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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 2, 2010

Date published:
August 02, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • RadioShack’s Li Fuyu positive test confirmed

    Li Fuyu (RadioShack) in action at Amstel Gold.
    Article published:
    August 01, 2010, 13:35 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Chinese Cycling Association says B sample also positive for Clenbuterol

    The Chinese Cycling Association has confirmed that RadioShack rider Li Fuyu has failed a dope test after his B sample also showed traces of the banned substance Clenbuterol.

    Fuyu was provisionally suspended by the UCI and the RadioShack team on April 22 after his A sample resulted positive for Clenbuterol. The test was carried out after the Dwars Door Vlaanderen race in Belgium on March 24. Fuyu finished 122nd in the race, more than nine minutes behind Matt Breschel (Saxo Bank).

    "Now there is no doubt of him being not positive for doping. No matter what his excuse was, and no matter how prominent he is in China cycling, the result has been confirmed and it is impossible to change," Zhang Bin, the secretary-general of the Chinese Cycling Association, was quoted as saying in the China Daily newspaper.

    "We were surprised when we heard of the news in April but we will obey the results and follow all the legal procedures."
    The Chinese Cycling Association has yet to formally discipline Fuyu but has reportedly held a hearing, where Fuyu apparently denied doping. However he now faces a two-year ban from competition.

    Fuyu was the first Chinese rider to race with a major ProTour professional team. However he is no longer listed on the RadioShack official website and faces dismissal.

    “Team RadioShack and its management take this incident very seriously. We will respect the rights of our rider but will enforce our zero tolerance policy should his B-sample test positive,” the team said in April.

    Cyclingnews is awaiting further news from the UCI and the RadioShack team on Li Fuyu ’s position.

  • Lampre announce Scarponi as 2011 stage race leader

    Michele Scarponi (Androni-Giocattoli) was pleased to have pulled a little bit of time back on Porte
    Article published:
    August 01, 2010, 17:59 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian likely to replace Cunego next season

    The Lampre-Farnese Vini team has confirmed that Michele Scarponi will ride for the team in 2011.

    Riders can officially sign contracts for the coming season on August 1 and with Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio already confirming that Scarponi will change teams in 2011, Lampre were able to break the news in a video interview with Scarponi.

    Lampre team manager Giuseppe Saronni confirmed that Scarponi has signed a two-year contract and will be the team’s leader for one-week and three-week stage races. The arrival of Scarponi is strong indication that long-time team leader Damiano Cunego is set to leave Lampre at the end of the season.

    “Scarponi always fires up the enthusiasm of the tifosi when the road heads into the hills. He’s a fighter, who knows how to combine his generosity and class. We decided to sign Michele to give him the important job of leading the team in stage races. He’s shown he can be competitive in races like Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d’Italia,” Saronni said.

    Scarponi won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2009, was a close second this year and finished fourth overall in the Giro d’Italia. He was implicated in Operación Puerto in 2006 and served a ban starting in 2007 after a long investigation by the Italian Olympic Committee. He made a comeback in 2009 with Androni Giocattoli.

    “Everything seems in place for me to do well and to plan ahead for a great season. I’m pleased that Saronni and his sponsors have decided to put their faith in me,” Scarponi said in a statement issued by the Lampre team.

    “I want to thank my current team and teammates with whom I’ll ride with to the end of the season. It’s also thanks to them that I’ve had the chance to do well and earn the attention of the Lampre-Farnese Vini team.”

  • Porte pleased with San Sebastian showing

    Richie Porte claimed the white jersey
    Article published:
    August 02, 2010, 5:03 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Tasmanian yet to re-sign for 2011

    Australia’s Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) said he was pleased with his ride at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian, after initiating an attack early on the Jaizkibel. While Porte was unable to keep Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) at bay, the Tasmanian stayed with the second group to finish the one-day race in 10th.

    “For me San Sebastian gives me a lot of confidence. To have the legs to attack on the Jaizkibel is reassuring that my training is going in the right direction,” he told Cyclingnews. “I have only had five days racing since the Giro but with my first Grand Tour in the legs I do feel like a stronger rider.”

    While only a neo-professional Porte has spent plenty of time rubbing shoulders with the world’s top riders this season. He claimed victory in the Tour de Romandie’s time trial before riding his way into the Giro d’Italia’s maglia rosa, before finishing seventh overall in the Italian race’s white jersey of best young rider.

    Porte admitted that there were lessons to take away from his efforts at San Sebastian. “Ultimately attacking so early took its toll but I can take confidence that I got over such a hard climb with some of the stronger guys from the Tour de France,” he said. “I tried to bridge back to the front guys who ultimately fought for the victory but I didn't have the legs, but for my first attempt at San Sebastian I can't be disappointed.

    “I go to the Tour of Denmark next which is important for our team,” he added.

    Despite the success he’s enjoyed this season Porte indicated that he has not yet held discussions with Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis about his future with the squad. The squad will lose its headline general classification riders Frank and Andy Schleck at season’s end, which could see Porte take on a bigger role within...

  • Ball could hold link to Armstrong probe

    Rock Racing's Michael Ball
    Article published:
    August 02, 2010, 8:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Former Rock Racing chief investigated by authorities

    Former Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball could hold a clue to the direction of the US Food and Drug Administration probe into Lance Armstrong, another twist in this tale of alleged sporting fraud.

    It's been revealed that authorities served a warrant on Ball's luxury apartment earlier this year, months before Floyd Landis' allegations of doping practices within the US Postal team emerged.

    The NY Daily News reports that Ball was the target of investigators before Landis' email to USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson became public due to the history of some of his team's riders. Of particular interest to authorities have been Rashaan Bahati and Tyler Hamilton, two men who enjoyed success with the squad.

    The pair ended their association with the team in different ways - Bahati fell out of favour with Ball and Hamilton returned a positive doping test then subsequently received an eight-year ban and retired from the sport. Landis was on the list of riders Ball sought to hire, although the partnership never eventuated as financial issues forced the Rock Racing team to downsize before it eventually became defunct.

    Landis' revelations of alleged doping practices within the US Postal team emerged during the Amgen Tour of California in May this year, although the Daily News has ascertained through a source close to the investigation that, "Novitzky was looking at Michael Ball long before Floyd met with Novitzky or even with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency."

    Earlier this year Landis rode for the Bahati Foundation squad - established by the former Rock Racing rider - before his email to Johnson was published and he was subsequently dismissed from the squad.

    Armstrong has strenuously and continuously denied all the allegations, maintaining that he never doped whilst also questioning Landis' credibility, which has formed the backbone of his argument in light of these revelations from his former teammate.

  • Vacansoleil make bid for Samuel Sánchez

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    August 02, 2010, 10:36 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Dutch team aiming to guarantee major tour starts in 2011

    Vacansoleil have made what is described in the Spanish press as “a large offer” to sign Samuel Sánchez from Euskaltel-Euskadi. Having already confirmed the signing of Belgian Classics specialist Stijn Devolder, the Dutch pro continental outfit are reported to have offered Sánchez a lucrative two-year deal, plus the option of bringing two riders of his own choosing with him.

    Sánchez, whose contract with Euskaltel is up at the end of the year, was already widely coveted before he finished fourth in the Tour de France. The 32-year-old Spaniard has received an offer to extend his contract with Euskaltel. He has indicated that he would prefer to stay with the team with which he has spent his entire professional career.

    According to El Diario Vasco, Euskaltel are obliged to match any offers Sánchez receives from elsewhere, but a severe budgetary cut may complicate efforts to do so. Team manager Miguel Madariaga told Cyclingnews during the final week of the Tour that his team’s budget is almost certain to be cut by 20 per cen for next season.

    Having missed out on invites to all three major tours this season, Vacansoleil are determined to ensure their participation in the biggest events in 2011, including the Tour de France. Signing Sánchez, who was lying eighth in the UCI world ranking prior to the San Sebastián Classic, could boost the Dutch squad into the top 17 teams in the world, thus guaranteeing them a place in the biggest events on the world calendar.

  • De Maar signs with Quick Step for 2011

    Post-race interview with stage 5 winner Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare).
    Article published:
    August 02, 2010, 11:23 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Dutchman moves on from UnitedHealthcare after successful season in the USA

    Marc de Maar has signed a contract with Quick Step for 2011, ending his one-year stint in America with the UnitedHealthcare team.

    The 26-year-old Dutchman had been on Patrick Lefevere’s radar since the Amgen Tour of California in May. A string of impressive performances in the US had sparked attention from a number of other teams but it was Lefevere’s persistence, coupled with the promise of a programme of high calibre races that attracted de Maar to the Belgian team.

    “We had a meeting last Thursday but I officially signed the contract today,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “I wanted to go back to Europe and I was waiting for answer from UnitedHealthcare. They have plans to go to Europe but it wasn’t sure what races they would do and I wanted to go back to the highest level.”

    De Maar spent six years with the Rabobank team, four of which at ProTour level, but moved to the US after two injury-plagued seasons. He regained full fitness and brought home some impressive results, including the Mount Hood Classic and stages in Cascade and the Tour de Beauce.

    Next year De Maar will be back on the European ProTour circuit, racing in week-long stage races like the Tour of Romandie and the hillier Classics.

    “The programme was more important than the contract if I’m to honest. I’d love to do a big Tour again but I need some decent results first.”

    De Maar still has a full race schedule in the US for the remainder of the season and will take part in both the Tour of Utah and the Tour of China before moving to either Italy or Spain later in the year.

    “UnitedHealthcare had faith in me. They sent me to the Tour of California without any results and it was a real battle but because I only just took the final spot on the team. My good results all started from that race. The team always had faith in me.”

  • Riis set to name Saxo Bank replacement on Tuesday

    Bjarne Riis
    Article published:
    August 02, 2010, 12:31 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team owner calls press conference in Copenhagen

    Bjarne Riis is expected to announce the name of a new main sponsor and perhaps confirm Alberto Contador as his new team leader at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

    Riis will speak to media at the Skt Petri Hotel in Copenhagen, one of the most luxurious hotels in the Danish capital. He has already announced that US software company SunGard will be one of two main sponsors for 2011 and speculation is rife about who the second name will be.

    The Tour of Denmark begins on Wednesday in the western town of Holstebro but the fact that Riis has called his press conference in Copenhagen could mean he is ready to announce something important as he rebuilds his team after Andy and Frank Schleck confirmed they will ride elsewhere in 2011.

    US bike manufacturer Specialized is widely expected to play a key role in the team and whichever sponsor is eventually announced, the team will ride Specialized bikes in 2011. Possible sponsors that have been linked to Riis include Siemens and Danish wind turbine company Vestas, which has three component factories in Colorado and has recently decided to open a research and development facility in Boulder.

    Alberto Contador has a personal sponsorship deal with Specialized for another two years and after the Tour de France winner refused to bow to an ultimatum from Astana last week, it seems highly likely that the California-based company is working on bringing Contador and Riis together.

    Contador's arrival would spark a transformation of Riis’ team. Fabian Cancellara and Australia’s Richie Porte are both under contract for 2011 but Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and Nicki and Chris Anker Sorensen have all been linked to the new Luxembourg team for 2011. Key mechanics and soigneurs are also believed to be going to the new team with the Schleck brothers.

    Contador is due to ride a criterium in Belgium on Monday evening and so could even be present at the press...

  • Rodriguez closes the gap on Contador in UCI rankings

    Alberto Contador and Joaquin Rodriguez before the start
    Article published:
    August 02, 2010, 13:50 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Astana extends lead in team ranking, Spain dominates nations ranking

    Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana) still leads the UCI World Rankings that were issued today but fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has closed the gap to 54 points after finishing fifth in Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian.

    Contador scored 220 points at the Tour de France and jumped to the top of the ranking with a total of 482 points. However he is unlikely to ride other major race this season and so is not expected to score more points. Rodriguez scored 30 points for his fifth place at the Clasica San Sebastian and now has 428 points, making him the biggest favourite to top the rankings at the end of the season. Rodriguez has won stage five of the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and stage 12 of the Tour de France. He is likely to score more points in the second half of the season and at the Vuelta Espana.

    Cadel Evans (BMC) is third in the individual ranking with 390 point, Clasica San Sebastian winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) moved up from fifth to fourth and now has a total of 363 points, with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) fifth with 304 points.

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) was the only big mover in the individual ranking, moving up from tenth to sixth with 283 points thanks to this second place behind Sanchez.

    Team rankings vital for 2011 race invitations

    Vinokourov's Astana team continues to dominate the team ranking and now has a total of 944 point. Saxo Bank is second with 790 points and Katusha is third with 739 points.

    With the 2010 team rankings important for securing invitations to the three Grand Tours and major one-day classics on the Historic calendar in 2011, points scored in the final races of the season could be vital.

    Under a new agreement between the UCI and the big-three race organisers ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic, 17 teams will automatically be invited to races next year. Team Sky is currently in 17th place but with the future of several...