Rocacorba Daily: Thursday March 14

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In this morning’s edition of the Rocacorba, we look forward to Milan-San Remo on Sunday, bring you the latest cycling headlines and share some information about a new cyclist-safety venture from the UK. Got an interesting story you think we should feature in the Rocacorba? We’d like to hear from you:

Teams reveal start lists for Milan-San Remo

The first Monument of the 2013 cycling season, Milan-San Remo, will be raced this Sunday and, as ever, there’s much discussion about who might take out the nearly 300km-long classic.

The past two editions have been won by Australians — by Matthew Goss in 2011 and by Simon Gerrans last year — but Gerrans is playing down his chances of a title defence:

“It’s no secret looking at our team that Matt Goss is our clear leader,” Gerrrans told News Limited.

“I’ll probably go in with a free reign and if the opportunity is there to be in the final like last year … but if not I’ll lay it all on the line for Matt Goss as well.”

Slovak sprinter Peter Sagan (Cannondale) will go into the race as favourite having won two stages at Tirreno-Adriatico in the past week but many eyes will also be on past winners Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

Teams have been revealing their start lists over the past few days and you can see a provisional list by clicking here.

Armstrong affair won’t affect cycling: McQuaid

UCI president Pat McQuaid has told reporters at the Asian Cycling Championship in India that the Lance Armstrong doping saga “was not at all a blow to cycling” and that it hasn’t left any negative mark on the sport.

McQuaid argued that the cycling world has moved on from the controversy given that “the Armstrong issue is a thing of 10 to 15 years back”. This is in spite of anti-doping scientists such as Michael Ashenden suggesting there is strong evidence that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during his 2009-2011 comeback.

McQuaid also described the Biological Passport as foolproof, saying “doping controlling programme is currently equipped to control the menace”. This in contrast with a press release published by Ashenden last month in which he suggested the UCI had failed to use the Biological Passport effectively.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Pozzato butts heads with Petacchi over San Remo leadership

Two former Milan-San Remo winners, Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Petacchi, are fighting for the chance to lead Lampre-Merida in the 2013 edition of the race this Sunday,

“I’d rather have [Damiano Cunego] and [Michele] Scarponi in the team,” Pozzato told Cycling Weekly.

“You can’t hide it, [Petacchi and I] are two different riders – you have to make a choice between us. We have to make a decision beforehand, not in the race itself. I’m going to talk with Alessandro and the team to see what we can do. We have to be grown-ups about it.”

Pozzato takes out the 2006 Milan-San Remo.

Pozzato won in 2006, Petacchi the year before.

Click here to read more on Cycling Weekly.

Pooley renews calls for women’s Tour de France

English cyclist Emma Pooley (Bigla Cycling Team) is putting pressure on organisers to bring back the women’s Tour de France.

“[The 2014 Tour] is starting in the UK and I can’t believe that Yorkshire doesn’t want Lizzie Armitstead riding,” she told Cycling Weekly.

“If you could just persuade the Tour de France organisers to have a women’s race, even if it was just half the length, it would make an unbelievable difference to women’s sport.”

Pooley, who won the last Tour de France Féminin in 2009, has put similar pressure on in the past. Last year, she threatened retirement and said the UCI treats women’s cycling like a Mickey Mouse sport. Nicole Cooke echoed Pooley’s statements when she retired over the winter.

Click here to read more at Cycling Weekly.

Nuyens still suffering with suspected virus

After withdrawing from Tirreno-Adriatico, Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) continues to try to pinpoint his problem. With the Tour of Flanders around the corner (on March 31), time is running out.

Nick Nuyens of Belgium climbs the Geraardsbergen wall during the Tour of Flanders.

“Team Garmin thinks I have a virus because I also have a rash on my body,” Nuyens told Sporza. “I still think the problems come from my hip. Maybe I forced myself too much over the winter. Considering this, and my few opportunities this year, it’s mentally tough.”

Nuyens crashed and fractured his hip in Paris-Nice last year. He was forced to skip Flanders, which he won in 2011.

Click here to

Gilbert speaks out against Flanders flags

World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) has spoken out against “extremists” waving the Lion of Flanders flags at races.

“In the Worlds you should be waving the flag of your country, not regional flags,” Gilbert told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “These flags deserve no place on the course. Those men only wave the flags where they know they’ll be filmed. It’s like the National Front in France. Extremists are everywhere, even in Wallonia.”

Flemish lions on their way to the finish line of the 2012 Gent-Wevelgem. (Image: Kristof Ramon)

The flags represent Belgium’s northern region. They are waved by foreign fans, but also by those wanting the country to split. Basque flags in Spain and Lega Nord flags in Italy are also often seen in races.

Click here to read more on And click here to read more about the story of the Lion of Flanders flags.

Sky boss Brailsford responds to doping innuendo

Sky rode so strongly last year — including a Tour de France win — and in the past two months, that questions are being raised about possible doping within in the team, with critics pointing to the team’s association with former Rabobank doctor, Gert Leinders.

“The Leinders question is legitimate and when we do things there are legitimate questions that should be asked. … But I don’t like innuendo. That’s unfair,” Brailsford told Cycling News.

“When you read some of the things that are written on the internet, the accusations and the innuendo, they’re incorrect. If you acted on the basis of that, it’d be totally unjust. … You’ve got to work with evidence and facts. That’s the way the world works. I’d be out of a job for sure if I didn’t.”

Leinders worked with Rabobank during the years the team suffered doping scandals. Sky fired him after flags were raised at the Tour de France.

Click here to read more on Cycling News.

BMC Racing backing van Garderen in California

BMC Racing will continue backing its young American, Tejay van Garderen, who finished fourth overall in Paris-Nice. The 24-year-old is now taking aim at the Tour of California in May.

“California will be a good one. That will be a big goal of mine,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “I never go into a race wanting to finish fourth. Sometime you just have to be happy with that, which I am, but I will obviously be trying to win.”

“There is no pressure from the team,” added BMC Racing sports director John Lelangue. “We know his potential and he knows his ability. … We know that he is on plan for a big season.”

Following his fifth place and white jersey at Le Tour de France last year, van Garderen will once again race at Cadel Evans’ side.

Click here to read more on VeloNews.

Cycle Alert system to warn truck drivers of nearby cyclists

A new cyclist safety system, called Cycle Alert, will be launched next month at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham. The Cycle Alert system features a sensor that’s attached to the cyclist’s bike or helmet, a sensor that’s attached to the truck and a driver alert device that’s located in the truck’s cab.

The three devices communicate with one another, letting truck drivers know about nearby cyclists and ensuring they have enough time to react.

While the system sounds good in theory there are a number of potential issues, including whether the system would be mandatory for truck drivers and, if so, who would pay for it.

Click here to

A day in the life of an Astana soigneur

And finally, it’s easy to forget that professional cycling teams aren’t just made up of riders. Many people work behind the scenes to ensure the races run smoothly, both on and off the road. In this video we see what’s involved the job of Astana soigneur, Michele Pattini.


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