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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 17, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Hamilton decision expected on Monday

By Cyclingnews staff

The long awaited decision on the Tyler Hamilton blood doping case should be out very soon, according to sources within the UCI. "The verdict is expected to be announced on Monday," confirmed a senior UCI source to Cyclingnews this weekend.

While the official said he had no idea which way the verdict would go, there is some speculation within US cycling that Hamilton will not only be cleared, but that he could even line up in the Tour of Georgia this week.

"I've heard a rumour that Tyler Hamilton may be part of the race," said a prominent US cycling source today. "The decision is imminent, and the talk over here is that he is going to get off. A rumour is a rumour, but that is what some have been saying."

If so, the verdict will be a massive boost for the Marblehead rider and a big setback to the UCI and WADA, who have insisted all along that the test for homologous blood doping, introduced in time for the Olympic Games last Summer, was 100% reliable.

Hamilton returned positive tests for blood transfusions on two occasions last year, firstly after winning the Olympic title and then during the Vuelta a España. He was later allowed keep his gold medal when the 'B' blood sample from Athens was found to have been incorrectly stored by officials, preventing any verification of the initial result.

Hamilton has maintained his innocence from the start, vowing to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland should the initial ruling go against him. For their part, the UCI and WADA have been equally adamant that the test is watertight and provided proof of doping.

Hamilton's hearing with the USADA began in Denver on February 27 and continued until March 2. A ruling was expected within a couple of weeks, but no verdict has been delivered in the month and a half since. Some observers have seen the delay as an indication of doubt about the test's reliability.

Should Hamilton indeed be cleared on Monday, the case is unlikely to end there. "The UCI will wait and see what happens in America, with regards to the verdict. If necessary, we will take it to CAS after that," said the UCI official.

So, even if the Olympic TT champion does line out in Augusta on Tuesday for stage one of the 2005 Dodge Tour of Georgia, the battle may be far from over.

Vinokourov has sights on Tour

2003 Amstel Gold Race winner Alexandre Vinokourov has had a quiet start to the season, with no storming performances in races like Paris-Nice or the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. The T-Mobile rider will be one of the team's leaders for Sunday, but doesn't seem to be at his best year. "In Paris-Nice I was one of the strongest in the final few days," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "In Pais Vasco the form improved another notch. We'll have to wait and see whether it's enough for the Amstel. I don't hide that this year there is really only one race in my head, and that is the Tour. But that doesn't mean that I will limit myself to following in the Amstel."

Euskaltel-Euskadi for Amstel

The Euskaltel-Euskadi team arrived in The Netherlands on Saturday with its nine riders for the Amstel Gold Race. Led by team director Gorka Gerrikagoitia, the Basque outfit will have the following riders present at the start in Maastricht: Iker Camaño, Unai Etxebarria, Koldo Fernandez, Gorka Gonzalez, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Iñigo Landaluze, Egoi Martinez and Samuel Sánchez,

ProTour teams may boycott Giro and Vuelta

The 20 ProTour teams (AIGCP) are maintaining their threat to boycott the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, unless their participation money is increased. After the AIGCP met in Maastricht on Saturday, a communique signed by president Patrick Lefevere was issued as follows:

"The 20 ProTour teams have decided, in total unity with the AIGCP, to keep their position vis-a-vis the Giro and the Vuelta not to participate in the Giro and in the Vuelta if we do not come to an agreement on the participation expenses for 2005. Nevertheless, we will continue to negotiate with RCS in the hope that cycling will win. The two parties will probably meet next Monday in Brussels if an agreement is not reached.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Bouygues Telecom selects for Giro d'Italia

Despite the threat of the ProTour teams to boycott the Giro d'Italia, Bouygues Telecom has still selected its nine riders to start in the Italian three week tour. Didier Rous will lead the squad, with Christophe Kern, Rony Martias, Giovanni Bernaudeau, Matthieu Claude, Olivier Bonnaire, Walter Bénéteau, Laurent Lefèvre and Franck Rénier.

Jaksche keen to perform at Amstel Gold

Liberty Seguros' German strongman, Jorg Jaksche, says he's keen to take victory number one for 2005 at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

The former CSC rider took the mountains classification at Criterium International in late March, and is looking to secure victory in Sunday's race against the likes of Boogerd, Rebellin and Di Luca, riders he sees as offering the greatest challenge.

After bad luck in recent times and some near misses, Jaksche believes this difficult race is within his grasp; and although he prefers Liege-Bastogne-Liege, he'll be gunning for a much-needed win for himself and the team on those narrow roads come Sunday afternoon.

Phonak hires Baffi

The Phonak Hearing Systems Team has hired Adriano Baffi as an assistant sports director. Last year the 43-year old Italian was under contract as sporting director for Landbouwkrediet Colnago. In his 17 year career as a pro, he won over 80 races on the road and track. These included various stage wins in the Giro, Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse as well as coming third twice in Milan-Sanremo and Gent-Wevelgem. Under the direction of team manager John Lelangue, Baffi will support the sporting directors Juan Fernandez, Jacques Michaud and René Savary, starting from May 1. Adriano Baffi's first job will be at the Giro d'Italia [with the boycott caveat - ed.].

Dekker until the end of 2006

34 year-old Erik Dekker plans on riding at least until the end of next season with Rabobank, according to Algemeen Dagblad. "I could stop in October, but then something improbable would have to happen," he said. "For example, a second bank, that will invest 50 million to start a team and wants me as director. That is unlikely, yes. I like riding, I like training, I find this an interesting period of the year, although it is also hard, but I still enjoy it. I want to do another year and a half. And who knows what will happen then? I am not concerned about stopping, but certainly about what I want to do after my career. I find it very important to avoid the so-called 'black hole'...I would prefer to remain active in this world, in contact with the riders. How or what, I don't know, we'll see."

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