By Andrew Hood
Former junior world champion Damiano Cunego (Saeco) delivered his first big victory as a pro in the opening stage of the four-day Giro di Trentino in northern Italy.
The 22-year-old, who won the junior world title in 1999, attacked late in the 168km opening stage and held off Jure Golcer (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave) to take the stage. Vaunted as one of the future grand tour hopes in Italy, Cunego is a keen climber eager to show his stuff in the next month’s Giro d’Italia.
Two-time Giro champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) came to life under the Italian (not Tuscan) sun and finished sixth in the stage as part of a group of 24 that came through at five seconds back after a sluggish trek to Spain earlier this month.
Giro di Trentino (ITA 2.2), Stage 1, Arco to Marcena di Rumo, 168km
1. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco 4 hours, 49 minutes, 22 seconds
2. Jure Golcer (Slo), Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave +0:01
3. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr), Team ICET +0:05
4. Sergei Honchar (Ukr), De Nardi5. Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Quick Step all same time
Overall after one stage
1. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco 4 hours, 49 minutes, 22 seconds
2. Jure Golcer (Slo), Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave +0:05
3. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr), Team ICET +0:11
4. Sergei Honchar (Ukr), De Nardi +0:15
5. Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Quick Step st
Kelme still hopeful for Giro start
The troubled Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team is hopeful it will still be able to race next month’s Giro d’Italia after team manager Vicente Belda met with Giro race director Carmine Castellano.
Kelme lost its invitation to race in July’s Tour de France following the melodramatic declarations from former race Jesus Manzano, who described organized doping within the Spanish team. Spanish cycling federation officials recently held hearings, but the Kelme camp has been heavily pushing the line that Manzano is out for revenge to discredit his testimony.
Meanwhile, Kelme is hopeful it can still race in the Italian race. Giro officials aren’t expected to make a decision until next week.
“We have hope,” Belda told the Spanish daily MARCA. “Now it all depends on Castellano.”
Belda also joined the growing chorus of voices opposed to the planned UCI Pro Tour to be inaugurated next year.
“It will benefit some but in general it will hurt cycling,” Belda said. “There are already teams and races that are having difficulties … They’re going to do it but I don’t know if it will be for better or worse. It could be the medicine is worse than the illness.”
Under the plan, the UCI is hoping to create a “super league” of 20 top teams that will be required to race in a series of top-tier races, which will include all the grand tours, the existing World Cup and the more established one-day semi-classics and stage races, such as Paris-Nice. The UCI is expected to have a press conference Thursday on the topic.
Giro calling for 150 surprise tests
Riders in the season’s first grand tour will face 150 surprise anti-doping tests to go along with the standard protocol, race promoters announced in Italy.
It’s the second year in a row the Giro d’Italia will conduct the extra tests to complement the hematocrit tests and other tests conducted on the stage winners and race leaders. The Giro also promised more transparency in its testing program and will be using the “Australian protocol” to test for EPO in urine samples.
Moncoutié to stay put
David Moncoutié – the French rider reputed to be one of the cleanest in the peloton – says he’s staying put with his troubled Cofidis team.
Cofidis has been caught up in doping allegations since the arrest of former riders and staff. The team voluntarily pulled itself out of competition while officials pick through the mess.
Several Cofidis riders, including reigning world champion Igor Astarloa, are said to be looking at offers to join other teams. Moncoutié denied he contacted the Belgian Mr Bookmakers team and said he will wait for the Cofidis scandal to clear up.
“I don’t see going elsewhere,” Moncoutié told L’Equipe. “Cofidis will start anew with more transparency. This is the team that I want to continue with.”
Jaksche might make Liege appearance
German rider Jörg Jaksche (CSC) might be making a stage in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège despite missing last weekend’s Amstel Gold after crashing on his forearm the day before the race.
Jaksche underwent intensive treatment in Denmark and said he might be able to make the start of the Belgian classic.
”Before the first treatment I almost couldn’t move my arm, but now I can almost fully stretch it. I’ve been told that it won’t do further damage to ride a bike, however, it will be quite painful to begin with,” Jaksche said on the Team CSC website.
“I’ve no ambitions for Liège. If I’m in the line-up, and if I have to be realistic, I probably won’t be in great shape before the Tour of Germany at the beginning of June,” said Jaksche, who added the injury likely won’t affect his participation in this year’s Tour de France.
Osa cracks collarbone
Unai Osa (Illes Balears) broke his clavicle Tuesday in training in Holland and will be sidelined for at least two weeks, the team reported.
Osa – second in the 2001 Giro d’Italia – fell while training in Holland to prepare for Wednesday’s Fleche Wallone. Officials said he be operated on the in the coming days.
Illes Balears for Fleche Wallone: Toni Colom, Iván Gutiérrez, Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras and Vicente Reynés.
Illes Balears for Tour of the Rioja: José Luis Arrieta, Daniel Becke, Isaac Gálvez, Vladimir Karpets, José Antonio López, David Navas and Mikel Pradera.
Aussie trackie retires
Australia’s Olympic gold medalist Brett Aitken announced his retirement from international cycling on Tuesday. Aitken, who teamed up with Scott McGrory to win gold in the madison at Sydney four years ago, said he was quitting for family reasons.
The 33-year-old has a disabled child and his wife is due to have twins in October, shortly after the Athens Olympics.
“I was a little bit up in the air about it anyway,” Aitken told Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Knowing that I had two little ones on the way, that was enough for me to make my final decision.”