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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Date published:
March 12, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • RadioShack Leopard want old Schleck back

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 9:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Withdrawal from Tirreno-Adriatico another setback for Luxembourger

    Andy Schleck's abandon at Tirreno-Adriatico is yet another blow to the rider who has struggled with his return to competition following his crash and broken sacrum suffered at last year's Critérium du Dauphiné. Schleck was one of 56 riders who will not start the final stage at Tirreno and while the atrocious conditions saw nearly one third of the field pull out, the "DNF" tag appears difficult for the RadioShack Leopard rider to shake.

    Schleck has progressed slowly since his dismal start to the year in Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under, where he pulled out on the final stage after apparently experiences mechanical issues, but he is still a long way from being competitive.

    He started the penultimate day at Tirreno-Adriatico in 84th place but his withdrawal from 'The Race of the Two Seas' marks his third abandon of the year after he also pulled out of stage 1 at Tour Méditerranéen after barely 100km and then skipped the Tour du Haut-Var to train in Mallorca.

    RadioShack Leopard team director Luca Guercilena has once again put his faith in the official winner of the 2010 Tour de France, calling for Schleck to rediscover "his old self" while adding that he needs to continue to work hard in order to find the kind of condition that has made him a real Tour contender since winning the young rider classification and finishing second overall at the Giro d'Italia in 2007.

    "We were sad to see Andy abandon," said Guercilena on the team site. "He has been improving a lot but in these conditions, he wasn't able to...

  • Hushovd to hit top form at Paris-Roubaix

    Thor Hushovd (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 11:09 GMT
    Cycling News

    Trainer believes BMC rider can be around the mark for Milan-Sanremo

    After two top-10 individual performances at Tirreno-Adriatico, Thor Hushovd's long-time trainer Atle Kvålsvoll believes that his charge is well on the way for a return to top form over the cobbled classics, specifically Paris-Roubaix.

    "Thor is solid, but he still has more improvements to make," Kvålsvoll told

    Hushovd opened his account at the Tour du Haut Var last month, scoring his first win since September 14, 2011, where he won stage 4 at the Tour of Britain. 2012 was a frustrating season for the new BMC recruit who struggled with a virus and muscle inflammation which restricted his calendar to just 28 race days.

    After Tirreno-Adriatico concludes today, Hushovd will race Milan-Sanremo on Sunday where he's finished third twice (2005 and 2009). BMC's provisional line-up for La Primavera so far includes Hushovd, Cadel Evans, Greg Van Avermaet and another rider who has finished twice on the podium, Philippe Gilbert (2008, 2011).

    Kvålsvoll is optimistic that Hushovd could again finish on the podium.

    "I think Thor is one of those who may be fighting in the front group, especially considering how well he rides on the hilly days. It is also important to remember that there is a big difference between individual stages and a one-day classic.

    "The plan is to peak for maximum form at Paris-Roubaix," he continued. "But now Hushovd is so strong that there should be no problem to sit in the final, even though he might lack a little to be absolutely on top form. If the body is normal, he should be completely up front."


  • Porte: Success makes us sitting ducks

    Your 2013 Paris-Nice champion: Richie Porte (Sky)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 12:07 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Sky rider on Sky's anti-doping stance and Paris-Nice

    Richie Porte (Team Sky) has told Cyclingnews that winning bike races in the modern era makes a rider a sitting duck for accusations of doping.

    The Tasmanian secured the biggest win of his professional career last weekend at Paris-Nice, winning the mountain finish to La Montagne de Lure and the individual time trial to Col d’Èze on his way to overall success.

    Porte's post-race press conference was dominated by questions relating to doping, Sky’s anti-doping stance and the team’s impressive form. The situation was heightened by the fact that Sky were also on the front foot at Tirrreno-Adriatico over the weekend, with Chris Froome and Sky’s train dropping the best climbers in the world to win at Prati di Tivo.

    “By sitting duck, what I mean is that success means we’re an instant target. If you go to Paris-Nice and you have a great performance all of a sudden you’re a target. I find that sad that I’m looked at in that light. Some aren’t involved in any way other than following cycling on Twitter or watching it on television, and to be honest the television commentary doesn’t really always give a true perspective. You can’t always take the television commenter and his opinion as gospel either,” Porte told Cyclingnews.

    “There’s not that much you can do to defend yourself either. I can point to the tests and that I was tested three times in two days at Paris-Nice but I know that’s not everything. But what more can I say? I comply with the standards and rules and at the end of the day we just get on with our jobs.”

    Part of the issue over Sky’s strength and the discussion over doping has been taken out of Porte’s hands. While Sky has become the strongest force in team stage racing in the...

  • Jalabert sustains fractures in training crash

    Laurent Jalabert and Alex Zulle climb together in ONCE colours in 1995
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 13:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman not in a critical condition

    Laurent Jalabert sustained fractures to his right tibia and his arm when he was struck by a car while training on his bike on Monday. The former professional and current French national team coach is in hospital in Montauban, where he was due to undergo surgery on his injuries.

    Jalabert is understood to have been knocked unconscious for a brief time by the force of the impact but his partner told RTL radio on Monday evening that his condition was never critical.

    “I want to reassure people that he’s ok this evening. He is not in a critical condition, it’s just fractures,” Fanny Chassignet told RTL.

    “We have been able to talk to him, his children too. We’ve seen him a few times and been able to reassure him and encourage him, and the messages he is receiving are doing him good too.”

    Jalabert retired from cycling in 2002 but continues to take part in triathlons, marathons and sportive rides. After commentating on Paris-Nice for France television last week, he was training in the Montauban area on Monday afternoon when he was struck by a car, just over a kilometre from his home.

    “It happened very close to home,” Chassignet said. “While he was coming down the road, a car wanted to turn off into a side street and apparently it cut him off. The driver didn’t see him. I don’t know, there will have to be an inquiry to establish precisely what happened. In any case, he had a helmet.”

    The driver was questioned by police in Montauban on Monday afternoon. According to RMC, he said that he had been blinded by the sun and had not seen Jalabert.



  • Snow cancels Nokere Koerse

    Snow on the Nokere Koerse parcours forced the race organisers to cancel the event.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 16:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    More weather-related cancellations hit pro peloton

    Snow storms in Northern Europe have caused the cancellation of the UCI 1.1-rated Nokere Koerse road race in Belgium, which was scheduled to take place tomorrow. It is the third week of bad weather affecting the UCI Europe Tour. 

    Last month snow caused Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and the GP di Lugano to be cancelled on February 24, then the same fate befell the Dwars door Drenthe on March 10.

    Organisers made the call mid-day on Tuesday in order to ensure the safety of the peloton and fans. "After a meeting with the organizing committee, the UCI, a delegation of the team leaders, the police and the local authorities concerned have decided to cancel the Nokere Koerse Danilith Classic this year. The safety of the riders, the caravan and the spectators could not be 100 percent guaranteed," an announcement on the race web site read.

    "The extreme weather conditions have forced the organizers to make this decision. The roads are mostly cleared, but blowing snow on some portions have made them not passable."

    The decision may be of comfort to some of the riders who on Saturday endured temperatures barely above freezing with sleet and rain during the Ronde van Drenthe.

  • Nibali: It's a huge personal satisfaction to win Tirreno-Adriatico

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the podium.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 17:53 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian confirms he is against the use of power metres in races

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) punched the air after crossing the finish line at Tirreno-Adriatico, celebrating a second consecutive victory in the Italian stage race. He joins Roger De Vlaeminck, Francesco Moser and Tony Rominger as back to back winners of the 'Race of the two Seas'

    "It's been a great race and it's a huge personal satisfaction to win Tirreno-Adriatico. I've beaten some big rivals, people who I've only faced before at the Tour de France," Nibali said after lifting the trident winner's trophy, with Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) forced to watch on and accept defeat.

    Nibali finished 12th in the rainy 9.2km final time trial, conceding only 11 seconds to Froome to keep a 23 second advantage in the final standings.

    "I had a good margin after yesterday and so I didn’t want to take any risk on a few of the wet corners. I was sure I'd win but the last battle with Froome was at the Tour de France and I've changed my time trial position since then. This was the first test. It still needed a huge effort to win and I give it everything in the time trial."

    Instinctive racing

    Nibali's attack on the rain-soaked descent during Monday's stage in the Le Marche hills overturned the general classification and he snatched the race leader's blue jersey from Froome and distanced Contador. It was act of instinctive, aggressive racing, which defeated Team Sky's more logical and clinical approach.

    "Yesterday I did something pretty important. I've done lots of others attacks like that but it was special because it came off.


  • Martin strikes again in Tirreno-Adriatico time trial

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the final time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 18:56 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    German targets a third world title in 2013

    Tony Martin gave Omega Pharma-Quick Step yet another stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico, continuing his reign as the best time trialist in professional cycling.

    The German set a time of 10:25 for the out and back 9.2km course along the San Bendetto del Tronto seafront, beating Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) by six seconds and Andrey Amador (Movistar) by 10 seconds. Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) was fourth at 12 seconds, despite being in the breakaway during Monday's tough stage in the hills.

    Martin powered Omega Pharma-Quick Step to victory in the opening team time trial. He has already won the time trial and the overall classification at the Volta ao Algarve.

    "It was more like a prologue than a time trial, and I prefer longer events up to 30/40/50km long. This route wasn't too technical and we were lucky with the weather," he said.

    "I expected to fight with Cancellara but in the end it was a fight with Malori. I'm happy after not being able to follow the best in the mountain stages. My form is good, and that's good for the rest of the season."

    Martin finished 27th overall, 17:49 behind winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He lost six minutes on the mountain finish to Prati di Tivo and seems to have given up on being a major stage race contender.

    "My big goal this season is the world championships," he said.

    "I've got a chance to win for a third time in a row and so that's a big goal for me. There's also the team time trial in the Tour de France and the long time trial. I think I've got a good chance there too. We had a super first stage and a good last stage...

  • Puerto prosecutor insists on two-year sentences for Fuentes and associates

    Eufemiano Fuentes was at the center of Operacion Puerto
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 21:09 GMT
    Cycling News

    Judge postpones case to handle sentencing requests

    The final arguments in the Operacion Puerto trial have been put on hold by judge Julia Patricia Santamaría until Friday after the defense teams of the five accused of committing crimes against public health requested more time to consider amendments to the accusations against them.

    The prosecution reiterated its request for two-year jail terms for the defendants Eufemiano Fuentes, his sister Yolanda, former directeurs sportif Vicente Belda and Manolo Saiz and trainer Jose Ignacio Labarta, should they be found guilty.

    The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) asked for a reduction to one year and one day in prison, but at the same time, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has asked that in addition to the two-year prison sentence, the five be banned from sport for eight years and three months.

    Who are the unnamed?

    Should Fuentes and his four co-defendants be sent to jail, it would mark a major turning point in a case which, although it has languished since June of 2006, has produced few names and seen few of those involved punished.

    A testimony recorded in 2006 was played for the court today from Alberto Leon, who committed suicide in January, 2011. The Spaniard stated in the recording that the clients of Fuentes were not just from cycling and athletics.

    So who were the dozens and dozens of athletes visiting Fuentes who remain anonymous? Attorneys for WADA and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) want to know. The two agencies have reiterated their requests to have access to some of the 224 blood bags seized by the Spanish Civil Guart as part of Operacion Puerto during the spring of 2006.

    Mysteriously, 51 of the blood bags remain missing, according to reports, but 173 are being stored at the Barcelona anti-doping laboratory.

    Back in 2007, when the