If for some reason you missed this weeks headlines, here’s a good dose that will bring you up to speed.
BMC Fire Alessandro Ballan
BMC Racing has announced that it has fired Alessandro Ballan following the Italian Olympic Committee’s decision to hand him a two-year suspension for blood doping.
Ballan’s suspension derives from a doping investigation centred around his former Lampre team. Phone taps from investigators revealed that Ballan had undergone a blood transfusion in the spring of 2009, his final season at the team before joining BMC.
Ballan claims that he had undergone ozone therapy to treat cytomegalovirus, rather than a performance-enhancing transfusion. This excuse did not convince CONI’s anti-doping panel at a hearing in Rome on Thursday, and his two-year ban was announced on Friday morning. BMC’s official response to Ballan’s ban arrived some nine hours later.
Adelaide Heats Up For the Tour Down Under
Adelaide welcomed the worlds pro riders this week and the European riders were greeted to sizzling temperatures as the mercury topped 46 degrees. With the city building for the first major race on the UCI calendar, the scorching temperatures saw teams training in the early morning. The saddest news of the week came with departure of Thomas Voeckler, who crashed in a training ride. The incident took place when the French hero clipped a vehicle that had stopped suddenly in front of him while out on a training ride near Glenelg. He was taken to Adelaide, where it was confirmed he had a fractured clavicle.
Voeckler, the winner of four stages and the 2012 mountains jersey at the Tour de France, was looking forward to his debut appearance in the Santos Tour Down Under.
Simon Gerrans Wins National Title
Orica-GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans won the Australian Road Championship, in a sprint finish in front of Cadel Evans (BMC) and Richie Porte (Sky) to win his second national title after racing 183.6km around Buninyon.
Gerrans, Evans and Porte played their cards well riding with the peloton, which caught the lead group on the penultimate lap.
On the final climb Gerrans and team mate Cameron Meyer took the lead with Evans and Porte chasing. They all knew Gerrans if given the chance would be hard to beat on the sprint.
Porte took the lead in the final kilometre, with Gerrans and Evans reluctant to make the decisive move until the final 200 metres.
With Porte leading out the sprint into a headwind, Gerrans jumped hard with Evans making a futile attempt to match the speed of the Orica-GreenEDGE rider.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep Unveil 2013 Roster
Omega Pharma-QuickStep unveiled their 2013 roster at the Eddy Merckx velodrome in Gent on Tuesday. Team boss Patrick Lefevere opened proceedings by outlining plans to see the team become the world number one squad in 2013. Last season, the Belgian outfit claimed an astonishing 60 wins, with complete dominance in the cobbled Classics.
After the presentation of marquee signing Mark Cavendish, the biggest applause of the night was saved for Tom Boonen. Like Cavendish, he was quick to play down any speculation of rivalry, stressing that Cavendish added a new dynamic to the team. As well as praising the sprinter’s speed on the bike he also talked up his teammate’s mental strengths. Boonen also opened the door for a return to the Tour de France, possibly as Cavendish’s lead out man.
100TH Edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege
The oldest of cycling’s five Monuments turns 100 this year, and the organisers of Liège – Bastogne – Liège have planned a number of ways to celebrate the centenary. Included in this year’s race will be a €5000 bonus for the first rider to cross the 100 kilometer mark in Bastogne.
The 263km course was announced this week, with 100 days to go before the race. The race was first organised by the RC Pesant Club Liégeois, in 1892.
This year’s race will be peppered with 10 climbs, nine of which come on the return trip from Bastogne. The iconic Côte de Stockeu (km 173,5), La Redoute (km 218.5) and the final Côte de Saint-Nicolas (km 257.5) will once again be joined by the Côte de Roche-aux-Faucons, absent from last year’s event due to road works.
Tinkoff-Saxo Train in Gran Canaria
Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger trained with team mates of the re-branded Tinkoff-Saxo team this week in Gran Canaria. Riders tried out their new Specialized machines in the majestic mountains on this island paradise.
All riders will have a Tarmac SL4 and the sprinters will have the chance to ride the new Specialized Venge.