Spaniard threatens legal action against Astana over contract
2006 Tour de France champion Oscar Pereiro has admitted that his career looks to be at an end. Speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon in Vigo, northwest Spain, Pereiro also revealed more details about the contract he had agreed with Astana and the subsequent impasse with the Kazakh-backed team that has led to him threatening legal action against them.
"The most likely scenario is that this will be my farewell," said the Spaniard. "I am the most realistic of people and that's my view. My representatives are trying to find a way out of this and are talking to other teams, but that is going to be extremely difficult now as I have a signed contract that comes into force on January 1. That means I can't sign with another team because then there would be two contracts in force. Before I could do that Astana would have to rescind theirs."
Pereiro then went on to explain how the agreement with Astana had come about and where it had gone wrong. "The day after the benefit race that I organise, the directeur sportif at Astana, Giuseppe Martinelli, called me to say that they had received everything from the UCI and that the medical team had gone through the biological details and everything was fine.
"But from that point on I began to notice distance growing between the two sides because I wasn't getting any news from them. Then, after several days of uncertainty, the manager at Astana [Frenchman Yvon Sanquer] called me to see if we could renegotiate the contract and I said no because I'd already reduced my asking price by a third."
Pereiro revealed how he later got another call from Sanquer in which the Frenchman told him he was under "a lot of pressure" to break the contract and that they could not pay Pereiro the salary agreed. "They told me that they had been hasty in signing me up on that salary," said Pereiro."I told them that I understood but I wasn't going to reduce my salary given that I was competing in a foreign country...
Irishman receives provisional race programme for 2010
Following a breakthrough showing in the Vuelta a España where he won a stage and finished ninth overall, Philip Deignan is hoping to ride his first Tour de France next season.
The 26-year-old Irishman has been given his provisional race programme for 2010 and is on the Cervélo Test Team’s long list for the top Grand Tour. His build-up is typical of those preparing for the July race and, providing all goes to plan, he could get the chance to help Carlos Sastre aim for his second win in the event.
“My race programme will begin with the Vuelta a Murcia in March. I’ll then do the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Ardennes Classics [Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège],” he told Cyclingnews. “After a break, I’ll then do the Tour of California, the Dauphiné Libéré and I’m on the team’s long list for the Tour de France.”
After several seasons with the Ag2r La Mondiale squad, Deignan joined the team on a two-year deal last winter. He has long been regarded as a promising rider but his progress was stunted by illness and injury. However he got back on track in 2009, netting fifth on a mountain stage and seventh overall in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, eighth in the Giro del Mendrisiotto, tenth in the Vuelta a Burgos, eleventh in the Tour de Langkawi and twelfth in the Tour of Ireland. He was also fourth on the opening stage of the latter event.
His solid form earned him selection for the Vuelta a España and there he took his biggest pro win when he outsprinted Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) at the end of the mountainous 18th leg of the race. That was the first Grand Tour stage victory for an Irish rider since Stephen Roche’s 1992 Tour de France win at La Bourboule, while Deignan’s final finishing position of ninth overall in Madrid matched Roche’s placing in...
Continental team Orbea announced seven new riders at a presentation of its 12-man roster for the 2010 season in the Basque country today.
Aritz Etxebarria (from Bidel Kirolgi), Adrian Saez de Arregui (from Caja Rural) and Jon Izagirre (from Seguros Bilbao) will join former-Naturgas Energy riders Jon Aberasturi, Mikel Landa, Noel Martin and Xabier Zabalo as the new recruits.
Andoni Blázquez, Ricardo Garcia, Mikel Ilundain, Joseba Larralde and Beñat Urain are the five riders returning for their second seasons with the team.
Orbea forms part of the Basque country's Fundación Ciclista Euskadi and acts as a feeder team for ProTour team Euskaltel-Euskadi.
This season Orbea bade farewell to Daniel Sesma, Jonathan Castroviejo, Miguel Mínguez and Under-23 World road race Champion Romain Sicard. All four will ride for the top-tier Euskaltel squad and will make their debut in a ProTour Race at the Tour Down Under in January.
Having taken a silver medal in Zolder seven years ago, Robbie McEwen is using next year’s world championships as major motivation heading into the new season. The experienced Australian was badly injured in a crash in the Tour of Belgium in May, but has been training hard and has clear targets in mind.
“I would like to start off well at the Tour Down Under, and then try to keep going through to Milan San Remo and Gent Wevelgem. Then the Giro, the Tour and the World Championships,” he told Cyclingnews.
“The really big goal at the end of the rainbow is that - the rainbow jersey. A world title in Australia would be amazing…hopefully my leg will come back to where it needs to be to lead the Aussie team at the worlds in Geelong. What a way to come back… it would be great to win a world title in Australia.”
McEwen is one of the best sprinters in cycling and while few world championships are conducive to pure gallopers, he’s been up there twice at the finish of two editions. “I was second behind Cipo [Mario Cipollini] in Zolder and then in Salzburg I was actually fifth, just a few metres behind the four guys who escaped in the last kilometre. I have been close twice, so maybe I will get another crack at it.”
As he told Cyclingnews last month, McEwen’s happy with his recovery thus far. He’s been doing some gym work as well as some specific exercises to strengthen his troublesome tendon. The 37-year-old also has a special training aid which makes sure that he corrects any imbalance that is there.
“I’ve been using an ergo that shows me my power output, left and right. It shows you the total amount of work and at any one time, how much the left is doing, how much the right is doing,” he explained. “The object of it is to keep it 50-50 throughout the whole thing.
Euro operations manager role for U23 development director
USA Cycling's U23 Development Program Director Noel Dejonckheere will be departing his current role to become BMC Cycling Team's European Operations Manager and Assistant Directeur Sportif. The Belgian native (pictured right) has directed the development program and run the national team house in Izegem, Belgium, for the last decade.
Following an extensive professional racing career, Dejonckheere worked with the 7-Eleven and Motorola pro teams for nearly a decade before bringing his expertise to USA Cycling. As the national governing body's Development Programs Director, Dejonckheere helped pioneer programs which have placed nearly two dozen young American cyclists in the UCI Pro Tour.
"Helping build USA Cycling's U23 development programs and working with the young riders was a great experience," said Dejonckheere. "It's not easy for me to change after working so hard with many of these talented young riders who we've seen go professional.
"That was our goal from the beginning and I don't see that slowing down as there continues to be a lot of good young riders coming up through the programs," Dejonckheere continued. "Just this year we have nearly 10 riders move on to top-level teams. I've been very happy working for USA Cycling for nearly 11 years but now it's time for me to move on. I will certainly continue to help foster the program in the transition period."
Despite Dejonckheere's departure, USA Cycling will continue to utilise the same facility, service course and staff as it has since the inception of the Belgian-based development program in 1999. Dejonckheere will continue to work with USA Cycling on a limited basis until a permanent replacement can be found. The remainder of the Izegem-based USA Cycling National Development Team Program operational staff will remain intact.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for Noel and I am very happy for him as he moves on to the next stage of his career," said USA...
Disappointment likely for aspiring Tour de France teams
Speaking at the launch of the 2010 Tour de France grand départ in Rotterdam, race director Christian Prudhomme has admitted that many teams will be disappointed such is the level of competition for a place at next year's event.
"Many teams would be disappointed if our invitations for the 2010 Tour de France had been sent [today]," Prudhomme told AP. "The choice is harder than the previous years."
Prudhomme recognised the advent of several new, high-profile and powerful squads, including Radio Shack, Team Sky and a rejuvenated BMC Racing Team that includes road race world champion Cadel Evans and experienced Tour rider George Hincapie. "In recent years we selected 20 teams. Even if we expand to 22 teams, the maximum permitted number, it is a difficult choice," explained Prudhomme.
"This year seemed the transfer market in cycling seemed to like that of football. The big names are dispersed across more teams and there are many new strong formations," he added.
Under an agreement with the International Cycling Union (UCI), 16 teams are granted automatic entry to next year's edition of the season's premier stage race. "So there remain four to six wildcards to distribute," explained Prudhomme. "And that is not much. There are certainly 26 or 27 teams that participate and are worth [riding] the Tour."
Squads not given an automatic berth include Radio Shack, Team Sky, BMC Racing, Vacansoleil, Saur Sojasun, Katyusha, Garmin-Transitions, Cervélo and Skil-Shimano.
UCI President rejects need for French agency assistance
International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid has again fanned the ongoing and smouldering power struggle between cycling's governing body and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) by stating that he would prefer his organisation to take sole responsibility for drug testing at next year's Tour de France.
The AFLD, which was in charge of the doping controls in the 2008 edition of the Tour, discovered that high-profile riders such as Bernhard Kohl, Riccardo Riccó and Michael Schumacher - among others - all used prohibited methods of performance enhancement, namely the latest-generation variant of EPO, CERA.
In 2009, UCI and AFLD collaborated again at the French Grand Tour, but the new-found partnership turned sour when an AFLD report recently released cited lax UCI anti-doping procedures at this year's Tour. MvQuaid maintained that the French agency hadn't alerted them to the findings of the report before its public release in what he perceived as an attempt to undermine his organisation.
McQuaid had spoken to Cyclingnews in late October, outlining his desire to see the relationship between the AFLD and UCI ended; he again made his opinion clear at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), held recently in Stockholm, Sweden.
"At the 2009 Tour, we really tried to find ways of collaborating with the AFLD, but they blew it on the floor when they shook our positions and our methods by making public a report that should have remained between the UCI and the AFLD," McQuaid told French sports daily L'Équipe.
McQuaid has now called for the relationship to be severed. "We are not prepared to risk endangering all efforts which have been made in cycling in the fight against doping by putting new work in the hands of this agency," he stated.
AFLD chief Pierre Bordry has reacted to McQuaid's comments, illustrating the fact that the AFLD maintained contact...