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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 6, 2012

Date published:
February 06, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • USADA still investigating doping allegations against Armstrong

    Article published:
    February 05, 2012, 22:08 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Tygart says no stone will be left unturned to reveal the truth

    Travis Tygart, CEO of US Anti-doping Agency (USADA), has reiterated that he and the anti-doping agency will strive to protect the rights of clean athletes. The statement comes after the criminal case investigating Lance Armstrong and US Postal team was closed on Friday with no charges being brought against either party. Armstrong has always maintained his innocence as a rider, saying he has never taken performance enhancing drugs. He welcomed the news that no charges would be filed.

    The closure of the federal case's timing appears to have taken many by surprise but when Cyclingnews reached Tygart in his office on Super Bowl Sunday, he said that every task would be carried out to uncover if any doping rules had been broken. The FDA was concentrating on charges of fraud, not doping.

    "Clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport can rest assured that USADA will leave no stone unturned to obtain the evidence to reveal the truth, whatever that truth may be in our investigation of the doping allegations in the sport of cycling," Tygart told Cyclingnews.

    "Our job is to search for the truth and we'll work to ensure that the rules of the sport are upheld and that clean athletes do not have their rights violated by those that cheat with dangerous drugs."

    Tygart would not comment on any specifics of an investigation into cycling. However, the next steps would involve USADA requesting any material or evidence they lacked from the United States Attorney's office in Los Angeles.

    During the investigation several witnesses met with both Federal agents and USADA, however some information would not...

  • McEwen loving life at GreenEdge

    Robbie McEwen before the start.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2012, 23:52 GMT
    Mark Robinson

    Australian proud and grateful to be part of new home-based team

    GreenEdge's entry onto the UCI Pro Tour for this season has come just in time for Robbie McEwen. The veteran Australian has been given the chance to finish his long and distinguished career with a home-based team, and when Cyclingnews caught up with him at the Tour of Qatar he couldn't hide his joy at being involved, and his pride at the great start the team made last month at the Tour Down Under. He has found the ideal platform for his swansong in the sport.

    "It’s awesome to reach this stage of my career and be able to ride for an Australian team," he said. "I always thought that an Australian team would eventually make it into the ProTour but I wasn’t sure whether it would happen during my career. Time was running out I guess but now it has happened I couldn’t be happier to have the final phase of my career with a home-based team. Fortunately for me and for Australian cycling it has arrived already. I’m just really proud and grateful to be a part of it."

    The 39-year-old, who is due to retire in May and move to a role as technical adviser with the team, has had time to reflect on his squad's debut performance at the Tour Down Under in January, when a co-ordinated and sustained team effort ensured that Simon Gerrans delivered GC victory on home soil. It was a debut that the scriptwriters would have imagined.

    "The main priority all along was to win the overall classification with Simon Gerrans, and to achieve our target in front of our own fans was amazing," McEwen said. "We knew he was in very good form so we went into the race with the overall classification as our main focus....

  • Renshaw's lead-out takes a hit with Vermeltfoort DNF

    A crash split the peloton after 60km.
    Article published:
    February 06, 2012, 1:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutchman cleared of fractures to left elbow after heavy crash

    Mark Renshaw's defence of the Tour of Qatar was dealt a blow during Sunday's opening stage when key lead-out man, Coen Vermeltfoort crashed heavily near the halfway mark and was forced to abandon the race.

    Vermeltfoort was taken to hospital suffering a large open wound to his left elbow, along with several lacerations however the 23-year-old was cleared of any fractures. It's the second year in a row where the Dutchman has had a rough start to the season, following his double wrist fracture at the Delta Tour Zeeland in 2011.

    Given the right combination for Renshaw's lead-out is still being sorted out, a Rabobank team meeting prior to the 142.5 kilometre had placed Vermeltfoort, 2008 winner of Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, as the Australian's last man in the run in to the finish. The role instead fell to Graeme Brown who tried valiantly to pull his compatriot through over the final five kilometres, however Renshaw was only able to manage sixth for the stage behind winner, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – QuickStep). The result places Renshaw in eighth overall, nine seconds down on the Belgian three-time winner of the Qatari event.

    Rabobank directeur sportif Erik Dekker, said that despite the result, all was not lost for Renshaw who is still in the process of adjustment in his role from lead-out man to number one sprinter with his new team.

    "We will analyse the video extensively tonight", said Dekker to "Here we must learn from this. The sixth place from Mark today is no disgrace. This week is an initial learning process."

    It is hoped that despite the rocky start,...

  • News Review: The Lance Armstrong federal investigation

    Super domestique Lance Armstrong prior to the start.
    Article published:
    February 06, 2012, 3:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    A summary of the weekend's biggest news

    Late Friday afternoon in the United States, the U.S. Attorney's office released a small statement to the media explaining that the federal case against seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong along with members and associates of US Postal Service team had been dropped with no charges filed.

    Cyclingnews gives you a weekend wrap of the reactions, and stories that developed since.

    Armstrong welcomes end of federal investigation, February 4

    The following morning Armstrong himself was one of the first to release a statement, saying that he was happy the U.S. Attorney's office had reached the right decision, and that he could now move on with his work as an advocate for the fight against cancer.

    "I am gratified to learn that the U.S. Attorney's Office is closing its investigation," said Armstrong.

    Long time critics the Frankie and Betsy Andreu were less than pleased with the decision.

    UCI wants to put Armstrong investigation behind it, February 4

    Both Pat McQuaid and the UCI presented a united front when faced with the news. Cycling's governing body said they just wanted to move on, with the future of the sport now the most important thing rather than dragging the image and credibility continuously through mud.

    "We don't want to keep looking behind us, there's nothing there, and the investigation proved that."

    WADA head expects sharing of Armstrong evidence, February 5

    Witht the news that the closing of the case had no bearing on the ongoing USADA investigations, WADA boss John Fahey remounted calls for...

  • Sky's Appollonio back-up plan ineffectual in Qatar

    Team Sky's Davide Appollonio (right) finished in 6th position
    Article published:
    February 06, 2012, 9:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team still reliant on Cavendish recovery

    Team Sky’s plan ‘B’ to set up sprinter Davide Appollonio in favour of ill marquee signing Mark Cavendish on stage 1 of the Tour of Qatar proved to be disappointing for the British team, with the Italian finishing behind all the major fast men in eighth place.

    Cavendish fell ill with fever just before his arrival in Qatar, forcing Sky to re-think their early options for the ASO-organised stage race. Appollonio was the team's most natural replacement for a lead-sprinter with the 22-year-old considered one of the most promising young sprint talents in the Sky stable. Ironically his biggest result - a second-place finish in the Ravenna stage of the Giro d’Italia last year -  came when he was narrowly edged by Cavendish before he moved to Sky.

    But the organisation of the Sky train, which has been perfecting its ability to deliver Cavendish to the line over the last few weeks, struggled to adapt to launching the Italian.

    Team Sky sporting director Steven de Jongh explained that though things didn’t go perfectly for the team on Sunday, the key objective of the day was simply to nurse Manxman Cavendish through with a view to getting him back into the winner's circle later in the week.

    "Cavendish actually had a pretty good day. He was helping out his teammates during the race, which was a pleasant surprise because we’d told him he didn’t have to do anything if he didn’t feel he was up to it after his illness.

    "Our only goal for him was that he finished the stage today, and he did that comfortably."

    De Jongh added the team hoped...

  • Vansummeren looking forward to Tour de France and Worlds

    Johan Vansummeren sits down with Cyclingnews
    Article published:
    February 06, 2012, 9:57 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian however "stressed" by return to Paris-Roubaix

    Garmin-Barracuda's Johan Vansummeren is currently starting his 2012 season at the Tour of Qatar, and satisfied with his winter preparation. Looking forward to the year's highlights, the Belgian Spring Classics, the Tour de France starting in Belgium and the Worlds in the Netherlands, he hoped to be able to race both the Tour and the Worlds but admitted that this may not be possible.

    "I would like to be at the Tour as the Grand Départ is in Liège," the tall Belgian told Velochrono. "But it'll be difficult: there are so many good riders in this team... I will try to be in the selection."

    If not, Vansummeren will console himself with a possible participation in the Vuelta and the Worlds, where he would love to bring Classics star Philippe Gilbert to a victory. "Valkenburg is only 50 kilometres from my home. I've worked for Gilbert at Lotto, we had a good laugh together. Even today in the peloton. I have no problem whatsoever with him. But first, I have to get selected. In this sense, doing the Vuelta will make things easier, more than doing the Tour..."

    The surprise winner of 2011 Paris-Roubaix said that he enjoyed being a domestique as much as riding for himself. "I think I'm a bit of both, domestique and leader. I like to ride in a lot of races, like in the Giro di Lombardia for Daniel Martin, I don't have a problem with that. But there are also some races where I have my own ambitions. I like what I do, I'm happy doing it. That's what's important," the 31-year-old said.

    However, he admitted that the idea of defending his 2011 Paris-Roubaix victory made him a little nervous.

    "The start in Compiègne this year... I'm a little frightened...

  • CAS sanction Contador with two year ban in clenbuterol case

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    February 06, 2012, 11:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Marca report a two year ban, and loss of 2010 Tour de France

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport has handed Alberto Contador a two year sanction for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. After a long-running saga, CAS announced on Monday that it had upheld the UCI and WADA’s joint appeal against the Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision not to suspend Contador.

    The ban means Contador will lose race results dating back to and including the 2010 Tour de France. Andy Schleck will become the Tour de France champion while Michele Scarponi is crowned winner of the Giro d'Italia.

    Contador's ban ends on August 5th, meaning he can ride this year's Vuelta.

    A long-running saga

    Contador’s positive test dates from July 21, 2010, although the case was not made public until September 30 of that year. In February 2011, the RFEC officially cleared Contador, accepting his explanation that the traces of clenbuterol in his sample had been caused by consuming contaminated meat.

    In March, both the UCI and WADA formally announced their decision to appeal the matter to CAS, who in turn announced that a ruling would be made ahead of the Tour de France.

    That turned out to be a false dawn, however, and after a number of delays, the hearings were finally held in November 2011. In the intervening period, Contador had added to the Giro d’Italia to his palmares and finished fifth at the Tour de France.

    The hearing itself was tinged with some degree of controversy, with AP reporting that WADA’s lawyers threatened a walk out when anti-doping expert Michael Asheden was not permitted to testify on the theory that Contador may have had a blood transfusion on July 20.

    A verdict was initially due in mid-January, but was again delayed after Leopard Trek backer Flavio Becca questioned the integrity of CAS arbitration panel head Ephraim...

  • UCI confirms CAS decision to ban Contador

    Article published:
    February 06, 2012, 11:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    International organization draws no "satisfaction" from ruling

    The UCI has acknowledged the decision to ban Alberto Contador for two years, noting that although the Court of Arbitration for Sport supported its position, the UCI "has not derived a sense of satisfaction" from the ruling.

    The CAS on Monday issued its decision giving the Spaniard a two-year ban for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, and taking away his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro d'Italia victories.

    The UCI had appealed the Spanish cycling federation's decision to acquit Contador, and the CAS has now upheld the UCI's view.

    "However, the UCI has not derived a sense of satisfaction from the CAS ruling, but rather welcomes the news as the end of a long-running affair that has been extremely painful for cycling," the organization said in a press release issued Monday midday.

    Without wanting to enter into the details of the ruling, UCI President Pat McQuaid said: "This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but that is not at all the case. There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping: every case, irrespective of its characteristics, is always a case too many."

    UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani refused to comment further to Cyclingnews.