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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, May 29, 2009

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Garzelli retains mountain jersey

By Gregor Brown in Avellino, Italy

Stefano Garzelli on the podium
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Stefano Garzelli nearly has his first mountain jersey secured after 11 years of racing the Giro d'Italia. The Italian leads the classification with three more days remaining, including today's climb up to the rim of the Vesuvio volcano.

"The maglia verde ['green jersey' - ed.] is equal to a stage win," the Acqua & Sapone team rider told Cyclingnews. "I want to win it and I will do all I can to win it. I hope to arrive in Rome with this jersey."

Despite winning the overall Giro d'Italia in 2000, Garzelli's goal was a stage win prior to this year's Giro. He started concentrating on collecting as many points in the mountains classification after a long solo move in day 10 to Pinerolo.

"There are not too many mountains left, but I needed to keep an eye on Danilo Di Luca. That is why I made sure to finish ahead of him at Blockhaus."

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Di Luca, who lives close to the Blockhaus climb in Abruzzo, had many supporters on top of the climb Wednesday. They booed Garzelli for sprinting ahead of Di Luca for second place behind winner Franco Pellizotti.

Di Luca needed a maximum of the top-three bonus seconds on offer for his fight in the Giro d'Italia overall classification, but Garzelli needed the mountain points on the climb to secure his lead.

"I was not thinking of Di Luca or anyone else, I was only thinking of taking the best place I could to get more points towards the maglia verde. I am friends with Di Luca, and we will stay friends. If he took second and I took third and then he wins on Vesuvio he will take the maglia verde from me by one point."

Garzelli leads with 22 points over Andriy Grivko and Di Luca. There are three more categorised climbs and a maximum 21 points on offer on stage 19. Garzelli only needs to finish the Giro d'Italia to win the jersey.

Garzelli first rode the Giro d'Italia in 1997. He helped teammate Marco Pantani win the 1998 Giro d'Italia and won his own in 2000.

Emanuele Sella won the green jersey last year.

Sastre's "last chance"

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo) had a bad day on Wednesday, but will try to make up for it on Vesuvio
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Today's stage 19 up the slopes of mount Vesuvio will be the penultimate chance for the Giro general classification riders to improve their standings - and while this goes for the top two contenders, current maglia rosa Denis Menchov and runner-up Danilo Di Luca, it is also valid for those who still hope for a final podium placing when the race ends in Rome on Sunday.

Spaniard Carlos Sastre, who lost his third placing on the hairpins on mount Blockhaus by conceding over one minute to Menchov on Wednesday, has promised to give it another try before the ultimate 14.4km-time trial in Rome on Sunday.

"Tomorrow [today] is my last chance to do something in this Giro," said the Cervélo leader said on Thursday evening, getting full confidence and support from his team and his team directeur sportif.

"Tomorrow [today] is Vesuvio," said Jean Paul Van Poppel. "We're going to play it hard and hope that Carlos has his legs again. I think he can do it, which is why we are planning to go for it. We know it is going to be very difficult, but we won't give up until the climb is finished."

Even though Van Poppel admitted that Sastre's teammates are feeling tired by the end of a very challenging three-week Grand Tour, the Belgian was upbeat about the outcome of the race. "The big guys who have raced hard and been riding in the wind for Carlos for three weeks are starting to feel it now," he continued. "But with only three days left, we're one of only a few teams with two stage wins, and we have Carlos in the top five of the GC, so I'm very happy with the results."

Even though his teammates are tired, Sastre said they are still doing a marvelous job for him. "I felt really protected by all my teammates who are still just as motivated and enthusiastic as they were on the first day," he said after yesterday's stage raced in windy conditions. "They stayed close to me again, helping me to use up as little energy as possible and to stay in the leading positions to avoid any unnecessary risks."

USA's Ted King, a Grand Tour rookie at Sastre's service, is happy that the race is almost over. "Three days to go," said King. "My legs are hurting and mind is going a bit numb, but at this point, I'm super excited to be as far as I am and Rome is just around the corner!"

Basso confirms Vuelta participation

Ivan Basso
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Liquigas' Ivan Basso, who is currently racing the Giro d'Italia hoping for a final podium placing in Rome, has confirmed that he will be participating in the Vuelta a España this year. The Italian, who is making his came-back after two years of suspension due to his implication in the Operación Puerto affair, will not race the Tour de France but concentrate on the Spanish Grand Tour instead.

"Yes, I will be racing the Vuelta," Basso told Spanish Marca on Thursday. "I'm very happy about it. I've seen the route on paper several times and it seems very nice to me. At the presentation of the Giro I was very happy when the representatives of Unipublic welcomed me to their race, saying that they were happy to have me at the Vuelta. I'm also very happy to be able to race it."

The Italian Grand Tour contender is positive that he will be able to race for the victory in Spain later this year, as he is getting back into racing rhythm at the Giro d'Italia.

"Aside from my result, this Giro will serve me to get back my former resistance and strength after almost three years without racing Grand Tours," he continued. "Because this is impossible just by training. I'm convinced that in the Vuelta you will see me even stronger because in a stage race like the Giro you have to make great efforts, but it is also training for other competitions."

As Spaniard Alberto Contador will probably be absent from the Vuelta, Basso could be the big favourite for this year's edition. At the moment, the 31-year-old is battling for the Giro podium.

Contador continues Tour prep

After having ridden the Tour de France stages taking place in the Pyrenees in just over one month's time, Alberto Contador has turned east and is now reconnoitring the passages of the race in the Alps. On Thursday, the Spanish 2007 Tour winner trained on the parcours of stage 17 between Bourg Saint-Maurice and Le Grand Bornand, continuing his preparation for the Grand Tour.

Together with his teammates Benjamin Noval, Tomas Vaitkus and Sergio Paulinho, Contador tested his legs on the 163km-long route linking five climbs counting for the climber's classification: the Cormet de Roselend, the Col des Saisies, the Côte d'Arâches, the Col de Romme (a first on the Tour) and the Col de la Colombière. The stage will come with four days remaining until Paris, one day prior to the last time trial in Annecy and with the penultimate day's climb up Mont Ventoux also still on the schedule.

Tour of Ireland details to be released soon

By Shane Stokes

The Tour of Ireland, an international event
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

Thus far, little is known about the 2009 Tour of Ireland, save for the fact that Lance Armstrong has been confirmed as taking part in the race. That will change shortly, with information coming soon on both the route and the teams which will participate.

"We have been very busy putting together what we believe to be a very exciting and challenging route," said Project Director Darach McQuaid this week. "Lance Armstrong's participation has prompted us to include some elements not seen in the 2007 and 2008 editions. We will be announcing the route in the coming weeks."

The past two editions of the race have featured several ProTour teams and big riders. Last year, Mark Cavendish travelled to the race just over a month after taking four stage wins in the Tour de France, and netted victory on the first three stages in the Tour of Ireland. His Columbia team-mate Marco Pinotti triumphed overall.

McQuaid said that another strong line-up is guaranteed. "Major world squads have been sending us their rosters, which we will reveal shortly," he said. "All I can say at this stage is the quality of the field will be world class, with some of the best teams in the world racing on Irish roads again."

The race will tie in with the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit, to be held in Dublin the day after the five day, 2.1-ranked event finishes.

This year's edition will be the third since the race was reintroduced in 2007. It was originally run from 1950 to 1984, renamed the Nissan Classic in 1985 until 1992. Public reaction has been solid for recent editions, and the improving fortunes of young Irish riders Daniel Martin (Garmin Slipstream), Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Philip Deignan (Cervélo TestTeam), plus Armstrong's participation, should add to the publicity around this year's race.

McQuaid said that previous sponsors are on board once again, and that the race welcomes more partnerships. "We are very happy to retain partner sponsors such as Failte Ireland, An Post, Fiat Auto Ireland and Vittel amongst others," he stated. "There are still significant partner opportunities available should a brand wish to get involved in what will be one of this summer's biggest sporting spectacles."

The race will once again enjoy large television audiences, something that is particularly important to Failte Ireland, the Irish Tourist Board. It will be carried on RTE, ITV in the UK and Versus in the US, as well as being shown on more networks worldwide.

Tour of Austria presented

While the country's cycling scene is suffering from several doping cases, the Tour of Austria has been able to find sponsors and maintain its existence. Organisers presented this year's route on Thursday evening in Vienna.

The 61st edition of the event will be taking place from July 5-12 and include eight stages, totaling 1,208.9 kilometres. The challenging route will take the peloton over tough climbs as of the second day of racing with the Kitzbüheler Horn on the schedule, followed by the queen stage on July 7 that includes five categorised climbs.

The penultimate day will see the overall favourites battle it out against the clock for the fourth time in Podersdorf am Neusiedler See over 26.3 kilometres before the race ends in Vienna.

The stages of the 2009 Tour of Austria outline as follows:

Stage 1 - July 5: Dornbirn - Messepark Dornbirn, 141.9 km
Stage 2 - July 6: Landeck - Kitzbüheler Horn, 183.2 km
Stage 3 - July 7: Kitzbühel - Prägraten am Großvenediger, 183.7 km
Stage 4 - July 8: Lienz - Wolfsberg, 217.2 km
Stage 5 - July 9: Wolfsberg - Judendorf-Straßengel, 138.9 km
Stage 6 - July 10: St. Pölten - Horn, 189.0 km
Stage 7 - July 11: Podersdorf am Neusiedler See (ITT), 26.3 km
Stage 8 - July 12: Podersdorf am Neusiedler See - Vienna, Rathaus, 128.7 km

French authorities summon Landis and Baker

By Shane Stokes

Floyd Landis may be back racing, but the repercussions of his positive test in the 2006 Tour de France continue. The French authorities are pushing Landis and his coach, Arnie Baker, to testify before French investigators looking into the illegal hacking of data from the anti-doping laboratory of Châtenay-Malabry (Hauts-de-Seine).

Several months after Landis' positive test in July 2006, the president of l'Agence Française de Lutte Contre le Dopage (AFLD), Pierre Bordry, filed a complaint that confidential internal documents had been distributed to sporting authorities and to media, with an aim of discrediting the lab.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, an enquiry by the Office Central de Lutte Contre la Criminalité Liée aux Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC) identified the IP address of the sender of these documents as being that of Baker. He later used these documents in Landis's anti-doping hearing in America, and published them online.

More recently, a private detective agency run by a former member of the French secret services named Kargus Consultants was pinpointed as being the source for the computer hacking. They have also been implicated in an espionage case against Greenpeace. While they didn't give names, the hackers have said that they carried out the LNDD exercise on behalf of what they said were 'Anglo Saxon clients.'

The French investigators wish to speak to Landis and Baker about the matter, but thus far have not had much success. They were given a court subpoena on March 14 but did not respond. They were then contacted by an email to Baker's site on April 27. Landis did not reply, but Baker wrote back two days later.

According to Le Monde, he said "I live in San Diego, California. I have received your 'invitation', but I am not familiar with this kind of practice, and I do not understand what it is.

"What is the purpose of this summoning, and why would an American citizen would be summoned by the French police? If I choose not to go, what would the consequences be? What guarantee do I have to return quickly to the United States? Who will pay the travel costs?"

AFLD chief Pierre Bordry was quoted by the paper as considering more serious measures to force the two to testify. "If it is the only way to get Floyd Landis and Arnie Baker to explain themselves, I will not hesitate to ask a judge to issue an international arrest warrant."

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Dirt Works founder injured in accident

Richard Powell, the co-founder of Australian cycling importer and distributor Dirt Works, has been seriously injured in a cycling accident on Sydney's M4. Powell was struck by a vehicle after falling while negotiating his way around a vehicle in the breakdown lane.

He sustained breaks to his right tibia and fibula, which he is expected to undergo surgery for on Saturday. Powell also broke his left scapula and clavicle and seven ribs.

Powell was conscious throughout the whole incident and reportedly felt okay. Cyclingnews' would like to wish Powell a speedy recovery over the coming months.

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