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Latest Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 2, 2009

Date published:
July 02, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Last chance for Boonen's Tour ride

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 8:21 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Belgian's Tour fate to be decided today

    The French Court of Arbitration for Sport will today announce whether Tom Boonen will ride this year's Tour de France, according to Reuters.

    The Belgian initiated legal action against Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) following its decision to exclude him after his third out-of-competition positive for cocaine in a year.

    After the court of Nanterre was declared 'incompetent' to decide on the issue the only possible solution was to bring the matter before the French Olympic Committee.

    "The document will be revised on Thursday so we can make the decision before the Tour," said a spokesman for the French Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  • L'hotellerie let go by Vacansoleil

    Vacansoleil has removed Clément L'hotellerie from its roster
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 9:29 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Rider returns positive test for methylhexanamine

    Dutch team Vacansoleil have dismissed rider Clément L'hotellerie on Wednesday, after the Frenchman failed a doping control conducted on April 28.

    The team confirmed the news on its website and reported that the 23-year-old had tested positive for methylhexanamine. The substance, an active ingredient in nasal congestion medication, is listed on the banned lists of both the International Cycling Federation (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

    The team said that an investigation would be carried out in accordance with UCI and WADA regulations, but that Vacansoleil and L'hotellerie had mutually agreed to terminate his contract.

    It is the second time in as many years that L'hotellerie has been dismissed by a team. Last year, Skil-Shimano dissolved its contract with the rider after he failed to attend two appointments with the team.

    L'hotellerie finished eleventh and won the climbing classification at Paris-Nice, in 2008.

  • Garmin's Martin out of Tour with knee problems

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) has been ruled out of the Tour de France with a knee injury
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 12:20 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Maaskant named to Tour squad

    Young Irish rider Daniel Martin has been forced to withdraw from the Garmin Slipstream's team for this year's Tour de France, two days before the race starts in Monaco.  The 22-year-old was set to make his debut in the event but has had a lingering knee injury. His uncle Stephen Roche, Tour winner in 1987, confirmed to Cyclingnews that the climber has been forced to play it safe and will instead focus on the Vuelta a España.

    Dutch rider Martijn Maaskant will take Martin's place in the race.

    "He has had a knee problem.. He was doing a lot of training in the mountains around Andorra and in the last couple of days this knee injury has started flaring up," Roche said. "The team prefer to put someone else in...there was a chance he could ride it and do permanent damage; there was a chance he could ride it and pack after two days. The team were prepared to pull him out and avoid any risk to his knee, and at the same time give the place to somebody on the team who has a better chance of finishing."

    Cyclingnews was unable to reach team manager Jonathan Vaughters for a comment but he gave a quick reaction on his Twitter feed. "Tough call today. We are having to send Dan Martin home as his tendonitis just didn't clear up. Hopefully he'll rock the Vuelta."

    Martin is just in his second year as a pro but he's made a strong impression thus far. Last June he won the Route du Sud and dominated the Irish road race championships, then went on to place fourth in the Tour of Britain and record high finishes in several other races. Earlier this season he finished second on a mountain stage of the Vuelta a Catalunya plus second overall. He told Cyclingnews this week that his goals for the Tour were to ride for Christian Vande Velde and, if possible, to chase a stage win.

    Although Martin will be disappointed to withdraw at this late point, Roche thinks it will be better for him in the long run. "I have been...

  • Dekker vows to clear name

    Thomas Dekker (Middle)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 14:54 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Procedural challenge to charges

    Thomas Dekker will fight to clear his name after testing positive for blood booster EPO in a re-test of a December 2007 doping control. "This should not be the end of my cycling career," he said.

    "This is a very strange story," Dekker told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. When he returned after a final training ride before traveling to the Tour, he received a phone call from Anne Gripper, the UCI's anti-doping manager. "She told me that I had tested positive for EPO in December 2007. I listened to the whole story. Then I just about hit the ground."

    The 24-year-old said that he finds it "all very strange. I do not know exactly what is going on." Dekker also questioned the timing of the matter. "This story pops up on the very day that I leave for the Tour.

    "How can a sample be negative in 2007 and now suddenly gets tested again? That is wrong."

    In a press statement, Dekker attacked the charges on procedural grounds. He said that he had personal contact with UCI doctor Mario Zorzoli concerning his blood values, due to rumours of problems. Dr. Zorzoli gave Dekker a letter in which he said, "This is to confirm that all test results of 2008 that are known to the UCI show that the blood values of Thomas Dekker...did not exceed any limits which would have required the imposition of a declaration of incapability under UCI's current regulations." According to Dekker, this proves that there were no problems with his blood values.

    He further challenged the re-testing of the urine sample taken in December 2007, saying "It is now apparent to all that new standards are being applied to older, previously tested samples found to be negative."

    Team Silence-Lotto, which has placed Dekker on non-active status, is not the only team involved in the matter. Dekker was with Rabobank when the test was conducted. The Dutch team let him go last August under unexplained circumstances, which included rumours that there were questions...

  • Dekker indiscretion bad news for Evans

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    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 15:35 BST
    By:
    Les Clarke

    Australian Tour contender remains calm after losing lieutenant

    Thomas Dekker's removal from Silence-Lotto's Tour de France squad following the announcement that his biological passport profile rendered suspicious values is a blow for team leader Cadel Evans, although the Australian is looking ahead rather than dwelling on the news.

    Dekker has been placed on non-active status and will consequently miss the Tour, which starts in Monaco on Saturday. While Dekker was brought to the Belgian squad as reinforcement for Evans' Tour challenge, the apparent infraction in question occurred during his tenure with Rabobank. UCI anti-doping officials called for further testing of an out-of-competition sample taken on Christmas Eve two years ago.

    "He found out on Wednesday morning that fresh analysis, carried out in May at the behest of WADA, on urine samples from a random doping control had turned up positive for EPO," Silence-Lotto management said in a statement.

    "The first tests had turned up negative but the samples were kept for retroactive testing so that newer forms of EPO could be detected with the latest detection methods," it added.

    This is the second setback for Silence-Lotto in its bid to bolster Evans' list of domestiques for a Tour title push. Potential recruit Bernhard Kohl was suspended for testing positive to CERA during last year's Tour and subsequently retired from the sport.

    "I thought the man who placed third on the Tour coming to help me was too good to be true and indeed it was," Evans recently told Reuters.

    The Australian's reaction to this latest development was understated and forthright. "We're here as a team to do what we can, and unfortunately this announcement changes our plans a little bit... but we have time. Charly Wegelius is on his way here and we'll still concentrate on doing the best Tour we can," he told NOS.nl.

    "This year our team had 11 riders worthy of riding the Tour de France and of course there are only nine places. Now we're down to 10...

  • Vino: "Astana is my baby, I'm back"

    Alexandre Vinokourov
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 15:37 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet in Monaco

    Bruyneel could face Kazakh ultimatum

    Alexandre Vinokourov plans to ride the Tour of Poland (August 2-8) before taking part in the Vuelta a Espana (August 29-September 21) and the world championships (September 27), his main goals following a return to competition allowed from July 24 onwards. The July date is two years after he failed a dope test for blood transfusion during the 2007 Tour de France.

    In his mind, there is no doubt that he'll ride for Astana although he hasn't negotiated any deal with team manager Johan Bruyneel yet. "This is the team we have created in 2006 with the president of the Kazakh cycling federation, this is our baby," Vinokourov said at a press conference in Monaco at the Fairmont hotel where the Astana team is staying, although no team official was associated to the meeting with the media.

    "I don't see myself riding for another team," the winner of the 2006 Vuelta a Espana added. "I have no guarantee yet because I expect to negotiate with Bruyneel in the coming days. But it's not possible that he disagrees. If Johan doesn't want me, it will be up to him to leave the team."

    Earlier this year, Astana faced losing their Pro Tour licence after Kazakh sponsors failed to make payments to the team.The UCI wanted guarantees for the payments for the remaining six months of the 2009 season. In order to ensure their participation in the Tour de France, the UCI has suspended proceedings against Astana.

    Sitting next to Nikolaï Proskurin, the vice-president of the Kazakh cycling federation, Vinokourov said, "The Astana team is safe for the next three to five years at least." Vinokourov added that Bruyneel will remain the team manager for next year as well, although the Belgian may wish to create another team with Lance Armstrong.

    Recent news from the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) added to Astana's financial difficulties. The Court ruled that Bruyneel's company, Olympus sarl, must pay former rider Vladimir Gusev 654,166.67 euros for...

  • Riis, Voigt and Devolder against Tour radio ban

    Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is against the Tour radio experiment
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 15:40 BST
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Rider safety and security questioned

    The decision of the Tour de France to ban race radios for two stages has been heavily criticised by Stijn Devolder of QuickStep and Jens
    Voigt of Saxo Bank, with Voigt’s manager, Bjarne Riis, also weighing in with some strong words against the experiment.

     All three highlighted their concerns over safety and security, joining a chorus of voices against the ban, which is due to be enforced during stages ten and thirteen. The Tour organisers, ASO, say that it is because they want to encourage more spontaneous, less predictable racing.

     “If you were to ask Formula One teams to turn off their radios, they’d say, ‘Excuse me, are you serious?’” said an indignant Voigt. “The radios provide information and security for us, so I think it’s a bad idea [that they’re banned].”

     “It’s a huge risk by the Tour,” said Riis. “Our sponsors pay a lot of money to help us try to win the Tour. But if Andy or Frank [Schleck] crashes, if something happens and we cannot get to our riders, or we don’t know if something’s happened, that would be a scandal.”

     In other words, Riis believes that the Tour could be lost – or won – on one of the two radio-free days, simply through the teams being
    unable to communicate with their riders. Rather than issuing information and instructions on the radio, said Riis, “We’ll have to drive up to the peloton to speak to our riders, which is dangerous. [If there are accidents] it’s not going to be funny. We can only pray that doesn’t happen.”

     “What will they say next – two days without helmets, just to make it more interesting?” said Voigt. “Or two days without cables in our
    brakes?”

    Devolder also spoke out against the ban, though the Belgian did admit that the move would prompt “a different...

  • Riis: Astana leadership rift exaggerated

    Bjarne Riis thinks Lance Armstrong will struggle against his younger opponents
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 16:32 BST
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Dane says Contador would be his leader

    Bjarne Riis has claimed that the potential for unrest and conflict within the Astana squad has been exaggerated by the media, though the Saxo Bank team director added that, “if they do [have problems], it’ll be fun to watch.”

    Riis also said that Alberto Contador, rather than Lance Armstrong or Levi Leipheimer, would be undisputed leader if he were in charge of Astana.

    Riis’s squad is expected to provide the main competition to the three-pronged Astana machine. “I can’t imagine they’ll have conflicts,” said the Dane. “It’s more [something] the press talks about. If they did have conflict they’d have serious management problems.

    “To me it’s obvious that they should have one leader – and that’s Contador,” Riis continued. “But I’m not directing that team. That’s just how it would be for me.”

    Riis played down the seven-time winner Armstrong’s chances of a successful return. “First, it’s fantastic he’s back. I think he has courage to come back and I respect that,” said Riis. “We all have to thank him for the increased interest in our sport [as a consequence of his return].

    “But I don’t believe he can beat these young guys, Contador, Andy and Frank [Schleck], on the climbs. I just don’t believe it.”

    The younger of the Schleck brothers, Andy, believes, meanwhile, that he is ready to challenge for the yellow jersey. Though arguably the strongest rider in the final week of last year’s Tour, he rode in the service of his team-mate, and eventual winner, Carlos Sastre.

    “Last year was my first Tour, but at the [2007] Giro [where he placed second] I showed I can perform over three weeks,” said Schleck.

    “I showed that at the Tour last year, too, but I had one bad day,” he added, referring to the stage to...