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Another week, another roundup and what a week.  Contador exonerated, Armstrong retires for good, the Tour of Oman and we’re one week closer to the racing season proper.  So, without further ado, pull up your bean bag and let’s dive straight in:

The News in Brief:

Retirement 2.0.

On Wednesday Lance Armstrong announced his retirement from professional cycling. He will not as previously thought compete in the Tour of California before retiring.  His reasons for this are not clear, but his knee injury must play a part.  Perhaps, more than twenty five years since his first competitive biker race, he fancies a bit of a rest?!

Regardless, watch out on the PBK Blog next week when we will take a look back at Lance’s amazing career.

U-Turn on Drugs policy

Dave BrailsfordThe Team Sky manager, Dave Brailsford, hinted earlier this week in an interview with a British newspaper a change to his teams ‘zero tolerance’ policy to doping concerning hiring new members of staff. Brailsford hopes to create “the first British winner of the Tour within five years” and believes that the team’s ‘zero tolerance’ doping policy may be getting in the way of this goal. The helmsman of the British pro cycling team is looking to hire staff who can improve the team’s performance and help them reach their end goal. This turn around in policy has come about after Brailsford struggled to find new support staff who didn’t have a past tainted by the involvement in doping.

Brailsford told British newspaper, the Guardian: “There’s no place for drugs in the sport and we like to think that, with a few other teams, we’re at the forefront of trying to promote clean cycling. That philosophy will always stay…However, when you’re trying to lift performance and you look at the staffing side, if you want experience of professional cycling you have to go back a long way to find people over 40 who haven’t been tainted in some way by many of cycling’s past problems.”

Despite this change in policy for hiring staff, Brailsford reiterated that there would be no  ‘zero tolerance’ policy change for riders.

UCI Track World Cup – Manchester

This weekend we’re lucky enough to be travelling down to the National Cycle Centre in Manchester to watch the World Cup Classics 2011. The paint on our banner is barely dry and the camera is charged!
The fourth and final UCI Track World Cup of the season – this is the last chance for riders to qualify to compete in the Track World Championships in March. As the series hits European soil for the first time this season, riders will face added pressure as points won here will count towards Olympic qualification and national team directors will be taking the opportunity to try out new combinations of riders as they focus on preparing their best possible teams for 2012.
With stars such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton racing, we’re sure to be in for a good time. Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas return from their road duties at Team Sky to demonstrate that their ambitions on the track are still as strong as ever. On Sunday you have the Men’s Team Sprint, JKA Keirin and Team pursuit plus the women’s Keirin and Omnium – keep an eye on our twitter account (@probikekit) for up to the minute snaps and any interesting news! It’s also live on BBC2 on Sunday afternoon.
We’ve also read on Twitter that ToB podium girl Lauren Bason is going – happy days!

Contador Corner:

El Pistolero is cleared!

El Pistolero is back.

After an eventful week, it appears that this may be the last instalment of Contador corner. After we reported last week that things were looking up for Contador, it emerged on Tuesday that the Spanish federation had decided to overturn its decision to ban him for a year following his positive clenbuterol test.

The reason for this change of heart appears to be down to the fact that it could not be conclusively shown that Contador had deliberately taken the product. There are reports that the committee may have been swayed by the comments of Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who also restated that “there are no legal grounds for sanctioning Contador”.

Media reactions to these developments have been numerous and diverse. While some believe the decision is merely an attempt by the Spanish federation to save face in the wake of yet another top cycling being linked to doping, others argue that the decision sets a more far reaching precedent for future doping scandals.

All smiles at the Tour of Algarve.

Regardless, Contador didn’t hang around, getting back into competition the following day in the Tour of Algarve. His Stage 1 result of 28th left a lot to be desired, although he managed a slightly less mediocre 13th on Stage 2. Undoubtedly, he’s probably got other things on his mind, such as the likely appeal against the Spanish federations conclusions from the UCI and WADA. However, Contador is now reasonably optimistic in the face of such adversity, declaring “the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have a magnificent opportunity to corroborate the ruling and there will also be a chance to reform the anti-doping code.”

Contador appears to have his sights set on the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France with the aim of winning both in 2011. Whether the UCI and WADA will do their best to prevent this dream becoming reality (for this year at least) remains to be seen!

Pictures of the Week:

Some say this is a picture of John W from a few years ago...

An amazing image of Ryan Sabga, a pretty quick rider for Black Dog Pro Cycling.

Thor in Oman, there was a mix up at Stage One so they had to wait for bikes to arrive!

Video of the Week:

To be honest, this is just a bit odd.  What and why are our main questions.  Any ideas?

Tweet of the Week:

Our tweet of the week comes from Fabian Cancellara this week.  We like Fabian.

f_cancellara Fabian cancellara
Thanks for helping me out with english better writing. Hole team and whole team.Tiger woods make hole in one. Whole team has done nice job.

Pick of the Week’s New Products:

The new Gore PRO series are in, featuring design and materials from the X-Bionic range these are pretty special to say the least.

The Northwave Evolution SBS, very pretty!

Not tried Clif before? Get this selection pack, perfect to see what it's like.

Deals and Promo’s at PBK:

  • Continental Gatorksin twinpacks are rushing out the door and supplies are running low so don’t leave it too long…
  • Zoot bike, run and triathlon gear is our featured range, discounts will end mid-day Tuesday 22nd February.
  • High5 Race Day packs are on offer.
  • Our 30% off Castelli finishes midnight Sunday 20th February, check it out for some 2010 bargains.
  • We’ve restocked the 2011 team kits and accessories are now here so don’t panic if you’ve been struggling to get hold of them.
  • Next week we have Giro shoes arriving in the building…

What we’re upto this weekend:

  • Chris is going for a ride on Saturday and then he’s off to the track World Championships at Manchester on Sunday!
  • John is playing some rugger and then joining Chris in going to the World Champs on Sunday (lucky people!).
  • Grant cheated last week and actually helped on the allotment, so this weekend he is sticking it to the man and refusing to make plans.
  • Anthony is on a stag do this weekend with 8 army boys, watch out York!

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