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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 16, 2009

Date published:
July 16, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • WADA seeks lifetime ban for Hamilton

    Tyler Hamilton was glad to have found Rock Racing
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 17:30 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Antidoping agency seeks maximum penalty for American's second offense

    The World Antidoping Agency (WADA) is seeking a lifetime ban for American Tyler Hamilton, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced Thursday. Hamilton had been given an eight-year sanction by the United States Antidoping Agency (USADA), but WADA appealed to CAS to have that decision overturned and the lifetime ban imposed.

    Hamilton tested positive for Testosterone in an out-of-competition doping control taken before the Tour of California in February. He claimed the positive came as a result of homeopathic medicine he was taking for depression. He accepted an eight-year ban on June 11, 2009.

    Since Hamilton previously served a suspension for homologous blood doping in 2004, the second offense can lead to an eight-year to lifetime ban. WADA is seeking the maximum penalty.

    "The procedure will be conducted in accordance with the Code of Sports-related Arbitration and as a general rule a final decision will be rendered within four months," the CAS said.

    Hamilton announced following the positive test that he would retire from the sport.

  • New Italian doping raid nets 30 arrests

    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 17:36 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Former Serbian national coach among arrested

    Police in the northern Italian town Padua have arrested the former national cycling coach of Serbia in a new doping investigation dubbed 'via col doping', which is said to involve 12 professional cyclists.

    Searches of 10 different regions uncovered thousands of doses of doping products and led to the arrest of Aleksandar Nikacevic, formerly the Serbian coach and now director of the Partizan Belgrado cycling team.

    The authorities also said they suspected another 30 people of being involved in the doping ring, including riders, three team directors and representatives of pharmaceutical companies.

    Seized in the raids were a number of performance enhancing substances such as the CERA, the erythropoeitin derivative for which Italians Riccardo Ricco', Leonardo Piepoli and David Rebellin tested positive last year.

    There has been no announcement linking these riders to the investigation.

  • Lanterne rouge van Hummel remains upbeat

    Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) in the start house.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 18:26 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Dutch Tour rookie contests sprints, battles mountains

    Being dropped with 100 kilometres to go in a mountain stage is never an enjoyable experience in the Tour de France, but lanterne rouge, Kenny Robert van Hummel, has remained upbeat despite suffering in the Pyrenees.

    Van Hummel and his Skil-Shimano squad are participating in their maiden Tour de France and the boys in white, blue and red have justified their wild card invite with some fine attacking rides in the first week. Van Hummel has picked up several top 10 places in sprint finishes despite sitting last at 1:59:32 behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini.

    "The Pyrenees were something else. I'd never done three days of solid climbing like that in my life. It was a totally new experience and one I won't forget in a hurry. I was riding my own speed trying not to blow up but on the final stage in the mountains. I was riding on my own for 110 kilometres and I only made the time cut by three minutes on the final stage in the Pyrenees," van Hummel told Cyclingnews.

    Asked how he felt to prop up the general classification, Van Hummel showed his passion for the race: "A lot of people give me attention and ask how hit feels, but I'm just happy that I'm still in the Tour, gaining experience. After the Tour there are some criteriums and small races in Holland and they always invite the lanterne rouge, so I'll be doing them and showing off to the home public. But back home they see that I'm fighting hard in the mountains and they like it. For a country like Holland, where there are few mountains, it's exciting and the buzz it's giving me is an enormous honour."

    Stage 13 will see the race travel from Vittel to Colmar, with five categorised climbs that will test the lanterne rouge's mettle once again. "The Alps will be hard and I'll be suffering again, I'm sure, but my plan will be the same - follow my own pace and not worry too much about the peloton. Maybe I'm using up too much energy riding like that in the...

  • Garmin poised for podium in Paris

    Brad Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 18:39 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Wiggins and Vande Velde maintain top spots before the Alps

    With Bradley Wiggins and Chrisitian Vande Velde both sitting pretty in the top 10 in the Tour de France, Garmin’s team director, Jonathan Vaughters has been happy for his team to stay out of the limelight while all of the talk surrounds the imminent battle between the two Astana leaders, Lance Armstrong and Alberto Condator.

    Wiggins sits 46 seconds behind yellow jersey Rinaldo Nocentini in the standings with Vande Velde a further 38 seconds back. “We’re the typical underdog team. That’s what we’ve always been about,” Vaughters said, clearly aiming to deflect pressure off his two trump cards. “We were a squad that came out of nowhere with a different message and attitude that said something different. We kind of like being the Red Sox instead of the Yankees,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews at the stage finish.

    Vaughters couldn’t hide his pleasure in the fact that his team has never before been in such a strong position leading into the Alps, having two riders in contention for the podium in Paris. “Two riders in the top 10 is a new experience for us, but tomorrow is the first day when you’ll see if there are any cracks in the competition before the Alps. Right now there are no answers as to what might happen.”

    Vaughters was also quick to dismiss speculation of collaboration with other teams in order take on Astana, who have four riders in the top six. “Collaboration doesn’t have a place here. The tactic for tomorrow is to maintain, chug along, make the definitive breaks and stay out of trouble. It’s a day where the legs will do the talking more than tactics. Right now, I don’t see any weakness in Armstrong or Contador but whether Leipheimper or Klöden will be there, I really don’t know.”

    Both Wiggins and Vande Velde are strong against the clock and should look upon the stage 18 time trial around Annecy with...

  • Evans' intense day ahead of Tour's mountains

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 19:14 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Attacks and crashes on road to Vittel

    Cadel Evans enjoyed a day of hard racing Thursday in Tour de France stage 12, one day ahead of Friday's mountain stage. He attacked early in the 211.5-kilometre stage to Vittel and crashed near its end.

    "I thought I should put myself in there, otherwise they might not have anyone to chase," Evans said of an unsuccessful escape group. "It was a real intense start, a real Tour stage: left and right, attack, attack, attack."

    Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) attacked and formed a group with Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana) around 80 kilometres into the stage. Ahead the main escape group had already formed, but they tried a move to put the other favourites on the defensive.

    "It was good racing and I think it softens everyone's legs for tomorrow," said Evans.

    The finale of the stage was just as hectic even with an escape group away for the stage victory. Evans crashed with another race favourite, Levi Leipheimer.

    "They just overshot the corner in front of me, when that happens you have no where to go. Luckily it was inside three kilometres and it doesn't change anything."

    Race rules prohibit riders losing time in the overall classification if they are in a crash in the final three kilometres. Evans said he had no injuries from the crash.

    Leipheimer has multiple bruises and road rash on his back and hip. His wrist hurts the most, but the team doctor decided X-rays were not required. "Surprisingly, I am okay," said Leipheimer.

    The riders face a 200-kilometre stager to Colmar tomorrow. There are three significant climbs with the final one, the Col du Firstplan, 20.5 kilometres from the finish.

  • Sörensen victory a boost to Saxo Bank morale

    Nicki Sörensen (Team Saxo Bank) is the winner of the Tour's twelfth stage.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 20:52 BST
    Daniel Benson

    A catalyst for Schleck in the Alps?

    Sometimes the seeds of victory can be difficult to pinpoint. On occasion they're sown deep within the tactical battles and confidence of riders rather than the overt strength of exploits on mountain passes. Perhaps Nicki Sörensen's tactically savvy stage win in Vittel could be the launching pad for Saxo Bank to take the Tour by the scruff of the neck and defend its title as last year's most successful Tour team.

    Why should a solo win on a transition stage through sleepy French countryside become such a factor in the overall batter for yellow? Just two days ago Saxo Bank, a squad that prides itself on team togetherness - they shot hand guns and plunged into freezing lakes during the off-season - suffered a monumental blow when Kurt-Asle Arvesen was forced out of the race.

    While Arvesen wasn't a contender for final victory in Paris, his forced retirement due to a collar bone break will have touched the Danish squad to the bone. Arvesen has of course been an integral part of the team for a number of years, helping to guide both Schlecks through the ranks, while also remaining one of the most amiable riders in the peloton. Moments before his crash he was on the front of the peloton joking with some of his rather more deadpan colleagues.

    In fact, Saxo Bank's team spokesman, Brian Nygaard, summed it up perfectly in the frantic moments after the Norwegian climbed onto a bus headed towards the hospital."He was our road captain. We'll hope for the best but assume the worst."

    And so the worst unfolded, with Saxo Bank dropping down to just eight riders before a set of mammoth stages in the Alps starting tomorrow as the race winds up towards Colmar.

    Yet today's win, courtesy of the shy and unassuming Sörensen, could be the catalyst in Saxo Bank rediscovering its flair, panache and confidence. The Danish rider, although using few words and thumping out the age-old cliché "It's something I'll carry with me forever. To...

  • French officials warn UCI testers to be impartial

    Team Astana powers to the finish to win the TTT.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 21:48 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Delay in Astana doping control draws fire

    The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) president Pierre Bordry and French sport minister Roselyne Bachelot issued reminders to UCI doping controllers to treat all teams the same after testing of the Astana team was delayed last Saturday.

    "I want to remind all parties of their responsibilities, in particular following the regrettable incident of last Saturday where the UCI displayed a certain laxness during the testing of the Astana team," said Bachelot, according to AFP. "To avoid any kind of dispute in the future, we need to make sure this doesn't happen again."

    The incident in question was first made public on Tuesday by French newspaper L'Equipe, who reported that Astana team staff had coffee with the testers for neary an hour before commencing their doping controls on the riders.

    Bordry later criticized the UCI testers in a radio interview, saying, "It seems there's a bit of leniency when it comes to dealing with cyclists. The UCI has a less professional approach. I'm not sure the same rules are being applied to everyone in the same conditions."

    Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens explained that the incident was not an intentional delay by the team.

    "We did not keep him waiting - everybody was sleeping," Maertens said of that morning. "The controller apparently came too early. He realized that our hotel was right at the start line, so we needed no transfer time, and [he] decided to wait some time before announcing being there.

    "Our riders were also controlled the day before and after the stage - three times in two days," said Maertens.

    The AFLD president has been openly skeptical of the UCI's doping control procedures. Last year, the agency was in charge of the Tour de France controls when the race organiser, ASO, defied the UCI by running the race outside the aegis of the world cycling body.

    After the AFLD was successful in catching six riders using the banned blood booster EPO...

  • Armstrong eyeing Alps for aggression

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) is still just a little more than zero seconds behind GC leader Fabian Cancellara.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 22:49 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Expects stage to Verbier to be the site of attacks on Astana

    Lance Armstrong expects the real time differences to come in three days, when the Tour de France covers the 207.5 kilometres to Verbier. Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner, is eight seconds away from the leader's yellow jersey after 12 days of racing.

    "Tomorrow is hard, it is a real stage. The Platzerwasel climb is difficult, even if it is a long way from the finish. But I don't think we will see a change until Verbier," Armstrong said Thursday morning.

    Armstrong is third overall behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini and 2007 winner, Astana teammate Alberto Contador. Astana has two other men in the overall: Levi Leipheimer (at 39") and Andreas Klöden (54").

    Armstrong attacked on stage three to gain 41 second on his rivals. A strong team time trial allowed him to move 22 hundredths of a second behind the race lead. He lost 21" Friday to Contador, but heads rivals like 2007 winner Carlos Sastre and Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov.

    "Some might think that the race is finished for Menchov, but you have to keep an eye on him. If he gains some time in the Alps he could present a problem on Mont Ventoux. I would put Carlos Sastre, the Schleck brothers [Fränk and Andy] and Cadel Evans in one category, clearly they are the most dangerous rivals. The others are just behind."

    Armstrong is third overall behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini and 2007 winner, Astana teammate Alberto Contador. Astana has two other men in the overall: Levi Leipheimer (at 39") and Andreas Klöden (at 54"). He leads rivals like 2008 winner Carlos Sastre by nearly three minutes and Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov by almost five.

    Friday's stage travels through France's Vosges and Haut-Rhin departments. Armstrong's last time in the area was in 2005.

    "It was when T-Mobile was so strong and I was isolated, it was a bad day for our team. I generally know the area, but not the specific climbs."

    Armstrong won...