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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Date published:
January 16, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Teams arrive in Adelaide for Tour Down Under

    Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) in his new Australian champion jersey
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 2:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Durbridge in national champion jersey, Schleck waits to debut 2013 kit

    The official start to the 2013 season has nearly begun as teams arrive in Adelaide this week for the Santos Tour Down Under. The opening round of the WorldTour officially starts next Tuesday 22 January but the action kicks-off this Sunday evening with the People's Choice Classic criterium.

    A number of riders and teams will be busy this week fine-tuning their equipment after a long journey Down Under while some of the local riders will travel to Adelaide later in the week.

    Amongst the riders and teams to arrive was Luke Durbridge who was seen sporting his new Australian champion jersey. The entire Orica GreenEdge team had been one of the first teams to arrive after shipping out from Ballarat at the conclusion of the Australian Road Race Championships on Sunday night.

    Andy Schleck was wearing a standard Craft jersey suggesting the revised 2013 RadioShack kit will be ready closer to the tour's start - following Nissan's sponsorship withdrawal in late 2012.

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Andrea Guardini (Astana) were also in attendance and should be in the thick of the action during bunch sprints.

  • U.S. government rejects Armstrong's $5 million offer in whistleblower case

    Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 6:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Report claims Texan's offer to be a witness also knocked back

    With news that the United States Justice Department is considering joining a federal whistleblower lawsuit reportedly filed by Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong is said to have offered to pay compensation in a bid to stem the potential financial fallout that could be coming his way.

    CBS News reports that Armstrong has offered to pay the U.S Government more than $5 million dollars and also cooperate as a witness in the investigation. The channel claims that its sources say that the government in turn rejected "both offers as inadequate."

    The suit is aimed at recouping the sponsorship funds provided by the US Postal Service, which supported the team from 1996-2004, in light of the US Anti-Doping Agency's lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong for doping.

    If the suit is successful, Landis could, under the Federal False Claims Act, personally claim up to 30% of the funds that the government wins.

    The US Postal Service contract in 2001 was renewed to the tune of $32 million, according to documents available in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s reasoned decision. The total settlement to the government could, by law, be two to three times that amount.


  • Contador in Argentina prepping for Tour de San Luis

    Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) on a training ride in San Luis, Argentina prior to next week's Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 8:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Saxo-Tinkoff Spaniard's season kicks off in six days

    As in 2012, Alberto Contador's racing season will kick off in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis, taking place January 21-26. Contador and his five Saxo-Tinkoff teammates: Jesus Hernandez, Niki Sorensen, Benjamin Noval, Sergio Paulinho and Bruno Pires, arrived in Argentina on Tuesday and went out on their first training ride in the summer heat.

    It's a much more relaxed atmosphere than 2012, when Contador arrived at the Tour de San Luis under the heavy cloud of doping allegations. He went on to finish second behind Levi Leipheimer but his name would ultimately be scrubbed from the record books as part of his ban, stemming from his 2010 Tour de France positive, which came to fruition in February 2012 and extended into August.

    "We face this year's race in a completely different way, looking for a good preparation for the coming months," said Contador. "So we arrived early, to get good time for training. In addition, the atmosphere in the team is extraordinary and I am sure it will be noticed in the races."

    Contador indicated that following his participation at the Tour de San Luis, at 2.1 the highest-rated UCI event in South America, he'd next contest the Tour of Oman (February 11-16) along with Tirreno-Adriatico (March 6-12) and Critérium International (March 23-24). Contador has indicated that his primary goal for 2013 is to win the Tour de France.

    "I am happy with the preparation," said Contador. "I'm giving priority to having more base in order to be fresher during the main objectives of the season. The training data is good and what I intend now is to hone my weight gradually."

  • Verbruggen denies responsibility for cycling's problems

    Hein Verbruggen passed the ProTour to McQuaid
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 9:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutchman claims not to understand the “whole fuss”

    Former UCI President Hein Verbruggen has again denied any responsibility for the doping scandals that have damaged professional cycling so much during his tenure as the head of the sport.

    Verbruggen, 71, was UCI president from 1991 to 2005, during which period Armstrong won seven Tours de France. The Dutchman is still a honorary president of the UCI and the International Olympic Committee. He is now the president of SportAccord, the umbrella organisation that works with international federations with a range of services, including anti-doping.

    Lance Armstrong had a close relationship with Verbruggen but the Texan is reportedly set to indict the UCI for its involvement with doping in cycling in his television interview to be broadcast Thursday.

    Last May Verbruggen was quoted as saying “Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never.” He later denied saying that, claiming instead that he meant that Armstrong had never tested positive.

    Now he struggles to see how he and the UCI can be blamed for the doping scandals of the last 20 years.

    “I don't understand the whole fuss at all,” Verbruggen said in an interview with the Dutch magazine De Muur. “If you test someone 215 times and he is always negative, then the problem is in the test itself. Well, I'm not responsible."

    "It is easy to say, 'you knew it!' but nobody knew anything for sure. We only had suspicions (...) We did what we could only detect nothing we could. (...) I don't understand all this fuss at all (...) We knew as much as the journalists....”

    Verbruggen was also at the UCI when Armstrong donated money to allegedly purchase drug testing equipment, an idea the Dutchman now accepts was a mistake. “In retrospect, I should not have taken...

  • Independent Commission urges UCI to agree to Truth and Reconciliation process

    The UCI Independent Commission logo
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 10:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Amnesty for doping confessions could begin in the spring

    The UCI-appointed Independent Commission, created to investigate issues and allegations arising out of the USADA Reasoned Decision in relation to Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service Team, has called on the UCI to include a Truth and Reconciliation process that would offer a full or partial amnesty to whoever confesses to past involvement in doping.

    WADA, USADA and the Change Cycling Now group have all criticised the independence of the Commission and refused to participate in the planned hearings, weakening the depth and validity of the Commission's work and the validity of any conclusions.

    The Commission has called on them to change their mind and decided to hold a procedural hearing with the UCI 'as soon as posisble after January 21, in public' to discuss a Truth and Reconciliation process. The Commission also wants to discuss and possibly change the strict terms of reference the UCI set when it created the Commission.

    "The Commission is of the view that a Truth and Reconciliation process is desirable for the purposes of this Inquiry, and that such a process would ensure that the most complete evidence is available to the Commission at its hearing in April 2013. The Commission is of the view that such a process would be in the interests not only of the Inquiry, but also of professional cycling as a whole," a press release from the Commission reads.

    "The Commission, via the Solicitors to the Inquiry, has written to the UCI’s solicitors, urging the UCI to reconsider its position."

    "The Commission is of the view that the participation of USADA, WADA and CCN in the Inquiry would assist the Commission, and it hopes that they will give further consideration to participating, and will continue to explore the possibility of a Truth and Reconciliation process directly with the UCI."

    The January procedural hearing will be held in London.

    The Commission is funded by the UCI and headed by former British...

  • Jaksche: Sponsors must also accept their responsibility for doping

    Jorg Jaksche (Wurth) smiling
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 13:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Complete Armstrong confession could have “enormous consequences”

    Former professional Jörg Jaksche has accused sponsors of turning a blind eye to the problem of doping in cycling, suggesting they are happy to take advantage of rider's and team's success, but do little to enforce responsibility or support the fight for clean sport.  

    The German, who admitted to doping during his own career after being caught up in Operacion Puerto, saw some good news about Armstrong revealing his sins, suggesting that his confession could radically change cycling.   

    “Corporate sponsors, like all companies, are looking for high return on investment,” Jaksche said in the New York Times. “In sports, winning provides that return, and doping increases the chances of winning. So the message that, directly or indirectly, sponsors give athletes is simple: we want you to win, and in order to do that you can do whatever you want. As long as you don’t get caught.”

    Jaksche rode from 1997 to 2007 for a number of teams, including Team Telekom, CSC, Once, and Liberty Worth-Astana. He was not allowed to ride the 2006 Tour de France after being named in Operacion Puerto, and the next year gave a complete confession.

    “Each new doping scandal follows the same pattern,” Jaksche suggested. “When someone is caught, the system acts shocked and upset, declares its absolute rejection of doping and depicts the athlete as a black sheep that deserves to be slaughtered. After that, everything continues like before. But the fact is that they slaughter a scapegoat, not a black sheep, and nobody ever looks at the shepherd’s responsibility. I’m talking about those in the higher levels, those who govern the sports and, most importantly, those who provide the money that fuels everything."

    “For the sponsors, this system has no downside. If nobody is caught doping, they...

  • Cavendish to target Tour de France stages and the green jersey

    Mark Cavendish was all smiles at the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team presentation
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 17:15 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Manxman angered by Armstrong questions

    Mark Cavendish has made his 2013 intentions clear, stating that the Tour de France will be his primary target of the season.

    The 27-year-old was speaking at last night's launch of his new Omega Pharma-QuickStep team and reiterated that stage wins and the green jersey - two of the highest possible accolades in a sprinter's palmares - were his biggest ambitions.

    "I want to go back to the Tour de France and compete. Well, compete really! I want to win stages, I want to win the green jersey and I want to come out with a successful team from there," he said.

    "There's other guys in the team who can also wins stages, and I think that with the right structure, we can go and be a dominant force, a bit like how it was with HTC."

    Cavendish signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step after just one season of his multi-year deal with Team Sky, where, despite winning three stages of the Tour de France, he was often left to fend for himself as the British team focused on winning the yellow jersey with Bradley Wiggins. By the end of July the team's management was already paving an exit route for Britain's most successful sprinter of all time, and he duly signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step by the end of the year.

    He joins a team which is not only ingrained in one-day day racing, but more importantly, is better equipped and determined to help him succeed. A portion of the team's directors and the riding staff worked with Cavendish during his HTC days, and although team boss Patrick Lefevere would not confirm if Cavendish would be given a dedicated leadout man, he pointed to a team stacked with options for a dedicated leadout train.

    Cavendish's Tour de France dreams were...

  • UnitedHealthcare focuses on winning sprints in 2013

    Marc de Maar leads up one of the climbs during training.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 18:00 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Team to debut reinforced “blue train” at Tour de San Luis

    The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team team rolled out its 2013 squad in Scottsdale, Arizona last weekend, showcasing a powerful roster dedicated to increasing its number of victories this season.

    After losing its strongest stage race contender, Rory Sutherland, to the WorldTour squad Saxo-Tinkoff, team manager Mike Tamayo has added reinforcements to the so-called “blue train” sprint squad and re-focused on winning one-day races and stages, rather than aiming to win stage races. It's a strategy that worked well for Bob Stapleton when he reformulated T-Mobile as High Road and racked up more wins than any other team.

    The shift for UnitedHealthcare actually began mid-season in 2012, Tamayo said, and was so successful that it became a focus during the recruitment period for this year.

    “Around May or June we decided to push going after stages. Our team mantra became ‘execution-execution-execution’ - it was all about teamwork and stages. Then July, August and September were excellent with stage wins in Portugal, Colorado, Utah, Britain. The team historically has never gotten the results that it got in those two months by getting a yellow jersey in Portugal, Utah and Britain. The irony is, while we weren’t chasing the yellow jersey, we were chasing stage wins, we got into the jersey in three major stage races.”

    Although the Tour of Portugal was one of the most successful races for the team with three stage wins, one each by Jay Thomson, Jason McCartney and Kai Reus, all three of those riders left the team. Tamayo explained that he was more focused on team unity than individual results when hiring riders for 2013.

    “We’re trying to figure out how to ramp up our results in Europe. The hardest part of the season for us was the spring (2012) we had the right group of guys for the flatter Belgian-style races and bunch kicks, but never quite got...