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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Date published:
February 01, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Graeme Obree reveals he is gay

    Graeme Obree himself.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 13:52 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Admits the torment he faced

    Graeme Obree, a two-time World Champion and hour record holder, has admitted the torment he faced as he came to terms with his sexuality, after revealing that he is gay to a British newspaper.

    In an interview with the Scottish Sun newspaper published on Monday, Obree admitted that the anxiety associated with hiding the fact that he was gay had led to two separate attempts to take his own life, in 1998 and 2001.

    "I was brought up by a war generation; they grew up when gay people were put in jail. Being homosexual was so unthinkable that you just wouldn't be gay. I'd no inkling about anything, I just closed down," Obree told the newspaper.

    While Obree has only now made it public, he said he had come out to his family (he is now divorced from his wife) shortly after discussing the truth about his sexuality with a psychologist in 2005. He admitted that the revelation had been a particular shock for his parents, though the truth has had a positive impact upon his relationship with them.

    "It was difficult and there were lots of tears. It wasn't easy. But the relationship with my parents has been improved by it," he said. "We talked about it and discussed things and we're a lot happier."

    In 2001, it was revealed that Obree had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. He told the Scottish Sun that his sexuality had also been a factor in attempts to take his own life.

    "I was brought up thinking you'd be better dead than gay. I must have known I was gay and it was so unacceptable," said the 45-year-old.

    Both Obree's private life and his achievements on the bike have combined to make him one of cycling's most enigmatic figures. The Scotsman claimed the World individual pursuit title in 1993 and 1995 but is best known for his innovative and pioneering attempts at the World hour record.

    He claimed the hour record twice, in 1993 and 1994. The first successful, in Norway, saw him best a nine-year-old record held by...

  • David Etxebarria critical of Contador's reaction to one-year ban

    Unai Etxebarria thinking
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 16:26 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Former teammate hits out at Tour winner’s silence over previous doping affairs

    Former Euskaltel, ONCE and Liberty Seguros rider David Etxebarria has slammed his ex-team-mate Alberto Contador, effectively accusing the three-time Tour de France winner of hypocrisy. A series of five posts on his Twitter page concluded with two-time Tour stage-winner Etxebarria telling Contador “don’t shout out when previously you stayed silent”.

    This came after Etxebarria suggested that Contador, who is expected to appeal against his one-year ban after testing positive for clenbuterol, had not made any fuss when former team-mates had been caught up in doping affairs.

    The two riders were teammates at the Liberty Seguros team in 2005 and into 2006, when Astana took over the running of the team in the wake of the Operation Puerto blood doping investigation. Etxebarria was among the riders whose careers were ended by the Puerto affair.

    Etxebarria’s Contador-related posts start with a comment that “on Friday after listening to Contador I will give my opinion on the case. It will surprise quite a few…”

    After adding the following day that he needs time to think about the right words to use, Extebarria eventually tweets: “AC you shout about justice and when it is handed out you start shouting again that you don’t believe in it”.

    He then adds: “When there were ex-team-mates who were asking for justice and weren’t given it you were silent.” A further tweet states: “You shout about the gutter press… When the majority has been easier on you that it has with anyone else in a similar case.”

    Now well into his flow, Etxebarria’s...

  • Smaller, more versatile team for Garmin-Cervélo women

    The Garmin-Cervelo women prepare for 2011
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 17:25 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Squad debuts in Tour of Qatar

    A smaller, more efficient Garmin-Cervélo women's team will start its season in the Tour of Qatar this week, but the squad's contraction from 14 riders to 10 is not due to shrinking emphasis on the women after it was melded into the Slipstream Sports network.

    Cervélo co-owner Gerard Vroomen ensured that his women's team, which was the world's number one in 2010, was brought on board with the Garmin team after he signed his company on as a title sponsor. Vroomen explained that the budget is bigger than last year for the women, but the drop in the roster was designed to benefit for the riders.

    "When you look at women's racing there is rarely a double program," Vroomen said. "The races except for the Giro [Donne] are all for six riders. If there's no double program and you can't field more than six, why would you have more than 10? It doesn't make sense to have a larger team than there are races to put riders in."

    Despite a smaller roster, Vroomen revealed the budget for the team has actually increased over 2010. "The reason budget went up is we instituted a minimum salary, which doesn't exist in women's cycling. Plus we have some very successful riders, and they should be rewarded for that."

    Five riders have returned from the dominant 2010 squad: time trial world champion Emma Pooley and fellow Britons Sharon Laws and Lizzy Armistead, Australian Carla Ryan and Dutch rider Iris Slappendel. New to the team are Lucy Martin, Trine Schmidt, Jessie Daams, new Australian champion Alexis Rhodes and Noemi Cantele.

    With the loss of prolific winner Kirsten Wild and stage race favorite Claudia Häusler, Vroomen said the scaled-back squad will not be under pressure to be as dominant in 2011 as they were in the past.

    "In a way, the goal is to win less this year. I think it would be good for the sport. As a team, we'll try to win every race we can - but [for] the overall design for the sport - it's one of the...

  • Landis: It was either cheat or get cheated

    Floyd Landis in 2006 giving a press conference after testing positive in the Tour de France
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 17:57 GMT
    Cycling News

    American tells his story of doping to Kimmage

    Floyd Landis has repeated details of how he doped while riding with Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service team in 2002 and at Phonak in 2006 when he won the Tour de France in a long feature interview with Paul Kimmage in the Sunday Times.

    The interview lasted a reported seven hours but focuses on Landis's own story rather than the detailed allegations he made after confessing in the spring of 2010.

    Kimmage details how Landis decided to dope while attending a training camp in 2002. He was desperate for money after the folding of the Mercury team and desperately wanted to be part of Armstrong's Tour de France squad.

    The Sunday Times reveals that Landis went to St Moritz for a training camp in May. There, Landis doped for the first time, applying testosterone patches to help his recovery, and a half litre of blood was extracted before being re-infused during the Tour de France. Armstrong went on to win that Tour, his fourth, and Landis earned $50,000 in prize money and picked up a $40,000 bonus.

    Landis accepts it was his own decision to dope but claims he the widespread cheating in the sport at the time made him choose between either 'cheat or get cheated.' He chose the first, and as Kimmage writes, he became part of the 'Brotherhood of the Needle.'

    "I've tried to explain this a hundred times," he is reported as saying in the Times. "But it always comes out sounding like I am either blaming someone or trying to justify what I did. I don't point fingers. Nobody forced me to do what I did."

    "If I had any reason to believe that the people running the sport really wanted to fix it, I may have said, 'If I wait long enough, I'll have my chance to win without doping.' But there was no scenario in my mind where I was ever...

  • Team Christina Watches says final paperwork is done

    Michael Blaudzun, Christina Hembo and Michael Rasmussen
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 20:05 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Danish Continental team may sign more riders

    Team Christina Watches continues to take form, with the last bit of paperwork for the licence already sent off to the International Cycling Union. The team is also looking at the possibilities of further signings, sport director Michael Blaudzun has told Cyclingnews.

    The team has taken over the licence from Bianchi M1 which is still listed on the UCI website. However, that will change soon, according to Blaudzun.

    “At the moment the change of name from Bianchi M1 to Christina Watches is in process, and we expect pretty soon to listed as Christina Watches on the UCI site. All the forms, etc., have been sent, and that should just be a matter of time,” he said Monday morning.

    In addition, the team may expand beyond the previously-announced 14 riders “Right now we are 14 riders, all Danish. In the near future we will look at the possibilities of eventually signing one or two more,” Blaudzun said.

    He confirmed to Cyclingnews that one of those riders may be Angelo Furlan. “It's too early to say at the moment, but we are in contact with him.”

    Furlan told Ekstra Bladet that he was in contact with Blaudzun. “His team is only a small team, but for me it is important to keep my career up and running races. I can do very well on a small team. I can help Michael,” he said.

    The 33-year-old rode the last two years for Lampre, and finished second in the 2010 Paris-Tours. He was not given a new contract for the current season.

    However, main sponsor Christina Hembo says further signings depend on whether...

  • Possibilities for Porte as Contador case continues

    Richie Porte (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 23:01 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Giro d'Italia's best young rider keeps season goals steady

    Saxo Bank-Sungard star Richie Porte believes that regardless of the outcome of the Alberto Contador doping case, his season's goals won't change significantly despite a possible change of role at the Tour de France to team captain.

    The Spaniard has been notified he'll face a one-year ban resulting from a positive test for Clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France. He tested positive whilst riding for Astana but made the switch to Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank-Sungard squad during the off-season and last Friday vowed to appeal the decision during a press conference.

    "It does mix things up a bit... But Alberto doesn't race a hell of a lot anyway. I look at my race program and it's exciting. There's Paris-Nice and [Tour de] Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. Also, my girlfriend's coming to Monaco to live, which is cool," Porte told Cyclingnews.

    "Regardless, Alberto's case is still up for appeal - other than the Tour, it doesn't make a big difference for me. The Tour's going to be hard to perform at on my first go; I've got Romandie and Suisse and they're probably more the races that I'm going to do well in, in the immediate future anyway."

    Porte says that spending another year under the tutelage of Riis in major tours will be good for his career, the experienced Dane having negotiated with his Australian charge to remain with the squad and take on a solid racing program for 2011.

    "Of course it's a lot of pressure [at the Tour]; I'm a second-year pro, we can't lose sight of that. If anyone puts themselves in my shoes to ride with Saxo Bank-Sungard and it's such a good team... the thing is, Bjarne knows how to win big bike tours, which I'm not going to be able to do right now. But I'm going to get...

  • Teams ready for Amgen Tour of California

    HTC-Columbia take control of the peloton on stage one of the Amgen Tour of California
    Article published:
    February 01, 2011, 2:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    'Home' squads well-represented in list for May

    The lineup for this year's Amgen Tour of California sees 11 of the 18 teams slated to start the event emanating from the USA, whilst half of the field are UCI ProTeams.

    Sources close to the race have provided Cyclingnews with a first look at the teams invited to the sixth edition of the event, which gets underway in South Lake Tahoe on May 15.

    Included in the ProTeams is BMC Racing, which had previously ridden the event as a Pro Continental team in 2010. Despite losing defending champion Michael Rogers to Team Sky, perennial performers HTC-Highroad will return, as will Rabobank, Saxo Bank-Sungard and RadioShack.

    Rogers' new squad gets the nod as does the super team of Leopard Trek and the renamed-for-2011 Liquigas-Cannondale.

    Local Pro Continental squads are well-represented, with two American, one Canadian and one German outfit attending: Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling and Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis represent, along with Steve Bauer's Team Spidertech Powered By C10 and Team NetApp.

    There are also five Continental squads with an American base, including Bissell Cycling, Jamis - Sutter Home, Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda, Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health and Kenda Presented By Gear Grinder. These teams often provide some extra spark to the racing and there's no indication 2011 will be any different.

    Teams lineup for 2011 Amgen Tour of California:

    UCI ProTeam: BMC Racing Team (USA), HTC-Highroad (USA), Leopard Trek (Lux), Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita), Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned), Saxo Bank Sungard (Den), Sky Pro Cycling (GBr), Team Garmin-Cervelo (USA), Team RadioShack (USA)
    UCI Professional Continental: Team NetApp (Ger), Team Spidertech Powered By...

  • Hincapie unsure of long-term impact of doping controversy

    George Hincapie (BMC) leads a strong American contingent.
    Article published:
    February 01, 2011, 9:40 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    American set to retire in 2012

    George Hincapie (BMC) has admitted that he does not know what long-term impact recent doping controversies will have on American cycling.

    “I don’t know the answer to that question,” Hincapie told Cyclingnews. “I do think that, from what I know, cycling is doing probably more than any other sport to make it a clean sport and I’m proud of the way they’re handling it. I do think we’re on the cutting edge as far as testing goes and other sports will try to follow our lead.

    “I know there are a lot of riders out there who work very hard and win races clean, so I don’t want fans to think you cannot do that.”

    Hincapie was a member of each of Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France-winning teams and their former US Postal Service squad is understood to be at centre of a federal investigation into alleged doping practices in American cycling. Hincapie declined to comment on the ongoing inquiry, led by FDA agent Jeff Novitzky, but he said that he was not affected by speculation linking him to the matter.

    “I think if you ask anybody that’s close to me, they’ll all say that I’m a good person and that I have a good character and at the end of the day, my family and close friends are what matter to me,” he said. “If they were to say I was a bad person or had a bad character, then that would affect me. But the other stuff [media and internet speculation], I’m not going to let that affect me.”

    Hincapie’s erstwhile leader Armstrong has been at the eye of the storm in...