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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 11, 2011

Date published:
February 11, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Michael Dean Pepper given three years for clenbuterol and testosterone positives

    Riders in the sunrise during stage six of the 2010 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race between Worcester and Oak Valley in the Western Cape, South Africa on the 26 March 2010
    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 9:18 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Pepper admitted his guilt

    The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport has given Michael Dean Pepper a three-year ban after he tested positive for testosterone and clenbuterol last fall. Pepper has already been released by his Continental-ranked Team, House of Paint.

    The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport announced the ban on Wednesday. “Because two banned substances were found in the athlete’s sample, and the fact that he admitted guilt, the tribunal panel felt they could increase the ban from two years to three years,” said Khalid Galant, the Institute's CEO, according to Sport24.co.za.

    The 26-year-old tested positive at the Amaschova Classic race in Durban last October.

    Pepper admitted that the clenbuterol came from a nutritional supplement which he knowingly took, according to Side Wind sports, which owns the team.

    “Pepper confirmed he had been given a cream that contained testosterone due to health issues relating to hormone imbalances, and more specifically, depleted testosterone. Pepper claimed the use of the banned substance was in minute quantities however he was at all times aware that it was nonetheless illegal,” said Side Wind in a statement.

    “He stated it was never his intention to take the substance to win or become better than any of his fellow riders but rather just to reach a level he had previously had. He also went on to confirm that there is no other cyclist involved and that his team and or teammates at the time, were unaware of what he was doing.”

    Pepper was a successful elite rider, but did not have any significant results after turning pro with House of Paint in 2009.

  • Eichler signs with Continental-ranked Team NSP

    Markus Eichler (Milram)
    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 9:57 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Ex-Milram, Ex-Pegasus rider finds home with German team

    Markus Eichler has signed with the German Continental-ranked, Team NSP. Eichler had signed with the Pegasus Racing project for the 2011 season, but the team did not materialise.

    Eichler, 28, turned pro with Team ComNet-Senges in 2003, and rode one year with Unibet.com before joining Milram in 2008. The Classics specialist won several races in 2006, and in 2010 won the Batavus ProRace/Ronde von Friesland.

    "Markus will be our captain at the one-day races, and with his eight years of pro experience will surely be a big support for our young team,” said NSP sport director Lars Wackernagel.

    "The role of serving as an extension of the team management in the race is especially attractive to me,” Eichler said. “I want to NSP help to form a powerful team.”

  • Spanish Prime Minister backs Contador's claim of innocence

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    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 10:49 GMT
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Prudhomme gets impatient about outcome

    The Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has publicly stated that he believes Alberto Contador's presumption of innocence. On Thursday, Zapatero's Department of Communication posted that "there is no judicial reason to sanction Alberto Contador" on its Twitter page.

    This could come as the latest support for Contador, who is waiting for the Spanish cycling federation's competitions committee to issue a final decision regarding his positive doping control for clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France. Recent news out of Spain suggests that members of the competitions committee are considering overturning the initial recommendation of a one-year ban for the offence, with a final verdict expected at the beginning of next week.

    According to AS, the investigation magistrate Carmen Victoria López Muñoz, thinks that out of the four possible reasons for the doping positive - transfusion, micro-dosing, vitamin supplements and contaminated meat - only the last possibility could be valid, discarding the three others.

    The question will be whether Contador's attorneys can successfully defend their client by pointing at the World Anti-Doping Code, which states that "the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility shall be eliminated" if the athlete can clearly establish "how the Prohibited Substance entered his or her system" in a case of "No Fault or Negligence".

    Meanwhile, Contador himself again defended his innocence, saying that "the pressure of the UCI and WADA had a great influence on the sanction proposal by the Spanish cycling federation" and that his case had been "politicised for a while now."

    Contador has also called for the introduction of thresholds for certain substances, saying that the substance quantities detected...

  • Van Petegem signs as Classics Advisor with Garmin-Cervelo for Spring Classics

    Peter Van Petegem (Quickstep-Innergetic) rolls up to the start.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 11:22 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian to lead team through Paris-Roubaix

    Peter Van Petegem will serve as a Classics Advisor for Garmin-Cervelo at the Spring Classics. The two-time Tour of Flanders winner confirmed to Het Nieuwsblad that he has signed with the US-based team.

    Van Petegem will lead the strong Classics team around world champion Thor Hushovd and double Tour of Qatar stage winner Heinrich Haussler from the beginning of Mach through to Paris-Roubaix on April 10.

    Earlier this week Van Petegem, 41, said that he was in talks with team manger Jonathan Vaughters. The stumbling blocks for the Belgian were his job with the organisation of the Omloop Het Niuewsblad and the Tour of Flanders, as well as his full-time insurance brokerage job.

    "But I have now reached an agreement that begins in March and ends after Roubaix. I will help the men of Garmin in 'my' races,” Van Petegem said. “I am honoured, as Garmin is probably the best team in the world.”

    He continued, “This is really a challenge. That's why I will only start with Garmin-Cervelo only after the Omloop. There is no problem with my job as race director.”

    Van Petegem rode professionally from 1992 to 2007. In 2003 he won both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. He won the latter race and Three Days of De Panne twice in his career, as well as many other races, including Omloop Het Volk.

  • Amador returned to racing in Mallorca Challenge

    Andrey Amador
    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 13:16 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider in two races less than six weeks after brutal attack

    The biggest winner in the Mallorca Challenge may well have been a rider who finished 117th in one race in the series and didn't finish any others. The race marked the return of Andrey Amador (Movistar) to the peloton, after a brutal attack in his home of Costa Rica the end of December, which nearly ended not only his career but also his life.

    The 24-year-old was riding alone in the mountains on December 29, when he realised two cars with tinted windows seemed to be too interested in him. He finally rounded a corner to find the road blocked by one of the cars, with the other car not far behind it. He turned on to a dirt road, only to be followed by an SUV.

    He abandoned his bike and tried to escape on foot, he told Marca.com. They followed him, shooting at him and hitting him with what turned out to be a Taser gun.

    "Suddenly I heard another shot and everything went black. When I opened my eyes, I was lying in the riverbed. Everything was dark and could only see from the light of the moon. I hurt all over."

    Still, Amador managed to get up, get back to the road and walk “a few kilometres” to a store, where he called his brother. "The incident occurred about one o'clock and when I woke up and the clock showed it was past 19.00 hours."

    That night at home, after throwing up a number of times, he went to hospital. He had suffered bruised kidneys and a collapsed lung. The next few days were very difficult, but “I just thought to recover."

    After two weeks he was able to return home to some unexpected news: the robbers demanded a ransom for his bike. He refused to pay and eventually they abandoned the bike. A homeless man found it and sold it to the bike...

  • Gilbert changes race schedule to add Volta ao Algarve

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    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 14:34 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Lotto leader to shape up in Portugal

    Philippe Gilbert has decided to amend his race programme, including the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on his list of preparation races for the Spring Classics.

    The leader of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team has been competing in the Mallorca Challenge this week, but felt he still lacked the form he built up in the Tour of Qatar and Oman in the last few years. Even though he tested himself several times on the hilly courses in Mallorca, the Belgian was not satisfied with his current form.

    "I felt that I still wasn't good enough," Gilbert told Het Laatste Nieuws. "My form is not bad, as I worked well during the winter, but it's not good enough yet. Not being at the Tours of Qatar and Oman has had more consequences than planned. I don't have a choice, I will race the Tour of Algarve, too, as I feel I still need more competition."

    Initially, Gilbert did not plan to race between the Mallorca events and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the first Belgian race scheduled for February 26. Now, in order to be in top shape by March when his true objectives begin, he will travel to the south of Portugal from February 16 to 20.

  • Vacansoleil-DCM suspends Riccò

    Riccardo Riccò awaits the start of the Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 17:08 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team's relationship with Italian up for discussion

    The Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team suspended Riccardo Riccò on Friday after conducting an internal investigation. The Italian Riccò suffered a sudden illness after a training ride on Sunday afternoon and was taken to the hospital where kidney failure was rumoured. Riccò then allegedly admitted to the doctors that he had performed a blood transfusion, and his team promptly followed up with promises to investigate the claims.

    "Internal research results following the illness and rumors regarding Riccò have given the team sufficient reason to suspend Italian with immediate effect," read a statement by the team.

    "Last Tuesday, the team started an urgent investigation following the hospitalisation of Riccardo Riccò. Three days later, the results of this study brought the team to the conclusion that an immediate suspension of Riccò was required."

    The team did not provide any details or results of the investigation.

    "The violation of internal regulations of the team and other indications justify this measure. Today, Riccò received a registered letter on this matter."

    The Vacansoleil-DCM team indicated that their relationship with Riccò would be up up for discussion. "The team will, of course, follow [the] appropriate legal route on this matter. The team can not prejudge, but emphasizes that a zero-tolerance policy towards doping is practised."

  • Guardini shakes off early struggles in Qatar

    Luca Scinto with Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) the Tour of Qatar.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2011, 18:52 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian sprinter emerges from echelons to win on Doha circuit

    Italian sprint sensation Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) heralded his arrival in the professional ranks with an explosive sprint victory on the final stage of the Tour of Qatar. The neo-professional had already snapped up five stage wins at the Tour de Langkawi, but admitted that he struggled with the high winds and echelons that characterised the previous days of racing in Qatar.

    "I still can't believe it because the riders here are really of the very highest level," Guardini told Cyclingnews after the finish. "Up until yesterday I was a little bit demoralised because I didn't expect to struggle so much in Qatar. I really didn't expect that it would be so difficult to race here. The wind made its presence felt on a number of days, but instead today both the weather and the peloton were quite calm."

    Guardini racked up an Italian record 19 wins in the amateur ranks in 2010, all of them in sprints, and expectations surrounding his chances in the professional ranks reached fever pitch after his exhibition in Malaysia.

    "I was asked at the start of the week if I would have settled for a couple of placings on stages here," he said. "I don't put limits on myself but I don't expect things either. I'm here to gain experience, and I've done that. I saw what it means to ride in echelons and in the wind.

    "I saw that I didn't have the legs to be in front on those stages where the race broke up in the wind, but here after arriving quite fresh on one of the easier stages, I succeeded in sprinting at my best."

    Guardini developed as a rider modelling himself on Robbie McEwen, and both the intelligence behind the timing of his effort and the explosiveness of his sprint itself would surely have earned a nod of admiration from the Australian.

    "I'd studied the finish well, I knew there was going to be a headwind and I figured it might be the kind of sprint where you need to come from behind," he said. "I found a...