- Article published:
- March 18, 2011, 16:26
- Daniel Simms
Australian expects very different race to Tirreno-Adriatico
Cadel Evans (BMC) has insisted that he is not the favourite for overall honours at the Volta a Catalunya, which gets under way in Lloret del Mar on Monday. The Australian leads a strong BMC line-up that includes young talents Taylor Phinney and Tim Roe.
Evans was a hugely impressive winner at Tirreno-Adriatico, but he believes that the Italian race was better suited to his characteristics. Evans explained that the longer climbs of Catalonia may come a little too early in his preparation for him to aspire to overall victory.
“It's a different style of racing in Spain," Evans said. "It'll be more for the pure climbers. I'm going good on the short climbs, but these are longer and steeper. Tirreno-Adriatico, with a few hard finishes, short climbs and a time trial, was a bit more suited to me."
BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue acknowledged that Evans’ impressive showing in Italy means that the former world champion will be a marked man, particularly on the stage 3 summit finish at Andorra-Vallnord.
"For us, Cadel's win doesn't change anything,” Lelange said. “But the other teams will be looking more toward him now.”
RadioShack has also announced its Volta a Catalunya roster, with Jani Brajkovic, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner looking to build on their form.
BMC team for the Volta a Catalunya: Brent Bookwalter (USA), Chad Beyer (USA), Cadel Evans (Aus), Mathias Frank (Swi), Karsten Kroon (Ned), Jeff Louder (USA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Tim Roe (Aus).
RadioShack team for Volta a Catalunya: Janez Brajkovic (Slo), Manuel Cardoso (Por), Philip Deignan (Irl), Chris Horner (USA), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Jason McCartney (USA), Ivan Rovny (Rus), Haimar Zubeldia (Spa).
- Article published:
- March 18, 2011, 17:31
- Cycling News
Claims riders are being coerced by teams
UCI president Pat McQuaid today issued an open letter to the sport's professional riders, who have recently been caught in the midst of a contentious debate over the progressive banning of race radios by the UCI.
The teams' organisation AIGCP and riders' organisation CPA have threatened to boycott the UCI-promoted Tour of Beijing unless the rule, which bans radio communications between a team and its riders during all but WorldTour races, is rescinded by May 1.
McQuaid would not allow the organisations' representatives take part in a meeting scheduled to discuss the issue yesterday unless they retracted the threat, which they did not.
The UCI has repeatedly stated that it will not back down on the rule, and below McQuaid goes into more detail on why the regulation was put into place.
He also responds to open letters from riders Jens Voigt and Grischa Niermann, who publicly opposed the ban.
Cyclingnews has reproduced the letter in full, unedited.
The discussions are heated concerning the progressive banning of earpieces during races. That is why I feel it is necessary to address you collectively to try to clarify some points in the debate that is unfortunately no longer calm and constructive.
However, I would first of all like to congratulate most of you for your ability – up until now and despite your opinions – to remain reasonable faced with a situation that others have decided to render increasingly tense and therefore extremely difficult.
Respect from both sides should always be at the basis of any conflict of ideas, and I can therefore assure you that the open letters that two of your colleagues (Grischa Niermann and Jens Voigt) recently published in the media have caught my attention.
Although I in no way share their opinions, nor agree with their explanations – I’ll come back to this – I sincerely appreciate their willingness to contribute to this difficult phase of the debate, without losing sight of the fundamental principles of dialogue and the need to remain open to other opinions. It is for this reason that I will try to reply to them, all the while being conscious of the fact that , the threats of « drastic » actions and the ultimatums that have been laid down will lead nowhere and will just heat things up even more. It is no secret that over the last years our sport has been susceptible to wide criticism, and this attitude, which has unfortunately become almost chronic – to the point that we can almost wonder what will set off the next conflict after that of the earpieces , has always been extremely detrimental to cycling’s image.
I begin by informing you that in 2008 I was convened to a meeting with the biggest producer of television images of cycling, France Television, and was told by senior executives clearly that if radios were retained in cycling and used as they were being used that the coverage of cycling on television would be reduced. I was given several examples of the reasons for this which I will go into later..
Following that worrying conversation I had discussions with other media outlets and was given similar viewpoints. Indeed you will be well aware that German television has stopped broadcasting cycling. Doping was an element certainly but so were other issues. If the product was so interesting that people clamoured for it ARD and ZDF would not have killed the coverage.
And so the UCI began a consultation process.
A working group has studied the earpieces since 2008 and as part of that group riders have been sitting at the same table as the teams and the media :Cedric Vasseur and Dario Cioni were your representatives and Serge Parsani, Joxean Matxin and John Lelangue that of the teams. By reading the recent claims of different players in the world of cycling, we could be led to believe that the banning of earpieces was decided upon in a one-sided fashion and in haste: in reality, this project is the result of deep reflection over a period of two years. Your representatives should have informed you of this.
I would also like to remind you that in 2008 and 2009, the CPA led an enquiry into the subject among its 865 members. The President of your association at the time, Mr Cédric Vasseur, will be able to confirm the very surprising fact that he only received 200 replies (less than one in four) with a very even distribution of opinions for and against.
Over and beyond the worrying indifference that these figures show, another aspect raises my curiosity: although the general situation has not changed, it is claimed that 90% of you are convinced that the earpieces are essential . The UCI can only take note of this extremely surprising alleged change in trend – especially in the light of numerous declarations we have received from riders in the last few months in favour of the banning – and ask ourselves this question: what has happened within the peloton ? Have the riders been put under pressure? Are you really free to express your opinions?
As for the reasons that pushed the UCI towards the progressive banning of earpieces, they are fairly obvious and above all well-known, so I will simply summarize them: return the rider to the centre of action, make him fully responsible for his strategy and evaluation of the situation during each phase of the race in order to avoid all outside control, which considerably reduces the unpredictable character of an event and therefore the thrill that our sport can offer to its millions of fans. Our sport is one of intelligence and physical ability with elements of chance thrown in.
The support of the media – particularly television – for this readjustment is a demonstration of the necessity to intervene on this point: the course of too many races is now a foregone conclusion, and this limits enormously the large scale visibility of cycling.
We don’t want to prove anything with this decision. We just want to make cycling more attractive to the general public, which in turn will increase its popularity and hopefully improve your working conditions. Keeping cycling attractive is also necessary for cyclist to be able to remain cyclists and for giving others the opportunity to become cyclists later.
The comparison with F1 brought up in Jens’ letter is very interesting: with all my due respect for this sport, it is exactly what we want to avoid! The story of cycling is above all a story of people, and we want it to stay that way.
As in a football match or any other sporting confrontation – including American professional leagues , the contact between those on the field and the coaches and members of the team’s technical staff on the sidelines, must be strictly regulated. There is no sport where the coaches and strategists are in constant communication with the athletes throughout the duration of play. Cycling cannot and does not want to be an exception to this fundamental principle of sport.
Now to the question of security: I would ask you not, like Jens, to fall into the trap of rabble-rousing. An accident is an accident, and its consequences – especially when they are very serious – cannot be manipulated to try to turn the tables faced with a problem. Cycling wasn’t more dangerous before the arrival of earpieces. I can assure you that UCI is currently studying this point and discussing the possibilities with communication experts and I am prepared to allow any form of communication which will inform cyclists of safety issues, provided it is technically and economically feasible.
The sporting aspects of the race can also be interpreted differently depending on the view of each person. Jens, if a rider loses a race in the last kilometres, his directeur sportif and his sponsor will most certainly be unhappy. However, somewhere in the line of cars following the event, there will be someone who is delighted; therefore allow me not to go back to this argument. It is swings and roundabouts: one day it is you and your team another day it is another. Except maybe to deduce that this point in your letter is probably the most meaningful to explain the enormous danger that hides behind this discussion, but which apparently you are not aware of: the denial of the fundamental values of sport.
I would have preferred to leave doping out of this discussion, but I realise that I can’t resist pointing out a few facts on this subject, which is also used far too often as a scapegoat depending on the demands and the needs of the moment.
The UCI is by far the most committed International Federation in this field, and cycling can be proud of its front-running position compared with other sports, which, increasingly acknowledge the quality of our efforts and use them as inspiration for their own initiatives. Despite the way in which the letters of Jens and Grisha could be perceived, I don’t think that the riders are in the best position to remind us of the seriousness and the urgency of certain situations: if doping still exists, it’s is only because there are still riders who dope! And if it is true and undeniable that the habits of a large number of you have changed, it is also true that we are still confronted with a fairly high number of cases, which, despite the remarkable progress of our anti-doping results, means we are constantly in an environment of suspicion and tension faced with the public opinion.
But unfortunately, on this point, the riders too often tend to forget their role and their responsibilities: there are bigger problems in our sport which need your attention. I have never heard your riders association CPA nor teams association AIGCP showing similar indignation, mobilisation or militancy at the doping scandals which befall our sport. When it comes to raise the contribution to the fight against doping from the prize money, it is a flat refusal. This is where you should be addressing your open letters.
To Grischa, Jens and all riders, it would be too easy for me to reply with the same somewhat naïve statements.. I could ask you to explain to the mother of a young rider why his models, or even his heroes, are weighed down by legal procedures, or why they seriously endanger their health, prompting a new-comer to take the same risks.
But don’t worry, I won’t. On the other hand, I can’t stop myself noting, with some disappointment, that you haven’t hesitated in joining your directeurs sportifs in a fight that has become their own before it has become yours. I say this is their own because UCI fully believes that this is not a fight about radios but rather a fight for power and control. UCI is aware of steps being taken to set up a private league, World Cycling Tour, outside UCI, by certain team managers. I wonder will the financial benefits they are chasing benefit you, the riders. Somehow I think not! I quote Johan Bruyneel "I've been laying the framework for something great… But you'll just have to wait and see…".
The feeling I get is that you have been falsely led to believe that the opinion of riders was never taken into consideration and that you were left out of the debate. This would naturally prompt a collective reaction of contempt on your part.. Yet when it comes to addressing the true issue at stake, I have trouble identifying a single and collective stance on the riders’ side. For every self-declared spokesperson for the riders decrying the ban on earpieces there is another self-effaced rider sending the UCI private letters of support. I can understand every rider, be he a sprinter, a GC contender, a climber or a Classics rider can put forward reasons to support the use of radio for personal reasons .And even if the numbers were on the side of those opposing the ban, would you really expect your International Federation to be run based on the outcomes of popularity contests or individual interests within one single stakeholder of cycling? Is that truly a desirable quality to be found in a governing body, or do you not find it more fitting and reassuring that it be guided by the general interest, sportsmanship values and long-term sustainability?
I leave it with you and look forward to meeting up in the near future.
Pat McQuaid UCI President
- Article published:
- March 18, 2011, 18:21
- Pierre Carrey
Dr Saugy of Anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne says the detection window is very short
Labelled “a big step in the fight against doping” by UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani, Patrik Sinkewitz’s adverse analytical finding is certainly the first time a cyclist has officially returned a sample positive for human grown hormone (HGH or GH). The blood test, which has been in use since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and which was validated in 2007, had appeared not to be efficient and HGH was sometimes said to be “undetectable.”
Against such a backdrop, Sinkewitz’s positive test at the GP Lugano on February 20 might be expected to mark the beginning of regular cases of positive tests for HGH.
However, Dr Martial Saugy, director of the WADA Swiss accredited laboratory in Lausanne, which analyzed Sinkewitz samples, has dampened the UCI’s enthusiasm.
“The detection methods haven’t really changed or improved since 2007 and we’ve always been stunned to find so few positive tests,” he told Cyclingnews. The first athlete suspended for a positive test for HGH was Terry Newton in February 2010. That English international rugby league player committed suicide in September.
Dr. Saugy thinks that the myth of undetectable growth hormones offers a partial explanation of Sinkewitz’s positive test. “In that case, riders let up on their attention and they are caught,” he said. This supports the UCI’s stance in keeping the development of the HGH test as a secret, and the international federation never officially announced when it began looking for the substance in the cyclists’ samples.
The HGH test is very delicate to run because of the short detection window of the substance in the human body, of between 8 and 24 hours. “We have to test the riders at the right moment,” Dr Saugy said. It is thus understandable that the biological passport is still helpful for targeting suspicious cyclists and testing them in and out competition.
Growth hormone drugs appeared in the 1950s to support a cure for dwarfism. At that time they came from pituitary glands removed from human cadavers, a technique that is now forbidden in a bid to avoid Creutzfeld-Jacob disease. That medical substance’s properties that lend it to doping, include its ability to increase lean muscle mass and increase resistance to injury.
The Italian athlete Pietro Mennea, the 200 metre Olympic champion in Moscow in 1980, admitted that he used HGH during his career, while in 1988, a new recombinant form of growth hormone, synthesized in a laboratory, was placed on the market. The following year, the International Olympic Committee added GH to its doping list.
French anti-doping expert Professor Gerard Dine, a haematologist and one of the founders of biological passport, says that HGH is traditionally used by cheats as a “pre-season course.” There is also another growth hormone, IGF-1, which can be illegally taken between competitions by speed sports athletes, in order to fix the muscles damaged by the high efforts.
“The positive GH test in cycling is encouraging,” Pr Dine told Cyclingnews. “Perhaps the athletes who used that will be scared and will change their habits.” But the French expert is cautious too: “The GH test is still complicated to do and we still have to strongly target the athletes. What is more, the IGF-1 test is even more subtle...”
Farnese Vini-Neri’s Patrik Sinkewitz, 30 years old, already tested positive for testosterone in June 2007 and served a suspension. He came back to competition in November 2008, and has since won the Sachsen Tour and a stage in the Tour of Portugal in 2009, as well as the Giro della Romagna in 2010. He retains the right to request an analysis of the B sample of his second positive test.
- Article published:
- March 18, 2011, 18:54
- Stephen Farrand
Photo gallery: A preview of Cav's new Milan-San Remo rig
Specialized yesterday launched its newest product, the McLaren Venge, an advanced high modulus carbon fiber frame designed to be as light as possible while increasing aerodynamics and stiffness. Cyclingnews caught sight of Mark Cavendish's bike as he prepares for his shot at a second Milan-San Remo title tomorrow.
Only Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel will be atop the Venge for HTC-Highroad in tomorrow's race.
Note the aerodynamic features of the frame, including "cambered airfoil cross-section seat stays", designed to reduce drag in cross-winds, the tapered head tube/steerer which beefs up stiffness - something important for powerful sprinters - and the bladed fork.
Add in details like the internal cable routing, a specially designed bar/stem combination made just for Cavendish by Pro as well as the electronic Dura-Ace group with SRM power meter, and you have the complete package.
View the photo gallery here.
- Article published:
- March 18, 2011, 21:51
- Kirsten Frattini
Three-day race gains NRC status
The USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) for women gained a significant boost with the news of the addition of a women's field to the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove.
A three-stage race for women, held from August 5-7 in Elk Grove Village on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois will be held in conjunction with the professional men’s four-stage event that is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI).
"I think it is great that another organizer is putting on a stage race for women, especially alongside a high profile men’s race," said Colavita-Forno D’Asolo directeur Rachel Heal, who won the Tour of Elk Grove Criterium in 2006. "I think the women’s peloton really appreciate it and it is going to be a great race. I’ll be sending a team."
Race organizers have traditionally hosted a double-header criterium for the women’s field. This year, the women will compete in a time-calculated stage race that will kick off with a 7.2-kilometre individual time trial on Friday. The race will continue at the stage two 50-minute timed criterium on Saturday. The event will conclude at the stage three 115-kilometre circuit race on Sunday.
The prize list for the entire event including all categories is $150,000. The amount designated for the women’s competitors will be announced at a later date.
The NRC will kick off at the Redlands Bicycle Classic held from March 30 to April 3 in California. Other NRC stage races include the SRAM Tour of the Gila, Joe Martin Stage Race, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Tour de Toona, Cascade Cycling Classic and the Tour de Nez.
- Article published:
- March 18, 2011, 22:02
- Stephen Farrand
Vaughters confident about every race scenario
With Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Tyler Farrar as leaders and contenders for victory, Garmin-Cervélo team is arguably the strongest of the 25 teams that will line-up for Saturday's Milan-San Remo.
Yet, as Mario Cipollini pointed out, that is also the team's dilemma. Do they ride aggressively and hope to distance the likes of Mark Cavendish or do they wait for the sprint and then ride for whoever is feeling strongest?
Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar have shown they are on form at either Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, yet all three would probably prefer a different scenario in the finale to bolster their own chances of victory.
Farrar admitted he hopes for a 50-rider sprint, Heinrich Haussler hopes for a group of ten riders, while Hushovd hinted he hopes there will be plenty of attacks on the Poggio. Perhaps the most important thing is that they ride as a team.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters sat next to his trio of team leaders and confirmed to Cyclingnews he will be in the team car for the race. The riders had yet to hold their final team strategy meeting and Vaughters rightly refused to reveal any details of how they will race.
"The ability to be able to confuse everyone is our greatest asset so that needs to remain that way. If I say (the race plan) we'd lose all the tactical advantage we've got," Vaughters said.
However he did hint that Garmin-Cervélo could opt for an aggressive race strategy.
"I think we have to play some fairly atypical tactics," he said. "The race can develop three or four different ways and we have a different rider most suited to that. It must be a real pain in the ass for the other teams because whatever you do, you're f___d."
"Of course, other teams have a more singular strategy and that's pretty good too. They (Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar) have to be the most cohesive unit and the best on the day. I'm sure there will be another team that is at its best, so we have to be too."
Confident and determined
Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar all seemed confident and determined during the press conference, but there was also an air of tension and ambition. It was clear all three want to win the first major Classic of the season, and each believes he can win.
Wisely they know riding together gives them all a huge advantage.
"We just have to play the cards right and if we do, I think with this team we have a really big chance to win," Hushovd said.
"We'll just have to see how it is after the Cipressa and after the Poggio, then get things together and do the right thing. We haven't talked about it yet, but we'll make everything clear so that everyone knows what they have to do."
"I think I'm one of many that can win this race. I also know I have good form and normally should be up there. Compared to last year, I'm much, much better."
Haussler often speaks from the heart but made sure he stayed on message so close the race.
"It's a race I've always thought about especially after coming so close (in 2009). Obviously I'd like to win the race but we've got three leaders who can win, so we'll see what happens and see what the tactics are going to be like and see how it goes," he said.
"I'm pretty much where I want to be because I rode Paris-Nice as training after my time at altitude."
"I rode Paris-Nice again because it worked in 2009 and wanted to stick to it. It just felt right and wasn't too hard, compared to previous years. I didn’t go too deep so that I can be fresh for here."
Tyler Farrar is obviously Garmin-Cervélo's sprint option. If the race comes back together on the run into San Remo, then he may be given the lead out if he is feeling good.
"For me it's good if its 50 or 60 guys," he said when asked his preferred scenario.
"But that the beauty of this team, we've got guys who can go with five guys and if it's 50 guys, then I should be there too. For me it's good if it's a big group but for the team it's not bad if it's a small group too."
Hushovd hinted he could go with an attack from some one like Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the Poggio.
"I'm going to race hard in the finale, see if something happens and try and follow. I think it's possible (a move stays away on the Poggio), it just has to be the right group of riders who have to ride together," he said.
"But I don’t honestly know what the best scenario is for me. We'll see tomorrow."
- Article published:
- March 19, 2011, 10:39
- Cycling News
Says authorities must not be afraid to bring down heroes
Anti-doping authorities must not be afraid of “bringing down our heroes,” Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency said. He also criticised the Spanish federation's “flip-flop” on the Alberto Contador Clenbuterol case.
The Federation initially recommended a one-year ban. Before the decision became final, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said that that there was “no legal reason” to sanction him. The Federation ultimately cleared Contador of the doping charges.
“If there are questions about whether the outcome is fair and just based on the rules and particular facts they should appeal that to the supreme court of sport,” Tygart said in an interview with the Associated Press. “WADA plays the great equalizer to ensure justice is even and in line with the facts and the rules around the world.”
“Clearly what has been reported was a flip-flop—there was a one-year agreement (ban) and then there were statements from the prime minister … and then there is a zero sanction,” Tygart said. “I don’t know what the right outcome is, I haven’t seen the evidence, but from a perception standpoint, something is not right there.
“Something should be looked into, and it looks (like) it is right at the heart of the lack of independence when you have a national federation … which might not have the expertise, which might not have the funding, which has to go after and prosecute a national hero who just won the biggest cycling event in the world. That is not an easy thing to do for anyone.”
“It’s a tough world we live in bringing down our heroes,” Tygart said. “But if our heroes need to be brought down because they cheated then that’s what all athletes expect us to need to do and we need to have a strong resolve to do that sometimes.”
- Article published:
- March 19, 2011, 11:21
- Cycling News
Japanese champion Miyazawa and Mikhail Ignatiev in break
The peloton assembled in the shadow of Milan’s magnificent Castello Sforzesco for the start of Milan-San Remo on Saturday, and after rolling through the streets of the city as far as Via della Chiesa Rossa, the race got underway.
With almost 300km ahead of them on the road to the Riviera, the riders had plenty to ponder as they signed on in Milan this morning, but the peloton took the time to honour the victims of the recent tragic events in Japan, with each rider signing a Japanese flag, which will be auctioned to raise money for the recovery effort there.
Japanese champion Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) was visibly moved on the start line, and as soon as the flag dropped, he set about trying to infiltrate the break of the day.
The move came 10km into the race, when the classy Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) powered clear, bringing Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) with him, but Miyazawa refused to give up, and the Japanese rider managed to jump across to join the escape.
As the race trundled through the Lombard plain and into Piedmont, the escapees were building up a sizeable advantage, but the chase will begin in earnest when the bunch hits the Turchino pass and the Ligurian coast.
For a gallery of the opening stages of the race, and pictures of favourites such as Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) signing on in Milan, click here.