Latest Cycling News for June 9, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Different format for 68th Tour de Suisse
By Jeff Jones
The 68th edition of the Tour de Suisse will run between Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 20, a reduction in stages from 10 to 9 this year. And for the first time since 1993, the race will be run without a prologue, instead starting with a 170 km flat stage between Sursee and Beromünster. The sprinters will have another chance in Stage 2 between Dürrenroth and Rheinfelden (169.9 km), which is also quite flat. Stage 3 from Rheinfelden to Vallorbe/Juraparc is easy at first, but the last 3 km of the 185 km stage are quite hard as the riders climb up to the Juraparc.
The fourth stage, from Le Sentier/Vallée de Joux to Bätterkinden is the longest of the Tour de Suisse at 211.6 km, but it should be another one for the sprinters. Stage 5 from Bätterkinden to Adelboden is the second uphill finish, and the riders climb 560m in the last 15 km, with the final 3 km being the toughest.
This is merely a prelude for Stage 6, the queen stage between Frutigen and Linthal over 185.4 km. Featuring both the Sustenpass (2224m, 18 km at 7.2%) and Klausenpass (1948m, 24.5 km at 6.1%), the stage finishes with a 25 km descent into Linthal. There is not much respite on Stage 7 (Linthal - Malbun), with a couple of short climbs before the final ascent to Malbun, which averages 8.1% over its 13.3 km.
Stage 8 from Buchs to Bellinzona (191.3 km) contains the climb up to Films in the early part of the stage, followed by the Lukmanier pass (1920m, 18.1 km at 7.2%) with its summit at 120 km. This stage is perfect for a non-threatening breakaway group to stay clear for the stage win, depending on how the GC looks at this point. The final stage is a testing 25.6 km time trial in Lugano, which will put the seal on the overall classification.
With the confirmation of defending champion Alexandre Vinokourov and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) for the TdS, the race should be an important one to assess these riders' pre-Tour de France form. Ullrich - who now lives in Switzerland - doesn't think that he is the top favourite for the race, which will go over some of his training routes. But the three uphill finishes and the individual time trial will be crucial in putting the final touches to his form.
The Swiss-based Phonak team will start as favourites, with Alex Zülle leading a strong squad that includes Alexandre Moos, Oscar Camenzind and Daniel Schnider. Team CSC's Bobby Julich will also be looking to gain a little pre-Tour form, while Quick.Step's Patrik Sinkewitz will face his next test after winning the Tour of Germany.
Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) will be back in his first race since the Giro, and if he has recovered from his bronchitis should be a candidate for a stage win or two. His teammate Pavel Tonkov rode well in the Giro, and may be looking to do something for himself on the GC.
Swiss rider Fabian Jeker will lead the Saunier Duval team in the Tour de Suisse. Jeker picked up a stage win in the Tour de Romandie last month, and will be hoping for another one in his national tour. Gerolsteiner's Georg Totschnig and Fassa Bortolo's Dario Cioni are certainly both top five GC candidates, while Saeco's Danilo Di Luca and Gerrit Glomser will be wanting to string together a few results.
In the sprinting stakes, Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner), Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Stefan Van Dijk (Lotto-Domo), Damien Nazon (Credit Agricole), Andrus Aug (Domina Vacanze), Marco Zanotti (Vini Caldirola), Massimo Strazzer (Saunier Duval) and Jan Svorada (Lampre) should provide plenty of action.
Stage 1 - June 12: Sursee - Beromünster, 170 km
French suspended two years
Australian Mark French, 19, has been suspended for two years and fined $1,000 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found he had breached the anti-doping policies of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and of Cycling Australia (CA). French came under suspicion after growth hormones were found in his room at the Australian Institute of Sport in December 2003.
On March 9, 2004, the ASC and CA made an application to CAS for a hearing to determine whether a breach of each organisation’s anti-doping policy had occurred and if so what sanctions should be imposed on Mr French.
After hearings last week and on Monday of this week, CAS handed down a partial Arbitral Award yesterday, 8 June 2004. CAS Arbitrator Malcolm Holmes QC found that "...there was a breach of both policies and that an appropriate sanction for this course of conduct would be a suspension of two years and a fine of $1,000."
CAS ruled that the two-year suspension will take effect from the date of the award, June 8, 2004 and that the fine must be paid within 28 days.
The Court said the decision is a deemed a partial award because it has yet to rule on the question of costs. French, a four-time junior world champion on the track, has the right to appeal the finding within 21 days.
Hamburger could miss Olympics
Danish professional Bo Hamburger (Acqua & Sapone) could be denied entry in the Olympic Games by his national federation, which has expressed continued suspicion that the rider has used EPO in competition. Hamburger came under new scrutiny after Anti-Doping Danmark doctor Rasmus Damsgaard commented that Hamburger was almost certainly on EPO during last year's World Championships in Hamilton, Canada. Hamburger firmly denies the allegation and insists that he has a naturally high haematocrit level and has not returned blood values over the UCI's limit.
The Danish cycling federation (DCU) has since recommended that Hamburger not be selected for the Olympics for reason of the same suspicion. The DCU refers to a blood test on Hamburger which is said to have returned "abnormally elevated" levels.
The decision has been passed to the Danish national sports federation (DIF), which is expected to give a verdict next week.
"It's as if I'm fighting an enemy I can't see," Hamburger commented to Danish news agency Ritzau, "and I'm forced to defend myself when there isn't even a case."
The legend of Mont Ventoux
By John Stevenson
Iban Mayo believes the crucial stage of this year's Dauphiné Libéré will come on Thursday. He has told Spanish sports paper As , "The race will be decided on Mount Ventoux," when riders confront the mountain known as the Giant of Provence in a 21.6km time trial from Bédoin at 226m to the summit at 1909m. With nothing currently separating the leaders after stage two , and that unlikely to change after the undulating but not severe terrain of stage three , Mayo's prediction looks to be right on the money.
Of all the climbs regularly tackled by the great French stage races, Ventoux is perhaps the most feared. Ventoux doesn't inspire awe for its altitude - at 2646m, the Col du Galibier in the Alps takes the prize for sheer elevation among regularly-used climbs. Ventoux isn't the steepest French mountain either - its maximum gradient is 11 percent, while, for example, the little-lauded Col de Soudet, scene of the attack that gave Tyler Hamilton victory on stage 16 of the 2003 Tour, has pitches of 15 percent.
What gives Ventoux its reputation is the combination of the dense, often still and stinking-hot forest at its base; the bare, sun-baked rock of the summit; and the sheer unrelenting character of the ascent. There is no let-up in the road that makes its way up the slopes of this extinct volcano, and few hairpins to break the monotony.
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Cyclingnews will be covering the key stage of this year's Dauphiné Libéré Live starting from 14:30 CEST (Europe)/ 8:30 EDT (USA East)/ 5:30 PDT (USA West)/ 22:30 (Australia East). Be sure not to miss it!
Basso prepares for Tour
Ivan Basso (Team CSC), considered by many to be an outsider for the Tour de France, continues his preparation this week at the Dauphiné Libéré, but as with some of his key rivals, he has no intention of over-extending himself in the pre-Tour test. Basso will likely be considered a co-leader for CSC at the Tour, along with Spaniard Carlos Sastre, and has been tipped by US Postal Service directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel as a real danger man.
"I've trained and raced a lot this spring, but all the time I've focused on the Tour de France," Basso explained on the team's website (team-csc.com). "I can feel that I'm in better shape now compared to same time last year, and everything is going according to plan, which also means I won't try to make any big results in a race like Dauphiné Libéré."
Basso has also learned one of CSC director Bjarne Riis' important training techniques, which has already helped the team to success in the early season stage races.
"I've trained more often on my time trial bike than I used to do in the past," Basso explained. "Not only can I feel I'm getting better, I can also see it from my results this spring. Apart from more training, we've been trying to improve my position on the bike, especially during our stay in Boston," Basso added, referring to his wind tunnel testing at MIT in conjunction with bike sponsor Cervelo.
Cofidis tribute to Kivilev
The Cofidis team took time before Wednesday's third stage of the Dauphiné Libéré to once more honour Andrei Kivilev, who died from injuries sustained in a crash in the 2003 edition of Paris-Nice. Cofidis, along with Natalia Kivilev, were on hand for a ceremony naming a traffic circle for the fallen rider in Saint-Etienne, where he died last year.
Tour de l'Avenir parcours
The parcours has been unveiled for this year's Tour de l'Avenir, a top stage race for riders under 25 years old. The French race, organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), is scheduled for September 2-11. This year's race will focus on the northeast, opening with a 12 kilometre individual time trial in the English channel town of Fort-Mahon to a finish around Le Grand-Bornand in the Haute Savoie region. The peloton will cover 1,521 kilometres over the course of ten stages. Last year's race was won by Spain's Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
Stage 1 - September 2: Fort-Mahon-Plage ITT, 12.2km
RAGT hires new doctor
The French RAGT Semences-MG Rover team has hired a new team doctor, Samy Mekloufi. The team's former doctor, Roland Mathieu, passed away two weeks ago. Mekloufi is new to cycling but worked with a regional rugby team near Lyon, France.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)