"The rules say, that the parties of a case have the opportunity to appeal any decision to the CAS. He UCI has decided to do so in the case concerning Alberto Contador, and naturally we respect this. Now my hope is, that we can have a final ruling as quickly as possible," Riis said in a press release issued Thursday afternoon.
"I would like to remind everybody, that this is still Alberto Contador's case. As a team we can't do much but to wait for CAS to reach a decision.
“But I would also like to remind everybody, that Alberto Contador was acquitted in the first place and therefore is innocent of any deliberate wrongdoing until a ruling says something else. And as long as this is a case of accidental intake of a forbidden substance, we will continue to support Alberto Contador. In our opinion it would be unfair to do anything else."
Contador is currently riding the Vuelta a Catalunya, where he has the overall lead. He plans to ride the Giro d'Italia, and Riis hopes that the Spaniard will be able to defend his Tour de France title.
It is possible but not likely that the CAS could issue its final ruling before the Giro starts in six weeks.
Vaughters, Knaven and Haussler talk before the race
Nick Nuyens may have taken the spoils in Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday but at the start of the race there were plenty of contenders with high hopes of winning.
Garmin-Cervélo boasted two of the possible protagonists in Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler. At the start of the in Roeselare, Cyclingnews caught up with team boss Jonathan Vaughters who discussed how the team were looking to bounce back from a disappointing Milan-San Remo.
We also caught up with Heinrich Haussler, the last Garmin-Cervélo rider to throw in the towel in San Remo and Servais Knaven, the directeur sportif at Team Sky.
"I am puzzled that the UCI has waited until the very last moment to appeal," CAS's Matthieu Reeb told Reuters. "We lost a few precious weeks because of that."
CAS is awaiting formal notification from the UCI of its decision to appeal. Whether the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will join the UCI's appeal remains to be seen. The international organization has 21 days left to decide.
"If the parties really want a quick decision, 'we can arrange that'," said Reeb, who added that he is expecting a "fierce defence" from Contador's lawyers.
"I am pessimistic we can make a ruling before the end of June." The Tour de France will start on July 2.
Contador is eligible to compete while the appeal is pending. He has conistently denied doping and defended himself by saying the Clenbuterol got into his system after ingesting contaminated meat.
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) was the quickest in the sprint at the end of Dwars Door Vlaanderen but the American had to be content with third place as the late escapees Geraint Thomas (Sky) and eventual winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) stayed a whisker clear at the finish.
“I wanted to win, it was important for me today, but that’s bike racing,” Farrar told Cyclingnews at the finish in Waregem on Wednesday. “It doesn’t always go your way.”
His Garmin-Cervélo team had a prominent role throughout the race. After attempting to send some of their riders clear on the race’s 12 hellingen, the men in black made a concerted bid in the finale to set Farrar up for the sprint.
“Geraint and Nick jumped away and we knew they were strong riders,” Farrar said. “After the Varent we decided we were going to ride for the sprint. Of course I was suffering also, like everybody, but I felt ok. But we just needed 50 or 100 metres more at the end.”
A lack of collaborators?
Garmin-Cervélo appeared to do the bulk of the chasing in the closing stages as Nuyens, Thomas and Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) dangled in front of the group of favourites, but Farrar refused to blame any of the other teams for not contributing more to the pursuit. “Everyone has their own tactic,” he said. “As one of the favoured teams, everybody looks to you.
We did our best. Of course it would have been nice to have had a few more teams ride and bring back the break, but that’s bike racing.”
However, Farrar’s teammate Heinrich Haussler was rather more critical of the failure of some of the other sprinters’ teams to shoulder a share of the responsibility in the finale. “We were the only team really pulling,” Haussler told Cyclingnews after crossing the line. “I don’t know why any of the other teams didn’t help because they had sprinters in there too. Pretty much for the last 20km we were on the front, then Quick Step started attacking, I don’t know why.”
Atoning for San Remo
In spite of enduring the frustration of missing out on the top prize in Waregem, Farrar was pleased with his performance and that of his squad. The American also admitted that it was something of a morale boost after a Milan-San Remo that had promised so much but delivered very little for Garmin-Cervélo, as Farrar and Thor Hushovd were eliminated from contention after crashes split the peloton on Le Manie.
“We wanted to do well in Milan-San Remo,” Farrar said. “We had a team to win there and it certainly didn’t go right. But that’s one race, and this shows that we’re back on track, although of course it would have been better to win today [at Dwars Door Vlaanderen]. We rode a good race, but Nick just rode a better race and that’s all there is to it.”
Although there is an abundance of chiefs in the Garmin-Cervélo camp this season, the squad has shown a united front thus far, and Farrar explained that the various leaders have no trouble in dividing up the objectives. This weekend, Haussler and Hushovd will lead the challenge at the E3 Prijs on Saturday, while Farrar will save himself for Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem.
“Some races we decide beforehand, in others it’s according to how they play out,” Farrar said. “For example this weekend, Thor and Heinrich ride Harelbeke but I don’t. I just ride Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday to leave me a bit fresher. It’s pretty hard to really race on Saturday for the win and then turn around and do 230km the next day. You’re not quite on top of it, so that’s how we’ll do it.
“We know we have a few cards to play. We know I’m strong if it’s a sprint, but I’m not quite strong enough to really go on the attack the way guys like Thor and Heinrich can, so we have options.”
Dwars Door Vlaanderen saw the countdown to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix begin in earnest, and Farrar was able to gauge the form of a number of his biggest rivals for success on the cobbles at first hand on Wednesday. He reserved the highest praise for the men above him on the podium, Nick Nuyens and Geraint Thomas.
“We had three guys riding behind them as hard as we could and we couldn’t get them back so they’re obviously going well,” Farrar said and he acknowledged the strength of their respective teams, Saxo Bank and Sky.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) set Flemish hearts aflutter with digs on the Eikenberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, and Farrar also believes that the Belgian will again be a force to be reckoned with this year.
“Tom Boonen looks really good also,” Farrar said. “Although, being who he is, everyone looks at him, so it’s really hard to get away.”
Team NetApp and four German Continental teams lead the list
The Bayern Rundfahrt has issued its eight wild-card invitations to five German teams, and one each Dutch, Belgian and Polish teams. That rounds out the 18 teams which will appear in the race this May, with the other 10 being previously-announced ProTeams.
Team NetApp, the only German Professional Continental team, got a wild-card to its homeland stage race, as did Continental-ranked teams Eddy Merckx-Indeland, Heizomat, NSP and Nutrixxion.
“Some of the teams will have a hard time against the world's elite, but the invitations to the best German teams is a matter of honour for us, because for them the Bayern Rundfahrt is the absolute season highlight,” said Uwe Peschel, a former rider who is now the race's sport director.
“Plus in the past we have seen that the small teams never miss a chance to bug the 'big boys'. And if they are lucky, they can win.”
The 'big boys' will be represented at the race by Leopard Trek, Saxo Bank SunGard, Sky ProCycling, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Lampre-ISD, Europcar, HTC-Highroad, FDJ, Garmin-Cervélo and Ag2R.
Earlier today, the UCI said it would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) the dismissal of doping charges against 2010 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador. The UCI said that its appeal was based on "an in-depth study of the file received from" the Spanish cycling federation.
"I don't like the situation, but I am confident in all the arguments my lawyers have given, and I fully trust them," said Contador. "Things happen and have to pass. Maybe we should go to CAS to prove my innocence even more clearly."
"I wish that there were no appeal or that they would act with more logic, but as I said before, if this happens, it is because it has to pass, and I have full confidence in resolving the case at CAS."
Contador vowed to continue with his racing program as he has done so far with the support of his Saxo Bank Sungard team. He is free to race while the UCI's appeal is pending before CAS.
The UCI "has had time to see all documentation submitted, and I am sure they never, never have seen a documentation like that we have submitted, and maybe that's why they have not decided [to appeal] until the last day, although experts and scientists know clearly that there is not a doping case," said Contador.
Basso finished seventh, 38 seconds down on the Spaniard, and acknowledged his helplessness with regard to his rival. "There was nothing I could do," the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Contador was clearly stronger. When he attacked, it was impossible to follow him.
"I'm not happy with my performance, but I'm not really disappointed, either. I had other expectations for this stage, but you also have to remain realistic," said Basso, who had announced his will to win the summit finish stage as well as the overall classification before he started the race.
The 2010 Giro d'Italia winner assessed his showing in light of his competitors. "When all the best riders are there, it's always difficult to know whether it's you who are going slowly or the others who go very fast. I lost 15 seconds on Scarponi, who has exceptional form, and I took 12 seconds from Evans... It's a discreet performance. Now, I will try to do something on the remaining stages."
The Volta a Catalunya still has three stages left before it finishes in Barcelona on Sunday. Friday's stage five is particularly mountainous and could see Contador's overall lead threatened, even if it is not a summit finish.
70km's of the crucial sections of climbs and cobbles covered
The Tour of Flanders might be over a week away with many an important race between now and then but that didn’t stop the Leopard Trek team from riding reconnaissance over the route on Thursday.
The team, led by last year’s winner Fabian Cancellara, used their recovery ride after yesterday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen to ride 70 kilometres of the most crucial sections of climbs and cobbles.
Basing themselves in Marke, just outside of Kortrijk, Belgium for the cobbled Classics, the team took a short bus ride to the Kruisberg before mounting up and enjoying the two and a half hour spin in the sunshine.
“We’ll do between 60 or 70 kilometres, the central part of the Tour of Flanders,” said the team’s director Torsten Schmidt.
“We do this every year so they get the pictures back in their heads. It’s all for Flanders.”
“It’s a big goal, for every team, but especially if you have the defending champion in your squad. It’s always good to use the time here in Belgium to do things like this.”
Before reaching Flanders though, Leopard Trek will compete in both of this weekend’s races, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. Cancellara won the former last year after breaking away with Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) and dropping the pair before the finish.
“We have two more races this weekend and then the whole of next week,” said Schmidt.
“I’m confident that we have other cards to play in the race and the guys are loyal to each other so we can fulfil a number of situations with other riders in the team.”
In all likelihood Cancellara will be supported by the majority of the team on show in Belgium, with Dominic Klemme, Joost Posthuma, Stuart O’Grady and Wouter Weylandt forming the core of the team for Flanders.
“It’s too early to talk about tactics for Flanders because so many things can happen between now and the race, which is still several days away. It’s not a secret if you have Cancellara, you know he will try something, but there are many different circumstances that can crop up in the race. Today is just about going very easy after yesterday’s race.”