Rocacorba Daily: Wednesday April 2

Another day, another Rocacorba Daily with all the headlines that are making the news on this fine Wednesday morning. We cover Daryl Impey's win at the Tour of Basque Country, Caleb Ewan's first European win, Scheldeprijs coming up, and much more. Enjoy and have a great day. Only two more until the weekend!

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Another day, another Rocacorba Daily with all the headlines that are making the news on this fine Wednesday morning. We cover Daryl Impey’s win at the Tour of Basque Country, Caleb Ewan’s first European win, Scheldeprijs coming up, and much more. Enjoy and have a great day. Only two more until the weekend!

Impey takes stage 2 of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco

South Africa’s Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) won the second stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) but Italy’s Francesco Gavazzi, whom he beat in the sprint for the line, took the leader’s green jersey.

“It’s a fantastic win,” said Impey. “It was a bit like last year, really. The whole team was involved with the result. Christian [Meier] and [Michael] Albasini did all of the early work. Wes [Wesley Sulzberger], Clarkey [Simon Clarke] and Pieter Weening did their bit in the final. From there, I had two of the fastest guys in the race as my lead out.”

Spain’s Angel Vicioso, who finished third on Monday, filled the same position again on the 170.2km stage from Elgoibar to Vitoria. The 28-year-old Impey was following up his second stage win in the race last year. Helped by his teammates he held on strongly to prevail in the dash for the finish.

Gavazzi replaced Australian Simon Gerrans at the top of the overall standings.

The stage was marked by a solo breakaway by Amets Txurraka with the peloton swooping six kilometres from the line.

Wednesday’s third stage takes the riders 164.7km from Vitoria to Trapagaran.

See full results and video of final kilometers of stage 2 of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco here.

101st Scheldeprijs countdown

Belgium’s mid-week classic Scheldeprijs departs Antwerp on Wednesday and finishes in Schoten. The sprinter-friendly (i.e. dead flat) 204km race consists of one circuit of 155 kilometres into the countryside of Antwerp province followed by three circuits of 15 kilometres based in the town of Schoten. Gent-Wevelgem used to be the Wednesday classic in-between Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but a change in the schedule was made last year in the hopes of growing both the races.

Marcel Kittel wins the 2012 edition of of Scheldeprijs ahead of Tyler Farrar and Theo Bos.

Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the 2012 edition of Scheldeprijs, beating Tyler Farrar and Theo Bos to the line. Kittel is back to defend, but André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) has opted to skip tomorrow’s race in favour of resting up for Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Greipel rode an aggressive Tour of Flanders on Sunday, helping teammate Jurgen Roelandts’s podium finish, and wants to arrive at Roubaix fully rested.

Other riders expected on the start line include Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara along with fast-men such as Cavendish, Devolder, Flecha, Farrar, Eisel, Thomas, Hutarovich, Renshaw, Bos, Cantwell…

In English Scheldeprijs translates to “Grand Prize of the Schelde”. The Schelde is a famous river in Belgium.

See the full startlist here and photos from last year’s race here and here.

Gerrans on track for Ardennes classics

Simon Gerrans may have lost the leader’s jersey in the Tour of the Basque Country overnight, but his sights are set on a win in the Ardennes classics just over a week away.

“It’s all coming together nicely before the Ardennes,” Gerrans told Velonews. “These are some of the hardest races of the world. It’s nice to be able to knock off some wins.”

Despite his surprise win in last year’s Milan – San Remo, it’s the hilly Ardennes classics that are better suited to Gerrans’ abilities. He’s stated that not much will change with his training compared to last year, but he’ll be holding back his form slightly to befresh for Amstel Gold, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“The Ardennes are ideal races for my style of racing,” Gerrans said. “It’s funny, I’ve done consistently better at Liège, but I think it’s Amstel Gold that is the best for me.”

Gerrans has been in the top-20 consistently at the Ardennes classics, with third at the 2011 Amstel Gold, sixth at the 2009 Liège and eighth at the 2008 Flèche Wallonne.

Read more on Velonews.

Australian young-gun Caleb Ewen gets first win in Europe

Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy rider Caleb Ewan won the 143km Palio Recioto in Italy yesterday in an uphill sprint finish against a startlist of 194 riders. The 18-year-old Australian had already won two stages of the Bay Cycling Classic in January this year becoming the youngest rider to ever take the overall win. If you can read Italian you can find out more about how the race panned out here, or you can watch Caleb smash his competition in the video below. Congrats Caleb!

‘Doping doctor’ denies charges as case concludes

(AFP) A Spanish doctor accused of being at the centre of a huge blood doping racket in cycling on Tuesday denied endangering the health of his clients, as evidence in the high-profile case concluded.

“In my 35-year long medical career I have never prejudiced the health of my patients, nor have I ever been aware of damage I have caused to one of my patients,” Eufemiano Fuentes told the court in Madrid.

“The objective that I always pursue as a doctor is to protect the health of others, not to prejudice it.”

Fuentes, his sister and three other co-accused are on trial charged with endangering public health for the manner in which they extracted, transfused, stored and transported blood belonging to a number of top professional cyclists.

Earlier Fuentes’ lawyer, Tomas Valdivieso, said that his client did not deserve an exemplary two-year sentence as had been called for by the prosecution, but rather one that complied with the law.

At the time of Fuentes’ arrest in 2006, doping was not a crime in Spain.

“We want sport to be clean, honourable and that Spanish sportsmen and women do not commit crimes but that is not the motive of this trial,” said Valdivieso.

“There has been a confusion created that from a legal point of view, if blood is a medicine or not. And it is not.”

Fuentes’ testimony was the last in the 10-week trial — which has been closely watched because of suggestions that the doctor’s clients may have included other top athletes in Spain and elsewhere — as the judge retired to consider her verdict.

However, a court source said that the verdict is not expected for at least another month.

Saudi Arabia eases ban on women riding bikes

Saudi Arabia will now allow women to ride motorbikes and bicycles but only in restricted areas, a local newspaper has reported.

The al-Yawm daily newspaper on Monday cited an unnamed official from the religious police as saying women can ride bikes in parks and recreational areas but they have to be accompanied by a male relative and dressed in the full Islamic head-to-toe abaya.

Saudi Arabia follows an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and bans women from driving.

Women are also banned from riding motorcycles or bicycles in public places. The newspaper didn’t say what triggered the lifting of the ban.

The official says women may not use the bikes for transportation but “only for entertainment” and that they should shun places where young men gather “to avoid harassment.”

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