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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for April 26, 2007

Edited by Sue George with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Rebellin returns to conquer Ardennes Classic

By Gregor Brown

Davide Rebellin
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Davide Rebellin may be in the twilight of his career but he showed why he is considered one of the classiest riders around by winning Wednesday's 71st Flèche Wallonne. The Italian, known as 'Tin-Tin', schooled younger rivals to conquer the Classic for a second time in his career.

Rebellin cunningly passed his time in the chase until the break containing Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was pulled back at three kilometres remaining. He was back in the race with a chance at victory as the race arrived at the base of the Mur de Huy. The 35 year-old repeated his 2004 victory when he kicked clear with 200 metres to go.

"It was a day without stress for me," said Rebellin after taking his second career win in Flèche. "I made it the finale and it was possible to go for the win. I risked a lot because the escape of Di Luca and Valverde was dangerous."

Astana's Alexander Vinokourov and Matthias Kessler took over the charge once the race hit the base of the Huy. The aggression pleased Rebellin. "The climbs went well," he continued. "In the finale, Vinokourov did a lot of work, then Kessler, the peloton was all lined out. I think it was a little far out for them but it worked well for me."

Thinking back and forward

An exhausted Rebellin
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In 2004 he first won the Flèche on his way to making history; he had already taken victory in the Amstel Gold three days before and came good in Liège-Bastogne-Liège four days later. The successful Ardennes week was the first time that cycling had ever seen such a Triple. Three years later, the rider from Verona showed his class once more.

"From 2004 I think I have come along well," he said with a light grin. "It was an advantage that there was no rain this year, I liked the weather better this way; sunny.

"That year was magical because it was surrounded by the other two wins. Last year, I had intestinal problems, and the previous year I did not feel so well. I had a little bit of bad luck over those years. But with the years passing I have come to know myself very well."

Tin-Tin figures he could go on racing until he is 37 years-old by specializing in the races that suit his style. "If I keep getting results, I will go on," said Rebellin, whose last win came in October 2006, with the overall of the Giro dell'Emilia. "The desire is there; maybe I will go on through 2009. If I can train well and limit my courses, to these one-day races. So I think I can continue in this manner."

To read the complete feature, click here.

CONI hopes for Basso's DNA

By Susan Westemeyer and Gregor Brown in Huy

Ivan Basso
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Italian investigators have seven bags of blood which have been tentatively identified as belonging to Ivan Basso, who is scheduled to appear before the anti-doping agency of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on May 2. It is expected that public prosecutors will prepare charges of violating the anti-doping laws and lying under oath.

"I will ask for Basso to make his DNA available, and I hope that he gives me a positive response," said head of CONI Anti-doping, Ettore Torri, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Tuesday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced it would re-open the case it shelved last October, urged forward by the bags of blood that are being transported from the Guardia Civil in Madrid.

If Basso should refuse to give one, Torri could take a sample from blood which was taken from him at an unannounced training control several weeks ago. "The comparison is useful, but not deciding," Torri said. "We have enough material out of Madrid to draw our conclusions." Torri has been working doggedly on the case for a while. "We will go forward all the same."

When the case was shelved last fall, CONI left open the possibility of it being reopened. "The lawyer [Franco Cosenza] had asked for a 'reserved' shelving. With Cosenza, we have, in reality, always gone forward. And we immediately knocked on the door of the Spanish magistrate."

Torri and his colleagues will look at the new material, specifically the bags of blood marked "Birillo" or with the number 2. "We kept knocking on its door and at the end they opened. It is sending the materials to us in Italy." He continued but refused to give specific details. "It this moment the less we say the better."

"Before the Giro d'Italia," Torri continued on whether or not there will be a decision made before Basso's home tour. "Then we will establish if it [the case] pertains to the Italian cycling federation's (FCI) disciplinary commission." Torri hopes to open the proceedings against Basso before the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 12.

Basso cried on Tuesday when he heard the news, according to his lawyer Massimo Martelli. "I have never seen Ivan like this, he is doing very poorly." He indicated that Basso would not refuse to supply the DNA sample.

"Basso has no choice," said Renato di Rocco, head of the Italian cycling federation, according to eurosport.de. "If he wants to clarify the situation, he will have to give CONI the possibility to compare his DNA." Giro organizer Angelo Zomengnan said that Basso's participation "is becoming more difficult, cycling doesn't need this sort of tension."

In addition, Giampolo Caruso, Luca Paolini, and Michele Scarponi will also be facing proceedings. Torri said that his assistant Marco Artini already has the documents and material from Madrid concerning those three.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Armstrong supports Landis against French lab

At a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
Click for larger image

Lance Armstrong offered words of support for Floyd Landis, whose lawyers and defense experts publicly criticized the French Chatenay-Malabry lab for procedural testing irregularities as they pertain to doping allegations against him. In Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France, Landis tested positive for an elevated testosterone to epitestosterone ratio. The lab has conducted both initial tests and recent follow up tests on his seven B samples, and procedures to determine whether Landis will keep or lose his title and possibly face a two-year ban are ongoing.

"I think it's a good tactic to share that with the public," said Armstrong Wednesday to the Associated Press. "I believe in Floyd, I believe he hasn't had a fair shake. I don't trust the lab."

The French lab, which is accredited by both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently reported that follow-up tests on Landis' samples showed traces of synthetic testosterone.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case.

Moreni wanted better

By Gregor Brown in Huy

Cristian Moreni of Cofidis sprang into action in the closing kilometres of the 71st Flèche Wallonne. The 2004 Italian Champion jumped on the attack of Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) and Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) in the closing 15 kilometres of Wednesday's Ardennes Classic.

"I made the escape," said an exhausted Moreni to Cyclingnews at the finish in Huy. He had made the move with Kirchen, Di Luca, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank). "We were taken back with two kilometres to go. It was a little bit of bad luck because we had four or five guys and we were closed down the gap with a small distance to go. It could have better."

Moreni went on to finish the 202.5-kilometre race 1'33" down on winner Rebellin. "I tried to re-enter with Di Luca and Valverde, they made a huge effort. It was quite a remarkable thing on the Mur, what history, and the fans. ... Rebellin did a number."

Quick Step's intestinal problems

Paolo Bettini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Bettini suffered through Fleche Wallonne until 20 km before the end, when he finally called it quits. "Paolo started having stomach problems after 50 km. He even had to throw up during the race," said Quick Step spokesman Alessandro Tegner, who added that he expected the world champion to ride in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

"Carlos Barrredo also had stomach problems, today, but our Spaniard rode the race to the end," Tegner added, according to Het Laatste Nieeuws.

Hopefully the riders will make a speedy recovery. The team is scheduled to reconnoiter a 100km portion of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege course from Trois Ponts to Ans on Friday.

Dekker lacks power, hopeful for Liège

By Gregor Brown in Huy

Rising Dutch star, Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), made one of the Flèche Wallonne's decisive moves. The 22 year-old jumped into a move with five other riders in the final 15 kilometres of the Ardennes Classic.

"I felt good in the final, I attacked in the climb, and then the strong guys got on my wheel," said Dekker to Cyclingnews at the finish.

Dekker was in the move that contained 2005 Flèche winner, Danilo Di Luca. "Di Luca countered with six or seven guys. It was a really good group, only no one from Gerolsteiner, so it had to chase." Dekker is gaining experience with every passing year. He noted the moves of his Italian rival but questioned his logic. "I was surprised that Di Luca went so early. I was there in the front, and it was difficult for me to stay there, but I tried.

"It is impossible for me to win on the Mur de Huy so I had to go early," Dekker continued. He hopes to have a better chance in Sunday's Classic. "I am lacking power in my legs but for Liège this result is good. I think there I can have a good result."

Rogers will try again

By Gregor Brown in Huy

"I attacked and tried to get away but I did not have much cooperation," noted Aussie Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) to Cyclingnews after the finish of the 71st Flèche Wallonne.

The field was back together heading to the penultimate climb, Côte de Ahin. Rogers was there with the front runners, having Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Bram Tankink (Quickstep-Innergetic) for company.

"Today, I just attacked and attacked but no one really wanted to work." The group, nearing around 15, was eventually exploded when Vinokourov ordered teammate Serguei Ivanov to attack. The 32 year-old Russian went free with 26 kilometres to go.

Looking forward to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Rogers is determined. "I can't go with the front guys on Sunday but I will try again. I have to attack from further out."

Ignatiev finished on Ahin

By Gregor Brown in Huy

The Russian sensation, Mikhail Ignatiev, tried his luck in Wednesday's Ardennes Classic. The 21 year-old Tinkoff Credit Systems rider, winner of Tour Méditerranéen stage 3 and Trofeo Laigueglia, stayed in contact but found the going too tough on the Côte de Ahin.

"It was good for me but by the penultimate climb I was finished," he noted to Cyclingnews.

Ignatiev was impressed with the gumption of his 19 year-old teammate. "Ivan Rovny, he is young and attacked well. The directeur said 'attack,' and he attacked! Bang, bang! [Laughs - ed.]."

Discovery's McCartney at home recovering

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Jason McCartney (Discovery)
Photo ©: Trish Albert
(Click for larger image)

Jason McCartney (Discovery Channel) has been released from Atlanta's Emory Hospital and is home in Iowa recovering from an infection of viral meningitis he contracted at the start of the Tour de Georgia last week. According to team spokesman, P.J. Rabice, McCartney's immediate concern is rest and recuperation which is in line with the course of treatment for this type of infection.

While McCartney's team was able to win without his climbing abilities in Georgia, his race schedule his remains up in the air. However, his schedule and the team could be affected beyond missing the Tour de Georgia as he was slated to race the Giro d'Italia in May.

Pollack out with broken collarbone

Olaf Pollack was looking to win the mass sprint finish in the first stage of the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt Wednesday in Bremen, Germany, until a crash brought him down only 100 meters before the finish line. He was taken directly to the hospital, where a broken collarbone was diagnosed. His Weisenhof-Felt teammate Robert Wagner was also involved in the crash but came away with multiple scrapes and cuts, as well as a bruised abdomen.

"That is a very bitter end for us today," said Jens Heppner, Sport Director for the German Professional Continental team. "We could prepare the sprint with four riders, and were in an outstanding position with Olaf Pollack in the lead. This crash not only cost us the win, we also lost two important riders in Olaf Pollack and Robert Wagner, and that is more than irritating."

Discovery Channel replaces Race to Replace

A.J.Smith (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Last year the Discovery Channel team held a nation-wide try-out, time trial contest to find the "next member" of the ProTour team. The contest, though not quite as large as predicted, did produce a winner who was allowed to 'race' as an honorary member of the team at the USPRO time trial championships.

This year the Discovery Channel team is promoting the new version: Discovery Club1080, presented by Discovery HD Theater. The stakes are raised in this version as it will be turned into a broadcast programme following two winning entrants. The winners will travel to Spain to learn from the members and staff of the team how to train for ProTour racing. Then the programme will follow the winners at home as they train for a head-to-head competition in France over grueling and famous race parcours.

Entrants are asked to send a video showing why each should be chosen to compete, but the deadline of May 5, 2007 is quickly approaching. More information is available at: www.dhdt.com/cycling.

Elk Haus in Trentino

Team Elk Haus Simplon had a big day in the second stage of the Giro del Trentino Wednesday, placing two riders in the top five. The Austrian Professional Continental team also saw Thomas Rohregger move up to fourth place overall.

Christian Pfannberger finished third on the day, with Rohregger close behind him in fifth. Rohregger lost the mountain ranking lead which he had won the previous day, "but today I concentrated totally on the GC," he said.

"Our team colleagues worked for us perfectly and very professionally brought us in position before the last climb," Pfannberger said. The two went up the last climb together and were able to drop several other riders. "Then we saw Cunego before us and I went for it," Pfannberger said.

Portland Raceway to host annual summer series

Portland's popular Monday night race series resumes for its 11th year at the Portland International Raceway (PIR) beginning May 7 and running through August 27. Beginners and experienced racers are encouraged to attend. There are separate races for novice masters men, novice women, experienced masters men, and open women.

The flat and wide 1.9 mile loop is closed to traffic and features high quality pavement. Total race distances vary each week according to daylight, number of racers, and weather. Racing starts at 6:15pm.

Racers who avoid traffic on I-5 by bike commuting, carpooling or taking MAX to PIR will receive a US$1 discount off their entry, and race organizers will donate $1 to the local Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

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