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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, April 17, 2009

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Cyclists association's Vasseur backs Armstrong in AFLD case

By Gregor Brown

CPA president Cédric Vasseur
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Cédric Vasseur, president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), believes the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) should simply issue a yellow card warning for its case against Lance Armstrong. It reported improper behaviour by the American in a March 17 control taken at his French home in Cap Martin.

"We can't suspend him over this. It is true, based on the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] rules, that you can't disappear even to take a shower," Vasseur said to Cyclingnews. "I think in this case it was a small mistake and the most valid response would be to just to give a warning, a reminder for other riders."

The French anti-doping agency will decide in May if it will sanction Armstrong for failure to remain in the presence of the doping control officer. Its action could prevent him from returning to race in the Tour de France, July 4-26.

"It seems it is no longer anti-doping, but persecution," said Vasseur.

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The CPA, established in 1999, acts in defence of professional cyclists and aims to improve their working conditions. Armstrong has not asked Vasseur to contact the French anti-doping agency on his behalf.

Vasseur is a former professional and raced with Armstrong at US Postal in 2000 and 2001. He went on to race with teams Cofidis and Quick Step, and retired at the end of 2007.

"When I raced with Armstrong, the team would not even have water bottles waiting for us in the hotels' hallways because he was so concerned that someone would put something in the water. He has been concerned his whole life.

"I saw Lance at Milano-Sanremo [last month], he explained that these out-of-competition controls are perfect for cycling because it can open a new point of view in testing. However, with up to 25 controls so far it is very easy to have some sort of problem."

The French anti-doping agency took Armstrong's hair, blood and urine in the out-of-competition control. He was at his home in France, training for Milano-Sanremo, March 21.

Armstrong is recovering from a fractured collarbone that resulted from a crash in Castilla y León on March 23. He is in the USA training and will return to Europe for the Giro d'Italia, May 9-31. It will be his first participation in the Italian Grand Tour.

For more information on Armstrong, read Talking Giro, Twitter and the Tour.

Pozzato dreams of Giro's Rosa

After winning the E3 Prijs and becoming second in Roubaix, Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) now targets the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Filippo Pozzato has turned his attention from the Northern Classics to his home Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, taking place from May 9-31. The Katusha rider, second in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, announced yesterday that he would race the three-week stage race with an eye on the overall leader's maglia rosa.

"Up until now I have only it raced once, in 2005. I want to arrive in Venice in top form to go immediately on the hunt for the maglia rosa," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Pozzato made the winning break of six men in Paris-Roubaix in France on Sunday. Crashes - one by Juan Antonio Flecha and one by Thor Hushovd - prevented the winner of E3 Prijs from another re-match with the eventual victor Tom Boonen (Quick Step).

He now turns his attention to the Giro d'Italia, which starts just 85 kilometres from his home in Sandrigo. Even if Pozzato may lack the ability to fight for the final overall win in Rome, he will be able to vie for a stage and a chance to wear the leader's jersey for a few days.

"I have marked the team time trial stage [one] and then the stage [three] to Valdobbiadene. It would be great to take the maglia rosa. [Fabian] Cancellara called me and said that he will be my fan."

Pozzato took the leader's jersey of the Vuelta a España last year when his team won the opening day's 7.7-kilometre team time trial. The Giro d'Italia starts with a 20.5-kilometre team time trial on Venice's lido.

The team time trial will be fast with only five turns along the out-and-back run. It will head straight down Lungomare D'Annunzio and Marconi before a U-turn and the parallel run on Via Alberoni, Malamocco and Sandro Gallo.

Pozzato's best place result in the 2005 Giro d'Italia was sixth in stage four to Frosinone. This year, he has won E3 Prijs and stage one of De Panne. (GB)

For more on Pozzato read It's time to win.

Haussler takes well-deserved break

By Bjorn Haake

At the Scheldeprijs, Heinrich Haussler felt he paid the price for his successful spring campaign
Photo ©: Tom De Meyer
(Click for larger image)

After a very successful spring campaign, Heinrich Haussler will take a well-deserved break before concentrating on the second part of the season. The Cervélo TestTeam rider will take a week and a half off completely.

Speaking to Cyclingnews before his last spring race, the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, Haussler admitted he was ready for a break. "I am mentally really tired now," the Australian-German said.

Haussler is looking forward to some time off. "Friday [today] I fly to the Maldives for 10 days. No cell phone, no bike, nothing. Just myself, so I can relax and have some vacation."

The 25-year-old was extremely pleased with the first part of the season. "I never would have thought it would go so well." Haussler, who is currently leading the ProTour ranking, won three races and finished second in both Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

After the timeout, he will be ready to go for his next big objective. "The Tour [de France], no doubt about it," Haussler said.

Haussler said despite it being the last race before the break, "we are quite motivated and want to win." Teammate Dominique Rollin came close to this objective, finishing third. Haussler was unfortunate enough to get delayed by the big crash on the cobbled Broekstraat, a good 30 kilometres from the finish. He chased for a while with two Landbouwkrediet riders, but eventually put an end to his strong early season.

For more on Haussler, read The new Flanders favourite.

Klostergård: With goose bumps through the forest

By Bjorn Haake

Thousands of fans lined the Arenberg forest cobbles.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Kasper Klostergård had an exceptional ride for his Saxo Bank team at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. The Dane enjoyed the fans cheering on the riders through the key sections and said this really helped getting over the cobbles in the 'Hell of the North'.

"Arenberg was the best. To get into this section with the crowd yelling so much was awesome," Klostergård told Cyclingnews. Hyped by the fans, he also achieved a good performance. "Going into it in third position and coming out of it in third, that's not easy."

Besides the Arenberg, the highlight for Klostergård was the Carrefour de l'Arbre. "Those sections give you the goose bumps," he revealed.

The party crowd in Paris-Roubaix can sometimes be frightening, as many fans take the opportunity to have a drink or two. But Klostergård didn't mind. "Nobody threw beer on me, although there were a lot of drunk people; but that's part of it. We have to behave and not yell at them. I think it's really cool that there are so many people there."

The spectator-filled key sections made up for the hardness of the race. "It was a long day, but it's also Paris-Roubaix, so you have a cool feeling all along the way."

Klostergård was in the first break day of the day that contained a dozen riders. When they were caught, the Saxo Bank rider stayed near the front. "To be there in the end and help Fabian [Cancellara] and Matti [Breschel] was perfect - I really enjoyed it."

The Dane detailed the craziness of the Trouée d'Arenberg, the 11th of the 27 cobblestone sections in this year's race. "I think we go in to Arenberg with 50-55 km/h an hour, but then it starts to go uphill and in the end you do less than 30. The faster you go the better."

Fortunately, the riders get some help by using particular equipment. "We have special bikes and low tyre pressure so it doesn't feel as bad as it normally would."

Fothen frustrated in Turkey, eyes Giro-Tour

By Jean-François Quénet in Fethiye

Markus Fothen (Team Milram) showed good form in Turkey
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)

As the Presidential Tour of Turkey is broadcast live on TV two hours daily in 143 countries, Markus Fothen couldn't hide what happened to him when he slipped with three kilometres to go in stage four to Marmaris. "My friends and family back home told me it looked like a battlefield, but they were also amazed to see how beautiful this country is," the Milram rider said. "I feel a little bit like on a holiday here."

But Fothen is on a mission to regain form before the busy programme of the coming three months. For the first time, the German will double up Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. "The Tour de France is the most important thing for me this year, I'm supposed to be the last man in the mountains to help our captain Linus Gerdemann and I'll prepare for that with a three-week long high altitude training camp after the Giro," the German announced, also detailing his objectives for the Giro. "I will not ride the Giro for the overall classification because there will be so many good Italian riders trying to win the Centennial."

Stage wins are his targets as it is at the Presidential Tour of Turkey. "I've not been a lucky boy in Marmaris," he regretted. The stage win was in the picture for him after he rode away from the front group with defending champion David Garcia Dapena, who slipped on a downhill stretch with three kilometres to go. Both escapees went down and were later rejoined by the chasers, among which stage winner Darryl Impey (Barloworld) and eventual race leader David Loosli (Lampre).

"We had an agreement that I would have taken the yellow jersey and Fothen the stage win," revealed Garcia Dapena. "It's a pity because our Milram team is in need of a win," Fothen echoed. "For the first time of the season, I feel that my condition is getting good, which is normally the case every year at the end of April."

Sun Tour route announced

Victorian premier John Brumby has announced the route for the 58th edition of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Ballarat, Australia. The event will focus on showcasing the state's iconic towns while attracting some of the world's best teams, including defending champion Stuart O'Grady's Saxo Bank outfit.

With the opening weekend held in Ballarat for the first time since 1987, the parcours will feature two stages along the world-renowned Great Ocean Road in addition to a time trial along Geelong's shoreline and the traditional Lygon St criterium, held in the heart of the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton.

Premier Brumby told those gathered for the launch, "Cycling in Australia is undergoing tremendous growth in participation at both the recreational and elite level due to the continued success of Australia's best on the world stage and the strong growth of events like the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

"This is a great event for regional Victoria and a great event for Melbourne, injecting over $100,000 in economic flow-on benefits to each of the host towns it passes through, with last year's event boosting the state's economy by $1.6 million."

Brumby, a notable cycling fan, seemed genuinely excited by the race route. "This year's course is another wonderful promotion for country Victoria and Melbourne, passing through the Goldfields, historic buildings of Ballarat, before heading through the dairy country of Colac to Warrnambool and along the pristine Great Ocean Road," he said.

Reigning champion Stuart O'Grady said he and his Saxo Bank teammates were keen to defend the title in Victoria. "As I said after the win last year, I was surprised at how good the race had become. It has a great atmosphere, a fantastic course and short sharp racing," said O'Grady.

"This year's course looks superb and has something for everyone and I love the idea of the twilight street race on Lygon Street - the crowd there on a Saturday afternoon should be huge."

The 2009 Jayco Herald Sun Tour stages:

Prologue - October 11: Ballarat criterium (50 minutes plus three laps)
Stage One - October 12: Ballarat - Ballarat, 160km
Stage Two - October 13: Colac - Warrnambool, 143km
Stage Three - October 14: Warrnambool - Apollo Bay, 165km
Stage Four - October 15: Anglesea - Barwon Heads, 120km
Stage Five - October 16: Geelong Foreshore ITT, 10km
Stage Six - October 17: Melbourne criterium (80 minutes plus three laps)

Full details of the race are available at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour website:

Blood transfusions "no secret" according to Pevenage

Rudy Pevenage, former mentor of Jan Ullrich and now sports director for American team Rock Racing, has spoken to Austrian media about his past and present work life, making interesting comments on doping in the sport. The Belgian, whose alleged involvement with Operación Puerto doctor Eufemiano Fuentes was never proved, said that many team directors used to know about doping opportunities via blood transfusion - and not only in Spain.

"Three years ago, many in cycling knew that there is a network in Vienna," he said to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, speaking of the recent scandal around the Humanplasma clinic. "When I was excluded from the Tour de France [in 2006 - ed.], I knew that Fuentes didn't spin a network only in Spain. These networks exist in the South of Italy, they exist in Austria. Half of the sports directors knew of this, but didn't talk about it."

The former T-Mobile sports director implied that doping was widespread a few years ago. "They were different times in the past. I like the present better. I couldn't change it at the time, you just go with the flow. But I also know that the results of the best would have been the same either way."

These days, Pevenage's Rock racing team also provokes some critical voices, as it is the home of many riders linked or allegedly linked to Operación Puerto. Still, the Belgian said that "most riders in the team never had anything to do with doping. The others - [Ivan] Gutierrez, [Tyler] Hamilton and [Francisco] Mancebo - have suffered so much of their history that they will never touch doping again. [Oscar] Sevilla now lives in Colombia at 3000 metres altitude, he has better blood levels than in the past."

Pevenage, who is expected to release a book (unrelated to cycling's doping problems) soon, is one of many who demand that other sports disciplines be as controlled as cycling. "You can never exclude cheating [in cycling], in other sports neither - and surely not in normal life. It's good that there are more severe controls now. But they should be put into place also in other sports: cross-country skiing, swimming, athletics."

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