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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 20, 2010

Date published:
February 20, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Experienced Barry slips into leadership role at Sky

    Michael Barry (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 14:13 GMT
    Richard Moore

    Canadian domestique confident British squad is building strong platform

    When Sky Professional Cycling Team was presented at its official launch in London in early January, Michael Barry was one of six riders selected to stand at the front of the stage, in the spotlight and apart from the others, to be quizzed by master of ceremonies, Dermot Murnaghan.

    While the other chosen riders were either homegrown talent (Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Bradley Wiggins) or overseas stars (Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lövkvist), Barry - with all respect to his star potential - clearly ticked another box: that of team captain.

    Now 34, and with six Grand Tours in his legs, the Canadian is at ease in that role, and also in the role he has fulfilled for most of his career, as a domestique. "As a kid I was pretty intrigued by Eddy Merckx and the stars," said Barry, "but I was also fascinated by all the guys doing the work behind them: the domestiques. It was something I found appealing.

    "Ever since I was a kid I wanted to win - that’s innate in all of us," he continues. "But for domestiques we have our own races, or objectives, within the race, which is part of accomplishing the greater goal.

    "When I look back on my career I’ve had victories and great personal performances, but the really great memories have been when team has come together. What stands out is riding with Cav [Mark Cavendish] when he won Milan-Sanremo; that was something quite special. And I have good memories of winning the Tour of Italy with [Paolo] Salvodelli, because he was the underdog there. I don’t think many believed our team [Discovery Channel] could support him."

    As Barry points out, there are no available statistics to reveal the effectiveness, or otherwise, of a domestique. Whereas in football or ice hockey team players can be credited for ‘assists,’ or for defensive work, in his chosen sport the bottom line tends to begin and end with the finishing line.

    "The only statistic people...

  • Tour of Oman helps cross a cultural divide

    Spectators cheer on passing racers.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 15:53 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Locals get a taste of pro cycling

    The inaugural Tour of Oman proved to be far more than just a bike race for both the 126 riders and the thousands of Oman people who line the route to see the race go by each day.

    Thanks to the hard work by organisers Eddy Merckx and the Municipality of Muscat, and with the excellent technical assistance from Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), any problems were quickly resolved and the race has been a huge success in every sense of the word.

    The competition was aggressive and gave the riders a block of warm weather racing that will give them a solid base of form to build on from the major Spring Classics.

    More importantly the race sparked a cycling-inspired cultural exchange. The local people enjoyed seeing professional cycling for the first time, while everyone on the race discovered the Oman people's friendly nature and desire to develop as a nation.

    The warm welcome certainly pleased the riders. Overall winner Fabian Cancellara has raced all around the world during his career but still enjoys racing in new countries.

    "It's easy to get obsessed with our racing and not see where we're competing, but it's been a great experience for me to come to Oman, and I think we're helping to send an important message to people who watch the race on television in the rest of the world," he said to Cyclingnews.

    "One of the great things about cycling is that we get so close to the people that they can almost touch us. That doesn't happen in most other sports. Here it's allowed for us to get know the local Omani people and them to get to know us."

    Marco Pinotti pointed out the often-ignored cultural benefits a bike race can inspire.

    "I did the Tour of Qatar in 2005 but here the people seem more interested in the race," Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia) observed to Cyclingnews.

    "On television, this part of the world seems quite dangerous because we're near Yemen and just across the gulf from Iran,...

  • Professional Continental dream could become reality for Team Type 1

    Team Type 1 CEO Phil Southerland.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 17:04 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Southerland to submit UCI application this summer

    Team Type 1 could be the next Professional Continental team in the United States of America in 2011. Chief Executive Officer, Phil Southerland plans to submit the necessary application and corresponding fees to the International Cycling Union (UCI) this summer.

    "This year, we have already planned on applying for the Professional Continental license into our budget so that we know we can make that investment," Southerland said. "I know what it is going to take and I'm very clear and educated, along with the management. We are working on what we need to have ready and the check that we have to write to be Pro Continental next year."

    The team will also submit a request to join the biological passport program, a necessary step to ensure the UCI's consideration for "wild card" status. Entering the UCI's top level anti-doping structure compliments the team's existing internal anti-doping program headed by Paul Scott, President and Chief Science Officer at Scott Analytics.

    "We have requested the documentation from the UCI and they will send the invitation package to us in July," Southerland said. "A part of the wild card is the blood passport program, so we will plan enrollment in that in 2011. We have our own internal program. All our riders will be tested and that is very important to me."

    Team Type 1 was co-founded four years ago by Southerland and Joe Eldridge following a victory at the Race Across America (RAAM). All eight members of that winning team were Type 1 diabetic cyclists. It was that achievement that inspired Southerland and Eldridge to strive to put the first Type 1 diabetic rider in the Giro d' Italia in 2011 and the Tour de France in 2012.

    "Diabetes is not going anywhere and we've done more for the diabetes world from an inspirational standpoint than what has ever been done before," Southerland said. "We are painting this yellow brick road for Type 1 and now Type 2 to walk on so that they, with control, can...

  • Landis denies using stolen documents in his defense

    Floyd Landis
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 18:47 GMT
    Daniel Simms

    American refutes Bordry's claim on talk show

    American Floyd Landis denied allegations made by the head of the French anti-doping agency that he used documents which were stolen from the French laboratory in his 2006 defense against doping charges.

    Landis appeared on CNN's Larry King Live television show on Thursday night for an interview after the French justice system issued a warrant for his arrest in connection to a computer hacking into the French anti-doping lab's system. 

    Although Landis was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title he won after a positive doping test and subsequent appeals, the case has resurfaced in light of the new charges.

    Landis denied allegations by French Anti-Doping Lab (AFLD) director Pierre Bordry that his defense team used improperly obtained documents during the trial relating to his appeal of the doping charges.

    The lab's computer was infected with a "trojan horse" virus, and French authorities claim the virus was used by an external operator to obtain files from the lab pertaining to Landis' case. Those files were found on the computer of a French expatriate living in Morocco.

    Bordry claimed that the IP address of the computer of Landis' coach Arnie Baker matched the IP address from an email which contained the virus. The pair were allegedly called to testify to the French court in the case, but failed to appear last summer.

    When asked if he ever "tapped into a computer illegally", Landis responded, "I wouldn't know how to do that, first of all. But, secondly, there's been an assertion by the lab director, Mr. Bordry, that at some point in -- in these hearings, we somehow used some documents that we obtained in some other way in my defense. And that's just plain not true."

    Landis said his team never used any document that wasn't provided to them directly from the lab. "From the outset of case, we spent hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars just trying to get...

  • Steegmans, Cardoso, Kessiakoff injured in Algarve crashes

    Gert Steegmans (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 19:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Radioshack sprinter expects to contest next week's races

    Crashes in the Volta ao Algarve put several riders out of the race today. RadioShack's Gert Steegmans and Portuguese champion Manuel Cardoso went down eight kilometres into the 180km third stage to Alto do Malhão on Friday. Francaise des Jeux rider Sandy Casar also abandoned the race after the crash, but his condition is unknown.

    Steegmans reportedly hit a car parked on the side of the course and was thrown to the ground head first, breaking his helmet into several pieces. Cardoso was taken from the course with a suspected broken collarbone.

    After x-ray checks at the hospital in Faro, Cardoso was found to have a dislocated shoulder and collarbone, but no fractures. He expects to return to competition at the Tour de Langkawi on March 1.

    Steegmans was fortunate to escape a more serious head injury, and credits his helmet for saving him.

    "My helmet saved my life," Steegmans said. "The helmet was in pieces. I am lucky. I have some minor injuries at elbow and hip, but my head worries me the most. The team doctor will keep me in Portugal to follow up with me. He cannot rule out a concussion. I will have to rest a few days, but as of now, I am confident to be able to start in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne."

    Garmin-Transitions' new recruit Frederik Kessiakoff also went down on a descent later in the race, near kilometre 140. A team spokesperson said the Swede could not avoid another rider who crashed in front of him, and he went down into a wall.

    Kessiakoff was taken from the course to the hospital where he received stitches to a wound on his face, but, according to his team was otherwise fine and "in good spirits and looking forward to his next race".

  • UCI at odds with French agency over Paris-Nice controls

    UCI President Pat McQuaid at the Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 21:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    McQuaid will not let AFLD perform additional controls

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) has firmly refused a proposal by French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) president Pierre Bordry for additional controls in the next edition of Paris-Nice from March 7 to 14.

    The UCI will provide "a perfectly adequate control program with 95 checks, including unannounced controls," said UCI president Pat McQuaid in a letter to Bordry, according to the AFP. "I see no deficiencies that would necessitate 15 additional controls. "

    The two agencies have been in conflict over who should perform doping controls on French soil. The AFLD took over from the UCI during the 2008 Paris-Nice and Tour de France, and uncovered the use of a novel EPO drug, CERA, with a newly developed test.

    Yet McQuaid was able to re-assert the UCI's domain over testing after he brokered a peace agreement with the race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation's parent company, Éditions Philippe Amaury, at the end of 2008. He isn't ready to give any quarter to the AFLD, which has been highly critical of the UCI's efforts.

    McQuaid questioned Bordry's desire to perform 15 more controls at an event that already has 95 checks, and said perhaps the agency would be better served focusing on controls at national races in France and on out-of-competition testing, "even if they are less visible and profitable in terms of media exposure".

    Questioning the use of French taxpayer money to fund the proposed additional Paris-Nice controls in light of the agency's recent budgetary problems, McQuaid compared the efficiency of the AFLD, giving as an example the pre-Tour de France controls performed by each agency last year. "While the UCI did 190 out of competition controls, AFLD did only 13, of which six were French riders it controlled throughout the year."

    The UCI president was critical of the AFLD for its accusations of biased conduct by UCI controllers toward the Astana team as well as voicing those accusations to the...

  • Specialized Shiv time trial design possibly banned by UCI

    Specialized's Shiv was one of the most striking time trial introductions last year but now the UCI has banned its use in competition.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 23:06 GMT
    James Huang, Tech Editor

    Contador scrambles to find time trial bike for Sunday's Algarve finale

    Astana team leader Alberto Contador received an unwelcome surprise just two days before the final time trial of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal: according to a release sent out by press agent Jacinto Vidarte, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has banned his Specialized Shiv time trial bike for use in competition.

    "Last night, I was told that I can not use the TT bike because the UCI has said it does not follow the rules, and in the end, I do not know what bike will ride on Sunday," said Contador in the press release. "That's what worries me.

    "The bike has an insignificant piece that does not fulfill the regulations, and therefore I can not compete with the bike with which I have been training."

    The focus of the issue is apparently the Shiv's aerodynamic nosecone, which is bolted on to the bottom of and extends below the stem, thus effectively increasing the aspect ratio of the head tube beyond the allowable 3:1 and reducing drag relative to a conventional head tube. Up until now, Specialized (and others such as Trek, Giant, Felt and Look) bicycle manufacturers have avoided reprimand from the UCI since the deeper section results from two structures instead of just one.

    However, regulations also dictate that any aerodynamic frame section be a necessary structural member and for this reason Specialized designers mechanically joined the bottom of the nosecone to the fork crown via a 'carbon strap', saying the assembly was required to maintain adequate strength and stiffness to the otherwise minimally supported stem.

    Apparently, the UCI feels differently.

    Astana had earlier proposed to the UCI that it be allowed to race the bike without the nosecone section while a more permanent solution was developed but in light of this latest development, the team has now had to scramble with seven older-technology Transition framesets reportedly arriving at the team hotel earlier today – and all eight of them must be...

  • Podcast: Qatar, Oman and tattoos

    Welcome to the gun show
    Article published:
    February 20, 2010, 9:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    From Landis to Boasson Hagen to Ricco

    Ciao faithful podcast listeners. Once again your faithful servants, Benson and Jones are back to their podcast domestique duties for Episode 39 of the Cyclingnews podcast.

    This week the pair open with the latest revelations in the ongoing never-ending story that is Floyd Landis. They also discuss the finale of the Tour of Qatar where Wouter Mol wrapped up the overall and Chicchi won two stages. The Tour of Oman gets its fair share of airtime, too, with Boasson Hagen winning his first sprint of the year. Unfortunately, just like in Qatar, the shy whippersnapper couldn’t hold the lead and there were some debatable tactics from other teams. We’ll be talking about this in much more depth next week.

    Introducing a slightly more Italian flavour, Pippo Pozzato’s first Cyclingnews blog is discussed, leading to revelation of epic proportion when Jones reveals whether he has a tattoo.

    Finally, Ricardo Ricco gets a mention for his split from Vania Rossi after she tested positive for EPO. We almost made it through a whole podcast without mentioning doping. Doh!

    You can subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes (or just go to iTunes and search for 'cyclingnews') or via this XML feed: ml