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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 1, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson, Paul Verkuylen and Laura Wieslo

Riders scout Giro's Plan de Corones

Most of the riders on the climb
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The top contenders for this year's Giro d'Italia scouted the event's 16th stage yesterday, the Individual Time Trial to Plan de Corones. Defending Giro champion Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) led the group which included other top riders Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott), Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) and Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre), among others.

"It's a hard climb, that's for sure," said Soler. "It's difficult to say how much it will decide the Giro because when we race here we'll already have two weeks racing in our legs. The race will also be on a better surface than the one we rode today, which has been ruined by the snow."

Organisers started clearing the road in mid-April, however there was still plenty of road-side snow during yesterday's ride. A stage during the 2006 Giro to Plan de Corones was cut short during the final hours at the Passo di Furcia due to snow.

RCS Sport insists that the road will be perfectly prepared for the May 26 stage. "We are extremely pleased to have chosen Plan de Corones where cycling is tied for reasons romantic, emotional and spectacular," said Giro director Angelo Zomegnan.

Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"It will be a very difficult stage, mainly because after 15 others it will be very tiring," said Simoni. "It will also be a time trial so you give the maximum from the start to finish."

Di Luca, who has been cleared by CAS to contest the Grand Tour (see separate story), believes the stage will be important in this year's outcome. "Certainly the Plan de Corones will be decisive for the Giro and could be of significant postings in the race," said the Italian.

RCS Sport has planned a 13.8-kilometre mountain time trial on the mountain in northeast Italy, which should help see the stage run as programmed. The stage will start in San Vigilio di Marebbe and run 12.6 kilometres before hitting the finale over the sterrato ('gravel road'), which includes sections touching 24 percent gradient. (Read: Plan de Corones cleared for Giro passage


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

France stiffens anti-doping laws

Riders in this year's Tour de France have been warned: they could face jail time if caught with doping products. A new law passed by the French parliament on Wednesday would impose a one-year sentence and a 3,750 euro fine for athletes caught in possession of doping products with much harsher penalties for drug trafficking: five years in prison and a 75,000 euro fine or up to seven years and 150,000 euro for organised trafficking or providing doping products to a minor.

The new law applies to any athlete, but opponents claimed that the bill was pushed through hastily in order to be enacted in time for this year's Tour de France. No penalty would be imposed if the athlete can show medical justification for possessing medications.

According to AFP, the bill was introduced by French Minister for Sport Bernard Laporte, in order to provide a deterrent to doping and drugs trafficking, and to bring French law into harmony with the World Anti-doping Code.

Di Luca wins and loses in CAS decision

Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) was riding the Giro course as CAS handed down its ruling
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

In ten days, Danilo Di Luca will step up to the line in Palermo to begin the defense of his 2007 Giro d'Italia victory. He will do so after serving a three-month suspension this winter for his involvement in the Oil for Drugs case, a ruling which the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Wednesday. The Italian who now rides for the Professional Continental team LPR Brakes had faced a potential two-year ban had the court not rejected the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) bid to sanction him for attempted doping.

The CAS ruling rejected an appeal from Di Luca, who sought to reverse the already served three-month ban. A sole arbiter, Prof. Avv. Luigi Fumagalli confirmed the decision made by the Giudice di Ultima Instanza di Materia di Doping (GUI) to impose the sanction due to the Italian's "visits and recorded conversations" between the rider and Doctor Carlo Santuccione, who was the main subject of the investigation.

These visits and conversations reportedly showed Santuccione advising Di Luca to inject EPO before the 2004 Milano-Sanremo, preparing syringes and then on video, shows the doctor meeting Di Luca. The arbiter confirmed that the visits were in violation of the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) anti-doping regulations, but only because at the time Santuccione was not a member of the FCI. Since then, Santuccione has received a lifetime ban.

Di Luca has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has resumed racing since the expiration of his suspension in January without incident.

CAS also rejected the appeal by CONI, which sought to increase the ban to two years, which would have meant Di Luca would not be allowed to ride the Giro d'Italia, for a violation of WADA code article 2.2, the use or attempt to use prohibited substances.

The arbiter ruled that the "alleged infringement", Di Luca's abnormally low hormone values detected after stage 17 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, were never raised during the GUI proceedings and therefore CAS "could not rule on the issue within the scope of this arbitration."

Cordero: Vuelta better than Tour

By Monika Prell

Victor Cordero will end his tenure as the director of the Vuelta a España after this year's edition, but his last effort has not been without controversy and difficult decisions. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper AS, Cordero talked about the logic behind the selection of just 20 teams to this year's event.

The criteria for the choice was "firstly ethical, secondly sportive and thirdly the motivation of the teams," the Spaniard said. "Furthermore, all teams are members of the the biological passport program. This has been the most important element for us to select some of the 33 teams that asked for an invitation."

The non-invitation of the team High Road, the only ProTour team will not participate in the September race, was, according to Cordero , due to "a problem of motivation." The director complained that the team "dallied with their answers and as they did not give us the names of the riders who are pre-selected for the race." The team eventually withdrew its application, preferring to send teams to other events such as the Tour of Missouri.

Cordero the only one of the three Grand Tour directors to invite the Astana, even though they were excluded from the 2007 edition after the previous year's winner Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping along with his Kazakh team-mate Andrey Kashechkin. "Last year we ignored them due to their doping scandals, but this season they had no doping trouble," Cordero explained. "I am talking regularly with [Johan] Bruyneel and [Alberto] Contador, and they guaranteed me that there won't be any problems, because they know that at the smallest misconduct, the concerned team – and I include every invited team – won't be allowed to participate."

Cordero is proud of the promise of participation of some big stars, like last year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, his team-mates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden, Silence Lotto's Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre from CSC and the Caisse d'Epargne leaders Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro. "It's clear that the podium of the Tour de France 2007 will be present in our race and not in France. This is something the other big races are not able to say about themselves. The circuit and many riders of class will ensure that the upcoming Vuelta will be the best of the three big races," announced Cordero. Along with a strong field, a challenging course will also help raise the level of the Vuelta. "The stages of La Rabassa and the Angliru will be spectacular," insisted Cordero, "and Contador, Valverde or Sastre will also attract the fans."

The director of the race wishes that after his farewell everybody opines that "I left the Vuelta in better conditions than it was when I began."

Iglinsky takes wet Romandie stage

Leader's jersey changes hands

By Susan Westemeyer

Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) won the first stage of the Tour de Romandie, out-sprinting Michael Albasini of Liquigas and Markus Zberg of Gerolsteiner on a difficult uphill sprint. Albasini, who had finished third in the prologue, took over the leader's jersey with a one-second advantage over Iglinsky.

"Today I was really very cold at the beginning," Albasini said. He noted that in the finale, "I succeeded in being near the front to avoid a possible crash in the final tight turn. I would have preferred to win the stage, but you can't have everything..."

The 27 year-old Swiss rider was thrilled to take over the leader's jersey in his homeland race. He has done well in Switzerland in the past, winning a stage and the sprinter's jersey in the Tour de Suisse in 2005, and both the mountain and sprinter's jersey in that race in 2006. Albasini turned pro in 2003 for the Swiss team Phonak before joining Liquigas in 2005.

It was the first season win for Iglinsky and his sixth as a professional. The Kasaskstan national champion, who has won stages in the Dauphiné Libéré and the Deutschland Tour, pointed proudly to his national jersey after crossing the line, and said, "I am so happy with the confidence that the team gave me today. My personal ambitions for the next days are the team ambitions. In theory Andreas Klöden is our leader. We will know more after the time trial."

Astana Directeur Sportif Alain Gallopin said that the stage went as planned. "Already this morning we decided to do everything for Max", he noted. "On the last climb, I told our best rider today, Andreas Klöden, not to cooperate any more in the leading group, because Max was coming closer with a group that included three other Astana Cycling Team riders. When the two groups came together, I felt confident. I explained to Max that he had to take the last corner as the first rider, which he did perfectly. I am so glad for our riders and Kazakh sponsors." Astana now has four riders in the top 11 overall.

The stage, which led over three categorised climbs, was marked by a long escape group by Patxi Vila (Lampre), Morris Possoni (High Road) and Matti Breschel of CSC, but the category one climb Le Gruyere with 20 kilometres to go was their undoing. Astana led the charge to catch them, and as the 38-man strong group neared the finish line, last year's champion Thomas Dekker started the sprint. Iglinsky was able to take advantage of a momentary hesitation by the young Dutch rider and shot by him on the final tight corner to take the lead. He was followed by Albasini and Zberg with the same time, putting two Swiss riders on the podium. Dekker came in fourth, two seconds later.

For the full report, results and photos click here.

Champions shocked after World Cups delivered by mail

Sven Nys
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Recently crowned Cyclo-cross World Cup Champions, Sven Nys and Daphny van den Brand have expressed their disappointment in the International Cycling Union (UCI) after receiving their World Cup Trophies in the mail. Winner of the women's World Cup, Van den Brand was stunned by the lack of any sort of ceremony.

In a recent edition of the Dutch cycling magazine WielerMagazine, van den Brand questioned the UCI's apparent disregard for the sport and in particular women's racing. "I ask myself if Sven Nys is also honoured by the UCI in the same way," she said.

As it turns out, the UCI holds both disciplines in the same regard. Nys revealed that he too had received his Cup in the same manner as Van den Brand. "Around a month ago, I received it in the post as well," he explained to "A Cup packed in a cardboard box, with the compliments of the UCI.

"Normally we receive them at a ceremony during the first World Cup of the following season," the recent Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner signing added.

It seems that receiving a Cup in a box via the post isn't all that bad though, for arguably the best crosser of the last decade. "Last year I didn't receive one at all," he said. "I find that disappointing, there is nothing nicer that being honoured for your achievements and now I am missing one in my collection.

"Waiting for the prize money takes even longer," added Nys of the issues. "I won't see that until June. I am disappointed that the UCI doesn't highlight the most consistent cyclo-crosser more."

Teams get Tour prizes

The Cyclists Professionals Association has announced that the majority of teams that took part in last year's Tour de France have received prize moneys owed to them. The CPA had been pushing for the prize moneys to be paid out sooner rather than later.

"On April 25, they were at last paid in their whole to the foreign teams," read a statement from the CPA. "Only the riders belonging to the French teams are still waiting for being paid, due to some fiscal reasons which are specific to France."

Tour of Pennsylvania route announced

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The new U25 Tour of Pennsylvania revealed the cities that will play hosts for the six-day stage race, working its way east to west between the state's two biggest cities -- Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. In typical American cycling fashion, the race is book-ended by two criteriums in the two cities, with a prologue on June 24 starting it all. To date, 18 teams have accepted invitations to race with a complete field of 20 to 22 teams expected.

"The Tour of Pennsylvania offers $150,000 in total prize money, the richest in the world for Espoir class riders," David Chauner, Pro Cycling Tour president said in a release. "Plus it is the only UCI sanctioned race in the U.S. specifically for riders under age 25. Our technical team has designed a route that will test the endurance, power and technical skill of these young athletes who are on the road to becoming cycling's next Olympians and Tour de France competitors."

In addition to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the host cities include Downingtown, Carlisle, Camp Hill, Bedford, Latrobe and Ligonier.

Stage 1: Prologue Time Trial/Philadelphia Criterium - 2 mile prologue/25 mile criterium
Stage 2: Downingtown to Carlisle - 91 miles
Stage 3: Camp Hill to Bedford - 104 miles
Stage 4: Bedford to Latrobe - 60 miles
Stage 5: Ligonier to Pittsburgh - 83 miles
Stage 6: Pittsburgh Criterium - 50 miles

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