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  1. Pinot shows form for the Giro d'Italia despite limited racing days

    Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) had only raced for nine days before starting the Tour of the Alps but showed he is on form as his double assault on the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France nears, finishing second on stage 2's mountain finish at Alpe di Pampeago behind Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

    Pinot dug deep on the steep final kilometres to the ski resort. He made one attack after Chris Froome (Team Sky) tried an acceleration but when he realised that it was impossible to get away into the headwind, he focused on being well placed for the sprint to the line.

    Lopez had the extra speed to kick ahead and win the stage but Pinot was able to beat new race leader Ivan Sosa (Androni Giocattoli) and distance Froome, finishing four seconds ahead of the Briton. He also gained a six-second time bonus for second place and so is now second overall, six seconds down on the young Colombian and ten seconds the better of Froome.


    Pinot crossed the finish line with his tongue out and his jersey open. After being pushed up the steep road by his Groupama-FDJ soigneur, he stopped and emptied a bottle of fluids.

    "It was a small group sprint so I thought I had a good chance," Pinot said, trying to hide his disappointment.

    "But it was very tactical because there was a headwind in the final kilometre, so you couldn't go from too far out, and you couldn't afford to make too many efforts. I was looking for the stage win because it's always important to win, but I was beaten in the sprint."

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  2. Chris Froome: My rivals are all on track for the Giro d'Italia

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) says that he is pushing as hard as he can at the Tour of the Alps and will continue to fight for everything he can get from the race. Froome finished fourth on stage 2 of the five-day race, losing four seconds to stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez in the final metres on Alpe di Pampeago, and now sits fourth in the general classification, which is led by Ivan Sosa (Androni Giocattoli).

    "I'm doing everything I can. I'm racing as hard as I can, and I'm not going to give up just because I came fourth today. I think there is a lot to race for," Froome said after warming down at the top of Alpe di Pampaego.

    "Astana is very strong and they’ve got a great team here, and I’m sure that they will do everything they can to control the race. There are a lot of people that still want to race."


    The second stage of the Tour of the Alps to Alpe di Pampeago was billed as the queen stage and many expected large gaps to form between the top general classification riders. It was also an opportunity to see how the Giro d’Italia hopefuls fared on a proper mountain test less than two weeks before the start of the corsa rosa.

    Based on this single mountain effort, Froome believes that there is little between the GC men here.

    "Nobody there was riding away from everybody else. It was very close still," said Froome. "Lopez was very impressive again to win the stage - congratulations to him. [Thibaut] Pinot has been really aggressive in this race as well and he seems to be in great shape. I'm sure that he's on track for the Giro. He's not far from the front of the race so I'm sure that he's also building for the Giro d’Italia. I think that everyone that I've seen is on track. [Domenico] Pozzovivo is also very strong on these steep summit finishes."

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  3. Del Moral reveals doping programme at Spanish Federation, with Ferrari involved

    Luis García del Moral has admitted administering riders with EPO, growth hormone, and corticoids during his time as medical director of Spain’s national track cycling squad between 1993 and 1998, according to a reportin Spanish newspaper El País on Tuesday. It is also revealed that the disgraced Dr. Michele Ferrari was involved in his work with the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) during that period.

    Del Moral received a life-time ban from sport for his part in the doping programme at the US Postal team, where he worked from 1999 to 2003, covering Lance Armstrong's first Tour de France victories. It was during a 2016 Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing, in which former US Postal manager Johan Bruyneel was appealing his 10-year ban, that Del Moral gave the evidence revealed today in El País.

    "Was there a doping programme in the Spanish national squad between 1993 and 1998?" Del Moral was reportedly asked, to which he replied: "Yes." Asked whether corticoids were administered to Spanish cyclists during that period, he said: "That wasn't the main thing. The main thing was EPO and growth hormone."


    Asked whether Ferrari, also now banned for life, was involved in his work at the Spanish Cycling Federation, he said: "Yes."

    El País reports that neither the Spanish Anti-doping Agency or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), nor the UCI, have taken action to investigate further, despite all being aware of Del Moral's testimony. Neither he nor Ferrari can be newly sanctioned given the offences fall outside of the statute of limitations.

    Del Moral's assertions were backed up by a confidential document published by El País, dated 15th July 1996, which breaks down his medical expenditure during that year. It was reported at the time that he had received nearly 14 million pesetas (€84,000) from the Spanish Cycling Federation that year – the year of the Atlanta Olympics – and the 12,866,729 pesetas detailed in the documents shows how that injection of funds was spent.

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  4. Vincenzo Nibali: 2018 Tour de France cobbles more dangerous than recent years

    Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) believes the cobbled sectors on stage 9 of the 2018 Tour de France will be even more treacherous than those traversed in recent editions of the race. The Sicilian sampled the pavé on Monday and said afterwards that he plans to return for a second reconnaissance before July.

    "Compared to 2014 and 2015, I found some sectors to be more dangerous. And they will be even more so if it rains,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport

    “On some sectors there was a lot of water on the sides and a lot of mud. Compared to the recent past, we’ll have more kilometres on the pavé, so it will be without doubt a very important stage. As soon as my schedule allows, I want to come for another recon.”


    Nibali laid the foundations of his 2014 Tour victory on the rain-soaked cobbled stage to Arenberg, where he defended his maillot jaune by placing third behind winner Lars Boom and putting almost two minutes into his general classification rivals.

    A year later, the Tour returned to the cobbles on the road to Cambrai, though the dry conditions helped to ensure that the principal overall contenders reached the finish together in a stage won by Tony Martin.

    Stage 9 of the 2018 Tour will be the most difficult of the race’s recent forays onto the cobbles, however, with some 15 sectors of pavé featuring on the 154 kilometre stage from Arras to Roubaix. The 21.7km of cobbles on the route feature sectors from Paris-Roubaix, including those at Mons-en-Pévèle and Ennevelin.

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  5. Meintjes frustrated by inconsistent pre-Giro d'Italia progress

    Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data) is hoping that this week’s Tour of the Alps will be the kick-start he needs to find some consistent form ahead of the Giro d’Italia next month.

    Meintjes came into the race unsure of his form after a disappointing and frustrating start to the season. The South African says he has been training just as hard as previous years but his good days have been hit and miss.

    "I’m a bit uncertain. Training has been a bit up and down. Some days have been really good and some bad. Yesterday I felt good, so I’m at least a little bit confident," Meintjes told Cyclingnews at the start of the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps.


    “I’ve definitely been working hard so it’s not like that’s lacking. That’s the really frustrating part; sometimes your body responds, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not like I’ve been sick or having crashes or any major disruptions. It’s really frustrating."

    Meintjes went on to place 22nd on the opening stage, which featured a long second-category climb in the finale. He lost just under a minute to most of the general classification contenders. 

    The five-stage race is Meintjes' final preparation event ahead of his Giro d'Italia debut in just a few weeks’ time. He will head to his European base of Andorra when the race reaches its conclusion on Friday, and from there he and the team will make the call whether or not to go to altitude before the Giro starts in Israel on May 4. He remains hopeful that the form will come together and he can pull out a good result.

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