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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 9, 2009

Edited by Laura Weislo and Sue George

Cavendish calls Garmin's team trial trial fixation "disrespectful"

By Daniel Friebe, Procycling

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)
On the eve of the start of the Giro d'Italia, Mark Cavendish stoked the (mostly) friendly rivalry burning between his Columbia-Highroad team and Garmin-Slipstream, calling Garmin's apparent fixation with the 20.5km team time trial that kicks off the Italian Grand Tour on Saturday "disrespectful".

Garmin recently spent three days at their base in Girona, Spain, working solely on team time trial drills.

"The thing about it is that the Giro's 21 days," Cavendish said Friday morning. "I think it's a bit disrespectful to the race [Garmin staking so much on this]… Your race is going to start on the first day and end on the first day, and that's what Garmin is fundamentally doing. They've said their season starts tomorrow. Their sponsor's paid money for the first six months of the year [sic]…and I think that's highly respectful to those guys. It's May. Their season starts tomorrow, and I think it's going to end tomorrow night. I mean, come on..."

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Cavendish was speaking to a small gathering of journalists in the hotel Westin Palace, close to Venice's world-famous Piazza San Marco. At the same press briefing, Columbia chief Bob Stapleton added further spice to what is shaping up to be a fascinating duel between the two American-based outfits, pointing out that his team won 16 individual time trials in 2008, as compared with Garmin's year-end total of 12 victories of any description. Garmin did, however, beat Columbia by seven seconds to win the equivalent team time trial in last year's Giro in Palermo.

Bradley Wiggins, who joined Garmin from Columbia at the end of last year, commented of this year's TTT on Thursday, "as long as we beat Columbia we'll be alright…"

Although agreeing that preparation was vital for a technical event like Saturday's, Cavendish claimed that his team had done little in the way of practice.

"We did none really last year and we've done nothing again," he said. "We've got a versatile team, though. We've got 21 races in this Giro, 21 chances. Garmin have got the TTT and what else?

"The TTT is a series of short efforts," the Milan-San Remo champion said. "You need to learn how to ride it. It's not about getting nine riders from A to B. It's about getting the team riding together, and that's how you'll get the best out of the team."

Speaking about the Giro in general, Cavendish reckoned he would probably have "four or five" chances of sprint wins. Having never previously sported a prize jersey in a major tour, he revealed that a stint in the pink or ciclamino (points) jersey could also be among his ambitions for this race.

Columbia-Highroad is the first team due on the start-ramp Saturday, at 3:35 pm local time. Garmin-Slipstream will be fourth off at 3:50 pm, while the final team to start, Astana, will begin at 5:20 pm.

Sastre targets missing Giro podium

By Jean-François Quénet in Venice, Italy

Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
Although he is known for riding many Grand Tours, Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) now sees the Giro d'Italia as the only one in which he has not yet made the top three overall. The defending Tour de France champion took second and third in the two past Vueltas a España.

"Every time I rode the Giro previously, it was at the service of somebody else," he recalled in Venezia where he's ready to start his fourth Italian tour.

The first time Sastre started the Giro d'Italia in 1999, he worked for Laurent Jalabert on Team ONCE. Jalabert took fourth overall. In 2002, the year Tyler Hamilton finished second with a broken shoulder, Sastre raced it with Team CSC.

The third time was Sastre's masterpiece. Still with CSC in 2006, he helped then teammate Ivan Basso make his adversaries suffer large time gaps: runner-up Enrique Gutierrez finished more than nine minutes down on Basso. Gilberto Simoni was third at 12 minutes, and Damiano Cunego fourth at 18 minutes. Basso was subsequently suspended for his involvement in Operación Puerto, but was never stripped of the title because he admitted his intention to dope for the 2006 Tour de France. Basso denied having doped for the Giro d'Italia.

Now Sastre can ride for himself at Cervélo. "I really wanted to ride the Giro this year because the centennial makes it special, and I want to finish on the podium of all three Grand Tours," the Spaniard said. "I'm inspired by this race. I like the course. It's hard. It's good for climbers. I just hope we won't have as many transfers from stages locations to hotels as we had when I rode the Giro in the past."

The Tour de France winner hasn't yet produced any significant results for Cervélo but he's also never been a rider for the early part of the season as his focus has been on the Grand Tours. "I'm not yet at 100% of my capacities, but I'm getting there. Of course I have in mind to defend my title at the Tour de France, but I want to think of the Giro only for now. I'm really motivated for a good result at the end."

Rogers returns to Grand Tour racing after two years away

By Jean-François Quénet in Venice, Italy

Michael Rogers
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)
Cycling enthusiasts who only follow the Grand Tours haven't seen Team Columbia-Highroad's Michael Rogers in action since he crashed on the downhill of the Cormet de Roselend during the 2007 Tour de France. He was forced to withdraw 20 kilometres further in the montée de Hauteville with a broken shoulder.

This accident changed the history of cycling. Rogers had made the right move. He was in a breakaway with a five-minute lead over the Dane Michael Rasmussen, who took over from him at the front and started his infamous campaign to Tignes. Had Rogers not crashed, it would have been a different Tour de France than the one that ended up becoming known for Rasmussen's controversial whereabouts and Alberto Contador's lucky win.

"It took me a while to recover, and then I was out of action because of glandular fever," Rogers recalled. He wasn't picked by Team Columbia for last year's Tour de France because of a too short recovery. Although he was doing great at the Dauphiné and he had no chance to ride the Vuelta a España because the team simply didn't line up.

"I really wanted to do the Giro [d'Italia] again," said Rogers, who rode the race only once before, in 2006, mostly as a preparation for the Tour de France. "I'm excited. I have close ties with this country – my wife is Italian. It's important to do it this year for the cycling history. I rode the centennial Tour de France and it was special, also because it was my first one. This 100th Giro, it's just great to be part of it."

The Australian hasn't travelled all the way to Venice just to be a tourist. "I'd be happy with a top-10," he said. "I think I have the legs to do it. The team time trial is very important. I think we have a strong team. Garmin-Slipstream also does, but they will have to go fast to beat us."

Rogers is Team Columbia-Highroad's captain for the Giro. "I'll have a really good support," he said. "Thomas Lövkvist is looking a bit further down in the season but the average of the team is very high, plus we have Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw for the sprints. The core of the team we have here will also do the Tour. I'll do both this year."

Bertogliati back after unemployment

By Jean-François Quénet in Venice, Italy

Rubens Bertogliati
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)
Rubens Bertogliati once wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in 2002, but his fortunes have not been great since last year's expulsion of his Saunier Duval team from the race, and the team's later dissolution. After months of unemployment, he will make his Grand Tour return in the Giro d'Italia on Saturday.

The Swiss rider was out of a job up until just weeks ago, but was picked up by the Diquigiovanni team. Manager Gianni Savio has added one more sponsor to his pool of partners: the painting company Sigma, previously known in cycling for backing the Belgian team Histor-Sigma of Stephen Roche and Luc Leblanc twenty years ago. "We've got no more space for new sponsors on our jerseys," Savio apologized.

Bertogliati had signed for the H2O Luxembourg-based team that was officially introduced by the manager Max Radoni at the world championships in Varese, but the team never took shape. "I had signed up for unemployment but fortunately after one week of being officially on the dole, I joined Diquigiovanni," the Swiss rider said.

The powerful time triallist who turned pro in 2000 with Lampre thought it would have been a pity to finish his career prematurely, but he'll celebrate his 30th birthday on the 9th of May by riding the inaugural team time trial of the Giro d'Italia.

"I'm very happy to be with this team," said Bertogliati who is openly a strong anti-doping campaigner and had one more choc when he heard about the A-sample positivity of his new team-mate Davide Rebellin. Diquigiovanni was not the employer of Rebellin at the time of the Beijing Olympics. "I still can't believe this story," Savio said. "We have suspended him until the B-sample analysis, which I hope to return negative."

Diquigiovanni is led at the Giro d'Italia by veteran Gilberto Simoni who is starting his 15th Giro at the age of 37, a race he won twice (in 2001 and 2003). The Tour de Langkawi winner José Serpa is Savio's secret weapon for the coming mountains.

King to conquer first Grand Tour

By Daniel Benson

American Ted King will start his first Grand Tour in Venice on Saturday and the Cervélo TestTeam rider is looking forward to the experience after an early setback at the Tour of California.

King, who heralds from New Hampshire, was originally scheduled to ride the race in early December, when the team met at their inaugural training camp. However a fractured arm at the Tour of California threw his racing plans up in the air. "Luckily the bone wasn't displaced that much and it was a relatively small fracture, so with the right support and doctors, I was able ride within a week."

After a short stay in the US with family and friends King began training hard before returning to Europe to resume racing in April. "I was going to do three one-day races, but ended up racing for three weeks, including the whole Ardennes week and then the Tour de Romandie, as well."

As for his Giro aspirations, the 26-year-old was hoping to use the race as a learning experience, despite the excitement. "It's an obvious statement but I have to take it day-by-day but there's a whole host of emotions running through me right now.

"The team also really focussed on working for Carlos Sastre and it will be my job to keep him out of trouble on the flat stages. He's our central focus.

Having the reigning Tour de France champion in the team is a huge bonus, according to King, who will be tasked with the job of supporting Sastre in the flat stages. "He's really self-sufficient but what surprises me is how humble he is. He has the right to behave like a superstar and have an ego to match, but he doesn't. I'm pinching myself when I think about how lucky I am to work for him."

During the race, King will room with the experienced Ukrainian Volodimir Gustov, a veteran of over a dozen Grand Tours. "I don't speak Russian and his English isn't exactly wonderful but we mix it with some French and Spanish. But it's a total learning experience so if I notice he's horizontal then I go and lie down too. Not with him, of course."

Foot injury cancels Roulston's Giro plans

Hayden Roulston at the Olympics
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)
Hayden Roulston's Giro d'Italia was over before it even started. The New Zealander was slated to take part in this year's race, but due to a foot injury, the 28-year-old will not line up next to his Cervélo TestTeam teammate and Tour de France Champion Carlos Sastre. He was replaced by Briton Daniel Lloyd.

The injury, sustained in a recent crash, flared up over the past several days according to TVNZ. However, Roulston is trying to look at the bright side. He said that he knows the season is long and will shift his focus to a more definite plan for the Tour de France.

Lloyd was happy to get the call up by the team. "It's long been my ambition to ride the Grand Tours and this is really exciting," said Lloyd "The Giro has been the big target for me this year but after I picked up a virus going into the Ardennes classics it looked like I would be sitting this one out."

EPO CERA testing planned for Giro

After several riders tested positive last year for the blood-boosting drug EPO CERA, anti-doping officials will be on the lookout for the banned substance throughout the Giro d'Italia. Anti-doping agencies began catching riders for using CERA in the middle of last summer, during the Tour de France and after the Italian Grand Tour had concluded.

Race director Angelo Zomegnan confirmed earlier reports when he told the Associated Press on Friday that racers will be tested for CERA. They will also be subjected to urine tests in order to detect insulin.

Prior to the race, the 198 competitors underwent routine pre-race tests performed by the UCI. During the race, 481 anti-doping tests, including some surprise tests are planned.

Several riders tested positive for CERA last season. The winner of three Giro stages and the climber's competition, Italian Emanuele Sella, tested positive in an out-of-competition doping control issued by the UCI on July 23. Italian rider Riccardo Riccò also tested positive during the Tour de France after he won stages six and nine.

Sutherland looking for Joe Martin three-peat

Rory Sutherland (OUCH) racing at Redlands
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
Team Ouch Pro Cycling's Rory Sutherland may be in a little better shape than he thought. In yesterday's 2.5-mile uphill prologue of the Joe Martin Stage Race, a race he's won the past two years, he finished second by a margin of just over one second behind winner Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell).

"A three-peat is a big call," he said before the race. "It would be nice, don't get me wrong, and it seems like I'm getting better every tour, but like a diesel."

Sutherland's effort took him 9:42.03. Overall the team had a good day, with five riders placing in the top 18, none more than 30 seconds behind Jacques-Maynes, and two more riders within 42 seconds.

"It gives us a lot of options," team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo said. "We intend to make Bissell's life difficult."

The stage race offers plenty of time bonuses en route and at the stage finishes, so Sutherland will have chances to take over the race lead. For example, the 179km hilly stage one is awarding a 15-second time bonus.

Ross's Epic Hill Climb returns for third year

Ross's Epic Hill Climb, a benefit for injured Sonoma County cyclist Ross Dillon, will happen for its third year on June 6. The road race will be run on a race course that follows the steep Pine Flat Road from the Alexander Valley town of Geyserville to its terminus at the edge of the Geysers geothermal area for a total elevation gain of 3,800 feet in 18 miles.

In 2008, Nathaniel English set a new course record of 59:09, a time that will be on the mind of all this year's racers as they labor up the mountainside.

"There's nothing like racing your bike in Sonoma County," said Carlos Perez, the organizer behind Ross's Epic Hill Climb. "We should all be grateful for every beautiful mile we get. It only makes sense to try to give something back to those who aren't able to race anymore."

Seven years ago, while riding his bicycle in a wide shoulder, a young Ross Dillon was struck from behind by an inattentive driver. In that one moment, Dillon's life, and the lives of his family and friends were changed forever. His story is one of courage, resilience, and the stubborn love of a family unwilling to give up on a journey toward recovery. Proceeds from entry fees will go towards caregiving and recovery costs incurred by the Dillon family.

Cyclists wishing to compete in this event can enter online at

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