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Pro riders union upset by doping control during cycling gala

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PARIS — The professional cyclists’ union is urging anti-doping authorities to treat athletes in a more respectful manner after a Belgian rider was forced to leave a cycling gala to follow anti-doping inspectors for an out-of-competition test.

Pieter Serry, who rides for the Quick Step team, missed the Gala of the Flandrien on Tuesday after doping inspectors came to the ceremony to take samples.

In a statement published Wednesday, the riders’ association (CPA) complained about “another case of non-respect for the privacy of the riders” and criticized the odd timing of some doping controls.

“There have been cases reported where the riders were checked on their wedding day, during a funeral or on their child’s first day of school,” said Gianni Bugno, the president of the CPA. “Now we read about the case of Pieter Serry, controlled in the offseason, out of the hour scheduled, while at the Flemish cycling festival. … The riders pay 2 percent of their prizes to make these controls possible, they are the only athletes in the world who pay the anti-doping from their own pockets,” Bugno said. “The riders respect the measures required for the fight against doping, but at least they ask for the respect of their private life in return.”

Belgian media quoted Serry as saying he had already been tested two weeks ago and told antidoping authorities he was available from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at his home.

“I understand that there must be checks and that people have to do their work, but two checks immediately after each other, out of season, is simply a waste of money. I feel like a prisoner with an ankle monitor,” Serry was quoted as saying.

The CPA added it will try to find out whether it was the Belgian anti-doping agency, the national cycling federation or Cycling’s anti-doping foundation (CADF) which ordered Serry’s test.

“In addition, the CPA will present an official request to all the bodies involved in the fight against doping and the UCI to establish a code of conduct for the controllers, to ensure the respect for the private life of the athletes, at least in certain circumstances,” the CPA said.

Andre Cardoso banned four years for doping

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AIGLE, Switzerland — The International Cycling Union says it imposed a four-year ban on Portuguese rider Andre Cardoso for doping with EPO ahead of the 2017 Tour de France.

The UCI says its anti-doping tribunal gave its verdict, in a case opened almost 17 months ago.

Cardoso tested positive for the endurance boosting hormone two weeks before the Tour.

He was suspended by Trek-Segafredo, which selected Cardoso as a specialist climber to support team leader Alberto Contador.

The 34-year-old Cardoso had career top-20 finishes in the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta, and competed in the road races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Froome coy about Giro defense as 2019 route revealed

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MILAN — Chris Froome could have another attempt at winning both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France as the British rider has not ruled out the possibility of defending the title he secured in Rome this year.

Next year’s Giro features three individual time trials and seven summit finishes in a balanced but testing route which ramps up into what Froome termed a “brutal, brutal second half to the race.”

Froome was present at a televised ceremony in Milan on Wednesday as organizers unveiled the route of the 2019 Giro d’Italia.

The 102nd edition of the race runs from May 11-June 2 and consists of 21 days of racing, totaling 3,518.5 kilometers (2,186.4 miles) between the start in Bologna and the finish in Verona.

There is also 46,500 meters of vertical elevation, in what organizers have called “one of the hardest courses in recent years.”

Here are some aspects of the 2019 race:

WILL HE, WONT’T HE

Froome remained coy on his chances of competing in next year’s Giro, saying he will decide with Team Sky in December.

This year’s victory came in only his third time competing in the race, and his first since 2010.

“I’ve got to say it really is tempting looking at it,” Froome said. “It’s an epic race and having won it this year it would certainly be difficult to watch it on TV and not be there next year.

“I would like to return to Italy but that’s not my decision.”

Froome attempted the Giro-Tour double this year, but his incredible come-from-behind victory in Italy cost him dearly as he finished third in France, behind teammate Geraint Thomas and Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin.

He had won the three previous editions of the Tour.

“As I saw this year it’s very difficult to do both, it’s not impossible but it’s very difficult … I wasn’t that far this year,” Froome said.

Froome has won two Grand Tours in a year, having won both the Tour and the Spanish Vuelta last year. When he went on to secure the Giro title, he became only the third cyclist to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time.

“I’ve never won Giro and Tour, that remains my objective,” the 33-year-old Froome said.

ITALIAN STYLE

After this year’s big start in Israel, the 2019 Giro will stay almost entirely in Italy.

The race will cross into another country just once – and briefly at that – as it visits the republic of San Marino for the uphill finish of the ninth stage time trial.

Next year’s Giro starts in Bologna with an 8.2-kilometer individual time trial, which is mainly flat before ending in a steep climb up to the Sanctuary of San Luca.

“It goes up a wall of a climb to kick the race off in quite a spectacular way,” Froome said.

SECOND-HALF FIREWORKS

Five of the six low difficulty stages fall in the first half of the race, with three in the first week.

There is just one suitable stage for the sprinters in the final week and three high difficulty stages.

“It’s got a brutal, brutal second half to the race,” Froome said. “Starts off lulling people into a little bit of a false sense of security in how easy it is in the first week.

“Into the second half of the race it’s just brutal, massive mountains, very high altitudes as well for that time of year so I can see some pretty bitterly cold stages as well … Giro d’Italia is one of those races that really is decided in that final week.”

The final week starts with a bang as stage 16 is a long, testing Alpine leg of 226 kilometers with 5,700 meters of climbing.

The riders will face the Presolana Pass, the Croce di Salven Pass, the Gavia Pass – the highest point of this edition – and the Mortirolo Pass from the hardest side of Mazzo di Valtellina.

“This stage is enormous, it’s the stage where you will see the difference between men and boys,” Froome said.

The toughest stage of this year’s race could come toward the end of the second week. The 14th stage is a short but intense leg, with 4,000 meters of climbing packed into 131 kilometers from Saint Vincent to Courmayeur.

There are four steep climbs in quick succession before the final ascent up to the foot of the Monte Bianco Skyway.

That comes before the race’s longest leg: 237 kilometers from Ivrea to Como.

TRIBUTES

A number of important social and cultural references will be made over the course.

Stage seven finishes in L’Aquila, where the Giro will commemorate ten years since the earthquake that devastated the city and its surroundings in 2009.

The Giro will also remember people that have impacted Italy’s history.

The third stage will start from the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, 500 years after his death. Stage eight finishes finish in Pesaro, the birthplace of the composer Gioacchino Rossini.