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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Date published:
March 10, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Paris-Nice stage shortened due to snow

    The scene at Saint-Junien, France, on Wednesday morning
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 10:07 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Prudhomme promises return to Saint-Junien, Tirreno opener to go ahead

    The riders of Paris-Nice will face a shortened stage three from Saint-Junien - Aurillac after the first 53 kilometres were cut from the stage due to snow. The peloton will race the final 155 kilometres.

    The snowstorm struck at early Wednesday morning in Limoges and means the first two category 3 climbs of the day, the côte des Cars and the côte de la Croix de Teulet, will not be contested.

    Race organisers ASO are confident the remaining 155 kilometres to Aurillac will be covered without any problems. This is quite common on the roads of the “race to the sun” in March although the past three editions have been raced without any stage to be shortened.

    Paris-Nice Race Director Christian Prudhomme has promised local officials in Saint-Junien that the event will return to the town in future to compensate for the changes made to the course on Wednesday.

    Cold in Tirreno, but snow not a problem

    While snow has forced a reduction of Wendesday's stage at Paris-Nice, organisers of Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico have no plans to alter the route of the opening stage of the event, despite snow in the region around Livigno, where the race will begin on Wednesday.

    Organisers indicated to Cyclingnews that snow is unlikely to impact Wednesday's route, which will hug Italy's north-western coastline for much of its 148-kilometre distance. Although low temperatures in the region have continued, the stage will remain below 300 metres in elevation and organisers expect a snow-free run south for the peloton into Rosignano Solvay.

  • HTC-Columbia frustrated at Paris-Nice

    André Greipel (Team HTC - Columbia) was a pre-race favourite
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 10:15 GMT
    Susan Wesetmeyer

    Greipel and Martin rue crashes, missed chances

    HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel and Tony Martin have described the frustration of the opening days of Paris-Nice, which have seen both riders involved in crashes and miss out on hoped-for stage wins.

    Stages one and two looked tailor-made for the team's sprinter, Greipel, to contest mass sprint finishes, but in Monday's stage one, “the strong crosswinds made things difficult,” Greipel said on his website. “Unfortunately I crashed around 25 kilometres before the finish, so I didn't have the chance to go with the Caisse d'Epargne attack and couldn't be involved in the finale.”

    The second of the “very nervous” stages featured a “tailwind the whole day, but still, things looked better going into the finale, which with its many curves was very dangerous. About 400 metres before the finish I was in seventh position and so things looked good for the sprint.”

    However, a touch of wheels several riders ahead caused a dramatic crash. While Greipel didn't go down, he was held back and could “again, only watch the action from behind.”

    Teammate Martin wasn't so lucky. After a dismal prologue, he had come back strong in the first stage, launching a last-minute attack at the end of the race into Contres. Though unsuccessful, Martin had signaled the move as a clear indication that things were improving.

    However, Martin was unable to avoid the crash on Tuesday as Greipel had. Jimmy Casper of Saur-Sojasun went down right front of him, with the HTC rider tumbling over his handlebars and on to his left side.

    “I only have a few bruises, but nothing serious,” Martin told “The race was very...

  • Gesink nearly stranded in Spanish snow

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 10:46 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Rabobank rider arrives for Tirreno-Adriatico after ten-hour journey

    Rabobank's Robert Gesink must have felt more like an arctic explorer than a pro cyclist on Monday as he attempted to make his way to Italy for this week's Tirreno-Adriatico. The Dutchman had expected to take his regular taxi journey from Girona, Spain, to the local airport for a flight to Livorno, Italy, but hadn't counted on the weather working against him.

    A late winter storm dumped up to 25 inches of snow on the Costa Brava and Barcelona, the first snow in the region in 40 years. The chaos was aggravated by a massive electrical outage.

    "Normally, I always take a taxi to the airport, but now there was no car," said Gesink to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. He did eventually get a ride to the airport with an airline employee, but they got bogged down in the snow with 2.5 kilometres still to go. "There was only one option: On foot, I had no choice."

    Gesink arrived at the airport only to find it closed to flights. Fortunately, he was able to catch a bus to the larger airport in Barcelona, but even that was not easy. “On the way we had to zig-zag around some fifty vehicles stranded in the snow," said Gesink. "We had needed more than two hours to go the eighty kilometres.”

    Once in Barcelona, things went better – at last. “I almost immediately had a direct flight to Pisa, where I arrived ten hours after I had left my apartment in Girona."

    The rider wasn't the only one with transportation problems, with several teams likely to face vehicular shortages for the opening days of the Italian race. The Rabobank team bus was stuck in Spain, as were support vehicles for Astana, Cervélo TestTeam and Garmin-Transitions.

    “We decided Monday to boat the bus from Barcelona to Genoa to travel," said Rabobank team manager Frans Maassen. "But the storm was such that the ferries are no longer allowed to leave port. But they will be able to leave before Thursday morning.”

  • Giunti tests positive for EPO, suspended

    Massimo Giunti (Androni-Giocattoli)
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 12:16 GMT
    Stephen Farrand and Richard Tyler

    Italian targeted under biological passport programme

    Androni Giocattoli rider Massimo Giunti has been provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI) after testing positive for EPO in a targeted out-of-competition test carried out last month.

    Giunti, 35, had been scheduled to start Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday morning, but was pulled out of the race following news of his positive result for the illegal blood-booster.

    "It's a bitter blow and I'm shocked but it's strange too," said Androni Giocattoli principal Gianni Savio. "I found out when I was leaving the hotel and we left Giunti there. I'm depressed about the whole thing because at our training camp in November, we devoted half a day to a course about anti-doping.

    "We keep telling the riders, especially the ones who rode in the old days, that the world of cycling has totally changed."

    The World Anti-doping Agency's (WADA) laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland reported a positive finding for EPO in a urine test carried out on February 23. The UCI said in a statement to day that Giunti's non-negative control had been carried out in response to irregularities detected under the biological passport programme.

    "This adverse finding was a direct result of a targeted urine test conducted because of an unusual blood profile in Mr Giunti’s biological passport," read the UCI's statement.

    Giunti has the right to request analysis of a B sample.

    The Italian had been competing in his first season for Androni Giocattoli after a transfer from Miche - Silver Cross - Selle Italia at the end of 2009. Giunti finished fourth on stage four of last month's Giro di Sardegna, three days after his positive control was taken. A professional since 1999, he has never claimed a professional victory.

    Despite the news of Giunti's positive breaking on the opening day of Tirreno-Adriatico, Savio said he still expects his...

  • Pepsi sponsorship saves Tour of Battenkill

    Scott Nydam won the 2009 Tour of the Battenkill.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 17:38 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    UCI and Pro/Am events to go ahead in New York as planned

    The United States of America was close to losing the UCI-sanctioned Tour of Battenkill when its former sponsor pulled its funding two months ago, but organizer Dieter Drake has found a replacement in PepsiCo that will allow the event to continue as scheduled in Cambridge, New York on April 18.

    "I approached them back in January after we lost our presenting sponsor from last year during the Christmas holiday," Drake said. "With some persistence, they were receptive to talking about it. Selling a bicycle race is not an easy task but with a large, multi-billion dollar company like Pepsi it worked out."

    Without a replacement for previous sponsor, Malta-based GlobalFoundaries, Drake would have been forced to cancel the UCI professional men’s race, and the Pro/Am events held the weekend prior.

    "GlobalFoundries had some leadership changes that had an effect on our ability to communicate the event and cycling in general to them," Drake said. "They are also in a difficult phase where they are not generating revenue for themselves, as I understand it."

    Drake is more than pleased with Pepsi’s commitment to the Tour of Battenkill. However, the length of the company's longer-term contractual agreement with the race is yet to be determined.

    "It's huge [for the race]," Drake said. "We now have a globally known retail sponsor. I can't think of a better position to be in. Since we're short on time for 2010, we haven't had time to workout the long-term details. It's my mission to grow the exposure and stature of the event internationally and Pepsi can make that happen."

    Pepsi will brand the Tour of Battenkill’s two weekends of racing. The 2010 event will begin with the Pro/Am and women’s races, to be held on April 10. The professional men’s UCI event will follow, on April 18.

    "I think it would be difficult for us to present it in any other way," Drake said. "The UCI event is, of course, the...

  • Voigt hopes for Paris-Nice victory, will not race Criterium International

    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 17:49 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    German wants one more Tour de France start before retiring

    Jens Voigt is back in a yellow jersey, a situation he has experienced many times in his career, after finishing fourth on the stage to Aurillac today at Paris-Nice.

    The German, who is old enough to be the father of 20-year-old stage winner Peter Sagan, made an interesting request after the podium ceremony. "As much as there is the white as the distinctive jersey for the best young rider, there should be a grey jersey to award the best cyclist of the over 35 year old category," Voigt said firmly.

     "At first, I don't like to be beaten by whoever but then, sometimes, I have to look at the situation honestly and realize that my adversaries are much younger than me," Voigt commented. At the age of 38 – he's only one day older than Lance Armstrong – the Berliner doesn't feel like retirement is around the corner.

    "I hope that Bjarne (Riis) will select me for the Tour de France again this year", he said. "I've taken part in this race every year since 1998 and I don't want to close this chapter because of a stupid crash.

    "I was off the bike for two months after falling in the Alps [during stage 16 of the 2009 Tour de France on July 21, ed.]. I resumed racing at the Tour of Missouri and I kept racing until the Japan Cup. I'm not affected anymore by this crash, but I don't want that to be my last appearance at the Tour de France. Maybe this year I'll do my 13th and last Tour de France. I want to say goodbye with all the honours of the Champs-Elysées."

    A five time winner of the Criterium International, Voigt will not defend his title due to a change in the ProTour calendar. Saxo Bank does not having the roster to line up everywhere with Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Catalunya at the same time.

    This fact boosts his will to try and win Paris-Nice instead. "I don't remember which one is the côte in Mende but I know that I can't follow Alberto Contador, his suppleness is so impressive. However,...

  • Farrar angry with Ginanni after Tirreno-Adriatico sprint

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Transitions)
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 17:56 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Garmin-Transitions sprinter says he was squeezed against barriers

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) was the only big-name sprinter to finish in the top ten on the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and was angry that some dangerous riding in the finishing straight perhaps cost him a chance at victory.

    Farrar survived the terrible weather conditions and a testing climb on the two finishing circuits to finish seventh behind stage winner Linus Gerdemann (Milram).

    Farrar was especially angry with Italy's Francesco Ginanni (Androni Giocattoli) who finished tenth on the stage. The two went shoulder-to-shoulder in the sprint and swapped some angry stares and some strong words after the finish. Fortunately the Garmin-Transitions soigneur acted as translator and calmed them both down.

    Farrar was wet, cold and covered in the dirt of the road after three and a half hours in the saddle but shared his anger and disappointment with Cyclingnews as he headed to the Garmin-Transitions team bus.

    "It was a really dangerous sprint. Some of these guys will take huge risks to try and win. I don't understand them. They were willing to actually crash for a placing," Farrar said.

    "I was on the barriers, he (Ginanni) came over and I shouted out 'oh, oh'. But he just looked me in the eye and then continued to squeeze me. It's incredible."

    Farrar is still looking for his first victory of the 2010 season but survived the climb on the two laps of the finishing circuit that saw other sprinters get dropped. Unfortunately for him Gerdemann, Lastras, Breschel and Paolini got a gap over the top of the last climb and stayed away to the finish.

    Thursday's second stage includes more late climbs but Farrar could make it over them better than most of his sprint rivals and so perhaps get revenge on Ginanni in the sprint.

  • Grabovskyy back on track with Tirreno attack

    Dmytro Grabovskyy (ISD Neri) on the attack on stage 1.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2010, 19:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Ukrainian's second chance pays off with mountains jersey

    Dmytro Grabovskyy (ISD-Neri) was the only rider to go on the attack during the cold and wet opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday, showing that his personal problems are perhaps behind him.

    The hugely talented Ukrainian won the under-23 world road race title in 2005 and was second in the time trial at just 19. He turned professional with Quick Step and then joined ISD-Neri but has suffered with a drinking problem that almost ended his career.

    He has admitted that he almost died twice after binge drinking at parties. ISD only recently decided to give him a second chance and he paid them back today by taking the green climber's jersey , showing in the process that he has got his career back on track.

    "I wanted to show myself and show that I'm back. I worked hard to help Rujano win in the Tour de Langkawi and wanted to get in the break. Unfortunately nobody came with me," he said after the stage. "It was cold and went out there but it was just like the weather I faced while training at home in the Ukraine this winter."

    ISD-Neri directeur sportif Luca Scinto has played a big part in helping Grabovskyy and was rightly proud of him. "He almost blew everything but he's on the way back," Scinto told Cyclingnews.

    "He's a huge talent and now it's up to him now to show what he can really do. We worked hard to help all our riders and we decided Grabovskyy deserved another chance. It would have been a defeat for everybody if we'd lost him from the sport."

    "When he got a gap of nine minutes, I thought he might even stay away and win the stage. Unfortunately some teams started chasing but he showed how strong he is. They almost didn't catch him. Winning would have been amazing but I'm just happy he's got his life and career back on track."