Italian seals Tour de France's mountains and combativity awards
Franco Pellizotti capped off a successful Tour de France as he stepped onto the race podium to claim the overall mountains classification in Paris on Sunday.
While he was unable to reach his pre-Tour goal of a stage win, the Liquigas rider was also awarded the Tour's overall combativity prize. Pellizotti told letour.fr that he was pleased with the role he was able to play in the three week race.
"I felt many different emotions during this Tour. Above all, I had the ambition to win a stage. I tried several times but I could not achieve that goal, even if I did come close," said Pellizotti in Paris.
"But the other objective was to win the polka-dot jersey and I’ve realized that. With the combativity award as well, I’m leaving this Tour with two awards which proves that I was present every day. Along with my teammates we helped to animate this race."
Pellizotti rode aggresively throughout the Tour. His best chance of a stage win came on stage nine in Tarbes. On that occasion he was narrowly edged out in a sprint by Frenchman Pierrick Fédrigo (BBox Bougyues Telecom) after the two had broken away on the Col du Tourmalet.
His win in the Tour's mountains classification meant Pellizotti became the first Italian do so since Claudio Chiappucci in 1992. He cemented his position in the race for the polka dot jersey in the Tour's alpine stages. Participation in a stage 16 breakaway gave him maximum points on both the hors categorie Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard and category 1 Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard, effectively seeing off the challenge of Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
"The battle for the polka-dot jersey went on for quite some time. I was very demanding to get it, and just as though to keep it. I am the first Italian to win this title after Claudio Chiappucci and that means a lot to me. When I saw him on the roads of the Tour all those years ago with this jersey… it was one of the...
Cervélo TestTeam captain and Cavendish share Tour spoils
Thor Hushovd claimed his second Tour de France points classification title after finishing sixth on the final stage in Paris on Sunday. Hushovd was able to withstand the challenge from Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish, who won six stages in this year's Tour.
Speaking after the stage the Cervélo TestTeam sprinter said that he and Cavendish had built a mutual respect throughout the Tour's three weeks.
"When you get to the finish of a bunch sprint, you always have a lot of adrenaline. There are a lot of things that happen in that final rush to the line and it’s easy to say a lot of things to your rivals immediately after," Hushovd told letour.fr.
"Mark [Cavendish] and I have already forgotten about all the incidents. We’ve shaken hands, talked about it and put it all behind us. We both had a good Tour this year, he won a lot of stages and I’ve got the green jersey."
Hushovd won a stage in the race himself, taking a victory in Barcelona on stage 6. However, like many of his fellow sprinters, he finished some metres behind a dominant Mark Cavendish on the Champs Élysées on Sunday.
Despite his victory on the final stage, Cavendish was unable to dislodge Hushovd from the top of the points green jersey competition. The Norwegian finished the Tour ten points clear of his younger rival.
The battle for green between Hushovd and Cavendish had been one of the major talking points of the race. The rivalry between the two peaked on stage 14, when Cavendish was relegated by the race jury for irregular sprinting after a protest by Hushovd.
Then, with a daring solo attack on the Alpine stage 17, Hushovd absorbed the intermediate sprint points on offer and effectively sealed his hold on the competition.
"We talk a lot when we’re riding but we had a big battle during the Tour de France – especially after he was relegated, that was a hard time – but...
Spanish Grand Tour to start at home for Dutch squad
Vacansoleil have named a thirteen rider shortlist for their 2009 Vuelta a España squad.
The nine-man team will be picked from the following riders: Borut Bozic, Matteo Carrara, Baden Cooke, Johnny Hoogerland, Sergey Lagutin, Björn Leukemans, Gerben Löwik, Marco Marcato, Jens Mouris, Matthé Pronk, Bobbie Traksel, Frederik Veuchelen and Lieuwe Westra.
The team says it will make its final selection in mid-August.
The Dutch pro continental squad is one of 21 teams selected for the Spanish Grand Tour. They will be joined at the start by Spanish pro continental squads Andalucía-Cajasur, Contentpolis-Ampo and Xacobeo-Galicia. ProTour teams Katusha and Fuji-Servetto were both denied invitations to the race by the race organiser, Unipublic.
For Vacansoleil the race will begin at home as the prologue and first three stages of the Vuelta are scheduled to take place in the Netherlands. The race begins on August 29 with a 4.5-kilometre prologue on the grand prix motorcycle circuit in Assen.
Tour de France causes re-shuffle in latest UCI lists
After claiming his second Tour de France title on Sunday in Paris Astana's Alberto Contador has shot to the top of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) latest world rankings, released on Monday.
The French Grand Tour caused a significant reshuffling of the lists after Contador and his Astana teammates dominated both the overall and teams classifications at the race.
Spaniard Contador replaced compatriot Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) at the top of the individual ranking. With Valverde absent in July, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) have pushed the former Spanish national champion into fourth place on the list.
Cadel Evans and Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov each slipped several places following their lacklustre performances at the Tour de France.
Astana have moved from fourth to first in the team rankings as Saxo Bank, Columbia-HTC and Liquigas fill the following three spots, respectively.
Spain remained at the top of the nation rankings as the efforts of the Schleck brothers moved Luxembourg to sixth. Great Britain and the United States have both moved inside the top ten.
Rock Racing's Oscar Sevilla captured the BMC Cascade Cycling Classic title, but not before helping his teammate Francisco Mancebo move into second place ahead of BMC's strong-man Jeff Louder who placed third. The six-stage race culminated in Bend, Oregon on Sunday.
"I am very happy to win here in Cascade," said Sevilla. "I could not have done this without the help from all my teammates. This is an important win for our team Rock Racing, especially because it is a great race in America. It's also important for me - I'm very pleased to win this jersey."
Sevilla and his teammate Mancebo, who started the stage in third place, followed a last minute move on a descent to the sixth and final stage finish. Sevilla had a healthy lead in the overall classification, but reverted to a domestique role to help his teammate Mancebo gain the additional seconds needed to bypass Louder and take second place in the overall.
"I was very happy to help him do that because he is my teammate but also my close friend for many years," said Sevilla. "He worked so hard for me this week and I wanted to work for him in the end."
Sevilla moved into the race lead after his stage two victory atop Three Creeks Snow Park. The subsequent race for the overall title did not come without a hard-fought battle between top GC contenders Jeff Louder and Ian McKissick (BMC), Chris Baldwin and Rory Sutherland (OUCH p/b Maxxis) and Jeremy Vennell and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell).
"All the teams were very strong, especially BMC who were attacking a lot," Sevilla said. "My team worked very hard, they have a lot of experience and this victory is for the whole team. We also have a directeur Lorenzo [LaPage] who is very intelligent and very calm guiding us this week."
Sevilla noted that he will be taking a well-deserved rest after completing two back-to-back stage races in two continents in just ten days. The Spaniard placed fourth in Spain's Vuelta a Madrid, then...
Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin had hearings before the International Olympic Committee's Disciplinary Commissions on Monday, concerning their positive doping controls from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Both cyclists tested positive for CERA, a derivative of EPO.
Four other athletes from other disciplines, who also tested positive for CERA during the Olympics, also had their hearings on Monday.
"The IOC Disciplinary Commission gave the athletes and their representatives the opportunity to be heard," the IOC said. "The decision by the IOC will be taken in due course after deliberation."
Thomas Bach of Germany, the chairman of the Commission, told the dpa press agency that "There is not a fixed time plan for decisions." However, the IOCs Executive Committee has its next meeting scheduled for August 13 and 14 in Berlin, and could decide on sanctions at that time.
Schumacher, a German who rode for Team Gerolsteiner, also tested positive twice during the 2008 Tour de France for CERA. He was given a two-year-suspension by the International Cycling Union, which he is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
Rebellin was also with Team Gerolsteiner last year and rode for Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni this season before being suspended in April. He had finished second in the men's road race at the Olympics.
"Endurance in a pill", new blood booster two candidates
For the first time in years, the Tour de France ended without a single rider testing positive during the race. While all the results may not be in, there is cautious hope that the peloton is finally cleaning itself up after years of doping scandals. But the French Anti-doping Agency president Pierre Bordry is not convinced.
Bordry suspects that the riders are still engaging in autologous blood transfusions, he told Le Monde. The AFLD head also said he is "convinced that two new products have been used during the Tour, two drugs that are not yet on the market."
The first, Hematide, works on the same biochemical pathway that erythropoeitin (EPO) does, but is a different molecule. It would, therefore, likely defeat the traditional test for EPO. The drug, made by Affymax, is still in phase three clinical trials.
The second drug that Bordry suspects is AICAR (aminoimidazole carboxamide ribonucleotide), or the so-called "exercise in a pill" which made news in 2008. Scientists discovered that in mice, the drug can boost endurance in the absence of actual training. The drug was found to convert fast-twitch muscle fibers to the more efficient slow-twitch fibers that benefit endurance athletes.
Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that scientists had developed detection protocols for the substance and turned them over to the World Anti-doping Agency, but WADA has a policy of not commenting on when doping tests have been implemented.
Bordry also noted to Le Monde that his agency discovered drug products in the trash from several teams. "We found several strong medications, including a substance which produces insulin and usually is used for diabetes."
Spanish Tour champion says relationship with Armstrong is 'zero'
Tour de France winner Alberto Contador spoke out against teammate Lance Armstrong, the Tour's third place finisher, in a Madrid press conference on Monday. "My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero," the 26-year-old Spaniard said, according to AFP. "He is a great rider and has completed a great race but it is another thing on a personal level, where I have never had great admiration for him and I never will."
The 2009 Tour winner described the tension behind the scenes within the Astana team. "On this Tour, the days in the hotel were harder than those on the road. The situation was tense and delicate because the relationship between myself and Lance extended to the rest of the staff. The two riders who had the most weight on the team did not have an easy relationship and that puts the rest of the technical staff and the riders in an uncomfortable position."
While Armstrong acknowledged Contador's undeniable sporting abilities, stating "Alberto was far superior to anyone else in the race this year," his actions on Saturday evening belied a lack of respect for his teammate's impending Tour de France victory. While the Astana team had a party to celebrate the victory Contador would confirm in Paris less than 24 hours away, Armstrong chose to have dinner with people from RadioShack, the title sponsor of Armstrong's new American team for 2010.
In addition to the internal strife endured by Contador throughout the three-week Tour de France, Contador was the victim of a public gaffe during the podium ceremony in Paris on Sunday in which the Danish national anthem was played instead of Spain's. Contador called the incident a "huge blunder" but added that the race organisers had "rectified matters, albeit belatedly."
While Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel have declared their intentions to leave Astana in 2010 for the new American team sponsored by RadioShack, Contador has not publicly revealed his choice of teams for 2010....