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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, August 1, 2009

Date published:
August 01, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Wiggins' values point to cleaner peloton

    Bradley Wiggins went deep into the pain cave on stage 15 to Verbier.
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 12:50 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    British rider makes blood profile public

    Bradley Wiggins' blood profile from the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France may be proof of a cleaner peloton, according to the data released by Team Garmin-Slipstream today.Just days after the conclusion of the Tour, Wiggins' values for the period February 16, 2008 to July 28, 2009 were made public, the British rider's values well below the parameters potentially indicative of any artificial performance-enhancing methods.

    Given this data, Wiggins' fourth-place finish in Paris tends to point towards a cleaner peloton in the face of doping scandals that plagued the 2006, '07 and '08 editions of the race.While haematocrit has traditionally been the value used to determine whether an athlete may be cheating, analysis of Wiggins' blood went further and looked at an 'Off Score', which takes into account haemoglobin concentration - which correlates to haematocrit - and the concentration of reticulocytes, or immature red blood cells in an athlete's system.The Off Score is calculated thus: Off Score = Haemoglobin - (60 x Square Root of Reticulocytes).

    The Off Score was developed as a more robust measure because reticulocytes tend to decrease when haemoglobin is artificially high. The upper limit for the Off Score is 134; Wiggins' haemoglobin, hematocrit, and off score values were 14.93 ± 0.8 g/dl, 44.9 ± 1.9 %, and 89.4 ± 9.4, respectively, well below the cut off parameters that indicate potential artificial performance enhancement.The best indication that Wiggins rode clean is in the fact that his hemoglobin and Off Score values followed the same curve - according to the logic employed in the Off Score, if there was artificial performance enhancement occurring, the end of each curve would point in the opposite direction.

    "Brad is an exceptionally talented athlete and it was great to see him do so well in the Tour de France. He’s always been an outspoken advocate of clean cycling. He requested that we release his results...

  • Riccò to appeal suspension, again

    Italian Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) explains the situation to Alessandra Di Stefano of Rai.
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 13:21 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Suspended cyclist complains rules broken

    Riccardo Riccò will appeal the 24-month suspension he received yesterday from the International Cycling Union (UCI). It said that Italy lacked jurisdiction to issue the original suspension for Riccò's doping violation at the 2008 Tour de France.

    "I am without words in light of this decision. It seems like a political power move," Riccò's lawyer, Alessandro Sivelli, told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    The Cycling Union decided that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) lacked jurisdiction when it issued its 24-month suspension for Riccò in October 2008. Riccò had appealed the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in March and received a four-month reduction.

    Sivelli said they will appeal the Cycling Union's decision to the Court of Arbitration.

    "It's better I don't talk to avoid saying something bad. The rules almost don't exist in cycling," Riccò said.

    Riccò tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA July 8. The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) released the result on July 17, after he had won two stages. The Cycling Union followed yesterday France's recommendation of a 24-month ban.

  • Tour stage winner Astarloza suspended after failed doping test

    Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the podium after his stage win.
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 17:16 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    (Updated) Euskaltel-Euskadi stands behind rider

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced Friday that it suspended Spaniard Mikel Astarloza for failing a doping control June 26, which was 25 days before he won the Tour de France's mountain stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

    His Euskaltel-Euskadi team said that it had not seen any abnormalities in the team's internal controls. It said Astarloza will request the counter-analysis of the sample. Until then, the press release stated, he will be considered innocent until proven guilty.

    The Cycling Union announced that Astarloza tested positive for blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition control. He is the second rider from Spain's Euskaltel-Euskadi team to return a positive doping control in June. Iñigo Landaluze was suspended in July after twice testing positive for EPO CERA.

    The team condemned Landaluze and he took full responsibility for his positive tests.

    Astarloza's urine test was performed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and analysed in Madrid. The Cycling Union received the results on Thursday.

    The suspension is provisional until a Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) panel meets to examine the results. "The hearing panel will make a decision on an applicable sanction for Mr. Astarloza," said the Cycling Union in a press release.

    The failed doping test is the first related to a rider who participated in the 2009 Tour de France. There were eight riders who tested positive for doping in last year's race.

  • Fignon: We were bribed to lose 87 Vuelta

    Laurent Fignon faces his toughest test yet... beating cancer
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 18:32 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchman details deal in his biography

    Having already upset some of his former racing peers with suggestions that dope-taking was rife when he was in his pomp in the 1980s, two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon is at the centre of another storm. Once again, his recently released autobiography is the cause. In it, he alleges the team manager of 1987 Vuelta winner Luis "Lucho" Herrera bribed the Frenchman and his Renault team into not attacking the Colombian on the decisive final stage of that race.

    In Laurent Fignon: Nous étions jeunes et insouciants (Laurent Fignon: We were young and unknowing), the Frenchman alleges that Renault team manager Cyrille Guimard told his riders: "The Colombians are offering us money not to attack." We didn't have any intention of attacking because they offered us 30,000 francs (approx. £3,500) per rider not to," Fignon writes.

    Fignon says of the final day, when Herrera led Germany's Raimund Dietzen by just a minute: "There was a hell of a wind blowing and you could sense the fear of the Colombians. In fact, if we had wanted to we could have taken the initiative and blown them all apart without any problem."

    Fignon, who finished third overall, insists his mind was more on making the flight home after the stage because he was bored and wanted to get back to France. "So we tried to speed things up. You should have seen Herrera's gestures when we were on the front. Filled with panic, he said we were playing a dirty trick. 'Why are you riding if we've paid you?' he shouted at me. I quickly told him that my intention was just to get out of Spain as fast as possible."

    Not surprisingly, Herrera insists he doesn't remember the race in quite the same way. The Colombian, who alongside Federico Bahamontes is one of only two men to win the mountains title in all three major tours, tells Colombian magazine Cambio: "What he says in his book is total rubbish. We had a good team and we didn't need any outside help to...

  • Sørensen extends for two more years

    Stage winner Nicki Sörensen (Team Saxo Bank) on the podium.
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 19:21 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Deal completes Dane's best year

    Saxo Bank announced Friday that it has extended its contract with Dane Nicki Sørensen for another two years. The 34-year-old has been with the team since its inception in 2000. He took the biggest win of his career when he escaped from a breakaway on the stage to Vittel and soloed to his first Tour de France stage win.

    Sørensen repeated that performance on Thursday when he claimed the stage win and the overall lead of the Tour of Denmark.

    "Nicki is a vital part of the team, so it was obviously important for us to extend with him," team manager Bjarne Riis said. "He has so much deliver, and I feel that he has had new life in his career this year. He is an extreme skilful domestique who always is there for the team and then his stunning victory in Tour underlined strongly that he can also get great results when he gets the chance."

    Sørensen agreed, and was happy to stay with the team for another two years. "This year has been one of my best years so far and everything is really gone up a step higher for me - both to help riders and as a rider who can also take a big victory now and then. Now I have the perfect perspective on my career and I am sure I will enjoy the next few years."

  • Rasmussen denied contract on UCI advice

    Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 19:53 BST
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    Dane claims he's been blacklisted

    Dane Michael Rasmussen is alleging that he is on cycling's "black list" after the Italian team Ceramica Flaminia decided against a contract offer.

    The former Rabobank rider was kicked out of the 2007 Tour de France while in the race lead over problems with his whereabouts declarations to anti-doping authorities.

    Rasmussen served a two-year ban for violating anti-doping rules. The suspension ended on July 25, 2009. The International Cycling Union (UCI) said that it would "not oppose" his return to cycling.

    However, Ceramica Flaminia team director Giuseppe Petito said the UCI advised against signing Rasmussen. "We had been speaking with Michael Rasmussen since May, and we were ready to enter an agreement, but UCI wasn't too keen on it," Petito told the Danish daily Ekstra Bladet.

    Rasmussen and admitted doper Bernhard Kohl previously shared a manager, Stefan Matschiner. Austrian investigators have named Rasmussen in an investigation of organised blood doping that was facilitated by Matschiner.

    "We asked Alain Rumpf [UCI ProTour manager] if there could be problems if we signed a contract with Rasmussen, and he emphasised the Austrian matter. The contract is therefore no longer a possibility," said Petito.

    Rasmussen denied blood doping, and blamed his inability to secure a contract on a black list. "I have heard of a black list going around in the sport, which lists the names of unwanted riders. This more than suggests that this list actually exists, and my name is on it," said Rasmussen.

    Ceramica Flaminia press officer, Livio Iacovella, told Cyclingnews the team decided against Rasmussen because it had already signed Riccardo Riccò last month. The UCI didn't contact the team, he added.

    Riccò is currently on suspension for testing positive for EPO CERA during the 2008 Tour...

  • Sprinters Greipel and others eye stage wins in Poland

    Andrè Greipel (Team Columbia-Highroad) wins stage two in Sittard, the German's eighth victory of the season.
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 20:33 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Riders ready for an earlier Tour of Poland

    In just two days, the ProTour teams plus a few others will meet up in Warsaw, Poland, for the annual Tour of Poland, a ProTour event which has made the move to August from its previous September spot on the UCI calendar.

    Columbia-HTC's Andre Greipel is looking for what would be his 15th victory of the season. If the sprint star were to log a win, he'd equal his tally of victories from 2008.

    "When Poland was closer to the end of the season, it was difficult for some riders to feel motivated there. But now in August, it's a great way of building up for the Tour of Spain. The weather should be better than in September, too!"

    Greipel is optimistic about his own chances.  "I felt pretty tired during my last race, the Tour of Saxony, even though I won the first stage," said Greipel, "but since Saxony, I've had a bit of a break, just doing a few criteriums, and now I'm ready to go again." Greipel said that sprinters don't have to be in top shape to win. "If you've got good team support, like I have, then normally you can get through ok because you're only going full gas in the last 200 metres."

    "This year, the race is much more mountainous than when it was in September, and that could suit one of our riders like Michael Albasini," said Columbia-HTC team manager Rolf Aldag after evaluating his team's chances. "If he's racing as well as when he won in the Tour of Austria in July, then he's definitely got a good chance in Poland, too."

    Greipel will face a challenge from sprinter Robert Förster who will head his Team Milram's quest for stage wins.

    This year's race does not start with a team time trial as in previous years, but riders will open with nine laps of a 12km circuit in Warsaw. On stage two, they face 219 equally flat kilometers from Serock to Bialystok, in northeastern Poland. Stages three and four, also flat, head south. All in all, that's several days of good chances for the sprinters.

    Then...

  • Fuji-Servetto wins appeal for Vuelta entry

    Team Fuji-Servetto at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina
    Article published:
    July 31, 2009, 21:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    CAS sides for Spanish team's inclusion

    The Fuji-Servetto team has won the right to enter the 2009 Vuelta a España 2009, it declared on Friday. The team announced it had received the official confirmation by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday evening.

    The Grand Tour organisers attempted to keep the ProTour team from participating in several races this year, including Paris-Nice, Milan-Sanremo, the Giro d'Italia and Tirreno-Adriatico.

    The team, formerly known as Saunier-Duval, was not allowed in the 2009 Tour de France after last year being kicked out of the race following the EPO CERA scandal with Riccardo Riccò, winner of two stages.

    The team was given a late entry into the Giro d'Italia after being initially denied an invitation by organiser RCS Sport.

    The team will now have to gear up for the biggest race of the season for Spanish teams - its home Grand Tour.

    The race kicks off in Assen, The Netherlands, with a prologue on August 29.