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VN news ticker: Jake Stewart to miss Tour of Flanders, Italian law enforcement searches riders’ homes in doping investigation

Here's what's making headlines on Wednesday, March 31.

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Italian law enforcement searches riders’ homes, team facilities following EPO positive

The Italian NAS conducted more than two dozen searches of the Italian Vini Zabù team as of Tuesday while investigating Matteo De Bonis for banned substance use reports Italian news sources.

De Bonis tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test six weeks ago and was suspended by the team pending further investigation.

The searches performed by a division of the Carabinieri were conducted in Sicily, Lombardy, and Friuli, as well as on the premises of the team’s service course, warehouse, and business offices.

General manager Angelo Citracca and directeur sportif Luca Scinto are suspected by authorities to have been involved in obtaining and supplying De Bonis with EPO, according to Corriere.

In an official statement, Vini Zabù said Citracca summoned De Bonis to the team’s headquarters in San Baronto for a meeting, while also indicating that legal representation was obtained to protect the team’s image and reputation.

“The team has already given a mandate to its lawyers to protect the image and reputation of the team. In the meantime, the rider has been suspended in accordance with the rules. Updates will follow,” read the statement.

Jake Stewart to miss Tour of Flanders with broken hand

Jake Stewart was already mad at Nacer Bouhanni for driving him into the fences at the sprint finale last weekend at Cholet-Pays de la Loire. Now he’s going to miss Tour of Flanders.

The British rising star on Groupama-FDJ revealed that he broke a bone in his left hand after smashing into the fences Sunday, and will miss a start at De Ronde as a consequence.

“We thought and [were] hoping that it was just superficial, but this morning’s X-ray showed a fractured second metacarpal after Sunday’s Cholet-Pays de la Loire,” Stewart wrote on Twitter. “Gutted to say the least to be missing De Ronde this week, but full focus now for recovering and getting back on the bike.”

Bouhanni later apologized for the incident, but UCI officials are pressing for a possible sanction against the French sprinter.

Liane Lippert optimistic for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Liane Lippert (Team DSM) is looking forward with relish to the Ardennes classics. After finishing 12th at Gent-Wevelgem, the German star is preparing for a full press at such races as Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“It’s cool to have uphill finishes in Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, but I also really enjoy like Liège, too,” she said. “The climbs in the area are super punchy and suit my type of riding well, especially those at Amstel Gold. I know the roads really well because they are part of our training routes near the Keep Challenging Center, in Sittard, so I’m looking forward to that one particularly.”

Lippert, who won the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in 2020, lines up Wednesday at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Sunday at Tour of Flanders.

https://twitter.com/UCI_cycling/status/1326115669860085762