News shorts: 'Armstrong treated unfairly,' says Yates

Yates says that Armstrong was treated unfairly

Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportif Sean Yates has told the BBC that his former teammate Lance Armstrong has been unfairly punished following the detailed USADA investigation that covered evidence of systematic doping on his US Postal Service team.

Armstrong was banned for life following the publication of USADA’s Reasoned Decision in October 2012 and he confessed to doping in a televised interview the following January.

“Lance was the big figure that they hunted down, along with others obviously, but he was the stand-out figure and he took the brunt of the publicity and the brunt of the blame, unfairly in my opinion,” Yates said. “Obviously people will make up their own minds somewhere down the road but that may be a few years to come yet.”

Yates stepped down as a directeur sportif at Team Sky and announced his retirement in October 2012 only to return with Tinkoff-Saxo this season, where he will be in Alberto Contador’s corner against his former charge Chris Froome.

“Last year they both fell off which was not good for the Tour de France and that enabled [Vincenzo] Nibali to win but I think they are a level above,” Yates said of Contador and Froome. “Hopefully they both stay on their bikes this year and it’s a good clean fight, and may the best man win.”

Zdeněk Štybar ready to start 2015

Czech national champion Zdeněk Štybar will end his longest ever off-season this Saturday when he pins on a number for the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia for Etixx - Quick-Step. The three-time cyclo-cross world champion was forced to sit out the defence of his rainbow jersey on home soil due to a crash in October. Štybar also crashed out of the Eneco Tour and required surgery for injuries sustained in the two falls.

"Actually I think I had a really good winter," said Štybar, who will also line up at the Clasica de Almeria on Sunday. "I could do almost my whole training that was scheduled, except in January due to my tooth implantations. But this was anticipated and my training was already organized around the surgery for my teeth implants. So I took the time during that period to take it easy and recover from training."

With no cyclo-cross racing in his legs, just road miles from training, Sybar added he is unsure how will go in his first race of the season.

"I was training in Mallorca after that, and at the end of January I did another camp with the team in Calpe," Stybar said. "So to be honest, everything is going well. I'm curious to see where I stand with my condition at the moment. I didn't race cyclo-cross, so all my training was on the road. I am anxious to see how my body reacts to this. I am really excited to get back to racing regardless.

"I've never been on the bench so long in my career. So I am really looking forward to getting back into competitions."

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1