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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 18, 2009

Edited by Les Clarke

Cavendish fires warning shot at Sanremo rivals

Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Just four days out from Milano-Sanremo, Columbia-Highroad's Mark Cavendish has indicated the possibility of la Primavera success with a strong win in the seventh and final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

"The other day I thought it would be my day, but I was beaten on the line," said Cavendish. "I had a point to prove today. My team kept the break's gap small and then I had the perfect lead out."

With the 298 kilometres of Milano-Sanremo awaiting the explosive Brit on Saturday, the timing of his latest win is perfect. Having been in the headlines for his return to the velodrome as part of Great Britain's world championships squad, Cavendish has fired a warning shot at his rivals.

He's playing down his chances on Saturday, however, saying, "Sanremo is one of the most difficult races on the calendar, I am only 23 years old and don't expect too much.

"Sure, I'll go there to win it but if I don't then it's not a drama."

Perennial Sanremo contenders Robbie McEwen and Allan Davis finished in 15th and 10th place respectively, while Italy's Daniele Bennati took fourth.

Take a look at Cyclingnews' stage seven coverage

Scarponi back in winners' circle

Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

While Mark Cavendish was taking the stage win San Benedetto del Tronto, Michele Scarponi was ensuring he made it to the finish safely to record the overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico.

The experienced Italian was an unexpected victor, although he admitted that he hadn't lost faith in his chances against the Stefano Garzelli, Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso and Davide Rebellin.

"I hoped I could pull this off at the start of the race," said Scarponi. "I did a great time trial and had a great stage win yesterday that put me in place for the overall win."

The former Liberty Seguros rider, who was embroiled in the controversy surrounding Manolo Saiz's former team and Operación Puerto, now seems to have found a home with Gianni Savio's Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoni squad.

Scarponi paid tribute to the team after the finish. "I am finally past all the troubles; a lot of thanks to the team and everyone else."

See Cyclingnews' Tirreno-Adriatico coverage

Cervélo reaction to Tour invite

Carlos Sastre
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Having been invited as one of the three wildcard teams for this year's Tour de France, Cervélo TestTeam's reaction to the news was obviously positive.

While ProTour outfit Fuji-Servetto missed out, Cervélo, which only debuted earlier this season but possesses some of the peloton's brightest talents, was given a chance to demonstrate what it is capable of in the year's biggest event.

"That's extremely good news for us and it is a great honour to get the trust from the Tour de France organiser to be part of the 2009 Tour," said Managing Sport Director Thomas Campana. "We are looking forward to defending the title of Carlos Sastre. It's a great day here for us today."

The team's biggest card is its captain and defending Tour champion, Carlos Sastre, who also spoke about the news.

"I expected [the invitation] because the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, told me on several occasions, both at the presentation of the Tour and the Vuelta, 'Carlos will always be welcome during his career'.

"The Tour has shown the respect it feels for me and my team, and we are very grateful. I hope to repay this invitation out on the road, as I have always done," said Sastre.

Bartoli holds court on the Classics

Michele Bartoli's name is synonymous with success in the Classics during the late 1990s. Victories in de Ronde, Liège and Lombardia give him a unique perspective on the sport's biggest one-day races. He tells Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown how he thinks this season's monuments may unfold and who to look for at the head of the field.

Bartoli examines the possibilities for Milano-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège according to the routes, his memories of these races and those riders who are suited to winning a one-day battle.

Alessandro Petacchi won Milano-Sanremo in 2005
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

La Primavera - Milano-Sanremo (March 21)

Bartoli's best: Fifth in 1995 behind winner Laurent Jalabert

Michele's observations: "The first year I rode it seemed most adapted to my characteristics, in 1995. It is a very fast parcours. It's not too demanding or difficult, but if there are riders who want to have a hard finale, like Danilo Di Luca or Philippe Gilbert, then the race could end differently. A little like we saw in 2008 with Fabian Cancellara, without a bunch sprint.

"They can make the difference on the Cipressa or Poggio with a high rhythm. This year, I don't see teams that are overly strong and who can control the finale. I think that Gilbert, especially seeing what he did in the last two years. If he has matured well, he will be a protagonist.

"Petacchi is the favourite out of the sprinters. He is going well in the climbs and will have the legs to have a sprint."

Read the entire feature here.

Hovelijnck fractures skull

Quick Step's Kurt Hovelijnck is in a critical condition following a heavy fall during training in the Vlaamse Ardennen. The 27-year-old Belgian was riding with teammate Wouter Weylandt when the incident occurred.

"It is really very serious. He bled from his eye and maybe he has a skull fracture. I'm still very affected," Weylandt told Sporza.

Hovelijnck has been transferred to the University Hospital in Gent.

Riccò remains optimistic

Riccardo Riccò last year.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Riccardo Riccò remains optimistic about his future in the sport, despite currently serving a suspension for doping during last year's Tour de France.

He has commented on his future after receiving a reduction in his penalty of four months - instead of two years, he will serve 20 months. The Court of Arbitration for Sport partially upheld his appeal on the grounds of his "active cooperation" when he explained that Leonardo Piepoli also took CERA last year.

The 25-year-old Italian, who will be 27 when his ban expires on March 18, 2010, has told, "At 27 years [old], I am still young and I still have at least 10 years ahead of me."

His defence counsel sought a one-year reduction in the sanction imposed, although this latest development still means he will only miss two months of the 2010 season.

His lawyer called it, "A balanced decision".

Riccò may find a comeback more difficult than imagined, however, with news yesterday that the former Saunier Duval-Scott team, now known as Fuji-Servetto, has not been invited to the Tour de France due in part to Riccò's actions at last year's Tour.

While Riccò is adamant that he will return as strong as he was before, getting a team with which to ride the world's biggest may not be as easy.

Davis still leads UCI rankings

Quick Step's Allan Davis continues to lead the UCI World Ranking after the sport's governing body released the latest results. After his stunning performance in Paris-Nice, Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) is not far behind.

Davis' overall win and three stage victories in January's Tour Down Under keeps him ahead of the Spaniard, who amassed a sizeable total in the 'Race to the Sun' to trail by only 11 points.

Saxo Bank's Fränk Schleck currently sits in third while his teammate Stuart O'Grady is fourth. Davis' Quick Step teammate Sylvain Chavanel rounds out the top five.

Quick Step remains on top of the teams' rankings, with Spain the leading nation in the countries tally.

The full World ranking is here.

Fitness a feature on Cyclingnews

Many Cyclingnews readers will be familiar with our regular Form and Fitness Q&A section on the site. A popular part of the site, our fitness experts answer your questions regarding performance on and off the bike.

With the advent of the Cyclingnews forum, however, this section has now gone 'real time', and those readers looking for advice on how to become a better rider can visit our Form & Fitness forum to speak with the panel of experts we've assembled over the past decade.

Simply log on to the Form & Fitness forum, register your details, and start asking questions.

Cyclingnews has also begun a series of fitness features that showcases particular issues to cycling performance, from nutrition through to knee pain, we'll try and provide a guide to getting more from your riding.

Introducing the Cyclingnews Forum

We're pleased to unveil the Cyclingnews Forum and we'd like to welcome you to drop by! To kick things off we've created a selection of folders based on the themes you're familiar with from our site, including one for all topics mountain bike related. We'll be adding more sections over the coming weeks as we find out which topics and sub-topics you, our readers, are talking about.

And we won't stop there. We'll also be improving the look and feel of the forums as we gear up for a total redesign of the site in a few months' time. All you have to do click on the link below and sign up.

Don't forget to let us know what sections or sub sections you want to see in the Forum, and stop by our About the website folder to see what's coming up in the future. For an extensive run down on features such as private message, avatars and profiling please click here.

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