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French government ruling could see French anti-doping agency shut down
The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) could cease to exist if the nation's government does not provide the necessary funding for its continuation in 2010, according to the agency's president, Pierre Bordry.
The AFLD's 2010 budget, 8.7 million Euro, might be reduced by almost half this sum after the French government recently announced that it cancelled its plans to increase taxes on television rights in sports, which would have supplied the agency with 4 million Euro of its budget.
"If we have 4 million Euro less, we'll shut down," said AFLD president Pierre Bordry to French daily Le Monde last week. Bordry is still trying to solve the problem, but fears that his institution, already weakened by the recent death of its director Jacques de Ceauritz on January 5, may have to close down because of a lack of funding.
"The Agency's continuity and thus the fight against doping in France is in danger," he continued. "[Without the 4 million Euro] we won't be able to pay our staff [60 employees and 450 samples collectors] and we'll have to reduce the number of controls and analysis."
Because there is no guarantee that the AFLD will still obtain the promised finance, Bordry questioned his government's willingness to continue an independent fight against doping in sports. When the government announced its plans to increase TV rights taxes, senior officials of French soccer declared that it wasn't up to them to finance the fight against doping in France.
"We feel that certain sports organisations are disturbed by the independence and efficiency of the AFLD, and that some persons consider our actions to prejudice the spectacle of sports," Bordry said. "Certain national and international sports authorities would prefer that we tell them in advance who we're going to control and when. The fact that the government can't find a long-term solution to finance outr agency makes me doubt its real will to fight against doping in...
Evans, Hincapie and Ballan join their teammates for US training camp
BMC Racing Team has hit the roads around Agoura Hills, California for a final tune-up for the 2010 season. Fresh from a strong start at the Tour Down Under, marquee signings Cadel Evans and George Hincapie joined Alessandro Ballan and the rest of their new colleagues for a training ride on Wednesday.
The US-registered Professional Continental squad recently secured much-hoped-for wild card status from the International Cycling Union (UCI) and will accordingly be invited to the full list of ProTour and Historical calendar races. Given the strength contained within their ranks will be a force as they head towards the Spring Classics with Hincapie and Ballan at the head of the squad.
World Champion Evans confirmed yesterday that he will head to the Giro d'Italia for the first time in eight years determined to secure another spell in the race leader's jersey. Already showing good condition in South Australia at the Tour Down Under last week, Evans' enthusiasm for the new season was mirrored by his teammates as they spun their legs out at the camp north-west of Los Angeles.
Click here to view a gallery of images from BMC's training camp.
2010 edition to visit Auschwitz during queen stage of race
Organisers of the 66th Tour of Poland have announced that the 2010 race will pay respect to victims of the Holocaust, with a stage of the event to begin in Oswiecim, near the sites of the Auschwitz concentration camps.
Details of the route of what will be the Tour's penultimate stage were announced on Wednesday on the 65th anniversary of the allied liberation of Auschwitz, a focal point for the horrors of the Nazi regime. On the queen stage of the 2010 race, the peloton will travel 240 kilometres from Oswiecim to a summit finish in Bukowina Tatrzanska.
"We think it’s important to do our part to commemorate the Holocaust," said Czeslaw Lang, General Director of the Tour of Poland. "The spirit is that of remembering in order to better learn from the mistakes of our past, so that tragedies like these on this large a scale can never happen again."
As part of the commemoration, the peloton will ride to the former concentration camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The stage will pause at the gates of Auschwitz I beneath the famed "Arbeit macht frei (work makes man free)" sign, where a minute of silence will be observed. A representative from each nationality featured in the peloton will also assemble at the front of the bunch, as a symbol of solidarity with victims of the Holocaust.
"The goal is to communicate a message of universal peace, equality, brotherhood and trans-nationality," said Lang. "These important values are stronger than differences in language, ideology or religion, values that are at the heart of sport and cycling, which we can and must contribute to spreading throughout the world."
The commemorative stage of the Tour forms part of a series of Holocaust remembrance projects that are being developed in the region, including a memorial constructed of stones from all over the world. The area between the two Auschwitz camps will become the base of an International organisation that will conduct...
Boonen, Cancellara, Haussler, Boasson Hagen, Farrar and Wiggins head to the Gulf
This year’s Tour of Qatar and the new Tour of Oman have attracted many of the big-name sprinters and Classics contenders as they look for some warm weather and intense racing to polish their early season form.
Race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) today released the provisional start lists for both six-day stage races on Thursday, revealling a high-quality field for both races.
The Tour of Qatar begins with an 8.2 kilometre team time trial in Doha on Sunday February 7, while the Tour of Oman begins with a 61 kilometre circuit race in Muscat on February 14.
The same teams will compete in both races, although some have planned minor changes to their line-ups to suit the hillier Oman race that ends with an 18.6 kilometre individual time trial. There are ten ProTour teams on the start list with five Professional Continental teams and the under 23 Trek-Livestrong team headed by Taylor Phinney.
Boonen wears number one
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will wear number one in the Tour of Qatar after winning overall in 2009. The Belgian will be chasing his third consecutive victory and fourth overall win since the inaugural edition of the race in 2002.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) is no longer riding after a dental problem slowed his pre-season training but almost every other big-name sprinter and Classics rider will be in the Gulf for the expected fast finishes and high-speed echelons.
Fabian Cancellara leads the Saxo Bank team, with Australian Baden Cooke, and Haedo brothers Juan Jose and Lucas Sebastian, all possible sprint contenders.
The Cervélo Test Team showed they strength and ability last year when they made their debut in the peloton in Qatar. Stage winner Roger Hammond is back this year, along with Classics revelation Heinrich Haussler, former track sprinter Theo Bos and fast Italian neo-pro Davide Appollonio.
Garmin-Transitions won the opening team time...
UCI President denies telling Castaño that Valverde is innocent
UCI President Pat McQuaid has contradicted statements made by Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) president Juan Carlos Castaño, in relation to the CAS hearing concerning Alejandro Valverde.
Speaking to Punto Radio Murcia, Castaño claimed that McQuaid told him privately that the UCI "had no reason to doubt Valverde".
Castaño gave his own backing of the rider, saying that he is "flawless as an athlete and a person", and speaking about an injustice against Valvderde. "There is a persecution, and it is absolutely illogical. What has happened is that there are organizations that want to use twisted routes just to reach their goals, which is what is happening with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI)." Castaño added that he expected Valverde to be cleared by CAS.
Contacted by Cyclingnews this afternoon, McQuaid rejected the claims that he had said the rider was innocent. "I don't remember saying anything like that to the president of the Spanish federation," he said, sounding surprised. "I have had no discussion with the president of the Spanish federation about Valverde.
"The UCI has always stated that we felt that Valverde was involved in Operacion Puerto."
The UCI was one of three major bodies which gave evidence against Valverde in the recent Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing, which took place from January 12 - 14. It joined WADA and CONI in fighting the Vuelta a España winner's appeal against his two-year ban in Italy.
CAS had said that a decision will be announced in March. McQuaid has said that the UCI will decide its next course of action then.
"We have had no feedback from CAS. We are still waiting on the decision, and once we get it, we will study the reasoning of the president of the panel to decide what action - if any - we can take."
Whatever the outcome, CAS will also take further statements in a second hearing, due to be held March 18-21. This is an...
New equipment put through the paces in Calpe, Spain
Under brilliant blue skies in Calpe, Spain, the Garmin-Transitions team spent much of Thursday on their time trial bikes at training camp.
With the arrival of the Tour Down Under squad from Australia, the entire team was present to conduct multiple laps of a five-kilometre circuit to test out their new Felt time trial bikes and wheels from Mavic.
The American ProTour squad is in the midst of a two-week training camp on the coast of Spain.
Click here for a gallery of images from the Garmin-Transitions training camp.
No BMC, Milram or Footon-Servetto on the list
Twenty two teams have been invited to start the 2010 edition of Paris-Nice on March 7 in Montfort l'Amaury. Seven stages will then take the the riders to the finish in Nice on March 14.
Astana is one of the invited teams which means that Alberto Contador, winner of the 2009 Tour de France, will have the opportunity to erase his bad memories of last year's Paris-Nice. Contador won the opening stage time trial and a later stage in the mountains, where he took over the GC lead. However, on the penultimate stage, he bonked and lost the overall to Luis León Sánchez.
Quick Step could line up Sylvain Chavanel, who won stage three and finished second overall in 2009. Last year, the Frenchman won the points jersey, too.
The BMC, Milram and Footon-Servetto teams are not included among the starting teams.
John Lelangue, the chief directeur sportif of BMC clarified to Cyclingnews that BMC had not sought an invitation to Paris-Nice. World Champion Cadel Evans, seeking to preview stages of the Giro d'Italia, preferred to race the Monte Paschi Eroica and Tirreno-Adriatico, which overlaps with Paris-Nice.
"We were not surprised not to be selected because we never put in a candidature for Paris-Nice to ASO," said Lelangue. "I had a discussion with Christian Prudhomme regarding our decision to field one strong team to Tirreno-Adriatico instead of two teams, and he understood our position."