Meeusen acquitted in doping case
Citing lack of evidence, the Belgian Cycling Federation today acquitted cyclo-cross rider Tom Meeusen of PED use, according to a report on HLN.be. The 26-year-old Belgian, who was accused of using Vaminolact, was facing a possible two-year suspension, a fine of 28,500 euros and dismissal of his 2012 results.
Meeusen was not present at the announcement, but he responded on Twitter, writing "(a)fter three years, as I've always said: DOPING FREE So happy."
The Telenet Fidea rider was caught up in the investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens, who was initially suspected of providing ozone therapy to multiple riders in the professional peloton. The Belgian Federation tired to prevent Meeusen, Laurens Sweeck and Bart Wellens from riding in this year's world championships because of the ongoing investigation, but a successful legal appeal allowed him to compete.
BMC's Greg Van Avermaet continues to face the consequences of his relationship with Mertens; the Belgian Federation recently called for a two-year ban for the Classics specialist. A final verdict in that case is expected May 7. So far, two riders, Pieter Van Herck and Stefan Van Dijk, have been handed bans as part of the investigation.
Horner returns to Tour of the Gila
Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway) will return to racing at this week's Tour of the Gila after missing scheduled starts at the Sea Otter Classic and the Joe Martin Stage Race. The UCI 2.2 race starts Wednesday in Silver City New Mexico.
Horner last competed in the race in 2009 as part of the Mellow Johnny's team alongside then-Astana teammates Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong.
Earlier this month, Horner finished seventh overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the first event on USA Cycling's 2015 National Racing Calendar. He said at the time that his form was not quite 100 percent and he was continuing to feel the ill effects of a lingering bronchial issue from last year.
Joining Horner in new Mexico will be Luis Lemus, Gera Medina, Tim Aiken, Matt Rodrigues, Justin Mauch, Connor McCutcheon and Kevin Gottlieb.
After Gila, Horner and Airgas are scheduled to start the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan, which takes place May 6-10.
Horner last raced at the Redlands Bicycle Classic earlier in April. (Jonathan Devich/Epic Images)
Lampre-Merida performance in Romandie opener fulfills expectations
The team, which is directed in Switzerland by the duo Philippe Mauduit and Simone Pedrazzini, covered the 19.2km course from Vallée de Joux to Juraparc in 22 minutes at an average speed of just over 52 km/h.
"We realised a performance that met the expectations, considering the qualities of our riders in this kind of speciality," Mauduit said.
"Moreover, it's important to consider that five of our cyclists rode Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday, no other teams had so many riders that raced the Doyenne; in a short and fast team time trial as today one was, it's an important detail. There will be opportunities for reducing the gaps that the team time trial created in the overall classification."
Lampre-Merida in team time trial mode