Denis Menchov and Jose Rujano, Giro d'Italia 2011, stage 14

Denis Menchov confirmed yesterday that he will ride for home team, Russia's Katusha next year and aim to win the Tour de France.

"It's always been my dream," he said, "to race for a team from my country."

The 33-year-old won the Vuelta a España twice and the Giro d'Italia in 2009. He finished third in 2008 and in 2010 at the Tour de France.

"We've been thinking about it," Hans-Michael Holczer told Cycling Weekly. "It's clear, when the most successful Russian rider has no team, we should try to have him. Igor Makarov will not leave Denis Menchov on the road."

Menchov thanked the team's backer, Russian cycling president Makarov for giving him the opportunity to ride with Katusha. He found himself without a team when Geox-TMC's title sponsor, an Italian footwear company, pulled out its backing.

Geox's riders and management also found themselves looking for work late into the season. This year's Vuelta winner, Juan José Cobo is still searching for a team, and Spaniard and 2008 Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre decided to retire.

Italian court requests four-year ban for Savio

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) requested a four-year, doping-related ban for general manager, Gianni Savio on Tuesday. It based its decision on claims by a former rider, who said that Savio "administered prohibited methods or substances."

"I've been accused of a crime I never committed, that I have nothing to do with," Savio responded in a press statement. "I am sure I will be able to prove this with the evidence gathered."

Savio manages second division, Italian team Androni Giocattoli, who this year helped José Rujano win the Grossglockner leg at the Giro d'Italia. For the past 27 years, the Italian from Turin has led professional teams.

He will face the Italian anti-doping tribunal (TNA), who will decide on the CONI's recommendation in the coming months. The case stems from Luca de Angeli's failure of a doping test for EPO in 2005. The Italian cyclist competed in Savio's Colombia-Selle Italia team in 2003 and 2005, testing positive while at the 2005 Coppi & Bartali stage race.

De Angeli's claims against Savio sparked a police investigation and the CONI's case. CONI said that Savio broke World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code 2.8: administration or attempted administration to an athlete any prohibited method or substance.

Contador plans 2012 season

Alberto Contador detailed his season programme this week at a training camp with team Saxo Bank, going from Argentina to the Olympics in London.

"I want a year where you will be able to see the strongest Contador yet," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday. The Tour de France "is the big objective."

The Spaniard aims for a fourth title next year after winning in 2007, 2009 and 2010. However, he faces an unfavourable course - suiting rivals Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) - and a doping case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will rule in early 2012 on a case that started when Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour.

At a team camp in Israel, he confirmed the smaller races that will lead up to the Tour and Olympics. He starts next month in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis and continues with the Mallorca Challenge, Tour of Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of Catalonia, Tour of the Basque Country. He will rest and return in June at the Critérium du Dauphiné and national championships. As with Wiggins, he will aim for the Olympic time trial.

Basso to grow blueberries

Ivan Basso will start a blueberry farm near his home in Cassano Magnago, Italy.

"In these times, when everything is going quickly, not many have the courage to take risks," Basso told local newspaper La Prealpina. "I decided to go against the flow, to work as my grandparents and great-grandparents worked."

The two-time Giro winner said that as soon as he retires, he will help with farming. Next year, he will focus on a third Giro title and likely help Liquigas-Cannondale team-mate Vincenzo Nibali at the Tour de France.

Related links

Wiggins and Cavendish to stay apart until 2012 Tour de France

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