Schweizer wins stage 1 of the Tour of Azerbaijan

Thousands of Azerbaijanis cheered for the newly created Synergy Baku Cycling Project as they welcomed Christoph Schweizer as the winner of stage 1 of the Tour d’Azerbaidjan (UCI 2.2) in Baku. The German claimed the bunch gallop in style and it was a cruel finale for the breakaway riders who spent the whole day ahead but got brought back in the last kilometer of racing.

Schweizer was awarded by Alexander Averin who is Baku’s living cycling legend since he won the Peace Race under the flag of USSR 35 years ago. Runner up Maksym Averin was also born in Baku but rides for Swiss team Atlas Personal-Jakroo under a Ukrainian license.

This is Synergy Baku’s third win since the Azerbaijan-based team was created early this year. Schweizer was already well placed, on third position at the Tour de Taiwan in March when Kirill Podznyakov opened the record book of the squad directed by former Tour de France rider Jeremy Hunt. Rico Rogers was next on line when he claimed stage 1 of the Tour of Thailand in April.

“I’ll do my best to keep the blue jersey but I don’t know how well I can go in the hills”, Schweizer concluded.

Drapac’s Luke Davison is the best-placed of the Australians, currently sitting in 12th place with the same time as Schweizer.

Click here to see full results from stage 1 of the 2013 Tour of Azerbaijan. Click here to read our interview with Synergy-Baku director sportif Jeremy Hunt.

Giro d’Italia provisional startlist

We’re just days away from the start of the first Grand Tour of the year and it’s sure to be a cracking race. The peloton will cover 3,405km in 21 stages, including 5 mountain stages, 2 individual time trials and a teams time trial.

So who are the riders to watch? Well, there’s been much fanfare about the duel that’s likely to occur between Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and it would be unfair not to consider reigning champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) as well. Cadel Evans and Taylor Phinney are sharing leadership duties for BMC and will be worth keeping an eye on. And what about Ivan Basso (Cannondale)? Could he possibly win a third Giro d’Italia?

In 2010 Wiggins took his first Grand Tour victory on the wet streets of Amsterdam in the opening time trial of the Giro d'Italia. A series of crashes put him in arrears, but made his way back to 10th spot, before fading at the end of the race and finishing 40th overall, almost 2 hours behind overall winner Ivan Basso. Notice the O-Symetric chainrings he used up until this year. He told Velonation, "“My climbing’s improved a lot. I’ve come off those silly (ovalised) rings now; I’m back on the normal o-rings, and it’s been a really good transition really." We wrote an article on the O-Symetric chainrings here: http://www.cyclingtips.com.au/2012/09/osymetric-gimmick-or-miracle/

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) is expected to dominate the flatter stages but don’t discount Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) who will be hungry to improve on the one victory he’s taken in 2013 so far.

In terms of the other Australians, we spotted a notable absence …

Click here to see the provisional startlist for the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

Lampre names Giro d’Italia roster, Matty Lloyd left out

Lampre named their Giro d’Italia startlist yesterday with a team built around helping Roberto Ferrari chalk up some wins in the sprints, and helping Michele Scarponi in the mountains. To all of us in Australia following, we’re left wondering why Matty Lloyd, the 2010 winner of the mountains classification would be left off the list.

There are no reported injuries and he has only raced twice this season (Tour Down Under and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya which he DNF’d). We’ll try to get in touch with Lloydy to see what’s going on with his season.

The Lampre Giro startlist is as follows:

– Mattia Cattaneo, 22 years old, rouleur climber, pro since 2013, debut in Giro
– Kristijan Durasek, 25 years old, climber, pro since 2008, debut in Giro
– Roberto Ferrari, 30 years old, sprinter, pro since 2007, 2 participations in Giro and 1 stage victory
– Przemyslaw Niemiec, 33 years old, climber, pro since 2002, 2 participations in Giro
– Daniele Pietropolli, 32 years old, all terrain rider, pro since 2003, 5 participanions in Giro
– Filippo Pozzato, 31 years old, fast rouleur, pro since 2000, 4 participations in Giro and 1 stage victory
– Michele Scarponi, 33 years old, climber, pro since 2002, 8 participations in Giro, 1 overall classification success (2011) and 3 stages victories
– Josè Rodolfo Serpa Perez, 33 years old, climber, pro since 2006, 6 participations in Giro
– Simone Stortoni, 27 years old, climber, pro since 2009, 2 participations in Giro

Matteo Bono and Adriano Malori will be the substitutes.

Why Wiggins would love to win the Giro

Here’s a video of Brad Wiggins talking about cycling and about the allure of the Giro. To quote from the video description:

Ahead of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins talks candidly about his relationship with the sport that made him a household name. In this exclusive film, he discusses childhood inspirations such as Chris Boardman and Miguel Indurain, coming to terms with those 10 days last summer that made him a legend in his own right, and why the Giro is the romantic race of all.

UCI blocks Petacchi’s move to Omega Pharma-QuickStep

After Alessandro Petacchi announced his retirement last week, there were rumours that the 39-year-old would join Omega Pharma-QuickStep to be part of Mark Cavendish’s lead-out train for the Giro d’Italia.

But now, the UCI has blocked any such move, citing UCI rule 2.15.120 which states that riders are only allowed to switch teams in the off-season, with the transfer window opening on August 1.

Petacchi has won 22 stages at the Giro in his long career but will have to watch this year’s race from the sidelines.

Click here to read more.

WADA chief criticises Puerto outcome

(AFP) – The Director General of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) David Howman has criticised the decision of the judge in the Operation Puerto trial to not release over 200 blood bags for inspection.

Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes was given a one year suspended sentence on Tuesday for endangering public health in the way he performed blood extractions and transfusions on a number of high-profile cyclists.

However, Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria did not release the blood bags seized from properties belonging to Fuentes in 2006 and indeed ordered them to be destroyed pending appeals from those parties involved.

Click here to read the full story.

IOC deplores ruling to destroy doping evidence in Spain

(AFP) – The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday deplored a ruling by a Spanish court that bags of blood seized in a doping case be destroyed, preventing further probes into what has been described as the world’s biggest doping network.

Over 200 bags of blood were seized from Eufemiano Fuentes, a sports doctor sentenced on Tuesday to a year in prison for performing blood transfusions on top cyclists, often combined with banned substances.

Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria ordered the bags of blood and plasma to be destroyed once any appeals have been settled in a case known as Operation Puerto.

Click here to read the full story.

Questions arise over Paul Kimmage Defence Fund

When the UCI started taking legal action against rider-turned-journalist Paul Kimmage last year a defence fund was set up to support the Irishman. Within two months, more than 3,000 people had donated to the fund, amassing more than $90,000.

The UCI dropped its defamation case against Kimmage in October last year but the fund remained open. It’s now believed that around $10,000 of the fund is unaccounted for and legal action is being taken against one of the fund’s trustees, Aaron Brown, for his alleged failure to provide money from or information relating to the fund.

Brown now lives in Girona and told Cycling Weekly:

“It is incorrect that some of the funds have gone missing. Due to US tax law, there was an issue of liability, which I have assumed due to the request of the others who have been involved. The fund was originally deposited into a Cyclismas account which also had other business functions. It has been subsequently been placed into another account to prevent any confusion.”

Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest/538180/questions-over-paul-kimmage-defence-fund.html#iyysh75XRYaR3Ci7.99

Click here to read the full story at Cycling Weekly.

Prudhomme: Cadel Evans could be in the mix at the Tour de France

While much of the cycling world is focussed on the upcoming Giro d’Italia, Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme was in Sydney for the launch of this year’s 100th Tour’s yellow race leader’s jersey. When asked who he thought might win the Giro he, like many others, pointed to a contest between Wiggins and Nibali, but also threw Cadel Evans’ name in the mix.

”But … if Cadel Evans has decided at the last minute [to race] he must have an idea in his head.”

Prudhomme quickly added that we might not see the best of Evans until Le Tour rolls around in June.

Click here to read more at the Sydney Morning Herald website.

The Bike Lane: coming soon

Coming up today on The Bike Lane: a preview of the Giro d’Italia along with Richie Porte, some core strength tips with the VIS strength and conditioning coach, part 2 of our Charlie Pickering interview, a new segment called “The Board Meeting” and much much more.

Stay posted.


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