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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Edition Cycling News for April 19, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Reactions to Armstrong's retirement

Ullrich looking forward to final battle with Lance

1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) says that he is looking forward to meeting Lance Armstrong for the final time at this year's Tour de France, after Armstrong announced his retirement from professional cycling on July 24. "Lance will be more motivated than ever because it is his last Tour," said Ullrich. "But his decision means an additional incentive for me. I have always said that winning the Tour against Lance is worth more. I will do all I can to beat him in his last appearance."

T-Mobile's director Mario Kummer reacted to the Armstrong announcement: "After the speculation of the last few weeks, we had reckoned with this decision," said Kummer. "Lance Armstrong has achieved everything in his career. He is a perfectionist, who always rides his races on the highest level. At some point it has to end. With his six Tour victories he has set a very high standard for the future. Lance has left his mark on the Tour at a time in which the performance standards are very high."

T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden had some general comments, not specific to his retirement, to make about Armstrong in a GQ interview: "In his profession, he is extreme, like nobody else. But he can only do that because he's in an American team, because he's an American and the team listens to him."

Armstrong is not really all business, according to Klöden: "He's not as grim as everybody thinks - he's not just 100 percent all out and only cycling. Sometimes he drinks his five, six, seven, eight beers and gets drunk...He is a Rocky type, who builds himself up and then flies up the mountains."

In the same interview, Ullrich said that this kind of one-man show is not for the Germans. "None of us is a solo fighter, we are absolutely team players."

Gerolsteiner's team director Udo Bölts commented, "If I were in his position, I would have done it the same way. Maybe I would have stepped down before the Tour, but I'm happy that he will ride in one more time. I am sure that he will be as motivated as possible and be in top form. He owes that much to his fans and his new sponsor."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Merckx understands

Five time Tour winner Eddy Merckx said that he understood Armstrong's decision to retire. "To stop or go on: that is a decision that you have to take yourself," said Merckx to Het Nieuwsblad. "I can't judge it. I can, however, assume that mentally it will become harder for Lance to live with everything that has happened on the fringe of the sport. Physically, I don't see a problem. Someone who is so strong after coming back from cancer, that is no normal guy but a great champion. Look at all that he has experienced! Of course He could have aimed for the classics next year. Ultimately, that's also a big part of cycling eh! I understand very well that the pressure from the media and the public is heavy. Besides, it's generally the case that a top rider first breaks down mentally rather than physically. Thus, all understanding, all respect."

Leblanc also

Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc agreed with Merckx in saying that Armstrong's retirement was fuelled by mental pressures rather than physical decline. "We saw this decision coming," Leblanc told ANP. "He will come to France to try to win the Tour for the seventh time. But I'm not ruling out that his mental tiredness will influence his effectiveness. That's not a wish, not a prediction, but a personal analysis. We should respect his choice. We know his life. He always has to come to Europe while his children are in the USA. This decision is no surprise to me."

The Hamilton decision

Is he guilty and is the science perfect?

The American Arbitration Association/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision regarding the Tyler Hamilton blood doping case has set some interesting precedents and raised some important questions in regard to sanctioning athletes for drug offences, as Cyclingnews' Chief Online Editor Jeff Jones reports.

Tyler Hamilton (Phonak)
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

On Monday, April 18, the two out of three AAA/CAS arbitrators ruled that Tyler Hamilton should be given a two year ban from cycling after testing positive for a homologous blood transfusion (injecting someone else's blood) at the Vuelta a España on September 11, 2004. Hamilton also returned an A sample positive on August 25, 2004, after winning the Olympic Time Trial, but was not sanctioned for that as his B sample was effectively destroyed by the Athens lab that did the testing, and no result could be determined from the sample.

Hamilton's Vuelta samples were analysed by the lab in Lausanne, which determined that both A and B samples showed signs of a mixed red blood cell (RBC) population. This same lab analysed samples taken from Hamilton's former Phonak teammate Santiago Perez on October 5, a week after the Vuelta had finished. They too showed signs of a mixed red blood cell population, and Perez has been given a two year ban for blood doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation.

Click here for the full report

Di Luca and Pellizotti lead Liquigas in Flèche Wallonne

After Danilo Di Luca's success in the Amstel Gold Race, Liquigas-Bianchi will be counting on him and Franco Pellizotti in Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne. "The race strategy will focus on Pellizotti," said team manager Roberto Amadio. "Nevertheless, if the race requires another strategy, we know that Danilo may be a winner. He is a generous rider, as everybody knows."

Di Luca is prepared to ride for his teammate: "I won't look for the victory at all costs. If I happened to be in good position in the final, I will fight. The Flèche's route is very suitable for me, but I confirm that Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the race I like the most."

Pellizotti is putting the ball in Di Luca's court, however: "I think that Danilo is the favourite rider: he is in great condition, both physically and physically, and last year [Di Luca was 2nd] he already demonstrated how suitable this race is for him."

Liquigas-Bianchi will line up Danilo Di Luca, Franco Pellizotti, Michael Albasini, Patrick Calcagni, Kjell Carlström, Mauro Gerosa, Marcus Ljungqvist, and Matej Mugerli. Team managers: Roberto Damiani and Roberto Amadio.

Horner out with broken hip

Chris Horner won't be racing the Tour de Georgia for Saunier Duval as he has a hairline fracture in his hip, sustained in a crash during Tirreno Adriatico on March 10. Although Horner continued to ride with the injury, he was advised not to race again until it had fully healed. Horner hopes to be back in top condition by the Tour de Suisse in June, and if he does well there he could be selected for the Tour de France.

T-Mobile in Rioja

The T-Mobile Team will take to the roads of Spain from Friday, April 22, for the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja (UCI. Cat. 2.1). With winning ambitions on the back burner, the magenta team is primarily using the low-key three day tour as training for the bigger races ahead.

"This race plays an important role in our ongoing preparations for ProTour races later in the season," commented T-Mobile Team sporting director Mario Kummer, who will be looking to Paco Lara to lead the T-Mobile challenge in the mountainous terrain. The Spanish climber will be joined in the wine producing area of Rioja by six other T-Mobile riders. Dutchman Bram Schmitz, King of the Mountains at last week's Vuelta a Aragon, Daniele Nardello and Erik Zabel will all be in action in north east Spain. Sprinter Eric Baumann and rookie pros Bas Giling and Marcus Burghardt complete the line up.

The race's hardest stage is Saturday's 163.5km second stage; a hilly trek that takes the peloton from Villoslada de Cameras over three first category and one second category climb before the final ascent up the second category Ermita de la Virgen de Lomos.

The first and third stages, while not so hilly, are marked by false flat uphills and windy conditions. With much of the countryside blanketed in vines and open to the wind, the peloton will likely be exposed to energy-sapping headwinds and constant jumping and attacking.

The stages

Stage 1 - April 22: Calahorra-Calahorra, 189 km
Stage 2 - April 23: Villoslada de Cameras - Ermita de la Virgen de Lomos de Orios, 163 km
Stage 3 - April 24: Logrono - Logrono, 176 km

Flèche Wallonne Fantasy Game: Rider list uploaded

The latest start list for the La Flèche Wallonne race on Wednesday has been uploaded to the game site. Enter your team now to win one of the prizes in this year's Fantasy Spring Classics game:

Specialized Roubaix Pro
Click for larger image
Click for larger image

Grand Prize

Specialized Roubaix bicycle equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed groupset worth US$4400

Per Classic Prizes

6 Specialized Decibel helmets worth $169 USD each

Runner Up Prizes

- A pair of Zipp 404s worth $1,600 USD
- 2005 model Carnac M5 Carbon road shoes, Sinclair Imports
- 10 x Specially engraved IB-2 multi-tool from Park Tools

New Features

If you played last year we have enhanced the game so you can now see the breakdown of other manager's teams. Go to the ranking page, select a race and click on any of the team names to see more:


It's not too late to join in, you have every chance of winning one of the "prizes per classic" and are still eligible for the Grand prize of a Specialized Roubaix bicycle equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed groupset worth US$4400, and runner up prizes.

All you need to do to take part in this, the latest of the Fantasy Games at Cyclingnews, is register and select 8 riders for just a few, or all of the following races:

La Flèche Wallonne - April 20
Liège - Bastogne - Liège - April 24

As a manager you will have 4000 UCI points to purchase your riders for each race. There are ~250 riders in each official start list to choose from. Make your choice wisely as expensive riders don't always score the highest points for the team. The first 15 riders to finish each race will score points for your team. Have a look at the RULES for more information:

It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics. To register your teams for the game go to

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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