- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 10:02
- Barry Ryan
Eighth cyclist honoured in as many years
Andy Schleck has been named Luxembourg’s male athlete of the year for the second consecutive year, beating his brother Fränk into second place in the poll.
Schleck placed second overall in the Tour de France and stands to be named the winner if Alberto Contador is sanctioned for the adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol he returned during the race. He also wore the yellow jersey for six days, won two stages and finished top of the young riders’ classification for the third year in a row.
Andy Schleck notched up 477 votes in the poll to finish comfortably ahead of his brother Fränk (247). Swimmer Laurent Carnol was third with 182 votes.
Schleck’s victory means that cyclists have now been honoured with the award in each of the past eight years. Fränk Schleck took the spoils after his breakthrough season of 2006, while Kim Kirchen has been named Luxembourg’s top athlete on five separate occasions.
Neither Andy nor Fränk Schleck were able to attend the awards ceremony which took place in the Casino 2000 in Mondorf on Thursday night. The brothers are currently in Switzerland for the Luxembourg Cycling Project’s first gathering ahead of the 2011 season.
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 10:31
- Daniel Benson
Garmin's Australian U23 star facing a worldwide race program
Lachlan Morton is hoping to build on a solid season with the Garmin-Transitions under 23 squad, Team Holowesko Partners, after a string of strong performances in 2010.
The 18-year-old Australian signed for the team after a stand-out performance in last year’s USA Junior Cycling Championships in California and won two stages and the overall at the Tour de l’ Abitibi this year. He also finished seventh in the Tour of Utah.
“This year went a lot better than I thought it would. I was just looking to learn and see what it was all about. It was my first year as a full time bike rider. At the start of the year I found my feet but it all came together later in the season. I found my form and I managed to get a few wins under my belt,” Morton told Cyclingnews.
Morton’s strongest performance came at the Tour of Utah, where despite being handicapped by age-related gear restrictions of 52x14, he rode to seventh place overall. It was an impressive display backed a field that included the likes of Levi Leipheimer and Francisco Mancebo.
“I think seventh overall in the tour of Utah was my best performance simply because of the calibre of the riders there,” Morton told Cyclingnews.
“I was still under 19 so next year I’ll be able to step it up again and become more competitive. Riding 52x14 as a maximum gear made things tough.”
Now back home in his native Australia Morton has taken a five week break from cycling, giving him time to reflect on his achievements and set his goals for the coming season, when he will once again base himself in Colorado and under the wing of Jonathan Vaughters.
“Lachlan has great physical talent,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews. “However, more importantly, psychologically, he has the traits of a very big champion.”
Next season, and without gear restrictions, Morton will once again target Utah as one of his biggest goals but will also travel to Europe and race in Belgium and Spain.
“I’ve got progression in mind for the next two to three years but this year I’ve got more ambition in mind going in compared to last year. I realised what I’m able to do if everything goes right, so I’ve a more ambitious racing calendar with a bit of racing in Europe. For me the goal is just to be consistently at the front of the races I’m in.”
“Towards the end of the year there are races like the Tour of Colorado and Utah, of course, that I’d like to do well in. It’s about going into races with an open mind.”
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 10:56
- Fergal MacErlean
Blood bags found in connection to Spanish former mountain biker
Spanish former mountain biker Alberto Leon, who was implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal, has been arrested along with the Dr. Yolanda Fuentes, the sister of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, in the latest probe - Operation Greyhound.
Anti-doping agents found several bags of blood in his fridge in the town of El Escorial, north of Madrid yesterday, said Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Publico newspaper said the alleged plot is headed by Dr Eufemiano Fuentes and his sister Yolanda. The police investigation which began last April focused on the Fuentes siblings and Alberto Leon who allegedly supplied banned substances and who is accused of close collaboration in the scandal.
Steeplechase runner Marta Domínguez, who is pregnant, was released on bail on charges of trafficking and distribution of doping substances after more than six hours of questioning in Palencia. She has been temporarily suspended of her position as vice president of the Spanish Athletics Federation.
The federation appealed for the "presumption of innocence" of those involved in the investigation, which is being conducted by the Magistrate's Court number 24 of Madrid. The proceedings have been declared secret.
During Operation Puerto Leon sought to allay attacks in the press saying he was just "a humble worker".
The second largest doping scheme uncovered in Spain has resulted in the arrest of 14 people. Both Alberto Leon and Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes were previously implicated in the ongoing 2006 Operacion Puerto.
In Thursday's simultaneous raids, across five provinces, Spanish police seized a large quantity of anabolic steroids, hormones and EPO, as well as laboratory equipment for blood transfusions.
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 11:51
- Barry Ryan
Italian bemused by Contador-Schleck friendship
Mario Cipollini has launched a stinging attack on what he called the lack of machismo in modern cycling. The Italian, who recently joined the Katusha team as a consultant, said that he is bemused by the reaction of certain riders in the current peloton to defeat.
“I lived a very different cycling,” Cipollini told L’Equipe. “At the beginning of a sprint, I felt like a gladiator, ready to do anything to keep my place. And when I lost, I wasn’t capable of going to congratulate whoever had beaten me, like Andy Schleck did at the Tour. Me, I’d hate him because he’d taken the bread from my mouth.”
The friendship between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador is something that Cipollini finds difficult to fathom and he echoed the thoughts of the late Laurent Fignon on the aftermath of the “Chaingate” incident.
“Seeing Schleck and Contador embrace on the Tourmalet after crossing the line and then seeing Contador affectionately pinch Schleck’s cheek during his interview was unreal for me,” Cipollini exclaimed. “Logically, Schleck should have been raging, he had just lost the Tour after all.
“After the chain slip incident on the Port de Balès, he should have attacked the Spaniard day after day, in front of the microphones and on the air too, without giving him time to piss!”
Nor did Alberto Contador escape Cipollini’s criticism. “Machismo is disappearing, I can’t find it in Contador,” he complained. “Contador has the anonymous face of a surveyor or an accountant.”
Cipollini was also left bemused by the reaction of Italian leader Filippo Pozzato at the end of the world championships road race in Geelong.
“Pozzato has just been beaten for third place and a second later he has only one idea in his mind, to congratulate the winner,” Cipollini said incredulously. “What can be going on in his head? Has winning become so incidental at this point that there is no joy or disappointment? Are they only working men now?”
“I read an interview with Umberto Veronesi, a scientist, a reputed oncologist and Minister for Health,” Cipollini continued. “In five hundred years or more, human beings might have both sets of genitalia, male and female. I don’t want this evolution to have started already in cycling…”
Cipollini admitted to being far more expressive when he was defeated and he believes that the riches now on offer to top cyclists mean that the edges have softened on many rivalries.
“At the end of Milan-San Remo in 2003 I threatened to strangle Bernhard Eisel while shaking my fist because he had blocked me with 300 metres to go,” Cipollini recalled. “And I was really frightening. I could see it in the eyes of the spectators.
“I had the meanness in me and it was necessary. The others weren’t going to give me any gifts. In Flanders, on the Koppenberg, the gregari would throw themselves under your wheels to block your route. And if you were in a bad position 3km from the line, Kelly and Vanderaerden would start an echelon straight away to put you in the ditch. That was the rule.”
Basso and Contador
As well as decrying the lack of machismo in modern cycling, Cipollini also offered his thoughts on the doping problems that have engulfed the sport, both internationally and in his own country. He called for life bans for offenders, and he believes that Ivan Basso’s involvement in Operacion Puerto ought to have marked a sort of “year zero” for Italian cycling.
“I would have saved Basso, who was at the start of the problem,” Cipollini explained. “The manipulator was Fuentes. He was the one who cleaned the blood and kept it. Basso has served as a scapegoat, he has paid and punished himself with humility and came back into the light at the Giro. But all of those who came afterwards knew, and with them, I would be less tolerant. To err is human; to continue is diabolical.”
In spite of his earlier criticism of Contador, Cipollini also expressed his hopes that the Spaniard can prove his innocence.
“I hope Contador manages to prove his good faith, otherwise it would be a big disappointment,” he said. “Cases like Riccò and Di Luca were only a matter of small motors trying to improve their engines. Riccò is not Pantani, but Contador is of another calibre.”
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 13:45
- Barry Ryan
World champion pleased with level of Garmin-Cervelo team
Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) has questioned the strength of the Luxembourg Cycling Project’s for the Classics, suggesting that the biggest rivals to his new team in 2011 will be Katusha and BMC.
The world champion acknowledged that Fabian Cancellara will be the man to watch on the cobbles once again but he feels that other squads have more options when it comes to team tactics and so better chance of victory.
“I believe both BMC and Katusha will be strong next season,” Hushovd told procycling.no. “Filippo Pozzato has been joined by Leif Hoste on the Katusha team. They’re two riders who are often up there in the top five in both Paris-Roubaix and Flanders.”
Hushovd admitted that Cancellara may not need much team support to repeat his classics success of 2010 but he maintains that the strength of the newly-formed Luxembourg-based squad may have been overstated.
“Luxembourg is an exciting team with good individual riders,” he said. “Cancellara as a rider is always dangerous; he knows how to do these races. If he ends up alone in the group of favourites, he can just follow us and watch who still has a couple of men with him. Having another rider can help, but it’s still down to the leader. When Norway can win the Worlds, it shows you what you can do with one rider in the finale."
“I’m wary of Cancellara but not of the Luxembourg Cycling Project. They are ranked as the world’s best team and they are a good team, but if I have to choose who will be the strongest in the classics, I still think it’s Katusha and BMC.”
Hushovd is fresh from his first training camp with his new Garmin-Cervélo squad in the Cayman Islands and he was impressed with what he has seen so far.
“This is a bigger and a better team [than Cervélo TestTeam],” he said. “Our depth gives us good opportunities in the classics and in the sprints. That is where I think we have the best chance to assert ourselves as a team.”
Given the strength at the team’s disposal after the merging of Garmin-Transitions’ and Cervélo’s classics squads, Hushovd admitted that selecting eight riders for each of the classics might prove to be a headache.
“I think the important thing is to get the right mix of riders. We need ones who will do a good job for the whole team,” he said. “It helps to have six men who can all be top 10 in either Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. We need someone with a nose for the right breaks, we need someone who can do a job along the way and we need someone with a finish to make it possible to win the race.”
Hushovd will now train on the Canary Islands before returning to Norway for Christmas. In January he will partake in two Spanish training camps with Garmin-Cervélo before beginning his season at the Tour of Oman in February.
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 14:07
- Richard Tyler
Belgian secures a one-year extension despite court date
Iljo Keisse will be given another chance to prove his road credentials after signing a one-year contract extension with the Quick Step team in Belgium on Thursday.
His new deal comes despite a pending final decision in the legal saga surrounding his 2008 doping positive at the Gent Six-day. Last month the Belgian Court of Appeals overturned a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July, to re-instate his two-year ban. The Belgian decision means Keisse can race until a final decision is made next April.
If the ban is upheld, Keisse will find himself forced to serve the final nine months of his original suspension, however the 27-year-old is relieved for the meantime at least to have secured a third chance to race at the highest level. He recently won the Ghent six-day with Peter Schep.
"You cannot say I was the revelation of the season. My winter [last year] was not ideal because I signed a contract so late," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "And in March I broke my collarbone. I never really got into my stride until the summer. Then I was again put aside by the CAS. No wonder then, that I doubted whether I'd have a new chance."
Despite the drama that has swirled around Keisse in recent years, Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere believes he deserves a second chance.
"This contract is under the same conditions as last season," said Lefevere to Het Nieuwsblad. "I didn’t want to see Iljo out on the street after the year he's experienced. First, his collarbone broken and then the suspension: he didn't have many chances to prove himself. He deserves a second chance with us, even though I have not much to offer him."
Lefevere also acknowledged the pending court decision - due on April 11, 2010 - by saying, if Keisse "is again suspended, things will be difficult."
Keisse will join his Quick Step teammates for the squad's first training camp in Calpe, Spain next week where his race programme will be drawn up. Following his emotional win at the Gent six-day last month he will also continue his participation in the European Six-day season. He will also participate in the Revolution 31 in Manchester, England this weekend.
"This is a virtue, after all the misery. This confidence gives me a good feeling and I would like to give something back," said Keisse. "I know what I have to do: work."
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 16:01
- Stephen Farrand
UCI names 23 Professional Continental teams for 2011
The UCI has revealed the names of the Professional Continental teams registered for 2011 but the Australian Pegasus Sports team has again failed to satisfy the application requirements.
The team failed to secure a ProTeam licence in November and the UCI Licence Commission has given the team until December 15 to submit all the required documentation. If they fail to do so, the team could be forced to accept a Continental licence and would be limited in its race programme and team structure for 2011.
The UCI has already awarded Professional Continental licences to several teams and has added further teams to the category. The full list is as follows:
Teams already registered in the second division on November 2:
Androni Giocattoli (Ita)
Bretagne - Schuller (Fra)
Caja Rural (Spa)
Colnago - CSF Inox (Irl)
Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli (GBr)
Saur - Sojasun (Fra)
Skil - Shimano (Ned)
Team Netapp (Ger)
Team Type 1 (USA)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator (Bel)
Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling (USA)
Teams that were initially candidates for UCI ProTeam status but that ultimately have been registered in the second division:
Geox - TMC (Spa)
Teams registered in the second division following meetings of the Licence Commission on November 18 and 26:
Acqua & Sapone (Ita)
Andalucia - Caja Granada (Spa)
CCC Polsat Polkowice (Pol)
Colombia es Pasion - Cafe de Colombia (Col)
De Rosa -Ceramica Flaminia (Irl)
Team Spidertech Powered by C10 (Can)
Verandas Willems - Accent (Bel)
- Article published:
- December 10, 2010, 22:02
- Stephen Farrand
Raimondo Scimone responds to Katusha manager
Denis Menchov’s agent Raimondo Scimone has responded to Andrei Tchmil’s open letter by threatening legal action against the Katusha team manager.
Tchmil claimed he had been unfairly treated during negotiations with Menchov this summer and alluded that the Russian rider and his management had problems with the rules and discipline at Team Katusha. Menchov is Russia's best stage race rider but opted to sign with Geox-TMC for 2011.
Tchmil ended his letter saying “There will never be a place for him (Menchov) at Team Katusha while he continues to be managed in this way. I hope that Denis Menchov reflects on this.”
Scimone hit back by saying “the letter contains numerous things that have been proven to be false and damaging for the image and good name of my rider Denis Menchov and for myself. As a result it is being studied by our lawyers to decide if we will defend our name and image.”
Scimone claimed that after an initial contact in January, the Katusha team never showed interest in opening formal negotiations with Menchov. He denied that there were any problems in accepting the internal team rules concerning discipline at Katusha, especially the clause in rider’s contract that states they have to pay five times their salary if they are caught doping.
“When the head of Team Katusha says that one of the motives for the lack of an agreement with Menchov was the internal discipline in the team and especially the fight against doping, and claims rider’s agents don’t like it, he damages Menchov, myself and all riders’ agents, who are soon to be officially recognized by the UCI,” Scimone said in his own letter.
“I work with five riders with the Russian team and that is enough to prove that there is no truth to Tchmil’s veiled accusations about how I work.”