In spite of a Route du Sud victory capped by a stage win over the Port de Balès, Thomas Voeckler has insisted that Pierre Rolland will lead his Europcar team at the Tour de France.
Fourth overall in 2011 and winner of the king of the mountains last year, Voeckler has also won four Tour de France stages and spent twenty days in the yellow jersey during his career, and said that he would have a free role in Europcar’s line-up.
“It’s clear that for the general classification, the leader is Pierre Rolland as he’s finished eighth and tenth in the last two Tours,” Voeckler told RMC. “As for me, I’ll have a free role. I think I’ve achieved everything within my capabilities at the Tour de France. I don’t have a fixed objective but I’m not ruling anything out either.”
Rolland’s Tour build-up has been a troubled one however, and the Frenchman had to hand his racing licence back for eight days after he recorded abnormally low levels of cortisol in additional testing carried out by the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) during the Critérium du Dauphiné. The MPCC’s tests for cortisol have been designed to combat the use of cortisone in the professional peloton.
“I’ve taken the stance of not speaking about it, I’ve stayed focused on myself and that hasn’t gone badly for me this week,” Voeckler told RTL-L’Équipe when asked about the Rolland affair.
Dutch Anti-Doping Commission says up to 95 percent of riders doped in EPO-era
The majority of Dutch cyclists in the late 1990s and early 2000s used doping products, the Dutch Anti-Doping Commission has found. Most of the riders felt they had to use doping products to protect their careers, and did so with or without team help, with doping “anchored” in Dutch teams after its introduction.
According to the Commission's report, issued Monday morning, its interviews “confirmed the suspicion that most of the peloton, and the Dutch part thereof, during the heyday of EPO (late nineties and beginning of this century) used doping. It is difficult to give percentages but a range of 80, 90 and perhaps 95 percent is in our eyes the truth."
Many of the riders felt they had no choice but to dope. “In their eyes, it was crucial to the success of their cycling career and simply to meet the basic expectations of the team management.”
The Commission talked to numerous persons within cycling, but did not give any names or even the number of persons it interviewed. Chairman Winnie Sorgdrager, a former Justice Minister, told nu.nl that “Many riders who came to us were very afraid, for some of the legal consequences We have offered these people protection and that includes that we say nothing about the number [of persons interviewed]...."
Pro cycling teams had a double standard, not to say a hypocritical, approach to the problem. After the doping scandals of the 1998 Tour de France, “they explicitly communicated a hard and clear anti-doping line. Both internally and externally it was made clear that doping (no longer) was tolerated. Positive tests would immediately lead to dismissal.
“The message of the management team to the riders was one of double standards. On the one hand, there was the explicit rejection of doping. On the other hand, the riders were...
Marcel Wintels, chairman of the Dutch cycling federation told De Telegraaf that the report “gives us an honest, realistic but also painful insight into how widespread doping in cycling was. We must now look at how we can use the recommendations of the committee to achieve a cleaner cycling."
Daan Luijkx of Vacansoleil-DCM said that he hoped the report would make it easer for his team to find a new sponsor. “We had already made this analysis ourselves. It's nice to hear that an independent committee conducted an investigation and came to the same conclusion.”
Blanco team manager Richard Plugge applauded the report. “It's especially nice to see how the leadership of Dutch cycling is resolute in the fight against doping,” he told the ANP news agency. “That does not mean that there is not still a lot of work to do. I am convinced that the sport is in a better position than a decade ago.”
The conclusion was a logical one for former pro Michael Boogerd. "I think I have heard this before," he said. He admitted to having been part of the hearings, but said, “I only spoke for myself. Even if I hadn't confessed, I would have gone (to the hearing, ed.). For me it was a tedious time. Choosing to take doping was difficult, but actually you could not do otherwise. I only regret that the focus now is on the riders."
Following the Tour de Suisse, the leaders of the UCI WorldTour rankings remained the same, with Classics champion Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) retaining the top spot in the individual standings, which he has held since April. His nearest challenger, Peter Sagan (Cannondale), closed in slightly thanks to two stage wins in the Tour de Suisse - he now has 329 points, trailing behind the Swiss rider's 351. Sagan moved past Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo NIbali (Astana).
The biggest mover was Tour de Suisse winner Rui Costa (Movistar). The Portuguese rider moved up 21 places into 10th. Blanco's Bauke Mollema, the runner up behind Costa, blasted up the rankings from 92nd to 27th. Third place finisher Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) moved up from 32nd to 16th.
In the country rankings, Spain continued to dominate, leading Colombia by 45 points with Italy in third. Team Sky held onto the top team spot, holding a whopping 293-point advantage over Katusha, with Movistar in third.
Sicilian close to renewing deal with Movistar for 2014
Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) has ruled himself out of the Italian road race championships as a result of the injuries he picked up in a crash at the Tour de Suisse last week.
Visconti sustained several abrasions and required stitches for a wound to his left thigh after he crashed out of the race on stage five last week. After three days off the bike, the Sicilian attempted to return to training over the weekend but quickly realised that he would be unable to line up at the Italian championships in Trentino next Saturday.
“The abrasions are still driving me mad. I’m on antibiotics, I have pains in both my legs and arms, and, frankly, it’s unthinkable that I could ride as a protagonist in a race as important as the Italian championships,” Visconti told Tuttobici.
Already winner of the tricolour jersey in 2007, 2010 and 2011, Visconti was among the favourites for this year’s race, particularly given his form at the recent Giro d’Italia, where he claimed two stage wins, atop the Galibier and in Vicenza. The elite road race at this year’s Italian championships also incorporates the Trofeo Melinda, a race Visconti won in 2009.
“I’m tremendously sorry but I couldn’t risk compromising the entire second part of the season,” Visconti said. “I have a deep wound on my left leg and a nasty abrasion on my right, while my left hand has a cut which doesn’t allow me to hold the handlebars properly.”
After a troubled winter that saw him serve a three-month suspension for his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari, Visconti had a slow start to the 2013 campaing before hitting form at the Giro. His primary target in the second half...
Stage wins a priority for Belgian squad with Cavendish, Martin
The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team has finalized its team for the 100th Tour de France, which begins in Corisca on June 29. Leading the team in its goal of winning stages is sprinter Mark Cavendish, who has already indicated he wants to experience the glory of wearing the race's yellow leader's jersey, something which he has never had in the Tour. He will also hope to add to his tally of 23 Tour de France stage victories and 41 Grand Tour stage wins in total.
"Cav is there to try and win stages, and of course one of the big goals of Mark is to go for the yellow jersey on the first day," Rolf Aldag, the team's sport and development manager said. The first stage in Corsica is pan-flat, and perfectly suited for the sprinters, but Cavendish will be relying on a well-oiled lead-out train to get to the finish line first on the hectic opening stage.
"Mark will be able to count on the same leadout of the Giro d'Italia. They are already tested in race situations and will be ready again. Steegmans will be the last man, and Matteo Trentin will be the second to last man. But, all the team will be committed with Mark when the stage will fit his characteristics. Tony Martin will be there to ride to the 'Flamme Rouge' on the flat stages. He will bring Matteo, Gert and Cav into the best position possible in the final kilometer."
Lacking a top rider for the general classification, the team will instead put its focus on winning stages, and there are plenty of days which can suit other riders in the team, in particular Martin, the reigning world time trial champion, will also have more than one opportunity to net a stage win for the team.
Frenchwoman finished 12th in 2012 road race; 5th in ITT
Veteran Jeannie Longo will compete in the French national championships this week in a bid to win her 60th title.
The 54-year-old will be entered in both the road race and the individual time trial for the event which will take place in north western France.
In 2012, Longo finished 5th in the chrono and 12th in the road race which meant that for the first time since 1984, she did not qualify for the Olympic Games. Following that performance Longo denied she would be walking away from the sport after struggling to keep up with the 20-year-old winners of the road race and time trial; Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Marion Rousse.
"I think that [retirement] would be wrong, that is why I relaunched myself this spring. As long as there is life, there is hope," she said last June.
On the weekend, Longo finished runner-up in the GP Luzern I.T.T.
Pre-Qinghai Lake training block has search2retain sprinter feeling confident
Neil Van Der Ploeg (search2retain p/b health.com.au) is on a roll and the sprinter from Mt. Beauty will be hoping his winning trend continues this week during the fifth round of the Subaru National Road Series, the Santos North Western Tour.
The 25-year-old has had an impressive run so far in 2013 with a handful of podiums in previous events finally culminating in stage victories at the Tour of Toowoomba and Adelaide Tour last month, the first of his career in the Australian domestic series. It's that consistency that has resulted in Van Der Ploeg being the only non-climber in the top-five of the NRS standings, with Huon-Genesys pair Jack Haig and Nathan Earle ahead of him by 13 and seven points respectively. Their teammate Jai Crawford is next best, three points behind Van Der Ploeg in a top-10 that's littered with the might of the Orange Army. The Santos North Western Tour comprises of five stages with at least two opportunities for the fast men of the bunch – the Stage 2 criterium in Narrabri and when the event reaches its conclusion over 137.8km between Coonabarabran and Gunnedah.
"I think we'd be a bit disappointed if… well maybe not," Van Der Ploeg trails off, checking himself before continuing. "We're hoping for a win – we've had some guys racing at Singkarak recently and they're all feeling really good too so we're certainly going in with the aim of winning another stage."
Van Der Ploeg's first response is telling, mainly for the fact that search2retain essentially waved goodbye to any hope of a high general classification finish for Cam Bayly on the opening day in Adelaide with a disappointing performance in the team time trial. The team...