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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Date published:
April 07, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Armstrong pulls out of Circuit Sarthe

    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 9:04 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack struck by intestinal virus after Flanders

    Lance Armstrong did not start the second stage of the Circuit Sarthe - Pays de la Loire on Wednesday morning after coming down with a viral intestinal infection following stage one. His RadioShack team said the Texan will return to the USA as soon as his condition allows.

    On Tuesday RadioShack confirmed to Cyclingnews that Armstrong would not ride the Amstel Gold race on April 18 and return to the USA earlier than planned.

    In a twitter message on Tuesday evening, Armstrong revealed that six of the eight riders from their Tour of Flanders squad “are down and out with a stomach bug. Hoping I'm lucky”. A few hours later he joined them. “Not so lucky, I guess. Sicker than a dog now. This sucks.”

    On Wednesday morning he tweeted: "Well, I'm alive. Barely it feels like. That was the roughest stomach virus I've ever had. Tough night. Thx for all the support."

    Riders affected include Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Gregory Rast and Sébastien Rosseler. Team Manager Johan Bruyneel and a soigneur also caught the virus.

    "This is not the right moment, but it is never a good moment (to get ill)", directeur sportif Alain Gallopin said in the statement issued by the team.

    "Though we have only four riders left in this race, we will try to win a stage. Tiago Machado and Yaroslav Popovych are in good shape. Let's hope Popo will not get sick. He was in Flanders last week.”

    “As far as Lance Armstrong is concerned, maybe we will have to change his program again. That's work for the coming days. Lance was really keen on performing well, especially in the time trial of Wednesday afternoon. He showed his growing condition in the Tour of Flanders, where he came in with the first group sprinting for the fifth place.”

    Armstrong's next major race is the Tour of California in mid-May but there is growing speculation that he may race in the USA before then, perhaps at...

  • On the start line of Scheldeprijs

    A serene-looking Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 12:45 BST
    Cycling News

    The sun shines on the peloton in Antwerp

    Blue skies and warm sunshine greeted the spectators at the start of the 98th Scheldeprijs, in Belgium. As the riders and team buses gathered in the city centre of Antwerp, local hero Tom Boonen (Quick Step) soon became the centre of attention, even receiving a police escort to the race.

    Ahead of the peloton lay 205.4 kilometres of racing. The course generally favours a bunch sprint, with the finish circuit in the Antwerp suburb of Schoten giving the sprinters' teams plenty of opportunity to organise their lead-outs.

    With many of the Paris-Roubaix favourites using the race as training, a sprint off between defending champion Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), Thor Hushovd (Cervelo), André Greipel (HTC-Columbia), Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano), and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) was the prediction on many people's lips.

  • Gazzetta dello Sport reveals more details of Mantova police investigation

    Team Lampre walk off the Vuelta presentation stage in Assen, Netherlands.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 13:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian newspaper claims 35 people under investigation, including Ballan and Cunego

    Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed further details of the police investigation that has engulfed the Lampre-Farnese Vini team, claiming that 16 riders and staff from the team have been formally placed under investigation for doping related offences.

    A total of 35 people are under investigation by police in Mantova as part of a two-year investigation. Local media in Italy have suggested the investigation was sparked by the confession of Emanuele Sella after he tested positive for CERA in 2008.

    The investigation is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli in the tiny village of Mariana Mantovana in northern Italy.

    Amongst the names Gazzetta list as being under investigation are current and former Lampre riders, including Damiano Cunego, Francesco Gavazzi, Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio. Team manager Giuseppe Saronni and directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani are also named by Gazzetta. Dr Andrea Andreazzoli is also listed but he now works with the Astana team.

    Ballan and Santambrogio now ride for the US-registered BMC team. According to Gazzetta, they are under investigation for possibly breaking the Italian anti-doping law for use or possession of banned substances. They risk a possible sentence of between three months and three years, which could be doubled if they are found of selling banned substances.

    Under Italian law, anyone under suspicion in a major case can be formally placed under investigation by the police. Gazzetta report that the people involved in the case have been notified of a recent request by the investigating judge for further time to study what is a complex case.

    However investigations are often dropped against people as evidence emerges they are not involved. For example, 54 people were initially placed under investigation following the police raids at the San Remo during the 2001 Giro d'Italia. Only a...

  • Boasson Hagen to miss Paris-Roubaix

    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 14:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Achilles injury ends Classics campaign

    Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen will miss this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix due to continuing problems with an Achilles tendon injury, his team announced today. The Norwegian will be replaced by New Zealander Greg Henderson for Sunday's race and not return to competition until May.

    “I was really hoping to get ready for Roubaix and I’m thankful for the great effort the team has put into my rehabilitation," Boasson Hagen stated. "I stayed in Belgium with the team because we wanted to keep the decision open until today.

    "Since I still have pain when I’m riding harder training rides, it’s not realistic to go to one of the toughest races of the season. It’s not easy to accept, but I’m very positive about overcoming this injury quickly and building to be a 100% ready for the Tour [de France]."

    Boasson Hagen, winner of last year's Gent-Wevelgem, had targeted the Spring Classics as a major focus of his early season, but since competing in Milan-San Remo he has suffered from problems with his ankle. His team had hoped to get him ready for Sunday's race, but decided today that he was not ready.

    “We’ve assessed the situation regarding Edvald’s injury from all possible angles after his two weeks of intensive treatment in Belgium and the conclusion is clear: he is not completely ready to race Paris-Roubaix.

    "The most important thing, both long and short term, is Edvald’s health and we would under no circumstances let him ride with an injury of this type, even if he would able to compete in the race. He’ll now have a significant amount of time to receive treatment, working with our team of doctors and physioterapists, to get properly back on track for his next big goal, the Tour de France,” saidTeam Principal Dave Brailsford.

    The next race scheduled for Boasson Hagen will be the Tour de Picardie, May 14 to 16.

  • SpiderTech to make Amgen Tour of California debut

    It doesn't get much better than this for the Spidertech presented by Planet Energy team.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 17:32 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Bauer says team can surprise, isn't an overall contender

    Canada’s sole UCI Continental team SpiderTech-Planet Energy will make its Amgen Tour of California debut at this year’s event, from May 16-23. The highly sought-after invitation to America’s top stage race is a step in the right direction for a team that has its sights set on progressing to Professional Continental ranks in 2011, according to directeur sportif Steve Bauer.

    “It is extremely important for the evolution of our team,” said Bauer. “The opportunity will give our athletes an excellent chance to challenge at the highest level in North America and it will give our sponsors the recognition they deserve. It gives our riders the competition they need to progress as athletes. The invitation is definitely a big positive in our bid to reach Professional Continental for 2011.”

    Last year the team made an impression on the professional peloton when its sprinter Martin Gilbert won the seventh and final stage of the Tour of Missouri. Bauer is confident the team’s strong performance in Missouri last year helped garner its California invitation.

    “Absolutely,” he said. “Our team was competitive in Missouri every day and we won a stage. Tour of California will certainly be more difficult for us to grab a stellar performance however I have confidence in our athletes and their talent to raise to the occasion.”

    The squad recently participated in the Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay where Gilbert brought the team a stage eight victory. The team is scheduled to compete in the Vuelta Mexico Telmex, Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage Race as preparation for the Tour of California.

    “We have been preparing with the Amgen Tour of California goal in mind since last November,” Bauer said. “We have been entering as many solid stage races as possible to get our riders the necessary amount of competition to be ready for Amgen Tour of California.”

  • Farrar finds the form of his life in Belgium

    The 2010 Scheldeprijs podium: Robbie McEwen, Tyler Farrar and Robert Foerster.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 18:15 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin rider becomes first American to win Scheldeprijs

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) took his biggest win in a spring campaign with Scheldeprijs and then declared that he's in the form of his life. The American sprinter timed his dash for the line perfectly, edging out Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Robert Förster (Team Milram) in an exciting finale. It was made even more impressive with Farrar competing and then conquering without the aid of a leadout in the final few kilometres.

    Instead, Farrar sat patiently on the right wheels, admitting he had it ‘pretty easy' until the final 200 meters. He positioned himself on Wouter Weylandt's (Quick Step) back wheel and with the Belgian receiving a leadout from teammate Tom Boonen, the American burst through with Weylandt finishing fifth. Former world champion Boonen was left shaking his head as he crossed the line.

    "It's a very special win for me," Farrar said after he crossed the line. "I've won some big races but I've never had a win in the Classics season so it's something special. I know I had a good chance though and this was one of my objectives for the spring."

    Farrar had been left isolated after his entire team were forced to help HTC-Columbia and Lampre lead the chase after a break of eight riders built up a healthy advantage over the peloton.

    "You see the work that everyone did today on my team and they were fantastic. It wasn't easy, they were a really strong breakaway so we had to ride hard with Columbia and we did everything to ensure it was a sprint. The last few kilometres were really hectic, it was so fast that all the teams were finding it hard to control it, but I guess luck was on my side today."

    Farrar has taken a while to get going this year. He was disappointed with his performance in Milan-San Remo and wasn't able to claim a win in either the Tour of Oman or Tour of Qatar, despite being in several promising positions.

    However his win in last week's Three Days of De Panne and strong showings...

  • Förster on podium in mini-world championships for sprinters

    Robert Förster (Milram)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 19:01 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    German claims third in Scheldeprijs

    Finishing third in the Scheldeprijs semi-classic, behind well-respected sprinters as Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Robbie McEwen (Katusha), is a great achievement. The Flemish one-day race is highly rated among the sprinters in the peloton and Robert Förster (Milram) came close to adding his name next to that of Alessandro Petacchi, last year's winner on the Churchill-boulevard in Schoten, near Antwerp.

    "These were the mini-world championships for sprinters," Förster said, while taking note of the absence of Mark Cavendish (HTC - Columbia).

    Förster is a well-respected sprinter who has won stages in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, but failed to break through completely when he battled the best in the world during the Tour de France. His last major win came three years ago during the 2007 Giro d'Italia's fifth stage in Frascati when he held off Thor Hushovd for the win. During the Scheldeprijs the German pulled off one of his best sprints in years against the best in the world.

    "Today Farrar clearly was the fastest in the sprint. I can be satisfied. This is my first podium ever in the Scheldeprijs," the 32-year-old German said.

    Farrar clearly was the man to watch during the 98th Scheldeprijs as Förster focused on the American during his sprint. "With 500 meters to go I was fighting with McEwen for Farrar's wheel. We both ended up riding in the wind and then Robbie told me, 'stay on my wheel', which I did," Förster said. "I noticed that Boonen started his sprint early, apparently leading it out for Weylandt. Eventually more than third wasn't possible today."

    When asked whether he would be taking his good form to use over the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix the German was happy to say that he was staying home. "My body might be suited for the cobbles but I won't be there. I'll be watching the race with a cola and chips in front of the TV," a smiling Förster said while walking...

  • Henderson goes close at Scheldeprijs

    Greg Henderson (Team Sky) won a stage of Paris-Nice this year.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 20:01 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Sky's train runs a little too early in Belgium

    Greg Henderson narrowly missed out on a podium position at the 2010 Scheldeprijs on Wednesday afternoon, but was full of praise for the work done by his Sky teammates in a chaotic finish to the Belgian race.

    With the team's Mathew Hayman occupying a position in the race's early, 8-man break, Sky were spared the responsibility of chasing the early escapees. However, with the lead group caught the black-clad squad surged towards the front of the peloton with three kilometres-to-go, in attempt to set-up their designated sprinter, Henderson.

    "I came strong at the finish, but I was just out of position," Henderson told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish of the race. "When I started at 200 metres to go I was just a little too far back. I mean I got up there for fourth but it was just positioning in the finale - we were forced onto the front way too early."

    In a prolonged sprint, opened by Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Henderson was left with too much to do to come around race winner Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Robert Förster (Milram).

    "We just ran out of men. They did a fantastic job, but we're just down on guys, so when they were on the front I just moved four of five back because I knew I'd be at the front too early otherwise," he said.

    "But he boys were super strong, they were committed to me, it's just a shame I didn't have the 100 per cent perfect position as I was fast enough, basically."

    Henderson was named on Wednesday morning as a replacement for Edvald Boasson Hagen in Sky's squad for Paris-Roubaix. He will now support Juan Antonio Flecha, the team's captain on Sunday. But at Scheldeprijs it was the Spaniard who was playing the role of domestique, as he contributed his fair share to Henderson's lead-out train.

    "Flecha just did a massive, massive pull, Sutto [Chris Sutton] had to go super early and I tried to mix in there, but I came down the barriers and...