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Latest Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 18, 2009

Date published:
June 18, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Boonen's cocaine use thrown into confusion

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) warms up ahead of the time trial.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 9:07 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    New hair analysis suggests only indirect contact with the drug

    Following further analysis of Tom Boonen's hair  samples, expert toxicologists have said that he used only a small amount of cocaine this spring. The Quick Step rider tested positive for a third time  in an out of competition for the drug in April, less than 12 months after he tested positive the first time in May 2008.

    Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere decided to conduct drug tests on Boonen's hair after the third positive was revealed, according to L'Equipe.  "Tom told us that he hadn't taken anything. We wanted to be absolutely sure," said Lefevere, who asked university professors Pascal Kintz in Strasbourg, France, and Jan Tytgat in Leuven, Belgium, to conduct the analysis.

    Both experts found traces of the drug in the hair samples of Boonen, a three-time Paris-Roubaix winner, but said that they were only very small amounts.

    Kintz found 0,09 ng/mg, while "we speak of a positive result when it exceeds 0.5 nanogrammes per milligramme. One thing is certain: he was exposed to very small quantities and is not a chronic user," he said. Kintz concluded that the Belgian sprinter might not have actually snorted the drug, but that his contact with the substance could have been coincidental – by a contaminated drink, a handshake or particles of cocaine in the air.

    But Tytgat did not quite agree. "To me, it is very unlikely that cocaine traces in the hair can be a result of a handshake or particles in the air. If there are hair traces, then there has been a direct contact," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

    Tytgat did not exclude that Boonen could have taken in small amounts of the substance by means of a drink. "It is possible not to have snorted, but still show minimal traces, for example via a drink. But you cannot examine that," he told another Belgian newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad.

    The new expertise comes with only two weeks to go to the Tour de France. Lefevere insists that...

  • 24-hour world record broken

    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 9:34 BST
    Cyclingnews staff

    Frenchman covers 839 kilometres in 24 hours

    Amateur rider Jean-Pascal Roux has set a new distance world record over 24 hours, covering 839 kilometres on a circuit course in Caderousse
    The Frenchman from Avignon, Provence bThe record was previously held by Slovenian Jure Robic with 835 kilometres.

    Roux, who was assisted in his record attempt by former Formula 1 world champion and avid cyclist Alain Prost, rode on a flat course totaling 17,141 kilometres. He started on Wednesday, June 16, at 9am, and finished after completing almost 49 laps of the course. His average speed was 34.96 km/h.

    "Cooked! I am cooked! I can't even lift my leg to step off my bike..." Roux told Velo101 after reaching his goal. "What a crazy idea of Robic to ride that fast! Fortunately I tried to do this after he did, with his record on my mind the whole time."

    Roux also holds another world record for climbing the famous Mont Ventoux an incredible eleven times in 24 hours.

  • Armstrong to race Nevada City Classic

    Could Armstrong be the knight in shining armour for Astana?
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 10:25 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Armstrong, Leipheimer and Horner could also race in Astana kit

    Lance Armstrong indicated he will race in the Nevada City Classic with teammates Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner Sunday, June 21. Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner, is currently training with his teammates in Aspen, Colorado, to prepare for the upcoming Tour de France, July 4 to 26.

    Astana press representative Philippe Maertens confirmed the news. "Yes, Armstrong will race in Nevada, together with Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner," Maertens told Cyclingnews.

    The national event, which features several categories and will be raced on a 1.1-mile (1.7km) circuit course in Nevada City, is "considered one of the most technically and physically challenging one-day courses in America," according to the official website.

    Maertens was unsure whether the three Astana professionals would show up in Astana kit or under the name of Armstrong's bike shop. "Honestly, I don't know. I suppose they will race wearing Mellow Johnny's jerseys as they did at the Tour de Gila."

    At the Tour of the Gila in early May, won by Leipheimer, the three Astana riders wore Mellow Johnny's bike shop jerseys since they were unable to participate as ProTour riders in a national event under International Cycling Union (UCI) rules.

    Maertens said that the three riders did not have to change jerseys for the American race. "As far as I know, it would be permitted for them to ride in Astana colours. The UCI rules do allow up to three riders of a ProTour team to race in a small event," he said.

  • Caucchioli defends himself against biological passport findings

    Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) in the mountains jersey
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 10:50 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Italian climber says he's innocent

    Italian Pietro Caucchioli insisted today that he is innocent despite irregular blood values reported yesterday by the International Cycling Union (UCI) via its biological passport programme.

    "If they'd found a substance they could say what they had found, but they didn't find anything. They wrote to me, 'We have sufficient evidence to presume that you did something' [against the rules]," Caucchioli told Cyclingnews.

    Caucchioli, 33 years old from Verona, was one of five cyclists listed who, according to the cycling union, violated anti-doping rules based on its blood profiles. Italian Francesco De Bonis and Spaniards Igor Astarloa, Ricardo Serrano and Rubén Lobato were the other cyclists exposed in press release.

    Team Lampre suspended Caucchioli yesterday. The Italian team said its doctor, Carlo Guardascione, saw the UCI's documents that the irregular value came from a blood test in September 2008. Caucchioli, professional since 1999, rode for France's Crédit Agricole from 2005 through 2008.

    "I took the document to my lawyer because it is in English, a lot of legal terms that I don't understand," said Caucchioli. "For a normal person it is impossible to understand what the UCI sent."

    Caucchioli said it was the first letter he received by the cycling union about irregular blood values and that he did not do anything prohibited.

    The biological passport programme started in January 2008 and there are now 840 cyclists in it. The UCI collects cyclists' blood and urine samples throughout the year to store in a database and create profiles. Scientists are able to detect doping by variations in cyclists' baseline values.

    "This case doesn't add up. I'm convinced I'm okay." Caucchioli said.

    The International Cycling Union handed the findings over to the Italian cycling federation (FCI) for disciplinary action. The federation should summons Caucchioli in the coming weeks.

  • Nibali aims for Tour de France top ten

    Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali went with Di Luca, but couldn't hold his pace.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2009, 12:43 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Young Italian stage racer leads Liquigas

    Vincenzo Nibali, 24, dreams of riding to the top of the Tour de France this July after a strong performance in the Dauphiné Libéré last week.

    "Finishing in the first ten would be like a win for me," he told Cyclingnews from a high-altitude training camp in Livigno, Italy.

    Sicilian born Nibali rode consistently in his debut Tour de France in 2008, finishing 18th overall. He finished ninth in the Cholet time trial and tenth on the mountain stage to Hautacam. He lost ground in the final week, but still managed to finish second overall in the young riders' classification.

    He proved he is on target for 2009 with his ride in the week-long Dauphiné Libéré stage race., where he battled the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans to finish seventh overall.

    "I had a chance to see my rivals' preparations are going before the Tour de France. I was not far off in the Dauphiné and I am working to get closer and closer for the Tour de France."

    Nibali listed Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong, Fränk and Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov as the overall favourites. Menchov just won the Giro d'Italia stage race, where he was up against Liquigas teammate Franco Pellizotti, Sastre and Armstrong.

    "Armstrong will arrive in top form for this Tour. He had only a month of recovery after his broken collarbone and still he went so strong at the Giro d'Italia."

    Nibali considered himself and Liquigas teammates Roman Kreuziger and Pellizotti to rank among the favourites too. "I can see that Pellizotti is going pretty well in training and I think he will do well at the Tour. The only thing is whether he can handle two big races,...