Tour de France news shorts

Andy Rihs (center) with John Lelangue and Floyd Landis after the 2006 Tour de France.

Andy Rihs (center) with John Lelangue and Floyd Landis after the 2006 Tour de France. (Image credit: AFP Photo)

Our often irreverent look at the Tour de France news you may have missed

BMC boss shuns the big question

Since part-time BMC soigneur Sven Schoutteten was arrested last week after customs officers intercepted a package containing doping products, the US team have closed ranks and refused to go comment. As was the case with Alessandro Ballan’s involvement in a police investigation in Italy, the team have opened their own enquiry.

Yet at the team’s pre-race press conference, team owner Andy Rihs refused to be drawn on the matter, instead deciding to attack the media for daring to ask why one of his staff was in jail. Here is Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson’s exchange with the wealthy Swiss businessman.

Rihs: Forget that one. I don’t discuss it. It’s just ridiculous.

CN: Why?

Rihs: You bring up things that are totally ridiculous. It’s a media flop. I’m not involved in it. I don’t know anything. I will not comment on it. I talk about cycling but not that thing. I talk about cycling and I think cycling should talk about cycling. I look at the degrading work of you… the scandal and I think the advice to Cyclingnews is stop the bull and go back to cycling.

CN: But you’re having an investigation into it, so it must be something?

Rihs: Like I told you this is not my job. Talk with some people. I’m so far away from it. Cyclingnews should really talk on a serious level, not making assumptions all the time it’s ridiculous. I will not give you any interview.

CN: Okay. I understand that I’m not making an assumption. I’m asking you a question.

Madiot defends the French public’s criticism of Contador

FDJ team manager Marc Madiot has defended the French public’s right to boo and whistle Alberto Contador, suggesting it should be a wake up call for the sport.

Contador was the last big name to be introduced at the team presentation on Thursday afternoon and felt the wrath of the French crowd, many of who booed and whistled him. Some said people should be critical of the slow process that has allowed Contador to ride this year’s Tour de France, rather Contador himself. Madiot –as ever, outspoken- told l'Equipe that he sees the debate from another angle.

“Rather than criticise the public, I think we should switch the question: what should be done so that there is no more whistling?” he asked.

“The public has a right to speak, it’s even healthy. The teams and the media are all here thanks to the public. The audience whistling is part of cycling, where ever you go. How they feel is a wake-up call, not just to Contador, because we are all in this together."

CAS chief defends Contador case delays

Mattieu Reeb, the general secretary of the Court of Arbitration for Sport has defended the tribunal's delay in reaching a verdict on Alberto Contador's clenbuterol case.

"I can't accept that the responsibility for the inertia is blamed on the sporting justice system and especially the CAS," he told L'Equipe.

"Alberto Contador's lawyers asked for a delay so that they could obtain new scientific evidence but I can't blame them the parties then agreed to delay the hearing. It happens quite often and three months isn't a lot to reach a decision."

"It's important to respect the process and do things right considering the complexities of the case. Other wise there is the risk that one of the parties later complains of a violation of their rights and demand that the procedure is annulled to the Swiss court. That would mean starting from zero all over again."

Ten Dam's close shave

The most tense moment of the pre-Tour media trail? No, not Paul Kimmage's quizzing of Alberto Contador, but a sidewinder lobbed in Laurens Ten Dam's direction during Rabobank's press conference on Friday afternoon.

With the questions for Robert Gesink petering out, one wag piped up from the back of the room: "Laurens, you shaved your legs so why didn't you shave your face?"

Cue a moment of icy silence from the hirsute Dutchman before a broad grin broke out across his hairy face. "I just felt like a new look," he said sheepishly, while Grischa Niermann fell about laughing beside him.

Basso's got an app for that

Not content with conquering the twittersphere with tales of his sleeping and breakfasting habits, Ivan Basso continued his push for social media dominance on the eve of the Tour by launching the "Ride with Ivan Basso" smart phone app, available at

The app will allow users to pore over Basso's blood values and training tables from the Mapei Centre, as well as view his pictures and even sample some of his ipod playlist. Very helpfully, there's also a link to purchase his newly published autobiography, Climbing Against the Wind.

"I wanted something innovative that could offer my fans a simple and fast way to follow me," Basso said, who admitted that the app forms part of his attempts to prove his transparency, which began in 2008 following his return from suspension for his links to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.

"As well giving useful advice, it offers an additional guarantee as to my standing as an athlete," he said. "The first test will be nothing less than the Tour itself: follow me and you'll be able to understand our daily hardships."

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