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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 5, 2010

Date published:
September 05, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Landis files whistle-blower lawsuit

    Floyd Landis was helping out at the OUCH-Bahati Foundation VIP tent in California.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2010, 10:43 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Lawsuit filed under federal False Claims Act

    The Wall Street Journal has reported that Floyd Landis has a filed a whistle-blower lawsuit under the U.S. False Claims Act, which allows citizens to sue on behalf of the U.S. government if they believe that it has been defrauded. The precise nature of Landis’ allegations is not known as the lawsuit is sealed.

    The U.S. government can choose to intervene in Landis’ lawsuit and pursue the case on its own behalf, while Landis would collect up to 30 percent of the money recovered by the government if the lawsuit were successful.

    Earlier this year, Landis made allegations of systematic doping at the U.S. Postal Service team and a federal investigation into the matter is currently ongoing, led by Jeff Novitzsky of the Food and Drug Administration. As an independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service sponsored the team from 1996 to the end of 2004. Between 2001 and 2004, it paid out €30.6 million in sponsorship to the team’s management company.

    Both Landis and the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit when approached by the Wall Street Journal, while a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service stated: “Since this matter is under review by the Department of Justice, the Postal Service will have nothing to say until this review is completed.”

    Meanwhile, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesman for former U.S. Postal Service rider Lance Armstrong was critical of Landis’ lawsuit. “What remains a mystery is why the government would devote a penny of the taxpayer’s money to help Floyd Landis,” he said. “This news that Floyd Landis is in this for the money confirms everything we all knew about Landis.”

    Armstrong’s spokesman also confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Armstrong’s lawyers had recently met with federal prosecutors from Novitzsky’s investigation in Los Angeles.

  • Petacchi riding each day as though it were his last

    Alessandro Petacchi on the podium after his first Vuelta stage win
    Article published:
    September 04, 2010, 12:43 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian sprinter fears investigation fall-out

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) has admitted that every day that he races he does so in the fear that it might be his last. The Italian sprinter won stage 7 of the Vuelta a España Friday but remains under investigation in his home country in relation to alleged doping practices.

    In June, Petacchi was placed under investigation by police in Italy as part of a widespread probe into doping in cycling and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) is currently deciding whether to refer or drop its own inquiry into the allegations.

    “I hope that they tell me something as soon as possible – in or out,” Petacchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I race every time as though it were the last and it’s frightening.”

    Petacchi has been accused of using PFC (Perfluorocarbon), which boosts the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood without raising haematocrit level, and human serum albumin, which can be used to reduce haematocrit levels artificially. Given that he already served a suspension after his positive test for salbutamol in 2007, any new doping infraction would incur further sanctions that would effectively end his career.

    “I’d like to keep racing, but I’m not relaxed. My head is in another place,” Petacchi said. “It would really annoy me if my case were referred. In fact, it would disgust me because I have struggled a lot in my life and to finish like that wouldn’t be just.

    “I don’t think I have the will to go through more trials and to drag people like [Lampre manager Giuseppe] Saronni and [Lampre president Romeo Mario] Galbusera into this story, because they don’t deserve it.”

    Petacchi was keen to thank his team in the wake of his Vuelta victory in Orihuela. “Saronni has complete faith in me and has already proposed a contract extension,” he said. “It was he who wanted me to come and ride...

  • Rubén Plaza says Operation Puerto ruined his career

    Ruben Plaza describes the next stage.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2010, 20:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard on track for career-best success

    The Caisse d’Epargne team has no less than five potential successors to Alejandro Valverde at the Vuelta a España. While the defending champion is banned after being implicated in Operacion Puerto, one of the candidates for the leadership is another 30-year-old Spaniard whose career has been damaged by the scandal of 2006, but Rubén Plaza promised that his best has yet to come.

    Plaza is the hometown rider at the Vuelta this weekend, as he was born in Alcoy where Sunday’s stage will end. He’s currently lying 6th overall, just 1:15 back. “The situation on GC is very good for us now, we have five riders in the top 20” Plaza told Cyclingnews. With Marzio Bruseghin in 5th position, Rigoberto Uran in 11th, Giro d’Italia runner-up David Arroyo in 16th and their most famous rider Luis Leon Sanchez in 18th, the team that will become Movistar next year has many cards to play.

    “Personally I have better form here at the Vuelta than at the Tour de France,” said Plaza, who finished 12th overall in Paris and fought hard for the teams’ classification, which was ultimately won by the veterans of RadioShack. “My motivation is also higher now because I have the world championships in mind, although I don’t know yet if I’ll ride the time trial or the road race or both.”

    Plaza has twice been Spanish road race champion, in 2003 and 2009, but he has never won the time trial title, despite finishing on the podium five times in the past five years. Spain has three riders from Caisse d’Epargne competing for two spots in the race against the clock in Melbourne: Sanchez, Plaza and José Ivan Gutierrez.

    At the 2005 Vuelta a España, Plaza finished second to Denis Menchov in the first time trial and won the second one. He was Spain’s up and coming rider five years ago. “But then Operacion Puerto ruined my...

  • Moncoutié makes his mark at the Vuelta

    David Moncoutie (Cofidis) soloed to victory in stage eight of the Vuelta.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2010, 22:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman seeks third straight mountain title, more stage wins

    David Moncoutié (Cofidis) has taken the monkey off his back as he claimed a third stage win at the Vuelta a España in three years and three participations. He was full of remorse in July when he watched the Tour de France he chose not to ride this year. The 35-year-old Frenchman realized how much he loves the world's biggest race about which he said he would never come back.

    During the 2009 Vuelta a España he decided to ride again in 2010 in what was supposed to be the final year of his career. Moncoutié, however, has recently changed his mind and asked Cofidis to extend his contract for one more season so he could return to the Tour in 2011 although he's been eyeing retirement for more than a year already.

    During today's stage eight of the Vuelta a España from Villena to Xorret del Cati, Moncoutié showed how much passion he still has for the sport even though he often showed up at races with a big lack of motivation since he turned pro - with Cofidis - back in 1997.

    Cofidis was the only French team with no stage victories at the Tour de France this year. They got one at the Giro d'Italia with Damien Monier in May. Just after finishing second at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, Moncoutié failed to make his mark during the three weeks of the Italian Grand Tour but he told his management that he would act differently on Spanish roads.

    "I had marked the stage to Xorret del Cati and the scenario has been exactly what I predicted although I don't have the polka dot jersey yet," said the French climber who wants to equal Julio Jimenez as the king of the mountains of the Vuelta three times in a row. The rider from Avilà did so in 1963, 1964 and 1965.

    Moncoutié's triumph in the province of Alicante today has inspired the Frenchman to seek further stage victories. "I'm in a really good shape," he said. "At the start in Sevilla, I was afraid of the lack of race rhythm...

  • Gomez Marchante hopes to put bad luck behind him

    José Angel Gomez Marchante (Andalucia-Cajasur)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2010, 23:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Andalucia-Cajasur team captain targets stage win at Vuelta

    After seven stages of the Vuelta a España, José Angel Gomez Marchante lies in 50th position overall, more than 13 minutes down. At the start in Seville he no longer seemed to figure among the potential GC contenders even though he is still just 30 years old. But the rider from Andalucia-Cajasur hasn’t said his last word.

    “We felt great support for our team in the streets of Seville and during the first days of the race on Andalucian roads,” Gomez Marchante told Cyclingnews. “It was a wonderful way for us to start the Vuelta. There were many people who came out just to see us. They’re proud that we wear the colours of the region.”

    In Andalucia-Cajasur’s Vuelta line-up, only Gomez Marchante who is originally from Madrid but lives in Alicante, and Argentine Jorge Montenegro aren’t from Andalucia. All of the other riders hail from this southern part of Spain.

    Gomez Marchante started his pro career in 2004 with Costa de Almeria-Paternina, which was another squad sponsored by a region on the Mediterranean coast. He finished eighth overall at his first participation at the Vuelta that year. During the four following seasons he spent with Saunier Duval, he delivered consistent results at stage races: 9th at Paris-Nice and 7th at the Dauphiné in 2005, 5th at the Vuelta a España in 2006 after also winning a stage and the overall classification of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco the same year, 12th at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Tour of Romandie and the Tour de Suisse in 2007, and 10th at the Tour of Romandie in 2008.

    But he wasn’t so successful when he joined Cervélo for one year in 2009. “I started well with a 9th place at Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia,” he said. “But I crashed at Paris-Nice. At the Tour de France, I was in the front group during stage 16 won by Mikel Astarloza when my team car made me crash. I’ve had a...

  • Rodriguez disappointed to miss out on red jersey

    Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) looks back to see if he's distanced his GC rivals in the sprint for fifth.
    Article published:
    September 05, 2010, 10:50 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Katusha rider feels he distanced Anton in finale

    Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) has voiced his dismay at missing out on taking the red jersey at the Vuelta a España yesterday. The Spanish rider thought he had done enough to claim the overall lead, first by taking a time bonus at the first intermediate sprint and then by appearing to open a gap over Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the closing metres of the stage.

    Instead, the results of the opening intermediate sprint were nullified due to a large crash in the peloton which took place just before and then, after lengthy deliberation, the commissaires opted to award Anton the same time as Rodriguez for the stage, meaning that the Euskaltel-Euskadi man took the overall lead.

    “I don’t know why I’m not the leader,” Rodriguez told AS after the stage finish at Xorret de Catì. “The team should lodge an appeal because on crossing the line I saw a big gap back to Anton but they gave us the same time.”

    Rodriguez was also upset that the time bonus he thought he had gained 17km into the stage had been wiped out. “They also cancelled the sprint with the time bonus,” he said. “Look what happens when the judges aren’t meticulous. What they did was ugly but I just have to resign myself to it now.”

    The Katusha rider now lies in second place overall, in the same time as red jersey Anton and in spite of his initial disappointment, Rodriguez was nonetheless pleased with his form on the climb of the Alto Xorret de Catì and excited about his possibilities for the remainder of the Vuelta. “I hope I can just maintain this form to Madrid,” he said.


  • Riccò returns in Romagna

    Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    September 05, 2010, 12:08 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Controversial Italian says there is no romanticism in cycling

    Riccardo Riccò will make his debut in Vacansoleil colours today at the Giro della Romagna and has affirmed that there is “very little romanticism in cycling.” It is the Italian’s first competitive outing since the GP Camaiore on August 7.

    In the intervening period, he bought out his contract with Ceramica Flaminia and after negotiations with QuickStep and Vacansoleil, he opted to switch to the Dutch team. This is Riccò’s first season back in the professional peloton after he received a two-year suspension for testing positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.

    “I already know [Matteo] Carrara and [Alberto] Ongarato, and they’d told me that the Vacansoleil team would suit me,” Riccò told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “But in the end, the story is always the same: you have to ride.”

    The controversial Italian admitted that he may struggle from his lack of racing miles in recent weeks but insisted that his ambitions were high for the remainder of the season. “For the Giro della Romagna, I’m missing my race rhythm, but I won’t back out,” Riccò said. “I’m aiming for the Coppa Sabatini, Giro dell’Emilia and the Tour of Lombardy, they all suit me.”

    “The team have also told me that the GP de Wallonie is made for me,” he continued. “I’ve never done the Tour of Piedmont before, but I have ridden – and won – the Japan Cup. It would be beautiful to go back there.”

    After returning from his ban in March of this year, Riccò’s season has been very much stop-start in nature. With his Ceramica Flaminia team failing to receive an invitation to any of the Grand Tours, Riccò’s racing has been confined to events away from the ProTour, which prompted his desire to leave the very team that offered him a route back into professional cycling.

  • Boonen resumes full training

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    September 05, 2010, 12:30 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian set to return before season's end

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is optimistic that he will return to competitive action before the end of this season. The former world champion underwent knee surgery in July, forcing him out of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and world championships but he has since resumed training.

    Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws at the Eurobike trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Boonen was upbeat about his chances of a late-season return ahead that will help him return to top form in time for next year’s spring classics.

    “My knee is ok at the moment,” Boonen said. “On Thursday, I rode 120km without feeling any pain, finally a reassuring feeling.” The Belgian had initially hoped to be back in action in time for the Vuelta a España but was forced to revise that schedule when his period of rehabilitation was discovered to be more lengthy.

    “I can finally resume a normal training programme now,” a relieved Boonen revealed. His existing knee problems were exacerbated by crashes at the Tour of California in May and the Tour de Suisse in June and he admits that they continue to prey on his mind. “Of course the fear of falling is there, that’s natural, but I’m staying positive,” Boonen said. “I definitely want to return to racing this season.”

    It is anticipated that Boonen will line up for the Circuit Franco-Belge, which starts on September 30, before riding Paris-Tours.