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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Date published:
June 30, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • HTC-Columbia pairs with Skype for Tour de France

    HTC-Columbia team owner Bob Stapleton speaks to the media at the team's launch in Adelaide.
    Article published:
    June 29, 2010, 18:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Team to unveil new jersey in Rotterdam

    The HTC-Columbia team will unveil a new jersey just ahead of the Tour de France, and included in the new kit will be the logo of internet communications company Skype. It will be the third straight year the team has rolled out a new look for the Tour - in 2008 the squad signed clothing manufacturer Columbia and mid-way through 2009 added cell phone maker HTC.

    The team announced on Tuesday that it has partnered with Skype, but the press release did not specify the level of sponsorship or length of the arrangement. It said they will use the company's services during the Tour de France to allow riders to perform video interviews with the press. 

    Over their 10-month long season, riders have employed Skype as a way to keep in touch with family and friends back home, and team owner Bob Stapleton said the partnership with the team was a simple decision.

    "Skype keeps the whole team communicating and emotionally connected as we traverse the globe competing in the world's top races such as the Tour de France," Stapleton said.

    Neil Stevens, General Manager of Skype's Consumer Business Unit added, "One of [HTC-Columbia's] new riders, Hayden Roulston has watched his baby crawl, stand and take his first steps over Skype video. That's the beauty of Skype; it allows people to do the things they normally do together even when they are thousands of miles apart."

    The team will launch its new jersey in Rotterdam on July 2.

  • Frei given two-year ban for EPO use

    Thomas Frei (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    June 29, 2010, 19:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider admitted to micro-dose hours before drug test

    Thomas Frei, formerly of BMC Racing Team, has been suspended for two years by Swiss Olympic. The Swiss rider tested positive for EPO at an out-of-compettiion test in March. He must also pay a fine of 1500 Swiss Francs.

    Frei, 25, admitted to having taken a micro-dose of EPO the evening before the early-morning test. He further confessed to having used doping products since 2008, but denied that anyone at BMC was aware of his doping use.

    According to the Swiss website, Swiss Antidoping had offered Frei a deal. He would receive only a six-month ban if he would name those who had helped him. When Frei rejected that offer, they asked that he be banned for four years and fined 7500 CHF.

    Swiss Olympic announced that the suspension was effective as of April 22.  It also said that Frei admitted to two other doping violations.  In addition to the fine, he must pay 4,440 CHF in costs.

    The Disciplinary Committee rejected this request and gave him the usual two-year ban, noting that he had confessed to using the EPO and given the details of its use and described steps he could have taken to avoid being caught.

  • Cunego, Petacchi lead Lampre at Tour de France

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
    Article published:
    June 29, 2010, 19:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Bole, Spilak add depth

    The Lampre-Farnese Vini team will look to its veterans Damiano Cunego and Alessandro Petacchi to garner top performances in this year's Tour de France.

    Petacchi will be looking to gain his first Tour stage victory since 2003, the year he claimed a total of 15 Grand Tour stage wins including four at the Tour. It will be Ale-Jet's first Tour de France since he crashed out of the 2004 edition. He will have at his side Danilo Hondo, who is also marking his return to the race after a six year absence.

    Cunego, winner of the 2004 Giro d'Italia, is likely the team's GC hopeful, but Simon Spilak, winner of the Tour de Romandie, could prove to be a solid back-up contender should Cunego falter.

    The sprint team will also have Tour novice Grega Bole, the Slovenian who has chalked up several impressive performances in his first season at the ProTour level, including a stage win in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

    Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Gavazzi, Mirco Lorenzetto and Adriano Malori will also be making their Tour debuts.

    Lampre Farnese-Vini for the Tour de France: Grega Bole, Damiano Cunego, Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Gavazzi, Danilo Hondo, Mirco Lorenzetto, Adriano Malori, Alessandro Petacchi and Simon Spilak

  • Sastre fully recovered from Giro injuries

    Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    June 29, 2010, 20:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard to recon early Tour stages with team

    Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) will start the Tour de France in four days time fully recovered from the back problems sustained from a pair of crashes in May's Giro d'Italia.

    Sastre finished the Giro in eighth place overall, but was diagnosed earlier this month with a posterior spinal disc herniation and a central extruded disc, raising questions about his performance at this year's Tour.

    The 2008 Tour de France champion, however, feels "calm and confident" and is looking forward to his 10th straight Tour .

    "The discomfort and pains I was feeling for three weeks after the Giro have gone completely," said Sastre. "Despite feeling somewhat uncertain now given that I haven't had very intense training sessions, I do feel calm as I'm no longer feeling discomfort, and that motivates me to keep improving every day and above all to take on this race feeling enthusiastic, which is the most important thing."

    In addition to Sastre's 2008 Tour de France victory, the 35-year-old Spaniard has finished in the top ten on five additional occasions and has finished 21 of 22 Grand Tours in his career.

    Sastre flew from Madrid to Brussels this morning to join his Cervélo TestTeam teammates in some final preparation for Saturday's Tour start.

    "We are going to do a recon of the most important initial stages of the Tour, and more specifically, the cobblestoned areas of the Paris-Roubaix stage," said Sastre.

  • Police carry out doping raids in Italy

    An Italian flag flies over the peloton
    Article published:
    June 29, 2010, 21:35 BST
    Cycling News

    More than 20 locations searched, products seized

    Italian authorities have carried out raids on more than 20 different locations in an investigation to disrupt illegal doping by athletes today. In the early morning hours on Tuesday, raids were carried out by the NAS (Italian police) in the provinces of Brescia, Lucca, Firenze, Padova, Venice and Genoa. indicated that the searches stemmed from the same investigation which led to the ejection of the Lucchini-Unidelta team from the Girobio (Baby Giro) earlier this month.

    During the Girobio, police reportedly uncovered banned substances and medicines for which there were no prescriptions after searching the home of the team's director Bruno Leali, the team's hotel and training base.

    The latest raids reportedly extend to residences of amateur and professional cyclists and athletes from other sports, all of whom worked with a particular physician in Brescia.

    The doctor is said to have operated a clinic out of his home which the athletes visited and were prescribed banned drugs.

    Police reportedly seized medical equipment, computer files and other documents in an operation involving some 100 members of the Carabinieri and Guardie di Finanza.

    La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Marco Velo (Quickstep) is among the riders involved in the inquiry. Velo previously tested positive for salbutamol in 2000, but was subsequently cleared when CONI (the Italian Olympic Committee) accepted that his use of the product was for therapeutic reasons.

  • LOOK unveils flagship 695

    LOOK say the 695 is lighter than all but the Scott Addict R1.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2010, 3:34 BST
    Jamie Wilkins,

    Cofidis to ride flagship model at Tour

    This is the new LOOK 695 flagship model that will be raced by the Cofidis team at the Tour de France, unveiled at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours on Tuesday.

    Like the 596 time trial bike it features a hugely oversized bottom bracket, dubbed BB65, which can only be used with the Zed2 integrated crankset that's supplied as part of the i-pack, LOOK's full chassis package.

    The frame is claimed to weigh just 900g and in like-for-like comparison with rivals' frames also fitted with post, stem and cranks, LOOK say the 695 is lighter than all but the Scott Addict R1.

    Like the 596 time trial bike the 695 features a hugely oversized bottom bracket, dubbed BB65, which can only be used with the Zed2 integrated crankset.

    Like the 596 time trial bike the 695 features a hugely oversized bottom bracket, dubbed BB65, which can only be used with the Zed2 integrated crankset.

    The 695 is available in two stiffness options. The 695SR is extra-stiff for pro-level racing and the regular 695 has 15% greater compliance for a smoother ride. Ignore the 695SL logos on the chainstay - they're pre-production and won't be used.

    The 695 i-pack will be available in France from mid-July and internationally from September. The French price will be €3799.

  • Fuglsang, Breschel would like to stay with Riis

    Jakob Fuglsang (Team Saxo Bank) listens to the Danish national anthem on the podium.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2010, 11:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Danes hope team boss finds new sponsor

    Two Danish riders have expressed their interest in staying with a Bjarne Riis-managed team in the future, provided that he can find a new sponsor. Jakob Fuglsang and Matti Breschel have said they would like to stay on the team if it continues to exist after sponsor Saxo Bank leaves at the end of this year.

    Fuglsang's name had been associated with the new team being established by former Saxo Bank employees Kim Andersen and Brian Nygaard and met with Riis last week to discuss the future.

    Staying with Riis “assumes two things,” he told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. “First there must indeed be a future for Riis' team."

    The second condition is equally important, as he would stay with the team only if he could assume the captain's role. “Secondly, he must indicate that he will rely on me in future big races. I probably won't be on the podium of the Tour de France as early as next year, but you can bet that it is a clear career goal for me.”

    Breschel would definitely like to stay put. “I'd rather stay with Bjarne Riis, but it needs to happen soon,” he told DR Sport. “I have always hoped that Bjarne Riis could find a new sponsor. As far as I know, it looks good.”

    If the Danish team should not continue, then the Dwars door Vlaanderen winner isn't worried about unemployment. “I have concrete offers from others, but I have not talked with Kim Andersen,” he said.

  • Contador claims carrying favourite tag isn't easy

    Alberto Contador (Astana) gives his trademark salute.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2010, 14:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Defending champion confident in team ahead of Tour start

    An overwhelming favourite to add a third Tour de France title to his already impressive palmares, Alberto Contador says that winning the Tour as favourite isn't an easy task.

    The 27-year-old Spaniard has enjoyed a fantastic start to his season in 2010, winning the Volta ao Algarve general classification, taking the Paris-Nice crown and securing the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon title. He finished second overall at the Criterium du Dauphiné behind Jani Brajkovic, having stated he was there for Tour preparation and wouldn't be aiming for the win.

    Contador believes that this excellent form can be a hindrence mentally however, when the weight of the world's expectations are on young shoulders. "There is nothing more difficult than winning a race when everyone says you're the favourite," he told Spanish sports daily Marca. "You know that any moment of weakness will be taken advantage of by your opponents."

    While the tag of favourite is applied to Contador, some have doubted the ability of his Astana squad to provide adequate support. He stated categorically that he has confidence in Alexandr Vinokourov and his whole team and the fact that outfits such as RadioShack and Saxo Bank possess riders fancied for the title suits him.

    "That there are other strong teams works in my favour partly because they will have to take responsibility," he explained. And for one of those fancied squads in particular, RadioShack, Contador was full of praise, in particular its manager, Johan Bruyneel. "There are very few [who] lead a team as Bruyneel does. I know that [because of] tactics applied at certain stages," he said.

    For the American team's leader on the road, Lance Armstrong, Contador took on a respectful tone and touched on the troubles of 2009. "I have great respect [for him], because he is a great racer and a great champion, worthy of admiration," he said. "The problem is that last year we were both on the same team and two...