Gilbert row casts new doubt over Pereiro

Spaniard clashed with Gilbert over doping two months before '06 Tour de France win

The Spaniard Oscar Pereiro’s insistence that he was a clean winner of the Tour de France in 2006 will come under new scrutiny today, following Omega Pharma-Lotto star Philippe Gilbert’s revelations about a clash with Pereiro in that year’s Dauphiné Libéré.

Speaking in January to Cyclingnews’s sister publication Procycling magazine, Gilbert said that Pereiro and his then Caisse D’Epargne team-mate Alejandro Valverde verbally abused him after his victory in stage two of the Dauphiné and subsequent comments by Gilbert’s then Française des Jeux manager Marc Madiot. Referring to the unfolding Operacion Puerto scandal after his win in Saint-Galmier, Gilbert pleaded with journalists “don’t make me talk about those idiots”, while Madiot was both harsher and more direct.

Gilbert said that his boss’s outburst earned him a mid-race tirade from Valverde, who is currently serving a ban for his involvement in Operacion Puerto, and from Pereiro, once mistakenly rumoured to be the “Urko” listed in doctor Eufemiano Fuentes’ patient files.

“What Madiot said used to impact directly on us; we had La Francaise des Jeux’s logo on our jersey but we were essentially representing Marc Madiot, so when he talked it was as though we were talking,” Gilbert recalled. “I can remember that Dauphiné in 2006 – I’d won the second stage and Madiot had made some inflammatory remark, I’m not exactly sure what. Anyway, the next day, I had Valverde and Oscar Pereiro in my face, really attacking me in the peloton. I told them it had nothing to do with me. Now, of course, I’d tell them to shut their mouths because they had no right to talk. But that was life. It also helped me because when you have it tough, you toughen up.”

Gilbert’s comments come hot on heels of far more damning claims from Floyd Landis, whose 2006 Tour de France title Pereiro inherited after the American’s positive test for testosterone. Landis told Paul Kimmage of the Sunday Times that he and Pereiro had spoken openly about their respective doping programmes during the 2006 Tour, and particularly before the crucial final time trial.

“I was relatively sure [of winning the Tour],” Landis said. “I mean, I know Pereiro and I know he wasn’t going to have any new tricks that he hadn’t already tried. I had talked to him about it and he told me that he had another blood transfusion to do, but I still wasn’t concerned because I was a better time triallist than him, regardless.

“We talked openly about this in the peloton, that’s why I couldn’t believe no one did this before I did it,” he continued. “We literally just spoke openly; he did a blood transfusion and some artificial haemoglobin.”

Last week, Pereiro hit back at Landis’s statements. Speaking to VeloNews, the recently retired Spaniard said: “I believe during my entire cycling career that I never had any sort of problem with doping. I am not going to respond to something like from someone like Floyd Landis, who did test positive. I believe what he’s said and done these past few years has left him with very little credibility. It’s too bad, because he was a cool guy, but it’s really annoying what he’s doing in the manner that he’s doing it.”

Of the specific allegation that he and Landis talked about doping before the final time trial to Montceau-les-Mines, Pereiro stated, “That is an absolute lie”.

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