- Article published:
- June 26, 2009, 11:56
- Shane Stokes
Did political pressure make the difference?
Contrary to a team Caisse d'Epargne statement issued Tuesday, it appears that the timeframe of the legal appeal by Alejandro Valverde is not the reason why he will miss this year's Tour de France. Neither the Spaniard nor his team used the full legal options, according to a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) official.
Caisse d'Epargne announced Tuesday that Valverde was withdrawn from the squad for to the Tour de France due to the courts moving too slowly.
"Under these circumstances and, knowing that a stage of the race will pass through the Italian territory, we are obliged to announce that Alejandro Valverde will not take the start of the 2009 Tour," said the team in a statement.
CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb contradicted this version of events when he spoke with Cyclingnews. He stated the appeal against Italy's decision to ban Valverde from racing in its country is ongoing. He added that two fast-track options were open to the rider and his legal team, but that neither of these had been used.
"The CAS could have set up an expedited procedure, with the agreement of the parties, in order to render a decision prior to 4 July 2009," he said.
Reeb said Valverde alternatively could have requested "a stay of execution" in order to start in the 2009 Tour, but no request was filed.
Italian anti-doping tribunal banned Valverde on May 11 from competing on Italian soil for two years. Investigators proved he was involved in 2006's doping investigation, Operación Puerto. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had reportedly matched DNA from blood bags seized to the blood samples the rider gave on the Tour de France's rest day in Italy on July 21, 2008.
This year's Tour crosses briefly into Italy during the 16th stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice and prevents Valverde from finishing the race. He requested organisers let him ride the race up until that point, but they refused.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are now involved in the case and Valverde could face a worldwide ban.
Cyclingnews unsuccessfully attempted to reach Caisse team manager Eusebio Unzúe for a comment. The team or its sponsors may have been under pressure to withdraw Valverde from the Tour team, according to a statement in Spain's Marca Tuesday.
"Valverde experienced a difficult situation. This damaged the image of our sponsor, Caisse d'Epargne, whose dedication to the sport should not be harmed during the biggest race of the year," said a team statement. The team backer is a French bank.
Belgian rider Tom Boonen is also unwelcome at the Tour. Organiser and the recently replaced French Secretary for Sports, Bernard Laporte, refused him on the grounds that his inclusion could bring negative publicity to the event. He tested positive for cocaine in April.
- Article published:
- June 26, 2009, 10:52
- Daniel Simms
USA team's riders winning at home
Team Columbia-Highroad's riders are collecting wins in their respective time trial national championships. Italian Marco Pinotti took the first win on Sunday in Imola, his fourth time trial title.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, Luxemburger Kim Kirchen and Czech Frantisek Rabon added to Pinotti's title with their wins yesterday. They were repeat wins for all four men. Swede Emilia Fahlin won Wednesday and Dane Linda Villumsen won yesterday for the women's team.
"This is unbelievable, I think," said Fahlin of her win. She beat Susanne Ljungskog on the 30-kilometre course in Götene.
Columbia could claim more titles today in Germany. World Champion Bert Grabsch and Tony Martin are strong favourites for the men's championships and Judith Arndt in the women's.
Most road race championships are this Sunday. Some countries, like Australia, hold their titles in the off-season. Michael Rogers took Columbia's first win this year when he won the Australian time trial. (GB)
- Article published:
- June 26, 2009, 10:22
- Daniel Simms
Former World Champion hit head-on by car
Zinaida Stahurskaia, 2000 World Champion, died this week in Byelorussia while training for the national championships. She was 38 years old.
Stahurskaia was riding behind a car when an oncoming Jeep crossed into her lane. The lead car was able to avoid the Jeep, but Stahurskaia hit it head on.
Stahurskaia won the Women's Tour of France in 2002, but had a long history of doping problems. She was suspended for several months in both 2002 and 2004. In 2005, she was suspended for two years for testing positive three times within three and a half weeks for testosterone and stanozolol (anabolic steroid).
A search of her house in December 2006 found a number of prohibited substances. The investigation later found her part of a drug trade for amateur and professional cyclists.
Stahurskaia's suspension ended in June 2007. She rode both the national and world championships last year, and intended to do so again this year. (SW)
- Article published:
- June 26, 2009, 10:00
- Richard Tyler
Cyclingnews' shortlist for the riders most likely to triumph in Wales
The British national road title in Abergavenny, Wales, on Sunday will see one of the strongest fields assembled in recent years. Cyclingnews examined the start list and, of the almost two hundred riders who will take the start line, we have selected twelve riders most likely to claim the champion's jersey.
Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad)
It seems only a matter of time before Cavendish will be wearing the British champion's jersey. The absence of his loyal Columbia teammates within the peloton on Sunday may be a chink in his armour. However, if the race comes down to a bunch sprint and the Manxman is there, he'll be a good chance of taking his maiden title.
Steve Cummings (Barloworld)
Cummings was second to Russell Downing in the 2005 British championship. He grew in stature as a road rider last year in his debut season for Barloworld taking several stage wins and high overall finishes at several European stage races. Cummings won a stage of the Giro del Capo in South Africa in early March and is a world class team pursuit rider on the track.
Russell Downing (CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta)
Winner of the 2005 road championship, Downing has been one of British cycling's most successful riders, winning consistently on the road since turning pro with IteamNova.com in 2002. Four race wins in 2009 mean Downing will be a dark horse to win his second national title.
Chris Froome (Barloworld)
Racing on a British professional licence since 2008, Kenya-born Froome completed his second Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, where he finished 36th overall. He will ride the championships on Sunday alongside Barloworld teammates Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas, the latter of whom is coming back after injury. If the three can work well together they have the pedigree to come away with a result.
Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam)
Alongside Jeremy Hunt, Hammond is one of two Cervélo TestTeam riders to have won the British road title twice before. Successive triumphs in 2003 and 2004 sit well alongside his seven national cyclo-cross titles. A stage win at the Tour of Qatar in February should be enough for his opponents to keep Hammond marked down as a threat.
Rob Hayles (Halfords)
Hayles is the reigning British champion thanks to his win last year in Yorkshire. His win last year came 15 years after his first national title, in the men's kilo, in 1993. Hayles will have the support of three of his Halfords teammates on Sunday.
Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo TestTeam)
Hunt may not win often, but when he does he wins well. He claimed the British national title twice in his career, in 1997 and 2001 respectively. He is one of four riders from the Cervélo TestTeam competing and if they can capitalise on their strength in numbers Hunt could claim a third national title.
Peter Kennaugh (100% ME)
Kennaugh was only 19 years old when this prodigious talent took the silver medal in last year's title. It will be two more years before Kennaugh will move out of the Under 23 division, but like last year he could be the surprise rider. He this month he placed third place overall and won a stage in the Baby Giro.
Daniel Lloyd (Cervélo TestTeam)
Lloyd finished second when David Millar claimed the British title in 2007. Fast forward to 2009, Lloyd is racing for super strong Professional Continental squad, Cervélo TestTeam. Being part of a strong team loaded with experience – including his own – could be the key to Lloyd claiming his first title.
David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream)
The 2007 champion showed earlier this month at the Dauphiné Libéré that he is in good form. A forced change in his training programme will see a rested Millar take to the start line on Sunday. Between Millar and Brad Wiggins, there's a good chance of seeing a red, white and blue iteration of the Garmin-Slipstream jersey on the Tour de France start line in early July.
Ben Swift (Katusha)
Swift's has been ascending rapidly towards the top step of the podium this year for team Katusha. He had a strong Grand Tour debut in May's Giro d'Italia where he finished third on stage two behind Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish. If he recovered well from the Giro Swift could find himself on the top step on Sunday.
Brad Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream)
Like his Garmin-Slipstream teammate David Millar, Wiggins showed strong form in the lead up to the championships. He recently closed his Giro d'Italia campaign with a second place in the individual time trial in Rome, showing that he had come through the three weeks in good shape. Most of his wins may come against the clock, but Wiggins is more than capable of pulling off a road race victory.
- Article published:
- June 26, 2009, 08:50
- Hedwig Kröner
Nanterre court to settle affair four days before Tour start
Tom Boonen will be at the national championships in Aywaille, Belgium, this weekend without knowing whether he will participate in the Tour de France starting one week later. A court case's verdict between team Quick Step and Tour organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) is expected 15:00 Tuesday.
The court in Nanterre, France, is hearing the case.
Tour organisers asked Boonen to stay home after he tested positive for cocaine a third time. Officials tested him out of competition on April 27.
Team Quick Step bases Boonen's defence around the fact that out of competition cocaine use an offense resulting in a disciplinary procedure. The team said that organiser ASO would have allowed him to race, but former French Secretary for Sports, Bernard Laporte, pushed ASO to exclude Boonen.
ASO argued that the Nanterre court is not competent to judge the affair. It said it should French Olympic Committee court (CNOSF) according to a contract between the organiser and the teams.
ASO's lawyer Jacques Nataf said there would be damage to the Tour's image should Boonen participate.
"This is not a doping affair," said Nataf in court Thursday. "But when Tom Boonen, who is a very famous champion, wins a sprint in the Tour de France ... the whole world sees it."
Boonen, 28, won the Paris-Roubaix for a third time this year and has six career stage wins at the Tour.