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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, October 3, 2010

Date published:
October 3, 2010, 21:00
  • O'Grady confirms he is leaving Saxo Bank

    Stuard O'Grady (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 10:10
    By:
    Cycling News

    Australian won't yet announce new team

    Stuart O'Grady has confirmed that he is leaving Team Saxo Bank after this season, but did not yet announce the name of his new team.

    It had long been rumoured that the Australian would leave the Danish team, particularly after team boss Bjarne Riis removed him from the Vuelta a Espana after breaking the team's policy on alcohol during stage races. At the time, O'Grady said, “It also means I've ridden my last race for Saxo Bank. This is not the way I would have wanted my career racing for Bjarne Riis to end. I've ridden my guts out on the front for the team for the last six seasons.”

    The 37-year-old did not disclose where he will ride in 2011. “The contract's pretty much signed and completed but it's just up to that (new) team whether or not they release it or not,” O'Grady told the French news agency AFP.

    “At the end of the day the team chose me as much as I chose the team... I'm really looking forward to the next year, (I'm) getting on in age so it's a bit of a fresh change, new challenges and a new set-up which is always pretty exciting," he said.

    O'Grady is expected to join Saxo Bank teammates Andy and Fränk Schleck, Jakob Fuglsang and Jens Voigt at the new Luxembourg-based team.

    The Australian joined Team CSC, as it was then known, in 2005. He won Paris-Roubaix in 200p7.

    He turned pro in 1995 with GAN and rode for Cofidis from 204 to 2005 before joining the Danish team. He has won three stages of the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for three days in 1998. O'Grady also won a gold medal in scratch at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

  • Freire says bunch rode against Spain

    Oscar Freire Gomez (Spain) was in the race, then out, then back in again but eventually pulled up short in sixth place.
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 11:04
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Triple world champion disappointed to miss out in Australia

    A hot favourite in the event of a bunch sprint finish at the world championship, Oscar Freire was disillusioned to come only sixth on the finishing line in Geelong.

    “I’m a bit disappointed,” he told Cyclingnews back at his hotel after the race. “There was definitely a possibility for me to win this race once again. I was riding in the top twenty all the time and I could see that other riders weren’t very happy to see me up there, and the only time I went further back in the bunch, they attacked and rode flat out.

    “Before that, every time there was a split in the bunch, I was in the first part and everyone else stopped pedalling. I rode so as not to be caught by surprise but it happened. It happened just once but that was one time too many. I think the whole bunch rode against Spain.”

    Freire was the sole captain of the Spanish team and was obviously feared considering the uphill finish on Moorabool Street. “Maybe I made one mistake but our whole team has had to pay a big price for that mistake,” the Milan-San Remo winner added.

    “For about seven laps we had to ride hard behind. We came across eventually but we spent a lot of energy. I was more tired than the other sprinters. I had a good position in the sprint but I just didn’t have the legs anymore.”

    “I could have done better,” concluded Freire, who might have just once last chance next year in Copenhagen to add to his haul of rainbow jersey, as he has plans to retire at the end of the 2011 season.


     

  • Contador says UCI told him to stay quiet over clenbuterol affair

    Alberto Contador was the centre of attention
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 13:10
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Spaniard explains why Astana and Saxo Bank were not informed

    Both Alberto Contador’s current and next teams Astana and Saxo Bank have felt offended that the winner of the Tour de France didn’t inform them about the ongoing investigation regarding the food contamination that led to the detection of clenbuterol in his urines last July. But the Spaniard came up with an excuse, saying that the UCI asked him to shut up over the matter.

    “The UCI always asked me not to tell anybody”, Contador revealed to Danish network TV2. “It seemed that everything was in order and would be resolved internally. Because of the confidentiality requested by the UCI, I haven’t told anything to Bjarne Riis.” The Spaniard earlier said to Danish newspaper BT: “Perhaps I should have told him sooner, but I decided ultimately that it was best for all parties not to say anything.”

    Contador’s current team Astana issued a statement on Friday in which the direction of the team regretted that they “just learnt yesterday from a press release issued by his press officer that Alberto Contador had an abnormal doping control during last Tour de France. The headers are now expecting further explanations from Alberto Contador.”

    Cyclingnews understands that his employers would have appreciated to be informed by Contador when he joined them to ride a criterium in Kazakhstan last week. Vinokourov’s entourage reported that the Spanish star had been very friendly with everyone from the Astana team although he’s leaving for joining Saxo Bank next year.

    During his press conference in Geelong, Australia, on Saturday, UCI president Pat McQuaid somehow confirmed the confidentiality clause as he said: “The results process has to be confidential, it is not about speculation, but about the research of the scientific aspects. Leaks are not fair to the system and speculation does not help. It can be compared to the work of an investigative magistrate, which is also confidential.”

    The news was broken by Contador’s personal press officer because German TV station ARD was about to report about the case and that’s how Astana, Saxo Bank and the general public were all informed at the same time.

    “It is in our interest and the sport’s interest, that this thing comes to a conclusion as quickly as possible”, McQuaid underlined.

  • Europcar confirms three-year sponsorship deal

    Share the joke Thomas
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 13:20
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Voeckler’s loyalty instrumental in team’s rescue

    Rental company Europcar has confirmed via a press release by general director Philippe Guillemot that it has signed a three-year deal with Jean-René Bernaudeau to take over from Bbox Bouygues Telecom as the title sponsor of the French team. The squad has been part of the professional peloton since 2000, having previously race under the names of Bonjour and Brioches La Boulangère.

    “It’s a huge relief”, said team captain Thomas Voeckler who had agreed to join Cofidis in the event that Bernaudeau’s team folded. “Honestly, I didn’t believe anymore that a solution would come along. I’m thankful to the people from Europcar who have organised everything in a period of three days.”

    It’s rumoured that the president of Europcar was touched by an article in the press last week that reported the news of the probable demise of the team.

    Bernaudeau refused to reveal the budget of his new team. “It’s not a huge budget but the human adventure continues,” said Voeckler, who joined the feeder team Vendée U in 1999 and has always stayed faithful to the same organisation. His loyalty was instrumental in the rescue of the team, as someone from Europcar called him on Friday as he was about to sign for Cofidis.

    “I didn’t see myself leaving fifty people unemployed,” the French champion explained.

    Alongside Voeckler, this year’s Tour de France king of the mountains Anthony Charteau and up and coming Frenchmen Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier are going to form the core of the team. Previous senior riders Pierrick Fedrigo and Nicolas Vogondy had already agreed to leave, for FDJ and Cofidis respectively, before the announcement of Europcar’s partnership.

    Bernaudeau was supposed to send contracts and guarantees to the UCI by October 1st but was given a three-day extension to help to complete this last-minute deal. However, the team is no longer eligible for the World Tour despite bidding for a new licence, so Europcar will remain in the Pro Continental ranks and aim for a wild card for the Tour de France, which will begin in their home province of the Vendée next year.
     

  • Leukemans complains about Pozzato

    The Belgian team waits for a race to finish so its riders can do some practice laps
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 14:08
    By:
    Cycling News

    Van Avermaet praises winner Hushovd

    The men's world championship race might have had a different winner and a different outcome, Belgian Björn Leukemans claimed, if only Italian Filippo Pozzato hadn't sat on the Belgians' wheels.

    “After my attack on the penultimate lap, we were in a group of six. Why didn't Filippo Pozzato work with us? If he had done so, we could have gone. Now he has nothing,” Leukemans said, according to Sporza.be.

    Leukemans and Greg Van Avermaet were the last two teammates with leader Philippe Gilbert, who attacked out of the lead group on the final lap. Too early, according to Leukemans.

    “In the final lap, on the last climb, Philippe would have been better off waiting to attack. But it's no use crying over spilt milk. We came to win. We did not win, but we can be proud of the race we rode.”

    Gilbert had been the top favorite going into Sunday's race, but finished only 18th, in the same time as winner and new world champion Thor Hushovd. Leukemans finished seven seconds later, as 20th.

    Best Belgian on the day was Van Avermaet, who finished fifth, between Pozzato and Spain's Oscar Freire. “We did everything we could to bring Gilbert up to a good position. It was a success, but he came up a bit too short.”

    After Gilbert's unsuccessful attack, it was left to Van Avermaet to go for the win in the bunch sprint. “Gilbert had given everything, so I knew I could go for the sprint. Hushovd was very strong. He was way behind me, when he started his sprint. And I must say, he went by very smoothly."

  • Arashiro gives Japan first top ten finish at the Worlds

    Japan's Yukiya Arashiro (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 15:20
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Beppu also up front with one lap to go

    Yukiya Arashiro became the first Japanese rider to make the top ten at the road race world championship by finishing ninth on Moorabool Street in Geelong on Sunday. With one lap to go, his compatriot Fumiyuki Beppu was also helping him out in the front group. This is the birth of a new cycling nation at world level and a great inspiration for the rest of Asia.

    “I like circuits like this,” Arashiro commented on the finishing line. “When I watched it, it made me think I could do well. My luck was that when a big breakaway went, many teams have ridden behind and we have just had to follow. In the last climb, I was at the limit but I recovered for the final sprint, and I realised that there was a handful of great sprinters.

    “I followed Oscar Freire and Matti Breschel. This is the first time Japan has made the top ten but there’s more to come. I think it’s very encouraging for next year. I’ll try to do better than ninth in the future.”

    Beppu (30th) was also delighted with Japan’s showing in Melbourne. Yukihiro Doi was their third man and finished 72nd after playing his part in the team’s success.

    “All three of us have done our best and Yukiya and myself were up there at the end”, Beppu said. “We also communicated well. I asked Yukiya how he was. He said he wanted to wait the sprint. He was pretty confident to get a good position. For me the last climb was too difficult, but I gave all I had for Yukiya to be well placed at the end.”

    “This isn’t bad for Japanese riders, isn’t it?” Beppu continued. “We have improved a lot in the last five years. This race will give us good publicity all over the world. In the U23 race, the Hong Kong riders have also shown that Asians can ride their bikes pretty well.”

    Japanese riders are in a higher demand in European and American teams now. A few hours before the start of the road race, Arashiro heard the news that Europcar would take over the sponsorship of the Bbox Bouygues Telecom team that gave him a start at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France this year. Just like his team captain Thomas Voeckler, he’ll stay faithful to the team that gave him a chance to turn professional, although he said that he had been approached by one of the world’s biggest teams in recent days.
     

  • Pozzato admits he picked wrong wheel in Worlds sprint

    Filippo Pozzato (Italy) races to fourth place.
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 17:49
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian concentrated on Freire in finale

    Filippo Pozzato (Italy) admitted that he focused on the wrong man in the finishing straight of the world championships road race and was ill placed to react when Thor Hushovd (Norway) launched his winning sprint. The Italian ultimately finished in fourth place.

    “I was on Oscar Freire’s wheel, but today Oscar’s wasn’t the right one,” Pozzato told Gazzetta dello Sport after the race. “I wanted at least a medal, you could see how I was going in the last 30 metres. I needed to be a couple of positions further up when the sprint was launched. If so, things would have gone differently.”

    Pozzato encountered a similar problem on the stage to Toledo at the Vuelta a España, when he was too far back to respond to Philippe Gilbert’s powerful sprint, but the man from Sandrigo took some consolation from finishing ahead of the Belgian in Geelong.

    “On the last lap, I had cramps everywhere,” he said. “But at the end, I was the best-placed of the riders like Gilbert and Cadel Evans who didn’t want a sprint and who wanted to make the race difficult by going on the attack.”

    The Italian was fulsome in his praise of the new world champion and was the first to offer his congratulations to the Norwegian on crossing the finish line. “A deserving champion won,” Pozzato said. “He’s a rider who will honour the jersey.

    “For me, third or fourth doesn’t make much difference. The important thing is to win,” he said. “I’m sorry for the team because we wanted to dedicate something to Franco Ballerini, and I’m also sorry for Paolo Bettini because he believed in us to the last. But we can be proud of how we raced.”

    Vuelta a España winner Vincenzo Nibali was very active on the front of the race for Italy and he said that Hushovd’s win was testimony to the difficulty of the race. “We tried to make the race as hard as possible,” he said. “The fact that a fast-finishing rouleur won shows that the race was hard."

    Meanwhile, his fellow Sicilian Giovanni Visconti was disappointed to have to sit up in the finale after injuring his knee. “My chain slipped and my foot came out. I banged my knee off the handlebars, and I couldn’t pedal like I wanted,” he said. “But we have no regrets. We didn’t ride in the wheels of anybody else, we did what Paolo Bettini wanted.”

  • Contador admits credibility is damaged

    Alberto Contador made an emotional plea of innocence during his press conference
    Article published:
    October 3, 2010, 20:25
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Allegations of blood transfusions a "crippling blow" to Spaniard

    Alberto Contador admitted that speculation that his positive test for clenbuterol was caused by the use of blood transfusions is seriously damaging his credibility.

    “I didn’t read the accusations [of blood doping] but I was told about them. That was a crippling blow,” Contador told L’Équipe, which reported the allegations in detail. “L’Équipe carries considerable weight in the sporting world and accusations based on a hypothesis can be very harmful.

    “I respect everybody’s work, it’s just that I’d like that this kind of information to be treated with extreme caution. The damage could be enormous.”

    The Spaniard acknowledged that in the eyes of many, his reputation will be forever tarnished, regardless of the outcome of the case.

    “The damage is done for me and for cycling, once again,” Contador said. “It’s damaging for me and for the credibility of the Tour de France. It’s damaging for me and for all the teams.

    “Everything I have sacrificed for this sport has been unjustly swept away in two days: I don’t admit to it. I will only fight so that the truth be known, but the harm that has been done to me is incalculable.”

    On August 24, Contador was informed that a urine sample taken on July 21 had shown traces of clenbuterol, but the Tour winner did not reveal the news until September 29, apparently as the UCI had requested him to remain silent on the matter. With rumours of the positive sample circulating in Germany, Contador decided to issue a statement.

    “It was a relief because I couldn’t maintain the silence anymore. I needed to free myself of the weight of this injustice. I had nothing to hide and I wanted complete transparency,” he said. “During that time, I was being solicited from all side: by my sponsors, to go to the Vuelta or to make other appearances… I had to keep smiling and act as though everything was going fine.”

    Contador also claimed that there have been moments in the past weeks when he has been tempted to leave cycling, especially in the immediate aftermath of being informed of his positive test. “I said to myself: I’m quitting it all,” he said. “I saw children around my house on their bikes imitating me, and I felt like telling them ‘Let it go, don’t try and be a champion and do it correctly. This world is unjust.’”