Rodriguez flies Katusha flag following doping controversy
Joaquin Rodriguez gave team Katusha something to smile about yesterday in Flèche Wallonne. His win followed Monday’s announcement that team-mate Denis Galimzyanov used banned drug EPO.
“Basically it shows we are catching the cheats,” he said in the winner’s press conference in response to a question suggesting the doping positive should cast doubt over the entire Katusha team. “It’s important to see that the people who cheat are getting caught.”
At the Tour de France last year, Alexandr Kolobnev tested positive for banned diuretic HCT. In March, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the Russian federation’s ruling that cleared him. He is now racing again with Katusha.
Nordhaug leads Sky’s Ardennes charge
Team Sky’s Lars Petter Nordhaug will help lead the charge in the final of three Ardennes Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.
Sports director, Marcus Ljungqvist said that yesterday in Flèche Wallonne he was still hurting from a crash in the final kilometre of Amstel Gold. He added, “For Liège, he’ll be 100 per cent, the legs are there.”
Nordhaug escaped free in Flèche Wallonne with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) at eight kilometres remaining. They tried to anticipate the group ahead of the Mur de Huy climb, but crumbled on the steepest gradients.
Gilbert edging towards win
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) is edging towards his first win of the season in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Yesterday, he took his best result yet, third.
“It only counts to win, but this is a good sign,” The Belgian explained. “I’ve fought back from a long way down.”
Last year he became only the second rider in history to win all three Ardennes Classics. Since last month, he’s continually improved: Milan-San Remo 87th, Ghent-Wevelgem 39th, Flanders 75th, Brabantse Pijl 12th, Amstel Gold 6th and yesterday third.
Bookmakers give him top odds for Sunday: 3.75 to 1. Rodríguez has 9 to 1 odds.
Leipheimer and Martin suffering from training crashes
Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Levi Leipheimer and Tony Martin are still suffering from injuries relating from separate training crashes with cars.
Martin suffered several facial fractures last Wednesday, but rode again on Tuesday. He said in a press release, “I pedalled for 30 minutes [on Tuesday] and again for about an hour [yesterday]. These aren’t training sessions, but just some pedalling to get used to the bicycle and the road again.”
Leipheimer fractured his left leg’s fibula on April 1. He said, “I haven’t managed to get back on my bike out on the road, and I honestly don’t know when that will be possible.”
Bother riders were to lead Omega Pharma at the Tour de France.
Contador plans return with Saxo Bank
Alberto Contador plans to return to team Saxo Bank after his doping suspension ends.
“I’m lucky considering the situation, there are a lot of high-level teams who have been in contact,” he told Spain’s Cope website. “Returning to Saxo Bank is my first choice. There are better offers, but their unconditional support is priceless.”
He ingested banned Clenbuterol drug at the 2010 Tour de France. The CAS gave him a backdated two-year ban and stripped him of several wins, including the 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro d’Italia.
His ban ends on August 5, in time for the Vuelta a España mid-August. He added, “I’ll arrive with fresh legs.”