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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 29, 2010

Date published:
July 29, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Contador shift leaves Stephens pondering options

    Neil Stephens
    Article published:
    July 28, 2010, 14:38 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Australian directeur sportif in discussions with Astana and Sky

    With news that Alberto Contador has severed ties with Astana for 2011, Neil Stephens could find his options limited when it comes to finding a new team. The Australian directeur sportif had been in discussions with both Astana and Sky, after Caisse d'Epargne announced it would not continue with a team in 2011.

    However, Stephen's negotiations with Astana revolved around managing a block of Spanish riders at Astana, with Contador at the head.

    "The (Caisse d'Epargne) team is finishing up this year. It's been a fantastic experience in the last three, but at this stage there's no ongoing sponsor, so I've looked at it from my side of things, and obviously I've got a family to support so I'm looking at different options in the sport."

    "Astana said to Alberto that if he stayed, I'd be involved," Stephens told Cyclingnews.

    "My discussions with Astana have been based around sorting out the Spanish side of the team, and I would be more or less in charge of the Spanish block. It's something I want to resolve, but I've stood back and said that Astana needed to sort things with Contador."

    Stephens was originally planning on severing ties with Caisse at the end of 2009 and joining Astana for the start of the following season. However he was unable to break his contract and remained with the Spanish team. Despite this, he kept in contact with Contador right up until the start of this year Tour de France.

    "Throughout May and June, he seemed happy and then on the rest day in the Tour, it appeared he would sign in Paris, but he's a young guy and wants to solidify his future," Stephens said.

    "It's an internal thing. I've not spoken to Astana since Paris, and I've not spoken to Alberto since before the Tour. I'm not surprised that he might be leaving. He said at the end of last year that he was going to fulfill his contract of one year and then would walk away from it."

    Stephens also confirmed to...

  • Sánchez cracked bone in Tourmalet stage crash

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) crashed early in the stage but kept third place overall.
    Article published:
    July 28, 2010, 16:43 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Euskaltel team leader's season should not be compromised by the break

    Euskaltel-Euskadi have revealed that team leader Samuel Sánchez cracked the radius bone in his right arm when he crashed early on in the crucial Tour de France stage to the summit of the Col du Tourmalet. The broken bone became apparent when the Olympic road race champion underwent an "exhaustive medical check" after the finish of the Tour.

    Euskaltel described the injury as a "small crack in the radius" that was picked up in medical tests designed "to determine with precision the extent of the damage that Sánchez had suffered as a result of a really heavy fall" that occurred on the approach to the Col de Marie-Blanque. Sánchez was laid out for some time on the road following the crash, but recovered to claim fifth place on the stage.

    The incident provoked a good deal of controversy when Cervélo's Carlos Sastre attacked despite the attempts of yellow jersey Alberto Contador to rein in the bunch until Sánchez had recovered.

    According to his team Sánchez, who finished a career-best fourth overall at the Tour, should be able to continue with his programme for the rest of the season despite the cracked bone.

    Although Sánchez has yet to confirm his presence in the Vuelta a España, the Spanish press is suggesting that he will start the final major tour of the season, where he finished runner-up to Alejandro Valverde last year.

  • Petacchi refuses to answer police questions about doping allegations

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) liked green so much he took the jersey back.
    Article published:
    July 28, 2010, 17:11 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Lampre sprinter to face questioning by the Italian Olympic Committee on August 3

    Tour de France green jersey winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) has opted not to respond during police questioning about allegedly using two banned doping products.

    “The accusations are too generic and so we decided not to respond to questions. There’s nothing strange about doing that, it’s a normal defence strategy,” Petacchi’s lawyer Virgilio Angelini told Gazzetta dello Sport. Former teammate and close friend Lorenzo Bernucci also refused to answer questions.

    It first emerged that Petacchi had been formally placed under investigation by Italian police before the start of stage 16 of the Tour de France. However it has been suggested he knew about the accusations before leaving for the Tour. Petacchi insists he has done nothing wrong and was allowed to continue racing. He sealed victory in the points competition by finishing second in the final sprint on the Champs Elysees behind Mark Cavendish.

    Italian police in Padua are carrying out a detailed investigation into doping. They raided the Girobio stage race in June, while Petacchi’s home was searched in April as part of an investigation by Mantua police. Nothing was found. It is believed the accusations of doping stem from phone taps carried into the activities of Brescia-based doctor Filippo Manelli.

    Petacchi has been accused of using Pfc (Perfluorocarbon) and human serum albumin. Pfc can be used to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood without raising haematocrit level. Its use in the peloton was first rumoured in 1997 as an alternative to EPO, when the UCI introduced “health checks” preventing riders with haematocrit levels in excess of 50 per cent from competing. Human albumin can be used to reduce haematocrit levels.

    Petacchi will still be able to race in coming weeks because the police activities are still in the investigative phase and no formal changes have yet been made. However...

  • Bruyneel apologises for unprofessional Tweet

    Johan Bruyneel ties up a few loose ends before the start of stage one.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2010, 4:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Team director to apologise to UCI president

    Radioshack team director Johan Bruyneel has issued a public apology for unprofessional comments about race commissaires that has seen both team and director become the subject of UCI disciplinary proceedings. Bruyneel lashed out via Twitter after his squad was prevented from wearing an unauthorised jersey during the Tour de France’s final stage.

    During the final stage Bruyneel vented his frustration via Twitter, saying: “Ok people! Now it’s official! To be a race commissar you don’t need brains but only know the rules! Their motto: ‘c’est le reglement!’”

    The American squad took to the start of the final Tour stage wearing an all-black kit advertising Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong charity rather than their usual RadioShack jerseys. The team had failed to inform race commissaires beforehand and the stage’s start was delayed to allow the RadioShack riders to change back into their regulation colours.

    “When race officials informed me that the team wouldn't be able to race with these special jerseys, I became frustrated that our message would not be heard and seen around the world,” said Bruyneel in his apology. “During this time of frustration, I put a disrespectful and unprofessional message on my personal Twitter account targeting the UCI race officials.

    “This was not the correct way to handle the situation, nor the example I want to set for my team, family and fans,” he added. “I understand the race officials' decision and publicly apologise for offending any official or representative of the UCI. It is also my intent to personally apologise to UCI President Pat McQuaid for my remarks.”

    The UCI Disciplinary Commission described Bruyneel’s remarks as “utterly unacceptable” when announcing he would be asked to appear before the commission. Any fines levied in the matter will be donated to Swiss cancer charity...

  • Docker amongst contract renewals at Skil-Shimano

    Australian rider Mitchell Docker does a strength effort.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2010, 6:33 BST
    Cycling News

    De Kort, Houanard extend deals

    Australia’s Mitchell Docker is amongst three riders to have extended their contracts with Professional Continental team Skil-Shimano, according to the outfit. Docker is currently in his second season with Skil, having joined the team from Australian Continental squad Drapac-Porsche.

    Docker has enjoyed a successful season in 2010, having won stages at both the Delta Tour and Route du Sud. The 23-year-old’s contract has been extended by 12 months, through to the end of 2011.

    Koen de Kort has also extended his arrangement with the outfit by 12 months. De Kort is also currently in his second year with the squad.

    French rider Steve Houanard’s contract has been extended through to the end of 2012. The 24-year-old from Chambéry has made excellent progress over the past 18 months, according to the team.

    Houanard has enjoyed top 10 stage finishes at Bayern Rundfahrt and Tour de Luxembourg this season.

  • Three stagiaires for RadioShack

    Taylor Phinney is back to racing in the Tour of the Gila.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2010, 9:55 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Phinney joins replacement program for Vuelta a España

    Team RadioShack has announced that three stagiaires will join the squad next week as part of a replacement program for the Vuelta a España. Two riders from Trek-Livestrong, Taylor Phinney (USA) and Jesse Sergent (New Zealand) and one rider from the PWS Eijssen Team, Clinton Avery (New Zealand), are set to ride for the team directed by Johan Bruyneel for the rest of the season. The Tour of Denmark form August 4-8 will be their first race.

    Taylor Phinney, track world champion and two-time winner of Paris-Roubaix U23, this year won the Olympia's Tour in Holland with the overall classification and four stage wins. The 20-year-old is the son of former Tour de France stage winner Davis Phinney.

    New-Zealander Jesse Sergent, 22, is the silver medalist of the 2010 world pursuit championship and this year won the time trial stage in the Tour of Gila, beating specialists like Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions). His countryman Clinton Avery won the U23 version of the Vlaamse Pijl in Belgium this year and finished the last three years in the top ten of Paris-Roubaix U23.

    "All three riders are classy young riders. They have a lot of potential," commented Bruyneel. "We believe in them and are hoping this works out and can lead to something permanent next year. So far none of the three riders has a guaranteed place in our 2011 team but this is already a step forward in their development as pro riders. In the meantime we work further on the future of Team RadioShack. We are currently negotiating with other potential future riders for our 2011 team."

    After the Tour of Denmark, the three stagiaires will get other race opportunities in Belgium and France, including the Tour du Poitou-Charentes (August 24-27), the Classic de l'Indre (August 29), the Grand Prix Jef Scherens/Leuven (September 5), the Memorial Van Steenbergen/Aartselaar (September 8), Paris-Brussels (September 11), the Grand Prix Fourmies (September 12), the...

  • Rodríguez targeting San Sebastián and Vuelta

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rides to third on the Tourmalet.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2010, 11:45 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Katusha's Tour stage-winner also awaiting arrival of second child

    Having proved himself one of the best climbers in the sport by finishing eighth at the Tour de France and taking a stage win in Mende, Joaquim Rodríguez is turning his attention to this weekend's San Sebastián Classic and the Vuelta a España, which starts in late August. He also has an eye on the Worlds, having heard from riders who know the course that it's not a dead cert for a bunch sprint as has been widely suggested.

    First up is San Sebastián, which takes place on roads that the 31-year-old Catalan rider knows well from his time as an elite rider in the Basque Country. The route of Spain's biggest one-day race has been radically revamped this year. The key change will see the riders tackle the Jaizkibel and Arkale climbs twice rather than once, additions that Rodríguez says he's very much in favour of.

    "Of course I like this new route, because two passes over the Jaizkibel and Arkale suit me much more," Rodríguez told the race-organising newspaper, El Diario Vasco. "Although the race will go slower than usual over these climbs the first time, there will be splits and there will be a good selection. Then the lead groups will get whittled down even more on the second pass over the climbs."

    Rodríguez continued: "There will be fewer riders up front and that will allow me more freedom, assuming that the race is going well for me. There will be no chance to recuperate during the final part of the race."

    One other factor that the Katusha climber may have to take into account is the imminent arrival of his second child. The baby, a girl that Rodríguez and his wife Yolanda will name Elsa, is due at any time. Once she arrives, the family will head to the family's second home in Andorra, where Rodríguez will start his preparation for the Vuelta.

    "It's the ideal place to go because you can train at altitude and be at home with the family at the same time," said...

  • British cyclist Dan Staite suspended for two years

    It's all about blood - performance-enhancing methods abound in pro cycling
    Article published:
    July 29, 2010, 11:58 BST
    Jeff Jones

    Positive for EPO and an aromatase inhibitor

    Dan Staite, a British cyclist, formerly of the Cycles Dauphin Racing Team, has been banned for two years after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO) and an aromatase inhibitor, both of which are illegal under World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

    Staite's positive came about after he was tested at the Roy Thame Cup on 13 March, 2010. Rumours of his positive test started circulating months ago. But unlike many national federations, British Cycling and UK Anti-Doping don't announce positives until the disciplinary process is complete.

    After UK Anti-Doping confirmed that a doping violation had occurred, British Cycling announced that Staite's will be suspended from 1 May, 2010 to 1 May 2012.

    Bob Howden, British Cycling’s Chair of Anti-Doping Commission, said in a statement: “We are naturally disappointed that a cyclist has been found guilty of doping, however, this case shows that the comprehensive testing programme which operates at all levels of the sport is delivering results."