Viviani sprints to Dauphine 2nd stage win

Italian Elia Viviani of the Cannondale team has outsprinted Gianni Meersman and Tony Gallopin to win the second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine after 191km from Chatel to Oyonnax overnight.

Canadian David Veilleux of Europcar, the first stage winner, retained the overall leader’s jersey.

It was the 24-year-old Viviani’s first win this season and came after he twice finished second to sprint-king Mark Cavendish at last month’s Giro d’Italia.

With few top sprinters at the hilly, eight-stage race, which serves as a key build-up to the Tour de France, Viviani imposed himself easily in the sprint finish, helped by the fact the peloton was reduced in size due to the lumpy final 60km, which had removed French champion Nacer Bouhanni and Norwegian counterpart Thor Hushovd from the reckoning.

Dauphine Libere 2013 stage-2

It was his participation in the Giro that Viviani believes gave him the edge over his rivals.

“The distance was an advantage. Coming from the Giro, I had more reserves than the others,” said one of the new generation of Italian sprinters, hoping to fill the void left by greats Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Pettachi.

“I came to the Dauphine for two reasons, firstly so the team would have a leader as the others are riding the Tour of Switzerland, and also to have the chance of winning, which I had yet to do this season,” added Viviani.

“At the Giro I was twice second behind Mark Cavendish, who was in great form. It was difficult to beat him but after the Giro I recovered well and remained concentrated.”

On a stage including six categorised climbs, although none too taxing, a four-man breakaway tried their luck but Veilleux’s Europcar team never let them get too far down the road as they worked hard to keep hold of the leader’s jersey.

“My teammates did a great job, I owe them one. We let a four-man break get away and we managed it well,” said the Canadian, who doesn’t expect to hold onto his lead for more than another 24 hours.

“We hope to keep the jersey tomorrow (Tuesday) but Wednesday’s time-trial, we’ll see.”

In the finale, Cofidis team-mates Rudy Molard of France and Estonian Rein Taaramae both had a solo crack for home, as did Juan Antonio Flecha, but none could make it stick on a speedy finish to the stage.

Tuesday’s third stage will see the riders tackle a 167km course from Amberieu-en-Bugey to Tarare.

Follow the link for full results from stage 2 of the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine. Text via AFP.

Santambrogio tests positive at Giro

Italian cyclist Mauro Santambrogio tested positive for EPO during last month’s Giro d’Italia, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said Monday. The 28-year-old finished ninth overall on the Giro and won the 14th stage but tested positive for the banned blood-booster on the opening stage on May 4.

He thus becomes the second Vini Fantini rider in the space of 10 days to test positive for EPO after former Giro winner Danilo Di Luca was thrown out of the race on May 24 for having also tested positive in an out of competition test before the Giro began.

Santambrogio has been provisionally suspended by the UCI until the Italian Cycling Federation takes a decision on the case.

Giro d'Italia 2013 - Tappa 14

Vini Fantini boss Luca Scinto was left devastated by the news and said it could bring down the second-division team, who only competed at the Giro on an invitation.

“Everything’s finished, the whole project is finished,” he told “What do you want me to tell you, I’m distraught, I’m ruined. I defended him like no other rider before because from (the Giro start in) Naples there were awful rumours about him going around the peloton.

“I didn’t want to believe them and on more than one occasion I had a face-to-face with him.
“He told me: ‘It’s only jealousy Luca, calm down. But you can’t keep asking me these questions because they’re offensive’. “What can I say? We’re distraught, myself and Angelo (Citracca, the team manager) because we know perfectly well it’s a mortal blow.”

Santambrogio had been enjoying a great season having finished seventh at the Tirreno-Adriatico, second at the Tour of Trentino and won the Larciano GP.

This is not the first mention of Santambrogio’s name alongside doping. In April 2010 Santambrogio and Alessandro Ballan were suspended by their BMC team when a public prosecutor in Mantua (northern region of Lombardy) announced he had opened an investigation into 35 people suspected of involvement in doping offences related to cycling. Click here to read that story.

Text via AFP.

Vini-Fantini responds to Santambrogio positive test

In a press release on the Vini Fantini website (via Google Translate), team manager Angelo Citracca said the following of the Santambrogio positive test:

“Upon hearing the news, we proceeded to dismiss the athlete, to be followed by disciplinary proceedings and the claim for damages. The event, severe and painful, lays bare another athlete ‘sick’ and part of a cycling now dead and that, as demonstrated by these efficient controls, no longer has any chance of living in modern cycling.

The team, despite the injury, will continue its operations even more motivated to protect their young, and all the athletes in this team have found their own dimension, respecting the code of ethics in international cycling and the values that have made our team a team of young and dynamic, growth-oriented with excellent athletes.

Unfortunately we were wrong to engage Santambrogio, betrayed by the beautiful promises of a past and a very promising first part of career devoted to the life of a follower, but this can not go to affect a long-running project like ours “.

The peloton reacts to Santambrogio’s positive test

When Danilo Di Luca tested positive to EPO a week or so ago many riders took to social media to express their frustration and disappointment. The reception has been no different with the Santambrogio case. Here’s a selection.

As the Secret Pro tweeted a couple weeks ago:

Heinrich Haussler (IAM) said on Facebook:

“Was only a matter of time till that w***er went pos!!! What a bloody f’nnn idiot!!!”

And then there’s Twitter:

Zabel’s son to race for BMC next season

The son of German sprint legend Erik Zabel has signed a contract to race for BMC next season, the team said Monday.

The 19-year-old Rick Zabel has already won the under-23 German national title and the Tour of Flanders for his age category.

His father Eric was a six-time winner of the Tour de France’s green jersey competition for the best sprinter.

Tour of Flanders - Under 23 - 2013

“Rick has certainly learnt a lot from his father and, in a number of ways, they’re a bit like the same rider,” said Allan Peiper, one of the American team’s bosses.

The winner of the Milan-Sanremo classic four times, Erik Zabel also won 12 stages on the Tour de France before retiring in 2008.

Text adapted from a BMC press release.

Cookson to challenge McQuaid for top UCI gig

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, British Cycling president Brian Cookson will be challenging UCI president Pat McQuaid in September’s election for the UCI’s top job.

To quote VeloNews, Cookson is “viewed as a legitimate, well-grounded voice within the British cycling establishment” and could pose a serious challenge for McQuaid who is seeking a third term as President after eight years in the job.

Cookson is expected to formally announce his candidacy today.

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Dauphine to reveal Tour de France contenders? Don’t forget the 2012 Vuelta

At around this time every year there’s plenty of talk about how the Criterium du Dauphine is a great barometer for how the Tour de France will unfold. In fact, we’ve been saying as much for the past week or so.

But in an article on VeloNews today, Andrew Hood suggests that if you really want to get a sense of who to watch out for in Le Tour, you need to look back at the previous year’s Vuelta a Espana. Check out Andrew’s reasoning and the article here.

Blanco/Belkin interested in Stetina

As reported yesterday, Team Blanco has signed American technology company Belkin as a sponsor from the Tour de France onwards and now it would seem that team manager Richard Plugge is eyeing off US riders to add to the squad, including Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp).

Stetina apparently hasn’t heard from Blanco/Belkin management as yet but told Cycling News he was flattered with the reports.

“That’s a question for my agents,” Stetina said. “That’s why I work with them, so I can just focus on being a faster bike rider.”

Click here to read more.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:

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