- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 15:29
- James Huang
Italian team becomes Liquigas-Cannondale for 2011
After serving as a bike supplier for the last four years, Cannondale announced today an increased support role with the Italian Liquigas team, stepping up as co-title sponsor for the new Liquigas-Cannondale squad effective January 1, 2011.
"The last four years we've been involved with Liquigas we have primarily been the technical sponsor so we've worked with the athletes and worked technically on the bikes, but as we've progressed that relationship we've spent more time with the team," Cannondale general manager Bob Burbank told Cyclingnews. "The team and Cannondale have gotten closer and closer together and this was that next logical step.
"From our perspective we really pride ourselves on working incredibly and in direct connection with the pro athletes," he said. "We want to have that very connected, intimate relationship with the athlete because when the athlete performs at the highest level with our products, typically we get the win together."
As part of the newly expanded relationship, Burbank says the two parties will now work much more closely than in years past to develop new products - similar to the model that Cervélo TestTeam had - until very recently - run since 2008.
"Liquigas was known as avery European, very old-school Italian team with very little outside influence," said Burbank. "We did work very closely with the athletes but typically after a lot of the products were developed using some of our other global athletes. Now what we've done is integrated them into our product development process whereas three or four years ago, it wasn't that type of relationship.
"Earlier on in the process typically we would bring them in after concepts were done for colors and graphics and component design whereas now, we would have them involved right from the get-go in the process to get their feedback on frame stiffness, performance, and exactly what they're looking for for that next innovation in product."
Burbank wouldn't say whether or not Cannondale riders were already working on future product right now, though, nor would he or other company officials comment on the exact terms of the contract - including its duration.
However, Burbank did mention that the company intends to grow the stature of the Liquigas-Cannondale team beyond its current scope and expand the roster to more non-Italian riders.
"Our vision of this team is to become more of a global team - there will be at least one American athlete on this team moving forward."
- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 15:52
- Cycling News
Championship race open only to American citizens
The USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship moves to a new location for 2011-2012 and will be restricted to U.S. citizens only. The professional men's national championship event will take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of the city's Grand Cycling Classic, USA Cycling announced on Thursday. The event had been hosted by Downers Grove, Illinois from 1991-2009 before moving to Glencoe, Illinois for the 2010 edition. The date for the 2011 championship is still to be determined.
Additionally, the 2011 professional men's national criterium championship will for the first time be open only to U.S. citizens. In previous editions, any rider who was a part of a UCI trade team could enter the race, with the first American crossing the line crowned the national champion. Following in the footsteps of the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships, the professional criterium national championship event will permit only American cyclists to start.
"Changing the format of this event to a stand-alone national championship limited to American riders is a great step that will eliminate the current and sometimes confusing disconnect between winning the race and winning the stars-and-stripes jersey," said Steve Johnson, USA Cycling CEO. "Now is the right time for this change, and Grand Rapids will provide the perfect venue to showcase our top American riders."
The city of Grand Rapids was selected from four final candidate cities following a nationwide search and competitive bid process.
"We are very excited to have been selected," said Mike Guswiler, executive director of the West Michigan Sports Commission. "The Grand Cycling Classic has continued to grow into a popular event in downtown Grand Rapids and now, to have the USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championships as part of this event, brings it to another level and answers the mission of the sports commission in promoting our region as a premier venue for hosting major sporting events."
The Grand Cycling Classic has been part of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar since 2007 and consists of a classic six-turn criterium course in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.
- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 17:29
- Barry Ryan
RadioShack manager says he does not believe Spaniard knowingly used Clenbuterol
RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel has offered his support to his former rider Alberto Contador in the wake of the revelation of the Spaniard's positive test for Clenbuterol at July’s Tour de France. Bruyneel says that he believes Contador’s claim that he did not knowingly use the product.
"As with many people, I was quite shocked to learn the news about Alberto Contador's adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol at this year's Tour de France,” Bruyneel said. “As someone who has worked closely with Alberto for three years (2007-2009), I strongly believe he is the victim of contaminated food and did not knowingly ingest the substance.
“Since 2007 Alberto has been recognized as one of the world's best cyclists, has proven his status in the top races, and has repeatedly given urine and blood with never an indication of foul play. I, like many others, have known Alberto to work hard for his results and be a model for the cycling community."
Bruyneel managed Contador at Discovery Channel and Astana. Together they won all three Grand Tours, taking the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009 to go along with 2008’s Giro d’Italia-Vuelta a España double.
- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 20:45
- Cycling News
Race hopes to remain part of National Racing Calendar
Organizers of the Fitchburg-Longsjo stage race have announced that the 2011 edition of the event will be a one-day race. Previously consisting of four stages, the event will return to a one-day criterium, as it was in its original incarnation first put on in 1960.
The 2011 edition will eliminate the circuit race at Fitchburg Stage College, the famed Wachusett Mountain road race, and the time trial, which were added in the 1990s.
The 2011 criterium will take place in Fitchburg on July 3 on the event's 52nd anniversary.
"While we are reducing the number of days of racing, it will allow us to pack the energy, excitement, and amazing history of the race into one day of amazing competition for the riders and fans," said the race's Executive Director, Ed Collier. According to Collier, the logistics and required manpower and resources are quickly diluted when stretched over four days.
The one-day criterium will still include eight different categories, including Women's Pro/1 and Men's Pro/1, and race organizers have submitted an application to be included on the 2011 National Race Calendar (NRC).
"Based on our history and the quality of the race, we anticipate we will be included on the calendar," said Collier.
- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 21:00
- Cycling News
Contaminated food, or tainted blood transfusion?
Tour de France winner Alberto Contador vigorously defended himself today after announcing that he had tested positive for the banned drug Clenbuterol during the Tour's second rest day.
The Spaniard pointed to a cut of meat he shared with his teamamtes on the rest day in Pau as the source of the contamination. His scientific expert, Douwe de Boer, detailed a long list of reasons on how Contador's explanation is plausible and argued that the amount detected should never have been declared a doping positive.
The Associated Press spoke with several physicians, who have backed up the theory. Dr. Andrew Franklyn-Miller, a team doctor for Britain's rowing team agreed that the amount found would have not provided any performance boost.
Dr. Michel Audran, an expert in doping controls, also agreed that the contamination theory was plausible based on the amount found.
However, other anti-doping champions have offered up a different theory: that Contador transfused his own blood on the rest day, and that blood contained evidence of earlier Clenbuterol use.
German journalist Hajo Seppellt accused the UCI of trying to hide the doping case by denying it when asked earlier this week, and raised the possibility on a German television program that the source was actually a contaminated transfusion.
Biological passport expert Rasmus Damsgaard, the man behind the independent testing program previously used by teams such as Saxo Bank, also offered up the same tainted transfusion theory in an SMS to Danish TV2 Sport.
- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 21:13
- Daniel Benson
"Let science sort this out" says Garmin-Transitions boss
Alberto Contador's positive test for Clenbuterol has put the Spaniard firmly in the dock as he waits to find out his fate. However Jonathan Vaughters, team director of Garmin-Transmitions and strong anti-doping advocate, has called for new steps to be taken to ensure that riders are treated fairly, and wants a stronger emphasis on a judicial process as sophisticated as the drug testing cyclists face.
"The sad part about this one is that no matter what the science eventually shows the headlines have been made. It's too bad that this process could not have occurred in a way that you had a final determination of guilt or innocent and then something was released. That's something that needs to be looked at. It's the headline that will be in the memory of the general public and it will always supercede the reality and the science, and that's sad. I don't think that's fair," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
"In any of these cases you've got to let science do its work. The general public will not be willing or have the time to look into the facts. It's a headline, it's a twenty second blurb, it's a 140 character Tweet and their minds are made up when in fact it's a very complex story."
Contador came out fighting this morning at a press conference in his home town of Pinto, Spain, claiming that he was the victim of contaminated meat and that the lab that tested him found no traces of the drug before he ingested the food.
However, claims from within the German media since have countered Contador's defence. They argue that the Spaniard may have withdrawn Clenbuterol-contaminated blood before the Tour de France, replaced the blood during the rest day on July 21, and subsequently tested positive for the drug.
Regardless of these claims, Vaughters is certain that although the sport has taken huge measures to clean up its act in recent years, the leap forward in sophisticated and targeted testing may have left gaps between riders, labs and the sports governing bodies.
"We're going to have to let the science sort this one out. If labs find evidence of a blood transfusion, then we need to applaud the sensitivity of the lab - and be glad that fairness was upheld. If, instead, science determines it was a contaminated food source, we need to make sure the athlete's reputation is restored. " Vaughters said.
"Logically speaking, the reason labs are set up is to find extremely small quality of drugs is to prevent people taking the drugs.
"At the end of the day this has to be treated just like you'd treat a civil legal case by looking at all the evidence at hand and putting it into context in order to come up with a verdict. There should be a greater degree of judicial oversight to make sure the final result is correct is fair. That's what everyone wants, fairness."
Whether Contador will receive a two-year suspension or be cleared to race, Vaughters, who spends a large sum of his team's finances on independent testing, believes that the judicial steps within the sport need assessing due to the complexities that surround professional cycling.
"Cycling is at an abnormally large risk compared to other sports because in cycling you're constantly on the road, eating different food, at different hotels, your exposure to possible mistakes and errors is very high.
"There's a really high risk and it's very difficult to mitigate that risk on an anti-doping side of things. There are zero tolerance rules, but at the same time it's going to be very easy for supplements and food items to be contaminated."
So has the testing within the sport gone too far or rather has the testing within cycling become so sophisticated that the judicial processes behind it and projects like the biological passport are struggling to keep up?
"I don't think that testing has gone too far, but perhaps there's need to be more process and investigate work that surrounds anti-doping work. I'm supportive of labs that stop athletes from trying to beat the system, but at the same time there needs to be a judicial and investigative process.
"All the athletes and myself want isn't to find out if people have ever taken any kind of medicine or drug in their entire life, but to ensure fair competition. So as long as you feel that the athlete isn't getting an unfair advantage I don't think there's a problem. The question is whether the results of the Tour de France were fundamentally changed by this or not."
- Article published:
- September 30, 2010, 22:00
- Greg Johnson
Tasmanian lands fourth place in tough time trial
Richie Porte (Australia) was pleased with his debut in the elite men’s time trial world championship race, despite narrowly missing out on the bronze medal with his fourth place finish. Porte was just seven seconds slower than German Tony Martin in the 45.8 kilometre race.
Martin and Porte staged a close battle for the final medal position after the German rider’s run was dealt a heavy blow with a flat tyre. Despite stopping for a less than efficient wheel change, Martin surged back towards the podium and narrowly took the place away from Porte on the finishing straight.
“It’s not nice to finish fourth, I’m a bit sick of finishing fourth, but it’s such a quality field that I’m honoured to be so close to a podium,” he said. “I’m happy with how it went."
Porte admitted he wasn’t aware how close the battle was at the time, as race radios were not used in this year’s event. “To be honest I didn’t have a clue as there was no race radio. It’s a good thing: it puts the human factor back in to cycling,” he said. “Maybe if I knew I could have dug a little deeper, but I gave it my all so I’m pretty happy.”
Martin struggled after the incident, noting that it upset his state of mind for the final lap. "It's always hard to continue after such a situation because you are focused on the race,” said Martin. “You want to give everything and then you have a puncture and you lose 10 to 20 seconds, and then you are out of your rhythm and it's hard to motivate and concentrate on the race again.
"It was hard for my head but at the end, yeah, I kept on fighting and now it's OK for me," he said.
Porte reflected on how far he’s come over the past 12 months. One year ago he was struggling to get a ride, but now he’s one of the hottest young riders on the market having worn the Giro d’Italia’s leader jersey and won a ProTour stage as a neo-professional.
“This time last year I was banging my head against a wall looking for a pro ride, and Bjarne Riis gave me that opportunity,” he said. “To be a first year pro and finish fourth in the world, it’s not such a bad thing really.
“It was incredible to have so many people out there shouting your name, then seeing your name written on the road – it’s an honour."
- Article published:
- October 1, 2010, 03:11
- Cycling News
Bike Pure and SKINS raise awareness amongst sponsor companies
Independent anti-doping organisation Bike Pure today announced its relationship with Australian compression garment company SKINS in developing a certification program for companies who sponsor cycling.
The aim of the program is to allow companies and consumers to take a stand on the issue of doping in cycling, whereby consumers can choose to support organisations who stand behind efforts to eliminate drugs in the sport.
"One of the key drivers for cyclists or teams to be attracted to doping is the financial benefit that drug fuelled results may bring. Conversely, companies who tolerate or turn a blind eye to doping practises can receive a commercial benefit from the results," said Bike Pure Director, Andy Layhe.
"Bike Pure has created a certification program for companies to stand up and say that there is no tolerance for doping and no profit will be made from it.
Essentially the program shares similar traits to that of the 'Fair Trade' campaign, whereby those companies who utilise products made in accordance with Fair Trade agreement. Consumers can then choose products based on these principles.
Its launch comes after the 'New Pathways for Pro Cycling' conference this week that showcased the likes of Michael Ashenden and Floyd Landis speaking in Geelong, Australia, about the means with which the fight against doping can be fought.
"Bike Pure is pleased to announce that SKINS will become the first such company to become Bike Pure Certified. SKINS' values and intolerance of doping were paramount in Bike Pure's decision to adopt SKINS as the first Bike Pure Certified company," said Layhe.
"Just as cyclists and teams have responsibilities to play by the rules, so too do corporate sponsors. SKINS has a responsibility to promote integrity and honesty in all of our actions and relationships", said SKINS Sports Director of Cycling, Benjamin Fitzmaurice.
As part of the Bike Pure company certification program, SKINS will use the Bike Pure mark. Consumers can show their allegiance to the promotion of clean cycling by supporting companies who share Bike Pure's anti-doping message.
"SKINS sponsors over 150 athletes and teams around the world. We incorporate SKINS brand values and our manifesto into every agreement that we have with an athlete, team or association. This includes the fact that SKINS does not tolerate doping, or attempts to dope, in any sport," continued Fitzmaurice.
"It's vitally important to the clean cycling message that companies draw a clear line in the sand about what is expected of our cyclists and teams. SKINS message is that athletes should handle themselves with honesty and integrity at all times. Cyclists should play hard and fair - be determined and driven with the right spirit, the ‘true spirit of competition'."