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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 2, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Cavendish doubles in De Panne

By Bjorn Haake in De Panne

Cavendish doubles in De Panne
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish won the third stage of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde in a tight sprint against Robbie McEwen (Katusha) Thursday, in Belgium. The win marked his eighth win of the season and in a repeat of the 2008, Cavendish won the second and third stages of the event.

"I am very happy that I've done the double, again," he said before adding that, "Robbie really pushed me [yesterday]."

The win propelled Cavendish past Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) in the point's classification. The Brit will start the afternoon's time trial to defend the green sprinter's jersey.

McEwen duels Cavendish in Belgium

Robbie McEwen and Mark Cavendish joke before the race
Photo ©: Tim Van Wichelen
(Click for larger image)

Two of cycling's most explosive riders came head-to-head yesterday in Oostduinkerke, Belgium. Brit Mark Cavendish got the better of Australian Robbie McEwen, 13 years older, in Driedaagse De Panne second and third stages.

"It is like sprinting against myself with regards to Cav," McEwen wrote on Twitter.

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McEwen is one of cycling's most accomplished sprinters. Many of his wins have come thanks to an explosive jump over his rivals in the final metres. His past wins include 12 stages and three sprinter's jerseys at the Tour de France.

"I found my way in the last kilometres and got on Cavendish's wheel," he said. "We started the sprint at the same time, 200 metres to go and I made up a bike-length's difference but Cavendish took it back in the last 50 metres. I felt that I made a mistake by not going earlier."

McEwen and Cavendish will face each other today in the 112-kilometre stage to De Panne. Their next encounter will be at Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday.

Valverde: Spain's Council of Sports claims jurisdiction

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spanish Champion Alejandro Valverde faces problems in Italy
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Spain's Superior Council of Sports (CSD) claimed it has jurisdiction on the doping case against Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. It reacted yesterday to the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) request for a two-year suspension due to the 28-year-old's alleged ties to Operación Puerto.

The sports council stated that the Puerto investigation ran under the authority and jurisdiction of Spanish courts. It claimed that Spain should be the country to preside over a "trial in the near future."

Ettore Torri, Italy's anti-doping prosecutor, met with Valverde on February 19 based on his possible links to the 2006 doping investigation. Italian investigators collected DNA evidence to link the cyclist to blood bags seized in Spanish Guardia Civil raids.

Torri sent his recommendation of a two-year to the Italian anti-doping tribunal Wednesday. If accepted, Valverde could not race on Italian soil – it includes the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France (which passes through Italy this year).

(Talk about this artilce at our forum.)

Lotto not silenced ahead of Roubaix

By Les Clarke

Lefevere: "Nobody speaks about Hoste at the moment"
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Despite receiving criticism earlier in the week for its lack of results, Silence-Lotto is in decent shape ahead of Paris-Roubaix, according to one of the Belgian squad's key rivals.

Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews that Silence-Lotto's Leif Hoste may stand a better chance of success in the Queen of the Classics than initially thought by many observers.

"Nobody speaks about Hoste at the moment," said Lefevere. "Maybe he won't be ready for Flanders, but I'm sure that for Roubaix he's coming into form slowly but he'll be there."

Silence-Lotto's affable Belgian Classics specialist, who has kept a low profile thus far this season, is currently struggling to gain his usual form. Quick Step's mastermind believes that masks what he may produce at Roubaix, April 12.

De Panne's final-stage time trial may hold the key to gauging Hoste's form, and hence the chances of Silence-Lotto at this pivotal part of the season.

"He's suffering, but I think that with every day that passes, he's getting better. I'm curious to see if he does the time trial here in De Panne, what form he'll be in."

Stay tuned for a feature with Quick Step's Patrick Lefevere ahead of the Spring Classics.

"Shocked" reactions to Kohl's admission

Bernhard Kohl at the 2008 Tour de France
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Bernhard Kohl's former colleagues and employees are surprised by admissions that he had doped for so long, saying there was never any reason to think that based on his behaviour or results.

"The problem reaches much further than just cycling," Rolf Aldag of Team Columbia-Highroad told dpa. He was Kohl's teammate at T-Mobile Team in 2005-2006.

He called for other sports and athletes to be named: "Let's just stop with this crap that 'cycling is bad and the other sports are good.'"

Kohl tested positive for blood booster EPO at the Tour de France. Tuesday, he admitted to drug use as early as the 2005 season.

Kohl's former team manager at Gerolsteiner, Hans-Michael Holczer, said that Kohl's admissions show "doping practices are not controllable." He told that since 2005, the team kept a close eye on the riders' movements during races, but "a blood transfusion can be done in twenty minutes."

Holczer said that since learning last October that Kohl had doped at the Tour, "I can hardly believe anything in sports. I hadn't expected the subject of blood transfusions to come up, but nothing shocks me any more."

Gerolsteiner had elected not to have an internal testing program. Holczer insisted that this was the right decision. (SW)

(Talk about this artilce at our forum.)

Kohl's statements ripple through Austria

Bernhard Kohl's statements on Tuesday evening about doping in Austria triggered authorities to look into further investigations and put in doubt the country's key stage race.

The Österreich Rundfahrt ('Tour of Austria') stage race has been struggling to find sponsors for 2009 in light of Kohl's suspension for doping last November. His full admission of doping practices this week could see the race disappear from the calendar.

The race "is certainly in danger," according to Rudolf Massak, general secretary of the Austrian cycling federation. The main problem at the moment is that the television provider is considering cancelling its coverage of the event.

Tour Director Ursula Riha is not going to give up. "I will keep on fighting so that the Österreich Rundfahrt can continue."

Kohl tested positive at the 2008 Tour de France and is serving a two-year suspension. (SW)

'Steve' Chainel makes waves in ProTour debut

By Bjorn Haake in Oostduinkerke

Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Steve Chainel is making waves in his first year on a ProTour Team. The French Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider participated in a breakaway on day one of Belgium's Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde.

"This is only the beginning of the season for me as Tuesday's stage was only my sixth race of the season," he told Cyclingnews. "However I did do a full season of cyclo-cross. It's a discipline I admire."

The cyclo-cross experience helps the rider - named after Steve McQueen - on the narrow roads where rubbing shoulders is common. Chainel is under the guidance of directeur sportif Dominique Arnould, winner of the 1993 Cyclo-Cross World Championships.

"With this road season as a base I hope to get onto the podium of the 'Cross Worlds. I am already thinking about cyclo-cross, I can't forget it."

It is Chainel's third season as a professional. In 2007 and 2008 he raced for French team Auber 93. He will finish De Panne today and then represent the Bouygues in Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 5, and Paris-Roubaix, April 12.

"I tried to go on the Berendries and on the Valkenburg. I attacked so Vincent [teammate Vincent Jérôme] could take it easy in the group."

"For the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix my form should be even better."

Merlo: An Italian in red

By Bjorn Haake in Oostduinkerke

Michele Merlo (Barloworld) in the mountain's jersey
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Michele Merlo of Barloworld put his stage one escape in Belgium's Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde to good use, accumulating enough points on the climbs to take the red jersey of best climber. He was able to defend his slim three-point lead over Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) in stage two and can take the jersey provided he finishes the last two stages that lack mountain points.

"It was a great day for me," he told Cyclingnews of stage one, 199 kilometres to Zottegem. "It was my first race in Belgium and it was a great experience!

"I had the jersey in mind. I was trying to be in the right break, but of course there is also a bit of luck involved. There were a lot of attacks in the beginning."

Merlo was thankful for the sunny and warm Belgian weather. He is hopeful the weather will stay the same for Sunday, at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Win on the Cyclingnews forum

Here's your chance to win the latest film about the world's favourite Classic, Paris-Roubaix.

Cyclingnews has four copies of Road to Roubaix to give away to readers who love their Classics. Cyclingnews reviewed it ahead of Christmas last year, and liked it so much we had the guys at Masterlink Films send us some more to share.

It's easy. Just log on to the Cyclingnews forum and tell us: Why do the Spring Classics get you going?

You can tell us about your experiences at the races (if you've been fortunate enough to be there) or whilst watching them on TV. As long as you keep it brief (no more than 200-300 words) and exciting, you'll be in the running to win a copy of the film that delivers an intimate look at Paris-Roubaix.

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 Susan Westemeyer.)

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