Other standings largely unchanged after Sunny King Criterium
Fly V Australia claimed the teams standing lead in USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar after finishing first and third at the weekend’s Sunny King Criterium. With former track rider Ben Kersten winning and team-mate Alessandro Bazzana placing third, the Australian Continental team secured enough points to add the teams’ lead to the individual lead of rider Ben Day.
Nicky Wangsgard (Roosters p/b Edge Composite) won the professional women's race in a three-rider break, but the result had little impact on the overall standings. Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg continues to lead the women’s standings while her HTC-Columbia sits atop the women’s team standings.
Sports directors from ProTour squads HTC-Columbia and Quick Step are anticipating a very different La Fléche Wallonne than previous years when the race is contested tomorrow. Changes to the race route, in particular to the final section of the race, should change the way it’s decided, according to HTC-Columbia's Valerio Piva.
"It's going to be very different because the second-last ascent of the Mur De Huy climb is much closer to the finish than in previous years," said Piva. "That means breakaways will have a much better chance of getting away on the second time up the Mur de Huy climb and staying away.
“We won't have 50 riders at the foot of the climb for the third and final ascent like we've seen in other years,” he added. “For HTC-Columbia's riders, that's good because they'll be trying to get in a long-distance attack."
Former race winner Rik Verbrugghe, the sport director at Quick Step, will complete reconnaissance of the route with his riders today. Quick Step has announced Dries Devenyns will feature in its roster for the race after he recovered quickly from a fall at the Amstel Gold Race.
“We decided to do this recon since the race route has been changed as of this year,” he said. “We’ll perform a round of the final circuit with the climb on the wall of Huy. It will be a good opportunity for the riders to familiarise themselves with the route and get a handle on this legendary climb.”
Francesco Reda will be the only rider missing from Quick Step’s reconnaissance run today. Reda will still be en route to the team’s hotel after being delayed by the volcanic eruption which has thrown flights throughout Europe into disarray.
At least three Dutch athletes are involved in the HumanPlasma doping case, according to Dutch media. The Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency announced yesterday that it was investigating some 30 athletes for doping violations in connection with blood-doping.
Herman Ram, of the Dutch National Anti-Doping Agency, confirmed to the Dutch site ad.nl that at least three former Dutch athletes are involved in the case. While he did not release names or which sport they belong to, he did say that “cyclists play an important role in the dossier.”
Former Rabobank riders Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker and Michael Rasmussen have all been previously questioned in the case. Ram said that disciplinary procedures would follow the investigation.
HumanPlasma was involved in blood transfusions for athletes between 2003 to 2006. Stefan Matschiner, the former manager of former Gerolsteiner rider Bernhard Kohl is alleged to be a central figure in the investigation. Kohl admitted to his role in the scandal after he tested positive for CERA in the 2008 Tour de France.
German May Day race to feature top stars, four ProTour teams
Four ProTour teams will be at the start of Rund um den Finanzplatz on May 1 in Frankfurt, Germany. This week, Katusha was confirmed as the latest squad to be added to the start list of the race formerly known as Rund um den Henninger Turm.
Katusha, like the other ProTour teams, will bring a strong squad to the German race, with Kim Kirchen, Serguei Ivanov, Robbie McEwen and Filippo Pozzato all expected to start.
The other three ProTour teams are Milram, HTC-Columbia and Rabobank. Milram will present not only defending champion Fabian Wegmann, but also Linus Gerdemann. Top sprinter Andre Greipel will lead HTC-Columbia, and the US-team will also feature local rider Tony Martin.
Eight Professional Continental teams will also ride: Vorarlberg-Corratec, Landbouwkrediet, Topsport-Vlaanderen, Colnago CSF Inox, Skil-Shimano, Vacansoleil, CCC Polsat Polkowice, and Saur-Sojasun. The field will be completed by German Continental teams LKT Team Brandenburg, Seven Stones, Team Heizomat, Team Kuota Indeland, Team NetApp and Team Nutrixxion Sparkasse.
Race organiser Bernd Moos-Achenbach was extremely satisfied with the squads that will line up for his race next week. "We have top riders from top teams at the start - they'll guarantee the fans a great race."
Last year's edition of the race - then called Eschborn-Frankfurt - was won by Fabian Wegmann (Milram) in a two-man sprint with Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank).
Omega Pharma-Lotto rider to study Tour de France rivals on Wednesday
Belgium's Jurgen Van den Broeck is confident Omega Pharma-Lotto can add to its successful start to the Ardennes Classics at both Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this week. On Sunday at Amstel Gold, Van den Broeck worked at service of teammate and race-winner Philippe Gilbert.
27-year-old Van den Broeck indicated to Sporza that he feels he will be in an even stronger position than that which saw him ride to 20th position at Amstel - a marked improvement on his previous participations at the race. Gilbert's contention that Flèche Wallone may not suit him an indication perhaps that his compatriot will be given the opportunity to lead on Wednesday.
"I hope I'll be there in the final of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and hopefully our team can win one of those races," Van den Broeck told Sporza. "I feel good. The courses of those races suit me better than Amstel."
Van den Broeck is using the Ardennes Classics as part of a steady build-up to what will be his first Tour de France as captain of the Omega Pharma-Lotto squad. Although still two months away from the Tour, Flèche Wallonne will give him a chance to assess the condition and study the racing style of the men he hopes to challenge come July.
"I am better than the same period last year and I'm definitely on track for the Tour," he said. This week, I will have to see how strong [Alberto] Contador and [Alejandro] Valverde are. In this field, the Muur de Huy will say a lot."
Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d'Epargne is the latest rider to arrive in Liege after a long road trip from Spain to Belgium. Unable to catch a flight because the volcano eruption-closed airports across northern Europe, the Spaniard missed Sunday's Amstel Gold Race but set off northwards in his own car.
“I trained well in the morning and after dinner I went to pick up my teammate Luis Leon Sanchez, who lives in Mula, to undertake the long journey,” Valverde wrote on his website. “In Barcelona we stopped to pick up another colleague of ours, Luis Pasamontes, who was there from Madrid.”
The three took turns driving through the night, arriving in Liege Monday morning at seven. They breakfasted and then “went to bed to get some sleep.”
"It was hard on the road, but there was no other remedy, so it was the best option. By Wednesday we will be well recovered to participate in the Flèche Wallonne and then Sunday in the Liege-Bastogne-Liège.”
Most riders have now arrived in Belgium for the Ardennes Classics. However other riders are still struggling to get home from the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
Valverde is still awaiting the verdict of the Court for Arbitration for Sport after an appeal from the UCI regarding his alleged involvement in Operacion Puerto. However on Tuesday race organisers ASO said they would respect the drawn out legal process and allow Valverde to ride Flèche Wallonne and Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liège.”
Milram has confirmed that Linus Gerdemann will lead the team at the Giro d'Italia next month. The German ProTour team announced its line-up for the race at a press conference in Munich, Germany, on Tuesday.
Gerdemann, 27, is looking forward to his debut in the Italian race. “I’m very much looking forward to it. The Giro is a race with the highest priority for me. I always like to ride in Italian races and feel very comfortable there,” he said.
Things have not gone smoothly this season for the German, who is still recovering from bronchitis. “Since Milan-San Remo I have had health problems and had to take an unplanned race break. So at this point it is hard to say what goals might be realistic, since it it’s not possible to predict my form for the start of the Giro.”
“The Giro d'Italia has always been and still is one of our major season highlights,” said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. “Our goal is to surprise at the race and to help shape the Giro. We are to be reckoned with.”
The Milram line-up will also feature sprinter Robert Förster, who has won three stages at the Giro, Luke Roberts, who won a stage at the Vuelta a Murcia, and Austrian climber Thomas Rohregger.
Milram for the Giro d'Italia:
Markus Fothen, Robert Förster, Linus Gerdemann, Dominik Roels, Luke Roberts, Thomas Rohregger, Matthias Ruß, Paul Voß, and Fabian Wegmann
Gerdemann to skip Flèche, back for Liège
Although Linus Gerdemann will lead Milram at the Giro, he will miss Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday due to a lingering bout of bronchitis picked up at the Tour of the Basque Country. However, the German is expected to return to competition at...
Italian rides Trentino to prepare for the Giro d'Italia
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) has opted to ride the Giro del Trentino stage race in Italy rather than the Ardennes Classics as he works on his form for the Giro d'Italia and chases his first stage win since returning from his doping ban.
Basso snatched overall classification at last year's Giro del Trentino from Janez Brajkovic but as Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport cruelly reminded him, he has not raised his arms to celebrate a stage victory for 1,424 days, since he won the stage to Aprica at the 2006 Giro d'Italia, before he was fully implicated in Operacion Puerto.
The 32-year-old Italian has gone close several times since returning from a ban in late 2008 and was fifth in last year's Giro d'Italia and fourth in the Vuelta a Espana. However he wants to do better and insisted that this year he would not be satisfied with just a podium place in either the Giro or the Tour de France.
"If in 2010 I only repeated the results of 2009, it would be a huge failure," Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport at the official presentation of the Giro del Trentino.
"I know that in the past I was sometimes too generous. That's why I've tried to change my mental approach. I'm going to be more cynical and not hold back now. I've got to finish off better and I know it more than anyone."
"Of course I can't forget the type of rider I am. To win a stage I've got to drop everybody, I need mountain finishes and there aren’t many of them in races. I went close several times in 2009 but now I'm ready to finally do it. My season is divided into two key parts, the Giro and the Tour and so I hope people will only judge how I've done at the end of 90 minutes, after the Tour de France."