- Article published:
- October 15, 2010, 21:30
- Cycling News
German, Canadian anti-doping experts not convinced
Two anti-doping experts have given Tour de France winner Alberto Contador little hope that his argument that contaminated meat was the cause of his Clenbuterol positive will be accepted. The substance was detected at low levels in a sample taken from the Spaniard during the Tour's second rest day, and he has been suspended by the UCI pending the outcome of an investigation. He stands to lose his third Tour title and be suspended from competition.
Detlef Thieme, director of the Institute of Doping Analysis and biochemistry in Kreischa, Germany said that Contador's case bears little comparison to that of table tennis player Dimitrij Ovcharov, who was cleared of a Clenbuterol doping offense after succesfully arguing the positive resulted from contaminated food.
Thieme told the dpa that the case of Ovcharov, who tested positive after a table tennis tournament in China, was different from Contador's because the German-Ukrainian was able to prove that other people who ate the same food in China also showed traces of Clenbuterol and a hair test looking for historical traces of the drug in the athlete's system proved negative.
None of Contador's teammates, who shared in a special meal during the Tour which included beef brought in from Spain, were tested.
Thieme said that "thousands of tests" have shown no traces of the drug in Spanish beef.
Part of Contador's defense was that the level of the drug in his sample was so low it couldn't be considered performance-enhancing, but Canadian researcher Christiane Ayotte of the WADA-accredited testing lab in Montreal disagreed. She told ESPN that even miniscule amounts of the drug can be used for doping purposes.
"You'll never find a ton of it, because the doses are really small," Ayotte said, adding that her lab frequently finds similarly low levels of the drug in athletes' samples.
"It's used in sports where they need to cut weight," she said. "Just because it's small doesn't mean it's not doping. ... This is just the dopers adjusting, or misadjusting, to the testing."
Ayotte hopes that regulations will continue to allow adverse analytical findings for any amount of the drug, and that no lower limit will be set for its detection.
"We can't link content in urine to performance, because we don't know the time, the mode of administration or the dose," she said. "If this case is lost because they're concluding the amount is too small, that would be a major problem. It's not the end of the world, but if competent arbitrators decide that, my heart would break. More dopers would go through the net."
- Article published:
- October 16, 2010, 10:06
- Barry Ryan
Australian aiming for victory at Tour of Lombardy
In spite of a fine season in the rainbow jersey, Cadel Evans (BMC) has admitted that he was disappointed not to win more during his reign as world champion. Consequently, the Australian lines up for the final classic of the year, Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy, with his eyes firmly trained on victory.
“This season I’ve enjoyed myself and I’ve shown off the jersey, but I won less than I would have liked,” Evans told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “This is the last chance and you can be sure I’ll go for it. The Tour of Lombardy is my favourite classic.”
Evans took the world title in Mendrisio last year and his rainbow jersey was prominent at the head of the peloton through much of the season. Highlights of the Australian’s year included victory at the Flèche Wallone, a thrilling stage win at the Giro d’Italia and a courageous performance at the Tour de France, where he rode with a fractured elbow for almost two weeks. His spell as world champion finished with a resolute defence of the title on home roads in Geelong.
“I’d gladly still be wearing that jersey, but the route didn’t suit me,” Evans said. “That said, I’m benefiting from it in terms of tranquillity: now my life is a bit more relaxed and I’m happy to have passed the torch on to a good guy like Thor Hushovd.”
As well as racing in the colours of world champion, 2010 also saw Evans ride under the banner of a new squad and he is pleased with how his first year at BMC has gone. He surprised many by leaving Silence-Lotto for the team last winter but Evans has no regrets about making the move.
“When I signed for BMC, a lot of people were looking at me funny,” he admitted. “But the team is growing and is also looking ahead to the future, as the signing of Taylor Phinney demonstrates.”
For now, however, Evans and BMC’s major objective is to tackle the Tour of Lombardy and the Australian reckons that the new course is set to guarantee an entertaining race.
“With the new route, the Ghisallo could be less important than the Colma di Sormano, but I don’t really know who that will favour, we’ll have to see,” Evans said. “Certainly, I’ve tried it and I can guarantee you from the point of view of the landscape it’s much more spectacular. Either way, Gilbert is the favourite.”
Evans also admitted that he has a back-up plan to ensure that his season ends on a high note, even if the altered route around Lake Como does not prove to his liking. “My wife Chiara, my family and friends will be on the Ghisallo having a barbeque. If I’m not feeling the best, I’ll stop there and eat with them.”
Meanwhile, Evans refused to be drawn on commenting on the Alberto Contador affair but expressed his annoyance at Italian anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri's recent assertions on the widespread nature of doping: “On Contador, I’d need to wait before forming an opinion. As for Torri, to say that all cyclists are doped is simply an insult.”
- Article published:
- October 16, 2010, 11:19
- Barry Ryan
Italian received reduced ban for detailing doping methods
Danilo Di Luca saw his two-year suspension for his positive test for CERA reduced by nine months at an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) hearing on Friday, meaning that the Italian is free to return to racing with immediate effect. The reduction in Di Luca’s ban is understood to be in recognition of the information that he has provided to anti-doping investigators in Italy but he was at pains to explain that he had not pointed the finger at his fellow professional riders.
“My collaboration was not against athletes, but in favour of cycling,” Di Luca told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “In the past few weeks a lot of false things have been written. It’s been said that I named names during my collaboration and this isn’t true. Alessandro Petacchi, for example, who is a great friend of mine, knows well that I have never mentioned his name, just as I didn’t name any of my other fellow cyclists.”
Instead, it seems that Di Luca’s testimony was made up of more generalised descriptions of doping practices in the peloton at large. “I explained the methods I’ve seen in the years that I’ve raced to Benedetto Roberti and the public prosecutor’s office in Padua,” he said.
Di Luca, who tested positive for CERA at the 2009 Giro d’Italia, had been involved in other doping cases previously in his career, most notably the “Oil for Drugs” investigation centred on the activities of Dr. Carlo Santuccione. This inquiry saw Di Luca barred from the 2004 Tour de France and he would ultimately receive a three-month ban in late 2007.
While Di Luca protested his innocence after his positive test for CERA last season and has still never publicly confessed to doping, he nonetheless claimed that his collaboration with the anti-doping enquiries was a selfless act, undertaken with future generations of cyclists in mind.
“I want to tell children that it’s not true that you have to dope to win,” Di Luca said. “Whoever is born a champion stays a champion, whoever is born a gregario stays a gregario. Doping does not change you. I hope that my collaboration can help bring young people into this sport, which is beautiful and above all, a great school of life.”
The Italian also said that he could understand CONI anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri’s recent pronouncement on the widespread nature of doping. “He has always had athletes before him who had doping problems, but I’m in professional cycling since 1999 and I can say that things have changed,” claimed Di Luca. “The majority of riders are clean.”
However, in the same breath, Di Luca was already speaking of his lofty ambitions for next season. The man from Spoltore is believed to be in talks with a number of teams for 2011 and he is looking to ride in the biggest races once again.
“I want a ProTour team,” he said. “My objectives are the Giro and the classics. Races that I’ve always done and that I’ve also won. I’m missing a world title. That could be the highlight of my career.
“I’ve already started my winter training, but even when I was suspended I always trained. Sure, I missed racing, so now I must make up for the time spent away from competition. From November 1, I’ll be back in the saddle.”
Di Luca’s initial €280,000 fine for his positive test for CERA was also reduced by €106,400 as a result of his collaboration.
In the meantime, Di Luca is running the Pescara half-marathon on Sunday, a town in which he has also recently invested in a large sports centre.
- Article published:
- October 16, 2010, 12:37
- Stephen Farrand
The gruppo gathers in Milan for the last classic of the season
The Tour of Lombardy rolled out of the centre of Milan on Saturday, with the peloton riding in front of the new offices of the Lombardy Regional council before heading north to the hills around Lake Como.
The city centre location and the modern buildings meant there was no real autumnal feel to the 'Race of the Falling Leaves' but most of the riders seemed happy to end the season with a final fling in one of the major classics on the calendar.
New world champion Thor Hushovd was again the centre of attention as he showed off his rainbow jersey. The Tour of Lombardy is the last ever race for the his Cervelo TestTeam and the riders lined-up on the front of the peloton for the start of what will be an emotional race.
Despite talk of a rider protest about the comments from Italian anti-doping investigator Ettore Torri, the race started on time. The International Rider's Association decided to downgrade their protest by giving out leaflets and some riders had a sicker on their helmets saying: I race with my heart.
Gilbert the big favourite
2009 Lombardy Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is the big favourite for a second consecutive victory today.
The Belgian studied the new finale of the race during training on Friday and said he liked it because of the technical descent, which will make it difficult for any chasers to get back to the front group.
This year's race is now 260km long and includes the tougher Colma di Sormano climb (40km from the finish) after the steep climb to the Madonna di Ghisallo (with 57km to go). However it is the final San Fermo di Battaglia climb overlooking Como that is expected to decide who wins the final classic of the 2010 season.
As usual the early action along the shores of Lake Como was fast and furious. The early break consisted of six riders: Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Gianluca Mirenda (ISD-Neri), Diego Caccia (ISD-Neri), Mauro Da Dalto (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Kjeil Carlström (Team Sky) and Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia).
They went clear after 15km and had a seven-minute lead as the race reached Sorico after 100km of racing.
Check out our full Tour of Lombardy start line gallery here.
- Article published:
- October 16, 2010, 18:47
- Cycling News
American team adds youth and experience
HTC-Highroad has signed Americans Amber Neben and Amanda Miller to its women’s team for 2011. Neben joins from Webcor Builders Cycling Team, with Miller switching from Team TIBCO. They will join the likes of Judith Arndt, Emilia Fahlin and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg as HTC aims to build on another successful season in the women's pro ranks.
For Neben it marks a return to the international racing scene after riding domestically in 2010. She previously rode for Cannondale, T-Mobile, Team Flexpoint and Nurnberger. The 35-year-old is a former world time trial champion and US national road champion, a two-time winner of the Tour de l'Aude, and represented the USA in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
"I am really excited to be joining the team," said Neben.
"The roster is loaded with two of the greatest in the history of the sport. It will be an honor to race with them. It will also be exciting for me to work with the young, talented group that completes the team. In addition to the riders, High Road has a great staff and uses top-of-the-line equipment. It is a very professional environment. I am looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges to come."
While Neben is regarded as one of cycling’s most experienced riders, Miller is perhaps one of the brightest young talents.
Having turned pro in 2010, she has already won the criterium at Tulsa Tough as well as Iowa's Snake Alley Criterium, featuring a strenuous 12 percent cobbled climb. Miller is also an advocate for Bike Pure.
"Amanda shows great promise as a talented young rider," said HTC’s Sports Director, Ronny Lauke.
"She's one of the top American female cyclists, and her talents and attitude fit beautifully within our team. Adding Neben is also perfect. She has a world of experience and clearly strengthens our time trial and stage race capabilities."
Miller was delighted to be signing for the team, adding, "I am excited to be a part of the best team in the world and looking forward to helping make it another successful year," said Miller. "It's going to be fantastic to challenge myself and see what I can do to be a part of the team's success in the coming years."
- Article published:
- October 16, 2010, 18:51
- Stephen Farrand
Belgian explains that the new descent was the key to victory
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) seemed to relish the terrible condition at the Tour of Lombardy as he won the final major race of the season with a dominant performance.
While Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) crashed and lost ground, and Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) did not have the legs to respond to his last attack, Gilbert looked strong and determined all the way to finish in Como.
"Today was a really, really hard day. It was cold and there was a lot of rain. It was a tough race but I always go pretty well with the wet and cold. I'm from Belgium, I'm used to it," he said with a smile in the post-race press conference.
"My team did a great job controlling things and I wanted to thank them by winning again. It’s different feeling winning alone, it's an even more special feeling."
The key to victory
Gilbert knew the new climb of the Colma di Sormano would be the key to race, especially the very technical descent that was covered in leaves.
"I studied the last 60km of the race with the team and I said the descent would be more decisive than the climb and would be the place to make the difference. I was right," he explained.
"It was the Ghisallo that decided the first selection and the cold and rain played a big factor.
Gilbert admitted he heard Nibali crash and accelerated to make sure the Italian did not get back up to him.
"I didn’t see him crash but I heard it. I thought it was him because I didn’t see him and then Lastras told me. I went hard so that he couldn't get back up to us. But that's all part of racing."
Gilbert has ended his season with a second consecutive Gran Piemonte and Tour of Lombardy double. It is his sixth victory of the 2010 season after also winning the Amstel Gold Race, a stage at the Tour of Belgium and two stages at the Vuelta.
He revealed he would like to win Paris-Roubaix one day but his next big goal is Liege-Bastogne-Liege on his home roads in the Wallonne region of Belgium.
"Liege-Bastogne-Liege is my home race and along with Lombardy it's the best race in the world for me, so I want to win it," he said.
"I lost it this year because the finale was very difficult but next year I'll be even more motivated.
"I'd also like to win Paris-Roubaix too one day but I need more years of experience first. The problem with Roubaix is that it can end your career with one crash. For now I prefer to focus on other races and do what I'm good at."
Gilbert modestly refuted a suggested that his victory at the Tour of Lombardy showed he had deserved to be world champion.
"I was on better form at the world championships than today," he said. "I tried to win the Worlds but there was a strong headwind that day and I was caught at three kilometres to go. I've no regrets though. When you give your best there's nothing you can do.
"I'm just very proud to have won this race."
- Article published:
- October 16, 2010, 22:27
- Daniel Benson
Spaniard caps off season with first podium finish in a Monument
Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) may be without a big win in two seasons but his third place finish in today's Tour of Lombardy had the taste of victory, according to the Spaniard.
The 34-year-old put in one of his best performances this year, attacking from a group of favourites including Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) and Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the closing kilometres.
Although he was unable to catch Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli), he hung on for third in atrocious conditions.
"This third position has a taste of victory and this is a reward for the work made during the season," he said.
"It was my eleventh participation in this race, which is my favourite along with the Tour of Flanders. I really want to thank all my teammates because of their help - they gave me drinks from the car, clothes and anything I needed."
Lastras had come into the race in decent form, finishing in the top 25 in the Tour of Poland, Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, Paris-Tours and Gran Piemonte. With the course changes made to today's Tour of Lombardy, Lastras believed that the new route suited him.
"Today it was a good day for me because of the long slopes, but no big percentages, and also because of the rain and the descents which were made for skilled riders. The only negative point was the moment when I was leading the race with Gilbert and Scarponi; I had to decrease my pace because my muscles were cold. I could recover later and afterwards I attacked to get the last place in the top three."
Lastras has spent his entire professional career with the Spanish squad joining the team, then known as Banesto, in 1998. He has won stages in each of the three Grand Tours, including two victories at the 2002 Vuelta a España.
With the team changing sponsor to Movistar for 2011 Lastras has extended his contract. However, before setting his sights on next season, the Spaniard has just one thing on his mind.
"Now, it´s time for holidays," he said.
- Article published:
- October 17, 2010, 10:30
- Stephen Farrand
Italian happy with another placing in final race with Androni Giocattoli
Michele Scarponi has missed out on success in three major races this season but the laid-back Italian still considers 2010 a good year and was satisfied to be the best of the rest, behind Philippe Gilbert at the Tour of Lombardy.
The 31-year-old Androni Giocattoli rider lost Tirreno-Adriatico to Stefano Garzelli due to stage placings after the two finished equal on time and he missed out on the podium at the Giro d'Italia by just 13 seconds after losing time to Vincenzo Nibali in the final time trial.
He targeted Lombardy and was the only rider to get across to Gilbert in the finale of the race, but could not respond when the Belgian made his winning attack on the last climb near the finish in Como.
"I still think it was a good season. Perhaps I could have been a bit luckier but perhaps things will all add up and go my way in 2011," Scarponi said, trying to look on the bright side of a cyclist's life after racing for 260km, much of it in the wet and cold.
"I lost two metres to Gilbert when he attacked and my chain jumped. I knew I'd never get them back. I was tired and suffering because I'd made a huge effort to get across to him."
"I was perhaps unlucky with my chain. I was going to try something on the climb but I don’t know if I'd have had the strength to do anything. Would it have changed anything? To be honest, I don’t know. Gilbert was very strong and deserved to win. I can't remember racing a hard race like that one."
"Second is still an excellent result. I was beaten by a true champion who was born to ride and win the classics."
With Lampre in 2011
After his season Scarponi will ride with Lampre-ISD in 2011 and target the Giro d'Italia for the Italian team, while Damiano Cunego switches his focus to the classics and shorter stage races.
In 2006 Scarponi was implicated in Operacion Puerto and in 2007 he confessed to being the rider code named 'Zapatero'. He served his ban and then Androni Giocattoli boss Gianni Savio moved quickly to give him a second chance and help him make a comeback.
"I had two and a half great years with Savio and I can only thank him or helping me get my career back on track," Scarponi said.
"I'll be targeting the Giro in 2011 but I'll be back at Lombardy too. I always thought it is a race I had a good chance of winning. And after going close, now I know it's true."