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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, March 14, 2009

Edited by Laura Weislo and Peter Hymas

Contador has the fans in his heart

By Jean-François Quénet in Forcalquier

Alberto Contador (Astana) back in yellow again.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

While one might expect that a rider who's palmarès include all three Grand Tours may be jaded by winning, Alberto Contador's enthusiastic victory salute at the top of La Montagne de Lure belies a competitor who's still excited by crossing the line first. With a large smile on his face, Contador hit his heart twice and made the gesture of a gun shot.

"In some ways, this is my trademark," the Spaniard explained. "When I show my heart, I want to thank all the people who support me. Today, on the final climb, the crowd was tremendous. I suffered a lot but the satisfaction at the end was enormous."

Contador's win looked easy but it required a significant effort to achieve. "The wind made the race very difficult at the end," he said. "I knew this was the stage for making a difference so I tried to create a gap and after that I had to maintain it. I was not certain that I could do it against a rider like Sylvain [Chavanel] who is very tough.

"I maintained a high rhythm," he continued. "When I saw Toni Colom and Fränk Schleck dropping off, I preferred to push myself and keep going. I thought it was too early to attack with eight kilometres to go, but there weren't many options."

With a 1:13 advantage over Luis León Sánchez and 1:24 over Chavanel, Contador's got a comfortable lead with two days to go in Paris-Nice. "The race is certainly not over yet," said Contador. "There are two hard days to come yet and the race is very hard to control. Riders like Luis León [Sánchez], [Antonio] Colom, Samuel Sánchez or Fränk Schleck can still create many problems."

Contador didn't mention Chavanel who lost the yellow jersey but still remains in third place overall. "My Paris-Nice is already a success." Chavanel said. "I've won a stage and I've spent three days in yellow. I'm happy with that and I'm still in contention for second place."

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Fränk Schleck targets Paris-Nice podium

By Jean-François Quénet in Forcalquier

As runner-up to the untouchable Alberto Contador, Fränk Schleck had good reason to be satisfied at the top of La Montagne de Lure in Paris-Nice. With Katusha's Toni Colom, he was the only rider who tried to follow the Spaniard with 8 kilometres to go.

"He was way stronger than any of us. He accelerated three or four times and it was just impossible to follow him," the elder Schleck brother commented.

"As Colom was unable to take a turn, I felt better and went again with Luis León Sánchez in the pursuit of Contador," Schleck continued. "I felt good but not good enough to compete against Contador. I have no regrets, though. We followed our tactics with Jens Voigt breaking clear before the climbers. It was a good strategy, it just didn't work out."

Schleck isn't satisfied with his current fourth place general classification position. "I've already made the top five in Paris-Nice in the past," said the Luxemburger who finished fifth in 2006 in addition to seventh in 2005 and eighth in 2007. "This time I want to make the top three. I think I'll be on the podium in Nice. Sylvain Chavanel is only 14 seconds ahead of me."

Farrar surprises world's best sprinters in Tirreno

By Gregor Brown

American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) takes world's best in Tirreno-Adriatico sprint finish
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tyler Farrar caught the world's best sprinters by surprise in Tirreno-Adriatico's stage three Friday in Santa Croce sull'Arno, Italy. The American of Team Garmin-Slipstream took his best win today over the likes of Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step).

"As the season went on last year I was better and better in the sprints," Farrar told Cyclingnews. "I put in a good winter of training, working on my strength. In the Tour of California I was getting close, but I did not have the luck. It all sort of came together today."

In the finale of the 166-kilometre stage in Tuscany there were three big teams in control: Cervélo for Thor Hushovd, Quick Step for Boonen and Columbia for Cavendish. Farrar had less ammunition, but used it well. Julian Dean, Martyn Maaskant and Michael Friedman placed him in position behind the other lead-out men.

"Cavendish came by me in the last turn and I slotted right there behind him. I held the wheel and waited for the sprint."

Tirreno-Adriatico is the traditional tune up race for cycling's big one, Milano-Sanremo. The race, March 21, comes only four days after the end of Tirreno-Adriatico. Behind Farrar today there were past Sanremo winners Alessandro Petacchi and Filippo Pozzato.

"I think that a 300-kilometre race is a lot different than this 160-kilometre one today. I know Dean is maybe better suited in race of that distance."

After Sanremo, Farrar will head back to his home base in Gent, Belgium, for the Northern Classics. He noted Maaskant will be the leader for Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, but that he will have his chance in Gent-Wevelgem.

Farrar's last win before Tirreno's stage to Santa Croce sull'Arno was at last year's Tour du Poitou stage one. Other past wins include a stage in the GP Correios de Portugal (2007) and Tour de l'Avenir stages (2005 & 2004).

Amica Chips out of Paris-Roubaix

The Amica Chips-Knauf team was removed from the list of invited teams for Paris-Roubaix after the race organisers learned the squad was not listed by the UCI as participating in the biological passport program, AFP reported Friday. Taking part in the anti-doping system is required for entrance to all ProTour and World Calendar races.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) released a complete list of teams participating in the passport program on Friday.

According to the UCI, in order to participate in the program, teams "must have paid the required financial contribution and all of their riders must provide reliable information regarding their whereabouts".

Only three Professional Continental teams failed to enrol in the passport system: Amica Chips-Knauf, the team of former world champion Igor Astarloa and Leonardo Bertagnolli, Elk Haus and Patrick Sinkewitz' PSK Whirlpool-Author team.

36 squads have signed up to anti-doping profiling

By Shane Stokes

One week after five ProTour teams made last-minute contributions to the UCI's biological passport programme and thus got a green light to take part in Paris-Nice, the governing body has released a list of 36 teams now fully paid up to the anti-doping screening.

All 18 ProTour teams are participating, and will contribute a total of €120,000 each per season. Half of this amount was due by March 5, while the remainder must be paid by the end of June.

According to Friday's UCI communiqué, 18 Professional Continental teams have also paid up. Thirteen of these hold the UCI wild card label and must pay a total of €60,000 per year. These are Vorarlberg – Corratec (Austria), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago and Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator (Belgium), Andalucía Cajasur and Contentpolis-Ampo (Spain), Barloworld (Britain), Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce (Ireland), ISD (Italy), Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (Netherlands), Cervélo Test Team (Switzerland), BMC Racing Team (USA) and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli (Venezuela).

The remaining five did not receive wild card status for reasons unrelated to the passport requirements. These teams are charged a total of €7,300 per rider to participate in the system, a more expensive investment required – in at least some cases – by late paperwork. They are Xacobeo Galicia (Spain), Agritubel (France), CSF Group – Navigare and LPR Brakes Farnese Vini (Ireland) and Acqua & Sapone - Caffè Mokambo (Italy).

Participation in the biological passport programme means that the riders involved will be regularly screened in order to deter doping and promote clean competition. In return, teams will be allowed access to the biggest races in the sport.

"All riders belonging to the listed teams undergo unannounced blood tests and urine tests both in competition and out of competition."

The results are used to build up a longitudinal profile considered to be a far more accurate predictor of doping practices. Peculiar results can be used to target test riders, but will also leave those concerned open to the so-called 'No Start' rule [a 15 day exclusion from competition] or longer sanctions, akin to those used now for positive tests.

No riders have been sanctioned thus far; this week, President Pat McQuaid once again stated that the UCI was not yet in a position to take disciplinary actions. As this process has not been used before, it is thought that a watertight case is needed in order to stand up to the inevitable legal challenge awaiting the first such sanctions.

Teams are but one portion of those contributing to the costs of running the large number of tests in the biological passport. The UCI pays 1 million Swiss Francs (approximately €650,000), and race organisers are also required to help front the costs.

The extent of their financial input is not yet available. However the UCI verified that ProTour organisers, plus those running Grand Tour/World Calendar races, are all on board. Last year ASO did not pay due to its long-running tussle with the UCI over the ProTour series and other issues.

Broken clavicle for Voeckler

Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Just one day after making the day's successful breakaway and taking second on the stage in Paris-Nice, Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider Thomas Voeckler crashed out of the race on Friday's stage six. The Frenchman crashed just 20 kilometres into the stage and could not resume riding. He was taken to a hospital in Orange where he was diagnosed with a displaced fracture of his clavicle.

Voeckler went into the 182.5 kilometre stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to La Montagne de Lure in 15th place overall, 1:15 behind yellow jersey holder Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). Also abandoning on the stage were Lampre's Simon Spilak (sick), Spaniard José Luis Arrieta (AG2R) and Frenchman Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux).

Worlds teams final on Monday

Australia hold a tight
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Entries for the UCI Track World Championships will close on Sunday, and the start list is shaping up as countries begin to announce their squads. The event takes place March 25-29 in in Pruskow, Poland, and already teams are arriving at the velodrome to become attuned to the track.

The men's individual and team pursuits are shaping up to be a big battle between the English speaking countries. American Taylor Phinney clocked the fastest time of this year's World Cup series in Copenhagen in the men's 4km pursuit. He went 2.5 seconds faster than the next best time held by the young Kiwi Jesse Sergent, while Britain's Ed Clancey and Australia's Jack Bobridge were next fastest.

Sergent is hoping to come home with two medals. "I think it's achievable," he told the Dominion Post. "I think after doing the individual pursuit at the World Cup and getting another one down here at nationals, and with my times, I'd definitely like to aim for a medal."

Australia will line up with Jack Bobridge as the only Olympian among its team pursuit squad, but the addition of strong young riders Leigh Howard, Glenn O'Shea and Rohan Dennis saw the team to gold in the World Cup round in Beijing this year.

The Dutch team will line up with two-round World Cup team sprint winners Willy Kanis and Yvonne Hijgenaar and Ellen Van Dijk, winner of the pursuit in Copenhagen round along with a solid contingent of male sprinters and pursuiters.

Australia (Toshiba) for Track Worlds: Ashlee Ankudinoff, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Dan Ellis, Belinda Goss, Leigh Howard, Sarah Kent, Anna Meares, Kaarle McCulloch, Cameron Meyer, Travis Meyer, Jason Niblett, Glenn O'Shea, Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, Joséphine Tomic.

Netherlands for Track Worlds: Willy Kanis (team sprint, 500m and keirin), Yvonne Hijgenaar (team sprint, 500m, keirin, sprint and omnium), Amy Pieters, Vera Koedooder (team pursuit) and Ellen van Dijk (team pursuit, pursuit, points and scratch races).

Teun Mulder (sprint, kilometre, keirin, team sprint), Tim Veldt (kilometre, omnium, team sprint) and Yondi Schmidt (keirin, kilometre, sprint and team sprint). Peter Schep (points race, Madison), Pim Ligthart (team pursuit, scratch, Madison) Sipke Zijlstra (team pursuit), Arno van der Zwet (team pursuit, individual pursuit), Geert Jan Jonkman (team pursuit), Levi Heimans (team pursuit, individual pursuit) and Roy Pieters (team pursuit). (courtesy Wielermagazine)

New Zealand and US teams were previously announced.

Hayles left off British track squad

Robert Hayles (Halfords / Bike Hut)
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Last year's dominant team, Great Britain, will wait until Monday to announce the final list of riders, but already Rob Hayles has announced that he has not been selected and has chosen to retire from track cycling.

The British road champion was hoping to have a shot at the Omnium event and in the Madison, in which he and Peter Kennaugh took gold in the Beijing World Cup in January. "It goes without saying I was gutted. I've already said I felt I'd done enough in Beijing to deserve a place in the Madison but they [British Cycling] want to go in a different direction," he told Cycling Weekly.

Last year, Hayles was ejected from the world championships after registering a too-high hematocrit reading in pre-race testing.

Hayles will focus his attention on his road season with the Halfords BikeHut team.

The British are already lacking Chris Hoy, who was injured in a crash in Copenhagen and will not compete. Also missing will be Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Romero, leaving the team to rely on its younger members to duplicate last year's stunning results.

Cervélo TestTeam adds young rider

Cervélo TestTeam completed its 2009 roster by adding 19-year-old Swiss rider Emilie Aubry, the team announced Friday. The Chevenez native is considered one of the biggest talents in Switzerland. She was third in her 2008 national road championships and also third in the overall young riders classification in the Grande Boucle Féminine last June.

"On our team we are always thinking about the future," said Manel Lacambra, the women's team director. "Our goal for the next few years is to build a strong team with experienced and talented riders. We watched Emilie closely last year and decided she has the right stuff for our team; very professional, great potential with the ability to improve in cycling and she is a nice person. She is also a talented climber and is fast. This season Emilie will get a "relaxed" calendar, giving her some time to improve and get more racing experience and most of all, that she enjoys cycling."

Aubrey has signed a one-year contract with the team. Her first race for the team will be the Prix des Vins Henri Valloton Fully on April 5.

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