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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, December 22, 2012

Date published:
December 22, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • 2012 Reader Poll: Team Sky voted Best team

    Maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins with his Sky teammates early in stage 20.
    Article published:
    December 21, 2012, 20:20 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    World's number one ranked team the favorite among readers

    Team Sky has been voted the best team of 2012, capturing a massive 13,866 votes in the Cyclingnews Reader Poll, almost 10,000 more votes than second placed team Garmin-Sharp.

    Team Sky dominated the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first ever British winner of the yellow jersey and compatriot but not always loyal teammate Chris Froome finished a close second overall. Many of their rivals scoffed when team manager Dave Brailsford set the goal of winning the Tour de France with a British rider within five years. Yet Team Sky did it in just three years.

    The boys in black and blue also won close to 50 other races and racked up numerous placings, enough to top the UCI WorldTour team ranking and claim the bragging rights of team of the year.

    Wiggins dominated Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium di Dauphine, while Mark Cavendish won 14 sprints in his year with Team Sky and even took overall victory at the Ster ZLM Tour in June. Edvald Boasson Hagen had a disappointing spring but won the Tour of Norway and the GP Ouest-France classic in the summer and was second behind Philippe Gilbert in the world road race championships. And he is still only 24.

    Many of the Team Sky riders sacrificed their won chances to help Wiggins and Cavendish but they were also given their chance and often took it. Richie Porte won the Volta ao Algarve, Ian Stannard won the British national road race title, Rigoberto Uran won Gran Piemonte and was the best young rider at the Giro d'Italia, finishing seventh overall.

    Team Sky perhaps only underperformed in the Spring Classics but plans are in place to make sure that is rectified in 2013.

    New ways...

  • US riders Bush and Berry sign for La Pomme Marseille

    Mancebo greets teammate Josh Berry at the finish.
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 9:39 GMT
    Pat Malach

    French team announce 2013 roster

    Two-time US under-23 national champion Rob Bush and former Chipotle-First Solar teammate Josh Berry, who finished third this year at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege espoirs race, have signed with French Continental team La Pomme Marseille for the 2013 season.

    Slipstream Sports released both riders from their 2013 commitments to its Chipotle-sponsored development team last summer and will likely fold the squad due to lack of funding. Bush, who won the championship road race in 2012 and the criterium in 2011, had been with the team for two seasons. Last year was Berry's first with the team.

    “Jonathan Vaughters really took the reins, on this, helping with the team,” Berry told Cyclingnews from Arizona, where he has been training for the past six weeks. “I couldn't be happier with the Slipstream program.”

    Bush, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, has been racing on the road since adolescence. He competed with the Texas Roadhouse amateur team and the Marian College squad before signing with Kenda-GearGrinder, a UCI Continental team, in 2010.

    He rode with Chipotle for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and he also represented the US on the U23 national team, finishing fourth in the 2012 U23 Paris-Roubaix. He scored two top-10 finishes at the Rutas de America last season, and in 2011 he won stages at the Tour de Beauce and the Cascade Cycling Classic.

    Berry, 22, of Sun Valley, Idaho, started out racing in BMX, mountain biking and cyclo-cross, but his talent quickly spilled over onto the road. He signed with the UCI Continental team OUCH-Bahati Foundation in 2010, but he was severely injured in an early season head-on collision with a truck while training in Portland, Oregon, and he missed most of that season. He returned to the road in 2011 with the team of National Race Calendar overall winner Francisco Mancebo.

    “I joined RealCyclist and they didn't expect much since I was coming back...

  • Reader Poll Best rider of the Year: Bradley Wiggins

    2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) with the winner's trophy.
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 10:12 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Sagan second, Boonen third

    Bradley Wiggins(Team Sky) run of awards and recognition after his hugely successful 2012 season continues, with the Briton receiving more than ten thousands votes to win the Cyclingnews best rider of the year category.

    Wiggins often divides opinions, yet he racked up 10,560 votes, almost  double the total of second placed Peter Sagan, who received 5038 votes.

    The season's big winners naturally filled the top ten on the Best  rider of the year category: Tom Boonen was third with 4018 votes, reflecting his dominance and prowess in the spring classics, while Marianne Vos was fourth with 3111 after her world title victory on home roads in Valkenburg and her gold medal in the rain soaked road  race at the London Olympics.

    Readers showed their support for great stage race performances too,  with Joaquim Rodriguez finishing fifth with 2437 votes. Ryder Hesjedal's victory at the Giro d'Italia was not forgotten, with the Canadian finishing sixth with 1400 votes. Also in the top ten were British track sensation Laura Trott, Andre 'Gorilla' Greipel for  another season of consistent sprint, the hugely talented US female rider Evelyn Stevens and Olympic men's Sprint champion Jason Kenny.

    Wiggins secured the crown of Cyclingnews's rider of the year for his stage race results but also for his standout personality.

    Of course not everyone was shouting 'Allez Wiggo!' in July. Not everyone admires his calculated racing style, or his potty mouth antics and his mod-inspired style.

    Compared to many other pro riders, he is unorthodox and original. His personality is not dampened or dumbed down by the fatigue of hours in the saddle. He is...

  • Spanish Supreme Court restores 2005 Vuelta victory to Heras

    Count the victories that Heras has in the Vuelta: 4
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 11:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rules there are “no grounds” to overturn lower court ruling

    Roberto Heras is once again the winner of the 2005 Vuelta a Espana. The Spanish Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling annulling his positive doping test and the loss of the title.

    Heras, riding for Liberty Seguros, was leading the Vuelta when he tested positive for EPO after the penultimate stage. The positive doping control was announced in November 2005, and in February 2006, the Spanish cycling federation banned him for two years and stripped him of the title.

    Heras did not go to the Court of Appeal for Spot, but appealed the ban through the civil courts. In June 2011, a court overturned his conviction, with the appeal saying that his samples had been incorrectly stored and that the samples are not analysed anonymously.

    The Spanish federation appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which ruled that there were “no grounds” to overturn the lower court decision.

    After the title was taken from Heras, the victory was given to Denis Menchov of Rabobank. It is now not clear which of the two will be officially recognized as the winner, nor what might happen with prize money.

    Heras, who also won the Vuelta in 2000, 2003 and 2004, told the EFE news agency, “I received the news with great joy. I was hopeful but did not have excessive illusions. It was a big decision for me and I am happy to again have the Vuelta 2005.”

    Now 38, the Spaniard said that“I never stopped feeling like the winner of the Vuelta and I have great memories of that win.”  The suspension was “hard” but with the help of his friends and family, we got through it. He turned to mountain biking, where “I had a great time.”

  • Report: Leipheimer names Leinders in Rabobank doping

    Levi Leipheimer at the Tour de France opening press conference
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 13:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutch site claims Menchov, Boogerd, Dekker and Rasmussen underwent doping

    Former Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders played a central role in doping at that team, according to a Dutch media report. Levi Leipheimer is said to have named the doctor in his statement to USADA in the Lance Armstrong investigation.

    Leinders has denied all doping-related charges. He was hired for the 2012 season by Team Sky, but his contract was not renewed after questions arose about his tenure at Rabobank.

    The Dutch website claims to have seen an uncensored version of Leipheimer's affidavit, in which he said “I continued to use EPO while with Rabobank in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was also assisted in using by the Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders, from whom I purchased EPO.” The name of the doctor was blacked out in the publicly released version of the document.

    The website further claims to have proof that former Rabobank riders Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker, Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen all traveled to Austria for blood doping through the Viennese Humanplasma blood bank. The transfusion are said to have taken place in the village of Steyrermühl.

    The riders have all denied such involvement.  However, Boogerd told the website that he met Stefan Matschiner, the man behind the blood doping scheme at a wine bar in Vienna, and that he had also paid Matschiner several times. “But that was for vitamins and not for drugs.”

    Dekker has never admitted publicly to blood doping, insisting only that he had never been to Vienna. However, this fall...

  • Ballan could lose a kidney after crash

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) celebrates winning stage 7 at the 2012 Eneco Tour
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 14:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC rider underwent surgery on fractured femur Friday

    Alessandro Ballan may be facing the loss of one of his kidneys, after losing his spleen and fracturing his femur and three ribs in a training camp crash. The BMC rider had surgery on the femur Friday, his second operation within 24 hours. His spleen was removed in emergency surgery shortly after the crash.

    Ballan has been kept sedated Thursday night, but doctors expected to gradually return him to consciousness today if there were no further complications. The surgery on his left femur occurred Friday evening.

    One of the complications which may arise concerns his left kidney, which took a blow in the crash. “We did not give permission for him to be moved to another hospital because of that,” doctor Kiko Llacer told Gazzetta. “Currently the internal bleeding has stopped and we are optimistic. But any further problems would lead to a decision to remove the kidney, which we want to and believe can be avoided, as in this case it would mean that his career is in danger.”

    Keeping him unconscious is standard procedure after abdominal surgery, Llacer said. “This practice is also used to prevent the patient from suffering severe pain. Moreover, in the case of an emergency, it is better to have the patient already stabilized.  If, as we think, there will be no complications, Alessandro can go home in a week.”

    His wife Daniela has been the only one allowed to visit him. She flew from Bergamo to Valencia at dawn on Friday -- “the longest night of my life.  I could not even close one eye. Her husband called her before the first surgery “to tell me not to worry.”

    After the second surgery, when she had seen him, she said, “the worst is over.  Alessandro is strong, has a great temperament, and...

  • US champ Durtschi signs for Leopard-Trek

    Max Durtschi (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin 23).
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 19:13 GMT
    Pat Malach

    US junior champion moves to Europe

    Two-time US junior national champion Max Durtschi will ride for the Leopard-Trek development team next season. Durtschi signed a one-year deal with the Luxembourg-based UCI Continental team that is owned by construction tycoon Flavio Becca 's Leopard SA, the same management company that owns the RadioShack-Nissan ProTour team.

    “I was really just fortunate enough to have some people speak highly of me to the organization,” Durtschi said. “Things just kind of fit together and worked out. They actually called me, so I really got lucky that way.”

    Durtschi, 22, from Ketchum, Idaho, won dual national championships in the road race and criterium in 2009. He rode with Slipstream Sports' Continental development teams in 2010 and 2011, and last season moved to Saxo Bank's Italian-based development team, which got off to a stutter-stepped start after Bjarnie Riis' ProTour team initially had trouble securing its UCI license.

    Durtschi also rode for the U23 national team and on a trip to Belgium contracted a virus that hampered his early season. His poor luck continued with a badly broken wrist suffered in a crash at the Baby Giro. The setbacks wiped out a lot of the season for the former national Nordic ski team member who dreams of one day finding success in the storied Classics like Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but they also left him even more determined to right his ship next season.

    “Last year was a really rough year,” he said. “It proved to be probably the toughest season I've ever had on the road, but I actually grew and learned more from that season than I have in the past, so I'm trying to see the positive. It had a silver lining, but it was bittersweet.”

    He appears to have found a good spot for some redemption. During the Leopard-Trek development team's inaugural season last year, more than half of the riders scored wins. Luxembourg's Bob Jungels, who signed a deal...

  • WADA suspends Madrid anti-doping lab for three months

    John Fahey (right) with former WADA President Dick Pound
    Article published:
    December 22, 2012, 21:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Professional cyclist reported to have "tested positive" as result of error

    Madrid’s anti-doping lab will be out of action for three months after an athlete - which Spanish newspaper AS claims to have been a professional cyclist - was wrongly reported to have "tested positive" in a mix-up of urine samples last August.

    According to reports in Spain, its Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) explained in a communique that Madrid’s anti-doping lab made the mix up prior to initiating the testing procedure, and one sample which was clean was contaminated with another that contained a high level of a banned substance.

    The AEA said that the lab then informed the innocent athlete and his federation that he had tested positive, but when the B sample came through clear and the lab recognised the error - which they rapidly communicated to WADA - no further action was taken against him.

    The Madrid lab has now been suspended for three months, effective from December 21st, and the person responsible for quality control has resigned.

    Spain has two accredited anti-doping labs, in Madrid and Barcelona, and neither has had any previous suspensions. Madrid has been carrying out anti-doping tests since 1969 and deals with around 8,000 separate samples a year.

    The news could not have come at a worse time for Madrid, as it builds towards presenting its candidature for the Olympic Games in 2020. It also coincided with the Supreme Court’s decision to restore the 2005 Vuelta a Espana title to Roberto Heras, a verdict has been linked to alleged irregularities in the anti-doping protocol during the analysis of his samples back in 2005.