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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, April 1, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Bertrand Russell

Today's racing:

Latest completed racing:

UCI sends Chris Froome salbutamol case to anti-doping court

Here is the Agence France Presse report:

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

Christopher Froome's adverse doping case will go before a CAS judge, French media reported on Friday The UCI, cycling's governing body, has rejected Chris Froome's explanations as unfounded and refered his case to an anti-doping court, French daily Le Monde reported on Friday.

Sky and Froome had hoped the UCI would find there were no grounds to penalise the four-time Tour de France winner, instead the UCI have opened the door to disciplinary proceedings by sending the adverse doping test Froome returned at the Vuelta a Espana last season to the Court for Arbitration in Sport.

In previous cases, Diego Ulissi tested positive for a similar level of the same drug, salbutamol, at the Giro in 2014 and was banned for nine months by a Swiss disciplinary panel. In the 2007 Giro, Alessandro Petacchi tested positive for salbutamol and was then banned for a year by the Italian authorities.

Froome had around twice the allowed amount of asthma drug salbutamol in his urine when tested on September 7 on his way to victory in the Vuelta. He argued there were natural reasons for this.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the end of the 2017 Vuelta

The 32-year-old Froome insists there was no wrongdoing on his or the team's part. He is allowed to continue competing until the case is decided upon. "It is well known that I have asthma and I know exactly what the rules are. I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms and I know for sure that I will be tested every day I wear the race leader’s jersey," Froome said when the news of the finding broke.

"My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my salbutamol dosage. As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose."

The UCI looked into Team Sky's arguments and has dismissed them, Le Monde reported, after the dossier was scrutinised by their independent LADS (legal anti doping services), which was established in 2015, Le Monde reported.

You can read the entire story here.

Teams are headed to the Vuelta al Pais Vasco/Tour of the Basque Country

Here are the race previews I found in my inbox:

UAE-Team Emirates sent me this:

Rui Costa and Ulissi will shine as beacons for UAE-Team Emirates at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

Rui Costa and Ulissi will pair up to lead UAE Team Emirates in this short World Tour category stage race in the Basque Country from April 2 to 7.

The 2013 World Champion was forced to withdraw from the Paris-Nice after a crash, he will return to competition after spending time training on the roads of Madeira; the Italian talent will participate in the race as part of his preparation for the Ardennes Classics.

Diego Ulissi

Diego Ulissi racing at last year's Tour of Romandie.

The Emirati formation will be coached by Sports Directors Matxin (Spain) and Pedrazzini (Switzerland). The following 7 riders will line up on the starting grid for the race:
– Anass Ait El Abdia (Morocco)
– Matteo Bono (Italy)
– Rui Costa (Portugal)
– Manuele Mori (Italy)
– Jan Polanc (Slovenia)
– Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belorussia)
– Diego Ulissi (Italy)

Here is Diego Ulissi’s take on the Basque race: “The Vuelta al Pais Vasco is a race that should be taken on with maximum determination every day, because each stage is challenging and could be decisive for the general classification. The goal is to be ready in each stage and to put in consistently good performances, also keeping in mind that the Basque competition is an important launching pad for the Ardennes Classics and could give me interesting signals as to what shape I’m in.”

Rui Costa explained: “After my crash in the Paris-Nice, in which I sustained a contusion to my knee, I took a week off to rest; however, now I’m fine, since I’ve started training again with good results. I will make it to the Vuelta al Pais Vasco with plenty of room to improve my fitness level; I hope to finish the race on a high note and achieve a good result, because this is a race that appeals to me precisely because of its ruggedness.”

Here's BMC's update:

31 March, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Richie Porte will head to the start line for the first time since Volta ao Algarve next week when he joins a strong and motivated BMC Racing Team line-up at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (2 - 7 April).

BMC Racing Team will be looking to target both stage wins and the General Classification in Spain, Sports Director Valerio Piva said. "This will be Richie's first race back and although he feels good, we don't want to give him the immediate responsibility of going for the GC. Of course, we know Richie and maybe he can do something during the week but we will take it day by day. Instead, Damiano Caruso will be our leader for the General Classification. We know that his condition is there especially after he finished second at Tirreno-Adriatico and I think that if we take the right opportunities, he can do another good job here."

"Overall, we have a strong team with the majority of our riders going onto the Ardennes Classics. This will be a good opportunity for them and everyone will get the chance to try and go for a stage win. We want to see the riders try to take opportunities and jump in the breakaway or be there in the final. I think we have the right team to try to do that and then following on from there we will look to put Damiano in the right position to come out with a good GC," Piva explained.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte winning stage five of this year's Tour Down Under.

Porte is looking forward to getting back into the swing of racing at the six-day UCI WorldTour stage race. "I am not going in with any expectations or putting too much pressure on myself. For me, this race will be more about testing my form and getting back into the race rhythm than anything else," Porte explained.

After finishing second overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, Caruso is looking forward to testing his form in the General Classification battle at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. "This is one of the hardest stage races of the season, so it is going to be really difficult. However, I think my condition is good and after my result at Tirreno-Adriatico, I would like to keep this trend going and try to go for the GC. The philosophy will be the same as it was in Italy. I am going into the race without any stress and we will take it day by day and see what opportunities come up. Tirreno-Adriatico was confirmation of what I can do, so I'm feeling confident and I think I can do another good performance here.," Caruso said.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (2 - 7 April)

Rider Roster: Patrick Bevin (NZL), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Richie Porte (AUS), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA)

This Basque Country Tour report came from EF Education First-Drapac:

The 58th edition of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco is one of the toughest races on the 2018 WorldTour calendar with “not a single a meter of flat”, according to #PinkArgyle sport director Juan Manual Garate. Garate hails from Basque Country and is delighted to bring a strong team to contend for the general classification over his home roads.

“The first stage passes in front of my house,” said Garate. “If my family is at home watching the race, I can see them. You can imagine how special this is for me. I know 90 percent of the roads blind.”

Alongside Tom Southam, Garate will direct an EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale squad that includes Rigoberto Uran, Mike Woods, Hugh Carthy, Nate Brown, Brendan Canty, Lawson Craddock and Alex Howes.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran will be racing the Tour of the Basque Country.

“With this group, we are going to the race to try to win the general classification,” said Garate. “For sure other teams have the same goal, so it will not be easy. We need to pay attention to every single meter. ”The six-day race includes four climbing days, a stage that could suit the sprinters and a 19-kilometer individual time trial.

“This year’s Pais Vasco is like old times from three, four years ago – not like the last two years,” Garate noted. “It has super narrow, twisty and steep final climbs, especially on the first, second and last stages. The flat time trial on stage four is something new.

“There’s one stage that they say is for the sprinters, but with really narrow and open roads in the last kilometer, there can be high tension in the bunch, so maybe the bunch is broken at the end,” Garate noted. “There’s not one single day that is easy, It’s going to be a high intensity race mentally and physically.”

The parcours combines with the quality of the competition to create a particularly challenging week of racing.

“The guys that are racing the Ardennes, sometimes they use Pais Vasco to prepare themselves,” said Garate. “The guys that are finishing the first part of their season, they come to Pais Vasco to race. And the guys that are growing towards the Giro, they come here, too. This means the race has a really high level with 80-90 percent of the bunch in really good condition. You have that and then you have the roads – not a single meter of flat here in Pais Vasco. That’s why this week is so hard.

“I hope the weather is good, but, in Basque Country, it changes fast and a few times every day, so we’ll see,” said Garate. “If the weather isn’t good, that’s another thing to consider.”

Carthy will race in support of Uran. The Briton is coming off a stellar performance at Volta Catalunya. “I’m feeling good again going into Pais Vasco,” he said. “I took some good rest this week to recover from a hard week in Catalunya.

“Pais Vasco is a beautiful race for strong, gutsy riders,” Carthy added. “The fans in Northern Spain adore the race and the smaller roads, steep climbs and bad weather always provide a spectacle. The last stage to Arrate has become iconic over the years,” he noted. “The final stage is always exciting at the end of a tough week, so to climb over such hard terrain on the final day will really showcase a true winner.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale

Sport Directors: Juan Manual Garate (ESP), Tom Southam (GBR)

Nate Brown (USA)
Brendan Canty (AUS)
Hugh Carthy (GBR)
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Alex Howes (USA)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)
Mike Woods (CAN)

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