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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 3, 2009

Date published:
July 03, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Four to seven more doping cases possible before Tour start

    It's all about blood. Increasing the ability of the blood to deliver oxygen to the muscles is a potent performance-enhancer. Athletes are prepared to go to tremendous lengths to beat the tests.
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 17:24 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    L'Equipe says cases from Romandie and Suisse

    There could be four to seven more doping cases announced before the start of the Tour de France Saturday, the French sports publication L'Equipe reported on Thursday. Those cases will not be biological passport cases but stem from positive controls at this year's Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, according to the French newspaper, which is owned by the Tour organiser ASO.

    The UCI would not confirm that information, but also did not deny it. "I cannot confirm that there will be further riders closed out from the Tour because of doping after the Dekker case," UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told the German press agency dpa.

    Dekker was charged earlier this week with having a positive control for EPO, in a re-tested sample. The UCI further said that the Dutch rider was caught under the bio-passport programme due to irregular blood values.

  • Boonen missing from Quick Step Tour presentation

    Tom Boonen is in Monaco hoping to be allowed to start Le Tour.
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 18:07 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Decision expected on appeal tomorrow

    When the Quick Step team stepped onto the stage for the Tour de France team presentation in Monaco on Thursday, there was no Tom Boonen among its ranks. Instead, Australian Allan Davis joined the eight others from the Belgian team for the ceremony.

    Boonen took his case to the Court of Arbitration of the French Olympic Committee on Thursday to fight an exclusion from the race by organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation). A decision is expected mid-day Friday, according to

    The race organisers said the Belgian champion was not welcome at the race because his behaviour did not fit with the image of the event. Boonen tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition doping control in April.

    The drug is not banned out of competition, but it was the second year in a row that the Quick Step rider has been uninvited from the Tour because of a cocaine positive. He sat out last year's event.

    Earlier this week a Superior Court judge ruled that his court was not competent to rule on the situation.

  • Hincapie aiming for stage win

    George Hincapie (Team Columbia-Highroad)
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 8:55 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Veteran happy to see Armstrong back at Tour

    Of all the teams racing in this year's Tour de France, Team Columbia-HTC may have had the most difficult roster selection to make. The American team has been dominant at races in the lead up to the Grand Tour and manager Bob Stapleton has put together a versatile outfit ready to be competitive on many levels.

    Boasting the world's fastest sprinter, Mark Cavendish, and a solid hope for General Classification in Kim Kirchen, the team also includes one of the most experienced riders in the peloton: George Hincapie.

    A Classics specialist, Hincapie has raced the Frech Tour 13 times, and will play a key role as road captain and mentor for his teammates. "The team really needs me here, and I hope to do a great job for them," the New York native told Cyclingnews at the team presentation in Monaco's yacht harbour on Thursday evening. "I will help 'Cav' at the finishes and the GC guys for their overall, and I'd like to win a stage for myself."

    Hincapie has won a Tour stage before, in 2005, when he was still racing together with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Acting as a lieutenant to the cancer survivor, the 36-year-old was a pillar to Armstrong's success throughout the years at US Postal and Discovery Channel, and was happy to see him back - albeit not wearing the same team jersey. "This is my first Tour without him [in my team] in a long time, and I'm excited to see him back. I hope he's back to his normal self and I really look forward to seeing how he does," he said.

    Asked if he thought Armstrong was able to win the Tour once again, Hincapie said, "I think so, definitely. He came back from cancer, so this is probably easier."

  • Tour Down Under 2010 launched

    Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur fields questions - mostly about Lance Armstrong.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 8:56 BST
    Les Clarke

    Organisers confident of maintaining 'Armstrong momentum'

    Organisers of the Tour Down Under are confident that the momentum created by the appearance of Lance Armstrong at this year's edition can be maintained for the 2010 edition.

    Launching next season's ProTour series opener in Adelaide today, race director Mike Turtur unveiled the route for the 2010 edition and was optimistic about the seven-time Tour de France champion would return to Australian shores to compete on the parcours, which visits seven new towns in the first stage alone.

    "Lance Armstrong's presence here [in 2009] was sensational - will he come back? He's texting the boss [State Premier Mike Rann] so he must be thinking of us," said Turtur. "Getafe and the office has been in contact with his [Armstrong's] management people on an ongoing basis since they left Adelaide. He said enough things over the last few months to seriously suggest he's thinking about coming back. There's also talk about a new team.

    A lot of things have got to happen in the next two months - including, of course, the Tour de France - which will assist people in making decisions in the next two months. I think these two things - the Tour and the new team scenario - will be big factors in him coming back. I'm confident; I reckon he'll come back... I hope."

    Turtur and South Australian Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy, Patrick Conlon, both emphasised the impact of this year's edition of the race on the state's economy. A large part of this can be attributed to Armstrong's presence. "The 2009 Tour Down Under was the biggest in the event's history, achieving crowds of over three quarters of a million people and providing an economic boost of $39 million to the State," said Conlon.

    "The race is now clearly established on the world stage; kicking off the annual UCI ProTour calendar and attracting the best teams and riders to Adelaide each January. Not only does the Tour Down Under attract thousands of visitors to South Australia, the...

  • Liggett: Podium for Armstrong at Tour de France

    Phil Ligget says Lance Armstrong will be a force in the 2009 Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 11:30 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Texan arrives with same form as previous years

    Phil Liggett believes Lance Armstrong has the form to finish in the top three at this year’s Tour de France.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews on Friday, the veteran British cycling commentator said the seven-time Tour winner has arrived in Monaco with condition similar to his previous campaigns.

    "I think he’s in very, very, good form," said Liggett. "He was probably the best of the team at the end of the Giro and I think he’ll come to this Tour prepared like any of his previous Tours. I reckon he’ll be a podium finisher."

    Returning to professional cycling after a three-year absence from the sport, Armstrong's comeback plans were disrupted by a crash at the Vuelta Castilla y Leon in March, resulting in a broken collarbone. Liggett believes the incident may, in fact, prove beneficial to Armstrong's Tour ambitions.

    "I think the broken collarbone will be a blessing in disguise, because it’s slowed down his preparation," he said. "I think originally he planned on winning the Giro, that was stopped with the broken collarbone and as a result he’s come to the Tour [having finished] the Giro in top form."

    Commenting on the potential conflict that may emerge between Astana co-captains Armstrong and Alberto Contador, Liggett indicated that it was the Spaniard who was more likely to be affected by any rivalry between the two.

    "Lance is going into the race with an open mind and I think Contador will go into the race not trusting Lance because he’s not English speaking," Liggett continued.  "He doesn’t necessarily understand their mentality, so I believe there will be a feeling of mis-trust between them."

    Asked about a threat from other teams, Liggett singled out last year's Tour winner, Carlos Sastre. "People aren’t talking about Sastre," he said. "He’s the guy that nobody understands.  In the final week of a stage race he’s often the strongest...

  • Kazakh coup to oust Armstrong and Bruyneel from Team Astana?

    Are last drinks being called for Bruyneel and Astana?
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 11:44 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Contador and Vinokourov in, Bruyneel and Armstrong out

    The Kazakh Cycling Federation has announced plans to restructure Team Astana, removing Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong, and starting over with Kazakh and Spanish riders, based around Alberto Contador and Alexandre Vinokourov. The new structure should be in place by September, according to the French sports publication L'Equipe.

    At a press conference earlier this week, Vinokourov said that he would return to the team after his doping suspension. He was responsible for bringing in Astana as the sponsor in 2006 for the team he calls "our baby." Vinokourov further added, "If Johan doesn't want me, it will be up to him to leave the team."

    In support of those comments, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaiev has become involved, according to L'Equipe. Sponsors who do not pay up will disappear from the team jersey, with only the name Astana remaining, he indicated.

    As for the team structure, the newspaper indicated that Bruyneel and Armstrong would be removed and thus be free to establish their own team. They were on the verge of presenting the team as new at the Tour, the newspaper says, with new jerseys and a made-over coaching staff, but one of the partners cancelled at the last minute.

    Alberto Contador would continue as the captain of the new Astana team. "We will meet with Alberto Contador to offer him a contract extension," said Nikolaï Proskurin, the vice-president of the Kazakh cycling federation. "He will be our sole leader for years to come. He will be able to pick out the riders he wants to ride with him. In our mind, the team will be composed of Spanish and Kazakh riders, including Alexandre Vinokourov."

  • Teams presented as Monaco welcomes le Tour

    Agritubel's Christophe Moreau is lining up for another Tour.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 11:59 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Taste of things to come in the principality

    The yachts, the high-rise apartments, the beautiful people... It must be Monaco.

    The principality played host to the Tour de France teams presentation yesterday and the anticipated colour, glitz and glamour - normally associated with the Formula 1 set - was a part of le Tour. As Lance Armstrong and Alberto stood side-by-side as teammates, speculation continued as to who will be riding for who in this year's race.

    The Saxo Bank boys made a happy crew on stage while Carlos Sastre debuted Cervelo's new kit. Likewise the Team Columbia boys, who sported green highlights on their updated uniform, reflecting the signing of mobile telephone manufacturer HTC as a co-sponsor during the week.

    With the race start just a day away, expect the show to only get bigger.


  • Boonen can start in the Tour

    Belgian national champion Tom Boonen and his Quick Step teammates out on a training ride.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 16:00 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    CAS says Belgian champion can race

    Tom Boonen will start in the Tour de France tomorrow, the Court of Arbitration for Sport of the French Olympic Committee has ruled.

    It overturned the decision of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the Tour organiser, to exclude the Quick Step sprinter because of his positive out-of-competition tests for cocaine. The court's decision cannot be appealed.

    Quick Step team manager, Patrick Lefevere, was not in Paris when the Court's ruling was handed down, but he was understandably happy to hear the news that his highest profile rider would be allowed to start cycling's biggest event.

    "I did not believe it was justice [to exclude Boonen]," Lefevere told Cyclingnews on Friday. "But the correct decision has now been made."

    Boonen is already in Monaco, having travelled there with the Quick Step team in anticipation of the CAS decision.

    Lefevere confirmed that Australian, Allan Davis, who was on stand-by to take Boonen's place at the Tour in the event of the CAS ruling against Boonen, had returned to his home in Spain on Friday afternoon.