By Gregor Brown published
Bradley Wiggins said that he made an ideal season debut with his Sky team-mates last week in the Tour of the Algarve. The team won three stages and the overall with Richie Porte in Portugal.
"It obviously went better than we'd all anticipated and it was great to start the season off that way; not only individually but as a team too - I think the way we rode together made us the dominant force," Wiggins told British Cycling.
"It was a brilliant week for us all."
Wiggins won the final time trial and Porte placed third to secure his first stage race win.
Porte, 27 years old from Tasmania, joined Sky this year. He will likely have a chance to help Wiggins in the Tour de France this year, but he had his own chance in Portugal. He won the mountain stage mid-race and defended for the win.
"Everyone knew Richie was capable of that, which made our jobs a bit easier," Wiggins added. "We just had to give 100 per cent and he was going to finish it off."
Along with Porte and Wiggins, Edvald Boasson Hagen won a stage in the five-day race.
Pozzato pushes ahead with broken collarbone
Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini) will race in the Belgian classics this weekend despite breaking his collarbone two weeks ago. The Italian has returned to racing already, covering 130 kilometres of the Trofeo Laigueglia on Saturday, only six days after his operation.
"After the operation and the test race in Laigueglia," said the team's doctor, Daniele Tarsi, "we are going to Belgium to try it out."
Pozzato will race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Saturday and Sunday. He won the former in 2007.
"After this," continued the doctor, "it's possible that 'Pippo' will be ready for Eroica, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo."
He broke his collarbone in the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar on February 9.
Sky to Belgium
Sky returns to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday eager for a third successful year. With Juan Antonio Flecha, it finished on the podium in the last two years - first in 2010 and second in a two-up sprint with Sebastian Langeveld last year.
Besides Brits Jeremy Hunt and Ian Stannard, the team will field Flecha, Chris Sutton, Michael Barry, Bernhard Eisel, Mathew Hayman and Christian Knees. David Millar will support Garmin in Het Nieuwsblad.
"I'm really happy about my result in Qatar and how I performed. We had been working for Cav [Mark Cavendish] but the team also protected me so they were happy that I could get on the podium there," Flecha said in a press release.
"It's a perfect start to the season. Now for the Classics the opening weekend is coming with Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne. I want to be good there but there is still a lot of racing to go with Tirreno, Milan-San Remo and all the semi-classics - but this just confirms that I am going well."
In Kuurne, the team takes Flecha, Cavendish, Hunt, Stannard, Barry, Hayman, Chris Sutton and Alex Dowsett. Brits Adam Blythe (BMC Racing) and Mark McNally (An Post) are also racing.
Tour winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) continues his season this Sunday at the GP Lugano.
He will line up with several Italian stars, including Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and, making his debut, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD).
Tour boss says everyone loses with Contador case
Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme said all of cycling has lost with the Alberto Contador doping case.
"Everyone has lost," he told Belgium's Le Soir newspaper, "the Tour, Contador, his rivals and the fans."
He wished the case had ended sooner, instead of lasting 18 months since Contador won the 2010 Tour. He did not blame the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but said, "in sport, it's necessary to find more rapid and effective ways."
Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol at the Tour de France on July 21, 2010. On February 6, after appeals and delays, the CAS ruled in favour of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and found him guilty.
Paris-Roubaix will likely once again include its famed Arenberg Forest section in the 2012 edition. The local Wallers-Arenberg region and forest service are working to clear the mud that covered the 2.4-kilometre cobble sector.
Weather conditions had threatened to make the passage too risky. Bad conditions in 2005 forced the organisers to skip the Arenberg Forest.
Workers are using machines to clean the mud, but leaving the pavé as is. The race runs on April 8, one week after the Tour of Flanders.
Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.