Latest: Giro hits mountains; Basso, Scarponi suspended; Cavendish happy; Landis team attack
Giro d’Italia moves to mainland with first shakeup of GC expected. Basso and Scarponi suspended, C
Giro hits first mountaintop finish Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia will take the riders to their first mountaintop finish of the three week tour. Coming after Monday’s rest day and transfer, the 153km leg between Salerno and Montevergine Di Mercogliano ends with a 17.1km climb that averages 5%. The last time the Giro visited this climb in 2004, Damiano Cunego won and went onto take the overall classification of the Giro. This year, Cunego will be one of the favourites, along with second on GC Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Paolo Savoldelli (Astana), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) and Ricardo Ricc (Saunier Duval). The rest day didn’t go according to plan for many of the teams, who experienced delays in their transfer from Sardinia to the mainland. The riders didn’t arrive at their hotels until 3pm, while some of the equipment, which was taken across on ferries, didn’t turn up until the evening. Quick.Step team manager Patrick Lefvre wasn’t happy with what happened. “My riders couldn’t train,” he told VRT. “The teams have cooperated well with the Giro organisation this week, but the sport should always come first.” Basso and Scarponi suspended Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi have been suspended by the Italian cycling federation (FCI), as a result of their involvement in Operacion Puerto. The FCI was asked to suspend the pair by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), which is investigating the matter in Italy. CONI’s prosecutor Ettore Torri said that he expected the suspension would be for a maximum of four months. Basso was questioned by CONI for a third time on Tuesday, but wasn’t fully cooperative according to Torri. “During the second questioning, he seemed willing to cooperate and give out names and concrete elements,” Torri told AP. “Then, he was clearly approached not only by his defence lawyers, but sponsors and technical directors who have pushed him to backtrack. What we have is concrete, but not as exhaustive as we hoped for.” Cavendish happy to keep winning T-Mobile’s emerging sprinter Mark Cavendish has already booked three wins in his first season as a pro. The 21 year-old beat Robbie McEwen to win the Scheldeprijs in April, then followed it up with two stage wins and the points jersey in the Four Days of Dunkirk last week. “After GP Scheldeprijs I really wanted to carry on winning to show it wasn’t a fluke,” Cavendish said to t-mobile-team.com. “But what makes me even more happy is the whole teamwork that was behind the wins in Dunkirk, the support I got from the management and teammates to set up the sprints. It was a great feeling for the whole team.” For Cavendish, the Scheldeprijs was his biggest prize. Especially as he beat one of the world‘s best sprinters in Robbie McEwen. “I think he was shocked, like any rider would be, to see a 21-year-old coming past him,” said Cavendish. “I guess I am still relatively unknown in the pro peloton. But was very friendly, a great guy, on the podium he told me I had ‘balls’ to barge with him and hold him off.” The Manx rider also praised compatriot Roger Hammond’s presence in T-Mobile. “He’s been brilliant all the way,” he said. “I have been living with him and training with him in Belgium in recent months. He really helped pick me up when I was coming back from illness. He’s been my mentor and kind of like a big brother to me.” Next up for the young sprinter will be the Tour of Catalonia and the Philadelphia Week in June, then the British National Championships. “The nationals are a big goal for me, I like the course and it’s a nice race to end the first half of the season. Myself and Roger will travel over for that, so we’ll take it from there. Allan Peiper will be coming over as well with a team car, so we will have good support.” Floyd Landis anti-doping hearing – rider’s team on the offensive Day two of the arbitration hearing at Pepperdine University in California into Floyd Landis’ alleged doping during the 2006 Tour de France saw the American rider’s legal team on the attack. In their questioning of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) witness, Cynthia Mongongu, a technician employed by the French national anti-doping laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry, Landis’ team chipped away at the credibility of the establishment’s techniques, procedures and its overall competence. The Landis camp attempted to establish an element of bias in the testing procedures but Mongongu said that she was unaware of the identity of the urine sample provider, working only with serial numbers. They attacked on the grounds that Mongongu’s handling of both the A and B samples broke testing protocol and therefore rendered the analysis invalid, but this was also refuted by the technician on the grounds that she only verified the B sample results and did not carry out the actual test. They questioned the accuracy of the equipment used, but Mongongu testified that everything was checked and found to be working within acceptable parameters. Mongongu had already testified for the prosecution that she had conducted the carbon isotope analysis on Landis’ A urine sample, which under less sophisticated initial screening procedures had been shown to contain abnormal levels of testosterone. Carbon isotope testing had further revealed that in addition to the abnormal levels, some of that testosterone was synthetic and therefore had to have been administered illegally. Mongongu had stated that as well as testing the A sample, she had cross-checked and confirmed the results for Landis’ B sample which had also proved positive. She had further testified that in April of this year she tested seven other urine samples provided by Landis during the course of the Tour. While initial screening had suggested these samples were clean, carbon isotope testing had revealed the presence of synthetic testosterone in four of them. The Landis camp had more success with USADA witness Professor J Thomas Brenna, ostensibly hired to help reinforce the credibility of the French lab, but who admitted that he “would have been concerned” by the range of results it produced when calibrating its equipment in preparation for the Landis urine tests. The day’s proceedings were interrupted when the interpreter translating the exchanges was relieved of his duties with both legal teams agreeing that he was not up to the job. A new interpreter was found at short notice to replace him. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.