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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

Next big race, Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen (3 Days of West Flanders) will start Friday, March 6 and run through Sunday, the 8th. We'll post full results for each stage, of course.

Astana's Head Doctor Speak Out

Astana's head doctor, Joost de Maeseneer, spoke out about the team's drug troubles. On February 27, 2015, cycling's governing body, the UCI, requested that the team's WorldTour licence be withdrawn following an audit of its doping controls by the Institute of Sport Sciences in Lausanne. The UCI stated that the audit revealed a large difference between the team policies presented to the Licence Commission and reality. Astana must respond to the University of Lausanne's audit by March 20.

In fairness to the team and its staff, here is the posting on the Astana official web site:

"Head Doctor Joost De Maeseneer came to work at Astana Pro Team in 2013, and leads his group of four physicians to care for 30 professional cyclists at more than 250 days of racing from January to October:

Joost de Maeseneer

Astana head doctor Joost de Maeseneer

"In his own words, Dr De Maeseneer explains Astana's fundamental and structural anti-doping mechanisms

"We are members of the MPCC, the Mouvement Pour Cyclisme Credibile - part of the French anti-doping professional program - to check cortisol levels - we follow the no-needle policy, there are no outside supplements allowed, no outside trainers, we don't use sprays - we think this is a good idea, and we joined the MPCC in 2013 - not all the teams in the World Tour are members of the MPCC, we think this should not be the case. "

"It adds to the overall number of blood tests we do in a year - I would say the top riders are tested approximately no less than 50 times per year - the top riders - Nibali at the tour was once tested four times in 24 hours - and he wore the yellow jersey for 18 days."

"We use an internal online spreadsheet to pass all of the data among the doctors - there is the ADAMS whereabouts program, the regular weight and fat percentage data -  for our own internal blood testing for the bio passport and also for all our health check-ups we work with CAD in Torino, an Italian anti-doping laboratory run by Professor Paolo Borrione, who has been an executive at the Italian Anti-Doping Committee and has a very respected international reputation in the fight against doping ."

"I came aboard with Vino in 2013 - it was the first time I met him, and he asked me to be the head doctor here - I told him the first thing, 'Ok, Vino that's great if that is the case, then I need absolutely to increase the budget to bring a fourth doctor for the team."

"Four doctors is the minimum you can have in a big team at the top level - this way we can always have a doctor at every race, and one back at home to work at the computer or process our data if something has to happen."

"This weekend is a good example - one doctor with the team for Strade Bianche, and he then goes after that to Tirreno-Adriatico - there is one doctor for Paris-Nice and another to Langkawi - you remember Guardini had a bad bad crash last year on the early stage and his foot was in stitches - but we had a doctor who could spend more time with the wound, more time with Guardini - and Andrea came back and won two more sprints at the Tour de Langkawi - without the doctor he could have had less attention, got sick and maybe left the race."

"Bad things happen, and idiots exist all around the world, even in cycling - two idiots who violated the rules on their own got caught, and the system caught them - that means the system works."

"The team has everything in place for riders who want to succeed without doping, and Astana has 30 riders and 40 staff - who are the very best in the business - and all together we are at the front in the fight against performance enhancing drugs in cycling."

Lotto-Soudal's Kris Boeckman's Triumphs at GP Le Samyn

Lotto-Soudal rider Kris Boeckmans won Wednesday's GP Le Samyn. Here's the team's press release about that triumph:

Kris Boeckmans won his second race of this season. Today he added the 47th edition of the GP Le Samyn to his record. Lotto Soudal was omnipresent in the race, with among other a long distance breakaway with Thomas De Gendt

Halfway  the race, which was 201 kilometres long, the peloton got to the local laps. The riders had to cover four laps of 24.7 kilometres. Those laps contained three cobblestone sections. Thomas De Gendt had already attacked before the local circuit. In the breakaway he was accompanied by Ludwig De Winter and Gatis Smukulis. At sixty kilometres from the finish line in Dour, Thomas went for a solo ride. Trek and Etixx – Quick-Step chased De Gendt and the Lotto Soudal rider got caught in the final lap. This resulted in many attacks. Tosh Van der Sande was one of the attackers. A decimated peloton headed for the last cobble stone section. Eight riders could escape, amongst others Tiesj Benoot and Kris Boeckmans. They strived for the win. Boeckmans could beat Gianni Meersman. Neo-pro Tiesj Benoot finished at the nice fourth place. Of course Boeckmans was excited with this win.

Boeckmans wins La Samyn

Kris Boeckmans wins La Samyn

Kris Boeckmans: “Each victory is an explosion of joy. The last cobblestone section was the decisive moment, there the group was torn apart. I commenced the cobblestone section in the fifth place. The man before me failed to keep up, then I knew it was going fast. At that point, we were at three kilometres from the finish line. We went to the finish with this small group. I started my sprint at 200 meters. I tricked Gianni Meersman so he couldn’t pass me anymore. I rode a good sprint. Furthermore, the whole team was impressive today. We rode the perfect race. The peloton had given the escapees with Thomas six minutes, which is very dangerous when Thomas rides in front. They had to ride really fast to close the gap. This was in our advantage. The rest of the team countered each attack in the final and I just had to make sure to be in the front.”

“The last cobblestone section was hard, although the sections in Paris-Roubaix are much harder of course. But for today this section was enough to decimate the peloton, also thanks to the wind. The other sections were rather new, so they were feasible. This second win of the season pleases me. It was a matter of time to get my first win in a long time. That first win came in the opening stage of the Étoile de Bessèges. This is now my second win of the season. Friday I will be at the start of the Three Days of West-Flanders, which kicks off with a prologue. In Bessèges I was good in the time trial, I hope to repeat that good performance. A prologue should suit me even better. I’m highly motivated to perform good in the Three Days of West-Flanders.”

Cinelli Team Presentation

I confess. I have a soft spot for Cinelli bikes. Anyone who rode and raced in the late 60s through mid-70s (yeah, I'm that old) dreamt of owning either a Cinelli Super Corsa or a Masi Gran Criterium or both. I had a Cinelli before I opened my bike shop in 1974. But like nearly everything else I owned (including my car and all but one low-end bike), I sold it to have enough cash to buy a few bikes for my opening inventory (25 Maseratis and 10 Gitanes).

Then soon after, when Specialized was a young company, Mike Sinyard got his hands on a few Super Corsas for me. They were still a very rare bird back then and I still am grateful for Mike's getting his hands on these special bikes for me. No one in a zillion miles had one and I was on top of the world. People would travel to see them. They were that special back then.

1959 Cinelli Super Corsa

Here's a 1959 Cinelli Super Corsa with Cinelli's unique seat cluster and fork crown. My bikes had these same classic graphics. Photo from classiclightweights.co.uk

Those days are gone. But I look back on the era, both the bikes and the people, with deep affection. With that in mind and my affection for the brand, here is the press release from Cinelli in Italy regarding their 2015 pro team:

"Now entering its second season, Team Cinelli Chrome will see all of its riders returning for 2015, together with four new teammates and extended supporters as a clear validation of the early success of the program!

"To support and innovate competitive alternative urban cycling is the mission of Cinelli and his partners of this big and renewed adventure," said the President of Cinelli, Mr. Antonio Colombo. "Chrome owns our same vision of technicality and creativity and, furthermore, Chrome loves good music like Cinelli does.  Together, we're two 'C's' coming together for one cause."

"We are beyond stoked to bring back Team Cinelli Chrome this year," said Chris Silverman, President, Chrome Industries. "We knew last year was going to be great, but we didn't think it would have been as incredible as it turned out to be.  To have the whole team back together in 2015 shows the success of the program, the team and its chemistry."

"The team will also expand its roster by adding a few new riders to the mix this year, which will aid the team's efforts as the sport, and both its schedule and competition, continue to grow dramatically.  With more riders and more races, the team will develop its calendar by adding the newest venues and events, which will enrich the 2015 season throughout both the United States and Europe.

This season the team can count on an even bigger field of elite brands as prestigious supporters. We are beyond proud to announce that Giro, Continental, HED, Selle San Marco, Knog, Santini, ZeroRH+ eyewear and F.S.A. will be trusted companions of the Team Cinelli Chrome in this venture.

Team Cinelli Chrome includes: Alessandro Bruzza (Italy), Alfred Bobé Jr. (New York), Paolo Bravini (Italy), Giorgio Vianini (Italy), Giovanni Bocchi (Italy), Neil Bezdek (New York), Kelli Samuelson (Los Angeles), Thibaud Lhenry* (France), Faz Adhili* (Malaysia), Jo Celso* (San Diego) Stefan Vis* (Holland).

*New additions to the 2015 Team Cinelli Chrome roster

BMC for Strade Bianche

On Saturday, Italy's fabulous Strade Bianche (white, or dirt roads) will be run. Here's BMC's press release about their plans for the race:

racing on the white roads

The peloton on the white roads of 2014

Past Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez makes his European racing debut Saturday at Strade Bianche as part of a BMC Racing Team roster that includes Greg Van Avermaet, a three-time top 10 finisher at the Italian one-day race.

After signing with the BMC Racing Team in January, Sánchez's only racing competition has come in Australia on Feb. 1 at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Van Avermaet has finished sixth (2013), fifth (2012) and ninth (2011) in the 200-kilometer race that is best known for its sections of white gravel roads.

Roster: Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Peter Stetina (USA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).

Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA).

Lotto-Jumbo Plans for Paris-Nice

Both Paris-Nice and the Tour de Langkawi start on Sunday, the 8th. Here's what Lotto-Jumbo has to say about its plans for Paris-Nice:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo has been looking forward to the Paris-Nice stage race since December, marking down ‘The Race to the Sun’ as one of hits major spring targets. Two of the team’s young guns, Moreno Hofland and Wilco Kelderman, will lead the charge: the former will aim for another stage win in Paris-Nice and Kelderman for the overall classification.

“Everyone prepared really carefully for this race,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “That effort must pay off next week because we expect some results.“Moreno had a spotless pre-season until the Ruta del Sol. He crashed in that race and fell sick afterwards, but we are confident he will be ready for Paris-Nice. “Wilco is doing fantastically at the moment. He proved himself already on the bike this season and moreover, we have a team which is able to support him perfectly.”

Last year in Paris-Nice, Moreno Hofland lived up to the promise put on him by sprinting to a stage win. Since that victory, his status has increased.

Moreno Hofland

Moreno Hofland riding the 2014 Tour of Romandie prologue.

“More is expected from me since my good results during last year’s spring races,” Hofland said. “I have to keep improving my level, which is happening, fortunately. I had a good winter with enough training. I was at the level I wanted to be at for the start of the season. It’s a pity when you have a little setback, but that’s part of the job. “I examined the profile of Paris-Nice and in the first three stages and stage five, there are chances for me. It would be nice if I can win a stage like last year. Let the race to the sun bring me sunshine after this cloudy period.”

The stages Hofland aims at are the trickiest ones for Wilco Kelderman. Paris-Nice is well-known for his tough stages in the north of France. The bad weather and strong winds often create some precarious moments on the bleak roads.

“That’s why we left already today,” Zeeman said. “We’re going to preview the stages in northern France because we don’t want to lose the race there already. Thursday is the first mountain finish, which gives other riders opportunities. We will be able to perform with Wilco in that part of the race.” Kelderman expects to do well in the stage race, too. “I felt good in Paris-Nice already last year, but I was a little unlucky,” he explained. “If everything comes together this year, I will be able to finish in the top five.”

To do that job, Kelderman will count on his climbing skills and the advantages of his new Bianchi time trial bike. “The new bike is truly amazing,” Kelderman said. “Bianchi put a lot of effort into the development of this bike. I’m very happy with that. I feel the differences. The bike is stiff and light, which makes it very efficient. Mentally, something like that gives you an enormous boost.

Line-up: George Bennett, Jos van Emden, Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii en Maarten Wynants.

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