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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 10, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Riccò eyes Maglia Bianca

The Maglia Bianca
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval will help his team captain, Gilberto Simoni, vie for his third Giro d'Italia victory but he also hopes to have his own crack at success.

"I want to be at the same level as Simoni and help him win the Giro," explained the 23 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport Wednesday afternoon. "I hope for a stage win, maybe at Montevergine, Genova or the mountain time trial to Oropa. Tre Cime or Zoncolan? I don't know; it would be great though!"

There is a jersey on offer that has not been seen since 1994, the Maglia Bianca ('white jersey'). It is an overall classification for young riders who were born after January 1, 1985. Riccò's dream: "To win the Maglia Bianca." (Read: Maglia Bianca returns to Giro d'Italia.)

Photo ©: Sirotti
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There are about 50 riders out of the total 198 riders who have a chance at the young riders' classification. Vincenzo "Nibali is one of the Italians. The foreigners I don't know."

Other candidates include Italians Oscar Gatto (Gerolsteiner) and Giovanni Visconti (Quickstep-Innergetic). Then there is Irishman Nicholas Roche (Crédit Agricole), who is making his debut in the Giro 20 years after his dad won the race, and Tinkoff's Russians Mikhail Ignatiev and Ivan Rovny. Ignatiev had a stunning early season while his teammate, born September 30, 1987, is the baby of the 90th Giro.

195 Giro riders tested

Thursday morning, UCI anti-doping inspectors carried out controls on the riders of the 90th Giro d'Italia. All of the riders of the 22 teams were tested minus three riders who had problems due to late flight arrives. Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC), Canadian Michael Barry (T-Mobile) and Frenchman Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) will be tested later today.

Belli stays home

Wladimir Belli will not race the 90th Giro d'Italia as reported yesterday. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian from Bergamo had been given the green light by (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia Team Manager Gianni Savia to race with Tinkoff Credit Systems, however, there was not time for Belli to be fitted to the Italian-Russian team's gear.

Saunier Duval: Two races in one

By Monika Prell

Iban Mayo
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Saunier Duval will ride two races in this year's Giro d'Italia; the team hopes that Gilberto Simoni will win the Giro for the third time after 2001 and 2003, while simultaneously it wants to refind Iban Mayo's best form.

Simoni will be the sole leader of the team. "He was already seven times on the podium and he has won two times," affirmed Joxean Fernández Matxin.

Simoni was third in last year's edition, behind Ivan Basso and José Enrique Gutierrez , two riders who won't participate this year. There will be strong rivals like Damiano Cunego, Paolo Savoldelli, Danilo di Luca and Yaroslav Popovych but Matxin insists that "Simoni is mentally tuned to a Giro win."

Iban Mayo "does not accept to be mediocre. He is motivated, and when he goes for something, you notice his genius."

He is in a good competition form. He began the season with Paris-Nice, where he showed a good level, but in the last stage he crashed and had pain in the ribs. One day before the Vuelta al País Vasco, on a Sunday, he went to a hospital to exclude a knee injury.

"Iban asks a lot of himself. He should not have participated in the Vuelta al País Vasco, but his absence could have cause comments, so that we decided to let him participate." Mayo retired in the third stage.

"I still believe in Iban. I trust in him for the Giro; to help Simoni and to achieve something.

Predictor looks to McEwen in Giro sprints

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Predictor-Lotto will be looking for Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen in the sprint finishes in the Giro d'Italia.

"In the first place, we want to win a stage," team manager Herman Frison told sporza. "Anything else is a bonus. In the first stages we will look for a mass sprint. And there we will play the McEwen card."

"With Petacchi and Hushovd, we have a few allies to hold the peloton together," he noted. "For the other stages, we have some riders who ride well in the mountains."

"There is always pressure on me, but most of it comes from me," McEwen said. "The Giro is on of my main goals. I always look forward to riding in Italy. Riding well here gives me confidence to do well in the Tour, but it's not a catastrophe if I don't win."

The Australian also commented on Ivan Basso's recent confession. "Hopefully he will set a trend. There are still those out there who must confess. We want to get this solved as quickly as possible so that we can race with clean riders."

Spanish riders seek Puerto deal

By Susan Westemeyer

The thirty-some Spanish cyclists involved in Operación Puerto have begun negotiating with the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) for a deal which would allow them to confess and return to the peloton in time for the 2008 Vuelta a España, the Spanish newspaper El País has reported. The group of riders, represented by ex-cyclist Pipe Gómez, has made a complete turnaround on its previously announced position.

The first meeting occurred Wednesday evening, a few hours after the organizer of the Vuelta announced that he does not want any riders named in Operación Puerto to ride in its race.

The first attempt at negotiating a deal failed, the paper said, because the riders demanded that the federation set aside the ProTour code of ethics requirement that sanctioned riders not be allowed to ride for a ProTour team for two years. "But that is not up to us, and you know it," federation president Fulgencio Sánchez told them. "The code of ethics is a pact between the teams and the organizers of the ProTour and they are the ones to enforce it."

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

Basso reflects on turbulent week

Ivan Basso
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"I would have liked to avoid the confrontation, I would have liked to oppose everything and continue to race but I was not able to do it any longer. I needed to liberate myself of the weight," explained Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport of his 10-page signed confession. Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) prosecutor Ettore Torri put the 29 year-old rider's back to the wall and enabled him to do what he could not due since last June.

"For me, it's out of my hair. I only have to think of being a racer. ... In my head, this is completely closed. I'm just thinking about being a racer," he said to Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney in an interview this last January after having signed for Discovery Channel. Now, four months later, he is forced to negotiate with CONI and serve a likely two-year ban.

"I would have liked to do it all earlier. I would have liked to tell all in June of last year," he continued to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

If the 10-page signed document was a form of confession then the next day, Tuesday, was a step backwards. Basso seemed to loosely connect himself to Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes by saying that he extracted blood but never transfused it.

"I never used the blood in Madrid. The famous [Alessandro] Kalc, the presumed carrier of blood bags, I know nothing of him. I said what I know to the prosecutor but certain names I have never heard mentioned." He commented on his blood extraction. "... It is only now that I understand that I made a mistake. It is right that I pay the price of my error. I am not searching for a reduction."

If Ivan Basso is ever to return to racing it might be hard for fans to believe his talent. "I want to excuse myself to everyone that had trust in me. I know that it will not be easy to rebuild [the trust] but I want to try. ... My wins were true, and I conquered them by suffering every second of my life. I have won and won again since I was six years-old and my results were not due to doping." Basso could have his 2006 Giro victory stripped.

After dealing with CONI Basso will take a vacation with his family "I will take a long vacation with my family. My wife and my children are my life. I will try to refind serenity and to return to riding, because this is also my life."

Riis hopes to see Basso back on his bike

By Katharina Schulz

Even though Bjarne Riis recently expressed his disappointment with his former Grand Tour star Ivan Basso, he would not opt for the hardest of solutions in this case.

"I sincerely hope that he is at peace with his decision, because it is also important that he can move on. He is too young to end his career as a rider, and now there is a possibility for him to have a comeback after the ban. Which is what I hope for him," he told Jyllands-Posten.

Despite wanting to move on, Riis, under whose instruction Basso became one of the hottest contenders for a Tour de France win, still seems slightly sentimental about the old days. "It's a bit of a pity that we never got to see how good he is. He has a huge talent and I think it's a shame that it should end like this," he said. On the other hand, Riis has no pity for Basso's mistake. "But of course he knows the consequences for that kind of foolishness."

Germans involved in Basso investigation

By Susan Westemeyer

German investigators want to speak to Ivan Basso following his confession to involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. "Basso will be questioned on our behalf by Italian colleagues in Bergamo," said Göttingen, Germany, public attorney Hans Hugo Heimgärtner to the dpa. The Bundes Kriminal Amt (Federal Criminal Police) also wants to interrogate the Italian cyclist.

Prosecutors in Göttingen have been investigating Doctor Marcus Choina, an anaesthetist, who is alleged to have supplied Fuentes with illegal doping products and possibly served as his German connection.

According to, the Germans want to find out whether Basso knows where Fuentes procured his doping products. They are also seeking information about his connection to Fuentes, as well as anything about doping scene contacts and general background information.

Holczer speaks out

Hans-Michael Holczer, team manager of Gerolsteiner, assumes that his sponsor will renew its contract through 2010, but understands why it "will wait until after the Tour de France."

Speaking to, Holczer said that, "In light of the current situation I can not only understand that the sponsor wants to wait until after the Tour, but I would also recommend it." The mineral-water bottler is apparently inclined to renew its contract -- barring any further doping scandals.

Holczer reiterated his own anti-doping stand, saying that if one of his riders tested positive, he would throw him out "with pleasure." And he has a proposal to aid in the Fuentes investigation. "We should make a DNA comparison for every ProTour rider to see if their blood was being held by Fuentes. I don't see any other solution."

He also defended the team's directeur sportif, Christian Henn, who retired from racing after testing positive for testosterone. . "That is the past, which has no relevance for me. Christian has done great work for us the last seven years."

Posthuma training again

Only three weeks after he hit was by a car while training, Joost Posthuma is back on his bike again. The Rabobank rider suffered severe bruising, strained ribs, a strained ankle and a torn leg muscle in April when he was hit by car while training in Germany.

Posthuma hopes to return for the Vuelta a España. "It's going rather well, but we still have a long way to go," he said on the team's website,

Unipublic hopes for Valverde participation

By Monika Prell

Even if Alejandro Valverde is alleged to be involved in Operación Puerto the organisation of the Vuelta a España, Unipublic, hope that he will participate in this year's edition. Just yesterday lamented it lamented of the slow progress in the investigation.

During yesterday's presentation of the two stages of the Vuelta a España that will cross the province of Murcia (September 14 and 15), Javier Guillén, the General Secretary of Unipublic, expressed his wish to see Valverde in the 2007 edition even if the Caisse d'Epargne rider has already publicly declared that he won't participate.

"He said already last year that he won't participate in the Vuelta, because he will focus on the Tour, but later he crashed in France and changed his plan, so that he did finally he participated in our race."

Unipublic hopes that Valverde, as Murcian, "could learn a lesson from his team mate Oscar Pereiro who, like him, will challenge the Tour and has confirmed that he will be at the start of the Vuelta in Vigo." The start town is in the same Galician region where Pereiro lives.

Stage 13 will be run between Hellín and Torre Pacheco over 150 kilometres, and the start of the 14th stage will be in Puerto Lumbreras. The cyclists will, after 205 kilometres, arrive at Villacarrillo, in the Sierra de Cazorla.

Joe Martin organisers delighted by field quality

By Greg Johnson

Bruce Dunn, organiser of the National Racing Calendar Joe Martin Stage Race, has said he's delighted with the quality of the field the four day stage race has attracted for this weekend's event. Amongst those entered for the event, which gets underway with a road race tomorrow, are strong men's line-ups from the HealthNet, Toyota-United, Team BMC, and Jelly Belly squads, with Aaron's, Webcor Builders, Cheerwine, Colavita/Sutter Home, and TargetTraining.

"The race really grew last year in terms of numbers and full teams (6-10 riders) attending," explained Dunn. "We had a 200 person Pro Men/1/2 field last year and knew that we had finally made it over the hump, so to speak. This year we separated the Men's field into a Pro Men 1 and Men 1/2 race. As we thought, the pro teams are bringing their A riders.

Included in those A riders is Team BMC's Scott Moninger, who won the event with HealthNet in 2005, and is fresh from his final stage win at last week's Tour of the Gila. Also contesting the event is Mark Hekman (Abercrombie & Fitch), who recently took out the first US Criterium series round in Athens, Georgia.

"It is exciting to see more numbers as an event promoter, but when the quality increases you know the race is getting a good name," added Dunn.

"We're equally excited at how the Pro Women's race continues to have one of the largest and most competitive fields on the NRC. They are an integral part of our event."

Top NZ Juniors head to Switzerland

New Zealand 18 year-olds Shane Archbold and Lauren Ellis depart this weekend for a 12-week training scholarship at the UCI's World Cycling Centre, based at its headquarters in Switzerland.

Archbold and Ellis were selected to attend a track cycling training course run by the UCI that is designed to "increase the quantity and quality of young athletes throughout the world." The course is run by seven-time track world champion Frederic Magne and will see Ellis and Archbold train with around 20 other talented junior riders from around the world.

"I am really pleased and excited to be going," said Archbold, who is relishing the chance to train in Europe. "I am looking forward to getting some European racing under my belt as it will be perfect preparation for the track worlds in August."

The pair both won silver medals at the 2006 Junior Track World Championships and have again been selected in the New Zealand team for the junior track world championships being held at Aguascalientes in Mexico from August 5-12.

Euskaltel-Euskadi Clásica de Alcobendas roster

By Monika Prell

The team Euskaltel-Euskadi will participate in the Clásica de Alcobendas (May 12 and 13) with Jon Bru, Andoni Aranaga, Rubén Pérez, Iban Mayoz, Unai Uribarri, Iban Iriondo, Lander Aperribai and Andoni Lafuente, under the supervision of the Sport Director Xabier Carbayeda.

The Clásica de Alcobendas consists of three stages in two days. On Saturday, May 12, there will be one stage of 170 kilometres with start in Alcobendas and a mountain top finish on the Alto de Navacerrada.

On Sunday, the riders will participate in a stage of 79 kilometres with start and finish in Collado Villalva. In the afternoon, the race will be finished by a 9.7-kilometre time trial from Alcobendas to Alcobendas.

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