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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, October 14, 2010

Date published:
October 14, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • WADA to ensure timely conclusion to Contador case

    Alberto Contador during his press conference as he tries to explain how his urine sample became contaminated with clenbuterol
    Article published:
    October 13, 2010, 21:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Plasticizers not necessarily evidence of transfusion, says scientist

    The World Anti-Doping Agency is prepared to intervene in the doping case of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador should it drag on too long, the agency's general director David Howman indicated today.

    Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol in a sample taken during the Tour's second rest day. The Spaniard argued that the substance must have come from contaminated meat, but other sources have alleged that a tainted blood transfusion was the cause. Reports pointed to traces of plastics allegedly detected in the rider's urine as an indication that a transfusion had been taken.

    Contador hit back at the allegations last week, calling for an end to such defamatory reports, emphatically denying he had used blood transfusions. There have been no official reports specifying if plasticizers had been detected and at what level.

    WADA's scientific director Dr. Oliver Rabin spoke about the charges today, saying, "We can not be 100% sure it was a transfusion, other explanations are possible," for the residues in the sample.

    The German laboratory which tested the Tour de France samples reportedly implemented a new test designed to detect autologous transfusions through the presence of chemicals which leech from plastic blood bags into the body during an infusion.

    Autologous transfusions are difficult to detect through normal tests and the examination of blood passport values. A former manager to several riders, Stefan Matschiner, revealed this week that even small amounts of a rider's own blood would give a performance boost when re-infused during a Grand Tour.

    Rabin said that the test for plasticizers can be used as an indication of possible doping, but said it is not yet validated. "To validate a drug test, it must be confirmed by scientific literature and groups of experts, and it must be usable in all [WADA-accredited] laboratories," he said. "Extensive research is underway involving populations of athletes and samples...

  • Millar to headline Chrono des Nations

    David Millar (Scotland) wins gold in the men's time trial at the Commonwealth Games in India
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 0:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Larsson, Dowsett other favourites in France

    Only four days after becoming the Commonwealth Games champion in Delhi, India, David Millar has another appointment with racing against the clock. Also a silver medallist at the world championship behind Fabian Cancellara in Geelong, Australia, the Scot will be the hot favourite for the at Chrono des Nations in Les Herbiers, France, on Sunday, October 17.

    "The Vuelta has given me the right condition for time trials and I'm determined to try and win the Chrono des Nations," Millar said. "It's a prestigious race."

    Last year's Chrono des Nations was won by Alexandre Vinokourov who will not defend his title. The Kazakh is busy in China riding the Tour of Hainan as a preparation for November's Asian Games in Guanghzou, China, in November.

    However, Millar will face a fierce competition in France as Olympic silver medallist Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia), Markel Irizar (RadioShack) and on-form Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) are also expected to put strong performances.

    Some 12 national champions will line up for Sunday's race: Larsson of Sweden, Boasson Hagen of Norway, Pinotti of Italy, Nicolas Vogondy of France, Rubens Bertogliati of Switzerland, Raivis Belohvosciks of Latvia, Grega Gazvoda of Slovenia, Matija Kvasina of Croatia, David McCann of Ireland, Matti Helminen of Finland, Jaroslaw Marycz of Poland and Ioannis Tamouridis of Greece.

    In the Under 23 category, European champion Alex Dowsett, who finished second to Millar at the Commonwealth Games, will be up against French champion Nicolas Bonnet while world champion Hanna Solovey from the Ukraine will contest in the junior women's event. A duel is expected between Amber Neben and Jeannie Longo who respectively came fourth and fifth at the world championship in Geelong in the elite women's field.

  • Tibco signs Commonwealth time trial champion Whitten

    Tara Whitten (Canada) celebrates her gold medal in the Commonwealth Games time trial.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 5:16 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Canadian among five new signings for 2011

    North American women’s team Tibco-To The Top has named five new signings for 2011 including Canada’s Tara Whitten who yesterday claimed victory at the Commonwealth Games’ elite women’s time trial. Whitten is joined by Joelle Numainville, Alison Powers, Carlee Taylor and Erinne Willock as the new signings at Tibco.

    Tibco director Linda Jackson praised Whitten on her all-round ability when announcing the new signings. Whitten will be allowed the chance to focus on the UCI Track World Championships before changing focus to her road duties with the squad next season.

    “Tara is an immense talent who is still so new to the sport that she hasn’t even begun to reach her potential as a road racer,” said Jackson. “The fact that she won the time trial and also finished 7th in the road race – after picking up three bronze medals on the track earlier in the Games – is a testament to her all-around ability and determination.”

    Whitten hopes having experienced riders like Powers and Meredith Miller, who will remain with the squad next year, will younger riders like 21-year-old Taylor to develop next season. While young Taylor has some experience under her belt having competed in Europe with the Australian national team this year, where she won a stage of Tour Feminin en Limousin.

    “Carlee is yet another of the young crop of riders who is getting tremendous international experience early on,” Jackson said. “She will definitely benefit from the presence of her new, more experienced teammates like Powers and Willock, as well as Meredith Miller.”

    Jackson admitted the signing of Whitten, Willock and Numainville is indicative of her desire to support upcoming Canadian riders. But the former rider was quick to point out that her squad still has an international flavour.

    “I’m Canadian and a former Canadian Olympian, and I want to be able to...

  • Contador, Petacchi to skip 2011 Tour de France presentation

    An emotional Alberto Contador during his press conference in his home town of Pinto
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 10:03 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Riders await outcome of doping investigations

    This year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, along with the race's green jersey, Alessandro Petacchi, will not appear at the 2011 event's presentation in Paris on Tuesday next week, due to ongoing doping investigations. Even though the Spaniard has attended the presentation several times in the past - and was still ready to fly to France two weeks ago - he has now decided to skip the media event if the International Cycling Union (UCI) does not clear his name.

    "We are still awaiting the UCI's verdict," explained Contador's press officer Jacinto Vidarte to L'Equipe on Thursday. "We always hoped that the decision would be made before the Tour presentation. Alberto wants his innocence proved by the UCI. If they don't make a decision by Tuesday, I can't see Alberto going to Paris. The Tour presentation is not his priority today. He prefers to miss out on the official presentation of the route and be at the start of the 2011 Tour next year."

    Moreover, the media pressure at the event in the Palais des Congrès would be too much for Contador, who prefers to remain silent these days. "I think a lot of harm has already been done," Vidarte continued. "His presence would certainly focus the attention of the assembled media and this may even harm the Tour presentation itself."

    Contador's greatest rival, Tour runner-up Andy Schleck, will attend the event together with his brother Fränk. Other riders scheduled to attend are Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Mark Cavendish, George Hincapie, Alexandre Vinokourov, Vincenzo Nibali, Samuel Sanchez, Joaquim Rodriguez and the Frenchmen Thomas Voeckler, Anthony Charteau, Sandy Casar, Yoann Offredo and Jérôme Coppel. In total, 28 teams will be represented by some 40 riders.

    Alessandro Petacchi, the Tour's green jersey winner, will also not attend. The Italian is waiting for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) as to whether it would refer or drop an investigation in him...

  • 2011 Giro d'Italia to return to the Zoncolan

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas - Doimo) soloed to victory atop the Zoncolan and moved into 3rd on general classification.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 10:46 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    First details emerge of key climb

    The full route of the 2011 Giro d'Italia will be revealed on Saturday October 23 in Turin but the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, that is owned by race organisers RCS Sport, has revealed that the Monte Zoncolan climb will be back as a decisive stage in the 2011 race.

    The Zoncolan is in the eastern Carnic mountains of Italy and will be climbed on Saturday May 22 at the end of a 210km stage that starts in Leinz, Austria. Gazzetta reports that stage will include four other passes before the climb to the finish at an altitude of 1,735 metres.

    The Zoncolan was first climbed during the Giro d'Italia in 2003, when Gilberto Simoni won the stage and Marco Pantani finished fifth in what would be his last ever ride in the Giro.

    The stage climbed from the village of Sutrio on the East of the Zoncolan in 2003 but in 2007, when Simoni won again, the race organisers were able to climb from Ovado on the eastern side. This climb is even harder and considered one of the hardest climb in Europe. It is 10.10km long and climbs at an average of 11.9%.

    Ivan Basso conquered the Zoncolan from the Sutrio side during this year's Giro d'Italia. After a head-to-head battle with Cadel Evans, Basso dropped the Australian and finished 1:19 ahead of his biggest rival for the maglia rosa. The rest of the peloton was spread over 30 minutes, with sprinter Graeme Brown last to make it to the finish.

    The 2011 Giro d'Italia will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, with other stages expected  to finish on the edge of the Mount Etna volcano in Sicily, in the Dolomites and the Italian Alps.

    The race will start on Saturday May 7 in Turin with a team time trial. The race will end with an individual time trial to Milan on May 29.

  • Specialized renews deal with Astana

    Astana riders opted for their usual Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3s today.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 10:49 BST
    Cycling News

    American bike manufacturer to sponsor three teams next year

    The Specialized bike brand has reached a new sponsorship agreement for one more year with Astana, the squad has announced. The American bike manufacturer will continue to provide equipment for the Kazakh team, including Alexander Vinokourov and Czech newcomer Roman Kreuziger, throughout next season.

    Specialized has also committed to support the Espoir and Junior teams of the Kazakh cycling project.

    The move indicates that Specialized will be supplying at least two high-profile teams next year with Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank-SunGard also working on Specialized bikes as they have this year.

    The bike supplier switched from supporting QuickStep in 2009 to Astana and Saxo Bank this year, eager to see the world's best stage racers Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck showcasing their bikes. With Contador possibly facing a doping suspension and Schleck off to the new Luxembourg team, Specialized back-pedalled on its initial decision to leave Astana, according to L'Equipe.

  • WADA dismisses Contador’s contaminated meat claims

    Director General of the WADA, David Howman
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 11:27 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    World anti-doping body monitoring the case closely

    The World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman has dismissed Alberto Contador's claims that his positive test for Clenbuterol at this year’s Tour de France was caused by contaminated meat bought in Spain.

    Speaking to journalists during a meeting at the WADA headquarters in Montreal, Howman pointed out that the contaminated meat excuse has been used in the past but rejected during anti-doping hearings.

    "It's been raised before, it's been heard in a couple of cases and rejected," Howman told the Reuters news agency. "It's not unusual.”

    "The issue is, can you prove it? It's a pretty hard thing to prove that is where it (the banned substance) comes from.”

    "The tribunal will make a decision and I'm comfortable with that."

    A hearing date

    WADA is reportedly monitoring the Contador case very closely and is ready to step in if a disciplinary hearing is not arranged swiftly by the UCI and the Spanish Cycling Federation.

    "It took a year to set the Landis hearing up the first time around," Howman said.

    "If we were concerned about the results management system and that there was procrastination we can take it straight to CAS and say: 'this is wrong'.

    "The issue for us is when will they have a hearing?

    "At some stage somebody is going to have to say, 'here is the hearing date'."

  • Gran Piemonte welcomes Thor Hushovd as new world champion

    Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    October 14, 2010, 12:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Norwegian races in the rainbow jersey for the first time

    New world champion Thor Hushovd has started his very first race wearing the rainbow jersey at the Gran Piemonte race in northern Italy today. Hushovd also rode a special Cervelo rainbow-decorated bike.

    The Norwegian sprinter had planned to end his season at the world championships in Australia but winning the world title changed all that.

    “I was meant to have my holiday with my family, but when I won the world championship I was really proud, and I wanted to honour the jersey and so also race in 2010,” Hushovd told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    “Racing in Italy is special because of the history of cycling here and the pride Italy has for the rainbow jersey. So I’m doing this race and then the Lombardy, and then my season is over.”

    Hushovd was the centre of attention at the start but insists the rainbow jersey will not change him.

    "I am still the same person, I’ve just won a very important race. It is the attention that is surrounding me that has changed. People are now trying to drag me all over the place.”

    Hushovd was given number 77 for Gran Piemonte, the same number he had for the road race world championships.

    The Gran Piemonte started fast with 51,60km covered in the first hour of racing. Hushovd remained in the main peloton but former world champion Cadel Evans climbed off at the first feed station after 100km.

    There will be a full report and a gallery of photographs immediately after the race here on Cyclingnews.