Smog darkens second Tour of Beijing
Smog greeted the riders of the second edition of the Tour of Beijing, with Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) winning the first stage outside the Olympic stadium.
“Paris is not perfect as well and we finish the Tour there every year,” Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) said in a press conference, according to VeloNews. “Maybe the air quality here is not like the Swiss Alps, but I don’t think it’s any unhealthier than racing in 3C and cold during the classics in Belgium. At the Volta a Catalunya, we were racing in snow. I’m not sure that’s so healthy. I don’t see (smog) as a big issue. Until now, it was sunny every day.”
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), however, posted an image from his iPhone app on Monday showing an air quality index of 388. Anything over 300 is considered hazardous.
Beijing air quality index: twitter.com/taylorphinney/…
— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) October 8, 2012
Twitter @BeijingAir updates the index, showing that on Monday it was in the Hazardous zone for 11 hours. Fortunately, it dropped down significantly for stage one, into the Good range when Viviani won.
Freire closes career
Oscar Freire retired on Thursday, ending a 15-year run that included three World Championship titles, three Milano-Sanremo wins and one Tour de France green jersey.
“He’s a big champion, somebody born with talent,” Katusha’s sports director, Valerio Piva told Cycling Weekly.
The 36-year-old Spaniard raced his final year with Russian team Katusha. Fans mostly associated him with Rabobank (2003-2011) or Mapei (2000-2002). He won a World title while contracted with both of those teams, and his first, a surprise win when he was only 23 years old and racing for Spanish team Vitalicio Seguros in 1999.
Piva directed at both Katusha and Mapei when Freire raced. He added, “Maybe it was his first year with Mapei, he showed up to a race without training for around one week and won. He’s somebody that doesn’t need a lot of training to be in condition.”
Freire’s ability to surprise fascinated us. We would count on Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen or Mark Cavendish, but forget about Freire, who had the ability to sneak in like a ninja and pull off the big win. He nipped Zabel on the line for his first Sanremo win, but proved worthy in with win number two in 2007 and attentive with win number three in 2010.
“I always had the winning mentality, since I was a little boy,” Freire said after his third win. “I knew when I became pro it was very difficult to win. In the first race I won I was in a group of 15, I thought only to win. Then came my first worlds win, I was young, it was great. Now it is … no longer new for me to win. It’s always been important to keep the winning mentality, and if you did not have that mindset then you could not do it.”
Freire’s other wins include one-day classics Paris-Tours, Gent-Wevelgem and the Vattenfall Cyclassics. He sprinted to four stage wins in the Tour and seven in the Vuelta. His last race was the World Championships in Valkenburg.
Watch Freire win the 1999 Worlds: http://goo.gl/y8OiT
Evans back on track
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) is back on track after a rest and looking forward to 2013.
“It’s been nice to take a good rest and completely recover from this virus and work toward being back to my normal level next year,” Evans said in a press release. “Being a first-year dad, I’ve also enjoyed the free time with my family.”
Last year’s Tour winner cut his season a few weeks short in September. He suffered in the spring from a low-grade virus and abandoned the Tour of Colorado in August with a sore right knee. He is building for 2013 on home roads in Switzerland.
“The plan is still to maintain the winter training schedule that was discussed before,” said team doctor, Max Testa. “There’s no reason to think we will change his training program at all for next season.”
Durbridge adds another year to GreenEDGE deal
Luke Durbridge extended his Orica-GreenEDGE contract by another year, reaching to 2014, the team announced on Monday.
“It made a lot of sense to sign,” the 21-year-old said in a press release. “I get security and the ability to concentrate on more good years with the team.”
The first-year pro used his time trial strength to snatch overall wins in French stage races, Circuit de la Sarthe and Poitou Charentres. His biggest win came in the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he time trialled around the prologue course one second faster than Bradley Wiggins (Sky) rode.
“[He's] A guy with that talent,” DS Lorenzo Lepage told VeloNews at the Dauphiné. “If you can do that today, then it means you got a great future.”
“I want to continue to wean myself into the bigger races and have a go at the smaller races,” Durbridge said. “The small races are the perfect place for me to learn how to win, and eventually, I can build the confidence and skills to go for a win in harder races, too. I’ll continue to specialize in the one week stage races without too many hills that include a time trial and maybe a prologue.”
Nuyens joins Garmin
Nick Nuyens, winner of the 2011 Tour of Flanders, will leave Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank for Garmin-Sharp. The American team announced the three-year deal on Saturday.
“I have always admired and been charmed by [the team],” Nuyens said in a press release. “The team is well structured, has a super team spirit and it’s just a really strong squad with a good mix of young talent and a lot of experience. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
In March, the Belgian crashed in Paris-Nice, fractured his right hip and was forced to skip the classics.
Pozzato to Lampre?
Italian Filippo Pozzato has been around, riding for teams Mapei, Fassa Bortolo, Quick Step, Liquigas, Katusha and, this year, with, second division team Farnese Vini. Italian investigators also pointed out that he kept a relationship with doping doctor, Michele Ferrari from 2005 to 2010. Despite payments up to €50,000 a year for training plans, he got off with a small slap, a three-month ban, and is free to continue racing next year. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Saturday that he may join Italian team, Lampre. The first division team would ensure he is able to race in his beloved classics, from Sanremo to Paris-Roubaix.
Schleck back in action
Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) began his first stage race on Tuesday in Beijing since abandoning the Critérium du Dauphiné four months ago.
“This is a new beginning for me. I am happy to be back on the bike and be part of the peloton again,” Schleck said in Beijing, according to VeloNews. “The injury has given me more problems than I thought. A lot of riders are ending their season; for me, this is the beginning of the 2013 season.”
The winner of the 2010 Tour crashed in a windy Critérium du Dauphiné time trial and fractured part of his pelvis. The incident and lack of form forced him to miss the Tour. He only began racing again in the Binche-Tournai-Binche one-day race last week.
“It was the hardest period of my cycling career. I was in tears when I realized I could not race the Tour.”
Brother Fränk is due in court on Monday. He has to face the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) after testing positive for diuretic Xipamid at the Tour.
Armstrong blood doped, says Aussie expert
Lance Armstrong blood doped his way back into cycling in 2009, according to anti-doping scientist Michael Ashenden
“Suppressed red blood cell production is a classic signature associated with blood doping,” the Aussie told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The body reacts to the presence of excess red cells in circulation by suppressing the bone marrow’s production of new cells.”
Ashenden made his comments after reviewing data from Armstrong’s lawsuit against the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) this summer. He said the numbers showed his body “was producing fewer young blood cells than expected” and “adapting to the presence of an extra volume of blood that had been reinfused.”
In an interview last week with Lava Magazine, Armstrong said that people need to “move on.”
“Some people don’t do that. They sit around and talk about the past,” said Armstrong. “You always get high-school friends who sit around and talk about ‘hey remember that time…’ and I’m like ‘Why are you asking me about that?’ … What else do they want to strip? The Tour of Colorado? Tour of the Gila? It’s so dumb. I don’t care. Honestly.”
USADA said it will hand over its findings to the sports governing body, the UCI, by next week and that it will eventually make the files public. It charged Armstrong with cheating from 1998, through all seven Tour wins and until his comeback ended in 2011. It found that he used several banned drugs and methods, such as blood transfusions.
The Alpe d’Huez hoax
According to news reports over the weekend, the Tour de France could finish on the legendary Alpe d’Huez climb next year. Websites, including L’Equipe, cited Belgian newspapers Het Nieuwsblad or Het Laatste Nieuws. However, journalists from the newspapers told Cycling Weekly that no such story was ever published on their websites or in their newspapers.
Organisers ASO will announce the centenary edition on October 24 in Paris. It already said that Corsica will host the Grand Départ on June 29. After three stages, the race is due to head to Nice for a rumoured team time trial. Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez will feature, but Paris will mostly likely close the race as it has since the race began in 1903.
Addio Acqua & Sapone
Acqua & Sapone will stop team sponsorship at the close of the year. The Italian perfume retailer co-sponsored, enjoying Mario Cipollini’s win in the 2002 Worlds, and became title sponsor in 2004.
Stefano Garzelli wanted to close out his career at next year’s Giro d’Italia, but is now looking for a new team. Promising Colombian, Carlos Betancur will join AG2R. Danilo Di Luca may join Vini Fantini, the new incarnation of Farnese Vini.
Colnago is also leaving. The Italian bike manufacturer will no longer be the title sponsor or technical sponsor. Colnago-CSF Inox will become Bardiani-CSF Group, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, and race on Cipollini’s bikes.