By Andrew Hood
German sprinter Danilo Hondo has been suspended by his Gerolsteiner team in the wake of a failed anti-doping control taken March 1, team manager Hans-Michael Holczer confirmed Friday.
Team officials said Hondo will remain on suspension until results from a B-test are received. Hondo, 31, faces a two-year racing ban if found positive. Officials have refused to reveal the name of the substance.
Hondo, second at Milan-San Remo last month, failed a test during the Vuelta a Murcia in early March where he won two stages.
“Danilo swears he cannot explain the positive sample,” Holczer told the German wire services. “We’re just trying to find out what happened.”
Hondo told the German wires he was shocked by the news: “Please understand that I don’t want to say much about it. I have to accept the positive sample as a fact, and during the next few days I will try to find out in a scientific way how this could happen.”
Hondo, sitting third in the ProTour standings, pulled out early of the Three Days of De Panne earlier this week, but officials said that had nothing to do with the doping news.
Freire to race Flanders
Oscar Freire will race the Tour of Flanders despite suffering a cyst at the base of his pelvis that he’s worried will become worse after pounding over the cobbles of western Belgium for seven hours.
“I trained on Wednesday and it was more or less okay. Yesterday I rode the bike again and it was better. I’ve decided to race, even though I’ve worried about the climbs and the pavé because you have to do them sitting down, which hurts even more,” Freire told the Spanish daily AS.
Freire, a winner of the Brabantse Pijl last weekend, said he first noticed inflammation on March 23. He’s been treating the problem with ice, anti-inflammatories and stretching.
Boonen big favorite for Flanders
Tom Boonen enters Sunday’s Tour of Flanders as one of the top favorites, and the 24-year-old Belgian says it’s high time he takes one of the monuments of cycling.
The 24-year-old Quick Step rider has been hailed as the natural heir to classics legend Johan Museeuw, but he’ll face a determined Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) who will be looking for his third Flanders trophy at 35.
“I know there are expectations on me but, for me, Van Petegem remains the favorite because of his experience of the race,” Boonen told reporters on the eve of the race.
Quick Step teammate Paolo Bettini has opted out of Flanders with the flu and hopes to recover in time to be ready for the Ardennes classics later this month.