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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, October 22, 2012

Date published:
October 22, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Open letter: David Millar responds to Rabobank's decision to leave cycling

    David Millar (Garmin - Sharp)
    Article published:
    October 20, 2012, 20:07 BST
    Cycling News

    "We who make up the past have to take responsibility for the future"

    In the aftermath of Rabobank's decision to park their sponsorship ties at the end of the season a flurry of varying reactions ensued. Garmin-Sharp's David Millar was one of the first to react on Twitter, with, "Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from the young clean guys who are part of the solution. Sickening."

    Millar started his professional career in 1997, a year after Rabobank entered the sport, and both parties have been part of cycling's tapestry. After his initial reaction Millar returned to Twitter to announce that his full opinions would be published in the Dutch publication, De Volkskrant.

    Here's the letter in full:


    Dear Rabobank,

    Before I explain my initial reaction to your announcement of pulling out of sponsoring professional cycling (@millarmind: Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from the young clean guys who are part of the solution. Sickening.) I’d like to tell you what Rabobank represents to me as a cyclist, and a British cyclist at that.

    It represents the Netherlands, from the orange kit to the comprehensive national support across the board, from grassroots level to men’s and women’s professional cycling. The Netherlands is the cycling nation, that’s how we see you, the fact you had a national bank who was willing to nurture and carry your nation's cycling hopes seemed so wonderfully appropriate.

    There was a certain jealousy for me that I wasn’t Dutch, that I didn’t have that sporting ladder to climb up, from racing as a school boy to one day doing the Tour de France all within a national team. Of course, now it does exist, with Sky whose sponsorship...

  • Armstrong's 2001 sample was suspect but not positive, says head of Lausanne lab

    UCI president Hein Verbruggen with Lance Armstrong in 2002
    Article published:
    October 21, 2012, 10:18 BST
    Cycling News

    American also returned suspicious test at 2002 Dauphiné

    Lance Armstrong provided a suspicious doping control at the 2001 Tour de Suisse but did not test positive for EPO, according to Martial Saugy, the director of the Lausanne laboratory which carried out the tests.

    Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton both testified to the US Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong had told them that he had tested positive in Switzerland in 2001 but that the UCI had covered up the result. The UCI has denied any such collusion.

    Speaking to AFP, Saugy said that Armstrong did not test positive for EPO but his sample was one of the three from the race to be flagged as “suspect." As an "important competitor," Armstrong was called before the UCI to provide an explanation. Armstrong returned another such suspect sample at the Dauphiné Liberé in 2002, which was analysed by a different laboratory.

    “There was no positive test on the Tour of Switzerland in 2001,” Saugy told AFP. “Armstrong had another suspect result during the 2002 Dauphiné Liberé. The politics of the UCI at that time, if there was such a result involving an important competitor, was to meet them and ask for an explanation. That was their approach to prevention.”

    Saugy said that it was only in 2002 that he realised that Armstrong had been among the riders who had returned a suspect sample at the Tour de Suisse.

    “The UCI said to me at the end of June 2002: 'we warned the rider for whom you had a suspect result in 2001, he gave another suspect return at another lab and he would like to know by which method it was tested,'” Saugy said. "The rider was Armstrong. It was then that I learned about it."

    Saugy also...

  • French federation defends Bassons suspension

    Christophe Bassons signs autographs during the 1999 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    October 21, 2012, 12:34 BST
    Cycling News

    Disciplinary committee applied the rules, says FFC

    The French Cycling Federation (FFC) has defended its decision to hand Christophe Bassons a one-year suspension after he missed a post-race doping control at the French marathon mountain bike championships on September 1.

    Bassons abandoned the race 20 kilometres from the finish but did not go to the finish area before travelling home. He was only informed that he had been selected for doping control two and a half hours later, while he was on the road to his home in Bordeaux, by which time it was too late to return and undergo the test. On Saturday, Bassons revealed that he had been given a one-year suspension for missing the test.

    “Following all of the comments surrounding the suspension of Mr. Christophe Bassons for a missed anti-doping control, the French Cycling Federation notes that this rider infringed on anti-doping rules by not presenting himself for an anti-doping control for which he had been selected,” the FFC said in a statement late on Saturday.

    “The national disciplinary committee who examined the dossier did nothing other than apply the rules by suspending the athlete for this offence.”

    The FFC also noted that the normal penalty for a missed control is a two-year ban, but that in this instance the sanction was reduced to a year “following the explanation offered by Mr. Christophe Bassons.” FFC president David Lappartient will examine the possibilities of appeal in the coming days.

    Bassons was a member of the Festina team but famously refused to partake in the squad’s systematic doping programme. In 1999, Bassons abandoned his one and only Tour de France after a number of riders, including Lance Armstrong, made clear their dissatisfaction with his anti-doping sentiments in a column for Le Monde.

    Disillusioned with his treatment by many of his fellow professionals, Bassons...

  • Porte looking forward to 2013 at Team Sky

    Richie Porte (Sky)
    Article published:
    October 21, 2012, 13:25 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Australian signs anti-doping pledge

    Despite a successful season on the road for him and his team, Richie Porte (Team Sky), knows all too well that the subject of doping has dominated the headlines in recent weeks. The fallout from Lance Armstrong's USADA case has affected almost every professional team, with Sky no exception, but away from the controversy the Australian is also looking forward to having opportunities for himself in 2013.

    "Personally it was a brilliant year. I started well, wining Algarve, and then I slotted into that team which ultimately won the Tour. What more can you, it was just incredible," Porte told Cyclingnews.

    Porte was a key member of Sky's Tour squad. Wiggins and a select number of teammates rode almost identical race programmes in the build up to the Tour and picked up wins in Algarve, Paris-Nice, Dauphine before July's major triumph.

    "People were questioning Bradley's form the whole year but at the end of the day Sky has a pretty good sports science background and we were all sure of where we were. Personally I wasn't in peak form, my best form was probably in February but we went to the Tour with a clear plan and executed it like clockwork."

    It's as yet unclear whether Wiggins will defend his Tour title or target the Giro d'Italia in 2013 but Porte's desire is to ride as part of Wiggin's team, whatever the final programme.

    "Whatever Grand tour Bradley is focusing on I think I should be there with him. Also I'm going to have my own opportunities to ride for myself. You learn a lot riding with guys like Bradley and Mick Rogers but I'd like to have some of the pressure too."

    "I've not seen the route but for the Tour yet but I know that Brad isn't hell bent on total domination at the Tour. I know he wants to have a go at other races as well. It's a nice dilemma to have, having Chris Froome...

  • Freire turned down Euskaltel-Euskadi offer for 2013

    Oscar Freire (Spain) waves to the crowd in what would be his last ever race
    Article published:
    October 21, 2012, 19:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard reflects on retirement

    Oscar Freire has revealed that he turned down the opportunity to ride for Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2013 and then continue in a management role at the Basque squad. Freire retired from cycling at the end of this season and the world championships in Valkenburg was his final race.

    “Igor [Gonzalez de Galdeano] offered me the chance to do another year as a rider and then to carry on as a directeur sportif afterwards, but I had already decided to retire unless I became world champion again,” Freire told Marca.

    “From the beginning of the year, I said that it was my intention to retire at the end of this season. My team Katusha asked me a lot of times over the year if I wanted to continue, but I was clear that I didn’t want to race anymore.”

    At the age of 36, and with three world titles and three victories at Milan-San Remo on his palmares, Freire said that he did not have the necessary motivation to continue at the highest level, even though he posted a number of impressive results in 2013 and came close to Classics victories at both E3 Harelbeke and Amstel Gold Race. “I had already achieved a lot of my goals and I knew that I couldn’t reach the other ones,” said Freire.

    Asked if cycling’s damaged reputation had impacted on his decision, Freire said: “Everything is relative, even if, in recent years, although Spanish and winning races, they’ve left me in peace and I haven’t done as many controls.

    “Spanish riders have had a bad reputation, but sometimes with good reason because there have been too many positives. But it’s also true that cycling has improved greatly in recent...

  • Boonen: Only Lance can end the current doubt in cycling

    Belgian champion Tom Boonen chats with Lance Armstrong at the start.
    Article published:
    October 21, 2012, 23:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian describes Rabobank decision as a "massive blow"

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) believes that the onus is on Lance Armstrong to end the doubt over the American's racing history, and is frustrated by catharctic change currently engulfing cycling.

    Speaking on the Belgian television program Sportweekend, Boonen described the USADA dossier as a file of "rehashed information".

    The former teammate of Armstrong on U.S. Postal said: "I do not so much care, because we have nothing to do with it. We must now explain this matter, but perhaps it's something that Lance can do even better. Only he can put an end to it." Boonen rode two years as a stagaire with the outfit before moving to a full-time role in 2002 where he finished third at his first attempt at Paris-Roubaix in the senior ranks. He said that following his 2002 season, he was never a fan of Armstrong but maintained that the importance of USADA had also been exaggerated.

    "They see themselves now as the most sacred bean of the world, while they only talk nonsense," he said.

    Boonen was also hopeful that the increased scrutiny on the sport as a result of the USADA investigation and the associated fallout, would lead to a new appreciation of the current generation of cyclists.

    "We must just keep doing what we do now, everything is well with us," he said. "The only thing we can do is perhaps imagine that they follow us 24 hours a day, so the world can see what is happening in racing and so we recover our credibility."

    The 32-year-old also told of his frustration in response to Friday's announcement by Rabobank to end their involvement in cycling.

    "I think it's a massive blow that a sponsor like Rabobank would stop after so many years," he explained saying that he had been angered by the Dutch bank's decision.

    "Rabobank is a...

  • Drapac taking renewed focus on Asia Tour in 2013

    Australian pair Darren Lapthorne (left) and Adam Phelan both of Drapac Cycling finished third and second respectively on the opening stage
    Article published:
    October 22, 2012, 1:50 BST
    Alex Malone

    Giramondo "formulating team for races like Qinghai Lake"

    One of Australia's most successful Continental teams, Drapac Professional Cycling will be mixing things up next season. The team's sporting director Agostino Giramando has decided to forgo the usual European stint in favour of an increased focus on the steadily growing Asia Tour.

    Giramondo wants to build a team capable of rivalling the strongest teams on the Asian circuit in some of the toughest races. The Asia Tour has presented the team with plenty of opportunities over the years but the European campaign has meant a number of invitations have been turned down. In 2013 however, the team will race a much heavier Asian schedule while ensuring the National Road Series, which begins later in the season, is not left forgotten.

    "Next year is going to be predominantly Asia. We've decided we are going to give Europe a miss in 2013. We really want to do more racing in Asia. We want to target Qinghai Lake, we've had an invite for the past two years but we've been in Europe. We are formulating a team that can ride those types of races," said sports director Agostino Giramondo to Cyclingnews.

    Tour of Qinghai Lake is a notoriously difficult tour which has seen even the most seasoned professionals struggle with the conditions and altitude, that frequently reaches in excess of 3,000m above sea level but Giramondo is confident his team will be more than capable. A number of riders are moving on and stepping back in 2013 but Giramondo will ensure the roster is appropriately filled for the coming season.

    "There's a few riders scaling down and a couple will be leaving. We are negotiating with two or three other riders but once again we will have a very strong squad," Giramondo said.

    With victories at Tour of Tasmania and

  • Johny Schleck advises sons to "quit cycling"

    Lunch time for Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    October 22, 2012, 4:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Fränk left "depressed" after Xipamide positive

    Johny Schleck, father to RadioShack-Nissan’s Fränk and Andy, has advised his sons that they should hang up the bike.

    Speaking to French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Schleck said he reached the conclusion after both his sons experienced a horror 2012. Andy was elevated to 2010 Tour de France champion after Alberto Contador was stripped of the title following a positive test for clenbuterol. His 2012 season ground to a halt following a fractured pelvis suffered at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June with the 27-year-old only returning to racing at Binche-Tournai-Binche earlier this month.

    Meantime, Fränk tested positive to the banned diuretic Xipamide in a sample taken on July 14 at the Tour de France, but denied having knowingly taken the drug. He was suspended by his team. Last week, he fronted the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) with a verdict yet to be reached.

    According to Johny Schleck, the experience has left Fränk "depressed" such has been his effort.

    "He spent a lot of money on medical analysis and lawyers fees trying to prove his innocence. This is not a life," he explained.