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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 16, 2011

Date published:
June 16, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Porte convinced Contador can complete Giro-Tour double

    Richie Porte (Saxo Bank Sungard)
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 11:25 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Australian climbs L’Alpe d’Huez for first time during reconnaissance

    Riche Porte (Saxo Bank-SunGard) believes he can have a strong Tour de France and help Alberto Contador become the first rider to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour in the same season since Marco Pantani in 1998.

    The 26-year-old Australian had a quiet Giro d’Italia, finishing 81st on GC, but worked for Contador throughout the race, a task he will face again in July. Porte is currently in the French Alps with Contador and several other teammates studying some of the toughest mountain stages in this year’s Tour de France route. They will today complete the stage to L'Alpe d’Huez, which will be Porte’s first ascent of the famous Alpine climb.

    “It was a hard Giro and the legs were quite sore afterwards. I got sick again but I’ve recovered now and I’ve been training at altitude. I’m getting stronger and stronger every day and I’ve done everything I can to recover,” Porte told Cyclingnews.

    “Today I’ll ride up L'Alpe d’Huez. It’s a really special moment and the first time I’ve done it so I’m really excited.”

    A strong Tour is possible

    Porte is only in his second season as a professional but burst onto the scene in last year’s Giro with a stunning seventh place on GC and several days in the race leader’s maglia rosa. Despite having already raced one grand tour this year, he isn’t daunted about starting a second one in such quick succession.

    “It’s certainly possible to have a strong Tour. I think it’s possible I can do two grand tours. The Giro was brutal and the Tour this year looks hard on paper as well but I have to have confidence in the team’s decision and...

  • Ballan and Bruseghin summoned by Italian Anti-Doping Procura

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC)
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 11:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Former Lampre rider face questioning about Mantova investigation

    The BMC team recently lifted Alessandro Ballan’s suspension and like former Lampre teammate Marzio Bruseghin, he is currently riding the Tour de Suisse. However both could soon face another suspension after being summoned for questioning by the Italian Anti-doping Procura as it continues to study details of the police investigation into a possible doping ring in Mantova.

    Ballan and Bruseghin have been called for questioning on June 27, the Monday before the start of the Tour de France. A total of ten people have been summoned. Also on the list are their former Lampre teammates Massimiliano Mori, Paolo Bossini, and Mantova pharmacist Guido Nigrelli.

    Spanish doctor Taus Josè Ibarguren has also been summoned for question after he was also implicated in the case. However Ballan’s current BMC teammate Mauro Santambrogio is not in the list published by the official website of the Italian Olympic Committee.

    Many of the Lampre riders were obliged by the Italian team to travel from across Italy to see Nigrelli in Mantova. The riders and Nigrelli have denied any wrong doing, with Nigrelli insisting that he only supplied legal medicines to Lampre team at discount prices. However the police investigation is centred on the sale and use of prohibited substances including EPO, ephedrine, testosterone and corticoid-steroids.

    Italian police believe that those involved used code words such as ‘lollypop’, ‘egg’, ‘topo gigio’ and ‘culatello’ to describe the products they were using.

    The Mantova public prosecutor explained that the police used phone taps and tailed people as part of the investigation.

    “Beyond the intercepted telephone calls, police from the NAS [the...

  • Lefevere looks to sign Gilbert and Boonen for 2012

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates on crossing the line.
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 13:29 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Quick Step manager claims he has the cash to offer three-year deal

    Patrick Lefevere has stepped up his hunt to sign Philippe Gilbert, telling Cyclingnews that his Quick Step team has the finances to compete for the Belgian rider’s signature. The experienced team manager is also hopeful of agreeing a new contract with Tom Boonen and is convinced that the two biggest stars in Belgian cycling can ride together.

    Gilbert’s contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto ends this year and under UCI rules he is free to sign a new deal from August 1. Earlier this week his agent ruled out a move to Astana, leaving Quick Step, Lotto, Sky, BMC and Omega Pharma as the likely suitors.

    “Everybody is talking to him but there’s a long way to go and I don’t know what his final decision will be. I’ve talked once or twice with him and several times with his agent but it’s only been talks, there hasn’t been a contract offer,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.

    “Journalists are always interested in writing about numbers and writing stupid things about figures and sums. I’ve seen quotes on Gilbert’s salary ranging from 2 million and then I saw he was worth 5 million last week and those figure are thrown around as if they mean nothing. I never talk about numbers but I will say that the need for a three year deal is not a problem for us at all.”

    Gilbert and Boonen dream team

    With Boonen set to decide his future before the national championships at the end of the month Lefevere could potentially start the 2012 season with both Boonen and Gilbert on his books. He is confident that they can ride on the same team.

    “I don’t see why not. I’ve managed top pros all my life,” he said.

  • UCI set to implement new anti-doping initiative

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) adjusts his collar after winning the 2010 Tour of Romandie
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 17:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Riders returning from suspension won't count for teams

    The UCI is on the brink of implementing new rules which will limit the sporting value of riders returning from doping suspension, it announced today.

    The new anti-doping initiative will prevent teams from benefitting from hiring riders fresh off suspension - riders such as Alejandro Valverde - by not allowing those riders to accumulate points toward a team's sporting value for two years after their return to competition.

    The Spaniard will return to competition next year following his suspension for involvement in the Operación Puerto blood doping affair, and has been linked with the Movistar team. The restriction on his sporting value will likely translate into a much-reduced contract size.

    The measure was discussed in a meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) today in Maastricht, The Netherlands and will be presented to the UCI's management committee this week. If passed, the rule will go into effect this year.

    UCI president Pat McQuaid first revealed the plan for the rule to Cyclingnews at the UCI Track World Championships in March. The regulation is also supported by the teams association (AIGCP) president Jonathan Vaughters.

    In 2010, the UCI introduced a new method for determining the sport's top tier - it calculates the points earned by a team's top 15 riders and factors in other team-based results to rank the top teams.

    The top 15 teams automatically earn entry into the WorldTour, while the UCI then chooses three teams from the next five in the rankings to fill out the final three spots by factoring in other criteria such as ethical and financial considerations.

  • Kai Reus to make another comeback

    Kai Reus (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 21:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutchman returns to pro ranks with Team de Rijke

    Following a leave of absence which took Kai Reus away from professional cycling for nearly a year, the 26-year-old Dutchman will return to the pro peloton with Team de Rijke in time to contest his country's national time trial championship next week, according to De Telegraaf.

    Reus has had a rocky time in the professional ranks as he suffered a serious head injury in a training crash in July 2007 during his first full season on Rabobank's ProTeam. He was placed in an induced coma for 12 days and did not return to racing until September 2008, for Rabobank's Continental squad.

    Reus competed in 2009 for Rabobank's ProTeam with the highlight of his return to form occurring in September 2009 where Reus won one stage of the Tour of Britain and spent three days in the leader's jersey.

    In 2010, however, he was sidelined by mononucleosis in February and was out of competition until late May. Reus raced a handful of times during the summer, but stopped competing in early July after pulling out of the Tour of Austria on stage three.

    Rabobank announced in September 2010 that Reus would take a one-year leave of absence, and now the Dutchman will once again return to the professional peloton after spending his winter taking part in marathon skating events.

  • Police interrupt Contador's Tour de France recon

    Contador was forced to climb in the car after police stopped him for riding without lights for the tunnels
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 22:38 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard stopped for riding in tunnels without lights

    Alberto Contador's reconnaissance of the Alpine stages of the 2011 Tour de France was interrupted today when French police stopped him for failing to have lights on his bicycle on the descent of the Col du Galibier.

    According to the Associated Press, Contador was unable to convince the officer that his team car would adequately light the way in the sometimes long and dark tunnels that are featured along the route. He eventually had to give up and put his bike in the car.

    The Spaniard is looking to defend his 2010 Tour title in July, even in light of the pending arbitration hearing over his Clenbuterol positive in last year's race.

    He has been training for the past two days in the French Alps in preparation for the race, which begins July 2.

  • WADA says no plan to introduce clenbuterol threshold

    Giro champion Alberto Contador with his winner's trophy.
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 23:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Anti-doping agency says no action imminent

    The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) refuted reports that its scientific experts may call for instituting a threshold level for the substance clenbuterol, for which Alberto Contador tested positive in the 2010 Tour de France.

    WADA's scientific director Oliver Rabin told the Associated Press yesterday that the threshold could be one of the recommendations made by the panel at a meeting in Montreal next week.

    The agency issued a press release today clarifying that clenbuterol remains a prohibited substance without a lower threshold for a positive test. It also said "at present there is no plan to introduce a threshold level for clenbuterol".

    Contador argued that his positive test was the result of contaminated food, and several other athletes around the world have made the same claim after being found with the substance in their system.

    Contador's attorneys pointed to the minuscule level of the drug in the positive samples - an amount 400 times lower than the required detection level - and argued that it was not intentional doping and at too low a level to be performance enhancing.

    The test was somewhat controversial in that laboratories normally would not detect clenbuterol at the level found in Contador's sample, but the German laboratory which did the analysis used machines which could find very small amounts of the drug.

    Contador's case, and the subsequent decision by his Spanish federation to drop disciplinary action in the matter, has been problematic for the sport. WADA and the UCI have appealed the decision in a hearing set for August, but the Spaniard continues to race and win all the...

  • UnitedHealthcare gets UCI allowance to defend at Nature Valley Grand Prix

    Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) with the winning time of 13'08".
    Article published:
    June 15, 2011, 23:40 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Sutherland on top after UCI permits Pro Continental team to compete in home event

    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling's Rory Sutherland is seeking his fourth straight victory at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, but only a late allowance by the International Cycling Union (UCI) enabled the US-based Professional Continental squad to participate.

    The Nature Valley Grand Prix, a six-stage event taking place June 15-19 in Minnesota's Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, is not a UCI-sanctioned race and according to the UCI rule 2.1.009 "Only the UCI continental teams of the country, regional and club teams, national teams and mixed teams may participate in national events. Mixed teams may not include riders from a UCI ProTeam".

    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling moved from the Continental to Pro Continental ranks for the 2011 season and should have been ineligible to start, but extraordinary circumstances persuaded the UCI to grant the team a one-time exemption on Friday.

    Sutherland and his teammate Adrian Hegyvary took the top two spots in the opening time trial.

    "The UCI gave exceptional permission for this specific case based upon the arguments the team put forward such as development for the mid and long term of cycling and supporting the sponsorship of this Pro Continental team," the UCI told Cyclingnews.

    The squad's title sponsor, UnitedHealthcare, is local to the Nature Valley Grand Prix and the team is competing in the interest of the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation, a non-profit charity which issues grants to provide financial relief for families who have children with medical needs not covered or not fully covered by their medical plans. The team will donate all prize money earned in...