- Article published:
- December 18, 2012, 19:07
- Cycling News
Former teammate testifies in wrongful termination suit
The Rabobank team management and riders knew of the whereabouts of Michael Rasmussen in 2007 as he prepared for the Tour de France, according to testimony at a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by the Dutch rider.
Rasmussen was removed from the 2007 Tour de France prior to stage 17 whilst leading the race after reports surfaced that in June, he had informed the doping authorities that he was training in Mexico, but was actually in Italy. He fought against being suspended for the whereabouts violations, served a back-dated ban through the 2009 season following a failed appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He is seeking 5.6 million euros in damages for wrongful dismissal from the Rabobank team.
Then-team manager Theo de Rooij and directeur Erik Breukink had testified that they had no knowledge of the deception, but today Rasmussen reiterated his assertions that the team was fully aware of where he was.
"It would have been stupid to prepare for the Tour in another time zone. It was an excuse to escape the press," said Rasmussen. He said he informed Breukink of his plans at the Tour of the Basque Country in April, 2007, and that the team doctors Geert Leinders and Jan-Paul van Mantgem were also aware of his location.
His then-teammate Max van Heeswijk today testified that the other Rabobank riders knew that Rasmussen was not in Mexico. "At a training camp for riders who weren't doing the Tour, Gerben Löwik came with the news that Rasmussen wasn't in Mexico. We already knew that from Thomas Dekker, who was in the Tour."
Dekker was not present at today's hearing, but is due to testify at the next one in March.
Breukink and de Rooij had stated last month that they only learned of the deception on July 25, 2007, when Rasmussen was leading the Tour de France. At the time, the Tour de France was already under the cloud of doping, with the case of its 2006 champion Floyd Landis still pending arbitration and then the positive test for blood transfusion of Alexandre Vinokourov, which led to the entire Astana team withdrawing from the race.
On the same day that Rasmussen's whereabouts violations became public, Cofidis also withdrew from the race following the confirmation that its rider Cristian Moreni had tested positive for testosterone. Despite pulling Rasmussen from the race and then firing him, Rabobank remained in the Tour de France, but later quietly changed management: De Rooij stepped down after the Tour and was replaced by Harald Knebel.
- Article published:
- December 18, 2012, 20:08
- Laura Weislo
Colorado Mesa University relinquishes "second chance"
Cycling coach Rick Crawford has been released from his position at Colorado Mesa University after the school learned new information about Crawford's previous involvement in helping athletes to dope.
Earlier this month, Crawford admitted to helping Levi Leipheimer to use performance enhancing drugs between 1999 and 2001, and CMU officials believed that Crawford had disclosed all of his anti-doping rule violations to them and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Crawford was allowed to remain in his post under the supervision of CMU cycling director Scott Mercier after he agreed to perform 500 hours of community service in anti-doping education and would agree to harsher penalties should he violate another anti-doping rule.
However, the university said that new information that "involved an instance(s) of a drug-related infraction(s) that occurred while Crawford was in Durango" led to his dismissal today.
“It is incredibly disappointing,” said Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster. “It is just too bad but our commitment remains to support our student-athletes and to giving them the most positive college experience possible.”
Mercier, an out-spoken anti-doping advocate who was a part of the US Postal Service team until 1997, ended his own career when it became apparent that doping would be the only way to survive in the peloton. He was appointed to his post as cycling director in the wake of the links between Crawford and doping, and is disappointed that he had to let Crawford go.
“We believed it was important that Rick Crawford have a second chance but the information we have recently received removed that option,” Mercier said. “We remain committed to running a clean program and to becoming a leader in endurance athletics, particularly cycling.”
Speaking to Cyclingnews, Mercier said he considered Crawford a friend, and that the team's success this year was largely due to Crawford's efforts, but that "it's unfortunate for the kids, but in the long run it will help the college and the team."
The new allegations come from a rider, but Mercier would only say the rider worked with Crawford between 2000 and 2006, and would not confirm whether nor not the allegations of doping fall inside or outside the eight-year statute of limitations.
He compared Crawford's situation to that of cycling at large, and called for more honesty and transparency from the bottom up to the UCI itself. "What irks me is that it appears we continue to have half truths and not the whole truth. I don't believe, and my colleagues don't believe, that the entire peloton cleaned up in 2006," he said, referring to the statements of the riders banned for their testimony against Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team. "If you'e going to come clean, come completely clean."
Replacing those who cannot fully disclose their doping past is necessary, including the leadership at the UCI, but Mercier says that there is a place for forgiveness, which is what he tried to show to Crawford. "It's a sad situation, and I wish it didn't have to end this way, but we have to protect the school and the kids."
The school is launching a nationwide search to replace Crawford with the support of Foster, who has been supportive of the program. Patrick Rostel, the reigning collegiate criterium champion, will step in as interim coach until a replacement can be found.
- Article published:
- December 18, 2012, 21:40
- Cycling News
No details revealed, CAS appeal confirmed
Team Katusha has vowed to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) its exclusion from the WorldTour ranks by the UCI after receiving documentation justifying the decision from the sport's governing body.
Ominously using the same "reasoned decision" phrase employed by USADA to describe the documentation that torpedoed the career of Lance Armstrong, the UCI too announced that it had delivered its decision to the Russian team.
A statement from Katusha said that every objection to the license application was addressed at the UCI License Commission hearing in November.
"All the positions mentioned in this document were considered during held on the 22nd of November 2012 UCI License Commission preliminary hearing. All the information provided by Katusha by its opinion is complete and corresponds the requirements of the UCI License Commission.
"After receiving the above-mentioned document the Russian team Katusha confirms its determination to defend its rights using all civilized ways in order to receive the World Tour license, including the already made appeal to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)."
Katusha was the number two-ranked team of 2012, and its top rider, Giro d'Italia runner-up Joaquim Rodriguez, the winner of the individual classification for the season.
The UCI did not reveal the order of the top 15 teams in its sporting criteria, which is just one aspect of the WorldTour application process. The teams must further pass requirements for ethical, financial and organisational aspects.
It was expected that two of the teams in the bottom five of the sporting criteria would be left out of the 18-team World Tour - Argos-Shimano and Saxo-Tinkoff were believed to be battling for the last spot after Europcar accepted a Pro Continental license - but in a surprise announcement on December 10, the UCI announced that it was indeed Katusha that had missed out on the top tier.
- Article published:
- December 18, 2012, 22:19
- James Huang
Specialized knocks Cervélo off its throne but aero is still king
After seven straight years on top, Cervélo's dominant reign finally comes to an end with Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Specialized S-Works McLaren Venge winning the Best Team Bike classification for 2012.The make and model topping this year's poll may have changed but one thing is still clear, though: aero road bikes are here to stay.
Specialized introduced the McLaren Vengein March 2011 as an all-out race machine, supposedly saving 23 watts of rider effort as compared to the company's own Tarmac SL3 at 45km/h– and HTC-Highroad sprinter Matthew Goss put that claimed advantage to good use just two days later by winning Milan-San Remo. Weight and rider comfort were secondary concerns here but thanks to composite design help from development partner – and heralded Formula 1 engineering house – McLaren, claimed frame weight is still a very reasonable 950g.
OmegaPharma-QuickStep team bikes featured a straightforward build, featuring a SRAM Red group, Zipp cockpit components, Zipp carbon tubular wheels, and Look KéO pedals while Specialized provided the carbon fiber crank, saddles, and even tires.
Standing on the second step of this year's podium is Sky's Pinarello Dogma 2, as used by British cycling superstar (and newly crowned BBC SPOTY) Bradley Wiggins en route to his first Tour de France win. Pinarello's curvaceous flagship isn't touted as an aero bike like the Venge and in fact, it isn't remarkably light, either. However, its wildly asymmetrical design does strike a remarkable blend of stiffness, ride quality, and handling that seems well suited to three weeks of hard labor and few will argue with its enviable good looks, too.
We noted several curious component choices on Wiggins' machines this year (such as ceramic bearings and custom-built wheels) but Sky's team bikes in general use another by the book build, including Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groups, Shimano and PRO wheels, PRO cockpits, Veloflex tires, and fi'zi:k saddles.
Cervélo hasn't fallen completely off the map, though, rounding out the top three with Garmin-Sharp's Cervélo S5 – just edging out the Liquigas-Cannondale Cannondale SuperSixEvo Hi-Mod. Cervélo hasn't significantly changed the S5 since last year – it's still claimed to be supremely aero – but a new paint scheme that debuted late in 2012 looks to minimize much of the visual bulk.
We'll have to wait another year to see if that new graphic brings Cervélo back to the top but in the meantime, consider it the end of an era.
||Omega Pharma-QuickStep Specialized S-Works McLaren Venge
||Sky Procycling Pinarello Dogma 2
||Garmin-Sharp Cervélo S5
||Liquigas-Cannondale Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod
||BMC Racing Team BMC TimeMachine TMR01
||Europcar Colnago C-59 Italia
||RadioShack-Nissan Trek Madone 6-Series
||Orica GreenEdge Scott Foil
||Lampre-ISC Wilier Triestina Cento 1 SR
||Farnese Vini-Selle Italia Cipollini R1000
- Article published:
- December 19, 2012, 00:10
- Cycling News
Top picks from major road races all over the USA
Photographer Jon Devich had the 2012 American road racing season covered with images from major, domestic races all over the country.
Check out this Cyclingnews gallery for photos of pro men's and women's racing at events like the Cascade Cycling Classic, the Exergy Tour in Idaho, the Tour of Gila, Redlands Bicycle Classic, US National Championships, Nature Valley Grand Prix, TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Tour of California, USA Pro Challenge, USPRO Criterium Championships and the Tour of Utah.
Devich's images capture the essence of some of the amazing places visited by many of the top American races as well as racers' high and low moments.
- Article published:
- December 19, 2012, 02:07
- Alex Malone
Team riders and jersey on show for coming season
The team directed by former professional Trent Wilson was presented in the squad’s hometown of Sydney this week with 16 riders making up the roster for 2013. A mix of new and existing riders will race in the new colours of GPM-Data#3 for the coming season as the team looks to make further impact in the Australian National Road Series.
Wilson had just put the team through a demanding four-day training camp in and around the outskirts of Sydney with many of the new riders - not accustomed to the duly named "death camp" - slightly shocked by the distance and terrain. The team covered in excess of 800km over the four days and while all the riders were tested with drills, efforts and specific instructions, Wilson believes this style of pre-season work is vital for the team to gel together.
"They certainly had to push through that barrier. You might have a tough day and then you have a teammate alongside helping you and giving you a push. The idea is to encourage the team to go from just a bunch of guys to being really good teammates," said team director Wilson.
"It was designed to see who would crack and how people would handle that if it became too much. That’s really all part of the bonding," he said.
The gruelling training camp also served as part of the team's preparation ahead of a busy start to the year that will begin on 1 January at the Mitchelton Bay Cycle Classic. The 'Bay Crits' will be promptly followed by the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and the Australian National Championships in Ballarat.
While the full roster for GPM-Data#3 had been previously announced, the presentation given at a local Sydney bike store gave the sponsors and supporters of the team a chance to gather in what will likely be one of the only opportunities over the next twelve months.
Remaining competitive throughout the NRS calendar means Wilson has put together a number of different contingents to target specific races. The criterium-heavy NRS tours will no doubt suit the fast-men with additions like Joe Lewis and the 2012 under-23 national criterium champion Scott Law added to the 16-man group. The climbing side of the team has also been strengthen with upcoming talent Jesse Ewart and a number of others which should see the team high on the standings throughout the season.
"We’ve built a really good team. We’ve got probably two different parts of the team - maybe even three."
"We’ve got a criterium team, a great lead-out and Scott Law is on board. Joe Lewis will be leading him out and he’s a top sprinter in his own right. I watched them [during the final day of the camp] doing sprint drills. It’s going to be a tough ask to come off those two especially with Josh Taylor, Sam Rutherford, Sam Wood, Ed White, Chris Jory and some of the other guys leading them into the final 500 metres. It’s going to be a tough ask to come around them."
"There’s some good climbers with David Melville, Michael Troy, Jesse Ewart, James Hepburn plus the guys who are already on the team like Chris Jory.
"Then we’ve got some great domestiques; Andy Crawley, Jake Magee, [Dan O’Keefe] and then Julian Hamill is also back from injury while Alastair Loutit is also back on the team."
- training camp
- Article published:
- December 19, 2012, 03:12
- Cycling News
Team debut for Bobridge and Tanner, Renshaw and Brown return
The Blanco Pro Cycling team, formerly known as Rabobank, will send an Australian-packed team to the opening WorldTour race of the 2013 season, the Santos Tour Down Under. New signings Jack Bobridge and David Tanner will make their debut with the team that is still looking for a headline sponsor while sprinters Mark Renshaw and Graeme Brown are also included in the seven-man squad.
The remaining spots in the Blanco line-up will be filled by Wilco Kelderman, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Maarten Tjallingii.
"The 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be a special race for the Blanco Cycling Team, it is going to be a fresh, new start. The first page of a beautiful story will be written," said team manager Erik Dekker.
Bobridge was a surprise move from Orica-GreenEdge at the end of this season however, with his renewed focus on the road the young rider believes the Dutch outfit can provide him with an ideal place for development. The 2011 Australian road and former under-23 world time trial champion has committed to spending the next two seasons with Blanco.
"Bobridge is a great young rider who made his WorldTour debut at the Santos Tour Down Under back in 2009 and is always popular with the crowds," said Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur.
"He's had a good season with a silver medal in the team pursuit at the London Olympics and also won silver in the team and individual pursuits at the 2012 UCI Track World Championships," he said.
David Tanner is another Australian making his way through the WorldTour ranks and moved from Saxo-Tinkoff after two year's with the squad owned and run by Bjarne Riis. Tanner has proved to be a capable rider in the tougher one-day races but has been signed primarily to assist in the lead-out trains for Blanco's sprinters Theo Bos and Mark Renshaw.
"With four Aussies competing on home soil they will be aiming to show a competitive form to their Australian supporters. With the top sprinter in the team, being Mark Renshaw, he is determined to see this team be successful and make an impact. Our two young riders who are great cycling talent, Wilco Kelderman and Tom-Jelte Slagter will aim for a top 10 result in the GC," said Dekker.
"The team is committed to perform at the highest possible level in Santos Tour Down Under and is 100% focused and motivated."
The Blanco ProCycling team for Tour Down Under: Jack Bobridge (Aus), Graeme Brown (Aus), Wilco Kelderman (Ned), Mark Renshaw (Aus), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned), David Tanner (AUS) and Maarten Tjallingii (Ned).
- Article published:
- December 19, 2012, 04:07
- Jane Aubrey
Timely announcement with government funding under threat
Cycling Australia's high performance program will continue to receive the support of its greatest patron, Gerry Ryan through his company Jayco, with Wednesday's announcement of a "multi-million dollar" funding deal in the lead up to the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games.
Extraordinarily Cyclingnews can reveal the deal was only set to cover the next two years however, just prior to the press conference Ryan decided to commit fully for the Olympic cycle there and then.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of those by New Zealand and Great Britain in the last 24 hours.
Cycling Australia's high performance director, Kevin Tabotta was frank saying that the funding would "put us back in the game" in the aftermath of the London Olympic Games where six medals were won and the nation finished second behind Great Britain on the track medal tally.
"It's not just about Rio," explained Ryan. "It's about all the races and world championships between now and then. I'm just pleased to be able to have the means to assist the program and believe in what Kevin and his staff are doing and give the riders the opportunity to achieve the best."
The funding will cover the re-jigged Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy, previously announced on Cyclingnews, the former Jayco-AIS Continental program along with Track, BMX and Para-cycling.
"What it means for Cycling Australia cannot be understated," said Tabotta. Ryan backed the program coming out of the Beijing campaign and it certainly wasn't a given that his investment would continue heading into Rio. His first foray into investing into Cycling Australia was two decades ago backing Kathy Watt.
"Clearly when you've got more resources you can put stronger systems, better staff, better support for athletes... that's what Gerry's funding allowed us to do. [In London] it allowed us to look into the areas of technology, sport science, our travel plans, our camps overseas - everything was able to come up a notch.
"I don't want to underplay at all the significance of the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport in this investment model as well but when you get a corporate sponsor come in and top that out the way that Gerry does, and there wouldn't be too many sports in Australia that have this level of investment, from one investor, out of the corporate world. We're very lucky in that sense."
Tabotta's comments were timely for a number of reasons - with the Australian Sports Commission currently reviewing Cycling Australia's funding off the back of the investigation into the body which grew out of the fallout from the United States Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision documentation. Cycling is a priority sport, along with athletics, rowing and swimming in the eyes of the ASC and for this reason alone, any funding cut would be likely to cost medals - making a funding cut unlikely. It's also important to note that only one other of the priority sports, swimming, last month received a $10 million investment heading into Rio from Australian mining magnate, Gina Rinehart.
Also at Wednesday's announcement, were two "elders" of the Australian cycling fraternity - Anna Meares and Stuart O'Grady, both of whom have benefitted directly from the high performance program while also experiencing different levels of funding.
"One of the big changes that I've noticed in the time that I've been with the Australian Institute of Sport based in Adelaide is really seeing that support structure of staff get bigger and more specific in their roles," explained Meares. "They are world class and leading in their specific field."
O'Grady meanwhile has experienced many structural changes since he was first involved in the high performance program with the AIS in the early 90s.
"It's become a completely different sport almost," said the Paris-Roubaix winner. "Back then we had very limited budget very limited staff and a limited amount of bike riders. Back then I think we had eight track endurance riders; the road program was struggling - there was really no junior development program that I knew of. I was a 16-year-old and we were sponsored by [beer brand] Foster's, I was laughing about that before, it wouldn't go down too well today..."