- Article published:
- February 12, 2013, 19:28
- Peter Cossins
Isidro Nozal admits undergoing transfusions, but says he never doped
Former Liberty Seguros riders Joseba Beloki, David Etxebarria and Unai Osa denied having any link whatsoever with Eufemiano Fuentes when they testified in the Puerto trial Tuesday. The three ex-pros, who were all members of the Liberty Seguros team that fell apart when news of Operación Puerto broke in May 2006, insisted they had no idea why Fuentes possessed documents that appear to show their race programmes and denied making payments to Fuentes.
Regularly reminded by the judge presiding over the trial in Madrid that perjury could lead to a prison sentence, all three ex-pros said they had only ever worked with official team doctors. This was surprising in the case of Osa, as earlier in the trial Fuentes named him as one of the riders he had collaborated with. The Basque who finished third in the 2001 Giro d’Italia declared: “I had no type of professional relationship with Fuentes. None at all.”
Asked about a document that seems to allude to him breaking his collarbone in 2004 when he was riding with the Illes Balears team, Osa replied: “I don’t remember in which month it was that I broke my collar-bone.” The break occurred in June that year at the Bicicleta Vasca and prevented Osa from riding in the Tour de France.
Beloki, who finished on the Tour podium three times, said of Fuentes, “I know who he is, but we have never had any kind of relationship.” Asked about a document found in a search of an apartment owned by Fuentes that appears to show his race programme, he stated: “The first time that I saw that document was in the press. If you look on Google you can find photos that also show it.” He admitted that a phone number that appeared on one document he was shown was his home number, but said he was unable to say why it was there. Beloki also repeatedly denied that he had made any payments to Fuentes.
Asked whether he would be prepared to give a DNA or blood sample in order to show that none of the blood bags seized by Spanish police during the Puerto investigation were his, Beloki responded: “I always wanted to collaborate, but a lot of years have passed and I would have to think about it now.” This came after he had previously explained. “Logically, none of the blood bags are mine because he never took blood from me and never treated me.”
Testifying after Beloki, Etxebarria said that, “Fuentes has never treated me as a doctor.” He added that he had not had any blood taken from him in 2005. “I only underwent the UCI’s routine controls,” he said. Fuentes’s lawyer spent some minutes asking Etxebarria and the other riders about the controls carried out by the UCI’s “vampires”. The ex-riders explained that they were carried out in hotel rooms or wherever was convenient. His clear objective was to establish that treatments conducted by Fuentes, who is on trial for a crime against public health, were carried out in similar conditions to these.
Testifying before this trio, their former teammate Isidro Nozal admitted he had worked with Fuentes, but said he only did so for three months during 2005. He indicated their link ended when Nozal was prevented from riding that year’s Dauphiné Libéré due to an elevated haematocrit. Nozal said Fuentes had carried out three transfusions during those three months, explaining that Fuentes “carried them out for the purposes of analysis”.
Asked why the letters E and R appeared next to the date of 5 June 2005, two days prior to the start of the Dauphiné, he said he didn’t know. Giving evidence yesterday, former Liberty rider Jörg Jaksche said the letters indicated “extraction” and “reinfusion”. Nozal affirmed that Fuentes had taken blood from him, but not transfused blood back.
Like his three former teammates, Nozal denied ever using doping products. When the lawyer representing the UCI pointed out that he had tested positive in 2009, he said: “Yes, for EPO CERA. I don’t know why. Ask the doctor.”
Unlike Jaksche, Nozal said he was not prepared to give a sample of his DNA to check against blood bags held by the police. He also appeared confused about the dates he worked with Fuentes, at one point saying they had started collaborating in 2004, before stating later on that their relationship began in 2005. Like his former teammates, he said he did not know why Fuentes possessed his race calendar for 2005. “I’ve never seen this document and I don’t know why Eufemiano had it. I used to stay in touch with him via phone from my races,” he explained, having previously said Fuentes was responsible for his training plans and diet.
Katusha’s Angel Vicioso was also due to appear today, but missed the hearing because he is affected by lumbago. He is now due to give evidence on February 22, the same day as Alberto Contador. Tomorrow (Wednesday), doping whistleblower Jesús Manzano is due to give evidence.
Meanwhile, a key witness for the prosecution, forensic scientist Francisco Aguanell, reportedly died on Monday of a heart attack. Aguanell had examined Manzano and was to give evidence on the detrimental effects of blood transfusions. Manzano claims to have fallen seriously ill on two occasions as a result of blood manipulation.
- Article published:
- February 12, 2013, 20:21
- Cycling News
Concerned about endorsement by outgoing president, current leadership commitments
Andre Tchmil, president of the Moldavian Cycling Federation and a candidate for the European Cycling Union's (UEC) presidency, today released a letter in which he seeks clarity and transparency regarding French Cycling Federation (FFC) president David Lappartient's own bid for president of the UEC.
The UEC, a continental confederation that represents 48 different countries and organises the European championships, will elect a new president on March 3, 2013 with Tchmil and Lappartient the two candidates in the running.
Lappartient had sent out a letter to the various European national federations on February 4, 2013 regarding his bid for presidency and Tchmil today questioned several aspects of the Frenchman's communication, in particular an apparent endorsement by outgoing UEC president Wojciech Walkiewicz which Tchmil contends is in violation of the UCI constitution.
"Does Mr. Walkievicz endorse you as a candidate for UEC President on the basis of a resolution of the Management Committee of the UEC (we are unaware of the existence of such resolution), or is he doing it on his own accord?" Tchmil said in his letter. "Can this be regarded as an abuse of administrative power of UEC officials in favour of only one of the candidates? Does this comply with P. 25.2 (b) of UCI Constitution which stipulates that Presidents of Continental Confederations shall be elected in a democratic election?"
Tchmil also calls into question the ability of Lappartient to be an effective UEC president with his current commitments as head of one of Europe's largest cycling federations, his term as Mayor and elected representative for his department in France plus the possibility that Lappartient will seek the UCI presidency in September.
Lappartient recently made headlines for his suggestion that the Tour de France should revert to being contested by national teams, instead of trade teams, but the proposition was rejected by Tour director Christian Prudhomme.
Following is the letter Andre Tchmil sent on February 12, 2013 to David Lappartient and the National Federations of Europe:
Chisinau, 12th February 2013
Attn: Mr. David Lappartient
President of FFC
Candidate for UEC President
Copy: National Federations
Subject: your letter to National Federations of Europe dated 4 February 2013
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your letter to National Federations of Europe dated 4 February 2013, including our Federation, in which you ask for support in the upcoming elections of UEC President on 3 March 2013. Before making the decision about the vote I would like to request you to provide explanation of the following points.
1. You begin your letter by saying you already have the support of President Wojciech WALKIEWICZ, and you would like to seek our votes.
This implies a question: does Mr. Walkievicz endorse you as a candidate for UEC President on the basis of a resolution of the Management Committee of the UEC (we are unaware of the existence of such resolution), or is he doing it on his own accord? Can this be regarded as an abuse of administrative power of UEC officials in favour of only one of the candidates? Does this comply with P. 25.2 (b) of UCI Constitution which stipulates that Presidents of Continental Confederations shall be elected in a democratic election? Mr. Andrei Tchmil, President of the Moldavian Cycling Federation, registered his candidacy officially on 16 January 2013 and published his reform program on 27 January 2013 by distributing it to all National Federations.
2. In your letter, you say: "I will soon be sending you an action plan for the coming term of office. It will address the concerns of your federations".
Does this mean that you received Mr. Walkiewicz's support without presenting an action plan first? Or did you present your action plan to him without taking into account the concerns of National Federations?
3. We know that besides being President of one of the largest cycling federations in Europe, you also serve as Mayor and elected representative of your department, Le Morbihan, all of which necessarily requires a lot of time and commitment. How do you intend to combine your current functions with the function of UEC President if you win the election? We believe that dramatic reforms that are needed to give European cycling its leading position in the world will require a lot of time and constant attention.
4. Your interviews imply that you do not exclude the possibility to run for UCI President in September 2013. How do you intend to combine this with the function of UEC President if you will the election on 3 March 2013?
5. Are you willing to participate in an open debate between the candidates in order to ensure a democratic election of UEC President after you have published your program?
I hope to receive answers to these specific questions, and I hope you understand my concerns about further development of cycling sport in Europe.
Candidate for UEC President
President of the Moldavian Cycling Federation
- Article published:
- February 12, 2013, 21:13
- Cycling News
Former panel member never saw suspicious 2009 Tour samples
Blood profile expert Michael Ashenden has issued a response to the UCI’s assertion that he analyzed Lance Armstrong’s blood passport values and did not flag them as suspicious.The Australian has made public the code associated with Armstrong’s profile and called upon his former fellow panel members to re-examine the data.
The US Anti-Doping Agency has claimed in its Reasoned Decision that the values from May 2009 through the Tour de France showed evidence of a blood transfusion during the Tour. Armstrong himself denied cheating during his comeback.
The UCI confirmed that Armstrong's profile was selected randomly to be reviewed in 2009, but was not flagged as abnormal by the Athlete Blood Passport software, and was therefore not submitted to the expert panel again.
"It is the Athlete Passport Management Unit (AMPU), which is independent from the UCI, and not the UCI who are responsible for submitting random profiles and profiles with apparently abnormal values to the panel of experts," said UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani.
Ashenden quit the passport panel in 2012, but served as part of the group which reviewed the profiles of anonymous riders during the time of Armstrong’s comeback. He stated earlier that he had not reviewed Armstrong’s data, but the UCI countered, stating that he had indeed reviewed a profile belonging to the American.
In reviewing his records, Ashenden was able to narrow down the profile to one which matched values published by USADA in its Reasoned Decision. He states that the profile he reviewed stopped in May, 2009.
However, USADA states in its Reasoned Decision that evidence of doping in Armstrong's blood values came after May, 2009, during Tour de France in July of that year. In re-examining the values for USADA, Professor Christopher J. Gore, Head of Physiology at the Australian Institute of Sport noted a sudden decrease of plasma volume and a decrease in reticulocytes. Gore concluded the chances of the values being normal were “one in a million”.
Ashenden now hopes the panel members will take a second look at their data, but notes that the eight-year non-disclosure agreement which led him to step down from the group may impede such a public discussion.
“Given Armstrong’s blood results have been published and are public record, and given we now know that the anonymous code assigned to Armstrong’s results is BPT374F23, it may be possible for the remaining experts to check their own records to confirm whether they ever saw Armstrong’s suspicious results,” Ashenden told Velonews.
“Since both the UCI and the Lausanne laboratory who enforced an eight-year confidentiality clause on the experts both have an interest in dismissing any hint of collusion with Armstrong, I hope and expect they will both now authorize the remaining experts to make public comment.”
- Article published:
- February 12, 2013, 23:10
- Stephen Farrand
Dutchman on the attack for a second consecutive stage
Bobbie Traksel gave Champion System some early glory in the Tour of Oman, going on the attack to take the polka-dot most aggressive rider jersey on stage one and then successfully defending the crown on stage two by making the break of the day yet again.
The Dutchman jumped away with Kohei Uchima of the Japanese national team on stage one, and was joined by Tomohiro Kinoshita (Japan) on stage two. Both times they spent more than 100km out front battling the warm wind blowing inland from the Sea of Oman.
Traksel picked up points on the climb and in the sprints on stage one and won the first sprint on stage two, to give him a total of 12 points and a place on the prize presentation podium. He and Kimoshita tried to stay away until the climbs but were hindered by the headwind and were caught by the peloton as the racing exploded on the first climb.
Traksel lost almost 12 minutes when he was caught on the climb, slipping to last in the general classification. But importantly he pulled on the polka-dot jersey for another day.
With riders of the caliber of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) also wearing classification jerseys in Oman, Traksel is in excellent company.
"It's important for the team to make a big impression in a race like this and with such a strong field of riders. It's great for us to be in this race and so we're going to try and take advantage of that and do something every day," he told Cyclingnews.
"It's going to be difficult to keep it with the field here [but] I'll try. Now we have a good goal to focus on this week," Traksel said, promising to go on the attack yet again on stage three.
- Article published:
- February 13, 2013, 00:30
- Daniel Benson
Armstrong, Verbruggen, McQuaid and the new code
In this exclusive interview the World Anti-Doping Agency's president John Fahey speaks with Cyclingnews about the objectives of his final year as president, the fundamental changes that need to be made for WADA to better combat the fight against doping and if cycling has seen a cultural shift following the Lance Armstrong case.
Fahey is also asked to discuss the role of UCI in cleaning up the sport, if Pat McQuaid is the right person to be president of the sport's governing body and the possible existence of doping cultures in other sports.
Cyclingnews: You have a year left as the President of WADA. What are the major objectives you'd like to achieve before you step aside?
John Fahey: The key is to ensure that when we finish the WADA code review and have approval for the changes to our code that we've got the best set-up weapons possible and available. There's no doubt going forward that there is strong support for four-year terms for serious drugs, and not two years. We need investigation powers that we don't have at the moment and I sincerely hope that's carried through as well.
There are a number of other areas that we need changes in order to operate more effectively in the fight against doping. It's the code review and the outcome of that review that's first and foremost in my mind.
I also think there's got to be recognition and awareness that doping is as large as it ever was. There are still cheats and they've not gone away. This is a big problem still and to an extent there's been a wake-up call recently and I hope that translates into action going forward. Why are many sports not using the biological passport? All team sports can use it. I hope that this wake-up call we're seeing right now with the cases involving Armstrong, Fuentes, Australian sport, Rasmussen, might lead to an adoption of a number of those programs where there's been reluctance in the past.
CN: Is the new WADA code going to be your legacy?
Fahey: I've never worried about legacies in anything I've done. I've always tried to do my very best. I have a simple ambition to make whatever contribution I can to the organisations I've been part of.
To do this job you've got to have a strong belief about what sport is and what it stands for. If you've got that drive in you then clearly the very thought of cheating is abhorrent. I love sport. I want it to be about everything that's good about sport. Cheats are everything that's bad about sport and I don't want to see any cheats left.
CN: What's the biggest challenge in front of WADA at the moment?
Fahey: Complacency. Yes, complacency in the anti-doping world and that we've fixed this problem when we haven't. That complacency translates into wealthy sport, in the sport of football where coaches in my country are constantly complaining to me that anti-doping costs too much money. Well hold on, of course it does, but what price is integrity in your sport? Your reputation is the most important thing that you have and if the reputation goes down the drain then that's the end of that sport.
CN: Can any sport currently say it has integrity in the fight against doping?
Fahey: Look, there's a strong commitment in most sports. Frequently that commitment doesn't translate into action though. There's no reason why most team sports can't adopted the biological passport programme which has been around for three or four years. It costs money and requires resources and for some reason or other they don't think that's necessary. Maybe the events of recent times will prove the [need for a] wake-up call.
Cyclingnews: Earlier today WADA director general Mr Howman specifically talked about athletes travelling to specific and remote locations in the world where testing was hard to carry out. He talked about athletes staying on the top of mountains for altitude training and being in locations where they could see testers coming due to small airports and single roads up to locations. Is that a genuine threat to the anti-doping fight?
Fahey: It's a simple fact but to the extent that all sports have a testing pool and those within the pool have to give their whereabouts every single day. That gives you some level of capacity to find them and test them but if you've got an athlete who moves continents to go training or goes to a remote part of the world, how much money do you spend to get a sample? The temptation is to wait until he or she comes back to the capital city or our own country so it's in that context that on some level there is the capacity for some athletes to stay away from where they might be tested.
There are ways and means that athletes will use and there have to be ways for us to overcome that avoidance process and we do have those. But it's a lot easier to test someone in a capital city than, dare I say it, the mountains of Kenya.
CN: That sounds as though the reality is that if an athlete travels far away they have a green light to dope, potentially.
Fahey: There's been concern expressed. I mention Kenya and the altitude training athletes from all around the world go to. To the credit of the IAAF they sent a team in last December and took 40 samples and managed to get it to a lab within the 36-hour window of opportunity.
CN: In 2006 your predecessor Dick Pound said of Floyd Landis "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is." That was after Landis tested positive for testosterone but before he was sanctioned. Was that an appropriate comment to make at the time?
Fahey: I'm a cautious person, by nature and I don't particularly like talking in generalities but to the extent but if something extraordinary happens you've got to take some notice of it and then make some examination if you've got integrity. That comment of the ride over the mountain that was done with prohibited substances, and what he did that day would make you take notice.
CN: So where do you draw the line as both the head of WADA and a sport fan when you're watching a performance in any sport. Winning isn't a positive test but if there's a performance way above expectations or above the expected playing field should you be suspicious?
Fahey: The events management of any event is responsible for the anti-doping programme. I don't sit in the stands and pick up the hotline and say go for X or go for Y because they've run out of their skin today. That's not my job but you can sincerely hope that those running that event are using an intelligent approach to who they are testing.
CN: So when did you know that Lance Armstrong was a cheat?
Fahey: When I read the Reasoned Decision of USADA. I have read many things about Lance Armstrong, including his book when I was recovering from a cancerous lung taken out. A good friend of mine gave me "It's Not About The Bike" and said I'd find it really inspiring, and I did. It was 2001, and I didn't know that one day that I'd be sitting front and centre in the world of anti-doping and that his name would come up prominently. The day I became president I was told that 'one of these days Lance Armstrong is going to be dealt with as he should have been'. I patiently watched and read a number of papers and it was always suggested that there were problems but you can have all the suspicions and have all the advice under the sun but in the end you need the irrefutable arguments and they were delivered in bucket loads by the USADA reasoned decision.
CN: Which prophet told you of Armstrong's fate?
Fahey: In every organisation people give you unsolicited advice or comments and those comments were given to me in many parts of the world by many people in the anti-doping movement. You take little notice of them other than to say that 'if there's smoke there's probably a fire somewhere'. Ultimately, you hope justice will be done and we now know that justice has been done in respect to that bully, liar and cheat.
CN: Pat McQuaid said last year that WADA had a vendetta against cycling. What did you make of that comment?
Fahey: That's absolute rubbish. I have no idea where that comes from. He went on, when asked to give details, that the question should be put to Mr Howman. I saw that as defamatory and insulting. That's one of those insults that one must unfortunately take on the chin. It had no substance, and it never has. I have no idea why those sorts of comments have to be made by anyone.
CN: You say defamatory. Did you consider legal action?
Fahey: No. I think I know enough about the law of defamation from my background to say that if legal action was taken it would have had a good chance of success but you take a lot of things on the chin in the name of sport. To me it was just disappointing. To suggest that we have a vendetta against cycling or any sport is just rubbish. WADA operates fairly, firmly and properly.
CN: Do you think McQuaid should be the UCI President?
Fahey: That's a matter for cycling. I understand that the sport is an autonomous part of our community and each sport dictates how it operates and who holds the positions. That's a question for the constituent members of cycling to answer. If they're not happy they should do something about it. If they choose not to do anything about it, all I can assume is that the current leadership is the right leadership for their sport.
CN: Is the UCI capable of cleaning up cycling with its current leadership and its current behaviour?
Fahey: They're capable of doing it but they need to open their eyes to how it could be done. It has to be done away from the current leadership and current management for integrity and transparency to be brought back into the sport. Somebody has to look at what's going on from the outside, not be dictated to from the inside. When they recognise that, that's how they can succeed in restoring the faith of their constituent members and the sport's millions of fans.
CN: Would it be disappointing if Hein Verbruggen still had influence in the UCI?
Fahey: Again that's a matter for cycling. I can't comment. They operate separately to me and to my role. What I should say to the constituents within cycling is, 'you have to ask yourself the question, are you happy with how your sport is being run? If not you should do something about it. If you don't do something about it I can only assume you're happy.'
CN: Why do you think cycling is constantly in the headlines for doping? Is it because it's dirtier than the majority of other sports, because of the media spot light or because it uncovers more?
Fahey: There's little doubt that performance enhancing drugs can benefit cyclists. Does that mean there's a propensity to dope? If you read the Armstrong decision the answer is yes. But there's not only a propensity but a culture. Has that finished? I'd say it's a lot less with the bio passport but has that eliminated all the cheats? There's no doubt though that there was this culture that was rife in cycling. What all of us would like to know if whether the culture has been fixed and if the sport is operating as clean as we'd want it to? I'm not sure we know that and that's why this door opening is necessary for an independent inquiry.
CN: What the general public also wants to know is whether this culture exists in other sports, and if so why hasn't that come out? For example tennis, rugby, football...
Fahey: Well there's no evidence of a cultural level in other sports. The jury is out in Australia with the information given last week but we need to see that play out to see how widespread it is. I don't know of a culture in other sports, whether it's swimming or football or tennis.
CN: But before the Armstrong verdict came out, maybe 10 years ago, if I asked someone in your position if there was a doping culture within cycling, on the record you'd have had to say no because of a lack of evidence. To the contrary, earlier in the interview you said sooner or later Armstrong would be dealt with. How do we not know that those cultures don't exist in other sports and that it's just that they're not in the limelight yet?
Fahey: I don't rule it out. I just say I don't know at this point in time. Next year it might be another sport that has been exposed. We don't catch everyone, and there are cheats still succeeding and that's why we need to work very hard. There's no magic bullet.
- Tour de France
- Article published:
- February 13, 2013, 02:15
- Cycling News
"Cycling has moved with the times", says UCI president McQuaid
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has included cycling in its recommended list of 25 "core sports" for the 2020 Olympic Games. Earlier reports the Lance Armstrong case and subsequent aftershock may see cycling removed from the Games appears to have been refuted by the IOC Executive Board’s decision to include cycling - ahead of the upcoming review session in early September this year.
The decision by the IOC Board strengthens earlier comments made by UCI president Pat McQuaid that "exclusion from the Olympic Programme is highly unlikely".
The 25 sports included in the recommendation are: athletics, rowing, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football, gymnastics, weightlifting, handball, hockey, judo, swimming, modern pentathlon, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, shooting, archery, triathlon, sailing and volleyball.
The sport of cycling has been a feature of the Summer Games since its introduction in 1896 and has continued to develop over the years with BMX being added most recently to the 2008 Beijing Games. There had been suggestions, notably by former WADA president Richard 'Dick' Pound that cycling needed to be taken out of the Games in order for it to 'clean up'. Pound's comments came in the wake of USADA's damning findings against Armstrong and his former US Postal team during the the Texan's Tour de France winning streak from 1999 through to 2005.
UCI president McQuaid has been heavily criticised in the months following the release of USADA's findings on Armstrong and his US Postal teammates for not doing enough in the anti-doping fight and yet stated "cycling has moved with the times" with the news cycling had been included in the core sports list.
McQuaid was elected to the 10-member IOC panel to evaluate 2020 Games bids in September 2012 but steeped down in late January this year citing time restraints. He remains an IOC representative for Ireland.
"The fact that the IOC Executive Board once again recommends the inclusion of cycling speaks volumes," said McQuaid in a UCI statement. "From the traditional disciplines of road and track, to the off-road spectacle of mountain bike and on to our youngest discipline BMX, cycling has the ability to capture the imaginations of an enormous cross-section of the population and draw them into the Olympic movement. The success of all cycling's disciplines at London 2012 was proof of our sport’s popularity.
"Over the years, cycling has moved with the times while never losing sight of its traditions," added McQuaid. "With its easy accessibility and widespread popularity, it upholds the fundamental principles of Olympism which state that the practice of sport is a human right."
The final decision will be made at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 7-10 September this year.
- Olympic games
- Pat McQuaid
- Article published:
- February 13, 2013, 03:35
- Stephen Farrand
Team Sky ready to work for overall victory
After Bradley Wiggins confirmed that Chris Froome would be Team Sky's leader for the Tour of Oman, the Kenyan-born Briton showed he was on form and ready to race by finishing sixth on stage two to Al Bustan, just seven seconds behind irrepressible stage winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Froome was able to go with the attacks on the last climb when Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) lit the touch paper and even managed to gain four seconds on the Spaniard at the finish, seconds that could prove vital in the overall battle for victory.
With Bradley Wiggins losing any chance of overall success after being caught behind a late crash on stage one, Team Sky worked with dedication and purpose to look after Froome. Most of the stage was a quiet affair but when it was time to set up for the finale, Peter Kennaugh, Ritchie Porte and Wiggins drove hard at the front of the peloton until the foot of the very last climb.
When a small group formed after Contador's attack over the crown of the climb, Froome was there. He even managed to anticipate Contador in the final kilometre to gain those four precious seconds.
"The speed we were going up there on the last climb was quite something, it's surprising to see all the GC guys up there," Froome said before quickly riding to the team hotel back over the very same climb he had just raced.
"It was hard enough to split the bunch and Sagan timed it perfectly. Cancellara went on the bottom of the descent and then Sagan got across just as it started to kick up."
"I was there or thereabouts, and I think I’m right on track. The team did a fantastic job; they kept me out of trouble and out of the winds, so I’m happy."
Wiggins works hard
Despite dropping out of contention on day one and perhaps suffering with the heat in Oman, Bradley Wiggins was also enthusiastic about the day's 146km of racing. He finished in 45th place, last of the front group that ended he stage 11 seconds down on Sagan
"It was a good day for us,” Wiggins said as he wheeled his way through spectators at the finish.
“It was a bit tricky in places on that descent and I’m glad I stayed upright. It wasn’t too bad, we rode steady most of the day, and it was only in the final that it really hotted up and Chris was up there, which was good.”
Wednesday's third stage is another perfect day for Sagan. This year's Tour of Oman is expected to be decided on Thursday's fourth stage, 152.5km from Al Saltiyah in Samail to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain).
- Article published:
- February 13, 2013, 04:43
- Cycling News
Dutchman back on the bike within days of operation
All is not lost for Koen de Kort who appears to be back on track for the spring classics after breaking his collarbone in a crash at the Tour of Qatar. He promptly returned to the Netherlands after the incident for further medical examinations with his team releasing the good news following his surgery. De Kort has already returned to training, albeit at a reduced capacity on the indoor trainer.
The Dutchman's injuries were the result of a high-speed fall near the completion of Stage 4 after de Kort and his Argos-Shimano teammates had been pulling hard on the front to set up Marcel Kittel for the stage win. After doing his job, de Kort drifted toward the rear of the peloton where the final nervous kilometres ended in a touch of wheels. De Kort fell at approximately 65km/h and while he was able to finish the stage, he did not start the next day.
"The surgery went well. I flew home Thursday night from Qatar and had the operation Friday morning," said de Kort. "I had to stay a night in the hospital and went home on Saturday to start the recovery process. I had quite a lot of pain the day after the operation, but since Sunday I've been doing well. I've started doing some indoor training already, so that is a good sign."
"I know it will be tight to be ready on time," he said, "but we will see how it develops. In the ideal scenario, I will be able to do a stage race before the classics."
While de Kort and his team were unable to launch Kittel to a stage win at the Tour of Qatar, he took solace in the sprinter's first victory of the season at the Tour of Oman - which also served as first in 2013 for the newly-graduated ProTeam. Argos-Shimano received a ProTeam license for 2013, moving up from its previous Professional Continental status held from 2005 through to 2012.
"I knew it would come together one of these days. In the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Qatar we saw already that things were getting better, and we knew that when everything fell into place we would be able to take the win."