The pressure is on Andre Greipel at the Tour of the Algarve to bring in the first win of the season for both himself and his new team Omega Pharma-Lotto.Jurgen Roelandts said that once the first win is achieved, things will become easier for the team.
The Belgian team has had to wait a long time for its first wins in the last two seasons. In 2009, Cadel Evans had the first win on March 28, a stage at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali. Last year's win was even later, when Philippe Gilbert won the Amstel Gold Race on April 18.
Omega Pharma-Lotto must have thought its luck would change when it signed sprinter Greipel for this season. The German had won eight stages at the early-season Tour Down Under in the previous three years, as well as taking the overall title twice. This year he didn't have a single win, although he finished second twice. He was also shut out at the Mallorca Challenge.
Gilbert is also in Portugal, and will be going for those stages too difficult for the sprinter. "On paper it can't go wrong with Gilbert and Greipel on the team,” Roelandts told Het Laatste Nieuws.
"We have to put the pressure on to win at least one stage. Once the first victory has been won, we can go."
Greipel's presence on the team reduces the pressure on Roelandts to win. "Preparing the sprint for someone like Andre is not easy. But the stress of winning is indeed on him and not me . That's a difference. “
"I can't give a personal opinion until the whole affair is finished and it's not finished yet," McQuaid told media at the Tour of Oman.
"We got 35 pages from the Spanish Federation yesterday, which has to be translated and studied, and then we'll discuss it with WADA. We'll wait for the full documentation from the Spanish Federation and then we've got 30 days to decide whether we appeal or not. It's a UCI decision."
McQuaid hopes that any appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will be made before the Tour de France in July.
"I would hope and be fairly confident that it could all be sorted out before the Tour de France, that we can go to CAS and that CAS will understand that we need this one relatively quickly, certainly before the Tour de France," he said.
"If within the 30 days we decide to go to CAS, we'll ask to do it before the Tour de France."
McQuaid accepted that Contador is free to ride Tour of the Algarve that begins today in Portugal. However, he acknowledged that the uncertainty was not good for the sport.
"That's the rules. The rules allow him to race, so he races," he said.
"The impact is there and there is nothing I can do about it. We have to move on and continue racing. There's a calendar of races that have to be fulfilled and there are clean riders that are racing. We have to let them race and they deserve the support of everybody."
McQuaid was openly critical of the pressure Spanish politicians had put on the case.
Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) has announced his retirement from professional cycling, calling time on a career that had become increasingly mired in controversy. The RadioShack rider had been pencilled in to take part in a number of events on the US calendar in 2011, but it now appears that January’s Santos Tour Down Under was his final competitive race.
Armstrong revealed his decision in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday in Austin, Texas. He insisted he had no regrets about his decision to return to the sport in late 2008, in spite of his failure to win an 8th Tour de France and the allegations of doping in his former US Postal Service team that surfaced in 2010.
“I can’t say I have any regrets. It’s been an excellent ride. I really thought I was going to win another Tour,” Armstrong told AP. “Then I lined up like everybody else and wound up third.”
Armstrong swapped Astana for the new RadioShack team ahead of the 2010 season but he endured a torrid time last July, ultimately finishing in 23rd place.
“I have no regrets about last year, either,” he said. “The crashes, the problems with the bike - those were things that were beyond my control.”
Armstrong’s final months in the peloton have been dominated by allegations of systematic doping in his former US Postal team. The matter is currently being investigated by FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky and fresh allegations of impropriety surfaced in Sports Illustrated in January.
“I can’t control what goes on in regards to the investigation,” Armstrong said....
There is still no progress in the doping investigation concerning Ezequiel Mosquera (Vacansoleil-DCM), with the International Cycling Union (UCI) admitting that “problems” have arisen. The Spaniard is free to ride, but his team has not yet selected him for any races.
Mosquera finished second overall in the Vuelta a Espana last year and won the penultimate stage atop Bola del Mundo while riding for the now-defunct Xacobeo-Galicia team. Two weeks later it was announced that he and teammate David Garcia Da Pena had both tested positive for Hydroxyethyl starch, with Garcia also positive for EPO.
Both riders have denied using any illegal product or method.
HES is not a performance-enhancing product in itself, but may be used as a masking agent for EPO or blood doping. Although it is on the forbidden list, a rider who tested positive for it in his A sample cannot be suspended until the confirmation of the positive by the B sample, and a disciplinary proceeding by his national federation.
It is understood that in Mosquera's case, the B sample has not yet been tested.
"There are some problems, that's true, but that doesn't mean the case is stopped,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews.
A rider must request that the B sample be opened and checked. Carpani would not go into specifics, but indicated that that was not the problem in Mosquera's case. When asked about a hypothetical case in which a rider simply refused to apply for analysis of the B sample, and whether that rider would face no penalties, Carpani said, “Obviously not. In such a case the UCI can ask the national federation of the rider to open a disciplinary proceeding based only on...
The squad added a clutch of stars from the defunct Cervélo TestTeam to its ranks ahead of the 2011 campaign, including world champion Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler and after racking up wins in Australia, Qatar and Mallorca, Garmin-Cervélo has been the most successful team of the season’s opening weeks.
Vande Velde explained that the team’s early victories have reduced the pressure on the riders but simultaneously upped the ante in terms of focus and intensity. The American is himself looking forward to being towards the head of affairs later in the week, when the Tour of Oman tackles the climb of Jabal al Akhdhar on stage four and a testing time trial around Al Jissah a day later.
Contador’s former teammate Alexandre Vinokourov welcomed the news, telling Cyclingnews that he was pleased that the prize money accrued at the 2010 Tour de France would now stay with the Astana team. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) noted that the process is a long way from reaching its conclusion.
Meanwhile, Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) strongly expressed his support for Contador and said that his fellow countryman was striking a blow against what he claimed to be anomalies in testing. “Let’s hope…that the war Alberto started does not finish here,” Rodriguez said.