- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 12:52
- Cycling News
World champion wants to win Paris-Roubaix
Marianne Vos has called for the UCI and race organisers to create women's versions of the major cycling classics to help raise the profile of women's cycling.
Vos is the current world road race and cyclo-cross world champion and won the Olympic road race title in London. She is known as the 'cannibal' of women's cycling after also winning world titles on the track and back to back victories at the last two editions of the Giro d'Italia. She is still only 25 but has won more than 400 races.
"There are still a lot of races I'd like to win: San Remo, Flanders, Roubaix, Lombardy…" she told Gazzetta dello Sport while attending the Gran Gala Ciclistico Internazionale awards event in Conegliano on Sunday evening.
"I know they're not women's races. That's my point. Women's cycling has developed in many ways the last few years and there are a lot of well-organised teams. Those races (the Classics) are the real races, the historic races and we want them too. It'd be a act of recognition for women's cycling. I know what it means to wear the pink jersey, I won the Giro twice. That's why I really want the UCI and the men to add women's versions of the major classics to our calendar."
Currently the Tour of Flanders is the only major Classic that also holds a women's race.
Vos is not afraid of racing on the pave of Paris-Roubaix.
"I'd love to race in the Forest of Arenberg, just like I'd like to win Il Lombardia with the Ghisallo in it," she said.
"The Giro proved that we can also climb the major mountains like the Stelvio and the Mortirolo. I've heard that GiroDonne could disappear. Please don’t let it die. It'd be a disaster."
- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 13:06
- Cycling News
Allegations that UCI President was paid to cover up Armstrong test
The New York Daily News has suggested that sportswear company Nike decided to stay loyal to Lance Armstrong despite the overwhelming evidence of doping against him because it may have played an active part in what USADA described as “the most sophisticated doping program in sports history”.
The NY Daily News reports that Kathy LeMond testified under oath during a 2006 deposition in the SCA arbitration case that Julian Devries, a mechanic for Armstrong’s team, had told her and others that Nike and Thom Weisel – the San Francisco banker who sponsored and part-owned Armstrong’s team - had transferred $500,000 to a Swiss bank account that belonged to Verbruggen.
The money was apparently sent to cover up a 1999 positive drug test for corticosteroids, which Armstrong had used to treat saddle sores.
Armstrong’s former soigneur Emma O’Reilly, backed up the claims that the positive test was covered up in an affidavit to USADA. Armstrong has always claimed that he never tested positive for drugs.
She said she heard Armstrong and other Postal Service team members talking about how they would get Luis Garcia del Moral, the team physician, to write a backdated prescription for the steroid cream.
In an interview with the Daily News on Monday, Kathy Lemond said she stood by her testimony. “I’m sure Julian was telling the truth,” she said.
Representatives of Nike or Tom Weisel did not respond to calls for comment from the Daily News and Devries has always denied the allegations. He submitted a affidavit during the SCA case saying that LeMond’s allegations were made up.
Armstrong’s lawyer Mark Fabiani also rubbished the accusations.
“We have absolutely no idea what Mrs. LeMond, a long-time Lance-hater, was talking about when she gave her deposition,” the NY Daily Post quote Fabiani as saying. “and to this day we have no idea what she was talking about.”
Paul Willerton, a former professional cyclist who rode for the US alongside Lance Armstrong during two world championship road races, has told Cyclingnews that he and other riders plan to protest against Nike support for Armstrong outside the Nike corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, on Tuesday.
"This is akin to taking down the Berlin Wall," Willerton said of the USADA investigation and subsequent rider confessions. "And Nike's position - they're so influential - and right now they're just sitting on the wrong side of this wall."
- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 15:22
- Cycling News
Teams announce new signings and contract extensions
With the UCI transfer deadline of October 20 rapidly approaching, several teams have announced further signings for 2013.
Caja Rural has now announced enough new riders to bring it up the 16-rider minimum required for a Professional Continental team, including Amets Txurruka and Ivan Velasco, both from Euskaltel-Euskadi. MTN Qhubeka announced the re-signing of five South African riders.
Txurruka, 29, has ridden for Euskaltel-Euskadi since 2007 but was not offered a new contract for the 2013 season. The mountain domestique is a victim of the UCI's point system, used to determine WorldTour teams. He has ridden the Tour de France six times, the Vuelta a Espana three times and the Giro d'Italia once but sacrificed his own chances to score points in favour of the team.
Velasco, 32, had also been with Euskaltel-Euskadi since 2007. He has also ridden all three grand tours, and is expected to use his climbing experience to bring in top 20 finishes in the smaller stage races.
Another top climber coming to the team is David Arroyo of Movistar. The 32-year-old finished second overall in the 2010 Giro d'Italia, wearing the leader's jersey for five stages but was let go by Movistar and opted for a senior role at Caja Rural.
Three young riders are also joining the Spanish outfit. Francisco Moreno is coming over from Androni-Giocattoli, Ruben Fernandez will turn pro with the team, and Oscar Fraile rode for the Orbea Continental team this year.
MTN-Qhubeka, which hopes to become the first African Professional Continental team inn cycling, has extended the contracts of five South African riders: Songezo Jim, Bradley Potgieter, Dennis van Niekerk, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Martin Wesemann.
More signings are expected this week. The team has already announced the signings of Gerald Ciolek from Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Sergio Pardilla and Ignatas Konovalovas of Movistar. Brent Copeland has also joined the team as a directeur sportif.
- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 17:51
- Stephen Farrand
Italian doctor claims huge Armstrong payments were for consultancy work
Dr. Michele Ferrari has hit back at accusations that he masterminded Lance Armstrong’s doping regime and that of many other riders during the last 20 years.
Writing on his coaching website 53x12.com, under a title of “USADA Conspiracy?” Ferrari denies the hundreds of accusations in the USADA investigation documents and claims he has not had a fair trial.
He claims he has never received any communication from USADA and pointed out that he was banned for life on July 10, a date before the USADA witness affidavits were signed.
Ferrari discredits the testimony of Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson, saying they are “based on visual" testimonies of each of the six witnesses telling of events that concerned only me ("Dr Ferrari") and the "witness" himself. "They NEVER evoke the presence of another witness, whether between the six above, or other persons who may corroborate the veracity of their claims.”
The hundreds of pages of evidence against Ferrari include details of payments to a Swiss bank account. Armstrong’s payments total over one million dollars between 1996 and 2006, with annual payments of between $75,000 and $110,000 but Ferrari claims they are for consultancy work.
“The dossier documented payments of Lance Armstrong to Health & Performance SA (a company for which I worked as a consultant) in 2005 and 2006: simply, those are delayed payments for consultancy in previous years,” his comment on the website reads.
Armstrong nicknamed Dr. Ferrari ‘Schumi’, often using the name in email correspondence with Ferrari’s son Stefano after 2005, after the Texan claimed to have cut all formal ties with the Italian doctor.
Ferrari claims that Armstrong was a simple client of the 53x12.com coaching website after 2005.
“Stefano, my son, who administers the 53x12.com website offering online training advice to athletes, was in charge of the training of Lance Armstrong, under my supervision, as is the case with all his customers.” Ferrari writes.
“As clearly demonstrated in Exhibit A by Jack Robertson, this collaboration consisted exclusively of advice on training, saddle height adjustments, aerodynamic positioning, locations for training programs and competitions: NOTHING to do with doping.”
Ferrari ends his statement by accusing the American riders based in Girona of organising their own doping system without his involvement.
“I never met Michael Barry, but it is clear from his testimony of the joint involvement of some riders (Vande Velde, Vaughters, Barry, Landis, Hincapie and others) in an exchange of doping products, within shared apartments, piling up used syringes and empty ampoules under their beds.” Ferrari writes.
“This is about those Americans riders who lived in Girona and clearly organized and ran their own doping practices and trafficking of substances (by their own declarations). I never knew anything about all this, nor there is any objective evidence of my involvement.”
- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 18:18
- Cycling News
Team reacts to rider's six-month ban, cooperation with USADA
The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team announced today that it has terminated its contract with American Levi Leipheimer, "effective immediately".
Leipheimer was given a six-month ban by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for his admissions to using performance enhancing drugs in the past, including blood transfusions as recently as 2007. The ban was reduced because Leipheimer was cooperating with the agency in its building of a larger doping case against Lance Armstrong.
"We commend the rider for his open co-operation with USADA and contribution to cleaning up the sport of cycling," the team press release stated. "However, in the light of the disclosures made by Mr Leipheimer in his public statement on 10th of October the team has decided to terminate the contract."
"This decision has the full support of the team owner, the board represented by Mr Bessel Kok and team manager Mr Patrick Lefevere."
As part of USADA's investigation into Armstrong and the purported doping conspiracy at the US Postal Service team, of which Leipheimer was a member in 2000 and 2001, he admitted to using EPO in the year prior to being signed by the team and in the two years he spent there. He also testified that he was instructed on how to use the drug to avoid testing positive by Johan Bruyneel and Dr. Luis del Moral, and was given saline to reduce his hematocrit in the 2001 Vuelta a Espana, a race in which he would finish third.
He left US Postal for Rabobank because, after his Grand Tour podium, "my market value went up substantially". He testified that he continued to use EPO while on Rabobank in 2002 - 2004, and using EPO and blood transfusions while with his subsequent Gerolsteiner team.
He also stated that when he returned to the Discovery Channel team in 2007, Johan Bruyneel encouraged him to get on a program for blood transfusions. He initially refused, but finally agreed before the Tour de France.
Although Leipheimer remained with the team through its transition to RadioShack and then RadioShack-Nissan, he claims to have stopped doping after 2007.
- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 19:55
- Cycling News
Paris-Roubaix victory still “a major goal”
Thor Hushovd is “really motivated” for the coming season, and hoping to stay in the peloton another four years. A virus knocked him out much of this season, but the former World Champion plans to come back stronger than ever.
“It's the head that decides, but right now I'm really motivated. I see that I have four more years. Four good years,” the BMC Racing Team rider told NRK.no.
Hushovd suffered from the spring on, abandoning the Giro d'Italia from exhaustion. He tried a comeback at the Tour of Poland, but had to leave that race early, as well. Not until September was it announced that he was suffering from a viral infection which caused muscle inflammation.
He had only 28 race days this year, or as he put it, “this year did not go quite as planned.” But that only gives him extra motivation for 2013. “As often happens when you have a bad year, then things go well the next year. I have put the disease behind me and the virus is out of my body. I will say that the scene is set for something great.”
Winning races again is his motivation, but he also wants to answer those “who think my time is over. I'm sure it is not.”
He has an impressive list of wins, but there is still one to go. “Paris-Roubaix is the major goal and that's the one I dream of winning before I retire.”
- Article published:
- October 16, 2012, 21:41
- Cycling News
Experienced Dutchman bolsters Pro Conti squad's roster
The Champion System Pro Cycling Team announced today that Bobbie Traksel has signed with the Chinese-registered Pro Continental squad for 2013. General manager Ed Beamon welcomed the addition of the experienced Classics rider, whose palmares are highlighted by a victory in the 2010 edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, contested in brutal weather conditions.
"Bobbie will be an important leader for us next year," Beamon said. "His knowledge of the Belgian and Dutch races, along with his combatant approach and commitment to team dynamics, will be a great value in our continued development. A good team needs strong leadership and I expect Bobbie to be on the front line as a rider and a mentor as we continue to build China's first Pro Continental team."
Traksel, 30, turned professional in 2001 for Rabobank and has competed on Dutch and Belgian teams throughout his career. The Dutchman rode for Rabobank from 2001 through 2004, spent the next four years at MrBookmaker.com, Unibet Palmans-Cras, and P3Transfer-Batavus, and then signed with Vacansoleil in 2009.
After two years with Vacansoleil, Traksel had intended to race for the Australian-based Pegasus Sports in 2011, but the team collapsed prior to the season's start and the Dutchman instead rode for the Belgian Pro Continental team Landbouwkrediet in 2011 and 2012.
In addition to his 2010 victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Traksel's other notable race results include a stage win and overall victory at the 2008 Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen plus victory at the 2002 Veenendaal-Veenendaal. Prior to turning professional, Traksel showed his promise in the Classics by winning the U23 Tour of Flanders.
"I hope to take the next step in my career with new input from a different country," Traksel said of his move to Champion System. "In every place in the world, there are other ways of doing things and I want to learn about that and about the different types of riders from Asia. But I don't want to change everything. It's still my goal to win a big Belgian race, like one of the Flanders classics."
Traksel will join returning Champion System Classics riders Clinton Avery, Matthias Friedemann and Mart Ojavee and play a vital role for the team in lead-outs and finishes, Beamon said. Additionally, Americans Craig Lewis and Chris Butler will return next year after playing integral roles for a team that won five races on three different continents during the 2012 season. The list of returning Asian riders will be announced at a future date.
- Article published:
- October 17, 2012, 01:42
- Pat Malach
Ex-teammate says sportswear giant needs to "honor the work of USADA"
A small group of former pro cyclists and cycling fans picketed outside Nike's corporate headquarters Tuesday to protest the sportswear giant's decision to continue supporting Lance Armstrong.
Nike has publicly supported Armstrong despite recently released US Anti-Doping Agency evidence that he engaged in a systematic program of banned substance use throughout his career, and that he encouraged his teammates to follow suit.
Former Armstrong teammate Paul Willerton, who started his pro career with Greg LeMond's Team Z before moving to Subaru Montgomery and eventually riding two world championships with Armstrong, organized the protest outside the Nike World Headquarters campus in Beaverton, Oregon, in hopes of persuading the company to drop its support for Armstrong and recognize the validity the USADA case against him.
"I'm asking Nike to acknowledge and honor the work of USADA," Willerton told Cyclingnews Tuesday. "These aren't allegations. There is a serious message here. There are a lot of serious messages here, and I don't think it's too much to ask of Nike, the company that gave Lance Armstrong such a powerful pedestal, to acknowledge all of that now."
Nike did not respond to Cyclingnews' requests for a comment about the protest Tuesday, but hours after USADA made public its reasoned decision in the Armstrong case on October 10, Nike re-released the statement it made when Armstrong announced he would not contest the USADA charges.
"We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted," Nike said in its statement. "Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors."
Nike is scheduled to co-sponsor high-profile events celebrating Livestrong's 15th Anniversary in the upcoming weeks, and according to a report earlier this year in Outside Magazine, the sportswear company signed a five-year deal in 2010 that requires it to pay the Lance Armstrong Foundation a minimum of $7.5 million annually from profits generated by Livestrong merchandise sales.
But Willerton - who was present with LeMond at a fishing trip in Montana where the three-time tour de France winner claimed to have received a phone from Armstrong threatening him with a smear campaign if he didn't stop talking about the younger rider's relationship with Dr. Michelle Ferrari - said it's time for Nike to take responsibility and separate Armstrong the athlete from the cancer awareness campaigns named for him.
"To be fair to athletics we have to look at Lance the person and the athlete and deal with that, without letting everyone say the magic word and pull that cancer cloak over it," he said. "I feel that they are mutually exclusive, that just because you support one doesn't mean that you have to support the other. Nike could make a strong move right now by dumping Lance Armstrong, even if they still need to continue paying LAF."
That sentiment was echoed by fellow protester Jeff Mitchem, who carried a sign imploring Nike to "Just do the right thing: Sack Lance." Mitchem, who has promoted bicycle races in the area for decades, praised the good work of the cancer awareness campaigns named for Armstrong but said his behavior within the sport of cycling itself cannot be tolerated.
"I think that if Nike actually came around and did something like that, said, 'Sure lance, you're doing a great job for cancer, keep it up, but the stuff you did with the other part of your life, not so good. We can't support it.' I think that's a message that would ring loud and clear in support of clean sport," Mitchem said.
Todd Littlehales, a retired rider who raced professionally in the US from 1996 through 2003 with the Guiltless Gourmet, Navigators and Sierra Nevada cycling teams, stood on the picket line Tuesday to lend his voice to the call for Nike to take stand for clean sports and the future of cycling.
"Nike has a very powerful voice on a world level, and this is an opportunity to use that voice to say what they stand for," Littlehales said. "Do they stand for cheating and corruption and drugs in sport, as the mountain of evidence has come out to show has existed in cycling, or are they going to use their voice against that?"
But Nike's reasons for supporting Armstrong may run deeper than entangling contracts and loyalty to his cancer campaigns. The NY Daily News suggested in an article Tuesday that Nike is continuing to support Armstrong because the company may have played an active part in what USADA described as "the most sophisticated doping program in sports history."
The paper reported that Kathy LeMond testified under oath during a 2006 deposition in the SCA arbitration case that Julian Devries, a mechanic for Armstrong’s team, had told her and others that Nike and Thom Weisel - the San Francisco banker who sponsored and part-owned Armstrong’s team - had transferred $500,000 to a Swiss bank account that belonged to Verbruggen, apparently to cover up a 1999 positive drug test for corticosteroids, which Armstrong claimed he had used to treat saddle sores.
The intrigue gets ever deeper, but for protester Kerri Stewart the issue remained a simple case of right, wrong and responsibility. Stewart said the evidence USADA presented, and the fact that Armstrong accepted his sanctions by not contesting the charges, removed any ambiguity about the case, which she called "a done deal." Stewart, who described herself as a huge Nike fan, said she felt so strongly about the issue that she considered bringing along her children to the protest, but ultimately decided against it.
"We did have a thoughtful conversation with them and we want them to know, and I'd love to be able to go home and tell them Nike gets it now," she said. "I actually think they do get it, but they don't know what to do."
For Willerton, who says he has witnessed Armstrong's intimidation tactics firsthand, Nike has a responsibility to acknowledge the role it played in building up and enabling the Armstrong brand, a role that he believes continues as long as the company stands by him.
"What's giving Lance the confidence to still do that is the support of companies like Nike. I wonder if Lance really even cares about losing his Tour de France titles if these guys turn him into a Prefontaine-like figure," he said, referring to the legendary US Olympic distance runner from Oregon who died in an automobile crash.
Willerton used Nike's famous Armstrong commercial in which he defiantly deflected rumors about doping with the question - "What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?" - as a perfect example of how the company abetted Armstrong as he ran roughshod over the peloton and made life difficult for journalists and others who sought to expose the truth.
"That was a cocky statement that flew in the face of journalists who were doing good work like Paul Kimmage and David Walsh," Willerton said. "Lance has pounded on those guys, simply for exposing him. And I'm asking Nike to acknowledge all of that."
Willerton said it's an issue of simple fairness and proper perspective.
"It's not fair to give Lance that power and let him crush people publicly, and then we find out Lance is the one who didn't have the credibility," he said. "It's not fair to Kimmage or Walsh or Greg LeMond. It's not fair to a very brave group of people - Betsy Andreu, Frankie Andreu. Those are the people who should be in a Nike commercial."