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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

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

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. - Margaret Mead

Recently completed racing:

Today's racing:

Luca Paolini Banned for 18 months for Cocaine positive

Italian Luca Paolini has been banned for 18 months after testing positive for cocaine at the 2015 Tour de France July 7, after stage four. The UCI's anti-doping tribunal found the 39-year-old ex-Katusha rider guilty of the "non-intentional" consumption of benzoylecgonine, a cocaine metabolite.

Paolini was provisionally banned on 10 July. If the ban is applied from the date of his positive test he will be eligible to return in January 2017.

Paolini said he had become addicted to a sleeping medication and took the cocaine as a response, because he was at "a low point in his life". He argued that he did not intend to improve his racing performance with the cocaine, an argument the UCI accepted.

His Katusha team immediately fired him and has said that even after he has served his ban, he cannot come back to the team.

Paolini has earned some rather impressive victories, including 2015 Gent-Wevelgem, 2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 2004 Brabantse Pijl, and the 2002 Giro del Piemonte. Plus he has won a both a Giro d'Italia and Vuelta stage.

Pozzatto and Paolini

Filippo Pozzato (left) with Luca Paolini at the 2015 Tour de France

Here is the short statement on Paolini released by the UCI:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal has rendered its decision in the case involving Luca Paolini.

The Anti-Doping Tribunal found the rider guilty of a non-intentional anti-doping rule violation (presence of a cocaine metabolite - benzoylecgonine) and imposed an 18-month period of ineligibility on the rider.

LottoNL-Jumbo Plans for Amstel Gold Race

The team sent this release:

LottoNL-Jumbo aims for Amstel Gold Race glory

Team LottoNL-Jumbo starts the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, April 17th, with Robert Gesink, Sep Vanmarcke, Wilco Kelderman and Paul Martens as its main guns. The Dutch team aims to deliver in its home country.

“We don’t have the top favourite in our team, but we have a strong group of riders who are very motivated for this race,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said the week before the Dutch classic. “Robert Gesink, Sep Vanmarcke, Wilco Kelderman and Paul Martens have to be in good position from the Kruisberg, so they can focus on the finale of the race. Paul Martens will be active already in the pre-finale.”

Robert Gesink at the 2015 Tour de France

Robert Gesink at the 2015 Tour de France

Gesink did the Amstel Gold Race for the last time in 2012, but is making it a part of his programme again. “Robert wants to deliver some appealing results in the upcoming years again,” Zeeman added. “This year, he is focussing on the one-day races and stages in the big tours mostly. We’re curious to see his level this Sunday.”

Gesink came out of the Vuelta al País Vasco with a good feeling. “It was a very tough race, with bad weather, and I had to recover from that a couple of days,” he said. “My level was high, though, and I was able to compete with the best, except for one day in which the weather took its toll.

“I expect to be ready for Sunday. To race in your home country is always special. Plus I think that we have a team that is ready to fight for the trophy. Wilco en Paul showed some very good things in the Basque Country. Besides that, we have a very strong Sep Vanmarcke, who’s going to give us a lot of pleasure.”

Enrico Battaglin is able to play a special role. He showed that he can position the front men very well. “We were strong as a team in the Basque Country,” the Italian said. “And we have to be that way another time in the Amstel Gold Race. I rode this race already two times and I know that it’s going to be very tough after 200 kilometres of racing. You need a strong team. I want to stay in the first group this Sunday so we will be able to fight for the win.”

Line-up: Enrico Battaglin, Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Mike Teunissen, Maarten Tjallingii and Sep Vanmarcke.

Sports Directors: Merijn Zeeman and Frans Maassen.

IKEA to enter bike business

Bike Europe posted this story:

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – This August IKEA starts selling bicycles worldwide. For the time being the offering is limited to a single model that is available in a 26-inch or 28-inch versions.

The retail giant in home products named the bike Sladda. It has an aluminium frame is can be fitted with lots of accessories. The for its design awarded Sladda is priced at 499 euro for IKEA Family members and 699 euro for non-members. Mid-August the bike will be available at all the 328 IKEA stores in 28 countries as well as the 40 outlets that are run by franchisers.

According to IKEA spokesperson Annique van der Valk, IKEA’s start in bikes is not a pilot or a test. “As it is a perfect fit with what IKEA stands like offering customers healthy and environmental-sound solutions. Of course we will monitor the success in sales and depending on that opt for more bikes to offer at our stores.”

You can read the entire story here.

Two Movistar riders injured at Paris-Roubaix

Here's the team's report:

The Movistar Team confirms Tuesday that, after checkups on Nelson Oliveira yesterday at Pamplona's Clínica San Miguel, following his crash during the early phase of Paris-Roubaix, the Portuguese rider suffers from a collarbone fracture and a fissure to his radial head, both on his left arm / shoulder.

The extent of both injuries has not been judged serious enough to require surgery. Oliveira, released from hospital today, will require an estimated three to four weeks to recover completely, always depending on the evolution of his injuries.

In turn, Fran Ventoso will fly back home in Spain this afternoon after a deep wound in his leg, also during the French race. The 33-year-old from Cantabria went into the operating room to apply suture and drain on his cut in the most aseptic environment possible, looking to regenerate the muscle tissue damaged as quickly as possible.

Etixx-Quick Step will be at Brabantse Pijl

Here is the update from the team:

Part of the UCI Europe Tour calendar, the 1.HC race created in 1961 officialy kicks-off the Ardennes season, which will hit its climax in less than two weeks, at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Until then, the riders will test their form and go for a strong result in the 56th edition of Brabantse Pijl, the race which takes the peloton over 200 kilometers and 26 climbs between Leuven and Overijse. Five of these hills will come inside the final 23-km long circuit, and can work as the launch pad of what could turn out to be a decisive attack for a solo win, which is not something uncommon for the Belgian event.

Having concluded the cobbles campaign in last Sunday's Paris-Roubaix with Tom Boonen's second place at the end of a memorable race, Etixx – Quick-Step comes at the start line of Brabantse Pijl with renewed confidence and the desire to be again among the protagonists. The eight-man team will be built around Czech champion Petr Vakoč, who has already recorded two victories this season, at the hilly Classic Sud-Ardèche and La Drôme Classic.


Peter Vakoč finishes this year's Strade Bianche

Joining him in the outfit led from the car by sport director Rik van Slycke will be two neo-pros – Rodrigo Contreras and Davide Martinelli – Julian Alaphilippe, Gianni Meersman, Pieter Serry, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Julien Vermote.

And here's Dimension Data's Brabantse Pijl news

Tomorrow Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will start the Brabantse Pijl – Fleche Brabanconne. The Belgian UCI 1.HC classic marks the transition from the recent cobbled spring classic’s to the hilly classic’s of the Ardennes region.

At 205km in length, the Brabantse Pijl will take in no less than 26 climbs or Helling as they are traditionally called. After riders have completed 135km in the countryside, the final 70km take place over 3 laps of a 23km circuit in Overijse. This circuit contains 5 climbs per lap and so this is where the race defining moves should take place.

As the race suits the punchers to a tee, our African Team will send a squad well prepared for the short explosive climbs. Kristian Sbaragli, Nathan Haas and Natnael Berhane will all look to ride strongly toward the final while Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Youcef Reguigui both make their return to racing after injury. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, who is coming off a long cobbled classic’s campaign, will also start alongside countrymen Jaco Venter and Songezo Jim.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg – Rider: "Brabantse Pijl marks the start of the Ardennes Classics and it also draws a completely different field compared to the Spring Classic’s. These classics are characterised by a bunch of short steep climbs throughout the course and suits a strong puncheur. We have Kristian Sbaragli, Nathan Haas and Natnael Berhane who could all play key roles tomorrow. As for me, I have to see how the body has recovered after Paris-Roubaix and a hard classics campaign but I will take it as an experiment to see what is possible in the future."

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