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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 4, 2010

Date published:
June 04, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Austrian court dismissed charges against pharmacist

    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 11:22 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Statute of limitations expires in drug dealing case

    An Austrian court has dismissed charges against a Vienna pharmacist who sold a pro cyclist EPO and testosterone for over two years. The country's anti-doping law was not in effect at the time, and laws controlling prescription medicines have a one-year statute of limitations.

    “What you did was of course not good,” said the judge, who had no choice but to dismiss the charges. The pharmacist has already lost his licence.

    The case involved the former professional rider Christof K. , who has been charged with distributing banned products to colleagues. Under Austrian law, the full names of persons arrested and undergoing trials are not publicly released. When he was arrested last fall, K. was identified in the media as a moderately successful rider on the national level.

    K. testified against the pharmacist, who provided him with the products from 2005 to 2007. “I often visited him. Once, or twice a month,” he claimed. At the beginning of the trial, the pharmacist had denied ever knowing or seeing K.

    As of 2007, K. is said to have to gone to another pharmacist, who also provided him with anabolic steroids. K. was arrested in March 2009k, at which time he ended his career.

  • Schleck satisfied with Luxembourg prologue

    Defending Tour of Luxembourg champion Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) finished 25th in the prologue.
    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 11:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Other local riders with mixed feelings

    Tour of Luxembourg defending champion Fränk Schleck was satisfied with his 25th place finish in the opening prologue on Wednesday night. He hopes to repeating his victory from 2009, although Team Saxo Bank is riding two men short this year to due injury problems.

    “I am satisfied with my time. I'm not a prologue specialist and I'm especially happy that I have survived this first race day and didn't lose too much time against my rivals,” he told the Luxembourg website

    Schleck's last race was Liege-Bastogne-Liege at the end of April. Since then he has mainly trained at home, spending time with his wife and new-born daughter, although last week he spent time in the Pyrenees. “Everything went well. I felt good in the mountains and my form is right,” he said.

     “I will try to defend my Luxembourg win. It's a disadvantage only having six rider at the start, but I have to respect the decision. There just aren't any more riders available to race.”

    Schleck got special support from younger brother Andy, who is not riding the race but who was at the race. “I was in the team car behind him,” Andy Schleck said. “Actually I didn't want to, because I was afraid he might crash. But in the end I was happy to be able to cheer my brother on.”

    Other Luxembourg riders with mixed results

    Kim Kirchen of Katusha was also making his race return on home roads after a six-week pause. He finished 49th, 21 seconds down on Jimmy Engoulvent on the 2.6 km course. “I went into the race fairly cautiously, I wanted to see first how I felt. On the climb I then noticed that more was possible, and went for it.”

    Laurent Didier of Saxo Bank was coming off only a three-day racing pause, having recently completed the Giro d'Italia. “The prologue was difficult. These intense efforts are not my thing and never...

  • Rabobank announces Tour de France roster

    The Dutch Rabobank squad power through the team time trial.
    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 12:45 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Menchov and Gesink joint leader for Dutch team

    The Rabobank team is the first major squad to announce its line-up for this year's Tour de France that begins in exactly one month on July 3rd in Rotterdam.

    The team management have selected five Dutch riders: Robert Gesink, Lars Boom, Koos Moerenhout, Laurens ten Dam and Maarten Tjallingii, plus Spaniards Juan Manuel Garate, Oscar Freire and Germany's Grischa Niermann. Russia's Denis Menchov completes the starting nine and will be team leader with Gesink. Pieter Weening and Bram Tankink have been named as reserves.

    The early announcement will free the riders of a pressure to perform in the weeks before the Tour de France, technical director Erik Breukink explained. "It's important that the riders know as soon as possible where they stand. It's good for the preparation and reduces stress to a minimum."

    While the 2010 Tour de France will be the tenth ride for team leader Menchov, Boom and Tjallingii will make their Tour debut on home roads. Gesink will be at the start for the second time, but the lanky climber was unable to gain much experience at his first Tour last year as he had to pull out with a broken wrist after stage five.

    "With Menchov and Gesink, we have two strong leaders, and two young Dutch talents that will be supported by specialists on their respective territories. I think that we have found a strong combination," said sports director Adri van Houwelingen.

    While Menchov, Gesink, Boom, Freire, Garate, Ten Dam and Niermann were certain of being included in the Tour squad, Moerenhout and Tjallingii were added later. "Koos was going to race the Giro as preparation but unfortunately this was not possible [due to respiratory infection - ed.]," continued Breukink. "He is now completely healed and we know his worth. Koos can be used on different terrains. Tjallingii is a top team player. He's shown last year at the Giro what he can do when the situation around the team's leader needs extra efforts. He's physically...

  • Armstrong happy with fifth in Luxembourg

    Lance Armstrong (Radioshack) put in a solid performance for fifth.
    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 12:47 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Texan confident his season is back on track

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) was satisfied his fifth place in the prologue at the Tour de Luxembourg on Wednesday, and convinced his season is now back on track after a series of problems that he described as 'speed bumps' along the road to this year's ultimate goal, the Tour de France.

    Armstrong was next-to-last starter in the 2.6km evening time trial, going off just before local hero Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) and riding as the evening light began to fade. The Texan set a time of 3:51. That was nine seconds slower than stage winner Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) but four seconds faster than teammate Andreas Klöden and eight seconds faster than Fränk Schleck. Armstrong was pleased he had the power for the short but very intense effort.

    “I felt good. It was obviously short and fast, probably not my specialty but I felt pretty good. There were times when you had to accelerate, to use absolute power and I felt I had that. I am happy,” Armstrong said.

    The seven-time Tour de France winner decided to add the Tour de Luxembourg to his race programme after a series of crashes and illness disrupted his racing in recent months. However, he has been able to train solidly since pulling out of the Tour of California and looked lean and fit as he powered round the technical prologue course. 

    "There are still some lingering effects (from the crash) but it's nothing that's going to keep me from training hard, racing hard," he said. "It's been kind of a year of speed bumps, little hiccups or false starts. The stomach bug in La Sarthe was a big problem, the crash was also a problem but there's nothing we can do. The reason I came here is to get four or five extra race days and hopefully (the Tour of Switzerland later this month) will provide those too."

    Armstrong admitted to the Reuters news agency that he feels under more pressure to perform this year rather than in 2009 because he now owns the...

  • Team Saxo Bank rejects insinuations of mechanical doping

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) during his 10km solo effort to the finish of Flanders
    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 15:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Team describes video as a work of fiction

    Team Saxo Bank has issued a strongly worded statement denying that Fabian Cancellara or any rider in Bjarne Riis' team has ever used any form of ‘mechanical doping’ and has dismissed a popular video circulating on the internet that investigates the use of an electric engine as ‘a work of fiction, disguised as documentary.’

    “Team Saxo Bank rejects all insinuations and accusations that have been made in the media regarding Fabian Cancellara's alleged use of an electric motor in his bike. Team Saxo Bank is strongly opposed to any form of cheating and there is absolutely no truth to this story. There was not and never has been a motor in any Team Saxo Bank rider's bike,” the statement reads.

    “Fabian's victories in Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix embody everything that is beautiful about our sport, strength, endurance, suffering, passion, drama and teamwork. Fabian's victories are the result of dedication, hard work and sacrifice as well as his unique ability to rise to the occasion when striving to reach his goals. We are confident that the public can see through the nonsense this myth has presented and respect Fabian for what he is. A true Champion.”

    Video accusations

    Suggestions that professional riders had used an electric motor to help them turn the pedals and so save precious energy, first appeared in the Italian press during the Giro d’Italia. The Il Giornale newspaper said that a small motor and battery that helps turn the cranks could be hidden in the seat tube of a frame, giving a boost of 50 watts of power.

    Italian television commentator and former professional Davide Cassani then showed what he claimed was a bike fitted with a motor on television last Wednesday, going as far as saying that it would produce enough power to help him win a stage at the Giro d’Italia, despite now being 50 years old. Cassani did not reveal the...

  • Pietro Caucchioli banned for two years

    Pietro Caucchioli when he rode for Credit Agricole
    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 16:34 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian sanctioned after suspicious UCI Biological Passport data

    The Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal has banned Pietro Caucchioli for two years following the discovery of irregularities with his UCI Biological Passport.

    The 34-year-old Italian was one of the first group of five riders to face sanctions regarding suspicious blood values discovered by the blood screening system.

    The Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal ruled that Caucchioli be banned from competing until June 18, 2011. He has not raced since the UCI first revealed his name on June 17, 2009. He was under contract with the Lampre team in 2009 but the unusual blood value that triggered his suspension was from September, 2008 while riding for the French Credit Agricole team.

    Caucchioli was also fined 2,500 Swiss francs to cover the costs of the UCI and a further 2,000 Euro to cover the costs of the Italian Olympic Committee. Caucchioli had requested the hearing to be open to the public and media but the Italian Olympic Committee refused his request.

    Last week the Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal also banned Francesco De Bonis. He was the first rider to ever be banned using UCI Biological Passport data rather than a positive anti-doping test.

  • Saxo Bank down to five in Luxembourg

    Alex Rasmussen (Saxo Bank) won the first stage of the 4 Days of Dunkirk.
    Article published:
    June 03, 2010, 22:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Rasmussen disqualified on stage 1

    The Saxo Bank team lost one of its key helpers in the Tour of Luxembourg when Dane Alex Rasmussen was disqualified from the race.

    Rasmussen, winner of two stages of the 4 Days of Dunkirk in addition to his track world championship title "was disqualified today after having lost his way getting back to the peloton after a puncture" according to Saxo Bank director Kim Andersen.

    The team started the Tour with only six riders after losing Stuart O'Grady to a broken collarbone in the Tour of California

    The official communique did not list a reason for the Dane's disqualification.

    Saxo Bank is looking to locals Fränk Schleck and Laurent Didier to battle for the final overall victory. Schleck is currently 18th, 8 seconds behind leader Cyril Lemoine (Saur Sojasun). Didier is at 17 seconds.

  • Ballan and Kroon return this weekend

    Former Ronde champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC)
    Article published:
    June 04, 2010, 8:01 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC pair will race GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen

    Alessandro Ballan and Karsten Kroon will return to competition this weekend at the GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen as preparation for the upcoming Tour de Suisse.

    Ballan was withdrawn from racing in April due to questions surrounding the Lampre-Farnese Vini squad, raised during the Mantova doping investigation by Italian police. The probe is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli in the tiny village of Mariana Mantovana in northern Italy.

    The 2008 world champion formerly rode for the Italian team and was consequently withdrawn from eligibility for any of BMC Racing's race rosters while the matter was being dealt with. Countryman and teammate Mauro Santambrogio was also listed as a person of interest and subsequently sidelined but was later allowed to ride the Giro d'Italia when investigators made no connection between the young rider and the alleged doping offences.

    Ballan was absent from the team's Paris-Roubaix lineup and hasn't ridden since April; he has featured on BMC Racing's roster on a handful of occasions in 2010 and despite being heralded as one of the outfit's stars, has been largely absent this season.

    BMC Racing directeur sportif John Lelangue said that whilst Ballan may not have been racing, he remains in condition to successfully return to competition. "It's good for them [Ballan and Kroon] to have one more racing day before the Tour de Suisse," he admitted. "Ballan has always been training as if he was racing so he's in really good shape."

    Meanwhile, Kroon has recovered from facial fractures suffered when he crashed during Flèche Wallonne, which teammate Cadel Evans went on to win. The Dutchman is another important part of the team's lineup due to his Classics experience but has been forced to spend the last five weeks on the sidelines.

    He'll join Ballan and Santambrogio, Mathias Frank, Florian Stalder, Danilo Wyss and Simon Zahner in the Tour de Suisse warmup event this Sunday in a squad that...