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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 15, 2013

Date published:
February 15, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Biological passport only “puts a damper” on doping, Rasmussen says

    Michael Rasmussen (Christina Watches)
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 14:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dane admits to blood transfusions during whereabouts ban

    The biological passport was no hindrance to doping, according to Michael Rasmussen. A rider only had to be “very careful” to avoid getting caught, he said, but added, “Stay away from doping. It is wrong and the truth will come out sooner or later.”

    Rasmussen also admitted to giving himself blood transfusions during his ban for whereabouts violations, because he anticipated receiving a contract to ride the Vuelta a Espana immediately after his ban ended, a plan which did not happen.

    The Dane was suspended from July 2007 to July 2009, and returned to racing in 2010. On January 31 he admitted to having doped from 1998 to 2010. The Danish cycling federation gave him another suspension after his confession, limiting it to another two years because he gave them “substantial assistance.”

    He never had any trouble hiding his doping from controllers, he told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, as his hematocrit was never very high. “None of my hematocrit values over the years were suspicious, and it wouldn't have mattered if the biological passport had been introduced at the time,” he said.

    The biological passport tracks a rider's blood values over a longer period of time to determine any patterns of manipulation, but Rasmussen never had trouble with it, although he continued to dope after entering the passport programme in 2008.

    The biological passport “perhaps puts a damper on things, but it's absolutely no guarantee that cyclists do not undergo blood transfusions along the way.”

    There were various ways to avoid testing positive, Rasmussen said. “For some of the products I used, there was no test.  They could not be traced,” referring to human growth hormone.

    For other products, such as EPO, “it was just a matter of stopping...

  • Jaksche: McQuaid should be removed as UCI President

    The final podium: Jorg Jaksche (3rd), Jan Ullrich (1st) and Koldo Gil (2nd)
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 15:27 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    German calls for change within governing body

    Former professional Jörg Jaksche has called for change at the UCI, telling Cyclingnews that the governing body can no longer be led by its President Pat McQuaid. Jaksche, a member of the Change Cycling Now lobby group, recently testified at the Operacion Puerto trial where he detailed his own doping past: a critical step in what he believes will improve cycling’s future.

    McQuaid, who aims to seek re-election this year, has been heavily criticised for his part in the Lance Armstrong affair. The UCI initially appeared unmoved by USADA’s investigation but changed their stance in the second half of 2012, arguing that they had jurisdiction in the case. They lost a legal case in the US and were forced to back USADA’s reasoned decision.

    McQuaid subsequently called for an independent commission to investigate allegations of corruption at the UCI but within months the commission had been dissolved. Despite Wednesday’s news that Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC, had backed McQuaid with a public vote of confidence, Jaksche believes that change is a necessity for the sport.

    “He shouldn’t be the president in the future. We need a president who has a clear line and follows this line. We don’t need a president who changes his opinion [every] three seconds depending on where the wind blows. Better having no president at all,” Jaksche told Cyclingnews.

    “I hope the UCI will have a change of leadership. The legal construction of the UCI means it’s just like a club where it’s really difficult to change things. There’s some movement...

  • UCI freezes Hangzhou WorldTour project, moves Tour of Beijing

    The peloton on stage 3 of the Tour of Beijing
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 16:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    WorldTour to experiment with six-rider teams

    The UCI announced today that it has withdrawn the Tour of Hangzhou from the WorldTour calendar and moved the Tour of Beijing up a week. The Beijing race will now take place on October 11-15, 2013.

    The decision was made at the meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) in Geneva.

    Global Cycling Promotion (GCP) added Tour of Hangzhou to the WorldTour calendar in 2012, but the race was "postponed" just two months before it was set to take place. It has now decided to remove the second Chinese WorldTour race from the calendar “after realising that the basic conditions for organising a race at UCI WorldTour level would not be met in the short term".

    The PCC approved a project to test using six-rider teams and a new system of bonus points based on intermediate sprints in collaboration with two WorldTour event organisers in 2013, but the UCI did not specify which races will take part in the experiment.

    The WorldTour concept originally met with strong resistance from race organisers, especially the promoters of the Grand Tours, who objected to being required to fill 18 spots with a set contingent of teams, limiting their wildcards choices to only four teams.

    The spat came to a head in 2006 and 2007 when the UCI approved 20 teams for the then-ProTour.

    Choosing more teams with fewer starters has been discussed as a way to give more squads exposure at the major races.

    In other PCC news, the council ratified its new president, Joop Atsma. It is also reviewing two studies – one by Ernst & Young on the economics of pro teams, and a second from the Lausanne University Institute of Sport Science which calculates a risk of doping within teams based upon their structure.





  • Rodriguez will leave Katusha if it loses CAS appeal

    Joaquim Rodriguez remains at Katusha for now.
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 18:52 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Not even a Tour de France wild card will stop the Spaniard from changing teams

    Joaquim Rodriguez has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he will leave the Katusha team if the Court for Arbitration for Sport decides against the Russian team in its appeal for a place in the UCI WorldTour. The CAS is due to give its decision on Friday.

    The Spaniard hinted he may stay at Katusha earlier this week but with the final decision just hours away, his mind is made up.

    The UCI Licence Commission refused to give Katusha team a place in the cycling's first division because the team did not meet its ethical criteria. The team's management appealed that decision, arguing it had done enough to deserve one of the 18 WorldTour slots.

    If CAS rules that Katusha should be awarded a WorldTour licence, Rodriguez will have to respect his contract and stay with the team. If the team is not given a WorldTour place, his contract is not valid and will be free to join another team.

    "I hope they say if it's yes or no and why yes or why no," Rodriguez told Cyclingnews after dinner in Oman.

    "We are at a point where I need to know my future. I want to ride the best races in the world. It'd be a lot easier for me if the team was in (the WorldTour). I haven't got anything against the Katusha team. They helped me grow and become the rider I am today. But they know that if the team isn't in the WorldTour, then I'll change teams. It's not about money or because I'm not happy. It's simply because at my age, I can't waste a year of my career."

    Rodriguez knows that the long-term future of the team could be at risk if he leaves. But he refutes he is to blame.

    "I've been here for three years and I've done everything I can for the team. I showed that by winning today's stage at the Tour of Oman," he pointed out.

    "It's not easy to work well in the current situation, but we won today. That means I've acted professionally from the first to the last day that I've been at Katusha. I'm trying to stay strong...

  • AFLD refuses to run controls in Paris-Nice

    The Paris-Nice peloton makes its way from Sisteron to Nice.
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 20:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    French agency will not work with UCI

    The French Anti-doping Authority (AFLD) will not carry out drug tests at next month’s Paris-Nice due to a disagreement with the UCI. The race will take place from March 3 to 10.

    The AFLD said "that it was not possible, due to the status of discussions with the UCI, to lend our support to this international federation to perform checks on Paris-Nice".

    Earlier this month Christian Prudhomme, the head of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), indicated that he had hoped to secure the services of the AFLD for testing procedures starting with this year’s Paris-Nice as well as other events run in France.

    However in a statement, the AFLD mentioned the UCI's "serious mistakes that have been previously identified and on which all the light has not yet been shed". It was a clear indication that the French testing body has lost confidence in the governance of the sport and the UCI.

  • Evans celebrates his birthday with second place overall in Oman

    Cadel Evans started his season in Oman
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 22:30 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    36-year-old Australian on form after a good winter

    Cadel Evans celebrated his 36th birthday while suffering on the bike for several hours during a determined ride on the Tour of Oman stage 4 to Green Mountain.

    The Australian veteran hasn't raced since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August after his 2012 was affected by an apparent low-level virus. However, he looked fit and lean when he arrived in Oman and showed that he has perhaps recovered from his troubles with a third place on the stage behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and second overall behind new race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).

    "I've come here with an open mind, knowing I've trained well in the off season and leading into this," Evans said. "But it is my first race and my first real test of the year. I'd say I'm very satisfied. I couldn't have asked more from myself."

    Evans sits 24 seconds behind Froome in the overall, but after he gapped Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the final, steepest part, of the climb to the finish of stage 4, he moved up to second overall. Contador is now third at 25 seconds with Nibali fourth at 34 seconds, and Rodriguez is a more distant fifth at 45 seconds.

    "Joaquim took his timing perfectly," Evans said after recovering from his effort. "He saw when the others were watching each other and then rode his own race."

    "It was everyone for themselves for most of the climb. The only tactic that happened was letting Rodriguez have a little freedom because he was out of GC. Contador was the most aggressive, and the most marked by the others, but we all kind of watched each other and chased each other. Like me, it's Froome's first race of the season and he timed his effort well."

  • Meyer to miss Tour de Langkawi after surgery

    Cameron Meyer (Orica GreenEdge) looked in good spirits on the start line
    Article published:
    February 14, 2013, 23:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Davis to fill missing Orica GreenEdge spot

    A near perfect start to the year has turned to disappointment for Cameron Meyer who has been forced to sit-out Le Tour de Langkawi after a longer than recovery from surgery to remove a saddle sore. His Orica GreenEdge team had compiled a line-up to support the 25-year-old for an attack on the general classification at the 2.HC race but he will now be replaced with one of the team’s experienced sprinters, Allan Davis.

    Meyer has not made any official announcements as to his rescheduled program however, the former Tour Down Under champion has already returned to his European base in Andorra. Meyer told SBS he believed would be back to racing in March.

    "I’ve had optional surgery about four weeks ago to remove a saddle sore, which isn’t very pleasant," Meyer told SBS.

    "It’s taken a little bit longer than I’d hoped. It has put me back a little bit but it looks like my next race will be in Europe sometime in March."

    Capturing the Australian criterium title in January appeared to be the perfect start for Meyer. The older of the two Meyer brothers was immediately touted as a hot favourite to capture his first elite road title on the Buninyong circuit - a feat his younger brother achieved in 2010 - and while he missed out on taking the win, the signs were promising ahead of the Malaysian race.

    Looked over for a spot at Down Under Meyer spent a considerable amount of time training in the Victorian mountains...

  • Contador and Nibali concede defeat in Oman

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 1:10 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Rodríguez and Froome gain vital seconds

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) conceded defeat on the slopes of Green Mountain at the Tour Oman after Chris Froome (Sky) distanced them in the final kilometre and gained enough time to take the overall race lead.

    The two had gone clear on the first part of the climb but then hesitated and slowed, each unsure of the other's form and ability on the final steep section to the finish line.

    Their hesitation allowed Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) and Froome to get back up to them and then jump away to win the stage and take the red jersey, respectively. Contador and Nibali are now 25 and 34 seconds behind Froome. They will have to accept defeat unless they can blow the race apart on Stage five.

    Contador was in no mood to talk immediately after crossing the line. The Team Saxo-Tinkoff riders had worked all day to chase the breakaway and set up their team leader for the mountain finish, but he stuttered when it was his time in the spotlight.

    "I'm happy because my legs were good, but I'm sorry that I couldn't do better than what I did, but the big objective of the season is not the Tour of Oman. It's important to keep that in perspective," he said after getting changed at the bottom of the climb before the long drive back to the hotel in Muscat.

    "It was a very hard fast day but overall it was ok. My legs just aren't up to going all out on a climb of this calibre. We were at the front all the way, and it was a very difficult climb to tackle the whole thing alone."

    "Tomorrow I'm not expecting much, not many possibilities to change things overall. I think...