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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Date published:
March 27, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Katusha on the attack in opening day at De Panne

    Marco Haller (Katusha) is leading the mountains classification after the first day at De Panne
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 4:30 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Sagan riding in his own league, says sprint coach Zabel

    With Luca Paolini using the Three Days of De Panne as preparation for Sunday's Tour of Flanders, Katusha management urged their young riders to take their chances, coming up trumps with Marco Haller toping the mountains classification and Alexander Kristoff third behind stage winner, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in the final sprint.

    Haller was particularly aggressive on the hellingen, taking maximum points on all bar the last of three laps over the Leberg, Berendries, Valkenberg, Ten Bosse and Eikenmolen earning the red jersey.

    Katusha's sprint coach Erik Zabel admitted that given the strength and form of Sagan, it will take considerable effort and a bit of luck to beat the Slovakian powerhouse, but the man who earned over two hundred career victories, was pleased to see Olympic bronze medallist Kristoff take the initiative.

    "I spoke just now in the bus after the race with Alex Kristoff and he tried today with the long sprint because it was fast and slightly uphill and then his
    acceleration was really good," Zabel told Cyclingnews. "After 150m, so 200m to go he died a little bit in front and Sagan just jumped from his wheel.

    "But in my eyes it's better to try something than just to follow the wheel and then to be beaten. Kristoff tried and he got a well deserved third place and we are happy with that."

    Sagan told media following his win that his only real effort of the day came in the sprint finish, despite a number of attacks on the peloton from the 30km to go mark. Asked for his perceptions on the balancing act that Sagan was demonstrating in the lead up to...

  • Soler still coming to terms with life after retirement

    Expect to see Colombia's Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) once again fighting for the maillot blanc à pois rouges .
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 5:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Tour KOM winner slowly recovering from dramatic crash

    Less than a year after announcing his retirement from professional cycling, following a dramatic crash at the 2011 Tour de Suisse in which he suffered a fractured skull and was placed in an induced coma, Mauricio Soler is still coming to terms with life without his beloved sport.

    The Colombian climber thrust himself into the spotlight at the 2007 Tour de France where, in his first season riding for Barloworld, he won a mountain stage and took home the king of the mountains classification.

    It was a result that put Colombian cycling back on the map after Santiago Botero won the title in the 2000 edition. Soler became just the third Colombian to be crowned the Tour's best climber with the first of two titles taken by Luis Herrara in 1985 and 1987.

    Now, less than a year on from his official retirement date, the 30-year-old says it has been difficult to come to terms with what has happened and laments the fact his career was cut short by such a freak accident.

    "It may be that, even when you are at your peak, a fall or illness can put an end to a great career," he told

    "I expected this to be a simple fall, expected my wounds to heal but when the neurologist told me I probably could not return to cycling competitively, it was not easy for me," he added.

    Soler still enjoys watching bigger races like the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France but says he's not yet ready to return to action and stand roadside as the peloton whizzes by. The memories of his achievements, which concluded with an...

  • Sagan continues Ronde build-up with De Panne stage win

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took the initiative to attack ahead of the final 10km
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 6:32 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Slovakian impressed by Boonen on opening stage

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) will tread a highwire act for the remainder of the Three Days of De Panne, having won the opening stage in Zottegem, just ahead of FDJ's Arnaud Demare. It was Sagan's seventh victory of the 2013 season as the build-up continues to the race that he calls his "destiny", the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

    Sagan also won the opening stage of De Panne last year, relinquishing the overall lead on stage 2, something that he was happy to do with the race providing training for The Ronde. It's a similar policy that he will adopt this time around although, arguably, his form is at another level again.

    "I don't want to make too much of an effort and lose energy ahead of Flanders, especially with Thursday's half stage and then the time trial," he told media following his win. "It's not the perfect situation to be defending the race leadership.

    "Today it was good to win but the most important thing was that it was good training for Flanders."

    There was just a hint of controversy in today's victory, with Sagan ahead of Demare on the run into the finish. With the course taking a slight left-hand turn just before the line, the Slovakian champion from certain angles appeared to move slightly across Demare's line but having viewed the replay from above and directly in front, UCI officials saw no reason to sanction Sagan, deeming that the FDJ rider had enough space to overtake.

    "I wasn't worried about being disqualified," said Sagan.

    The 23-year-old claims that his only real effort today came in the sprint to the finish,...

  • Boonen may share Flanders leadership

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quick Step) in full flight
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 8:33 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Lefevere may use three-pronged attack to beat Sagan and Cancellara

    Patrick Levefere has hinted for the first time that Omega Pharma - QuickStep will start the Tour of Flanders with three leaders. Tom Boonen, the team's most successful rider with three Ronde titles to his name, has been suffering with injury and illness all year, and crashed out of Gent-Wevelgem last weekend.

    He started the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday in a search for extra racing miles but the 2012 Flanders winner looks short of form compared to his two predicted rivals Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara.

    Sagan won Gent-Wevelgem while Cancellara romped to the win in E3 Harelbeke two days before.

    With Boonen struggling to get on terms and Sagan almost toying with the opposition in De Panne, Lefevere has admitted that his team may change tactics in order to compensate.

    "Sagan is so strong it's like he's playing little jokes with the others," Lefevere told Cyclingnews after stage 1 of De Panne.

    "He is using the right tactics and he put the sprinters' team in a lot of pain."

    "I was talking with Boonen on the bus. He still has a little bit of pain in his knee but if he can go into Wednesday and race the 220 kilometres then we can start to think about how we can beat Sagan on Sunday."

    Even if Boonen completes De Panne it may not be enough to see him on level terms and Lefevere added that with Sylvain Chavanel and Niki Terpstra both on song in recent weeks, the team may alter their approach.

    "In the past it was an easy decision because it was Tom and...

  • Report: Spanish criminal investigation of Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong (US Postal) protected by his body guard at the 2004 Tour de France
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 9:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Trafficking and distribution of doping products illegal in Spain

    There is a criminal investigation of Lance Armstrong underway in Spain, according to media reports. The investigation is said to be looking into his doping-related activities in that country as reported in the USADA's reasoned decision, which was issued last October.

    ABC News said that “Spanish sources believe crimes may have been committed in Spain and they are currently investigating to decide if charges should be brought against Armstrong and Spanish associates who worked with him on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team.”

    The Spanish associates are believed to include former USPS team doctors Pedro Celaya and Luis Garcia del Moral and  trainer José Martí.  Garcia del Moral and Marti were given lifetime bans by the USADA when they did not challenge the charges against them. Celaya appealed the decision and hearings are pending.

    The investigation is said to be underway in various areas of Spain, including Alicante, Valencia, Tenerife and Girona. Armstrong lived in Girona for several years. Floyd Landis told ABC News that during that period he babysat Armstrong's 'blood fridge' in Spain 'to make sure the temperature remained constant' when Armstrong was away.

    Under Spanish law, it is not a crime for an athlete to to use doping products or methods. However, “trafficking, distribution and commercialization of doping drugs” are criminal offenses which can carry prison sentences and fines.

    Interviewed on German television this week, Ana Munoz, director of the Spanish anti-doping agency,  said, "What I can tell you so far is that we are following up on the Armstrong case. Not only because we were involved in the investigation back then but also because we...

  • Route change for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) en route to Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory.
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 11:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Road works rule out Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons

    Route changes have been a feature of the classics campaign in 2013, and it is a trend that looks set to continue at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Road works – rather than weather conditions – mean that the climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons will not be on the Liège-Bastogne-Liège course this year, but deciding on the alternative route has posed problems for race organisers ASO.

    Located 20 kilometres from the finish, the Roche-aux-Faucons has been a key moment in Liège-Bastogne-Liège since it was added to the route in place of the Côte du Sart Tilman in 2008, but La Dernière Heure reports that road works on the ascent will not be completed in time for the race on April 21.

    One contingency plan would see the race instead take in the Côte de Tilff, but it is understood that director Jean-François Pescheux has reservations about bringing the riders over a narrow temporary bridge across the River Ourthe.

    Another alternative is to tackle the Côte du Sart Tilman, which last featured in 2007, but the road will be blocked on April 21 due to a horse show taking place near the summit of the climb. “It’s like that every spring because our organisation needs a lot of people and trucks,” a member of the horse show organisation told La Dernière Heure. “We need room for them, and nobody brought it our attention that the date of our event coincided with the passage of the race.”

    Liège-Bastogne-Liège is thus likely to climb the Côte de Colonster [2.9km at 5.5%], although it would have to approach the climb via a sharp hairpin bend. An ASO delegation will assess the possible finale on Wednesday.

  • Bayern Rundfahrt announces wildcard invitations

    Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) wins Milan-San Remo
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 12:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    MTN-Qhubeka with Milan-San Remo winner Ciolek leads the list

    Gerald Ciolek, winner of Milan-San Remo, will lead South African team MTN-Qhubeka in the Bayern Rundfahrt in May. The German race announced six wildcard invitations for Professional Continental teams on Wednesday.

    In addition to MTN-Qhubeka, the wildcards went to IAM Cycling, Novo Nordisk, NetApp-Endura, Sojasun and Europcar.

    “Sometimes a team's status doesn't say a lot. To speak of these teams as 'second league' is hardly right even when it is that way on paper,” said Ewald Strohmeier, head of the race. “But most recently Gerald Ciolek's success in San Remo showed that one of the best riders in the world is underway with this team.”

    The six Professional Continental teams join nine WorldTour teams in the race: Sky,  Sky, Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ, Garmin Sharp, Orica-GreenEdge, Blanco, Lampre-Merida, Ag2r la Mondiale und Argos-Shimano. An additional four Continental teams will also be invited.

    The Bayern Rundfahrt runs from May 21 to 25. It starts in Mühldorf am Inn and ends 5 stages and 775 kilometers later with a circuit course in old-town Nürnberg.

  • UCI rejects Dutch anti-doping accord

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 12:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    Says it was never consulted on the suspension plan

    The UCI has rejected the anti-doping accord set in place by the Dutch cycling federation, national anti-doping agency and the three Dutch WorldTour teams. The UCI said that the plan was presented under false pretences and will not be recognized.

    Under the accord, riders and staff members would be required to submit signed statements and questionnaires concerning any doping they used or witnessed in the past. Anyone who was guilty of doping before 2008 would be given a six-month suspension, while anyone who doped after January 1, 2008, would be immediately dismissed.

    When the plan was first announced in January, it was said that it had been co-ordinated with the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency but in a letter sent this week, the UCI said that it had not been consulted and would not approve the plan.

    The UCI retains the ultimate authority over suspensions, and saw the Dutch accord as an interference with a possible future Truth and Reconciliation process.

    Herman Ram, head of the Dutch Anti-Doping Agency, said that the UCI's position was logical. “The UCI has sent a neat clean letter in which the relative positions of the doping problem are again set out. There is nothing wrong with that and that's nothing new."

    Director Huub Kloosterhuis of the Royal Dutch Cycling Federation had no comment, saying “maybe later.”