Nairo Quintana shaping up well for season with Tirreno-Adriatico win

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Tirreno’s top man: Nairo Quintana.

Colombia’s Nairo Quintana won the Tirreno-Adriatico after Fabian Cancellera claimed the seventh stage time-trial in San Benedetto del Tronto yesterday.

– UCI chief Brian Cookson slams Armstrong’s charity return
– UCI president Brian Cookson admits doping problem remains
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Quintana, last year’s Giro d’Italia champion, had taken possession of the overall leader’s blue jersey in Sunday’s mountain-top victory in the snow.

And the Movistar rider held on to his lead after the closing stage’s 10 kilometre race-against-the-clock to finish 18 seconds clear of Dutch rival Bauke Mollema in the standings.

The success of Quintana, runner-up in the 2013 Tour de France, augurs well for the rest of the season after the second half of last year was disrupted by an injury suffered in the Tour of Spain.

For Swiss time-trial specialist Cancellera, this 50th stage win of his career set him up for his latest assault on Sunday’s Milan-San Remo. He is hoping to go one better after finishing second on three of the last four editions of the one-day classic.

Cancellera came in 4 seconds clear of Adriano Malori, who had relegated the Swiss classics specialist into second in the opening 5.4km time trial prologue last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sky’s Richie Porte has asserted he feels in the form of his life following his second Paris-Nice title in three years.

The 30-year Australian, who trailed leader Tony Gallopin by 36 seconds going into Sunday’s final day’s time trial, hopes this win can boost his confidence ahead of the Giro d’Italia.

“I relish this win even more than two years ago,” the Tasmanianborn cyclist said. “In between times I had a bad season (in 2014).” “I wasn’t sure I could win this Paris-Nice. I had lost time on Saturday,”

Porte explained. “There was too much tyre pressure, it was not ideal. It was like riding on ice. But I was confident.”

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UCI chief Brian Cookson slams Lance Armstrong’s charity Tour de France return

Nick Purewal 18/03/2015
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Not welcome: Drug cheat Lance Armstrong (c) is to cycle Tour de France route.

Cycling boss Brian Cookson has branded Lance Armstrong “completely disrespectful” for aiming to ride the Tour de France route this summer for charity.

– UCI president Brian Cookson admits doping problem remains
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Cookson, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), suggested Armstrong “would be well advised not to take part” in former England footballer Geoff Thomas’ charity fundraising mission.

Thomas has convinced shamed drugs cheat Armstrong to take part in his charity stunt, riding the Tour route one day ahead of the professional peloton.

Cookson said the UCI has no authority to stop Amstrong’s bid, but urged the American, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, to think again.

“I’m sure that Geoff Thomas means well, but frankly I think that’s completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Tour, disrespectful to the current riders, and disrespectful to the UCI and the anti-doping community,” said Cookson. “I think Lance would be welladvised not to take part in that.”

Armstrong in January complained he was prevented from even walking an organised marathon to raise funds for charity. From next summer, however, the World Anti-Doping Agency code (section 10.12.1) will permit the Texan to participate in sports other than cycling and triathlon. He was banned for life from those sports in August 2012.

Cookson rejected the argument Armstrong should be handed some slack despite his life ban from cycling, even though his summer stunt ostensibly could raise big funds for charity.

Speaking at the Sport Industry Breakfast Club in central London, Cookson said of Armstrong’s charity angle: “I’ve heard that reason rolled out throughout Lance A’s career as well.

“I’m not critical of people trying to raise funds, let’s be clear. But I think maybe Lance could find a better way of continuing his fundraising efforts than this.”

Meanwhile, Thomas has accepted the criticism over inviting Armstrong to join his Tour de France charity ride but insisted the shamed cyclist can help save lives.

In a statement released on Twitter he wrote: “I understand some people will find it hard to accept Armstrong’s support but my take is a simple one. If Armstrong’s involvement in Le Tour – One Day Ahead and my goal to raise £1million (Dh5.42m) for blood cancer can help save one more life then surely that can only be a good thing.”

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UCI president Brian Cookson admits doping remains an endemic problem in cycling

Allan Kelly 10/03/2015
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Lance Armstrong's doping offences were reportedly overlooked

Doping remains an endemic problem, UCI president Brian Cookson admitted after the publication of a damning independent report accusing cycling’s world body of turning a blind eye to drug cheat Lance Armstrong.

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The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) was set up by Cookson in January last year to investigate the body’s dealings with doping findings and allegations during the late 1990s and early 2000s, including its handling of claims against Armstrong, who was found guilty of systematic doping throughout the first part of his career and subsequently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

Former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid were accused of failing to follow their own anti-doping regulations and not holding Armstrong to the same rules that other riders were expected to follow.

Former UCI president Pat McQuaid has been under fire for doping policy under his regime

“The UCI leadership did not know how to differentiate between Armstrong the hero, seven-time winner of the Tour, cancer survivor, huge financial and media success and a role model for thousands of fans, from Lance Armstrong the cyclist, a member of the peloton with the same rights and obligations as any other professional cyclist,” the 227-page report said.

“Numerous examples have been identified showing that UCI leadership ‘defended’ or ‘protected’ Lance Armstrong and took decisions because they were favourable to him.”

Armstrong released a statement shortly after the report was published in which he apologised for his actions.

“I am grateful to CIRC for seeking the truth and allowing me to assist in that search,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for many things I have done.”

The commission also highlighted lapses in cycling’s general antidrug regime including drug testers sometimes leaking information about who would be the target of tests.

One expert told the commission that up to 90 percent of the race peloton was still doping. Others gave lower estimates.

“I don’t really believe 90 per cent of the peloton are still doping for instance as a witness says but I do believe there’s still an endemic problem of lower level doping,” said Cookson.

“I believe efforts have been made to tackle those problems, there have been major step forwards like the biological passport.

“It’s now possible to compete in professionnal cycling without doping. Nevertheless there’s still a problem there, clearly in any sport there are people trying to cheat and we need to stop them and to protect riders who want to compete without cheating, we have a lot more to do and we will continue.

“The UCI management has changed, we no longer close our eyes to doping.”

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