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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, December 18, 2009

Date published:
December 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Schumacher CAS decision postponed until January

    Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 14:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Holczer, Schumacher reach financial agreement over summary dismissal

    A decision on Stefan Schumacher's appeal of his two-year suspension for doping will not come down from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) until after the first of the year. The date of the decision will not come before January 11, 2010 according to Schumacher's lawyer, Michael Lehner.

    "I see that there is obviously intense discussion. Whether that is good, I can't say," said Lehner. "But a decision against Stefan Schumacher would be difficult to write. Our arguments are practically unbeatable."

    Schumacher tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France. He was suspended for two years by the French anti-doping agency AFLD, with the International Cycling Union (UCI) later adopting the ban. He is appealing the suspension on the grounds that, among others, the analysis method used for CERA was not approved for use at the time. Lehner has said that if the CAS rules against his client, he will appeal to the Swiss courts and the European court.

    Schumacher also tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as did former teammate Davide Rebellin. Both have appealed their Olympic disqualifications to the CAS, with no hearing date yet set.

    The good news for Schumacher came from a German employment-rights court, which accepted a settlement requiring Holczer to pay him 50,000 Euros. Holczer had terminated Schumacher's contract on October 15, 2008, when the Tour de France positives were announced.

    The team manager sued the rider for a refund of the salary paid to him from the time of the positive tests in July until October 15. Schumacher counter-sued against the summary dismissal and demanded salary payment through the end of 2008.

    The two sides reached an agreement under which Holczer agreed to pay one half-month's salary of 25,000 Euro, and an additional 25,000 which the rider was due.

    Both sides were satisfied with the agreement. Schumacher "now has that off his back. We have reached an...

  • Weltz expects Farrar to challenge Cavendish in 2010

    USA's Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), 25, wins Vuelta stage 11 in Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 15:03 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Jump in number of wins proves American is on the up

    Mark Cavendish’s spectacular strike rate in bunch gallops shows that he is the number one sprinter in the world, but Garmin-Transitions' directeur sportif Johnny Weltz believes that Tyler Farrar will be able to mount a strong challenge to Cavendish's dominance in 2010.

    Farrar took his first-ever Grand Tour victory in September when he won stage eleven of the Vuelta a España, and is coming off his most successful season ever. He also scooped the Vattenfall Cyclassics, three stages in the Eneco Tour, stage three in Tirreno Adriatico (where he beat Cavendish to the line), two stages plus the overall in the Circuit Franco Belge, and a stage plus the overall in the Delta Tour Zeeland. Given that he took just one win in 2008, it’s little wonder that his confidence and reputation are on the up.

    “Tyler has really come around,” Weltz told Cyclingnews at Wednesday’s Vuelta launch. “We knew that he had the potential, but it was just the moment for it to happen. I do think that he has the speed to beat Mark.”

    Weltz went on to suggest that it will be in the more difficult races where the advantage should be gained. “If you look at the difference in Tyler, between the beginning and the end of the year, he is much leaner and stronger, and is climbing very well. He is perhaps not quite as snappy as Cavendish, but he is stronger [all round]. And I think he can get even stronger again.”

    Other riders also expected to succeed:

    The same overall progress is expected from the rest of the team. It had gained the reputation of being something of an eternal bridesmaid due to a huge number of runner-up slots in races, but Tom Danielson’s stage victory in the Vuelta a Burgos and Farrar’s Vattenfall Cyclassics triumph opened the floodgates.

    Between Danielson’s win and the end of the season, the team clocked up a total of 21 victories,...

  • Di Luca facing three-year ban for doping

    Danilo Di Luca after the finish of the Giro d'Italia's 17th stage.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 15:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian's lawyers suspect conspiracy

    The Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor has recommended a three-year ban for Danilo Di Luca, who tested positive for the EPO variant CERA in two separate controls at this year's Giro d'Italia.

    The CONI announced today that it has tacked on an additional 12 months to the standard two-year ban in its recommendation "for aggravating circumstances" under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code article 10.6.

    The rule, introduced this year, allows for additional punishment up to four years. A prompt confession would have, by the rule, allowed Di Luca to escape the additional sanction but the rider continues to assert his innocence.

    The agency also intends to hold Di Luca to the International Cycling Union (UCI) rule which fines riders one year's salary for a positive doping control, as well as the costs of the results management and B-sample analysis allowed under UCI anti-doping article 275.

    Di Luca is confident his lawyers can prove that the two samples, taken May 20 and 28 at the Giro d'Italia, showed false positives, and he will be cleared to race next year's event.

    "I am certain that I will race the next Giro d'Italia," Di Luca said in August. "I'm ready to wager. I have not taken anything, and there is a possibility, without a doubt, that I will be acquitted."

    Di Luca is not only facing a three-year ban from the sport, but also a criminal case for violating Italy's anti-doping laws. His lawyers, Ernesto de Toni and Flavia Tortorella, plan to challenge the testing method used by the French laboratory, but also hypothesized that the positive tests were the result of a conspiracy.

    "There were people who talked about Di Luca's positive before the test results came out," de Toni told La Gazzeta dello Sport. "It's all a bit suspect. Danilo said he was subjected to six controls in the Giro, and only two were positive - why?" If the values from May 28 were positive, he asked,...

  • Cervélo's Canary Islands training camp underway

    Time to put in the base miles for the 2010 season at Cervélo TestTeam's first training camp.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 16:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cervélo TestTeam's men and women kick off 2010 season

    Cervélo TestTeam started its 2010 season this week with a training camp in the Canary Islands. Members of both the men's and women's teams are training on the island of Tenerife from December 14 to December 20.

    "The choice of the Canary Islands is because it offers us a great combination of things that make it the ideal place for a training camp - fantastic climate, good roads, great services and people," said directeur sportif Alex Sans Vega. "Some of our riders down here are from Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Great Britain and Belgium. In those countries it is very difficult to do bike-based training because of the weather - which is usually rainy and cold this time of year.

    "With the conditions here and the weather hovering around 25 degrees [Celsius] it is the perfect scenario to put some good kilometres in the legs together with gym training. It is also nice for both the women's and men's teams to train down here together as there aren't many options during the year that provide that opportunity."

    Riders attending the training camp include Davide Apollonio (Ita), Lizzie Armitstead (GBr), Theo Bos (Ned), Iñigo Cuesta (Spa), Lieselot Decroix (Bel), Stefan Denifl (Aut), Xavier Florencio (Spa), Daniel Lloyd (GBr), Joaquin Novoa (Spa), Oscar Pujol (Spa), Dominique Rollin (Can), Patricia Schwager (Swi), Xavier Tondo (Spa) and Marcel Wyss (Swi).

    Click here to see photos of Cervélo TestTeam's training camp on Tenerife.

  • UCI and former WADA president Pound make peace

    Hein Verbruggen
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 17:46 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lawsuit over Pound's statements against Verbruggen and UCI dropped

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) and its former president Hein Verbruggen have dropped its lawsuit against former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound.

    The litigation, initiated in March, 2008, came in response to comments Pound made questioning the extent of the UCI's anti-doping efforts under Verbruggen. The UCI took his criticism as an "attack on their integrity".

    In response, WADA withdrew its support of the UCI's biological passport programme.

    The two sides reached an agreement on Tuesday to end the lawsuit. A press release from the UCI said that Pound acknowledged that "some of his comments reported in the media might have seemed excessive if they were interpreted to mean that the UCI and Hein Verbruggen were doing nothing to combat doping."

    Under the agreement, Pound acknowledged the UCI's current efforts to fight doping in cycling, but WADA maintained the duty to note any "inadequacy on the part of any agency" in order to further its goals for combating doping.

    Both sides have refrained from making any further comments on the matter under the agreement, and will bear their own costs and expenses for the action.

  • Chad Gerlach turns down Amore & Vita contract

    Chad Gerlach had a successful 2009 season
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 20:43 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Leaving pro cycling to focus on recovery

    American Chad Gerlach's comeback tale from a life of drug addiction and hard times on the streets to a clean life in professional cycling was one of the sport's most inspirational stories of the year. But after a season cut short by relapses, Gerlach is ready to set aside his career as a pro cyclist and put his focus where he says it belongs: on staying sober.

    Gerlach, 36, was a top domestic rider in the late '90s but seven years ago descended into drug addiction and spent time living on the streets of Sacramento, California. He was the focus of a television show called "Intervention" last year in which his family convinced him to enter a rehab program.

    Just months after getting clean, Gerlach picked up his cycling career with the Italian team Amore e Vita at the urging of his friend and team director Roberto Gaggioli.

    Yet even with successes in the peloton this year, where he won five races and the mountains classification at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Gerlach told Cyclingnews that his experiment in juggling recovery with a cycling career is over.

    "I've been relapsing a lot lately, and was really stressed out about the idea of another year - going over to Europe. I actually signed the contract and sent it back, but was dreading it."

    Amore e Vita team manager Cristian Fanini said he understood, according to Gerlach. "It's like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My continued sobriety would be the biggest win of my life. I'm very happy and excited with my decision."

    Fanini grew concerned when he lost touch with Gerlach mid-way through the season, but was unaware that he had relapsed into drinking and using drugs.

    Where did it all go wrong? Gerlach said he had been too stubborn to get the help he needed - talking to sponsors, going to meetings - and was embarrassed about backsliding.

    "I guess I got caught up in all the attention about my recovery - I had so many stories written...

  • Liquigas-Doimo escapes the snow for pre-season training

    Aliaksandr Kuchynski aids the mechanic in bike setup.
    Article published:
    December 18, 2009, 11:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian squad gets down to business on the east coast of Spain

    Fresh from its visit to the snow in Passo San Pellegrino, Italy, Team Liquigas-Doimo began training in slightly sunnier climes in Valencia, Spain, this week.

    The team centred its operation around the Benicassim beach area, although low temperatures on Spain's eastern coast meant that the likes of Roman Kreuziger, Ivan Basso and Daniele Bennati were still forced to wear full winter kit (pictured below).

    While the Italian squad's snow frolicking was designed to be a team-building exercise, it's back to the serious business of pre-season preparation in Spain. Teams such as Quick Step and Katusha have also been training along the Iberian Peninsula as central Europe freezes under its annual snowfall.

    Liquigas-Domio's first ProTour event will be the Santos Tour Down Under in late January, approximately one month away. See all the images from Liquigas' Spanish training sojourn here.

    Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali.Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti await the start of the TT session.

  • Armstrong abandons independent testing, publication of blood values

    Lance Armstrong at his first official RadioShack press conference in Arizona on Tuesday. He said the team will share leadership in 2010.
    Article published:
    December 18, 2009, 11:25 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Radioshack will not use Damsgaard for internal testing

    The Radioshack team run by Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong will not be using the services of Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, the anti-doping tester who initiated team-based programs with Team CSC/Saxo Bank two years ago, and Armstrong will not be publishing his blood values publicly.

    Armstrong explained at the team press conference in Arizona last week that relying on the UCI's biological passport program is sufficient now that it has become more robust.

    When Armstrong announced his comeback, the program was still in its infancy. At that time, Armstrong initiated his own anti-doping testing program with Dr. Don Catlin of UCLA, but later abandoned both the testing and the publication of his testing values on his web site, a move which drew some criticism.

    Armstrong said he has been tested over 50 times this year, and while he began posting the results on his web site early in the year, he stopped after the Tour de France, when a Danish researcher from the same university at which Damsgaard created his testing program questioned whether Armstrong's Tour values were normal.

    "It just takes one person to say - it could be a guy who graduated last in his class - you know what they call a guy who graduated last in his class at medical school? That's right, Doctor! So it could be a guy who just got out of college and has one journalist who listens and says these are suspicious," said Armstrong.

    "So we took them down after that because we had put them up all year long in the vein of complete transparency, and to be attacked like that and accused of something is complete nonsense. It's not worth it. The testing we do through the international agencies and domestic agencies is going to have to be enough for the future," he added.

    He said that, in terms of the team's internal programs, they "really became the enemy of the organisations that are supposed to police this globally and nationally - USADA and WADA. They became the biggest...