Romandie to set the stage for the Giro Sandwiched between the spring classics and the Giro d’Italia is the Tour de Romandie, which kicks off on Tuesday in Fribourg with a 3.5km time trial. The six day race is one of two Swiss ProTour stage races, and is typically targeted by those aiming to do well in the Giro, or those who still have some form left from the classics. The defending champion is Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), who will wear the number one dossard on the start ramp in Fribourg. Evans hasn’t been in scintillating form so far this season, but he could well rise to the occasion again in Switzerland. He’ll be challenged by CSC’s armada of Bobby Julich, Carlos Sastre, Karsten Kroon and Dave Zabriskie, which looks to be a strong line-up on paper. Discovery Channel is bringing young talent Janez Brajkovic, recent winner of the Tour of Georgia. The Slovenian can climb and time trial well, and will be looking at the general classification. Tour de France potential winner Oscar Pereiro is the big name at Caisse d’Epargne, but he may take a back seat while the in-form Joaquin Rodriguez tries for a stage win or two. Thomas Dekker will lead the Rabobank charge, with Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Andrey Kashechkin (Astana), Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) and Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) captaining their respective teams. Serguei Gonchar and Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) will be ones to watch in both the time trials, while Robbie McEwen (Predictor) should pick up at least one stage win in a bunch sprint. The Tour de Romandie is shorter than its big brother, the Tour de Suisse, but it’s a well balanced race. Two time trials serve as bookends, with the final 20.4km test in Lausanne often critical for the general classification. In between, there are sprinter-friendly stages ending in La Chaux-de-Fonds (stage 1) and Lucens (stage 2), and two uphill finishes in Charmey (stage 3) and Morgins (stage 4). The 20 ProTour teams (including Unibet.com) plus Team LPR will take part. Stage list Prologue, May 1: Fribourg time trial (3.5km) Stage 1, May 2: Granges-Paccot – La Chaux-de-Fonds (157.8km) Stage 2, May 3: La Chaux-de-Fonds – Lucens (166.9km) Stage 3, May 4: Moudon – Charmey (162.6km) Stage 4, May 5: Charmey – Morgins (155.9km) Stage 5, May 6: Lausanne time trial (20.4km) Gazzetta: 107 riders suspected in Puerto Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that a total of 107 cyclists are in some way connected with Operacion Puerto. La Gazzetta based its information on the full Puerto dossier, which numbers some 6000 pages and goes into far more detail than the 39 page summary released at the end of June 2006, or the 500 page preliminary report. That report implicated 58 riders, but another 47 have now been added to the list. And of the 223 blood bags seized by the Guardia Civil last year, only those belonging to Jan Ullrich have been identified with DNA matches. According to La Gazzetta, Spanish investigators have associated some of the numbers on the other bags with rider names. 1: Ullrich, 2: Basso, 4: Botero, 5: Sevilla; 7: Unai Osa, 8: Aitor Osa, 11: Hamilton, 12: Jose Enrique Gutierrez, 14: Heras, 19: Zaballa, 20: Jaksche. There are other number/name associations which remain a mystery: 9: Urko, 10: Rosa, 15: Cesar, 17: Goku, 24: Clasicomano (Luigi), 25: Amigo de Birillo, 26: Huerta and 33: Clasicomano, as well as Guri, Azul Huri and Milan, which don’t have numbers associated with them. This Wednesday, the Italian Olympic Committee will question Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi in relation to the Puerto dossier. And on Friday, UCI boss Pat McQuaid will meet with ASO director Christian Prudhomme and IPCT president Patrick Lefvre to discuss how to deal with implicated riders leading up to the Tour de France. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
This week’s Tour de Romandie showcases the riders targeting the Giro d’Italia, as well as those stil