ARMSTRONG PLANS RACES AROUND GIRO RECON TRIPS

Lance Armstrong has confirmed his race programme for the first part of the season, surprisingly adding the Giro del Trentino to his schedule to prepare for the Giro d?Italia.

After the Tour Down Under in Australia, Armstrong has so far confirmed he will ride the Tour of California (Feb 14-22), Milan-San Remo (March 21), Criterium International (March 28-29), the Tour of Flanders (April 5), the Giro del Trentino (April 22-25), the Giro d?Italia and then the Tour de France (July 4-26).

According to Monday?s Gazzetta dello Sport, Armstrong will use the races to study the Cinque Terre time trial and then the Block Haus and Mount Vesuvius mountain stage in the central Apennines after Milan-San Remo. He has chosen the Giro del Trentino because it will allow him to test his climbing before the Giro d?Italia, see the early mountain stages and the organisers have also included a 17.5km time trial.

With Ivan Basso also riding the Giro del Trentino, the short stage race will be the first time the two go head to head before the Giro d?Italia.


ARMSTRONG REVEALS CATLIN?S TESTING PROGRAMME

On the eve of his comeback to the professional ranks, Lance Armstrong revealed what Dr Don Catlin?s dope testing programme will entail.

According to an Astana team press release, Dr Catlin, the chief science officer of Anti-Doping Sciences Institute, has been working for the past four months on designing a programme of tests for Armstrong.

The press release says the tests for substances and methods will require Armstrong to be tested ?about once every three days?.

According to the team?s press release, the programme has already commenced but it does not say when testing began.

Armstrong says he has been tested 12 times out of competition since announcing his comeback in September.

The new Anti-Doping Sciences Institute tests are in addition to those carried out by Rasmus Damsgaard on all Astana?s riders.

Astana?s general manager, Johan Bruyneel, said: ?Our goal was to have Dr Catlin develop a state-of-the-art programme to subject Lance Armstrong to more testing than any other athlete in history, to establish whether his performance has been aided by the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

?Don Catlin has done that and now we can leave those issues to the drug testers and focus on competitive success for Astana in the Tour of Australia [sic] and the rest of the 2009 season.?

Armstrong said: My goal in agreeing to participate in this programme is to reduce speculation and debate about drug-testing issues that might divert away from what my cycling comeback is all about ? our global cancer campaign. I am riding in 2009 to help end the stigma of cancer, build a grassroots movement about worldwide cancer collaboration, and make cancer a worldwide priority.?

Dr Catlin said: ?We have developed an extensive monitoring programme. It accomplishes my goals. Firstly to have high frequency testing to maximise the amount of data collected and minimise possibilities the athlete might have to thwart the system, secondly, to store frozen samples for two to eight years so we have the ability to perform new or additional tests and thirdly to be independent and offer a programme of transparency to the public and international anti-doping authorities.?


BASSO SET FOR ARGENTINIAN RACE

Italian Ivan Basso is in Argentina for the seven-day Tour de San Luis, which starts today (Monday).

The Liquigas rider made his return to professional competition at the Japan Cup in October, a few days after his suspension for his involvement in Operacion Puerto ended.

Basso leads a Liquigas team that also includes Vincenzo Nibali. Other top squads taking part include Saxo Bank, giving Argentine sprint Juan Jose Haedo a chance to race on home soil, and Team ISD. The Fuji-Servetto team, which rose from the ashes of the disgraced Saunier Duval, also ride. The rest of the field is made up of smaller squads and South American national teams.

Rock Racing had hoped to take part, but problems over its racing licence have meant they had to withdraw.

It promises to be a tough race, with three summit finishes and a 20-kilometre time trial.

Tour de San Luis: January 19-25


WADA WANT LONGER BAN FOR SELLA

The World Anti?Doping Agency (WADA) has decided to appeal to the Court for Arbitration for Sport (TAS) against the one-year ban given to disgraced Italian rider Emanuele Sella.

The former CSF Group rider tested positive for CERA last summer but the Italian Olympic Committee gave him a one-year ban for proving information that has helped further anti-doping investigation. However WADA want Sella to serve a longer sentence.


SOLER BACK ON FORM IN COLOMBIA

After a disastrous 2008 marred by crashes and early retirement from major races, Colombian climber Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) seems to be back on form and ready for the 2009 season.

Soler won the tough Circuito di Tuta race near his home in Boyaca ahead of team mate Felix Cardenas.


RELATED LINKS

Watch Lance Armstrong make his comeback

Slipstream unveil new kit

Cancer Council Classic photo gallery, by Graham Watson

Tour Down Under preview

Armstrong in Adelaide… and Astana kit

Armstrong to get ‘elite security team’ for Tour Down Under

UCI launches World Calendar

Armstrong vs Hincapie at Tour Down Under