Latest Cycling News for May 19, 2005
Edited by Anthony Tan
Team directors to meet over NAS raid
By John Trevorrow in Marostica
Team directors at the Giro d'Italia will have an emergency meeting 45 minutes before the start of today's stage to decide their reaction to yesterday's raid on the race by the Italian drug squad, the NAS.
NAS officers confiscated an Alti-trainer from the Lotto-Davitamon team, a device which lowers the oxygen content of the air around a rider as he sleeps, simulating the effect of sleeping at high altitude, which is known to stimulate an increase in red blood cell production.
"The police searched our hotel and our team bus but there's nothing to worry about," said Davitamon-Lotto directeur sportif Allan Peiper. "The Alti-trainer is something every team uses and it's not illegal under the UCI rules."
"The UCI are backing us because these machines are legal and all the teams use them. It's just a minor Italian law that outlaws the procedure."
For Peiper, the raid was a disappointing way to end the day in which Robbie McEwen took his third victory in this Giro d'Italia. "It's just taken the gloss off a great day yesterday," Peiper told Cyclingnews. "However, all will be revealed today. We're having a team directors' meeting 45 minutes before the start of the stage to decide how we respond to this.
"If we've got a problem so has every other team."
Discovery DS Sean Yates provides Danielson update
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Marostica
Before Thursday's mountainous Stage 11, Cyclingnews spoke to Discovery Channel team director Sean Yates about Tom Danielson, who did not start Stage 10 due to an inflamed knee. With his left knee taped for extra support prior to Stage 9 in Firenze, a disappointed Danielson told Cyclingnews that "I've been riding in pain this Giro. I don't know what happened..."
Yates provided an explanation: "Tom was having pain in his left knee and on the Giro rest day Tuesday, and our team physician Dr. Daniele took him to a hospital in Rimini to have an MRI. Basically, Tom couldn't pedal without pain. He said he had some knee pain after winning the mountain stage in Georgia, and then it went away. But with the hard racing in the Giro, it came back."
"Tom's MRI scan showed that he had inflammation under the knee which was pushing his kneecap up and stretching out the joint," Yates went on to reveal.
"It was nothing that severe, so we sent Tom home. It's not something where Tom will have to have an operation, but he'll have to rest it and then figure out why it happened. Tom is depressed to have this happen now, because his role was to help Paolo [Savoldelli] on mountain stages without any pressure for an overall result. So it's bad news for him. Tom is doing the Vuelta a Espaņa, but he wanted to test himself in the high mountains at this Giro."
At this stage, Danielson will consult some knee specialists and hope to heal his injury to comeback for the Vuelta in September.
Calm before the storm for T-Mobile
Yesterday's third stage of the Volta a Catalunya was very much a calm before the storm styled stage, with two serious mountain stages awaiting. There were almost no changes on the overall classification in a stage won by Spaniard Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank), who escaped the clasp of the peloton in the final kilometres to steal victory from the sprinters.
"Fair play to him! It was very impressive the way he stayed clear in the finale," said T-Mobile's directeur sportif Mario Kummer on Horrillo's daring attack. "It was a quiet day. There was no onus on us to do the tempo work, and all our riders got through it OK."
T-Mobile's captain Jan Ullrich was one of those that enjoyed a quiet day at the office: "It was another good day. I rolled along nicely and felt strong," he said on T-Mobile's website, t-mobile-team.com.
"I am not going to be up there at the front with the climbers, but I am hoping that I can climb well in both cases," added Ullrich on his chances for today's 237.7 kilometre stage that finishes at the Pal ski station in Arinsal (Andorra), reaching more than 1850 metres in altitude.
Demol: "Tomorrow will make the classification"
Discovery Channel's assistant sports manager Dirk Demol also had a similar outlook to T-Mobile after yesterday's third stage of the Volta a Catalunya: "Tomorrow will make the classification. The last 45 kilometres has a big, big climb; at 40 km to go, there is a climb of 15kms and then the last 10kms are uphill," said Demol in a team statement.
On the team's leader, Yaroslav Popovych, who is currently placed eighth overall, at 10 seconds to Phonak's Miguel A.M. Perdiguero, Demol said: "For sure, we will try and find how Popo is tomorrow. He has worked very hard in training this year so far, and this race is his first competition since Paris-Nice, so we need to see how he is coming along."
Discovery team update
Bruyneel on Giro: "We haven't seen anything"
"Until know, we haven't seen anything," said Discovery Channel's team manager Johan Bruyneel in a team statement.
"Yes, it's been a hard race because of the speed and the way the ProTour has changed the Giro. The level is very different, much higher, as you now have the 20 best teams in the world there. That never happened in the past. Now come the really difficult mountain stages with some very, very hard hills. One bad climb and you can lose a lot."
Speaking about their team leader Paolo Savoldelli's chances, Bruyneel said that his fate - good or bad - largely lies with the 32 year-old Italian. "He knew beforehand when we talked about the Giro that he shouldn't expect a Tour de France type team around him," said Bruyneel. "I said what we would do is put the best team around him we could field and our hope was to be with him in the mountains.
"It really now depends on him and how he is. I think our guys really worked hard in being around him and protecting him. That's most important. If he was the race favourite, it would be different. It's clear now Basso is the favourite and from tomorrow on, he will need a team to control the race like he's the favourite. Paolo now needs to stay with the contenders and climb with them. He will need the most protection on the flats where it is windy, and he will get that from the team. He's pretty happy with the way the team has ridden and has protected him up until the mountains."
Added the team's assistant DS Dirk Demol: "If Paolo can survive the mountains, a top five or podium place is there for him."
A slow recovery for Ekimov
Since his accident that occurred while out training with Lance Armstrong in Austin, Texas, three weeks ago, Viatcheslav Ekimov has returned to his native home in St. Petersburg, Russia, in order to make a full recovery from the back injuries sustained from his fall.
"[Yesterday] was the first day I went to a special sports clinic for back injuries," said Ekimov in a statement published by the team. "They told me that it's still too early to exactly say where we are. Only 20 days have passed since the injury and I still cannot have any massage therapy and can't do any big movements. My back is immobilized."
Ekimov said the training ride accident broke his 11th vertebra and compressed his ninth and 10th vertebrae, and that at his age, it will take 40 days for the broken vertebra to heal properly. "So I'm halfway there," he said. "But that's not the only problem.
"The compression of the ninth and 10th - they are inside each other - is another problem. But what we can do now is start acupuncture, to try and relax the muscles around the area. Today was my first day and it was painful, but it helps the muscles relax and increases blood flow. If I can get the muscles to relax, I can heal quicker."
At the end of the month, 'Eki' will have more x-rays to monitor his progress, and will undergo 10 acupuncture sessions twice a week for the month of June, later using massage therapy once the crack is healed. "As soon as the crack is healed, I can start on the turbo trainer, maybe in around 20 days", said Ekimov.
Too much, too soon for Hoste
After dropping out of the opening time trial stage of the Volta a Catalunya with breathing difficulties, Discovery's Belgian rider Leif Hoste returned to Belgium to further assess his condition, which the team has now reported as being fine. For the 27 year-old, it was simply a case of too much, too soon following his crash at Paris-Roubaix in April, where he suffered a fractured sternum.
Team physician Dr. Dag van Elslande, who was with the team at Catalunya, said: "The team time trial on Monday was his first big effort since the accident. And don't forget, he's riding a team time trial with the best team in the world. They went out very, very fast and had the best time at the first checkpoint. If Leif was on any other team, he could have found a wheel and sat back and rested a bit to catch his breath. But with this team, they were flying and the stress caused him to begin hyperventilating. The condition came because of the intense effort."
Hoste received a full cardiovascular examination in Belgium, and can now join the team at the Wachovia Series in the U.S., which begins later this month.
Zabel edging closer
After finishing fifth on Stage 9 and fourth yesterday, T-Mobile's Erik Zabel is edging ever closer to a stage victory in his first the Giro d'Italia. With the real mountains starting today, the 34 year-old is one sprinter who is able to get over the climbs and make the time cut a little easier than his rivals, so his chances of a win will naturally increase as the days tick by.
"I felt very strong today. But it the end I just lacked that bit of extra pep need to get my nose ahead," said Zabel after the stage finish in Rossano Veneto.
T-Mobile directeur sportif Valerio Piva was satisfied with the team's performance, and is optimistic about Zabel's chances in the final week of the race. "It went well for us. Erik did well to latch onto McEwen's back wheel, but unfortunately, it just wasn't enough for him to steal it!" said Piva on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com. "But Erik's form is getting better each day. If he can get over the mountains okay, then we will be in with a shout in the final sprinters' stages."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)