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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, October 29, 2010

Date published:
October 29, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Euskaltel will ride Giro if required to do so

    Euskaltel wasn't expected to find the hills long enough for their taste.
    Article published:
    October 28, 2010, 12:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Gonzalez de Galdeano had discussed difficulties of three Grand Tours

    Euskaltel-Euskadi is not enthusiastic about riding the Giro d'Italia in 2011, but will do so if it has to. Shortly after team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano told a Spanish newspaper that he would prefer not to send a team to Italy, the team issued a statement saying that they would abide by their obligations to the International Cycling Union (UCI).

    Gonzalez de Galdeano told the Spanish website that the team was negotiating with the UCI to allow it to skip the Giro, as the evidence shows that “we suffer too much riding three Grand Tours.”

    The Basque team skipped the Giro this year, and Gonzalez de Galdeano noted that this year they had a successful year “in terms of victories and as a whole. It will be difficult to match or surpass.”

    Euskaltel-Euskadi finished 13th overall in the UCI's team rankings for 2010. It had 17 victories on the season, including three at the Vuelta a Espana.

    In a statement subsequently issued on its website, the team said that it would “as always, abide by the UCI regulations that apply for the 2011 calendar and if it specifies that it is mandatory to participate in the Giro d'Italia,” the team will do that.

    Gonzalez de Galdeano said that the “hypothetical absence in the Giro d'Italia” was based on a thorough analysis of how the team has done in the recent past.” However, now “the team has grown and become stronger in the future it is prepared to participate in the Giro d'Italia with the maximum competitiveness.”

    Team president Miguel Madariaga met with Giro organizer Angelo Zomegnan “to explain this situation in person and strengthen the excellent relationship between both entities.

  • Saxo Bank supports Riis and Contador but founders put shares up for sale

    The Saxo Bank team, with Andy Schleck leading the way.
    Article published:
    October 28, 2010, 14:09 BST
    Cycling News

    Rumours that Danish government is investigating the bank

    Saxo Bank continues to support Bjarne Riis and his team and believes in the innocence of newly-signed Alberto Contador although it has been announced that the three stockholders in the bank have put all their shares up for sale, with rumours that the Danish government is investigating the company.

    “We will respect our commitment to the team, with or without Contador,” bank partner and co-owner Lars Christensen told Spanish newspaper El Pais.

    Christensen said he believed Contador's claims that his positive doping control for Clenbuterol came from eating contaminated meat.

    “I'm no expert, but the explanation given is the most plausible one. I thought from the beginning that he is the victim of a very unfortunate incident. We all hope that does not cause major problems.”

    While he has not spoken with Contador, he has spoken often with Riis. “It is very important that Contador knows we believe in his innocence and that we respect the sponsorship agreement, and that we want to have Contador with us. We therefore hope that this matter is cleared up as soon as possible.”

    The bank had earlier announced that it would end its sponsorship at the end of this season, but then changed its mind and added another year. During the Tour, Christensen said, Riis mentioned the possibility of Contador joining the team to make up for the loss of Andy and Fränk Schleck.

    “I told him if he succeeded, Saxo Bank would sponsor the team for another year. We are involved because we think that Contador is the best cyclist in the world. The prospect of signing Contador was decisive.”

    Bank for sale

    The bank's support for the team may not be further extended, as the bank is for sale. It was reported on Thursday that Christensen and co-founder Kim Fournais, who own a total of 60 per cent of the bank, and the private equity fund General Atlantic,...

  • Team Sky hands Knaven and Portal directeur sportif roles

    Servais Knaven (Milram) contemplates having finished Paris-Roubaix for the 16th time
    Article published:
    October 28, 2010, 17:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Yates welcomes help from recent retirees

    Team Sky has added Servais Knaven and Nicolas Portal to their directeur sportif ranks for 2011. It marks the end of Portal's career as a professional rider, while Knaven joins after ending his long career early this year. It will be both men's first taste of team management.

    "I am really happy to have this opportunity and am really looking forward to it," Knaven said on the team's website.

    "I'd been thinking about becoming a DS more and more over the last few seasons and during the final two months of my contract with Milram they were good enough to let me learn the ropes with them."

    Knaven rode as a professional for 17 years, winning Paris-Roubaix in 2001 and writing himself into the record books this year when he became only the second rider to complete the race 16 times.

    "To join a new team like this one now is just amazing. Not only are Team Sky giving young riders a chance, they are also giving young directors a chance as well, and there is absolutely nowhere else I'd rather be," he said.

    Like Knaven, Portal cut his rug as one of the most respected and loyal domestiques in the bunch. He signed a contract with Sky at the start of 2010 but raced just 47 days this year after coming back from serious health problems.

    At 31 he will now turn his attention to passing on his experience to Sky's young riders.

    "I have really enjoyed my first season at Team Sky and am thrilled to be taking my first step into management with them.

    "Cycling has always been my passion and to get this opportunity to stay in the sport is great news for me.

    "Having to call time on my racing career was obviously a difficult one, but the birth of my first child last year changed my outlook a lot and taking this decision now means my heart condition is never going to worsen and I'll always be able to lead a normal life."

    Sean Yates, Sky's most experienced directeur sportif, welcomed the announcement: "Nicolas and...

  • WADA issues report on UCI's Tour de France doping controls

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    October 28, 2010, 18:57 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Independent observers find suspect riders not tested enough

    The World Anti-Doping Agency today issued the Independent Observers report from the Tour de France, describing the UCI's anti-doping control programme as "of good quality", matched by few systems delivered by international federations.

    Before the 2010 Tour de France, WADA refused the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) permission to conduct additional testing at the Tour de France, but sent its Independent Observers (IO) to the Tour due to the conflict between the UCI and AFLD over additional testing. WADA acknowledged that the AFLD had access to intelligence gathered from French police and customs agents which helped pinpoint riders who should be subjected to additional testing.

    It reached a compromise by agreeing to receive the request from AFLD, analyze the intelligence, and order additional testing by the UCI based on the information "if deemed appropriate". The provision was used nine times during the Tour, and resulted in 33 "missions" to collect blood and urine samples from riders.

    Yet even with targeted controls based on AFLD and UCI recommendations, only one "adverse analytical finding" was issued, that of Tour winner Alberto Contador for the stimulant Clenbuterol.

    Along with resolving the conflict between the UCI and AFLD, the report gives 57 recommendations for improving the UCI's anti-doping control programme at the Tour, and provides an enlightening view into the difficulties of executing doping controls at an event of the scale of the Tour de France.

    Doping control officers had to endure the insults of grouchy riders who were woken up for early morning testing, travelled some 8000km and sometimes worked 18 hour days to execute the programme, and even still there were key deficiencies pointed out by the IO report.

    The most glaring observation was that despite collecting 540 samples during the race, only 15% of the controls were unannounced, and some of the most suspicious riders and those with...

  • Andreas Knickman cancer benefit ride to take place November 3

    Andreas Knickman
    Article published:
    October 28, 2010, 21:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Son of former pro Roy Knickman battling bone cancer

    A ride to benefit Andreas Knickman, the 14-year-old son of former pro Roy Knickman, will take place Wednesday, November 3, in Newbury Park, California. Andreas Knickman was diagnosed with metastatic osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in July of 2009 and has undergone numerous chemotherapy treatments and surgical procedures in his fight against the disease.

    A $100 tax deductible donation is requested but not required for the 80 mile ride through the Santa Monica Mountains. Additionally, an auction on eBay featuring items donated by Trek and Campagnolo North America will go towards the benefit fund.

    More information on the benefit ride can be found at and for more information on Andreas Knickman's situation go to

    Roy Knickman's cycling career spanned over two decades in which he raced professionally both domestically in the US as well as in Europe. Knickman was a member of such teams as Levi's-Raleigh, La Vie Claire, 7-Eleven, Coors Light and Mercury. Knickman earned a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympic Games as part of the USA's team time trial squad, twice competed in the Tour de France and later worked as a national team coach at USA Cycling.

  • Di Luca still faces fine of €280,000

    Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) leads the points classification.
    Article published:
    October 29, 2010, 0:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Astarloza, Fernandez and Landaluze land fines for doping infractions

    The UCI has announced that Danilo Di Luca will still have to pay a fine of €280,000 for the doping offence that has seen him forced out of competition since July 22, 2009.

    His double positive test came during the 2009 Giro d'Italia, which fell after January 1 that year and hence the UCI's new ruling on financial penalties for doping infractions applies to the 34-year-old.

    Riders who commit a doping offence after that date can expect a fine of up to 70 percent of their salary for that year; the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had announced that his initial fine of €280,000 was being reduced to €106,400 but the UCI ruling means he'll be forced to pay the original amount.

    Spanish riders Mikel Astarloza, Alberto Fernandez and Inigo Landaluze will also be forced to pay €155,000, €42,000 and €27,000 respectively for their misdemeanours, all committed after the January 1, 2009 cut off.

    Meanwhile, it was recently announced that neither Alexandre Vinokourov or Michael Rasmussen will face a financial penalty for falling foul of anti-doping stipulations, which forced both riders out of the 2007 Tour de France. Vinkourov was found to have used blood doping to win the stage 13 time trial in Albi, which was later awared to Cadel Evans.

    Rasmussen, meanwhile, was found to have lied about his whereabouts in the months leading up to the Tour, forcing Rabobank team management to exclude the Dane from the race. He hasn't returned to ProTour racing while Vinokourov won stage 13 of this year's Tour de France.

    Another rider potentially still facing a fine is Thomas Dekker, the Dutchman who returned a positive sample for EPO in 2007; it's not yet known if he will be forced to pay a financial penalty for his infraction, as the original offence took place in 2007 but the results of the B-sample weren't published until 2009, possibly falling into the UCI juridiction mentioned above.

  • Valls anticipates Geox ride in 2011 Tour

    Rafael Valls Ferri (Footon-Servetto) was a surprising second place finisher on the stage
    Article published:
    October 29, 2010, 1:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Emerging Spaniard could be key domestique

    Young Spaniard Rafael Valls was one of the revelations of the season, the unheralded 23-year-old taking second on stage seven of this year's Tour de France, and it's this experience that has him excited about working with Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov at Team Geox next year.

    "It's obvious that Denis and Carlos are really experienced riders, and I'll have to profit and learn as much as possible from them in this new season," Valls said at the recent 2011 Tour de France route presentation in Paris.

    "The objective is to shine in the one-week stage races right from the start of the spring, such as Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, and then fighting for a place into the Tour de France lineup. My goal there will be first helping Sastre and Menchov, and then trying to show my real condition as a free rider," he explained.

    Valls shone for Footon-Servetto-Fuji on the 165.5km journey to Station des Rousses during this year's Tour - he was the standout of a young team that wasn't expected to feature in the major moments of the race, although the young climber definitely caught the eye of fans and organisers alike. And he was thankful to the latter for receiving an opportunity to be a part of the 2011 edition as Christian Prudhomme detailed the parcours of the 98th Tour.

    "I'm proud to be taking a seat in Paris with the very best in the international peloton and counting on consideration from Tour organisers," said Valls. "I was surprised to get invited, I would never have expected it. I wanted to meet Denis Menchov and both Carlos Sastre and they left me with a good impression," he added.

    And after his impressive debut, Valls now has the 'Tour bug' - he's keen to be involved in next year's edition and recalled his experience in the 2010 race, which got underway in Rotterdam in July 3.

    "Even more than the win in San Luis or the breaks in France, the best moment of the season for me was the day when I knew I would be racing the...

  • Spanish federation and Olympic committee defend Contador

    Alberto Contador during his press conference as he tries to explain how his urine sample became contaminated with clenbuterol
    Article published:
    October 29, 2010, 3:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Castaño and Blanco counter McQuaid's claims on Spanish cycling culture

    Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) president Juan Carlos Castaño and president of the Spanish Olympic Committee Alejandro Blanco have defended Alberto Contador as the tug-of-war over his Clenbuterol positive continues.

    There's doubt over Contador's guilt in the matter, with the RFEC boss noting that no official communication from the UCI has been received by his organisation in relation to Contador, prompting him to ask UCI president Pat McQuaid to clarify the issue.

    "We wrote to them [the UCI] on Friday and then on Monday, and we had no response, although we know that the e-mails have been read," Castaño told reporters from Europa Press yesterday.

    Castaño said he was "very surprised" that it had been a month without any communication from cycling's governing body regarding the Spanish star. "We told him both personally and in the [UCI's] congress in Melbourne and the surprise is that it has been a month and we are without any official communication," he explained.

    Castaño's comments also come on the back of statements made by McQuaid during the UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, Australia, indicating that Spain's approach to the problem of doping lags behind that of many other cycling nations. The RFEC chief explained that his country's attitude to the issue was no different to the rest of the world.

    On this topic Spanish Olympic Committee boss Blanco was unequivocal: "Spain has historically always been fighting against doping and took a step further with the concept of 'zero tolerance' and then one more with the State Anti-Doping Agency," he explained

    "The CSD (National Sports Council of Spain), the COE (Spanish Olympic Committee) and federations chase and fight against doping. In cycling, we have 10 positives, the UCI, 318; it's not true that we don't take it seriously,"

    And given the lack of communication between the RFEC and the UCI over the Contador issue,...