Next Wednesday, February 23, the Belgian Quick Step team will set out on their traditional reconnaissance of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad scheduled for Saturday, Febraury 26.
No fewer than 15 riders from the team, led by directeur sportif Rik Van Slycke, will start out on the course of the Belgian season opener from Gent at 10am.
"As usual Gent will be the starting point from which we'll tackle the race course," said Van Slycke. "We'll train for about five and a half hours, paying close attention to any changes that have been made to the route."
Indeed, the Omloop parcours has been changed from previous years, with a new two-kilometre section of cobbles - the Haaghoek road in Horebeke - added to the event. The peloton will take on the new sector three times during the race.
The Quick Step riders called up for the very special training event are: Andy Cappelle, Gerald Ciolek, Kevin De Weert, Dries Devenyns, Addy Engels, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Frederique Robert, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Andreas Stauff, Niki Terpstra, Kevin Van Impe, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Kristof Vandewalle and Julien Vermote.
Tom Boonen, Gert Steegmans and Sylvain Chavanel will not participate in the reconnaissance.
Claims strict liability is an easy get out for the anti-doping authorities but that Contador's case was inconsistent
The Royal Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision to drop all charges against Alberto Contador on grounds of ‘no fault or negligence’ following a positive test for the banned substance Clenbuterol has provoked a reaction from Tom Zirbel, who is currently serving a two-year suspension for a doping violation.
“I think authorities should be forced to gather more evidence and try to understand what really happened in every case,” Zirbel said. “My first reaction to the initial news of Contador's positive was hope. I hoped that he was telling the truth because he had the resources to fight the charges and hopefully prove ingestion through contaminated food and that could have ultimately led to the dissolution of the “strict liability” rule,” he told Cyclingnews.
USADA issued Zirbel with a two-year suspension for producing a positive A and B sample for the banned substance Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) following the US Professional Championships on August 29, 2009. He stated that he did not knowingly ingest the substance and worked with a team of chemistry specialists to determine the possibility of food contamination as the reason for heightened levels of the substance in his urine. He was unable to prove food contamination and with limited resources, time and energy he was eventually forced to accept punishment.
Zirbel’s case was ruled in favor of sanctioning based on the evidence acquired against him from two urine samples. The verdict was also based on the grounds of “strict liability.” The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) code 2.2.1 states, “it is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing Use on the Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping rule violation for Use of a Prohibited Substance...
Riccardo Riccò has been released from hospital in Modena, Italy, almost two weeks after he was admitted with a critical kidney ailment on February 6. The Italian’s condition is alleged to have been caused by an attempt to transfuse himself with blood that had been incorrectly stored.
Vande Velde lost 53 seconds to Robert Gesink (Rabobank) who won alone and dedicated the victory to his late farther. However, despite being over-geared on the final part of the climb, Vande Velde was pleased with his performance. He made the front group when the peloton split in the crosswinds and was in the select group that pursued Gesink all the way to the finish at 1,235 metres.
"I was happy with how I responded on the climb. It was horrible but I'm very happy. It was a positive day for me," he told Cyclingnews, sitting the shade of a car, while trying to recover from his effort.
"I was over-geared and so I was barely moving in the last 400 metres. I could have done with some more gears.
"With about 40km to go, we went crazy for about two kilometres and then it was a headwind and really hard all the way to the climb.
"Gesink was flying up the climb but that wasn't a surprise. He's at a different level right now. I didn't know who the Quick Step kid was (Dries Devenyns) but I thought Visconti would be up there. Boasson Hagen was good too. He made a good recovery at the end and rode right by me."
More climbing in the time trial
Vande Velde will start the 18.5km time trial at 16:10 local time on Saturday, with just Devenyns, Boasson Hagen and Gesink starting after him.
He is 1:03 behind Gesink in the general classification but only 19 seconds behind Boasson...
Former Ag2r-La Mondiale rider Tadej Valjavec is nervously awaiting the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the appeal made by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to have the rider sanctioned for irregularities in his biological passport. Valjavec was sidelined by the UCI in May of last year but was subsequently cleared of doping charges by the National Anti-Doping Commission of Slovenia in July. The UCI then appealed the Slovenian body’s decision to CAS.
Like Franco Pellizotti, who also fell foul of the biological passport system, Valjavec has always denied the accusation that any irregularities in his blood values were a result of doping. He had a hearing at CAS on January 20, and February 16 was the deadline for closing arguments by legal representatives of both parties.
“In every hearing, they systematically presented a graphical review of blood samples (reticulocyte and haemoglobin) that even the UCI admits to be incorrect, but they only bluntly say they are sorry,” Valjavec said. “The damage caused by such a graph is enormous, as such a graph, which only shows exceeding values, has a much greater visual impact on the arbitrators than all other facts.”
The Slovenian rider also claims that the UCI’s case is built on hypothesis and deductions from his results rather than on scientific proof. In particular, Valjavec is aggrieved that his results from the Tour de Romandie...
Dine says Contador's samples should be re-analyzed
He may have been cleared by the Spanish federation (RFEC) for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the Tour de France, but Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) is not out of the woods just yet. He’s still waiting for the UCI and the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) to decide whether they will appeal the decision before the end of March, but he also could face new and more serious doping accusations.
Professor Gerard Dine, one of the founders of the biological profile which became the French “longitudinal profile” and the international “biological passport” used by the UCI, thinks Contador’s samples should be re-analyzed in order to detect plasticizer traces. The presence of plasticizers in a sample would strongly suggest blood bag use.
Asked if new analysis were possible, the French anti-doping expert told Sport24.com: “If the method [of plasticizer detection, Ed.] is validated, we can think that there will be a retroactive process. Then, [Contador] could be incriminated not because of Clenbuterol but because of an auto-transfusion.”
According to The New York Times and L’Equipe newspapers last October, a blood sample from Contador taken on July 20 contained plasticizer, a type of chemical that is found in plastic IV bags such as the bags used to carry human blood. That finding, made by a German laboratory in Cologne, is unofficial as long as the plasticizer test isn’t recognized by the World Antidoping Agency, and that is why the Spanish federation was only investigating the Clenbuterol positive test.
Rather than blaming the science behind anti-doping, Dine highlights the maladjusted rules. “If there’s a problem in terms of the anti-doping fight, it’s because of...
Dutch star talks form, sprinting and moving from the track
Theo Bos (Rabobank) has begun 2011 with a bang, taking two stages at the Tour of Oman as he prepares for the Spring racing schedule.
In this exclusive interview with Cyclingnews, Bos talks about his growing partnership with Greame Brown who has lead him out expertly throughout the week. The Dutch rider also goes into detail about his progress on the road over the last two years and making the switch from the track, weight-loss and whether or not he's peaked too soon.
Oman has been a happy hunting ground for Rabobank this week with Robert Gesink picking up the hill-top finish yesterday and leading the race with one stage to go.