- Article published:
- October 12, 2012, 18:45
- Daniel Friebe
Italian says that UCI offered him no support
Filippo Simeoni said on Friday that his run-ins with Lance Armstrong would continue to haunt him, despite USADA’s pronouncement this week that Armstrong was a ‘serial cheat’ and a participant in ‘the most sophisticated doping programme ever’.
Simeoni, who testified in the USADA investigation, told Cyclingnews: "I can’t escape from what happened. It hurt me so much and will continue to haunt me." He added that USADA’s judgement brought him only a "strange, hollow feeling of justice having been done".
Simeoni said that he was contacted by USADA only "around a fortnight ago" to give evidence about his dealings with Michele Ferrari in the late 1990s and resulting dispute with Armstrong. In particular, he said, USADA asked for a full account of his infamous breakaway attempt during stage 18 of the 2004 Tour, and of Armstrong’s reaction.
Simeoni confirmed to USADA that Armstrong had threatened him – and also that, to his dismay, the International Cycling Union (UCI) offered him no support in the days, weeks and months that followed.
"That was an important moment and people didn’t take it seriously enough. If they had, maybe some of this wouldn’t be happening now," Simeoni said on Friday.
"Remember, I was the only one who’d been honest about a doctor who was doping riders and had doped me, Ferrari. I confessed to the magistrate and I got banned for it. A whole group of other riders weren’t honest and nothing happened to them. They just carried on as normal. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, here was Armstrong persecuting me yet I was getting no support at all from the UCI. OK, people wrote about it, it caused a bit of a storm, but no one actually realized how serious it was: it was intimidation of a witness.
"The worst thing about it was that it was all coming from Armstrong. I did nothing to him," Simeoni continued. "I didn’t mention his name in court. All I said was what Ferrari did with me. But because Armstrong thought I was incriminating him by association, he comes to Italy to race, gets off a plane, and to the first journalist who puts a mic to his mouth, he says, ‘Simeoni is an absolute liar.’
"Can you imagine how that felt? It was like a rock falling on my head, after I’d been completely honest about Ferrari and paid for it. And no one did anything. So you can see why I’m bitter. You can see why I sometimes wonder whether I did the right thing, talking about Ferrari. I suppose what’s happened this week eases those doubts a bit…"
Simeoni’s defiance of Armstrong has led some to brand him a hero. He rejects any such accolades, and claims even that he’s not proud of what he did. He says only, "I can walk with my head held high, despite knowing it cost me so much."
Of the break on that now notorious day in 2004 itself, Simeoni has no regrets. Another Italian rider, Gilberto Simoni once argued that Simeoni’s only mistake was yielding to Armstrong’s pressure, but to that Simeoni responds with a rueful laugh. "As soon as we made it across to the other guys in the break, I saw the look in their eyes and I knew that I was doomed. Maybe I was too much of a gentleman; I sat up for the sake of those riders. That, I am proud of, because I maintained my dignity and sense of sportsmanship even in the face of that intimidation. They should have thanked me."
Simeoni also retains fond memories of his Italian national championship win in 2008 – which he says was achieved without drugs. Nevertheless, he concedes that by that stage his career had been ‘all but ruined’. At the end of 2004, within months of his spat with Armstrong at the Tour, he was searching for a new team and struggling. "My agents said that they’d spoken to a lot of managers who said they would have taken me…if it hadn’t been for the Armstrong thing. Over the next four years, my racing programme suffered, my earnings definitely suffered, and I probably gave up two years earlier than I otherwise would have done. I lost my peak years."
Now 41, Simeoni owns two bars in Sezze in central Italy but rejects the notion that he is better off out of cycling. "There are good people in the sport. It’s not all rotten apples," he says. "Some of the good people stayed true to their principles, others were corrupted, but it was hard not to be. The system was powerful and didn’t help the good guys."
Simeoni had started doping even before turning pro with Carrera Tassoni in 1995. At the time, he says now, "you couldn’t really consider it sacrilege, because everyone was doing it and the length of the bans indicated that the authorities didn’t take it seriously". That changed for Italians, he said, when an antidoping law was passed in December 2000. By then, Simeoni had already been questioned by police about his involvement with Ferrari. He admits, "After that people had to wake up. It was irresponsible, immoral, ignorant - you had to start to realize that."
Over a decade on, he said today, the Armstrong affair should serve to "wipe the slate clean and make sure that future generations never experience what we did."
Even if cycling moves on, though, there are certain memories and ghosts that he will never escape. If he saw Armstrong today, Simeoni says, "I’d just turn away. I’ve got nothing to say to him."
- Lance Armstrong
- Article published:
- October 12, 2012, 19:17
- Cycling News
Canadian team "to focus on WorldTour status" for 2014
Canada's top professional cycling team, Spidertech, announced today that it will "postpone" racing for the 2013 season, choosing to focus on gathering enough corporate sponsorship for a WorldTour bid in 2014 with an aim at racing in the Tour de France.
"We're stepping away from continental competition in order to focus our efforts on gaining UCI WorldTour status," said owner Steve Bauer in a press release. "We have made the decision to focus our efforts entirely on making the jump to the WorldTour in 2014 and have determined that we need to acquire additional financial partnerships to reach this goal."
Cyclingnews has so far been unable to reach Bauer regarding how this impacts riders such as Timmy Duggan, who have signed contracts with the team, but the Team Spidertech Twitter account contains unattributed posts claiming, "We wouldn't have signed contracts if we'd been planning this all along. We've found spots for almost all of the guys so far."
Further posts address suspicions that the timing of this announcement, falling just after USADA's release of its reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong, was somehow related to the doping scandal.
"Nothing to do with the USADA investigation. It was a strategic decision to put the organization in the best position for 2014."
- Article published:
- October 12, 2012, 21:14
- Daniel Benson
Two approaches made and open to RadioShack discussions
Bob Stapleton, the man behind Team Highroad and HTC-Highroad, has told Cyclingnews that he is open to a return to cycling. Stapleton took over control of the T-Mobile team in 2006, restructuring the squad before launching the highly successful Highroad team.
Despite continually leading the way in terms of number of wins and topping the UCI standings, the team folded at the end of 2011. Stapleton's HTC model helped form the blueprints for a number of teams, including Sky, who currently have 9 former HTC riders on their books.
However, with Friday’s announcement that Johan Bruyneel had been dismissed by RadioShack-Nissan due to his involvement in the US Postal doping scandal, rumours quickly surfaced with Stapleton pigeonholed as a possible successor.
The American confirmed that he had already been approached by two high profile teams for the 2013 season but that RadioShack had not contacted him.
“They know where I live but I’ve not heard from anybody there. I’ve been contacted by two other teams but not RadioShack,” Stapleton told Cyclingnews.
Stapleton's approach was based around complete control over team affairs but he also surrounded himself with dedicated staff such as Rolf Aldag, Allan Peiper, Brian Holm, and Valerio Piva. Stapleton's team's won over 500 races, 51 Grand Tour stages and the 2011 green jersey at the Tour de France through Mark Cavendish.
When asked if he would be open to an approach from RadioShack’s owner Flavio Becca, Stapleton added: “If the resources and motivation were there then it could make some sense."
- Article published:
- October 12, 2012, 22:22
- Laura Weislo
Philadelphia honors Casale with race
Longtime US race promoter Jerry Casale lost his battle with cancer this year, but the city of Philadelphia which benefitted so much from his work will return the favour by hosting a new event called the Keystone Open on July 7, 2013.
Robin Morton of g4 productions confirmed that the event, co-organised by Casale's cousin Ralph and local organiser Ron Ruggiero, is named after the criterium run by Jerry Casale, but will be a road race aiming for UCI status.
"We all worked with Jerry for many years and thought it was a fitting name for the event," Morton said. "We have support from the City of Philadelphia. The Mayor's Office is leading the way on sustainability nationally and Mayor Nutter and his wife both ride."
The city already supports what will next year be known as the American Cycling Classic on June 2, 2013, but was formerly the TD Bank International. That race will be downgraded from 1.HC to a 1.2 UCI ranking in 2013. The UCI 1.1-ranked Liberty Classic, which was run in conjunction with the men's race, is no longer listed on the UCI's 2013 calendar, but the Keystone Open will hold a women's race.
"Philadelphia is a big sports town supporting teams in all major leagues plus several sanctioned running events so we feel it can support more than one UCI bike race."
Morton would not reveal the details about the course, but said it would be a technical circuit "with three nice climbs".
- Article published:
- October 12, 2012, 23:02
- Laura Weislo
Lack of a corporate partner, not USADA revelations, led to suspension of 2013 season
In the midst of the doping revelations surrounding Lance Armstrong from USADA's massive dossier of evidence, it seemed as if the first chip had fallen with the announcement that the Canadian Spidertech-C10 team would "postpone" its racing activities for 2013.
Cyclingnews spoke with team manager Steve Bauer who emphasized that the Armstrong news had "absolutely nothing to do with the decision, that's a certainty".
"It has more to do with the path to the WorldTour. We have not secured a sustainable corporate sponsor. Spidertech continues to look for that partner, they haven't left the game. It's not a bankruptcy, it's not us falling off the map and disappearing. They're still committed to the sport and they want to achieve success, but they were nervous about not having the corporate alignment to get to the WorldTour."
Bauer reiterated previous statements made by Cycle Sport Management on Twitter, that the team owners would work to place the riders they've signed for the coming season on other teams.
"It's no question a challenge," Bauer said. "Our goal is to treat them as best as we can, and ensure they keep racing and we provide them opportunity. I can't say how successful that will be because of the challenge of the late decision. Certainly we're doing 100% not only communication-wise but financially as well."
He confirmed that the team would honour its financial commitments to both riders who have signed contracts and those who reached verbal agreements with the team - a dozen or so riders, including US champion Timmy Duggan, who signed from Liquigas-Cannondale.
"This is not a 'leave the guys we've signed high and dry' and without any financial resources to going to other teams [scenario]. I think that's the most important point. That's usually not the story."
It's been a difficult and busy few days for Bauer, who helped to found Canada's top professional cycling team back in 2008, first as Team R.A.C.E. Pro, then Planet Energy, and finally Spidertech, which joined the Professional Continental ranks in 2011.
It was their goal to reach the WorldTour by 2014, and Bauer, a hall-of-famer who participated in 11 Tours de France and was the first Canadian road cyclist to win an Olympic medal, still holds to that dream.
Cycle Sport Management will continue as a business and will try to build a plan to make the dream become a reality, "like GreenEdge did - they had a strong plan, they focussed on reaching the WorldTour directly, having the financial resources to make that happen. That's what we didn't have. We're going to maintain our organisation so we can work on achieving that."
Of course, having a rider such as Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the Giro d'Italia, would help further that vision. "There's no doubt we'd be interested in having him as leader on a Canadian WorldTour team," Bauer said. "If it's meant to be in the future, then it's meant to be. I can't speculate. Certainly it would be a dream if that would come together."
- Article published:
- October 13, 2012, 01:20
- Jane Aubrey
ASADA previously investigated Landis email allegations
Current Cycling Australia professional men's road coordinator Matt White, also Orica-GreenEdge sports director, is believed to have been identified as Rider 9 in Floyd Landis' evidence in USADA's Reasoned Decision documentation to the UCI.
White rode with U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team from U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team from 2001 to 2003 and later linked again with the outfit when it was known as Discovery Channel in 2006 and 2007.
Landis' redacted affidavit swears that during training in the lead up to the 2003 Vuelta a España, "Bruyneel initiated a separate conversation over the phone with me on how to use Human Growth Hormone (HGH). At the direction of Mr. Bruyneel, I subsequently bought the HGH and Andriol from the team 'trainer' Jose Marti (aka Pepe), who lived in Valencia, Spain at the time along with the team doctor Dr. Luis Garcia Del Moral. I then spent substantial time training with fellow USPS team members Rider 9 and Michael Barry, and shared, and discussed the use of, HGH, testosterone and EPO with them while training."
The details mirror those in Landis' unredacted email to USA Cycling chief executive officer Steve Johnson on April 30, 2010 with White identified by name at the time. That email is listed as Exhibit B in Landis' affidavit.
In May 2010, Cycling Australia received correspondence from the UCI in relation to Landis' allegations. In response to this, Cycling Australia then referred the matter to the Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority (ASADA) and on 27 May, Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks publicly stated:
"Cycling Australia is aware of the allegations made by Floyd Landis both in the media and through correspondence from the International Cycling Union. As a result we have referred the matter to the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority as the appropriate agency to deal with the matter."
In February 2011, ASADA made the following statement to Cyclingnews:
- ASADA is aware of media reports about the doping claims made by Floyd Landis
- When and what we can say about any operational matter is strictly governed by our legislation
- Under our legislation ASADA is unable to provide further comment at this time
In a statement yesterday, Cycling Australia President Klaus Mueller said he was unsure of how, if any of Cycling Australia members were implicated.
"But it might now be time to consider a range of options including an amnesty for athletes who have cheated in the past to own up to any wrongdoing and have their confessions mitigate any subsequent penalties," he said. "This would be dependent on the nature and extent of any infraction/s.
"This case also provides an opportunity for the Australian Government to review the resources and powers of ASADA especially in light of the extensive investigation and action taken by USADA in their pursuit of this case."
In January 2011, White was dismissed from his role of directeur sportif with the Garmin-Cervelo team. The move came after discovering that White referred Trent Lowe to the former US postal team physician del Moral at the Sports Institute of Valencia, Spain in April 2009. The former Garmin rider met with del Moral for a Vo2 test which contravened the team's strict anti-doping and medical referral rules.
"My commitment as Sports Director has always been to ensuring the optimal health and well-being of our riders," White said at the time. "So when Trent Lowe, who was living in Valencia and who had been sick for a long time, came to me for help, I sent him to the local Valencian sports institute for testing so we could find out what we were dealing with. I understand that the rules are the rules. I am very sorry for my mistake and I am ready to move on."
White later added that for Lowe, who was living just outside of Valencia, to travel to Girona as Vaughters has stated he would have preferred would have meant travelling nearly 400 kilometres.
Cyclingnews contacted Orica-GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan following the Reasoned Decision documentation and he provided the following comment:
"We fully support Matthew White and trust his integrity as a sports director with us. We have become aware of the fact the he has been linked to some of the evidence in the report about the US Postal Team and we are in contact with Matt to seek full clarity as to what this is about. We will comment once we have been able to talk to both Matt White and the relevant Australian authorities."
Pressed on whether the team sought clarification at the time of his hiring, considering the initial allegations were made in 2010, Bannan explained that it wasn't taken into consideration.
"No it wasn't discussed as we based our decision to engage Matt on the good work he was doing at Garmin," he said.
- legal case
- Article published:
- October 13, 2012, 02:29
- Barry Ryan
Sky man maintains he was "misinterpreted"
Even 5,000 miles from home at the Tour of Beijing, Alex Dowsett (Sky) was aware that he was in the eye of a media storm in his native Britain when he lined up for stage 4 on Friday morning.
At the start the previous day, Dowsett had commented somewhat carelessly on USADA's reasoned decision on the Lance Armstrong case, stating that the American "was still a legend of the sport" in spite of the overwhelming evidence presented in the 1,000-page dossier that he had doped to win all of his Tours de France.
That evening, Dowsett had moved to clarify his stance in an interview with BBC radio, saying that the "legend" comment had been in relation to Armstrong's cancer support work rather than his discredited cycling achievements. By that point, however, the damage had already been done, with Dowsett's initial statement taking up significant column inches in some British newspapers, who highlighted that he had ridden for the Trek-Livestrong team as an under-23.
Perhaps keen for a distraction from that developing maelstrom, Dowsett duly infiltrated the early break on stage 4 of the Tour of Beijing. The five-man move spent most of the day off the front before being swept up ahead of a bunch sprint in Changping, where Marco Haller (Katusha) emerged victorious.
"It was nice to get in the break today after my balls-up yesterday in the press," Dowsett said afterwards. "I said a few things about the Armstrong case that were misinterpreted. After that, it was nice to have a bit of a showing today to end the season on a bit of a high.
"Certainly if there was ever a day and a break that was going to stick it was going to be today, and there was nobody high on GC in the breakaway either. But the bunch still wanted a sprint. I actually sat on the breakaway at the end so I could drop back and help Eddy [Boasson Hagen] because he's not far off third and there's bonus seconds at stake."
Dowsett had endured something of a troubled season even before this week's harsh lesson in the accelerated realities of the multimedia age. The second-year professional broke his elbow in a fall at the Tour of West Flanders in March, an injury which meant for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"It certainly hasn't been a progression year," he said. "It's been a learning year in a lot of senses. I've always been a rider who has tended to have either lucky or unlucky seasons, but hopefully maybe I've reached a plateau now. I'll just look to get a good winter under the belt.
The team Dowsett rides for after the winter remains to be confirmed, however. Although the 24-year-old is believed to have been offered an extension at Sky, at least one other WorldTour team has made significant overtures. "I can't say anything yet," Dowsett said of his 2013 situation.
In the meantime, Dowsett can perhaps be grateful for small mercies. With Twitter blocked in China, he has likely been spared some of the more venomous reactions to his Armstrong comments.
- Article published:
- October 13, 2012, 05:02
- Cycling News
Stable backing for Basque squad as it takes on foreign riders
Euskaltel-Euskadi's application for a UCI WorldTour licence is based on a solid financial backing and a change in the Basque squad's hiring philosophy. Euskaltel, a telephony company, has assured the team of their sponsorship throughout the next four years and a total of almost 40 million Euros, according to Biciciclismo. The team's immediate goal is to remain on WorldTour level and contract new riders - even from outside the Basque Country - to that effect.
The news that Euskaltel-Euskadi changed its hiring philosophy came a few weeks ago when Amets Txurruka, one of the squad's domestiques, was let go because he had no WorldTour points. Txurruka was critical of this new stance, as Euskaltel had been a purely Basque team for the last 19 years of its existence. Team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano opened up the outfit to foreign riders in order to prevent the team from downgrading to Professional Continental status.
According to Gonzalez de Galdeano, if the team does not continue on the highest level, "it will disappear." The team manager does not want to rely on wildcard invitations to the world's greatest races, and insisted that "we will value Basque riders first and foremost, the team's leaders will be Basque. The foreign riders we will take on will serve to fill up the team's deficits."
Regarding the squad's 2013 WorldTour licence, Euskaltel would seem to be in direct rivalry with Ag2r-La Mondiale, Argos-Shimano and Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank. As it stands, the Basque team reportedly has 401 points on the UCI points ranking, against 440 for Saxo Bank, 619 for Argos and 644 for AG2R. These figures, however, are inofficial and do not take into account recent rider signings that have been kept secret for obvious reasons. One of the four teams is likely not to make the cut.
According to Biciciclismo, Euskaltel will keep 18 riders of its 2012 roster, namely: Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón, Mikel Nieve, los hermanos Ion y Gorka Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Romain Sicard, Egoi Martínez, Pello Bilbao, Gorka Verdugo, Pablo Urtasun, Mikel Astarloza, Juanjo Oroz, Miguel Mínguez, Rubén Pérez, Jorge Azanza, Ricardo García and Adrián Sáez de Arregi.
There will be ten new arrivals, of which three have been made official: Gari Bravo (Caja Rural), Jon Aberasturi (Orbea) and Ricardo Mestre (Carmin-Prio). "In principle, the team will be classified in the top 18 of the points ranking, and it could even enter the top 15," Biciciclismo stated.
Four riders have been released: Alan Pérez, Amets Txurruka, Iván Velasco, and Pierre Cazaux.