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Third Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 20, 2011

Date published:
May 20, 2011, 22:00
  • Contador case to be heard by CAS in early June

    Alberto Contador during his press conference as he tries to explain how his urine sample became contaminated with clenbuterol
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 11:36
    Cycling News

    Sports court to hear the case June 6 to 8, three weeks before Tour de France

    Alberto Contador now knows when he will have his hearing in court. His case will be pleaded from June 6 to 8 at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, three and a half weeks prior to the start of the Tour de France.

    The CAS announced the hearing schedule on Friday. The hearings in the two separate cases of UCI v. Contador and the WADA v. Contador will be hold on those three days.

    The UCI and WADA are appealing the decision of the Spanish Cycling Federation not to take action against Contador for his positive test for Clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France.  The Federation dropped the doping charge against him, saying it was not proven that he had purposely ingested the substance.

    The UCI decided to appeal that decision after a review of the file left it unconvinced that Contador had proven the positive doping control stemmed from eating contaminated meat. WADA did not explain its reasons for appealing.

    CAS has already said that it hopes to be able to issue its decision by the end of June and therefore before the start of the Tour de France.


  • Voigt, Hushovd and Larsson abandon Amgen Tour of California

    Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) didn't seem to mind the chilly start
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 12:44
    Cycling News

    Injuries and illnesses force riders to quit

    Several riders have had to abandon the Amgen Tour of California during and after Thursday's stage five to Paso Robles. Amongst them was world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin Cervélo), still out of luck this season wearing the rainbow jersey.

    "I haven't been feeling well since I arrived and today I just felt empty," he said in a press release. "I couldn't continue. I'm very disappointed to leave the team and the race. I would have liked to finish because the last day was a goal for me. I wish the team luck. I'm proud of what we have done here so far."

    The stage was equally unlucky for the Saxo Bank-SunGard team, which saw three riders hit the ground: Nick Nuyens, Lucas Sebastian Haedo and Gustav Erik Larsson. The latter was unable to continue the race as he suffered serious injuries to his face. Larsson was taken to hospital, where he received several stitches around his eyebrow.

    Nuyens and Haedo were also examined in hospital but said to able to take the start again in Friday's time trial in Solvang.

    German Jens Voigt did finish the stage, but then had x-rays in hospital, too. His wrist had been hurting since his crash in stage four, and finally doctors diagnosed a fracture of his scaphoid bone, which will require an operation, the Leopard Trek team announced.

  • World-class women take the start ramp in Solvang

    Emma Pooley (Great Britain) packs a lots of punch for a small rider.
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 15:39
    Kirsten Frattini

    13 women invited to compete in Amgen Tour of California time trial

    AEG Sports, organizers of the Amgen Tour of California, will host 13 of the strongest female time trialists in the world at the inaugural California Women's International Time Trial Challenge on Friday, May 20 in Solvang, California.

    The race is held in conjunction with stage 6 of the professional men's eight-day stage race at the Amgen Tour of California. The 24-kilometre time trial course has something for every type of rider including a predominantly uphill battle on the way out, followed by a pass over Ballard Canyon and descent back into the finish line.

    Cyclingews spoke with several participants including time trial world champion Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo) from Great Britain, former two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty 12) from the US, US time trial national champion Evie Stevens (HTC-Highroad) and track world champion Tara Whitten (Tibco-To the Top) from Canada.

    The remaining riders include HTC-Highroad teammates Charlotte Becker, Amanda Miller, Amber Neben and Emilia Fahlin long with Heather Jackson, Janel Holcomb of Colavita Forno D'Asolo, Jessica Phillips, Alison Starnes of Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12 and Rhae Shaw.

    Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo)

    "I think the time trial is great for women's racing," Pooley said. "It is really cool to have a race alongside the guys' race where people actually notice. Also, it looks like Andrew [Messick] has put on a classy event with a very strong field. There aren't that many riders but they are all very strong."

    "Personally, I don't get that many opportunities to wear my jersey and I just really want to do a time trial," she said. "This is my first time in the US and it is important to show my sponsors Garmin and Cervelo to the women's market here."

    "I'd like to win another world title this year but the course in Copenhagen, Denmark is flat and doesn't suit me," she said. "We don't get many chances to race against a quality field before that, so this is great. The Solvang course is nice and it has a bit of everything from steep climbs to lovely descent and windy sections."

    Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12)

    "I think this is a great opportunity for women because we are racing as part of the premier stage race for men," Armstrong said. "To showcase women's cycling on Versus is something that doesn't come around, in fact, in my nine years of racing it has never come around. It's a start. It's the year before the Olympic Games in London and a way to get the exposure for women's racing. The time trial is a good place to start."

    "They have invited 13 women, and there are many world class women here and women who are young American hopefuls that we will see in the future to make the step up," she said. "I think its a nice event at AEG can start with and the women can show their professionalism, show that it is not that difficult to add the women's race alongside the men's race. I hope that we are able to show a good time in a professional manner to the AEG folks and all the partners here, and in time the race starts to grow."

    "To have a head-to-head time trial falls in place with what I need," she said. "There are some of the best time trialists in the world here and so the pressure on me tomorrow is very great. It means a lot for everyone here to do well."

    "I asked Levi Leipheimer if he had any tips for the Solvang time trial," she said. "It was very advantageous because I can go out and ride the course but until you race the course you don't know. He told me parts of the course and the way he rode them that helped him win it three times, I'm taking his advice. Also, Rory Sutherland gave me some tips and so I got two different perspectives."

    Evie Stevens (HTC-Highroad)

    "The Pan American Championships was my last time trial," Stevens said. "This is exciting. They just announced that the Route de France, one of the biggest women's stage races, was cancelled and so it is great that Amgen is having a women's event. It is really going to showcase women's cycling. I think we are going to watch this event and be impressed by the talent that is here. We would all love to have the Amgen Tour of California for women, along with the men, but this is a great start."

    "Anytime you get the chance to race against some of the best time trialists in the world is great. Every time trial you do is good to help you figure out where you are, where your form is and how you're doing in the time trial. I would love to go to the world championships this year and I'm going to do everything I can to get there."

    Tara Whitten (Tibco-To the Top)

    "This is my first road event since track worlds," Whitten said. "I'm excited to race because its the first one since track worlds. It is always a bit of an unknown for the first race of the season but I feel really good and I like the course so I'm just excited to see what I can do."

    "I pre-rode the course and it has a bit of everything," she said. "There are a lot of transitions and power sections where I think I will be very strong. It is hard for me to say how I will do but it is a good test to see where my fitness is and what my weaknesses are at this time in the season."

    "I want to go to the time trial world championships this year," she said. "I think it is kind of appropriate that worlds is held in Denmark this year because Solvang kind of looks like Copenhagen. I'm focused on road worlds in the time trial."

  • Van Garderen tempers Tour of California expectations

    Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) leading the chase group on Sierra Road.
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 16:01
    Jen See

    HTC-Highroad rider looks forward to time trial and Mt. Baldy

    Tejay van Garderen entered this year's Amgen Tour of California hoping to win. At the opening press conference, the young American spoke confidently of his chances. Asked if he thought he belonged among the favorites he said, "I would agree, I would put myself as one of the favorites too, that is definitely the goal. The goal could either be to do well or to win and I'm going to try to win. If I fail, then I fail."

    The 22-year-old van HTC-Highroad racer suffered a significant set-back to his ambitions on Wednesday's climbing stage between Livermore and San Jose. On the final climb, he could not hold the wheels of the lead riders, and slipped down the standings. "I felt good until the last part when the favorites went," he said. Van Garderen crossed the line 2:05 after winner Chris Horner, and slipped to 10th in the general classification.

    In retrospect, van Garderen felt he misjudged the climb and his legs. "I think towards the bottom I tried to stay too long with some of the favorites. There was a Garmin guy up the road, so no one was working. I tried to do it myself and I don't think that was smart, because I used too much energy and started to fade." With Ryder Hesjedal up the road, van Garderen could not hope for help from Garmin-Cervélo riders Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky, who finished close on time with him.

    Though he may have misplayed his hand on Sierra Road, van Garderen correctly anticipated that Chris Horner would ride well in this year's race. Before the race start, he called Horner the hardest rider to beat, and sure enough, Horner proved unrivaled on Wednesday's steep finishing climb.

    "We all knew [Chris] Horner was going to be good. He skipped the Ardennes Classics to prepare for this race and that was a race that he normally targets, so we knew that he was motivated. He's good," said van Garderen of the current race leader.

    Horner took 1:15 out of his RadioShack teammate Levi Leipheimer on the 5.8-kilometer climb, and he currently holds a comfortable lead in the general classification. Bike racing is an unpredictable business as Horner knows well. "Anything can happen," he said before the start on Thursday.

    As for van Garderen, he is looking forward to the Solvang time trial and the steep switchbacks of Mount Baldy to improve his position. "I'm a little disappointed, but there is still the time trial in Solvang and Mt Baldy. I will try to keep the morale high and try to do something there," he said.

    With 2:05 separating him from race leader Horner, van Garderen will need big rides on the next two stages if he wants to challenge Horner's hold on the race lead. Though van Garderen may fall short of the overall victory he had anticipated, the American sits 35 seconds behind fifth-placed rider Rory Sutherland of UnitedHealthcare. "I'm going to try to bring back some time this week," said van Garderen.

    Van Garderen has spent much of his career racing the European circuit, first for the Rabobank Continental team and now for HTC-Highroad. He has found his share of success there including a stage win in the prestigious U23 Tour de l'Avenir and more recently, third overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

    "I love coming back to the States. I definitely love it over in Europe, but it is always special to race in your home country," he said earlier this week.

  • Nibali: There was nothing I could do against Contador

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) couldn't match Contador
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 17:29
    Cycling News

    Italian now second overall but three minutes behind

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) seemed in shock after he crossed the line at the summit of the Grossglockner on stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia. He finished 1:36 behind Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) and the Spaniard gained a further 12 seconds thanks to the time bonus for second place on the stage. Nibali moved past Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) into second place overall but is now 3:09 behind Contador.

    Italian television pundits have already started asking if Liquigas-Cannondale should have opted for Ivan Basso as team leader. Nibali was mobbed by the Italian media, who are trying to understand why he is unable to even respond to Contador's attacks. But Nibali struggled to come up with some real answers.

    "There was nothing I could do against Contador. I tried to hang on to Contador but he had an extra gear and it was impossible," he said after he had pulled on some warm clothes.

    "We tried to do what we could but it was pointless. I think everyone saw that. I don't think there is much else to say. Scarponi tried to attack him a few times and I tried to follow him but neither worked and he just rode away from us."

    Nibali is on the ropes after taking several body blows from Contador. He appears close to accepting defeat but knows he has to try and bounce back because Saturday's stage includes the climb (and descent) of the Crostis and finishes on the very steep Zoncolan. Sunday's stage is a 229km marathon across the Dolomites to the Gardeccia with another five major climbs.

    "We've got to try and come up with something but what?" he asked with a hint of desperation.

    "I'm not giving up yet. But we can only hope he cracks but he didn't today and this turned out to be a tough stage after all the climbing, the cold and the rain."


  • Hamilton gives back Olympic time trial gold medal

    Tyler Hamilton in his CSC colours
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 18:04
    Cycling News

    Revised medal placings yet to be determined

    One day after news of Tyler Hamilton's confession of doping during his cycling career, the 2004 Olympic Games time trial winner was reported to have already returned his medal. Hamilton voluntarily surrendered his gold medal to the United States Anti-Doping Agency according to the New York Times.

    "The I.O.C. has been in touch with USADA, which indicated that the athlete has already rendered his gold medal - Athens 2004 time-trial race - and that they are currently pursuing an inquiry," Emmanuelle Moreau, a spokeswoman for the IOC, wrote in an e-mail according to the New York Times. "The I.O.C. has taken note of Hamilton's confession and will, of course, study any potential Games-related implications."

    USADA confirmed the return of the gold medal and said it would continue its joint investigative work with the IOC and US Olympic Committee.

    Hamilton tested positive for homologous blood doping at the 2004 Vuelta a España, which followed the Olympic Games. In fact, Hamilton's "A" sample from the Olympic Games time trial had also tested positive for a blood transfusion, but mishandling of the backup sample meant the result could not be confirmed with the "B" sample, and therefore, Hamilton had been allowed to keep his Olympic medal.

    Hamilton had won the 2004 Olympic Games time trial ahead of Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) and Bobby Julich (United States of America) and Michael Rogers (Australia). In theory, the new assignment of medals could be Ekimov - gold, Julich - silver and Rogers - bronze.

    A previous joint appeal by the Russian and Australian Olympic Committees to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in 2006, was denied. The Russians and Australians had asked unsuccessfully for CAS to give Hamilton's medal to Ekimov.

    After Hamilton returned to competition following his initial ban, he later failed an out-of-competition doping control for the banned substance DHEA in a test before the Tour of California in February 2009. Hamilton was subsequently banned for eight years.

    Hearing the news of Hamilton's confession, Armstrong twittered to his former teammate Ekimov: "Congratulations to @eki_ekimov on his 3rd Olympic Gold Medal!!"

    Hamilton, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong claimed that seven-time Tour de France winner had used performance enhancing drugs, including EPO and testosterone during several of his Tour wins. Hamilton made the claims during an interview with the credible "60 Minutes" program that is planning to air this Sunday, and those claims emerged yesterday.

    Hamilton rode with Armstrong on the US Postal Service team from 1998 until 2001 and was a key part of Armstrong's winning Tour runs. He went on to to rival Amstrong with first CSC and then Phonak.

    Armstrong has consistently denied doing any doping and has frequently pointed out that he passed 500 doping tests over 20 years of competition.

  • Contador modest about his Giro d'Italia superiority

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) pushed Scarponi to breaking point
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 19:16
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard refuses to accept the Giro is won

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) finished in the slipstream of Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) at the top of the Grossglockner but his attack on the steepest section of the Austrian climb was again too fast and too strong for his overall rivals at the Giro. He extended his overall lead to more than three minutes with two further mountain finishes to come on Saturday and Sunday.

    Contador makes stage racing look easy and makes his rivals embarrassingly inadequate. Yet he is careful not to appear over confident when speaking to the media.

    "It might look easy form the outside but it is not easy at all. Today was incredibly hard and nothing has been decided yet in the race," he said in the press conference in a mountain refuge close to the finish on the Grossglockner.

    "My rivals are very strong but on the two mountain stages I felt very good and took advantage of that, while my rivals were a little bit doubtful of attacking."

    "I'm in good shape because I worked hard before the Giro. The results are thanks to that. Today I wanted to gain as much time as possible on my overall rivals. Winning was secondary this time. It was a hard stage and I suffered so gaining time was important."

    Contador raced intelligently on the long climb to the finish. He let Scarponi launch the first real attack and only made his own move when he saw Nibali in trouble. It was clinical racing.

    "When other riders attacked, I waited a bit but then Scarponi went and Nibali was behind. I knew it was the right moment to go," he explained.

    "I knew this was an important day and in this Giro you never know if you can have a bad day, you could lose 15 minutes really quickly.
    You've got to take advantage when you can."

    It was put to Contador that he is trying to wrap up victory in the Giro as soon as possible so that he can throttle back and save himself for the Tour de France.

    He has to overcome the UCI and WADA appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport before knowing if he can even ride the Tour de France and insisted he is only focused on winning the Giro.

    "Being in the lead is important and you can't let chances go because you'll always regret it. For now I'm only thinking about winning in Milan," he concluded.

  • Crostis climb cut from Giro d'Italia

    Giro d'Italia: Stage 14 profile
    Article published:
    May 20, 2011, 20:05
    Stephen Farrand

    UCI claim sporting aspect of the race was at risk

    The UCI commissaries at the Giro d'Italia have announced that the Crostis climb has been cut from Saturday's fourteenth stage because the measures put in place by organiser RCS Sport do not adequately protect the sporting aspect of the race.

    RCS Sport had issued a detailed protocol for the teams to follow during the stage, with only a team motorbike carrying wheels allowed to follow the riders on the very technical descent. This was deemed insufficient to guarantee the sporting aspect of the sport and so failed to respect UCI road racing rules.

    "Although the Organizer has put in place all the necessary measures to ensure the riders’ safety, following the complaints of the Team Managers because of the impossibility to ensure an optimal sport management at the end of the stage (as the team cars cannot operate normally by following the race course for 37,2 km) and after an analysis of the proposal done by the Organizer to solve this problem, the Panel of Commissaires does not judge this proposal sufficient," the official communiqué reads:

    "Consequently, the Panel of Commissaires make the following decision :

    "Not to authorize the entire unfolding of the stage as it was defined in the Technical Guide of the Giro. The ascent of Monte Crostis and the following descent are therefore eliminate from the race route."

    There had been long and detailed negotiations between the riders, teams and organisers, especially in the light of the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt on stage three. Everyone accepted that the descent had been made safe but it seems complaints were made to the UCI by team managers. A final decision was only made at 9:00pm after Friday's stage to Grossglockner.

    Race director Angelo Zomegnan was forced to accept the decision of the UCI judges but was left with egg on his face after vehemently insisting the Crostis would stay in the race.

    "It's a decision of the judges that we don't agree with but which we have to accept," Zomegnan told Cyclingnews.

    "They've now decided not accept our idea of using motorbikes to offer mechanical assistance to the riders on the descent of the Crostis."

    Technical race director Mauro Vegni negotiated with the race judges for several hours after Friday's stage but was forced to accept their jurisdiction.

    "What was introduced to us as a safety problem suddenly became a sporting problem today," Vegni told Cyclingnews.

    "They have found another way to prevent this stage happening as it was planned. It's a pity because a lot of hard work has been done to make sure the stage was safe. The route was discussed and okayed by the riders in Catania before the transfer on Sunday."

    "We wanted to show the public something new and special. We didn't hear any objections from the riders or teams today but we understand that they complained to the UCI judges."

    "I'm sorry that things have changed. It's definitely not our decision. It's been imposed on us by the judges designated by the UCI."

    The revised stage will be 190km long. It starts in Lienz, Austria at 12:00 end on the Monte Zoncolan.