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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 18, 2009

Date published:
September 18, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Pollack surprised by positive test, denies wrongdoing

    Olaf Pollack (Team Volksbank)
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 9:18 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    German road and track rider says he will cooperate with BDR, also battling illness

    Former German T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner rider Olaf Pollack has reacted with "surprise" to his positive anti-doping test from July 6, which was revealed by the German cycling federation (BDR) yesterday. In a statement, the 35-year-old denied having used any banned substances.

    "I cannot explain the alleged test result," said Pollack, who has vowed to clear his name. "I have told the BDR I will cooperate in the investigation of this case. Moreover, I have requested the analysis of the B-sample, which I will attend in the presence of a scientific expert."

    But the German road and track rider also criticised the BDR's swift publication of his positive A-sample. "I was taken aback by the BDR's announcement of a temporary suspension, which encourages public prejudice. I regret this step also because of the following reason: The BDR is aware of the fact that I am currently undergoing treatment for a serious illness."

    Pollack's recent successes on the track (Silver medal in the Madison at the 2008 World Championships in Manchester, German champion in the Madison and points race) were brought to a halt when the rider had to go to hospital for an eye infection in mid-August. However, his condition (retinal detachment) worsened and Pollack may be forced to end his career because of it.

    Pollack risks a two-year suspension if the B-sample also returns positive for a yet unnamed substance.

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  • 2013 Tour de France to start in Corsica?

    As last year, Christian Prudhomme will reveal the full Tour de France route details in the Palais des Congrès on late October
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 10:53 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Mediterranean island a candidate for Tour's 100th edition, possible return to Mont Ventoux

    Three years from now, the Tour de France will be taking place for the 100th time, and race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) is bound to lay out a special itinerary for the celebration. The French press is already begun to speculate about a 'Grand Départ' - the start of the event - on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the only French region that has not yet hosted a stage of the Tour throughout its history.

    According to French newspaper Corse Matin, ASO officials will travel to Corsica for an official meeting from October 21-23 to discuss the logistical issues of taking the race to an island. The last time a Tour start began off the European mainland was in 2007, when the event commenced in London and the Tour caravan travelled back to France through the Channel tunnel. Travel to and from Corsica, however, would require ferry and air transport.

    Moreover, security may also be an issue as separatist movements have been haunting the island for many years.

    The 2013 Tour could also include Provence's famous Mont Ventoux again, which was last featured this year. The 'bald giant' is not visited by the race often, as event director Christian Prudhomme believes it would destroy its myth if it were to appear too frequently.

    But editors of the French website are certain that the 100th edition of the race will include the fabled climb again, as Prudhomme and Claude Haut, president of the general counsel of Vaucluse, supposedly share an idea: a return to the Ventoux time trial. The race against the clock up the slopes of the 'windy mountain' only took place twice in the history of the event; the first time in 1958 (Charly Gaul won), and the last time in 1987 (victory of Jean-François Bernard).

    The last time a summit finish time trial was held at the Tour de France was in 2004, when Lance Armstrong won on top of L'Alpe d'Huez.

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  • Ribeiro, Nozal and Guerra positive for CERA

    Hector Guerra (Liberty Seguros) won the final stage of the Volta a Portugal.
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 12:08 BST
    Cycling News

    Tour of Portugal winner and two teammates test positive before race, Liberty Seguros to leave cycling

    The winner of the Tour of Portugal and two of his teammates have tested positive for EPO-CERA. The Continental team Liberty Seguros has been hit with three doping cases, as Nuno Ribeiro, Isidro Nozal and Hector Guerra all tested positive for EPO-CERA in controls prior to the Tour of Portugal last month. Team manager Vito Paulo Branco has confirmed the positive findings.

    The doping controls were conducted August 3, two days before the race started. The three riders now face up to two-year ban if the B-sample tests confirm the findings.

    Nuno Ribeiro, 32, has been on the continental Portuguese team since 2001. He won the Tour of Portugal with one stage win along the way.

    Isidro Nozal, 31, rode for team ONCE, also under its names of Liberty Seguros, Liberty Seguros-Würth and Astana from 2000 to 2006.

    Guerra, 31, has ridden for Spanish and Portuguese Continental and Professional Continental tams since turning pro in 2003. This season he has won six stages, including one in the Tour of Portugal. He also won the overall titles in the Grande Premio Internacional de Torres Vedras and the Vuelta a la Communidad de Madrid.

    Insurance company Liberty Seguros announced that it would stop its sponsorship of the team, and apparently also its involvement in cycling altogether.

    "It is with great sadness that we learned of this situation. The promotion of cycling has always been a commitment we made to the team, with our staff and the Portuguese in general,” said Jose Antonion de Sousa, CEO of Liberty Seguros. “However, Liberty Seguros is guided by honesty, accuracy and ethical behavior - we can never allow such a situation."

    In confirming the three suspensions, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said that Guerra and Ribeiro would have to be removed from their nations' teams for the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, September 23 to 27. Guerra was to have ridden for Spain and Ribeiro...

  • Bruyneel blames Vinokourov for his Astana exit

    Johan Bruyneel comments on Zeus and KCF
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 12:15 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Belgian manager tired of fighting

    Johan Bruyneel, the manager of Team Radioshack, has said that the return of Alexander Vinokourov to Astana was the reason he left the Kazakh-sponsored squad.

    Writing in his column for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Bruyneel said: "The reason for my leaving is that Vinokourov is back riding with Astana." The return of the Kazakh rider after his two-year suspension created tension before the Tour de France, when 'Vino' told the media that he was certain to be integrated back into the Astana team, whether Bruyneel liked it or not. "If Johan doesn't want me, it will be up to him to leave the team," the rider had said.

    "The press conference of Vinokouorv was the straw that broke the camel's back. He more or less demanded my departure in case I don't allow him in the team. When I came on [the team] I had made it clear that I hoped I didn't have to take him in the team. It turned out differently. Vinokourov is back in the team and that's why I'm leaving."

    Neither the rivalry between 2009 Tour de France victor Alberto Contador and seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong - nor the team's financial difficulties - were the main causes for Bruyneel's move to The Shack. But Bruyneel still said that, "I am glad that I won't have anything to do with it anymore, as of January 1, 2010. Honestly, I am tired of the fight with some of these Kazakhs."

    The Belgian also said that the International Cycling Union (UCI) was closely looking at the change of management within the Astana team. "One of the conditions of the UCI is that a credible management has to come in. That is the first step that has to be taken. If Vinokourov thinks he can take over the squad, then they have to do it like that," added Bruyneel.

    The Astana team has not yet announced who will be managing the outfit next year.

  • Brajkovič chooses RadioShack

    Janez Brajkovic (Astana) was sporting a fancy paint job on his Trek TT bike today.
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 12:16 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Slovenian turns down offers from Katusha, Rabobank and Sky

    Janez Brajkovič has confirmed that he will ride for RadioShack in 2010. The 25-year-old Slovenian said that despite offers from Katusha, Rabobank and Team Sky, he would join current Astana manager Johan Bruyneel at the new American squad.

    "I had several offers, but I wanted to stay with Johan Bruyneel," said Brajkovič at a press conference on Wednesday, according to Slovenian cycling magazine Bicikel.

    Brajkovič revealed that while Katusha's offer was the most lucrative of the options before him, he chose to join Lance Armstrong's team in the hope of supporting the Texan in his bid for a record eighth Tour de France title.

    "Money only goes so far," he said. "I expect superior team, with an atmosphere similar to that of Discovery Channel. I will also have greater control over my race program [at RadioShack]. Of course, I would also like to race in the Tour [de France], even if only as an assistant. Being part of Lance Armstrong's team at the Tour is something very significant."

    Brajkovič in indicated that in addition to shorter stage races and one-day Classics, a position on the RadioShack squad for the Tour de France would be his main objective for 2010.

    The Slovenian rode for Astana for the past two seasons, after completing two-and-a-half years at Discovery Channel, where he began his ProTour career in 2005.

    Winner of the Under-23 Time trial World Championship in 2004 and the current Slovenian national time trial champion, Brajkovič was wore leader's jersey at the Vuelta a España for two stages in 2006. In 2007 he won the best young rider's classification at the Tour of Georgia.

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  • Sky awarded four-year ProTour license

    UCI President Pat McQuaid
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 16:15 BST
    Daniel Benson

    AG2R renews until 2012

    The License Commission of the International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced that Team Sky has been awarded a four-year ProTour licence, while French outfit AG2R La Mondiale has had its license extended until the end of the 2012 season. The decision was made on Tuesday but released Friday.

    Team Sky had already shown that it will be a major force in cycling when it announced its first sixteen riders, including current Tour of Britain leader Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lövkvist, and Simon Gerrans. While more signings are yet to be announced, a ProTour license will guarantee the team's participation in races such as the Tour de Suisse, Tour of Flanders, San Sebastien and the Tour of Romandy. However, the license does not automatically guarantee a place in the Tour de France since the organizer, ASO, controls the invitations.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews, UCI President Pat McQuaid gave reasons explaining why Sky was successful in its application. "A lot was considered, and we looked at the ethics of the team as well as the financial and admin side of things. Of course, the quality of the riders was also important."

    Team RadioShack has also applied for a new ProTour license, while Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Lampre-NGC and Milram have requested renewals.

    Also on Friday, the UCI announced that it had granted ProTour licenses to the Grands Prix of Quebec and Montreal for four years (2010-2013).

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  • Wiggins sale an open door for Contador move?

    Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) was clearly pleased to be racing again on home-soil
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 17:16 BST
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Slipstream denies latest rumours surrounding supposed Sky signing

    Garmin-Slipstream boss Jonathan Vaughters has again denied claims that fledgling outfit Team Sky has bought out Bradley Wiggins' contract, enabling the British rider to move to the much-vaunted squad.

    According to reports emanating from UK newspaper The Daily Mail, Team Sky has supposedly arranged a £2million compensation deal to lure Wiggins, who finished fourth in this year's Tour de France, to the British squad. The publication says that the deal was done, "to buy out his contract with Garmin Chipotle [sic]."

    Garmin-Slipstream boss Jonathan Vaughters has categorically stated that there is no such arrangement, however. "Bradley Wiggins is under contract for 2010... that's the end of it," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.

    The report further speculates that Garmin-Slipstream would then be able to complete the signing of double Tour de France champion Alberto Contador.

    However, both Contador and the management of Team Astana have made it clear he has one year remaining on his contract with the Kazakh squad that the Spaniard intends to honour, making the move virtually impossible for Vaughters to complete, even if he wanted to.

    Contador will make an appearance at today's stage of the Vuelta a España in La Granja de San Ildefonso to comment on the day's proceedings and make himself available for media questions. It's now likely the issue of his riding future will again be raised.

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  • Contador still in limbo

    Alberto Contador (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 18, 2009, 17:22 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Desired option is to leave Astana

    Tour de France champion Alberto Contador still has not decided what team he will ride for in 2010. The Spaniard confirmed on Friday that he and his management team are awaiting news on the ProTour licence situation, financial guarantees and other issues.

    "I need a team with guarantees - that is the most important thing," he said. "I missed the Tour de France in 2008, and I don't want that to repeat that again. I also need to know who will be running the team; there are many factors."

    According to Contador's press agent, Jacinto Vicarte, a decision might be made by this weekend. "It is possible that we will know on the 20th [Sunday]," he said to Cyclingnews. "We are awaiting the UCI's decision [about ProTour contracts] and then, when we have that news, we will be in a better position to decide."

    However there appears to be an element of confusion as the UCI has told Cyclingnews that no ProTour decisions relating to Astana are expected shortly. October 20th is the deadline for teams currently holding licences to submit documentation pertaining to bank guarantees, team and management lists and other subjects. This is part of the annual review required for each.

    The rider's agent, Fran Contador, said that the desired choice was for his brother to change. "The first choice for us is to leave Astana, to be able to talk to other teams and agree something," he said. "If that is not possible, we will study everything and decide what to do."

    Vicarte said that if the UCI decides not to allow Astana to continue with its ProTour licence, it will make things "easier" for Contador to be able to chose a new destination. In that case, he will have a choice of many offers.

    Three teams are known to have been negotiating with him about a possible move and, responding to reporters' questions, Contador spoke about each.

    "Garmin is an option and we have spoken with them. It is a good team and they had a very...