- Article published:
- March 2, 2011, 15:50
- Cycling News
Your chance to win a unique rainbow jersey
Cyclingnews readers have a chance to win a special autographed rainbow jersey simply by signing up to out new YouTube channel.
We have obtained one of the 60 limited edition rainbow jerseys that were made for the Cervelo TestTeam by Castelli after Thor Hushovd won the world road race title in Australia.
Hushovd wore the same jersey when he rode the Giro di Piemonte and the Giro di Lombardia last year before moving to the Garmin-Cervelo team for 2011. We got Hushovd to autograph the jersey before Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and now you can win it.
To be in with a chance, all you have to do is subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here.
We'll pick a winner in the next few days Good luck!
Cyclingnews is the world's leading cycling website, bringing you the most up-to-date news, race results and live race coverage. You'll also find the latest tech reviews, exclusive interviews, a lively forum and a whole lot more.
- Article published:
- March 2, 2011, 16:28
- Barry Ryan
Power output could be used as future parameter
BMC team doctor Max Testa has spoken in support of the UCI’s Biological Passport but warned that the programme is still in the process of being refined and perfected. The Italian also suggested that in the future, anomalous power output figures could be added to the list of parameters used to target riders for anti-doping controls.
“The biological passport’s main value is that it tests riders out of competition so that you can look at the changes in biological parameters, because unfortunately there are products you cannot find in urine,” Testa told Cyclingnews recently.
“I think that the shift in concept from looking for forbidden substances in the urine to the biological effect of these substances is the way to go.”
The Biological Passport faces a stiff test this week as Franco Pellizotti and the UCI make their cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The Italian rider was sidelined when he fell foul of the passport ahead of last year’s Giro d’Italia but he was then cleared by Italy’s Tribunale Nazionale Anti-doping in October on the grounds that his blood values could have been altered by factors other than doping.
Testa acknowledged that the passport is still a work in progress, but he stressed that the important thing is to gather as much information as possible in order to create detailed biological profiles and tighten the net on doped riders. However, he admitted that the data gathered is still open to interpretation.
“There are areas that can be improved but the more we use it, the more we can learn,” Testa said. “The main concern I have as a physician is that the variation [of blood values] can be huge. We don’t know what the variability is in this specific population [professional cyclists], as they train a lot and travel a lot, so maybe their variations are not exactly the same as those of average people.
“Most of the studies they use to support this are done on athletes, but not athletes to this extreme level of fitness, so there is a margin of uncertainty and some fluctuations can be physiological in this specific group.”
On the particulars of interpreting Biological Passport blood values, Testa maintains that a certain degree of fluctuation is natural, whereas perennially fixed blood plasma numbers should arouse suspicion.
“To be honest, I like to see some kind of fluctuations because that is the way it should be,” he explained. “It’s natural: when you train, you expend plasma volume and you expect the numbers to be a little diluted. When you don’t train, the numbers go up. What’s not normal is when you see the numbers going up after a stage race.
“The problem is how we interpret the variation – is a stable number good or is it bad? Sometimes it’s better to see some variation rather than someone always at the same number, because you can think that that is also the result of manipulation. We’re just learning.”
Biological Passport in tandem with targeted testing
One of the criticisms the Biological Passport system has drawn is that it is not being backed up with dedicated and targeted anti-doping controls. WADA’s independent report into the UCI’s testing at the Tour de France drew stark attention to the issue and Testa agrees that the newer biological testing must work in tandem with traditional controls.
“I’m not sure if I would use the [biological passport] parameters to say a guy is doing something but it would make me focus more on the athlete and do more controls on him,” Testa told Cyclingnews. “They have to work together.”
Testa also believes that while biological passport data can be used to target riders for testing, it could also be used to establish culpability when a rider returns a positive test for a product that he or she claims to have used or consumed accidentally, a recent case being that of Alberto Contador.
“If you find a small amount of something in the urine but the biological parameters are stable, it means that they were either trying to use a performance enhancer without knowing how to use it and so were not getting the benefit, or else there was a contamination,” Testa said.
“I don’t think we have a mistake-proof system right now. Maybe one day in the future we can test riders’ hair twice a year and see what they’ve done for the previous six months but right now it’s the best we can do.”
Testa was previously team doctor at 7-Eleven and Motorola, and a number of riders from that set-up would later go on to become important figures in the controversial US Postal Service team, which is the focus of a federal investigation in the United States. The Italian claims that the increased availability of biological data means that it is now easier to keep tabs on his riders’ activities than it was when he first entered professional cycling.
“When I started in the 1980s, we couldn’t even look into the athletes’ blood, there was nothing,” he admitted. “You had no way of knowing if a rider was having a blood transfusion if he didn’t want to tell you. You were just there, maybe worried that this guy was doing something, maybe thinking, ‘I heard that he’s training with this other guy…’ So there were a lot of dark areas.”
Power output testing – the future?
Last season, BMC joined the growing band of teams that have abandoned “internal” testing programmes and Testa explained that it was simply because they felt such testing was superfluous with the advent of the biological passport programme.
“30 [biological passport] tests a year is already enough and we really support the effort of the UCI and WADA with the biological passport,” Testa said. “I don’t think that we were bringing anything more by doing more tests.”
While internal dope testing is no longer on the agenda, BMC has stepped up the level of physiological testing it performs on its riders, and Testa believes that in future such analysis could play a significant role in the fight against doping. Every rider at BMC is equipped with an SRM power-meter and must upload his data after every training ride and race for analysis.
“We have an internal testing for physiology, so we test the athlete for the whole year, so that could be seen as part of all of this [the anti-doping effort],” Testa said. “This year we have SRM power-meters and by contract the riders have to load their data everyday. We have three people that analyse their power files. Every week we have a report, we see how the spectrum of the power changes and that can be done to see how good they do but also if there is any variation. It’s like a biological passport applied to performance.”
While Testa reiterated that an unusual fluctuation in power output alone is not a reliable indicator of doping, such information could be used in conjunction with other available data to step up testing on specific riders.
“I think it’s even a little more complicated than the biological passport because some of the conditions aren’t standard, but if you enough data for each athlete, you know how much power they can sustain for 20 minutes or an hour or whatever and you expect a certain trend of improvement through the season,” he said. “Then maybe the next season you have all the data of the year before, and if you see the numbers start to go up at a time when they are not training or only training a little, that could be a warning.
“You cannot use it to judge in and of itself, but it’s an extra way to approach the problem.”
- Article published:
- March 2, 2011, 17:42
- Kirsten Frattini
Financial boost helps quadruple team budget
Michigan-based vitamin supplement manufacturer 5-hour Energy inked a one year contract to co-title sponsor the UCI Continental team Kenda p/b Geargrinder, effectively renaming the outfit Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder for the 2011 season. According to general manager Chad Thompson, the combined budget of all financial sponsors including 5-hour Energy has elevated the team budget to nearly four times more than it was last season.
“This is huge for us because we have always been industry sponsored and now we have a major corporate backer,” Thompson told Cyclingnews. “With everything that we have done, such as Kenda and Geargrinder increasing their sponsorship, a couple of private funders and 5-hour Energy, we have quadrupled our budget.”
Living Essentials are the producers of 5-hour Energy, a vitamin supplement sold in roughly two ounce bottles primarily in convenient stores and gas stations along with sales in Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Walgreen's, CVS, Rite-Aid, 7-11, GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe, among other locations. Sale reach roughly 400 million bottles annually with a core demographic that includes working men between the ages of 18 and 49.
President Scott Henderson, a cycling enthusiast, met the team’s Directeur Sportif Frankie Andreu at the Tour de France last year where they discuss the idea of sponsoring professional cycling along with the need to educate the public on the benefits of 5-hour Energy for healthy and active lifestyles.
“I was over at the Tour de France last summer with family and we advertise on Versus so I got backstage passes through our contacts and ran into Frankie Andreu,” Henderson said. “The interesting thing was, Frankie’s comment to me was, ‘I see 5-hour Energy on late-night television and in gas stations and it scares me.’
“Robbie Ventura was sitting beside us and he turned to me and said that he loved the stuff. It got me thinking that I have a product that I sell a million bottles a day of but here I have two guys that are almost identical and one loves it and one is afraid of it because he doesn’t know what’s in it and that is the classic problem with 5-hour Energy. That led to this opportunity of moving into the active lifestyle community and educating them that it is a safe product and good for them. What more interesting way to do than through bike racing.”
Tour of California and ProTeam ambitions
Henderson currently sponsors Nascar and expressed an interest in the possibility of supporting professional cycling at ProTeam level in the future. He ultimately decided to enter the sport on a domestic level with a team that could garner exposure in top-level American racing. Kenda p/b Geargrinders became that team when it received its first invitation to the Amgen Tour of California.
“Getting invited to the Amgen Tour of California definitely weighed into our decision to sponsor the team,” Henderson said. “For us, being a national brand, it has to be enough to make it interesting for us and them getting invited to the Amgen Tour of California really put it over the top. I look at this year’s sponsorship as a way of getting to know the team, getting to know the sport and seeing if it will work for us and for them.”
The team’s interest in contesting international stage races increased following the recent signing of Australia’s Ben Day. In addition the Amgen Tour of California, Kenda/5-hour Energy plans to send a team to the Tour de Beauce, Tour of Utah, Quiznos Pro Challenge and the Herald Sun Tour.
“We met their areas of interest by being in these events,” Thompson said. “Now they see that we have a solid shot at going to race in places where they want to market. After hiring Ben Day and scrambling to find the money for that and then getting invited to the Amgen Tour of California and invitations to other events we needed to find the funding that we didn’t quite have. When 5-hour Energy came on board we became much more comfortable.”
5-hour Energy ingredients include four vitamins B6, B12, Niacin and Folic Acid along with energy supplements and amino acids Citicoline, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Taurine, Malic Acid, Glucuronolactone and Caffine. The product contains no sugar and no herbal stimulants and is available in pomegranate, grape, berry, lemon and orange flavors.
“They did some extensive testing on it and all the ingredients were approved for USADA and WADA lists and our physician as well as their labs, everyone is in collaboration to make sure that everything is on the up and up and completely safe,” Thompson said. “But they’ve sponsored sports that get tested quite a bit. The riders are using it and they love it.”
One of the primary deterrents for professional athletes using any dietary supplement is the possibility of cross-contamination with other substances that are banned by the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). According to Henderson, there is no possibility of cross contamination with 5-hour Energy products.
“We do all our own manufacturing with two plants in Wabash, Indiana and each of them have six dedicated lines and the only product we make is 5-hour Energy. There is no chance of that [cross contamination] because everything we make is 5-hour Energy and there are no other products made in our plant. The most important thing we have is our brand and the quality behind it.”
- Article published:
- March 2, 2011, 21:03
- Cycling News
Track to be part of multi-discipline cycling hub
Construction work is underway on the BMX Track for the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) announced today.
Hot on the heels of the recently-unveiled velodrome, the work marks the beginning of the next stage in the development of a world-class cycling legacy post-2012. The 400-metre track will include a series of jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners, covering an area slightly larger than a football pitch.
Located next to the velodrome in the north of the Olympic Park, it will have a temporary seating area of 6,000 that will be removed after the Games. It is due for completion this summer in time for a test event in August.
As part of the legacy, the track will be reconfigured and made suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. A mile-long road circuit and a 6km mountain bike course will be built to create the Lee Valley VeloPark, a multi-disciplined cycling "hub" for the capital. The VeloPark, which replaces the Eastway Cycle Circuit on the Olympic Park site, will cost around £1 million and is due to open to the public in May 2013.
ODA Chairman John Armitt said, "The BMX Track will be a first-class venue for the world's best riders in 2012 and after the Games, the reconfigured course will be a great facility for people of all ages and abilities to try out this exciting and growing sport."
For more information on the Games, and to register your interest for tickets for all cycling events, visit www.london2012.com.
- Article published:
- March 2, 2011, 22:00
- Cycling News
Four-race series in USA produced by women for women
The Women's Prestige Cycling Series, the only national-level competition produced by women for women, is accepting entry registrations. The series consists of four races around the US from March through mid-July.
"We set out to create a focused series that women's teams could build their seasons around," said Women's Prestige Cycling Series co-founder Giana Roberge, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 sports director. "The National Racing Calendar just had too many events and had became a competition about who had the biggest travel budget. We wanted a series all women's teams could equally take ownership of while levelling the playing field."
The four races are Redlands Bicycle Classic in California (March 30-April 3), the SRAM Tour of the Gila in New Mexico (April 27-May 1), the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota (June 15-19) and the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic (July 19-24) in Oregon. All four races are part of USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC).
"Having a women's-only series does a great deal to enhance the sport, and get it out a bit from the shadow of the men's side of the sport," said TIBCO-To The Top manager and DS Lisa Hunt. "I think you can see that effect in the improvement in quality of the racing here in the U.S. Just look at the recent success of U.S. women on the road in some of the biggest races internationally and you can see how the WPCS has contributed to that growth in talent, and in the talent pool."
The Series offers four separate competitions: top overall individual, best young rider, best sprinter and top team. Special jerseys, provided by Champion System, will identify the leaders in the first three classifications.
Defending champions are Mara Abbott (top individual and best young rider) and Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 (best team). The late Carla Swart won the best sprinter competition last year.
The Series is open only to teams, but individual riders can either form a team or join one that will be participating. More information and the rules are available at www.WomenCyclists.com. Registration deadline is March 29.
- Article published:
- March 2, 2011, 23:59
- Stephen Farrand
RCS Sport to announce the 22 teams on Monday
The director of the Giro d'Italia, Angelo Zomegnan has hinted there will be several surprises when he names the teams invited to this year's event but has refused to give further details before the formal announcement.
The 22 teams will be named on Monday, March 7, exactly two months before the race begins in Turin with a 21.5km team time trial.
Under a bilateral agreement between major organisers and the UCI, the 18 ProTeams registered for 2011 have been invited to ride all the races on the World Tour Calendar, with the race organisers allowed to award up to four other wild card invitations.
That should mean Ag2r-La Mondiale, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Quick Step, Saxo Bank-SunGard, RadioShack, Garmin-Cervélo, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Rabobank, Team Sky, BMC, HTC-Highroad, Liquigas-Cannondale, Leopard Trek, Movistar, Astana, Vacansoleil-DCM and Euskaltel-Euskadi all receive invitations to the Giro d'Italia.
However, Cyclingnews understands that Vacansoleil's place could be at risk. The Dutch team has sacked Riccardo Riccò' and has opted not to race Ezequiel Mosquera until his positive for hydroxyethyl starch is resolved but its ProTeam status could be at risk.
Zomegnan could also decide to take a strong stance against Vacansoleil, despite the agreement with the UCI. Last year he refused to give Riccò's Ceramica Flaminia team an invitation to the Giro and is not afraid of confrontation.
Wild card invitations
If Vacansoleil misses out on an invitation to the Giro d'Italia, it would also ease the problem of deciding who is given the wild card invitation.
Zomegnan has confirmed that the Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli team will have one of the wild card places thanks to team leader Giovanni Visconti being the current Italian national champion. The Tuscan team will also include sprinter Andrea Guardini.
That leaves several Professional Continental teams desperately hoping to secure one of three or four other places.
Androni Giocattoli topped the Italian team classification and so seems assured of an invitation under an agreement between the Italian Cycling Federation and RCS Sport.
Team manager Gianni Savio has lost Michele Scarponi to Lampre but recently added Jose Rujano to his team to boost his roster. He is rightly confident his team will be at the start in his home city of Turin on May 7.
The Geox-TMC was snubbed for Tirreno-Adriatico by RCS Sport but was invited to Milan-San Remo and seems likely to be invited to the Giro because their squad would include both Carlos Sastre and 2009 Giro winner, Denis Menchov. Both of the team's sponsors are Italian companies, with Geox a major name on the Italian high street and major advertiser in newspapers and magazines owned by RCS.
This leaves Colnago-CSF Inox, Acqua & Sapone, Team Type 1, Cofidis and possibly Europcar hoping for the final one or two wild card invitations.
All have valid reason for an invitation but someone will miss out when the teams are announced on Monday.
- Article published:
- March 3, 2011, 03:22
- Jane Aubrey
Spaniard argues his country is at the forefront of anti-doping
Alberto Contador says that while the "worst is over", he has been left scarred by his doping case while vowing to fight any appeal brought against him by the Word Anti-Doping Authority or the UCI.
Speaking with Spanish daily ABC, the Saxo Bank Sungard rider explained that when The Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) overturned their recommendation to ban Contador for Clenbuterol use during his third Tour de France victory last July, it was a "huge weight" off his shoulders.
"I thought there is some justice in this world," he said.
The personal cost to Contador in fighting his case may have also extended to his hip pocket with the Spaniard hinting in the interview that he was prepared to do whatever was necessary in order to clear his name.
"I don't know and I don't care [how much was spent],"he said. I told my brother [his manager, Fran] to do whatever was necessary. The issue went beyond to keep racing. It was a matter of honour."
Following his acquittal last month, Contador rode in the Volta ao Algarve after being cleared by the RFEC to compete the day prior to the start. The 28-year-old was looking for his third straight win in the Portugese event but finished fourth, 41 seconds behind winner Tony Martin of HTC-Highroad.
Contador's lawyer, Andy Ramos recently revealed that his defence strategy hinged on proving that the Spaniard had inadvertently ingested Clenbuterol through no fault or negligence on their part.
"It was an incredible job in gathering information and to demonstrate to the scientific community that my theory was real," Contador said while continuing that should the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) review his case, it will be fought with just as much vigour.
"Now I want to fight and if I managed to stop them sanctioning me I should fight with even more determination to ensure that the higher authorities don't do so either."
Contador also managed a thinly veiled swipe at UCI President Pat McQuaid who has previously been critical of Spanish authorities given the number and frequency of doping cases emanating from the country.
"I think that Spain itself is ready and at the forefront of anti-doping," he countered. "What happens is that there is too much talk about decisions. I'm surprised that you can try and make critical information available. Many things that have been in the press [have been] lies."
- Article published:
- March 3, 2011, 09:50
- Hedwig Kröner
World governing body and national agency reach agreement on testing
The dispute between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) seem to have been resolved in time for this year's Paris-Nice race.
According to French sources, a new contract of collaboration between the two parties will be signed on Saturday, one day before the start of Paris-Nice. The agreement foresees that anti-doping agents from the UCI and AFLD will again work together, with AFLD testers expected to take approximatively 60 blood and urine samples at the French stage race.
The process of reconciliation began in January 2010, after several years of tension and criticism of the testing done at the 2009 Tour de France. In September last year, former AFLD president Pierre Bordry resigned and has since been replaced by Bruno Genevois.
Paris-Nice, which is owned by Tour de France organiser ASO, will be the first step in the rebuilding of the relationship between the UCI and the AFLD.