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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 2, 2009

Edited by Sue George & Peter Hymas

Cavendish heads toward Wevelgem with another win

By Bjorn Haake in Oostduinkerke

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) proved he is ready for Gent-Wevelgem next Wednesday by convincingly winning stage two of the Driedaagse of De Panne. The stage also included the key climb, the Kemmelberg, of next week's race.

In the day's stage, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) attacked hard over the Kemmelberg to check his form for Flanders. Cavendish also surged on the climb, but he did not intend his effort as direct competition against the Belgian Boonen. "I was just testing my legs for Gent-Wevelgem next week. I wanted to see how I will have to position myself on the climb."

Cavendish is itching to make up for his 2008 race. "Last year, I should have been further up, but I was too lazy in the final. Now I am really looking forward to Gent-Wevelgem."

The attack by Boonen on the Kemmelberg and the response by Cavendish led to a 50-man group, with Cavendish as the favorite. "The strongest riders were in the group, but unfortunately it all came back together." He added that the bigger group made the sprint more dangerous at the end, with many tired riders going for it despite their fatigue. "I didn't necessarily want to put my life in danger; but for me it is good practice to keep sprinting."

When asked if winning all the time was boring, Cavendish said no. "But it's stressful. Sometimes you lose so much energy just trying to be in the best position."

Boonen and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) stayed away from the mad dash to the line. "I really didn't want to sprint either today, but that's what I am paid to do," said Cavendish. "I can understand that they didn't want to take a risk ahead of the Tour of Flanders. I did the same in Tirreno, right before the Milano-Sanremo [which Cavendish won - ed.]."

Instead, Cavendish got his competition for the day from Katusha's sprinter Robbie McEwen. "Robbie was strong – I had to go harder than I anticipated – he really pushed me."

Cavendish won the second and third stage of De Panne last year, but he wasn't making any predictions for a similar outcome. "I have to see how I feel." His mind is already on Gent-Wevelgem already, but he'll take a win any day.

Förster glad the sprints have started in De Panne

By Bjorn Haake in Zottegem

Robert Förster (Milram) is happy
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)
Milram's sprinter Robert Förster was glad to have survived the toughest stage of the Driedaagse De Panne on day one and just prior to stage two, he was looking forward to moving up to the front of the peloton.

"Yesterday we did 13 climbs," he said to Cyclingnews, shaking his head at the experience. "Now there will be a chance for sprints, and it's important for my confidence to be riding up front."

Stage two boiled down to just that... a sprint, and no one was surprised that Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) took it. "He is going really well. What he and [Heinrich] Haussler showed at Milano-Sanremo was great."

Förster admitted that sprints against Cavendish will be hard to crack. "What's scary is how clearly he wins, often with one or two bike lengths. It'll be hard to get close for a sprinter like me or others."

One thing in Förster's favour was the weather. "I am more like a 20-degree [Celsius] type. We had a lot of rain so far in the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen and four to five degrees." The earlier part of the season wasn't much better. "Even back home, it rained a lot throughout the winter and early spring. It's enough!"

Förster's main goal this season is the Giro d'Italia, and he will use a few more one-day races like the Hel van het Mergelland and Gent-Wevelgem to prepare. "There we will really want to do well," he said of his key races.

Then it's off to "real" stage races. "I will do the Tour of Turkey, where you can rest a bit from the stress of the Belgian races. Here you can't really roll along," said Förster. The wind and the narrow streets require constant concentration. You always have to ride near the front, as the race can always break apart over the next cobbled section or climb."

Förster managed to be near the front in the sprint of stage two, but he did not contest the sprint with Cavendish; the Milram rider finished 15th.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Driedaagse De Panne stage two.

Haussler: The new Flanders favourite

By Gregor Brown

In the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Haussler made the break
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

Heinrich Haussler is a new name in the list of favourites for the Spring Classics. The Cervélo TestTeam has already chalked up four wins as well a close second place at Milano-Sanremo this year, his best start of any season in his career. Cyclingnews met with Haussler to find out if his form will hold for his planned objectives in the Northern Classics: Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

A German citizen with Australian roots, Heinrich Haussler made a name for himself in the professional peloton when he scored a stage win in the Vuelta a España during his first professional year in 2005. After several up and down years with the Gerolsteiner team, Haussler was given a fresh start in 2009 with the newly formed Cervélo TestTeam.

Clad in the new black, white and red kit, the 25-year-old opened the season with a second place overall in the Tour of Qatar. He then confirmed that result with two stage wins in the Volta ao Algarve and a stage win and time in the points jersey in Paris-Nice.

But perhaps more relevant to his upcoming goals in the cobbled Classics are his aggressive riding in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and his razor-thin defeat in Milano-Sanremo.

He's shown he has the ability to make the right moves, but does Haussler have the firepower to beat the Belgians in their home race, Ronde van Vlaanderen this Sunday? With some luck, good teamwork, and great legs, Haussler believes he could well succeed.

Read the complete feature.

Valverde indignant over possible suspension

Alejandro Valverde expressed surprise and indignation upon learning of the latest development in the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI's) disciplinary proceedings against him. On Wednesday, CONI recommended a two-year suspension for the Spanish Valverde after it reportedly used DNA evidence to connect the 28-year-old Caisse d'Epargne rider to the Operación Puerto investigation.

"CONI claims competence in judging evidence, which does not belong to it, and makes lamentable arguments, from a legal and logical point of view," read a statement from Valverde. "Thus CONI presents arguments which are completely erroneous, and it acts in an illegal way, disobeying the orders of the Spanish courts and violating the basic rights of riders."

Valverde concluded his response with a statement that the persons in charge of CONI had committed an offense in how they've obtained evidence and what they've done with it. "The necessary legal actions will shortly be undertaken against them."

So far the Italian organization has been the only agency behind the proceedings. When asked about the proposed ban and whether the International Cycling Union (UCI) would enforce it worldwide, UCI spokesperson Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews, "At this point, there is nothing we can do. It's an Italian proceeding, and we have to wait its conclusion. But it's not really a surprise knowing their efforts in order to find out all possible links with Puerto."

Even if the UCI does not choose to enforce CONI's recommended suspension outside the borders of Italy, Valverde will be unable to complete the Tour de France in July since stage 16 enters Italy. Valverde has previously stated that one of his primary goals this season is to achieve a Tour de France podium spot.

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

Discuss on the Cyclingnews forum.

Fuji-Servetto signs Bailetti to fill the gap

Paolo Bailetti used to race for team LPR Brakes
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
Italy's Paolo Bailetti became the newest member of the Fuji-Servetto team after the squad decided to increase its roster to compensate for the absence of several injured riders.

Jesus Del Nero, Hector Gonzalez and Beńat Intxausti are recovering from their respective fractures and Andrea Tonti is suffering from muscular problems while Davide Viganň is recovering from a virus. David Cañada is facing more serious troubles – he is recovering from skin cancer.

The team's Daniele Nardello has decided to retire after next Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem, and William Walker's career is on hold as he has been forced to take a break of an indefinite period while he recuperates from cardiac problems detected during the recent Tour Down Under.

The 28-year-old Bailetti had no team after the team that had signed him, Team H20, was disbanded before this season got underway. He was the amateur Italian champion in 2002 and started his pro career in 2005 with Team Androni Giocattoli, before going to Team LPR to race for the last two seasons.

His efforts to work for his teammates during last year's Giro d'Italia did not go unnoticed. He'll begin racing with the Fuji-Servetto team at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday where he'll be joined by the following teammates: Ermanno Capelli, Hilton Clarke, Ivan Dominguez, Ángel Gómez Gómez, Nardello, Boris Shpilevsky and Josep Jufré.

Jeanson's coach and doctor banned for life

André Aubut
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

André Aubut and Maurice Duquette, the coach and doctor of Canadian cyclist Genevičve Jeanson, were suspended for life on Wednesday by the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES) administering doping products to Jeanson, according to the AFP.

The proceedings were launched a year ago after Jeanson, the 1999 road race and time trial junior world champion, admitted to taking erythropoietin (EPO) when she was 16 years old.

"The sanctions taken against Jeanson's coach and doctor show that athletes do not take drugs alone, most of the time," said Louis Barbeau, general manager of the Quebec Cycling Federation, indicating that he was satisfied with the sanctions.

"Our association is considering imposing additional sanctions, and we will review the results and qualifications obtained by Jeanson," said the president of the Canadian Cycling Association, John Tolkamp.

This is the first time since the creation of the world anti-doping code that the Canadian authorities have suspended the coach and doctor of an athlete.

Nature Valley Pro Ride Series selects first riders

Amity Elliott (JuicePlus) wins
Photo ©: Jason O. Watson
(Click for larger image)

The winners of the elite races at the Jefferson Cup in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sunday were selected for the 2009 Nature Valley Pro Ride. Adam Farabaugh, (Hershey Cancer Institute-GPOA-Cannondale) and Amity Elliott (JuicePlus) have been invited to the Nature Valley Grand Prix to race on the Nature Valley Cycling Team.

The Nature Valley Pro Ride designation was a major factor in the race. "A lot of the men and women were specifically gunning for the invitation," said Tracy Lea, who managed the selection at the Jefferson Cup. "Most of them were very disappointed to miss the trip and a lot of them were asking me when the next qualifier was being held."

Women's winner Elliott was grateful for her new opportunity. "I know... training for five hours and then after waiting tables for eight hours with a bachelors degree is just plain hard. I am very happy to have had another shot at the spot and get it."

Each rider selected will receive a travel stipend, free entry, housing accommodations, and full team support. They will make public appearances, get pre-race introductions, participate in autograph sessions, and race in front of crowds in excess of 50,000 during the five-day Nature Valley Grand Prix stage race.

The next stop on the Pro Ride will be the Hillsboro Roubaix near Saint Louis on Saturday, April 4. Other events will be Wente Vineyards Road Race and Criterium in the San Francisco Bay Area (April 25 - 26), the Glenwood and Longbranch Road Races near Seattle (May 2 - 3), the San Luis Rey Road Race near San Diego (May 3) and the Bear Mountain Road Race in New York (May 10).

Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick diary: South American adventures

Mary gets ready to head off
Photo ©: Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
(Click for larger image)

Long days of maddening logistics and stressful preparation were the first sign that Mary and I were getting ready to kick off our 2009 race season. Careful planning for our style of racing and travel is critical. It's important to make certain we bring EVERYTHING that we might need for any given race, condition and time period throughout our entire adventure. Time and again this seems to be the toughest part of our tag team program. The longer the travel, the more intense the planning.

This one includes three weeks in Chile , two weeks in South Africa and two-plus months in Europe. It covers a lot of time, crosses seasonal boundaries and necessitates equipment for a wide range of riding conditions. For all these reasons, we were packing some pretty big luggage. The training, sleep and relationship becomes compromised as we shift into travel mode and try to accomplish the most critical things with our time left to live like "pro riders", but somehow we are always pushing it until the last minute.

The final two days, with only eight hours of sleep, were a difficult crunch and by the end, we were literally throwing random piles of our things into storage, leaving bikes and gear in people's attics and once again relying heavily on the goodness and generosity of our friends. Our last-minute style made a last-second testing visit by USADA (the US national anti-doping association - ed.) more inconvenient than the usual quick visit. After a force feeding of coffee and water to help squeeze the necessary 90ml out of Mary, we were in the car and on the road before the doping control officer was done filing away her papers.

Read the complete diary entry.

New masters team introduced

Photo ©: Team OA-Cyclemania
(Click for larger image)

The OA Centers for Orthopaedics and CycleMania of Portland, Maine, announced on Wednesday their sponsorship of the newly created OA Performance Center / CycleMania Masters Cycling Team. The team was introduced to a local audience attending the Grand Opening Celebration of the new OA Sports Center in Saco on Saturday, March 21.

The Maine-based squad will compete in a series of masters-level road races, criteriums and stage races throughout the Northeast US during the 2009 cycling season.

Cyclingnews weekly podcast: Episode 5

No joke, we're serious

Having trouble sleeping at night? We have the solution: the weekly podcast.

Now in its fifth week, this soporific audio concoction is guaranteed to get you results, or we give you your money back. Note: it is free to download here.

This week, Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson and BikeRadar's Jeff Jones analyse a mega weekend of racing, discuss Heinrich Haussler's massive form slump and Lance Armstrong's metal implant, and look forward to this Sunday's Tour of Flanders. Folks, it really does get better than this.

You can subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes (or just go to iTunes and search for 'cyclingnews') or via this XML feed:

You can also download the podcasts directly by clicking on these links:

  • April 1: E3 Prijs, Heinrich Haussler's form slump, track worlds and Lance's metal implants
  • March 26: Jens Voigt, Milan-San Remo, Mark Cavendish, Heinrich Haussler, David Millar, Lance Armstrong and the track worlds
  • March 19: Tour de France teams, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo preview and Heinrich Haussler
  • March 12: Paris-Nice mid-race, Tirreno-Adriatico preview and Heinrich Haussler
  • March 5: Valverde summonsed, Belgian opening weekend and Heinrich Haussler

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Shane Stokes.)

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