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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 3, 2010

Date published:
July 03, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Kreuziger steps up to share leadership role at Liquigas

    Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) riding smoothly on the cobbles
    Article published:
    July 02, 2010, 17:25 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Czech rider feels mature enough for big results at Tour de France

    While Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso, who is returning to the Tour de France, arguably will be the most popular Liquigas rider in the eyes of the general public, his teammate Roman Kreuziger could well steal his show if the young Czech holds his promises. In the absence of other riders such as Franco Pellizotti or Vincenzo Nibali, Kreuziger intends to take full advantage of this year's Tour de France to finally prove his worth as a stage race contender.

    On Friday, at the team's press conference, the 24-year-old looked serene. "This is my third Tour de France, but [it will be] the first time that I can play a major part in it," he said to Cyclingnews. "I have had the two last years to gain experience, and I hope this will pay off now. Moreover, this is the first time when I am one of the true leaders, with the team to support me. I feel relaxed."

    Kreuziger admitted that he felt physically more mature, and therefore hoped this would make a difference compared to the last two years. "I have gained stamina on the long climbs, and also improved [how I can respond to] rhythm changes. This certainly has to do with the general maturing of my body. I'm very motivated and hope to be able to stay with Ivan at the front on the climbs."

    Contrary to Rabobank's Robert Gesink, also under 25 years old, Kreuziger will not target the white jersey of best young rider. "The white jersey will be complicated - I would almost have to win the Tour to get it! I'm not saying that Andy [Schleck - ed.] will win the Tour, but he'll certainly be up there for the podium. And I don't think I'm ready yet for the podium. A top 10 placing is possible for me, I think. I really want to improve my placing from last year [where he finshed ninth - ed.]. That's my focus. A stage victory will be difficult."

    Certainly, Kreuziger will be a marked man in the mountains. But he also discarded any notion being able to contend for the victory in the Rotterdam prologue...

  • Kimmage calls for UCI transparency

    UCI president Pat McQuaid denied Armstrong's donation was a bribe
    Article published:
    July 02, 2010, 18:23 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Says Armstrong donation documents need to be made public

    Rough Ride author Paul Kimmage has welcomed news that the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have agreed to allow the attendance of independent observers at this year's Tour de France. However the former professional has called for more to be done in order to clean up the sport of cycling, and pinpointed the Landis allegations as a perfect opportunity.

    "It's impossible to say how clean the Tour will be but it's very positive that the UCI and WADA have done that deal, " Kimmage told Cyclingnews. "That at least gives us a chance for some mega scandals, but it's the years that you don't have scandals are generally the dirty Tours.

    "I certainly think that in 2008 it was one of the cleanest Tours I have seen but even then I was duped. I saw Kohl and I thought he looked clean and that wasn't the case. You can just hope and in fairness to guys like Wiggins and Vande Velde, they'll be a good barometer of that."

    Kimmage spoke to Cyclingnews on the eve of the Tour de France, and having witnessed the fall out from the recent Floyd Landis allegations, believes that the sport must clean its act up from the top down, and not brush issues under the carpet.

    Referring to the allegations that the UCI accepted a bribe from Armstrong after a positive test in 2001, Kimmage told Cyclingnews, that reform needs to take place: "It needs to happen. A small example of this is the ‘donation' that Armstrong made to the UCI and we've not had any verification or receipts and they said we'd have all the documentation. The sport can't move on until that's sorted, until we have a credible governing body that is going to govern the sport objectively. There's too much that's gone on there that stinks."

    Previously the UCI had said that they would publish receipts of the transaction between Armstrong and the UCI. However no receipts have been made public since the allegations were made by...

  • Bookwalter looking to repeat Giro success at Tour de France

    Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) was a surprise second-place getter
    Article published:
    July 02, 2010, 18:39 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    American rookie anxious at the start of his second Grand Tour

    Two months ago, Brent Bookwalter created a surprise by coming second to Bradley Wiggins in the prologue of the Giro d’Italia. Can the rookie from BMC do it again?

    "I have no idea to be honest," he told Cyclingnews at a BMC press meeting in the Netherlands. "After riding the Giro in May, here I am now at the Tour de France. It’s two large distinctions. Both prologues are 8 to 9km efforts on TT bikes. I guess at the Tour there are better time triallists than at the Giro, but I still have a lot of confidence and hope."

    Bookwalter will be the tenth rider to start at 4.24pm local time. As none of the first nine are specialists, he’ll very likely lead the Tour de France once he crosses the finishing line, but whether he keeps this position for three hours until top guns like Fabian Cancellara ride or for less than one minute, that remains to be seen. German time trial champion Tony Martin will start at 4.25pm.

    Both BMC and HTC-Columbia teams have chosen to have one of their prologue riders start early in case of a change of weather conditions. Rain is forecasted to move in during the race, peaking for the late starters.

    Bookwalter was adamant that he didn’t get the call for the Tour only because of his capacities of riding fast in the prologue. "It’s a complete body work that has been taken in consideration by [BMC directeur sportif] John [Lelangue]," said assistant DS Mike Sayers who personally looks after the progression of Bookwalter in the American Pro Continental outfit. "It wasn’t just his Giro result that brought him into the Tour team. He has come in one piece from an extremely hard Giro and he has passed his post-Giro hangover."

    "I haven’t done a lot since the end of the Giro," Bookwalter said. "I recovered physically and I’ve refreshed my mind in Georgia with my girlfriend. I rode my mountain bike a little bit. I didn’t anticipate riding the Tour de...

  • Cervélo pulls Florencio from Tour de France

    Xavier Florencio Cabre (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2010, 20:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard violated team policy

    The Cervélo TestTeam has withdrawn Spaniard Xavier Florencio from its Tour de France squad after learning that he had used a product containing a banned substance to treat saddle sores. It is not yet clear whether the team will be allowed to substitute another rider in his place.

    The team made the decision Friday that because Florencio had violated its internal policies requiring riders to get permission from the team's medical staff before using any supplements or medications.

    "This evening, the team learned that Xavier Florencio has been using a substance containing ephedrine to treat a saddle discomfort," a team press release stated.  "This substance was not cleared in advance with the medical staff. This usage without clearance violates the internal policy."

    Florencio was also suspended from competition by his team.

  • Wiggins takes Tour de France prologue gamble

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2010, 21:08 BST
    Richard Moore

    Team Sky captain hopes to avoid the rain with early start

    The start list for Saturday's prologue to the Tour de France was published on Friday afternoon, and it included a surprise.

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), last year's fourth-place finisher, was not listed among the final twenty riders - as is traditional for team leaders - but 41st, a full two-and-a-half hours before the defending champion and last man, Alberto Contador (Astana).

    Since teams nominate the starting order for their riders - Juan Antonio Flecha will start in Wiggins's unofficially 'allotted' place, fourth from the end - it was a decision taken by Team Sky with the weather conditions in mind.

    "You're never sure with the weather," said Dave Brailsford, the team principal. "And we know for a fact that Rotterdam has a unique micro climate, which is quite hard to predict - we know that from our sailing friends - but we think there's a high chance it's going to rain tomorrow."

    Students of Britain's Tour de France history are familiar with what can happen when rain begins to fall mid-way through a prologue time trial. In 1995, in St Brieuc, Chris Boardman was one of the later starters, and the favourite to claim his second consecutive prologue win, when torrential rain began to fall, making conditions treacherous. Chasing the time of Jacky Durand, an early starter, Boardman crashed and broke his ankle and wrist, while Durand upset all the favourites to hold on for a surprise win.

    On the untechnical Rotterdam course - Wiggins reckons there is only one corner on which he will have to brake - such a disaster is unlikely, but there is another factor in Team Sky's decision, as Brailsford explained.

    "The other thing is that hot air is faster than cold air - everyone knows that. So if you've got a chance of going off at four rather than seven, when it could be five or six degrees colder, then why wouldn't you?"

    Brailsford dismissed the suggestion that the atmosphere - not in a meterological sense, but in terms...

  • Spanish champions looking for Tour de France stage wins

    Spaniard Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2010, 22:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Gutiérrez, Sánchez to fly national colours in Tour de France

    The Caisse d'Epargne team will head into the Tour de France with a pair of Spanish national champions at the helm, leading the charge for stage wins and a high placing in the overall classification for leader Luis León Sánchez.

    Sánchez will debut the colours of his country in Saturday's prologue in Rotterdam, having earned the time trial championship for the second time in his career. The last time he held the title was in 2008, when he took his first and only Tour de France stage win in Aurillac.

    This year, he's looking for a little more from the Tour now that he is the team's undisputed leader since Alejandro Valverde was suspended.

    "To be the leader in such a big event put some more pressure on you, but my team has a lot of experience in the Tour and I know that they will do everything they can to help me," Sánchez said.

    "I am a lucky guy because I already know what it means to win a stage in the Tour and of course I would like that to happen again. But I am not looking for any stage in particular. The first goal will be to avoid crashes and I believe it will be the same for everybody in the bunch. After that it will be important to study the road book and see which stages offer the best opportunities."

    The 26-year-old winner of this year's Circuit de la Sarthe and runner-up at Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve knows he is up against a tough course, and is aiming for a top 10 finish in Paris.

    "My weakest point has always been high mountain stages and this year I really worked a lot to improve that point. I spent a lot of time in Sierra Nevada to train in altitude and I am each time better in the mountains. In the Tour de Suisse even if my level was no so good yet, I tested myself and I am satisfied because I know I am on the right path," he said.

    Sánchez will have at his side a six-time Tour de Frace veteran in fellow national champion José Iván...

  • Bikes to be scanned after Tour de France stages

    Tour director Christian Prudhomme.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2010, 3:27 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Measures follow recent allegations of motorized bikes

    The Tour de France will see the debut of new measures to combat the threat of riders cheating with motorized bikes. From Saturday’s prologue onwards, UCI commissaires will choose a certain number of riders at the finish of every stage to have their bikes scanned for the presence of any kind of motorized assistance.

    According to L’Équipe, “one, five or fifteen” riders will be selected for scanning each day, according to the type of stage in question.

    The scanning equipment will function much like an airport scanner and will offer an x-ray of the interior of the frame. Should any sort of anomaly be detected, the bike will be confiscated and the rider in question expelled from the race.

    “It’s great that the UCI has taken this decision,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. “The videos are compelling but anything can be done with video. Since the system exists, everything must be done to make sure it is not used.”

    Prudhomme was referring to Davide Cassani's report on the technology on Italian station RAI and to recent YouTube footage suggesting that Fabian Cancellara may have used such technology to assist his victories in April’s Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Both Cancellara and his Saxo Bank team have strenuously denied such claims.

    At Thursday’s Saxo Bank press conference, Cancellara was keen to make light of the implementation of bike scanning, saying “If the scanner manufacturers arranging it and if that helps them to make some money, then…”

    It is not clear at this point if riders will be specifically targeted for scanning or if the tests will be performed at random.

  • Explosive Landis revelations on eve of Tour

    Floyd Landis was helping out at the OUCH-Bahati Foundation VIP tent in California.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2010, 12:02 BST
    Cyclingnews staff

    US Postal team allegedly sold bikes for doping program

    While the federal investigation into Floyd Landis's allegations against Lance Armstrong and the former US Postal team continues, media attention surrounding the details of his time in the squad gathers momentum. The Wall Street Journal published new revelations of alleged doping practices early Saturday, just prior to the start of the Tour de France.

    Several months ago Landis provided the publication with details of secret blood transfusions during the 2004 Tour de France, training camps in St Moritz with banned doctor Michele Ferrari, lavish parties featuring strippers in addition to the sale of team bikes to fund doping practices.

    Landis also told the paper that after his ill-fated 2006 Tour de France campaign, Armstrong had advised him to deny taking performance-enhancing substances, while Garmin-Transitions boss and former US Postal rider Jonathan Vaughters had invited him to stay in New York to avoid the pressure cooker situation that had arisen, and told him he should 'come clean' about everything he had done.

    Landis also revealed several situations where US Postal riders had transfused blood, namely at the 2004 edition of the Tour, which was convincingly won by Armstrong. The first instance allegedly took place in a hotel in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat on July 12, the first rest day of that year's race.

    According to Landis' account, staff members 'guarded' the hotel hallway, riders were told not to talk inside the room and elaborate measures had been taken to obscure the view of any possible hidden cameras.

    While not hiding the fact he had taken a blood transfusion himself, Landis also alleged that he had seen members of the US Postal team partaking in the procedure in the room.

    Armstrong and Team RadioShack manager (former US Postal team manager) Johan Bruyneel have constantly denied all of Landis' allegations, including those outlining doping during the 2004 Tour de France. While the Wall...