- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 05:12
- Pat Malach
BMC, RadioShack-Nissan go toe-to-toe on race tactics
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado just got a bit confusing, and a pending protest over the time split, or lack thereof, awarded to BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen and Garmin-Sharp's Christian Vande Velde after the stage 2 finish in Crested Butte could shake up the overall race lead one more time.
BMC had a rough day in the saddle during Wednesday's stage 3 from Gunnison to Aspen. The riders from Garmin-Sharp went out on the attack early - as they have everyday - putting Tom Danielson and Dave Zabriske into a dangerous breakaway that eventually launched Danielson to a solo win by just two seconds over a fast-closing chase.
But the real kicker came when Garmin-Sharp's Christian Vande Velde, who started the day second overall but with the same time as van Garderen, won back the yellow jersey by finishing three places in front of the BMC team leader during the sprint from a select chase group of 26 riders.
Both Vande Velde and van Garderen finished with the same time, forcing officials to go to the third tie-breaker to determine the race leader. Because the sum of both riders' stage placings so far totalled 30 points, officials relied on the latest stage placing in Aspen to determine the overall leader, putting Vande Velde back into the jersey he had lost to van Garderen the day before in Crested Butte when the pair finished first and second with the same time.
BMC, however, has filed a protest over the Crested Butte results, alleging there was a clear two- or three-second time gap between stage winner van Garderen and runner-up Vande Velde.
"On stage 2 there was very clear split," said BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz. "Everyone saw it on TV; it was very clear. And today they give a time split in a group coming across the line like this group. It wasn't a field sprint."
BMC team director Michael Sayers said he filed a protest regarding the results of stage 2. Sayers said officials told him they would review the result and issue a ruling Thursday. But as of Wednesday evening, Vande Velde was the rider who returned to the team hotel in Aspen with the yellow jersey on his back. Van Garderen, meanwhile, remained resolute.
"Yes, I am disappointed," van Garderen said. "But this gives me a little extra motivation for the upcoming days. I don't see anything really changing in the dynamics of the race. It's still going to come down to the time trial on Sunday in Denver."
The frustration among BMC management was apparent in the team parking lot after the race, and Sayers aimed his anger squarely at ProTour rival RadioShack-Nissan, who he said has been playing possum all week.
"I think they forgot that the women's race is later in the week," Sayers said, referring to the women's criterium that actually ran in downtown Aspen Wednesday before the men raced into town for their finish. "I don't understand why they're not going for stage wins. I don't expect anybody to help my team, but I don't understand why, when you have six riders in the front group, that you won't even pull, and then you start attacking to get the stage win.
"I mean you have six riders," Sayers continued. "You can't win if you don't bring the leader back, so bring the leader back and then attack. But hey, they do their race, I do my race. It's upsetting, but they do their race, and I do my race."
Mathias Frank, who Sayers tapped as the hero of the race for BMC because of his yeoman's work on the front for van Garderen, also felt the frustration of getting little to no help during the chase of the breakaway and eventually of a solo Danielson.
"I wasn't really surprised," he said. "The way it's been going these past three days is everyone against everyone. I expected RadioShack to ride; it would be in their interest. But they didn't ride the first day, they didn't ride yesterday, so why should they ride today?"
Ochowicz also had a few choice words for RadioShack-Nissan, questioning why they didn't try for a stage win when they had a handful of riders in the front group coming off the category 1 climb of Independence Pass and the long descent into Aspen.
"At that point, if I didn't think I could win this [overall] race, that was a great [stage] to win," Ochowicz said. "It was easy to win. You had the group coming down the hill, and there were teams with three, four, five riders. All you had to do was chase a little bit and you would catch Danielson. You had a chance to win the stage. You gave it up."
When he was told that RadioShack-Nissan team director Alain Gallopin said after stage 2 that is was BMC's job to control the race, pure and simple, Ochowicz replied succinctly.
"That's fine," he said. "That's good for him."
Cyclingnews' Peter Hymas contributed to this report.
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 09:26
- Cycling News
Agency has asked public prosecutors for case files
The German National Anti Doping Agency has expressed interest in investigating whether Andreas Klöden, Patrik Sinkewitz and Matthias Kessler used illegal doping products or methods. It has asked to see the files from prosecutors in Freiburg, Germany.
Those prosecutors recently closed an investigaiton into doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmitt, who while associated with the Freiburg University Clinic, were also team doctors for Team Telekom/T-Mobile. There was said to be “no sufficient suspicion of concrete violations of criminal provisions.” However, it also said that it was “verifiable” that those three riders were involved in blood doping in 2006.
The NADA has now asked to see the records to determine whether there are grounds to open a proceeding against the three riders. “The public prosecutor specifically accused the athletes of doping,” NADA director Lars Mortsiefer told the FAZ.net. “Now we must determine, whether there are violations of the anti-doping rules.”
Patrik Sinkewitz, who tested positive for testosterone in 2007, received a shortened ban after co-operating with investigators. He is said to have told them that he, Klöden and Kessler underwent blood doping at the Freiburg University Clinic on July 2, 2006. Under sports law, the statute of limitations runs for eight years, meaning it would expire July 2, 2014.
Klöden has consistently denied any doping charges. The public prosecutors investigated for his involvement in the blood doping scheme, but the case ended in November 2009, when he made a 25,000 Euro payment to charity to settle the charges. He is currently riding the US Pro Cycling Challenge for Team RadioShack-Nissan, and is the only one of the three still active.
Sinkewitz has made various statements about who was or was not involved in the blood doping which is said to have occurred during the 2006 Tour de France. He returned to racing after serving his ban. In March 2011 he was suspended after testing positive for human growth hormone, but those charges were ultimately dismissed.
Kessler tested positive for testosterone in 2007, and was given a two-year ban. Whilst training for a comeback, he suffered severe head injuries in a crash n Mallorca in January 2010. He is said to be still be recovering.
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 10:52
- Daniel Benson
A cover up would be fatal for the UCI
Dr Michael Ashenden has urged the UCI to cooperate fully with USADA’s investigation into alleged doping offences surrounding Lance Armstrong and several other individuals.
The governing body of cycling had been at loggerheads with USADA over jurisdiction of the results management aspect of the investigation, a fillip on their previous sentiments in which they absolved themselves from the case entirely.
Armstrong, his former director sportif Johan Bruyneel as well as several doctors have been charged with several doping offences during the Texan’s career, with Armstrong, who has always denied taking performance enhancing drugs, ultimately facing the possible loss of his Tour de France victories.
He has until August 23 to either accept a lifetime ban and the loss of all results during the period of USADA's claims, which encompass most of his professional career including his Tour de France victories, or take the case to arbitration where all witness testimony and other evidence could be aired publicly.
Ashenden, who previously worked as part of the UCI’s biological passport panel, picked up the UCI’s altering stance.
“It has descended into a legal jungle. One minute Armstrong says he is not going to fight any future charges, the next he’s taking USADA to court with a ‘Hail Mary’ legal argument which the judge subsequently booted out. One minute the UCI are content for USADA to run the case, next they intervene seeking to derail USADA. Last time I looked they have accepted the judge’s ruling. I don’t know if that is all chair shuffling on the deck of the Titanic, but as far as I can tell the only party who have kept their position the same throughout these developments has been USADA,” he told Cyclingnews.
The situation is far from clear cut. USADA could have evidence of an alleged cover up of a positive test for EPO from Armstrong’s Tour de Suisse campaign in 2001. Such an allegation, if true, would rock the UCI’s authority to the core. They’ve sternly denied any such allegation but Ashenden, along with WADA’s David Howman, have voiced concern over the UCI assertion of jurisdiction.
“When an organisation is the subject of a serious allegation that is destined to be heard by independent fact finders, you would expect them to step back completely and allow the process to follow its course. I was dumbfounded when the UCI sought instead to intervene in that process. The worldwide sentiment at the moment is that federations have an inescapable conflict of interest when policing doping within their sport, so it beggars belief that a sport would stand up in that environment and argue that it should be allowed to decide whether allegations that it acted conspiratorially should be interrogated or quashed. I noted that WADA’s David Howman urged UCI to cooperate fully with the USADA investigation, and I hope that common sense has prevailed and they are doing exactly that. I think that anything short of full cooperation from this point forward will reflect very poorly on UCI.”
USADA’s initial letter of notification that was addressed to Armstrong and his associates included reference to their own interview with the Lausanne lab director, Dr Martial Saugy, who conducted the tests in 2001. Saugy told USADA that Armstrong’s samples were indicative of EPO use. In May 2011 Saugy admitted to attending a meeting with former US Postal sports director Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong to discuss details of the early EPO test method. Could a test be covered up?
“If procedures were followed correctly, no it should not have been possible. When the system functions properly, results are sent in parallel to the federation and to the WADA. But in a hypothetical example, if a lab did not report a result to WADA, and neither did the federation, then oversight bodies such as the WADA would be completely blind and under those circumstances a cover up would have been possible,” Ashenden said.
“It remains for an independent fact finder to ascertain how it came to be that the result was not reported. One obvious explanation that seems to meet those facts is that the result was indicative of EPO but fell short of the positivity criteria and was thus not reported.”
“There is nothing particularly unusual about that circumstance. For example, if an injection is taken a few days beforehand, there can be insufficient EPO in the sample for it to exceed WADA’s ultra conservative criteria, even though its obvious to a trained eye that there are traces of EPO present. An analogy would be a police radar that measured you 2 km/h above the speed limit but did not proceed to issue a ticket. However, the suspicious result is still reliable evidence that can be used to support a legal argument that the athlete had used EPO.”
“Having said that, what would cast a sinister shadow over that situation is if a discussion about the result had taken place between the lab, the athlete and the sport. Such a discussion would be completely inappropriate and unsupportable, under any circumstances, because it would leave open the possibility that Armstrong had influenced the lab or the UCI and helped persuade them not to report the result. That is the allegation that has been made, it is an incredibly serious one, and that is why the UCI should step back until the allegation has been evaluated and the evidence weighed by an independent entity.”
Pat McQuaid was recently asked by Cyclingnews if he would step down as the President of the UCI if allegations over collusion were unearthed during USADA’s investigation. He refused to answer the question, and while he only became President in 2006, Ashenden believes that the current malaise at the UCI does rest with him.
“I have said previously that if the evidence shows that the UCI played any role whatsoever in a cover up, then it would be fatal for their credibility. The game has changed now because the current management at UCI have since tried to intervene and prevent USADA from pursuing the case. The 2001 allegations predate Mr McQuaid, but his decision to attempt to derail USADA rest squarely with him. I can only hope that he guides UCI back into the fold and does everything in his power, including providing the documents USADA requested, to help reveal what actually happened.”
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 11:37
- Cycling News
No Worlds for four-time champion
Fabian Cancellara has put an end to his 2012 season. He will undergo further surgery on the collarbone he shattered in the spring, skip the World Championships and then start training again in October for the 2013 season.
The Swiss rider will continue to ride for his current team RadioShack-Nissan in the coming season, despite payment difficulties and rumours about the team's future existence. The team has announced signings for the coming year, indicating it will continue, and has made clear that it expects riders with existing contracts for the 2013 season to fulfil those contracts.
That affects Cancellara, whose contract runs through the 2013 season, and as his manager Armin Meier told tagesanzeiger.ch, “one must say, he has a very good contract.”
Cancellara has only four wins the season: Strade Bianche, the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial, the national time trial title, and the Tour de France prologue.
Other than that, it has been a year of disappointments for him. Instead of the hoped-for win in Milan-San Remo, he finished second. The major blow came at the Tour of Flanders on April 1, when he crashed over a bidon in the feed zone and shattered his collarbone. That kept him out of action until the end of May.
After finishing second in both Tour de Suisse time trials, he won the Tour de France prologue and went on to wear the leader's jersey for seven stages. He abandoned the race after 10 stages to attend his daughter's birth and to prepare for the Olympics.
He went to London with the hopes of double gold medals, but his hopes came to an end about 15 km away from the finish in the road race. He was in the lead group when he misjudged a corner and crashed into the barriers, ultimately finishing the race as 103rd. The effects of the crash stayed with him in the Olympic time trial and he was unable to challenge the podium of Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin and Chris Froome, finishing only seventh.
“He lost the Olympic time trial in his head, not because of the physical problems from the crash,” Meier said. “It was just all too much for him.”
Within the next two weeks, Cancellara will undergo surgery to have the screws in his now-healed collarbone removed, and as of October he will return to training.
That means, however, that he will miss the World Championships, which does not make Swiss Cycling happy. “We are trying to make it clear to him that it wouldn't hurt him to continue to race,” said the federation's head of competitive sports, Thomas Peter.
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 12:37
- Cycling News
“You shouldn't keep on going” when race leader crashes
Team Sky should have waited when Alejandro Valverde crashed on the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana, said Jan Ullrich. The German Tour de France winner said that he could well understand Valverde's anger at the incident.
It is a situation with which Ullrich has much experience. Both he and Lance Armstrong waited on several occasions when the other crashed. Perhaps the most famous incident was in the 2003 Tour when Armstrong crashed on the Luz Ardiden, when Ullrich was in the lead on the stage. He slowed down and waited for the American, who then passed him and went on to win the stage.
Looking at the Vuelta incident, “in that kind of situation, you shouldn't keep going – especially when it has happened to the overall leader,” he wrote on his de.eurosport.yahoo.com blog. “It is to bad for Valverde – and I understand his anger.”
“Sky had set up the echelon action well, and the attack had been started, when Valverde crashed. But I would have expected that after a few kilometers the command to wait would come across on the radio,” he wrote.
Ullrich doubted that it was a “pointed attack” against Valverde and his Movistar team, “But I don't think it had anything to do with antipathy. Valverde is actually well-liked in the field, and it was only a few teams which rode. Most of them were actually fair.”
"It is hard to judge the matter when one was not present," he said. “Personally, I would have slowed, since it was a situation which wouldn't really have helped me –I want to measure myself against my opponents and not profit from their bad luck.”
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 13:57
- Cycling News
Euskaltel rider expected back on the bike quickly
Samuel Sanchez has extended his streak of crashes and injuries. He injured his right shoulder in a crash in the third stage of the Tour de Poitou-Charentes and had to abandon the race.
The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider crashed after “a strange maneuver”' only one kilometer into the stage. He was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a sprained acromio-clavicular joint, also known as a separated shoulder. It is a common sports injury which happens when a person falls on their outstretched hand.
Sanchez will undergo another scan to determine the extent of the injury and to rule out whether his collarbone is cracked. He is expected to be back on his bike in one week.
He had to abandon the Tour de France after a crash on stage 8 left him with a broken left shoulder blade and a fractured finger on his right hand. The injuries prevented him from defending his gold medal in the Olympic road race.
Sanchez is expected to finish out the season as planned, riding the road world championships, Tour of China and Giro di Lombardia.
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 15:05
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Deliberate tactic could save energy for week three
Katusha sports director Dimitri Konychev said that he is not ruling out the possibility of Joaquim Rodríguez deliberately relinquishing the Vuelta a Espana lead to riders who do not represent long-term threats overall. Such a move would help keep his team as rested as possible during the three-week Grand Tour..
"It would be better to have the lead in the third week," Konychev told Cyclingnews. "If we can let some other team take over and handle the pressure of leading for a bit, then that'd be good."
After Rodriguez finished fourth in the 2010 Vuelta and second in this year's Giro, he is "gunning for the win here. We're not fighting for a podium place. We've got [Alberto] Contador and [Chris] Froome up there. But Rodriguez will be there too."
Konychev reflected on Froome's strength at the Tour de France the Olympics. "But he's been up for three months now in top form, and he may get tired mentally."
"Without Wiggins [as team leader], the Vuelta is a big opportunity, but it's also extra pressure. It's the first time he's leading a team in a major Tour. A lot of riders can do really well when they're in somebody's shadow [as Froome was with Wiggins in the Tour and last year's Vuelta], but only a few top, top riders can handle the pressure themselves. We'll see how he does."
Konychev said, "If they [Sky] win here, it'll be an amazing year for them. But I can't see that they've got a rider here who can really open up a big gap on the climbs for Froome and shred the group to 12 or 15 riders."
Konychev noted that Contador does not need such a rider as he can shred on his own. "He is going to keep on attacking Froome so he can get as much time on him before the time trial. It's normal that he's so aggressive. It's also good for Contador to see what he can do against Froome before next year's Tour."
With Froome and Contador apparently so focused on each other, Rodriguez may be able to take advantage. He is in "great condition and has good morale."
Konychev is adamant that Rodriguéz will not lose too much time in what has been his weak point until 2012, the time trials. "Look at what he did in the Giro's time trial this year, he has improved a lot. After the time trial here, then we'll assess our chances."
Konychev praised his star rider. "He knew he made a mistake at Arrate [where he lost the sprint to Valverde], but he's been straight and admitted it. And he's angry. But for some riders, it's good when they're angry, it makes them more motivated and determined and that's Joaquim's case. He's a great champion and a mistake like that makes champions push themselves harder."
Konyshev said that teammate Denis Menchov's role will be a support rider for Rodríguez as he gradually finds stronger form, and that they have no plans for the Russian to try and bounce back into the overall battle. For now, it's all about Rodríguez.
- Article published:
- August 23, 2012, 17:09
- Cycling News
Kocjan to Euskaltel as first non-Basque rider?
The transfers carousel continues to revolve, with Pieter Serry moving up to Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Mikel Nieve re-signing with Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Ignazio Moser breaking into the pro ranks at the BMC developmental team. In addition, French media is reporting that Euskaltel is preparing to sign its first “international” rider.
Pieter Serry will join Omega Pharma-QuickStep for two years, the team announced Thursday afternoon. The 23-year-old finished third in the Brabantse Pijl and 30th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year. He has been with Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator since 2011.
"It's a dream come true,” Serry said on the team's Facebook page. “I hope it can be an important step in my career. I really would like to compete in some of the big races and help out the team as much as possible. I have a lot to learn at this level, but on this team I'm sure I will find the right environment to grow up professionally.”
"Serry is a rider who has qualities," Team Manager Patrick Lefevere said. "He already showed his skills during this season, but we think he can improve even more in the future. We are happy that another young and talented rider has joined our team."
Mikel Nieve has extended is contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi for three years, according to biciciclismo.com. The 28-year-old has been with the Basque team since 2009.
He holds the distinction of twice having finished in tenth place in both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
Ignazio Moser, son of former pro Francesco Moser will ride for the Continental-ranked BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, accoriding to trentinocorrierealpi.getlocal.it.
The 20-year-old, whose cousin Moreno rides for Liquigas-Cannondale, currently rides for the amateur team Dynamom Trevigiani Bottoli. He has two wins this year. In 2010 he was junior national champion on the track in individual pursuit and runner-up for the road title.
First non-Basque rider for Euskaltel?
Euskaltel-Euskadi is on the verge of signing its first rider who has no connection to the Basque Country – Slovenian Jure Kocjan, now with Type 1-Sanofi, according to velochrono.fr.
The US-based team is said to be letting all of its non-diabetic riders go, including Kocjan. This year he won two stages at the Tour du Limousin. While he speaks neither Spanish nor Basque, he “ultimately chose the exciting challenge” of being the first international recruit for the team, the French website said.