- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 03:13
- Cycling News
Spanish federation boss says due process will be followed
Following the news that the UCI has asked the Spanish National Cycling Federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary hearings against Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, the rider's press officer Jacinto Vidarte has expressed hope that he'll be able to defend the charges.
Vidarte told Spanish media that the situation is "normal and what we expected", explaining that the rider's representatives will "submit all documents which show that [Contador's case] was a clear case of food contamination."
Contador has maintained that the presence of banned stimulant Clenbuterol in an anti-doping test sample obtained on the second rest day of this year's Tour de France in Pau was the result of eating contaminated meat, hence the miniscule amount of substance in his system.
Upon further analysis in a German laboratory it was later discovered that Contador's blood also contained minute levels of plasticisers found in blood bags, indicating the possible use of blood doping.
Meanwhile, RFEC chief Juan Carlos Castaño has told Spanish sports daily Marca that he hopes the proceedings against Contador "go well" and has indicated that cycling's governing body in Spain will treat the rider's case like any other it may receive.
"The Federation's official version is that it is a normal process as with any other records. It will analyse all the documentation that we have forwarded to the UCI and the Competition Committee will begin examining the process as usual," he explained.
"If the Committee decides to continue with the process, then we will contact the rider to open the file so that the athlete can present their arguments and documentation that may be necessary for his defense. We will contrast that with what the UCI has given us and thus expose the athlete, [after which we] will proceed to make a decision of record."
Castaño added that the maximum time to process this case is three months and stated: "I would like [the case] to come out well, but now the Competition Committee has to study this and solve it the way it considers fair."
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 03:26
- Greg Johnson
Bates builds on Cronulla event with four new races
Long time Australian race organiser Phil Bates launched a new five-round criterium series to be held in New South Wales at the state’s Parliament House today. South Africa’s Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Cervelo) and Team Sky riders Chris Sutton and Greg Henderson are amongst the big-named riders already confirmed for the series, called the NSW Grand Prix of Cycling.
Held from December 8-12 the series will see four new criteriums in Bathurst, Parramatta, Gosford and Coogee join Bates’ existing criterium held in Cronulla each December. The series first two races in Bathurst and Parramatta will be twilight events, with Gosford to hold a night-time race under lights from 8:00 PM on the Friday. The series will then return to Sydney for two beach-side events in Coogee on the Saturday and finish with the Cronulla Grand Prix on the Sunday.
Reigning women’s Cronulla GP winner, and newly crowned Commonwealth Games champion, Rochelle Gilmore will lead her Honda Dream Team at the new series.
“It was very satisfying to win the gold medal in Delhi but now all I’m thinking about to tell you the truth is Phil Bates’ races and to try and win not only Cronulla but a couple of the other races,” said Gilmore. “The competition will be tough: I know Phil will get in all the best riders from around Australia and also international riders.
“We’re not laying back and relaxing – it’s the start of our summer and we’re taking it very seriously,” she added. “I’m really looking forward to this new five day event.”
After missing out on the victory to Ben Kersten last year, Sutton is keen to put in a strong performance and hopefully end his duck at the race in Cronulla, where he grew up. “It’s great to have a big series of international races back [in NSW],” said Sutton. “It was great to have one criterium but now we’ve got five which is great. In New South Wales I think this is what we need for backing and development – it’s going to be great.”
Both the Coogee and Cronulla events will be broadcast on live television in Australia, with the Nine Network to also feature highlights from the first three events. NSW Minister for Major Events Kevin Greene described the events as an outstanding addition for the state.
“I congratulate Phil for his work with Events NSW and the government to be able to bring together what will be an outstanding group of races,” said Greene. “Not only do we have a field of the highest international calibre, but it builds on the great reputation that cycling has not just here in New South Wales but throughout Australia and the world.”
The first four women’s races will be 20 kilometres in length with the Cronulla finale to be contested over 24 kilometres. The men will tackle 30 kilometres during the first three events, before increasing to 36 kilometres for the Coogee race and 40 kilometres in Cronulla.
While the entry list is yet to be confirmed international riders Julian Dean, Henderson and Hunter are expected to line-up alongside locals like Simon Gerrans, Matthew Hayman, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge, Matthew Wilson and Sutton. More international riders are expected to be announced, with the series staged immediately after Melbourne’s Track World Cup round.
To see more images from the launch of maps of the five courses, click here.
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 09:32
- Cycling News
Luxembourger hopes for quick resolution of the case
Andy Schleck is not totally clear on how the Alberto Contador doping case will turn out, but he is adamant that having the Spaniard disqualified from this year's Tour de France is not the way he wants to win the race.
The International Cycling Union announced last night that it has turned the Contador case over to the Spanish Cycling Federation for action. The Tour winner tested positive for Clenbuterol on the second rest day of this year's race. The Spaniard has denied doping and said that the results were due to the consumption of tainted meat.
“I hope for clarity in this matter as soon as possible,” Schleck, who finished second at this year's Tour, told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “The case has now been filed with the Spanish cycling federation. That means that other people have to take it up. I don't know what that means.”
If Contador were disqualified from this year's Tour, then the overall victory would go to Schleck, who is still in Curaçao, and that is not how he would like to win the race. “This way doesn't do it for me. My name may later be in the record books [as winner] but I will not have experienced the joy. I want to win the Tour on the road. For me, Contador will always remain the winner of the 2010 Tour.”
Contador has signed to ride with Team Saxo Bank-SunGard in 2011. Schleck and his brother Fränk are leaving that team to join the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project for the next four years.
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 10:48
- Peter Cossins
41-year-old Spaniard looking for a new team for 2011
Veteran Spanish rider Iñigo Cuesta has revealed that he is considering delaying his retirement assuming he can find a team that will offer him a contract for the 2011 season. Now 41, the Cervélo rider had previously said that his 17-year pro career would end this season, but now believes he has the form and motivation to continue.
Cuesta, who has ridden in a record 17 editions of the Vuelta a España since turning pro in 1994, now has his sights on an 18th appearance in his national tour. “I was feeling in good shape at the end of the season,” he told Biciciclismo. “I would like to go on for another year and then call it a day at the Vuelta a España.”
Cuesta has not yet secured a deal for the 2011 season, but hopes that his past record and impressive 26th place finish in September’s Vuelta will tempt someone into offering him a one-year contract. “As things stand I’ve got nothing fixed up. But there still might be something. It’s difficult because it has to be something that I’m keen to do and that motivates me. I’m going to look around for a little while,” he explained.
Cuesta added that if he does not receive an offer that provides him with the necessary motivation, he will retire at the end of this year. “If nothing works out then I won’t continue and that will be the end of it. At the start of this year I was set on retiring this season, I said that this would be my last year.”
The Spaniard said that he has returned to his long-standing training regime after taking a break at the end of the season. “I will be training as if I am going to be carrying on. I want to be professional right to the right last moment,” explained Cuesta, who has also made seven Tour de France and three Giro d’Italia appearances in addition to those 17 Vuelta starts.
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 10:55
- Barry Ryan
Belgian believes he still has room for improvement
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was an impressive 5th-place finisher at the 2010 Tour de France and the Belgian climber has said that he is determined to consolidate his status with another strong showing in next year’s race.
“Most people thought I was setting the bar too high before the Tour when I said I was aiming for the top ten,” Van Den Broeck told Het Nieuwsblad. “But when you arrive in Paris in fifth place, you’re looked on differently.”
After finishing 7th at the 2008 Giro d’Italia and 15th at the 2009 Tour, Van Den Broeck has shown steady improvement in recent years, but he feels that 2010 marked a huge step forward in his career.
“This is only the beginning. I need to show character and continue to prove that it was no fluke,” he said. “I’m still only 27. There are those who are already at their maximum at that age and there are those who improve. I think I learn from my mistakes.”
With his fine Tour de France display and strong showing at the Criterium du Dauphiné, Van Den Broeck has carved out a niche for himself as one of the best climbers in the peloton, and he credits a more mature approach to his preparation for his progress. However, he readily admits that in the earlier phase of his career he often lacked such diligence in the winter months.
“In 2008 I didn't watch myself at all. I ate, drank and partied. I was as fat as a pig at home. I put on about 7kg,” he said. “Now I’m staying very calm, barely tasting beer.”
Van Den Broeck is currently in Curaçao where he participated in the season-ending Amstel Cucaçao Race. The Belgian is enjoying the opportunity to mix with his fellow riders, although he says that he has had little chance to sound out one of his primary 2011 Tour de France rivals.
“I have spent time with Terpstra, Mollema and Petacchi, even though I don’t speak any Italian,” he said. “But I haven’t had too much contact with Andy Schleck, I don’t know why.”
The 2011 Tour is already dominating Van Den Broeck’s thoughts and he says that the race’s early stage pose a number of obstacles that could have a telling impact on his aspirations.
“The first week of the Tour is full of annoying rides, starting with the Passage du Gois. You could fall off there and lose the race,” he warned. “But the Tour remains an obsession. I still don’t know how high I can finish.”
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 11:40
- Jean-François Quénet
No final outcome expected soon
The Spanish National Cycling Federation (RFEC) is set to open a disciplinary hearing against Tour de France winner Alberto Contador over the alleged use of Clenbuterol. But no final outcome to the case should be expected any time soon.
Contador’s spokesman Jacinto Vidarte welcomed the decision, saying “Now it will be time to either sanction or resolve Alberto of the matter.” However few doping cases are completed quickly and the UCI has already waited three months for WADA to complete an inquiry before asking the RFEC to open a formal investigation.
The RFEC will help Contador by hearing the case as soon as possible and Contador has already prepared is defence. However any appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) about the verdict, by Contador or the UCI and WADA, would drag out the legal process for months and delay Contador’s hopes of riding with the Saxo Bank team in 2011.
Both RFEC president Juan Carlos Castaño and Spanish Olympic Committee boss Alejandro Blanco have defended Contador recently but are under pressure after UCI president Pat McQuaid accused Spain of being the nation where cycling encounters its biggest challenges in terms of doping. At the same time WADA is carefully watching how the UCI handle the case. There is very little chance this case will be quietly archived and forgotten about.
Contador faces an uphill battle to clear his name, especially after the alleged discovery of plastic residue in one of his blood tests at the Tour de France sparked accusations of blood doping.
He insists he tested positive for Clenbuterol because he ate contaminated meat brought to the Tour de France from Spain. But under the WADA anti-doping code, athletes are ultimately responsible for prohibited substances found in their bodies.
Germany table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov was recently cleared of taking Clenbuterol by the German and International Table Tennis Federation after arguing he ate contaminated meat while competing in China.
Contador will have to prove his meat was contaminated but official data shows that Clenbuterol has only shown up once in 83,203 animal samples tested by EU countries in 2008 and 2009 and never in Spain.
Contador will hope his case ends like that of French tennis player Richard Gasquet.
The Wimbledon semi-finalist was initially banned for two years for cocaine but results of forensic science tests showed that traces of the drug in his urine came from a kiss with a girl who was a regular cocaine user. His ban was eventually reduced to two-and-half months.
For both Clenbuterol and cocaine, the WADA code doesn't include a limit on the quantity of the substance under which the athlete is cleared. However both the Ovtcharov and Gasquet cases show that the rules are often bent if the athlete is a big star and occasionally rewritten when there is a legal precedent.
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 12:14
- Barry Ryan
Italian claims suspect blood values were caused by altitude training
Franco Pellizotti has criticised what he sees as a double standard between the treatment of footballers and cyclists by anti-doping authorities in Italy and insists his blood value variations were caused by altitude training.
The Liquigas-Doimo rider’s suspect blood values saw him fall foul of the UCI’s biological passport system ahead of the Giro d’Italia in May. He was cleared to race again at the end of October by the Italian National Anti-Doping Agency but the UCI may yet decide to appeal against that verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“When I spoke with [Italian Olympic Committee anti-doping prosecutor] Ettore Torri, he said ‘for me, you could have gone to the Giro,’” Pellizotti told Il Gazzettino in a long interview. “But then Torri is the man who ran to Turin and fixed everything when the Fabio Cannavaro positive case blew up. I didn’t have any friends in high places, so I had to wait six months before the truth was established.”
In October 2009, it was revealed that Italian football captain Fabio Cannavaro had returned a positive test for cortisone. Torri met with Cannavaro in Turin and asked that the case against him be dropped after the player explained that he was using the substance to treat a bee sting. Cannavaro, then at Juventus, had requested an exemption to use the substance but did not receive the required documentation before being tested.
Pellizotti also compared his situation with that of another icon of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning squad, Gennaro Gattuso. In March 2005, the AC Milan player and his teammate Giuseppe Pancaro refused to give blood samples after being chosen for a random test after a match against AS Roma.
“When Gattuso said that he didn’t want to do the blood test, everybody stayed quiet,” Pellizotti complained. “If a cyclist had said that, he would automatically have been considered to be doped. It’s a double standard.”
Italian claims altitude training caused variations in blood values
Pellizotti also insisted that the fluctuations in his blood values were caused by training at altitude and not by blood doping. The Italian Olympic Committee investigators recommended that he be suspended for two years after reviewing his biological passport data, but he was then cleared by the Italian national anti-doping agency, who said there were not “enough elements to prove the cyclist guilty of blood manipulation.”
“Paradoxically, one of the reasons for the mess was that I have always had quite standard blood values,” Pellizotti claimed. “But in that period, I spent a long time at altitude, at two thousand metres, to prepare the season well and so the variations could have been physiological.”
La Gazzetta dello Sport reported during the case that Pellizotti had returned suspect values on three separate occasions; in Treviso on December 12, 2008, in Tenerife on April 15, 2009, and in Monaco on July 2, 2009, ahead of the Tour de France.
Pellizotti confirmed that he will seek damages from the UCI for causing him to miss out on “one of the most important seasons of his career.” He also says that the stresses of his case had an impact on his family life and even saw him visit a psychologist.
“They were terrible days in every way,” Pellizotti explained. “The world changes: one day you’re a God and the day after you’re someone to avoid on the street, it even happened here in my village.”
Pellizotti is still looking for a team for 2011. Although he has praised the support he received from his Liquigas team during his time away from racing, it is unclear if he will continue with the squad next season. In recent weeks he has also been rumoured to be on the radar of a number of teams, including Team Sky and Geox.
- Article published:
- November 9, 2010, 14:13
- Greg Johnson
Former rider relishing chance to lead even stronger squad
Garmin-Cervelo sport director Matthew White has warned that none of the team’s riders will be assured Spring Classic starts, such is the depth of the team’s roster for 2011. The Jonathan Vaughters-run team has bolstered its classics squad with the best riders from the now defunct Cervelo TestTeam, including new world champion Thor Hushovd and Australia’s Heinrich Haussler.
“I think our team for the classics is the biggest change,” White told Cyclingnews. “Basically a classics team has been infused into our team, which already had quite a handy classics team, so one thing I’m not going to be complaining about is depth come next April.
“Before we really have struggled to put eight guys together who are ready to race Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, but we’re not going to have any problem next year,” he added. “There’ll actually be guys missing out – there’ll be two or three world-class riders missing out.”
White admitted he’s relishing the opportunity to lead a stronger classics line-up in 2011. He also expects the riders to embrace the challenge of making the cut for Garmin-Cervelo’s squad.
“It’s a good amount of pressure to have and it will keep everyone on their toes in the lead-up races, nobody gets a walk-up start,” he said. “It’s a challenge. You’re in the wrong game if you don’t enjoy it.
“I’m really looking forward to putting those guys together in the sprints too, you know,” added White. “With Hushovd, Haussler, Tyler Farrar and Julian Dean – it’s got a lot of potential.”
White doesn’t expect the increased presence of sprinters at Garmin-Cervelo to have a negative impact on the team’s general classification hopes – namely Christian Vande Velde and Ryder Hesjedal. Without a pre-race favourite like Denis Menchov or Andy Schleck on the team, Garmin-Cervelo won’t be expected to control the race as much as the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project squad of Schleck will, according to White.
“I think I’ll go there with a two pronged attack – but I think you can do it if you’re not the favourite,” he said. “You can’t do it if you’ve got Andy Schleck – if you’re the favourite to win the Tour then you’ve got to ignore the sprints, but for a team like us there’s not going to be much direct pressure to control mountain stages.
“We’ve got the two guys in Vande Velde and Hesjedal who have both proven they can run top five, top 10, so we’ll go with those two and then basically everything else will be structured around the sprints,” he added. “I suppose the big goal for us – like many teams – is to win that team time trial, which will then put us in the yellow jersey.”
For the time being White is looking forward to heading to the Cayman Islands this month where the 2011 squad will meet for the first time.
“It’s a third of the team that’s new, as we’ve got nine or 10 new riders,” said White. “It’s not a training camp, it’s a get together. We will be riding bikes there but basically when you’ve got a third of a new team and the blokes don’t know each other it’s a good time – before the racing starts and before the real work starts – just to get to know each other a bit where it’s a more relaxed environment.”