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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, May 6, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tour of California moves to May in 2010

ProTour granted for 2011

By Kirsten Robbins

Tour of California moves to May in 2010
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The Tour of California will move from its traditional mid-February date to its requested slot in May for 2010. International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid and cycling's road commission granted the date change and ProTour (beginning in 2011), confirmed Andrew Messick, president of race organiser AEG Sports, to Cyclingnews.

The stage race will take place on May 16 to 23, within the same time slot as the Giro d'Italia. "We will be head-to-head with the Giro but frankly I don't think that will really affect us," Messick said. "The Giro is a great race, but very few cyclists who are serious about the Tour de France will also race the Giro."

Tour of California organisers met with McQuaid and the International Cycling Union's road commission at its headquarters in Switzerland early last week to discuss the possible date change.

"We sorted it all out with Pat McQuaid," Messick said. "We talked about possibilities in April, May, June and even November but we always wanted to be in May."

The May slot, according to Messick, will turn the Tour of California into a preparation race for the Tour de France.

"I think being a lead-up to the Tour is the strongest place for us to be and we will have many of the Tour de France riders participating. The teams can do the Classics, the Tour de Romandie, take a break and still have enough time to get over to California for our race. They can even go back to Europe and do the Dauphiné [Libéré].

"We will start to plan the new courses now. We are fairly decided on a particular mountain top finish. We definitely have one."

Messick said the May date will allow access to more terrain in the high Sierra Mountains that are normally covered with snow.

The date change may have saved the race; Messick said if they did not receive the date change the event may not have happened in 2010.

"We would have had to make some difficult decisions. There was just no appetite to stay a February race."

(Talk about this article on our forum.)

Armstrong wants Giro stage win

Lance Armstrong aims for Giro stage win
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong is aiming for a stage win in the Giro d'Italia, one week after he finished second in the Tour of the Gila, and nearly seven weeks after he fractured his collarbone. The American lines up for the Italian Grand Tour, May 9 to 31, for the first time in his career as part of a comeback.

"I will be very unsatisfied if I don't win a stage," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. " A mountain or time trial stage would mean the same."

The Giro d'Italia is Armstrong's first race in Europe since he broke his collarbone on day one of the Castilla y León stage race. He left for the USA where doctors immediately performed surgery.

Armstrong's setback means that American Levi Leipheimer, 18th last year, will likely lead the team. The two dominated the Tour of the Gila, where Leipheimer won the overall and two stages, and Armstrong finished second overall.

"I'm resting after a long trip. Last week's Tour of the Gila was fantastic. I will need to go better in the second part of the Giro. But the Venice team time trial is a course suited to my team and we can win."

Armstrong could also take the race leader's maglia rosa if his team wins the team time trail on Venice's Lido. He said that team manager Johan Bruyneel will decide who is first over the line. Armstrong ruled himself out of winning the race overall when it finishes in Rome on May 31.

"[Ivan] Basso, [Danilo] Di Luca, [Stefano] Garzelli, [Denis] Menchov, [Carlos] Sastre and my teammate Leipheimer are ahead. The collarbone fracture slowed me down."

Armstrong arrived in Rome Monday morning. He met with Italy's Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, yesterday to promote his Livestrong Global Cancer Campaign. Today he travels the 550 kilometres from Rome to Venice for the start of the Centennial Giro d'Italia.

Petacchi expects "grand" battles with Cavendish

By Gregor Brown

Alessandro Petacchi expects "grand" battles with Cavendish
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi is prepared to battle cycling's newest super sprinter, Mark Cavendish, at the Giro d'Italia, starting Saturday in Venice. The Italian is confident thanks to recent wins and 19 career Giro d'Italia stage victories.

"We are all top sprinters and, like always, in Grand Tours there will be 'grand' battles. Certainly, Cavendish is an important rival."

The sprint rivals in this year's Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, have been lessened with the non-participation of Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), Robbie McEwen (Katusha), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank). Still, Petacchi will be up against the likes of Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), Allan Davis (Quick Step), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank)

"I am not sure of all of the names but those who line up at the Giro will not be underestimated."

Petacchi's stock is high thanks to wins in Scheldeprijs last month and the Giro di Toscana Sunday. Those wins bring his season count to eight, three more than when he last started the Giro d'Italia in 2007.

"When you win leading up to a Grand Tour it lets you know what type of condition you have. It is a good gauge a week out. I am feeling good and happy with how it has been going in these last days. I think I will arrive in good shape for the Giro d'Italia."

LPR Brakes will back Petacchi for the sprints, but also battle for the race overall with 2007 winner Danilo Di Luca.

Garmin, AG2R and Diquigiovanni name Giro teams

Vande Velde leads 2009 Garmin Giro team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Garmin-Slipstream, Diquigiovanni-Androni and AG2R La Mondiale named their nine-men squads to compete in the centennial Giro d'Italia yesterday. The three-week stage race starts with a team time trial Saturday in Venice.

Garmin-Slipstream: Christian Vande Velde will lead the American team in its defence of its 2008 team time trail win. The team released the final eight supporting men: Bradley Wiggins, Cameron Meyer, Danny Pate, David Millar, David Zabriskie, Julian Dean, Tom Danielson and Tyler Farrar.

"The team has been training hard for this race and we'd of course love to get the maglia rosa again, but we will be happy with a few strong performances," said Directeur Sportif Matt White.

Diquigiovanni-Androni: Gianni Savio announced the signing of Leonardo Bertagnolli from team Amica Chips just for the Giro d'Italia. The Italian will be the eighth man to help support two-time race winner Gilberto Simoni. The other seven are Rubens Bertogliati, Alessandro Bertolini, Francesco De Bonis, Carlos José Ochoa, Jackson Rodriguez, Michele Scarponi and José Serpa.

AG2R La Mondiale: The French team will help Slovenian Tadej Valjavec better his 13th overall from last year with Renaud Dion, Alexander Efimkin, Sébastien Hinault, Yuriy Krivtsov, Julien Loubet, Jean-Charles Senac, Blaise Sonnery and Guillaume Bonnafond.

"The first objective in the Giro is to place a rider in the top ten, and we count on our leader Tadej Valjavec. There is also the objective of stage wins with riders like Alexander Efimkin and Yuriy Krivtsov."

Vinokourov eyes Vuelta return

Alexander Vinokourov eyes return
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alexander Vinokourov hopes to be back in the peloton this summer in time to ride both the Vuelta a España and the World Championships. His further goals include winning the Tour de France.

"There is still a force, there is a desire, there is still a dream: to win the Tour de France and, most importantly, to restore my good name and prove that one and a half years ago I did not use any banned substance. I wan to prove that I can win without doping," Vinokourov told,

Vinokourov, 35, is serving a ban for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France. The Kazakhstan federation suspended him for one year, which the International Cycling Union (UCI) increased to two years. The suspension expires on July 23, 2009.

The UCI may prevent Vinokourov from racing until he pays a fine equivalent to one-year's salary, according to rules established in June 2007. "I'm not going to pay any fines, simply because until now none of the other riders who have returned to riding after their suspensions have paid."

The Kazakh would like to ride for the team he helped start, team Kazakhstan-based Astana. He noted that his former team may "soon cease to exist" because of its "serious debts. The team will soon be sold to foreign investors. But I hope, all the same, that a solution will be found."

The difficulty, he admitted, is that the Tour de France doesn't want him. The race organisers "dictate their terms" and "for no apparent reason may prohibit me from participating. So it is better not to make plans for the Tour."

His short-term goals include riding and aiming for a stage win at this year's Vuelta a España, August 29 to September 20, and a gold medal at the World Championships, September 26.

Vinokourov is slowly working at building towards those goals, but explained that it is too early for intensive work. He plans to train on the Spanish island of Tenerife in the coming months. (SW)

Paolini misses Giro following anti-doping hearing

Luca Paolini will miss the Giro d'Italia after Acqua & Sapone team manager Palmiro Masciarelli overlooked him in the final selection. The Italian sprinter was heard by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) yesterday for his alleged involvement in the 2006 Operazione Athena doping investigation.

The Olympic Committee is still to issue its decision. To date, there has been no sporting nor criminal sanctions against Paolini, winner of Settimana Lombardia stage six last month.

Paolini was questioned in 2007 regarding the evidence found during raids of homes and gyms in Italy in late 2006. Police arrested 22 people (none cyclists) and evidence worth six million euro was sequestered during the investigation dubbed Operazione Athena (named after a gym in Lombardy, 'Athena,' were one of the raids were made).

Stefano Garzelli, 2000 race winner, will lead Acqua & Sapone for stage wins and the overall classification.

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(Additional editorial assistance from Susan Westemeyer)

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