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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Date published:
February 20, 2013, 13:00
  • Operacion Puerto trial: Hamilton outlines doping and blood transfusion program

    Tyler Hamilton in 2004
    Article published:
    February 19, 2013, 18:56
    Cycling News

    At least one transfusion performed by Fuentes assistant with no medical background

    Tyler Hamilton has produced what could be some damning evidence in the ongoing Operacion Puerto trial concerning Doctor Eufemianio Fuentes during his statements made by video-conference today from the USA.

    Although it is generally known that Fuentes provided him with banned substances and carried out blood transfusions from 2002 through to 2004, according to Hamilton, Fuentes' assistant - mountain biker Alberto Leon, who had no medical background - was responsible for at least one transfusion.

    In a trial which is for public health offences, the accusation that there was no medical staff present during an operation of that nature could be crucial. Perhaps equally important, although not direct evidence regarding whether the blood bags stored in Madrid were used correctly, Hamilton also said that in 2004, he believes that he could have had blood in his system that was not his.

    Hamilton explained what he called a "working relationship" with Fuentes. He said that he had first met Fuentes when driving to a race from Girona to Valencia on a highway rest area on Spain's east coast in early 2002: "Just to connect, number one to be introduced to each other and number two to discuss a plan for the future."

    "The biggest thing was performing the transfusions...He offered me EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, insulin, I think that's it," Hamilton told the court. The first blood extraction took place in March of 2002. There was no written advice about risks, he said, and there were no tests to check his health status, although Fuentes did take his hematocrit values.

    Hamilton's blood was identified by the code 41-42, by his own request, and in total he saw Fuentes "probably 15 times", with extractions and/or transfusions of blood on each occasion.

    "He gave me a calendar with a schedule of races, a schedule of when to take what performance-enhancing drug.I remember the circles were EPO, depending on the colour of the circle the amount changed I had to take." He didn't follow the program for HGH and only took insulin once but "did not like the way it made me feel." He also felt ill after a transfusion in July 2004.

    "The worst reaction I had was in 2004 when I had a re-infusion during the 2004 Tour de France and as far as I could tell all of the blood wasn't stored properly," Hamilton said. "The reason why I knew that 30 or 40 minutes later when I went to the bathroom, my urine was black."

    Hamilton said that only "three or four riders" were able to afford using the top-end version of Fuentes' private transfusion system, which included keeping their blood in an ultra-sophisticated freezer nicknamed Siberia. But it came at a price: he paid cash, 25,000 to 30,000 euros a year initially, with extra for the drugs but when ‘Siberia' came into the operation in 2004, the price doubled to 50,000 euros per year.

    Hamilton outlined two areas that could prove critical in what is a trial for offences against public health, not doping per se: he pointed out that at some point in 2004, when he tested positive for a blood transfusion, there were three possible explanations: "They said that I had another person's blood in my organism: either that or my sample had been tampered with or the test didn't work. I'm not sure I know the answer." Either way, after the positive test he ended his relationship with Fuentes, in September 2004.

    The second key area for a trial concerning offences against public health charges was to do with the assistant, Alberto León, whom Fuentes used to help supervise the blood transfusion process. Hamilton recollected that León, a former mountain bike racer who committed suicide in 2011 - but whose name he did not recollect - was present during the re-transfusion in the Tour de France in 2002, but "no doctor. It was in a hotel room."

    He added that on one occasion the hotel he was using was surrounded by journalists who would have recognised Fuentes so he contacted the doctor by phone and they came up with an alternative last-minute plan. He mentioned a blood transfusion session with teammates in Madrid, in 2004 with Fuentes and [Fuentes business partner] Merino Batres "scurrying around back and forth to the other rooms."

    Hamilton described the effects of the doping to be so successful that "if you look at the results we were breathing through our noses." He ended his statement to the Madrid court by saying he was sorry for having broken the rules.

  • Gallery: Hincapie Sportswear Development Team trains in Greenville

    The team training with Ty Magner and Robin Carpenter at the front.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2013, 20:15
    Cycling News

    UCI Continental team preps for second season in pro ranks

    The Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, a US-based UCI Continental squad, recently wrapped up its final pre-season training camp at its home base of Greenville, South Carolina. Following its initial training camp in the Bahamas in January, the second-year professional squad spent 11 days, from February 7-17, training in the Greenville area as well as competing in the local Greenville Spring Training Series.

    In its first year as a UCI Continental team last year, the team earned several impressive results including the U23 National Criterium Championship, a silver medal at the U23 National Road Championship, two stage wins at the Tour of China, Best Young Rider at the Nature Valley Gran Prix and a podium at the Cascade Cycling Classic.

    Three riders return from the 2012 roster, U23 criterium champion Ty Magner, Alder Martz and Blair Turner, while seven new riders joint the team for 2013: Andy Baker, Joe Lewis, Joey Rosskopf, Oscar Clark, Robin Carpenter, Thomas Wrona and Ben Zawacki. For 2013 the team aims to build on this past season's successes.

    "2012 was a very successful campaign highlighted by Ty Magner winning a national championship and a stage at the Tour of China, and Larry Warbasse being signed to the BMC Racing Team," said Chief Sports Director Thomas Craven. "For 2013 we'll build on this success racing in Europe and top US events."

    "Cycling has a great future, but getting there requires constant investment and support of young cyclists," said Mark Holowesko, one of the team's sponsors. "As a result, I'm pleased to continue sponsoring the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team. This opportunity allows me to support talented young cyclists and be involved with the Hincapie family, which has a long and rich history in the sport. I look forward to the 2013 program and working to help Rich, George and their incredible group of cyclists and staff on the team."

    2013 Hincapie Sportswear Development Team roster:
    Andy Baker (USA)
    Robin Carpenter (USA)
    Oscar Clark (USA)
    Joseph Lewis (Aus)
    Tyler Magner (USA)
    Alder Martz (USA)
    Joey Rosskopf (USA)
    Edison Blair Turner (USA)
    Thomas Wrona (USA)
    Benjamin Zawacki (USA)

  • Ireland to host Giro d'Italia in 2014

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) in Milan having secured the Giro d'Italia, the first man from Canada to do so
    Article published:
    February 19, 2013, 23:05
    Cycling News

    Belfast, Dublin expected to hold stages

    The organisers of the Giro d'Italia are expected to announce Thursday that Ireland will be hosting the start of the race in 2014.

    RCS Sport is attending a joint announcement in Dublin and Belfast on Thursday, according to the BBC, where it is anticipated that they will announce stages of the Italian Grand Tour on both sides of the Irish border.

    The Grand Tours last visited Ireland in 1998 when the Republic of Ireland hosted the Grand Depart of the Tour de France and two more stages.

    The news follows confirmation that Yorkshire will host the first stages of the Tour de France next year.

    Cyclingnews will be on site for the announcement, so please check back for more details on Thursday.

  • Hivert hails winter success

    Jonathan Hivert (Sojarsun) triumphs for the second day in a row
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 09:17
    Cycling News

    Three wins so far for Sojasun sprinter

    Jonathan Hivert has had such a successful early season that he feels like he can already take a vacation. The winter months have been good to the Sojasun rider, who won the overall at Etoile des Bessèges without winning a stage and then claimed back-to-back stage wins in the Ruta del Sol.

    "I'm happy - I had never won a stage race, and then I made it happen in Bessèges. I had never won two days in a row, now I have. I had never won more than two races in the same season: it is done. I think I can go on holiday now!" Hivert joked.

    The Sojasun team had its work cut out, as the 194km stage took place in pouring rain and strong winds. But after winning the opening road stage, Hivert said the team's morale was good.

    "I was well protected. I was pulled along and never had to be in the wind, and in the end I was not tired. I was delivered to the base of the last climb by Maxime Méderel, Yannick Talabardon and Jimmy Engoulvent. The summit was to two kilometers from the finish and the slope was hard. A lot of riders were forced to zig zag... Then the sprint went from very far out, and there was wind from the front. I took a little long to come out, but at 100 metres, I had already reaccelerated past everyone, and I thought to myself 'if I have a guy in my wake, he's coming jump me', but no one had taken my wheel!"

    The 27-year-old has already had his most successful season to date. In 2011, he won the Klasika Primavera, Paris-Troyes and a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia, but in 2012 he had just one victory, a stage of the Tour of Romandie in a similarly hilly finish.


  • Vuelta a España confirms it will have three wildcards in 2013

    The Vuelta 2012's winner, Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, Spanish cyclists Joaquin "Purito" Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 10:21
    Cycling News

    Acquarone and Giro d'Italia yet to hear from UCI

    The Vuelta a España has followed the Tour de France in confirming that it will offer just three wildcard invitations to the race in the wake of Katusha’s successful appeal its exclusion from the UCI WorldTour, but Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone has criticised the UCI’s failure to communicate directly with race organisers on the matter.

    Katusha was reinstated to the WorldTour last week after appealing the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and on Monday, the UCI announced that the WorldTour would thus contain 19 teams in 2013 rather than the usual 18.

    Speaking to Biciciclismo, Vuelta director Javier Guillen said as that his race would feature a maximum of 22 teams, only three wildcard invitations will be issued this year, and not four as originally planned.

    “I have to say that we would like to have four wildcards rather than three but our situation is different from the Giro or Paris-Nice, who have already announced their invitations,” Guillen said. “However, for economic and logistical reasons I’m inclined to have a Vuelta with a maximum of 22 teams, so we’re now looking at giving out three invitations rather than four.”

    Guillen expressed his desire that this will prove to be an “exceptional measure” and that from next year, the WorldTour will return to just 18 teams. “The Vuelta was comfortable with the system of 18 teams plus four wildcards,” he said. “Obviously, we’d prefer six wildcards rather than four, but that was the system accepted by all.”

    Giro d’Italia

    The current situation poses a greater difficulty for Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport, who announce the wildcard invitations for all of their races before the season begins in order to give teams the chance to arrange their race programmes accordingly.

    In January, RCS overlooked Katusha – then outside the WorldTour – when it handed out its four wildcard berths for the Giro d’Italia. It now seems as though RCS will be forced to carry 23 teams at the Giro, although race director Michele Acquarone lamented that the UCI has not communicated on the matter.

    “I sent a message to Pat McQuaid, the UCI president, and I still haven’t had a reply,” Acquarone told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’re surprised that no-one from the UCI’s management ever took it upon themselves to inform us and to find a solution before that press release on Monday afternoon. It’s unacceptable behaviour. We’re always saying that the sport has to grow and that we have to be more professional. And instead we find ourselves in this situation: the championship has already started, the calendar has been drawn up and now there’s an extra team playing.”

    Acquarone explained that the addition of a 23rd team to the Giro at this late stage would pose considerable logistical problems, from booking hotel rooms to simply finding parking space for a 23rd team bus at stage starts and finishes.

    “Adding a 23rd team also adds costs of at least €150,000,” Acquarone said. “I would have expected the UCI to talk with us about it first instead of dropping this burden on our shoulders.”

    The four wildcards for the 2013 Giro d’Italia are Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, Colombia, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox and Androni-Venezuela. The race gets underway in Naples on May 4.

  • 51 Puerto blood bags remain unlocated

    One of the blood bags from Fuentes' clinic
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 11:03
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Vicioso, due to declare in Puerto on Friday, tracked down in Andorra

    Barcelona’s Anti-Doping Lab director Jordi Segura has confirmed during the ongoing Puerto trial that 173 blood bags of the original 224 seized by police were taken to his laboratory, where they still remain.

    However, the location of the other 51 blood bags remains as yet unclear. In all the testimonies so far, both by the defendants and witnesses from laboratories and different police departments, there has been no hint as to where they could be, assuming they have not been destroyed.

    The reason why Segura’s lab, rather than the Anti-Doping laboratory in Madrid, looked after the other 173 blood bags was purely a question of space - the Barcelona lab had bigger storage facilities. Segura told the court on Tuesday that although the police reports initially reported that a delivery of 100 bags of frozen plasma was handed over, one of the codes was repeated on two bags, effectively making it 99, with a further 73 bags, mostly of complete red blood cells, coming later.

    A few years ago, artificial EPO was confirmed to have been discovered in eight of the 99 bags in the first delivery, which sounds like a relatively low number. But Segura clarified on Tuesday that in fact they could not rule out its presence in the other 91 bags, because they had only tested for the artificial version of the hormone in bags with high levels of EPO.

    The 173 bags have remained in Barcelona since 2006, with only the bags requested by the Italian legal commission during the Valverde case in Italy and by the Bonn commission looking into Ullrich’s involvement in Puerto subjected to further analysis.

    Both WADA and the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) have asked for access to the bags to test them for DNA, but a ruling will not be made until the case is completed, hopefully by mid-March.

    While 51 blood bags from Puerto remain missing, Katusha rider Angel Vicioso, whom the courts had been unable to locate to make his declarations in the case, was reported by Spanish newspaper El País on Wednesday finally to have been tracked down – in Andorra.

    Vicioso was originally due to declare in Puerto alongside former Liberty and ONCE riders Joseba Beloki, Isidro Nozal and David Extebarría last Friday, but his statement was postponed for medical reasons. Since then, he appeared to have gone AWOL and, the judge in the case said she would consider having him brought in by the Civil Guard if he did not appear.

    Finally, though, Vicioso has been located: according to El País, he has recently moved to Andorra earlier this year and was not aware that he was proving so difficult to find. Vicioso will now declare this Friday alongside another former Liberty rider, Marcos Serrano. Vicioso has already made a sworn statement in 2007 that he did not know Fuentes.

  • Gallery: An Post Chain Reaction rolls out 2013 team

    Sean Downey (An Post Chain Reaction)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 11:44
    Cycling News

    Sean Kelly team names 17 riders

    The Irish team An Post Chain Reacion - Sean Kelly cycling team was unveiled today with 17 riders, including veteran Niko Eeckhout the oldest at 42 and Irishman Jack Wilson, 19, the youngest.

    Wilson, a former Irish national Junior champion, is part of the Irish core of the team, together with Sean Downey, Ronan McLaughlin and Sam Bennett.

    Bennett, top 10 in a number of Tour of Britain and An Post Ras stages is hoping to follow his ex-teammates Gediminas Bagdonas, Roy Jans and Kenneth Van Bilsen into the upper echelons next year.

    “Personally this season is a big one for me. I had a frustrating start last year with a couple of niggly injuries, but towards the end of the calendar I felt in top condition which helped me produce some strong performances. With a solid pre-season behind me this time out I’m really looking ahead with great optimism” Bennett said.

    Reigning world ominium champion Glenn O’Shea will make the transition from the track to the road after pouring his focus into the Olympic Games last summer. He is joined by Kiwis Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate on the team. All three riders are currently competing in the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, and will debut for the team in April.

    The team also includes eight Belgians: with Eeckhout, Pieter Ghyllebert and Niels Wytinck are five new Belgians; Laurent Vanden Bak, Wout Franssen, Alphonse Vermote, Steven Van Vooren and Nicholas Vereecken.

    The An Post sponsored team was set up by Sean Kelly seven years ago as an extension of the Sean Kelly Academy to give young Irish cyclists a base from which to compete in Belgium, with the pro team designed to give young Irish riders access to a programme of top international races. This is An Post’s sixth year sponsoring the team.

  • Scarponi's lawyer and manager to discuss suspension with Lampre

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD).
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 12:37
    Cycling News

    Italian served three-month ban for Ferrari links

    Michele Scarponi’s lawyer and manager will meet with Lampre-Merida manager Giuseppe Saronni on Tuesday to discuss his future with the team, according to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Scarponi served a three-month suspension during the off-season after he admitted to the Italian Olympic Committee that he had been trained by Dr. Michele Ferrari. That ban expired on December 31 but Lampre has not yet fielded Scarponi in a race this season and he did not partake in the team’s official photo shoot in January.

    After Scarponi did not appear at the Trofeo Mallorca earlier this month, where he had been expected to begin his season, Lampre confirmed to the media that he remained suspended by the team pending further talks with management.

    It is understood that Lampre’s new sub-sponsor, the bike manufacturer Merida, has expressed its reservations about Scarponi’s impact on the team’s image.

    Although Lampre’s new signing Filippo Pozzato also served a three-month ban in 2012 after he too confessed to working with Ferrari, he has raced this season. Pozzato won the Trofeo Laigueglia on Saturday and will lead Lampre at the classics.

    Scarponi’s lawyer and agent will attempt to broker a solution to the impasse in a meeting with Saronni near Milan on Tuesday, although it is widely expected that Scarponi will in any case leave the team at the end of the season when his contract expires.

    Scarponi’s long-rumoured links to Ferrari were confirmed by Gazzetta dello Sport in October, using details gleaned from the Padua-based investigation into Ferrari’s activities. The Gazzetta piece included a transcript of a bugged conversation between Scarponi and Ferrari from September 2010, in which the pair allegedly discussed doping.

    Although Scarponi has served a three-month ban for frequenting Ferrari, the Italian Olympic Committee warned that he could face further sanctions if the Padua investigation reveals more damning allegations surrounding their collaboration. The inquiry is expected to close in the coming month, hence Lampre’s current reticence towards taking a definitive stance on Scarponi’s status.

    Scarponi previously served an 18-month suspension after the Operacion Puerto investigation revealed that he had blood doped under the supervision of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.