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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The UCI has finally decided to ban the painkiller tramadol from use in competition, Elia Viviani was the fastest Down Under, Astana’s making music, and Romain Bardet wants to take on Milan-San Remo. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Tramadol ban to begin March 1
Last summer, the UCI announced its intention to ban Tramadol, a painkiller long studied but never banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), within pro cycling. That ban is set to come into effect on March 1, with punishments ranging from a CHF5,000 fine to a nine-month suspension.
The drug, an opioid, has been on WADA’s monitored list for years, but the agency has steadfastly refused to ban it outright despite lobbying from the UCI, outside experts, athlete’s groups, and national anti-doping bodies like USADA. The drug’s use is particularly common in cycling – between 71 and 82 per cent of test samples containing the drug came from cyclists, according to a WADA study.
The UCI cited safety concerns in its decision to unilaterally ban the drug, rather than concerns that the drug is performance enhancing. Riders have described “finish bottles” filled with a cocktail including tramadol being consumed in the finale of difficult races, and pills being stashed inside the elastic of a pair of shorts.
“There is widespread use of finish bottles, which are just bottles of crushed-up caffeine pills and painkillers,” Taylor Phinney said all the way back in 2012. “That stuff can make you pretty loopy, and that is why I have never tried it.”
The UCI will perform tests for tramadol in competition, as the drug remains legal away from racing.
“The use of tramadol can have two types of side-effect: nausea, drowsiness and loss of concentration (increasing the risk of race crashes), and gradual dependence on the substance with a risk of developing an addiction,” the UCI said in a statement.
“In light of the risks associated with its use in competitive cycling, and in accordance with the UCI Management Committee decision of June 2018, the UCI Medical Regulations will ban in-competition use of tramadol.”
A first offence will result in a rider receiving a CHF5000 fine, a second offence will result in a five-month suspension, and a third offence will result in a nine-month ban. For teams, two offences in a year will result in a CHF10,000 fine. Three offences will result in a ban for the whole team of between one and 12 months.
Viviani opens WorldTour account
Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) will wear the first ochre jersey of the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under after dashing to victory in Port Adelaide on Tuesday.
In what was a messy sprint finish, Italian champion Viviani managed to thread his way through traffic to overhaul the early sprint of Max Walscheid (Sunweb). The towering German held on for second while Jakub Mareczko (CCC) rounded out the podium in his first race back at the WorldTour level.
“There was a headwind as expected,” Viviani said. “We planned for that. Normally these conditions make a chaotic sprint and it was indeed. Even with 1km to go, we didn’t look in the best position; it was about finding the space. I could keep the draft for quite a long time.”
Tomorrow’s stage 2 is also expected to end in a bunch sprint. Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia) leads the KOM classification and his stage 1 breakaway companion Michael Storer (Sunweb) leads the best young rider classification. Viviani leads the points classification in addition to the general classification, but with Viviani wearing ochre on stage 2, Walscheid will be in blue.
Romain Bardet eyes Milan-San Remo
Romain Bardet would like to take a shot at the first monument of the season, La Classicissima, his team told l’Equipe.
It will be the first time Bardet has lined up at Milan-San Remo since 2013 when he finished 17th in an edition shortened by heavy snowfall.
The decision to add MSR was Bardet’s, according to his sport director, Julien Jurdie, though it is not final. Bardet will race Paris-Nice and then decide whether to start the monument. His next objective, Volta Catalunya, starts only two days later.
Samuele Manfredi comes out of coma
Young Italian rider Samuele Manfredi came out of a coma on Tuesday a month after a car crash that occurred while he was training in Liguria. He suffered serious head trauma and was put into a medically induced coma by doctors once he reached the hospital.
Manfredi is signed with Groupama-FDJ’s development team and is considred one of Italy’s top talents.
Tweet of the day
You’re welcome, or we’re sorry. Not entirely sure which.
That’s one way to get down the mountain.
Dario Pegoretti’s Bottega
After the untimely death of Dario Pegoretti in August last year, it wasn’t clear what would happen to his frame building business. That the workshop’s website was updated was one sign that it would continue, then came the news that Pegoretti frames would be on display at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2019. Now, this short film, which was shot last month, makes it clear that his co-workers aren’t about to abandon the Italian frame builder’s legacy.
Happy Birthday to …
Maurizio Fondriest (54), who won Milan San-Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Fleche-Wallone in 1993 and went on to found his own bike brand.
In case you missed it …
A new Lazer lid
Dave Rome takes a look at Lazer’s new aero lid from the Tour Down Under.
Who will win Tour Down Under?
Matt de Neef breaks down the first day of WorldTour racing in Adelaide and lays out why bonus seconds could make all the difference.
Feature Image: Elia Viviani wins stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under. Image by Cor Vos.