POZZATO WINS DE PANNE OPENER

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) underlined his pre-northern classics form yesterday by adding a win in the opening stage of the Three Days of De Panne to his E3 Prijs Vlaanderen victory at the weekend.

Frederik Willems (Liquigas) was a close second in De Panne after duking it out with Pozzato on the run-in to the finish. Britain’s Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) came home safely in the main bunch, over 13 minutes behind Pozzato.

The Three Days of De Panne serves as a prelude to what is considered the main event in Belgium: this weekend’s Tour of Flanders (Sunday, April 5).


KOHL ADMITS BLOOD DOPING: FACES PRISON SENTENCE

Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl has admitted to using blood doping practices in addition to blood-boosting drug CERA, a form of EPO.

Kohl announced in a press conference in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday that he had visited the Humanplasma laboratory in Vienna to receive blood transfusions.

Kohl on the King of the Mountains jersey and placed third overall in the 2008 Tour de France before retroactive testing of his blood samples taken during the race returned positives for CERA. He was subsequently stripped of his Tour placing and suspended.

If found guilty of doping practices, Kohl could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison under Austrian law.

Yesterday, Kohl’s former manager Stefan Matschiner was arrested by Austrian police in connection with doping practices and supplying banned substances. He, too, may face a prison sentence.


ARMSTRONG RECOVERING WELL

Lance Armstrong is recovering well from the surgery used to correct the broken right collarbone he sustained during the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

According to the Astana rider’s Twitter feed, has has been on the indoor trainer and enjoyed spending time with his young family at home in Austin, Texas.

Plans for him to ride the Giro d’Italia in May still seem to be on track.


CANCELLARA BACK FOR FLANDERS

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) will line up on the start line of this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

The Swiss time trial ace and Paris-Roubaix winner has been struggling all season with ilness, missing out on defending his 2008 win at Milan-San Remo.

Although Cancellara had singled out Flanders as a goal for the season, he is now likely to aid Saxo Bank’s Karsten Kroon for the win.


PETACCHI IN LOMBARDA LEAD

Alessandro Petacchi wears the leader’s jersey in the Settimana Ciclista Lombarda, Italy, after his LPR Brakes squad won the opening team time trial.

Katusha placed second in the TTT, six seconds adrift of the Italian-based LPR.

LPR’s Danilo Di Luca is aiming for the overall win, having won the race in 2008. He’ll face competition from Giovanni Visconti, Gilberto Simoni and Davide Rebellin.


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