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Danielson back from doping suspension at Catalunya

Alasdair Fotheringham
March 18, 2013, 13:49,
March 18, 2013, 13:59
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) happy with today’'s stage win.

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) happy with today’'s stage win.

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Danielson, Vande Velde and Zabriskie return to racing at Volta a Catalunya

For local cycling fans Monday in Catalunya wasn’t just memorable for probably being the warmest day in Spain this year: stage one of the Volta a Catalunya was also where three riders with Garmin-Sharp, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Dave Zabriskie - following a six month suspension for their involvement in the Lance Armstrong/US Postal affair - pinned on race numbers for the first time this season.

The atmosphere could hardly have been more relaxed in the small coastal resort of Calella: barely an autograph hunter or journalist in sight in the long line of team buses stretching down the sunlit seafront, even if there were a fair number of tourists gaping over barriers at the start area at a peloton containing such stars as Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

As for Garmin-Sharp’s team bus, stuck in front of a sun-scarred hotel closed down for the off-season, the press ‘pack’ totalled precisely ‘one’ in number, the pressure as low-key as it could possibly be. And all three riders appeared good humoured and keen to be back into business when they climbed down the bus stairs and headed for the start.

“It’s nice to be at the start of a race and get back into things,” Danielson told Cyclingnews, “see the team, pin on the race number and it’s good to be near my home.”

“We know the roads, and it’s all familiar, so we can’t complain.” Whilst Vande Velde has done Catalunya ten times, Danielson said it’s “about his fourth or fifth.” Objectives? “To ride my bike and be a good teammate.”

“It’s good to be here,” said Zabriskie, the last Garmin-Sharp rider out of the team bus and his usual wry, deadpan self. Over the winter he said he had done little more than “training, training, training.” Catalunya is hardly the easiest of starts, with 26 classified climbs, making his debut in the week-long race was what he called, with a smile, “interesting.”

“For them it’s the first race and they’re motivated, which is logical given they’re racers and want to get back in the action,” Garmin-Sharp sports director Bingen Fernández told Cyclingnews.

“Being near their [European] homes [in Girona] will help them and give them a bit more morale because they’ll know the climbs. Its hard, but looking at what’s coming up, Criterium International and the Spring Classics, they have to hit the ground running.”

“They’re in good shape, they’ve looked after themselves over the winter, and they should be ok.”

“This is a race with riders of very different levels [of form], there are riders who are going really well now and others who are looking to be in shape much later, so you can slot in somewhere here.”

“Yesterday [Sunday] was the first time I’d seen them since they came over from the States - where they’ve been training, either at home or in California - and they’re come back into the team fine.”

If Catalunya is a tough race to start off with, there may well be a top position for the three to defend: Garmin-Sharp’s Dan Martin is a potential contender for the overall victory, and already has two podium finishes in Catalunya.

“We’ll do our best with him, with no time trial, that’s definitely a plus for Dan,” Fernández said. “But this race suits him in any case.”

With two hard days in the Pyrenees, Fernández believes that “On the Wednesday [summit finish] we’ll see who’s going well and who’s not and then on Thursday [summit finish] the race will be pretty much decided.” The Volta finishes on Sunday March 24th, in Barcelona.

CanadaSJRA More than 1 year ago
Good to hear Garmin will be back in action!
epofuel More than 1 year ago
No, it´s actually sickening, sickening, sickening. Especially because CN seems to be erasing comments. But no, it´s not good to see the doper Garmin team back in action. I hope they get crushed this year. Crushed.
slowbob69 More than 1 year ago
Go ahead and read my comment below, it'll get your psychosis going full speed, Mr. Fuel.
FaustoCoppi More than 1 year ago
humans make mistakes.
bikerbruce More than 1 year ago
Yes, you are so right. The horror these guys endured is far worse than years of solitary in a damp, dank mideaval dungeon eating bugs and licking moisture off the walls to stay alive. My heart breaks for them.
Gorgones More than 1 year ago
The corruption pedals on..
philpaque More than 1 year ago
Proverbial biting of the hand that fed them.
Chad Cheeney More than 1 year ago
I bet the U25 team that Garmin dropped is stoked to see these guys so relaxed at the end of their suspension. Lame professionals if you ask me. The 3 of them should get some cash together and start up another development team. Books, gran fondo's and ride camps with movie stars is hardly an apology to our sport. Quit making us look bad!
Kelsey King More than 1 year ago
These guys all bite. How do they get a clean pass like this. You get a year for taking a bad supplement. Your fault what you put in your body, correct? They know what they have done. Forced by Armstrong? They were forced by their own will to be winners, which is why they chose to stay with the team. They say they were forced but stayed for multiple contracts? People wake up. They were the problem. Plastering Lance against a wall is just a horrible whitewashing of the entire problem. If you think the sport is cleaning up just think about it, they still haven't admitted the problem.There is no way these guys should be allowed to race again.
rastymick More than 1 year ago
Again and again I hear those stories that LA forced all his teammates to dope... I wasn't part of the team, but I can't really believe it. US Postal had always 27-30 riders, you just don't force 30 guys to dope. I think it rather was like: "Ok, either take something to be in top shape for July or you won't make the tour team" - I guess that's what happened. Surely not a nice thing to do, and LA definitely deserves his punishment, but please don't make him responsible for all the bad things that happened in cycling. LA was one of the most brilliant athletes the world has ever seen - if he would have been just an average or good cyclist who doped his entire career, there would have never been a US Postal doping scandal.
DrBigRing More than 1 year ago
Apparently in cycling there are bad dopers (e.g., Armstrong) and not-so-bad dopers such as these three. To me they're all dopers and should receive appropriate bans--ones covering more than just the offseason.
FaustoCoppi More than 1 year ago
That's the "punishment" handed down by USADA. They did their time.
exx.rxxx More than 1 year ago
What suspension? We think some of these riders are getting pass, What about directors and staff of National Governing Bodies like USA Cycling.? Some of these players are still involved and complicit. You know who you are. You're time is near.
CanadaSJRA More than 1 year ago
I think Garmin-Sharp is doing a positive thing for cycling by using the sobered experience of former-dopers to inform how cycling can proceed into the future. You can't call them anything worse than what should also be applied to Contador, Valverde, and several other notables that somehow elude the criticism that is levied against former dopers.
brianbarber More than 1 year ago
To me, not being permitted to race when there aren't any (significant) races isn't a suspension.
fosse septique More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe Garmin has taken them back. Does not say much for Vaugters and co for the future of cycling