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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 15, 2012

Date published:
June 15, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Sky meeting with ASO is routine, team says

    Team Sky set the pace for Bradley Wiggins
    Article published:
    June 14, 2012, 17:51 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Wiggins training data shown as part of annual presentation

    There’s nothing unusual about professional cycling teams meeting with race organisers or sporting authorities, in fact it’s a regular occurrence for teams vying for wildcard places and WorldTour licences. It’s just rarely publicised.

    However when a blog on Skysports let slip that the British team of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish had made a presentation to ASO ahead of this year’s Tour de France, it raised eyebrows – especially when the blog mentioned that part of the presentation was to ensure they ‘won't get any nasty surprises’.

    Why would Team Sky need to justify their performances this season and why should they choose to present Bradley Wiggins’ power details and training data ahead of race he’d yet to start? In the subsequent 24 hours social media has been ablaze with innuendo and rumour, cultivating all from Sky’s success but also from the thickened air of suspicion cast by USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong and a motley crew of doctors. It was even alleged that Sky had made a donation to ASO for drug testing, a somewhat odd rumour considering ASO have never carried out a single drug test.

    Sky’s meeting was no isolated incident though. They’ve presented in front of ASO since 2009, before their WorldTour licence had even confirmed, and according to a spokesperson for the team, training data, power profiles and clean competition was but one of the cornerstone of their showcase.

    “We do it every year, and we actually meet with ASO twice a year. We started doing that in 2009 before we were really a team and we presented the five-year programme to them. We showed them what we...

  • Chris Horner: I don’t believe Armstrong cheated

    Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) on the front of the break
    Article published:
    June 14, 2012, 19:36 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Former teammate stands by former Tour winner in USADA case

    Chris Horner has leapt to the defence of Lance Armstrong after it was announced that USADA had brought doping charges against the seven-time Tour de France winner. The pair rode together at Astana and RadioShack, a period in time in which alleged doping infractions occurred. Armstrong has denied all charges levelled at him.

    “I read the news like everyone else but you look at it with Lance and it’s the same stories that have been going around for years, forever, and it’s been relived and recycled many times. Lance has always come out clean from it,” Horner told Cyclingnews.

    “I don’t believe Armstrong has cheated in any way to win those victories and he’s gone through an insane amount of testing. Do we have pictures of it? Video or testing? Because without that you really don’t have anything.”

    USADA’s exact evidence is unknown, however, their 15 page letter to Armstrong and five other individuals – including Armstrong’s former and Horner’s current team boss – does include testimony from ten riders. Horner believes that their word should be questioned.

    “I’ve been in the sport for a long time so I’ve heard these rumours and seen this stuff in the press and seen these allegations. Now I’ve read it again and I think USADA could be spending a lot of money on testing with the riders currently racing. Lance has had a legendary, unbelievable career that has just been fantastic to watch and to see what he’s done for the sport and against cancer. The guys that are saying it [doping] I have an idea who they are,...

  • Bassons and Simeoni say Armstrong probe is overdue

    Armstrong instructs Filippo Simeoni to return to the peloton on stage 18 of the 2004 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    June 14, 2012, 21:28 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    American's old foes nonetheless welcome USADA efforts

    Two men who clashed infamously with Lance Armstrong during his reign as the Tour de France’s dominant rider, Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni, today welcomed news that Armstrong will face doping charges from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

    Bassons said that USADA’s action was “important” but also long overdue. “It’s a shame now that it’s coming 15 years after it all happened. It’s a shame because the evidence was there for years. I knew all along what was happening, so this doesn’t change anything for me. I don’t need fifteen pages of documents to tell me what I knew already,” Bassons told Cyclingnews.

    Simeoni had similarly mixed feelings. The Italian said the possibility of Armstrong being condemned for doping left him “cold”. Simeoni also “can’t understand why suddenly now they’re investigating him, when for years he was allowed to do whatever he wanted.”

    Armstrong last night dismissed the investigation as a “witch-hunt”. “I have never doped,” he affirmed in a statement.

    Bassons and Simeoni had of course tackled Armstrong about doping, in their own ways, long before this latest round of allegations. In 1999, Bassons was riding the Tour de France for La Française des Jeux but also penning a daily column for Le Parisien. After writing that the peloton had been “shocked” by Armstrong’s stage-win at Sestriere, Bassons was confronted by Armstrong on the road to Alpe d'Huez the next day and invited to stop his innuendo or else leave the sport. Two years later, sure enough, Bassons quit professional cycling at age 27. He now works for the French...

  • UCI re-confirms that Contador's points won't count for Saxo Bank

    Article published:
    June 15, 2012, 10:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Spokesman says the matter is not up for discussion at UCI board meeting

    The UCI is standing firm that any points Alberto Contador earns for Team Saxo Bank in 2012 and 2013 will not count towards the team's ranking. A UCI spokesman said that the issue is not up for discussion.

    Contador's doping-related ban ends in August, and it has already been announced that he will re-join Saxo Bank.

    Bjarne Riis apparently thought that the matter would be discussed at today's UCI board meeting in Salzburg, Austria, but UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani denied that.

    “The matter with Contador is not on the agenda, and there are no plans to change anything in relation to what we previously announced,” he told

    “Just because the rule is discussed, it does not mean that the rule is changed. There are different opinions about it here, but the rule still applies.”

    The UCI points are used to determine the level of a team's licence. Currently Saxo Bank is ranked last of the 18 WorldTour teams. The rule went into effect after Contador was found to have violated the anti-doping rules, and so Riis argues that it does not apply to him. He has previously indicated that he is willing to take the matter to the Court of Arbitraiton for Sport.

  • Bad weather claims stage three of Nature Valley Grand Prix

    Stage 3 of the Nature Valley GP was cancelled due to weather conditions
    Article published:
    June 15, 2012, 11:47 BST
    Pat Malach

    Heavy rain and lightning strikes sees race cancelled

    For the second time in three years promoters and officials had to cancel the Cannon Falls Road Race stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix because of extreme weather conditions.

    Heavy rain and lightning strikes caused race director Dave LaPorte and head official Dot Abbott to make the difficult call just minutes before the men's race was set to start. They had originally proposed running a short race on the 1.9-mile closing circuit in downtown Cannon Falls, but increasingly bad weather and resistance from the men's pro team directors led to the decision to call the whole thing off.

    “We've had a number of discussions with the police and the promoters,” chief official Dot Abbott told team directors who had gathered under a tent near the start line. “Taking into consideration some of the input you guys gave us as well, looking at the weather reports and the resources, we have obviously looked at the option of running this as a circuit race, but the organizer has come to the conclusion that it is not in the interest of the riders or the race to hold this stage. It's very unfortunate that we have to do that, but we do think it's in the best interest of the race.”

    Race director Dave LaPorte said the original road race course was in an exposed rural area that would have made it impossible to protect riders if the extreme weather put them in harm's way.

    “The plan was to come here and do a road race,” he said. “But the problem with doing a road race here is that there is absolutely no cover out on the course, so if we had a tornado come in or torrential rain there would be no way to stop the race out in the country and protect the riders. We started to look at maybe turning it into a circuit race so we could have a show, but trying to do it on the fly was tough. We probably could have done it, but it was...

  • RadioShack-Nissan's tale of woe continues

    The Schleck brothers have been forced indoors to keep their winter training going
    Article published:
    June 15, 2012, 13:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Rumours of late salaries, dis-invitation to Tour de France and Schlecks looking to leave

    The crisis around RadioShack-Nissan continues to grow amid reports of delayed salary payments, a possible revoked invitation for the Tour de France and rumours that Fränk and Andy Schleck may leave the team.

    The latter two possibilities are related to Johan Bruyneel's involvement in the USADA's Lance Armstrong investigation. The RadioShack team manager faces up to a lifetime ban if he is found to have violated the anti-doping regulations.

    The team has not responded to Cyclingnews' requests for comments, and neither the team nor Bruyneel has publicly commented on the situation. The Luxembourg website reported that the UCI on Thursday told Bruyneel that he must report to them on his position.

    The French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported on Friday that the Schleck brothers are preparing to leave the team. Their lawyer is said to have already started negotiations with the directors of other teams over contracts for the next season.

    In addition, French website reports that Tour organizer ASO may cancel the team's invitation to the Tour in light of Bruyneel's involvement. Race director Christian Prudhomme would neither confirm not deny that to the French website.

    The Schleck brothers do not have a good relationship with team financier Flavio Becca, according to The Luxembourg businessman's firm Leopard S.A., which is responsible for the team, was late in paying May salaries, reported Becca is further said to be involved in a governmental scandal, and to...

  • Madrazo out with fractured cervical vertebra after Route du Sud crash

    Angel Madrazo (Movistar)
    Article published:
    June 15, 2012, 15:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider to undergo surgery

    Angel Madrazo of Movistar team suffered a cervical fracture in a crash near the end of the first stage of the Route du Sud. He will undergo surgery today or Friday, the team said.

    The 23-year-old hit a traffic island and was initially diagnosed with a fracture left collarbone. However, examinations at the hospital in Albi, France, disclosed a small fracture in his second cervical vertebra.

    He was moved to hospital in Toulouse for surgery Thursday or Friday.

    The “Sparrow of Cazoña”, as he is nicknamed, joined the team in 2009. 2011 was his breakthrough year, with numerous top ten finishes.  This year he was fifth overall in the Tour Mediterranean, and third in the GP Miguel Indurain.

  • Bruyneel asserts innocence regarding USADA doping allegations

    Johan Bruyneel faces the media
    Article published:
    June 15, 2012, 20:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Will cooperate fully with investigation

    Johan Bruyneel, who along with Lance Armstrong plus four other doctors and trainers from the United States Postal Service team are the target of a US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation, today released a statement proclaiming his innocence of all charges.

    "I have never participated in any doping activity and I am innocent of all charges," read a statement on Bruyneel's personal website. "I am dismayed that once again doping allegations have been raised against me, this time by USADA.

    "Following a Department of Justice Grand Jury investigation, no charges were filed against me. It cannot be right that I or anyone else can be pursued from court to court simply because our accusers do not like the decisions made along the way and so attempt to find a court which will get them the result they want."

    The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, June 13, on a copy of a 15-page letter sent by USADA to Lance Armstrong and five others, including Bruyneel, in which they are accused of a doping conspiracy. USADA alleges that Bruyneel, Armstrong's team director for all seven of the Texan's Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005, committed violations including possession of prohibited substances and/or methods (including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids and masking agents); trafficking of the aforementioned prohibited substances; administration and/or attempted administration of prohibited substances; and assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations.

    Bruyneel has the right to file a written statement to the USADA Anti-Doping Review Board by June 22, 2012 regarding the allegations in the USADA letter.

    According to USADA protocol, USADA will also make a written submittal to its Anti-Doping Review Board regarding...