some are questioning the validity of the exercise.
In January, following the exit of long-time sponsor Rabobank from professional cycling and the links between former Rabobank team personnel and the Lance Armstrong doping investigation, the KNWU launched an initiative to survey all the WorldTour riders and staff on prior doping involvement.
The declarations were due April 1, and the results were announced by the KNWU today, with no new admissions of doping guilt.
Should any of the declarations be found to have been completed in a not truthful manner, the rider or staff member is now subject to an immediate dismissal.
The federation offered up a reduced six month suspension and a deduction of salary for three months to any who confessed to doping violations which took place before January 1, 2008. Any violations after that date would have resulted in an immediate dismissal, making it highly unlikely that any rider would confess to a more recent infraction.
The UCI, however, did not support the effort, which it saw as potentially interfering with any possible global Truth and Reconciliation process.
There were only two instances of past doping involvement unearthed by the declaration: that of the now-retired rider Grischa Niermann, who was given a six month suspension in his duties as a directeur sportif with the Rabobank Development team. The other case was that of Rudi Kemna, who accepted a similar ban from his...