- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 06:10
- Cycling News
Emotional victory at location of comeback in 2008
Ivan Basso took the opportunity of his final race of the year, the Japan Cup, to capture an important personal triumph. It was the Italian's only win of the year after a Giro d'Italia campaign that didn't yield the desired results. Despite looking like he could repeat his win of 2010, the 34-year-old ultimately finished 5th. His win in Japan on Sunday was also his first and only race when he debuted with Liquigas in 2008 and now, four years on, he’s finally won it. Basso outsprinted Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Rafal Majka (Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) for the win after breaking away in the closing laps of the 151km race.
“On a personal note, coming back to Japan four years after I started with Liquigas and winning on the day they say adieu to cycling is something very special that I can’t put into words," Basso said on his team site.
Liquigas is ending their sponsorship of the team at the close of 2012 and it was a fitting way for Basso and his Liquigas-Cannondale teammates to say farewell while taking the team’s 38th win of the year. The team took a number of important victories throughout the season including three national titles, two stages and the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, five stages at Tour of California, four stages at Tour de Suisse and three stages at the Tour de France plus the points classification amongst others.
The team will become Cannondale Pro Cycling in 2013 and while a number of the team’s biggest winners, most notably Vincenzo Nibali will leave the team bound for Astana, there is plenty of talent in the likes of Basso, Peter Sagan, Moreno Moser and Elia Viviani left to fill the void.
"We really wanted this win and it’s quite emotional. The entire team wanted to honour this race as it was a very significant one for us," said Basso. "It’s a way of thanking Liquigas for the commitment and passion that they brought to cycling. We had a great win today. I might have crossed the line first but it was only thanks to the brilliant work by all my teammates. We’re all really happy, the people have been very welcoming which is fantastic and today is a day for everyone to celebrate."
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 07:41
- Cycling News
Riders who confess are the "greatest asset" in anti-doping
Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters believes that Cycling Australia went too far in sacking Matt White and allowing Stephen Hodge to step away from his role as vice president.
Speaking to ABC radio on Monday morning, Vaughters said that despite having doped during their careers, both White and Hodge have a lot to offer the sport of cycling.
"When you take that away from Cycling Australia and you take away someone who had to deal with the emotional stress, the emotional duress of having to eventually just be beaten down to the point where they said 'Okay, fine, I'll do it because I don't want to give up the sport that I love' ... you're making the problem worse," Vaughters said.
"You're throwing away your greatest asset in the fight against doping, you're throwing away the greatest asset your young riders are going to have."
White was sacked from his role as men’s professional road coordinator, having been implicated in a 2010 email from Floyd Landis to USA Cycling which was then used as evidence in USADA’s case against Lance Armstrong and his associates.
Hodge, as a member of the Cycling Australia board, should have played a role in determining White’s future with the body however was forced to admit his own anti-doping violations and therefore was not present for the meeting last Tuesday night.
White was dismissed by Vaughters’ Garmin team in January 2011 because he contravened the team's strict anti-doping and medical referral rules when he sent Trent Lowe to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral. Vaughters explained to the ABC that the decision to sack White came down to the Australian’s "poor judgement" rather than his own offences while riding, which Vaughters was unaware of.
"But I would never fire him, or even consider it, for what he did before," Vaughters explained. "Because his stance as far as anti-doping was concerned was always very clear, in that he acknowledged that he did it to me privately and to the riders privately as well."
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 09:36
- Cycling News
Giant may become headline sponsor says Knebel
While news that Rabobank will end its sponsorship of its teams at the end of 2012, the Dutch management has said discussions are taking place with a number of sponsors to ensure the teams are well supported for the coming season. Existing bike sponsor Giant could increase their financial commitment, replacing the position of Rabobank on the team jersey according to Het Laatste Nieuws. Several technical sponsors, including Shimano, have also confirmed their backing for the team.
The news that Rabobank would be stopping the sponsorship of its professional teams at the end of 2012 came as a shock to not only the public but also some of its contracted riders including Robert Gesink and Mark Renshaw. The management company that runs the Rabobank-sponsored teams has stated that while they do not have the Dutch bank has a primary sponsor, the teams will continue in 2013.
"The important thing for us now is to build a team that satisfies the UCI, so we can apply for a license," said team director Harold Knebel to Het Laatste Nieuws.
Giant has recently been linked as a possible sponsor and may increase its current sponsorship in the future.
"There are three options: either they [Giant] continue to supply bicycles, they become a bigger sponsor or they are the main sponsor. It is possible that for 2013 we have another sponsor. We hope to have clarity soon," said Knebel.
Any increase in investment would be in addition to the earlier report that Giant will become the official apparel sponsor in 2013 for the men’s and women’s professional road, cyclo-cross and Rabobank-Giant Off-Road teams.
"Over the last four years Giant has developed cutting-edge bicycles for our riders to win at the world’s most important races," said Knebel on Giant Bicycles. "We’re excited to extend the relationship to include apparel as well as bikes."
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 10:22
- Daniel Benson
Doubtful about Sky's anti-doping declaration
At Sunday's Chrono des Nations Chris Froome reinforced his ambitions to lead Team Sky at next year’s Tour de France. The Tour runner-up also talked about Sky’s anti-doping declaration, suggesting that he had mixed feelings and didn’t support the proposal 100 per cent.
Last week Sky announced that they would ask all staff to sign an anti-doping declaration, confirming that they had no links to doping in the past. In conjunction with that, Dave Brailsford and the team’s psychologist Steve Peters would carry out individual interviews. The policy comes in light of a series of stories. The Lance Armstrong case may have focused on doping at US Postal and Discovery, but its tentacles reach much further and Sky also recently faced questions over their hiring of ex-Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders.
Froome’s own interview with the team took place on the eve of the Chrono des Nations, at the team’s post-season debrief in London, England.
“I had it while I was there,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I said I had no involvement in anything that has been going on. Personally I think it's more for the older employees on the team but obviously they've got to apply the same pressures to everyone.”
“It took ten, fifteen minutes. I asked them some questions too. I wanted to find out what the process would be and it if was 100 per cent about anyone that had ever touched anything. It seems that's the way it is, despite whatever loses it might mean to the team. It would set a new beginning and new platform to go from there. That's their thinking.”
Sky’s unilateral approach has been criticised by some. Garmin pair Jonathan Vaughters and David Millar have both been critical, implying that Sky should give second chances to staff who have made a clear break from the past. And Froome appears to agree, suggesting that a cull of staff might have a negative result.
“I can’t say I 100 per cent agree with it because there are individuals out there who probably have touched something in their careers when they started but for whatever reason they may not have carried on as cycling evolved and ever since may have been doing something good for the sport, possibly. They'll be painted with the same brush so I can't say I agree with it 100 per cent in theory. However, it is where we need to go with the team.”
One reason Froome does back Sky’s policy is because he believes that it will help to appease those that doubt the performance of him and his teammates. Sky were a dominant force in almost every stage race they applied themselves to this year, with wins in Paris-Nice, Volta ao Algarve, Bayern, the Dauphine and the Tour de France.
“Whenever I, Brad or anyone does well at races, the thing with Leinders kept coming up. We don't need that as riders. We know we're doing it the right way but not everyone can see that or how hard we're training to get the results. It's better for the riders if we don't have association with anything that could happen to anything.”
“A lot of people have questioned our performances this year,” Froome readily admits.
“People in cycling, especially the fans have been let down so many times so I understand why they question everything. Then again now that everything that's come out with Lance, it's all really sad what it's doing to the sport. Saying that it's good that the questions are being answered and it is in a way cleaning the slate so that a new generation can go forward and people can start trusting in the sport again. There's no way it's happening anymore.”
Asked if cycling now had a fresh start, Froome replied: “I can't really answer that to be honest. I'd hate to think that there are things still going on but through my own performances I'd say that the peloton has cleaned up a massive amount. There are always going to be individuals who are bending the rules and trying to do something but the vast majority have cleaned up. My results speak for that because I wouldn't be able to get the results I get if it was still going on.”
Has a cleaner peloton therefore been the major shift that has allowed Froome to move from grand tour obscurity into the bracket of overall contenders?
“I wouldn't say that it’s the factor but it’s definitely a factor. If all of that was still going on now there’s no way I could be able to keep up with guys changing their blood every few days and using EPO. I just wouldn't be in the picture any more. I don't think I or Brad would be. It would be a different speed as the French call it. I wouldn't be able to perform the way I am now if doping was prevalent.”
Froome is aware that doubts and suspicions have been raised over Sky’s performance. It’s not that Sky have been necessarily singled out,
“Wining is number one but also the way we won,” he admits.
“We were so dominant throughout as a Tour group, through so many races. There have been a lot of comparisons between us and Discovery, and us and US Postal and people are drawing similar conclusions now which is understandable.”
“From our side we think it's unfair. We know what we've done to get there. It didn't involve any needles or any pills. As a team we've been really careful to talk to the media. We've not been out there being vocal and maybe that's something we need to do, open up more to people so they can see more inside the team.
Certain elements haven’t helped Froome and his teammates. Hiring Geert Leinders, a doctor who has been linked with doping during his spell at Rabobank looked sloppy at best. Training in Tenerife, the same location used by US Postal to administer fresh blood,didn’t help either.
“Even if you have someone at your training camp, anywhere, there will still be questions as to what you're doing when he's not there. I think it was possibly a bit naive not to look into people's past before employing them,” he says regarding Leinders.
“But bear in mind that this still a relatively new team, it's been three years, so we had to start somewhere but maybe looking into people's pasts more would have been a good idea. I'm sure they will now.”
Sky’s policy of interviewing their entire staff could throw up several difficult decisions. According to Dave Brailsford those decisions will have to be treated unilaterally. However if they were caught off guard by a Leinders, then isn’t it possible that even one of their highest profile riders could also have skeletons in his closet?
“It might be a bit to the detriment to the team, all these new policies, but that's the way the team might be going. It could possibly jeopardise growth or the current momentum of the team but maybe it's for the better in the long haul.”
Tour de France
After a year that has seen Froome cement himself as a genuine grand tour contender talk has already shifted to 2013. Murmurs have already surfaced of Bradley Wiggins aiming at the Giro d’Italia due to the nature of the time-trial-friendly parcours. Such a scenario would clear the way for Froome to lead the team at the Tour de France after he sacrificed his chances this year in support of Wiggins.
´ “If the Tour is going to be as hard as they say it is then I would like to make that my target and hit that next year,” he told Cyclingnews.
And what if Wiggins decides to defend his Tour title, could Sky enter the race with two leaders of equal authority and stature?
“That would be up to the management to decide on how to work it tactically. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. A lot will depend on the route and I think that the team are quite fair like that. If they are going to send the best depending on the route, then Brad’s strength is time trial and mine is on the climbs.”
Froome’s vocal stance on his grand tour ambitions is a stark contrast to Wiggins, who has remained quiet up until now. As the defending champion his voice will be louder than his teammates, but Froome is certain on one thing: if leadership at the Tour is not passed to him then he will look to the Giro or the Vuelta but he is clear on one key element.
"I’d like to be at the Tour but if not then Vuelta or the Giro. But I want to be 100 per cent ready to race with a team behind me. That's got to be the next step.”
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 11:35
- Cycling News
Denies any further collaboration with disgraced Italian doctor
Former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans has confirmed contact with Dr. Michele Ferrari, an Italian doctor now banned for life following the outcome of USADA's investigation of the US Postal doping scheme this summer. Ferrari is also at the center of a vast money-laundering and doping ring investigation by Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti, where he could face criminal charges in the weeks to come.
Evans has admitted consulting Ferrari in the summer of 2000, but said that contact had been made only for a training test. "There was never any discussion of doping (with Dr Ferrari) or any sign of anything illegal," the 2011 Tour de France winner stated to Australian television SBS via e-mail.
Ferrari has been a prominent figure in the sport since his beginnings as team doctor of the Gewiss outfit in 1994, and has had a long list of clients over the years, including Lance Armstrong. The Italian has however always been closely linked to practising illegal performance-enhancing methods and may be about to be handed a prison sentence for alleged tax avoidance as well as his doping activities.
During the 2011 Tour, Ferrari posted an entry on his company website, 53x11, saying that he once tested Evans' physical abilities at a time when the Australian was considering switching from MTB to road racing.
"I agreed on testing him on the road in St. Moritz (in Switzerland)," Ferrari wrote. "After a 1-hour warm-up, we met on the Albula Pass at 1800m of altitude: Evans rode a stretch of 100m of total difference in height several times, at increasing intensities, checking the times, the heart rates and the lactic acid concentrations.
"His VAM (Italian for velocità ascensionale media, or average climbing speed) at 4 mM (millimoles; a measure of blood lactate concentration) was 1780 m/h (metres per hour), an excellent value considering the oxygen deficit due to altitude.
"I had him repeat the same test after 4 additional hours of riding, climbing the Albula and Julier Pass, with the purpose of checking his performance over distance: the result was a VAM = 1820 m/h, even better than the first test, probably because of the slight weight loss from the ride."
Evans has now confirmed the meeting. "I once completed a test of 2 x 20-30min supervised hill repetitions. Separated by a 4-hour ride which I completed solo. I have never seen or had contact before or after this test," the BMC rider said.
"I was recommended to take a test by my manager Tony Rominger to understand if I had the capabilities to race on the road. I took the test as Mr Ferrari described on his website. Mr Ferrari briefly explained the results to me and the meeting was over."
Evans insisted the sole purpose of the training test had been to evaluate his capacities in the light of future contract negotiations.
"My only motive at the time was to understand my capabilities as a road rider. At that time, Mr Ferrari's opinion was very highly regarded by teams and team managers, and therefore helpful for me to gain opportunities with road teams."
In 2001, Evans started his road career with Italian Team Saeco.
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 11:49
- Barry Ryan
World governing body decides not to appeal to CAS
The UCI has accepted the United States Anti-Doping Agency's decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and to impose a lifetime ban upon him for repeated doping offences.
UCI president Pat McQuaid announced the governing body's position in a specially convened press conference near Geneva airport on Monday afternoon. "The UCI will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and it will recognise the sanctions that USADA has proposed," McQuaid said. "The UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and the UCI will strip him of his seven titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling."
USADA stripped Armstrong of all results from August 1, 1998 when he declined to contest charges of doping in late August. On October 10, USADA published its reasoned decision, a 1,000-page dossier which provides rigorous detail of Armstrong's doping and the systematic doping programme in place at his former US Postal Service team.
Armstrong's former teammates Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Michael Barry and Tom Danielson received reduced six-month suspensions after they confessed to doping as part of their USADA testimony, and McQuaid said that the UCI would recognise the sanction.
"The UCI will also recognise the sanctions imposed upon the riders who testified against Lance Armstrong. The UCI indeed thanks them for telling their stories," McQuaid said.
McQuaid flatly ruled out the possibility of resigning and defended his own record in the fight against doping during his term as president of the UCI.
"Cycling has come a long way. I have no intention as resigning as president of the UC," said McQuaid, who repeatedly claimed that the UCI had greater detection tools at its disposal now than it did during the early part of Armstrong's career. "The information available to the UCI at the time was much more limited to what we have now. If we had the tools we have now then, there would have much, much less [doping] going on. I'm sorry we couldn't have caught every damn one of them at the time and thrown them out."
McQuaid also insisted that the UCI had "nothing to hide" in relation to the USADA report, and defended the UCI's decision to accept a donation of $25,000 in 2002 and $100,000 from Armstrong in 2005.
Armstrong's donation came around the same time that he had been called before the UCI to explain suspect samples returned during the 2001 Tour de Suisse and 2002 Dauphiné Liberé, but in the face of repeated questioning of Monday, McQuaid was adamant that it had not been a conflict of interests for the UCI to accept the "anti-doping" donation.
"It's certainly not a resignation issue," he said. "It would be better if we hadn't done it, and if we were to do it in the future, we would do it in a different way. There is no connection between the donation given to the UCI and a test being covered up because there was no test covered up.
"Don't try to make the connection between the suspicious test and the donation. There were no positive tests from him."
Hein Verbruggen was president of the UCI at the time, and remains a very vocal honorary president, but McQuaid defended his predecessor, who had questioned the degree of evidence against Armstrong.
"He never said there was no evidence against Lance Armstrong. He said that Lance Armstrong had never tested positive and that's correct," McQuaid said. "There is nothing in the USADA report which implicates Mr. Verbruggen in any wrongdoing.
"What annoys me is that the athletes are the ones who should show some responsibility. They're the ones who take the decision to stick a needle in their arms and for them to pass that responsibility onto the governing body is wrong."
2009 and 2010
Although the UCI accepted USADA's findings that Armstrong had doped in the period covering his seven Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005, UCI lawyer Philippe Verbiest said that his blood values from 2009 and 2010 are not in themselves legally indicative of blood doping.
"In the decision of USADA, there are in fact no findings of anti-doping violations for that period," Verbiest said. "On the other hand, USADA states that there is corroborating evidence which means indications in their eyes that there was a practice of doping and they see that as confirmation of anti-doping violation period."
McQuaid confirmed that while Armstrong is to be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, a special meeting of the UCI management committee next Friday will discuss whether or not his results should be redistributed. "That's for the UCI to decide, not ASO," McQuaid said of the Tour organisers, who have already intimated that they will leave the palmares blank between 1999 and 2005.
While Armstrong has been finally declared persona non grata by the UCI, McQuaid was reticent to pass comment on his former manager Johan Bruyneel and his trainer Dr. Michele Ferrari. The pair are both repeatedly and heavily implicated in USADA's outline of the doping culture fostered at US Postal.
"Johan Bruyneel's case is still ongoing, so I wouldn't comment on that until the case is concluded," McQuaid said.
McQuaid was also non-committal on the status of Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis, who, although not implicated directly in the USADA case, was accused by Tyler Hamilton of facilitating blood doping as a team manager in his recent autobiography, "The Secret Race".
"Bjarne Riis is doing a job in cycling. He has set up a team and admitted to doping and he wants to use his past as he has stated himself to create a better future for the sport," McQuaid said.
McQuaid denied that the UCI had ignored Floyd Landis' initial revelation of the doping programme at US Postal in an email sent in 2010. The governing body recently took out and won a defamation case against the Landis, but UCI lawyer Verbiest said that the governing body had only taken issue with his claim that the UCI had covered up a positive test.
"We received a copy of Landis' famous email," Verbiest said. "A letter was sent to Landis saying that what he said about a positive test was wrong but for the record, we want everything else you say to be investigated."
McQuaid, Verbruggen and the UCI have also opened a similar suit against journalist and former rider Paul Kimmage, and McQuaid defended their decision to pursue the matter through the courts. "This case has nothing to do with USADA or his book Rough Ride. It's a straightforward defamation case."
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 12:55
- Cycling News
UCI eliminates American from records
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said. In accepting the USADA's decision to ban Armstrong, the UCI has wiped out nearly over a decade of results and changed cycling history.
"Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling now,” McQuaid said at a press conference in Geneva Monday midday.
Armstrong was given a lifetime ban and was stripped of all his results from August 1, 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong chose not to challenge the USADA charges of doping throughout his career.
Other titles he will lose include: Tour de Suisse (2001), Dauphine Libere (2002, 20039, GP Midi Libre (2002), Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfaht (1998), Tour of Luxembourg (1998), Tour de Georgia (2004), two stages at the Tour de France, two stages at the Tour de Suisse and four stages at the Dauphine Libere. He also faces the loss of his bronze medal in the time trial at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
- Article published:
- October 22, 2012, 14:35
- Cycling News
Sport's governing body ratify ban for former Tour winner
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has welcomed the decision of the UCI to ratify its move to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, thus upholding the USADA reasoned decision in a case that produced evidence of systematic doping at the US Postal team. The UCI also recognised and thanked those that testified against Armstrong and said they would not contest USADA ruling to hand out six-month bans.
“Today, the UCI made the right decision in the Lance Armstrong case. Despite its prior opposition to USADA's investigation into doping on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team and within the sport, USADA is glad that the UCI finally reversed course in this case and has made the credible decision available to it,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart wrote in a statement.
“This determination to uphold USADA’s decision on the U.S. Postal Services case does not by itself clean up cycling nor does it ensure the sport has moved past the obstacles that allowed doping to flourish in the age of EPO and blood transfusions.”
USADA launched their case in February after the FDA dropped all charges relating to criminal activity. The UCI were standoff, claiming that the matter was part of USADA’s jurisdiction. However that stance changed after charges were brought against Armstrong and several other individuals including his former team director Johan Bruyneel. The UCI and Armstrong subsequently lost a legal battle, and Armstrong decided not to contest USADA charges in august.
Along with recognising the UCI’s decision not to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, USADA also issued a called for a new commission to be established in order for the sport to fight doping.
“For cycling to truly move forward and for the world to know what went on in cycling, it is essential that an independent and meaningful Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established so that the sport can fully unshackle itself from the past. There are many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors and the omerta has not yet been fully broken,” the statement continues.
“Sanctioning Lance Armstrong and the riders who came forward truthfully should not be seen as penance for an era of pervasive doping. There must be more action to combat the system that took over the sport. It is important to remember that while today is a historic day for clean sport, it does not mean clean sport is guaranteed for tomorrow. Only an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission can fully start cycling on the path toward true reform and provide hope for a complete break from the past.”