Dr Michele Ferrari may be banned for life after the damning verdict of the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong but the Italian sports doctor continues to train riders and comments on the major professional races and riders' performances on his website.
Italian journalist Marco Bonarrigo and photographer Mjrka Boensch Bees were recently given a tip-off about one of Dr. Ferrari's invitation-only training days called 'Vertical Climb'. They have captured some rare video footage and photographs of Ferrari riding a bike on the Monzuno climb near Bologna in central Italy.
Some of the images were published on the front page of the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper and further details will be published on Monday in the Italian Cycling Pro magazine that is also available as a digital magazine.
Dr. Ferrari was wearing a vintage US Postal jersey during his ride, with rainbow bands on the sleeves indicating the jersey could have belonged to Lance Armstrong. He also wore a Livestrong Giro helmet and pink and blue Lampre shorts.
The Monzuno climb has been Dr. Ferrari's preferred Italian testing ground for many years just like the Col de la Madone in the South of France.
Tom Danielson revealed in his USADA affidavit that he underwent a test with Dr. Ferrari on the Monzuno climb back in 2004 while riding for Fassa Bortolo. He subsequently started doping and moved to Armstrong's Discovery Channel team for the 2005 season. He worked with Ferrari until 2006 before moving to Jonathan Vaughters's Slipstream team.
"Dr. Ferrari had me go through several 1 kilometer climbs on the Monzuno, the opening climb in the Giro dell’Emilia, an annual cycling race near Bologna, and he took various measurements, including my lactate, body fat and hematocrit and hemoglobin levels, Danielson said in his USADA affidavit.
"Dr. Ferrari seemed very surprised and impressed with my numbers. He asked how I was so good and had done so poorly in races. He told me that I had outperformed Lance Armstrong and the great Italian climber Francesco Casagrande on the climb."
489 mentions in the USADA report
Dr. Ferrari has vehemently denied the accusations of his former clients despite his name appearing 489 times in the 202-page Reasoned Decision document published by USADA. He is still at the centre of an investigation in Padua, with Italian investigators gathering evidence that was vital in USADA banning Dr. Ferrari. However the Italian legal system is notoriously slow and a preliminary judge has yet to decide if he and the others involved will ever go on trial.
In the meantime, Dr. Ferrari rides on defiantly and continues to coach riders. Professional riders and anyone with a licence, even to ride Grand Fondo events, are forbidden from working with him. Last year Filippo Pozzato, Michele Scarponi and Giovanni Visconti were all banned for three months for undergoing tests in recent years. Roman Kreuziger, who is with Bjarne Riis's Saxo-Tinkoff team, also admitted working with Dr. Ferrari.
During his latest appearance on the Monzuno, the five veteran Gran Fondo riders who took up Dr. Ferrari's invitation for the coaching session on the day of the world road race championships reportedly quickly disappeared when they spotted the photographer.
Dr. Ferrari proudly rode on before disappearing into the mist and low cloud on the Monzuno climb.
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