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Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 26, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong replies to doping allegations on Larry King Live

After Wednesday's controversial allegations made by French sports daily L'Equipe against Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour winner has responded on CNN's Larry King Live program. Armstrong chose the highly-rating talkshow to argue, as he has on countless occasions, that he has never doped, the recent allegations are preposterous, and the tests themselves are intrinsically flawed. Les Clarke reports.

Armstrong was particularly surprised and shocked at the comments of Tour organiser Jean Marie LeBlanc, saying "for Jean-Marie to say that was a shock to me, first of all, because I actually spoke to him that very same day for about 30 minutes on the telephone. I called him at his house in Paris and he didn't say any of those things to me."

Armstrong continued by pointing out how all this impacts on him, saying, "But this thing stinks. It's not good for me. And the unfortunate thing is that you potentially dealt with something that you have to face for the rest of your life. And like I said, the protocol wasn't followed and there is no backup sample to confirm what they say is a positive test."

The 33-year-old Texan is obviously not constrained in his comments now he's retired, explaining possibilities why he's been targeted by the French media ever since his first win in 1999, saying, "French cycling is in one of its biggest lulls it has been ever. I don't know, I think it's been 20 or 25 years since they won the Tour de France. And times are tough, you know, and as I was saying earlier to somebody, the day I retired, they wrote a front-page editorial on L'Equipe, and they said at the end of the article - or the end of the editorial - 'never has an athlete's retirement been so welcome.' So..."

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Landis OK after training crash

By Shane Stokes in Granada

Having led the race for quite a while last year and placing a strong 9th in this year's Tour de France, Floyd Landis goes into this year's Vuelta as one of the big contenders. The Phonak rider had a scare on Thursday when he hit the deck out training, losing control on a dusty corner. He was sporting a bandage on his left arm and grazes on his right yesterday evening in the team hotel in Granada, but said that he was otherwise fine.

"I went round a corner too fast on a downhill" he told Cyclingnews. "I made a mistake, nothing too serious. Just road rash, my hip is a little scratched, but nothing broken. I will be stiff tomorrow, though, I'm sure."

Landis was strong in the first half of last year's Tour of Spain but faded towards the end. This time round, he has chosen to take a complete break from racing after the Tour. He feels his form is where it needs to be.

"I think it is good, I did the same as last year in taking it easy after the Tour. I went back to California and rested. I did some small training. Normally after the Tour you have good form, if you're not too tired, so I think it should be all right. The team is good, the morale is good.

"Last year I was okay for the first two weeks, but it was a bit long. I don't know what to expect this year. I didn't race so much in the spring this year, so hopefully that will help."

Rather than designating a leader before the race starts, Phonak is adopting a 'wait and see' policy. "We have a couple of guys that are very good right now, " Landis says. "I think that Santos Gonzalez is good, Gutierrez is good and...Oscar [Pereiro], I don't know how motivated he is, but he looks fit. I don't think we are going to pick one person and say that we will work for them. There are other teams to control the race, just like the Tour. Discovery are here, and I think Roberto [Heras] wants to win, so I would expect that they will work. But the Vuelta is different, anyway, you have to be careful with the wind and so it is more a case that we have to stay together."

When asked if he had looked at key stages in the race, Landis said that he didn't know the full route. "I haven't done any reconnaissance like the Tour, but I looked at the maps...Anyway, it is a case that if you're strong enough in the mountains, you can win the Vuelta. If not, you get dropped! There are seven mountaintop finishes, or something like that. So your strength is the most important thing. As for the time trials, I think the prologue is a bit short. But the last two are better for me."

Paco Antequera prepares his team for the World's

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Granada

Paco Antequera
Photo ©: Hernan Alvarez
Click for larger image

Francisco Antequera is the Spanish national team coach. He is in Granada for the Vuelta a España paying a lot attention to the Spanish riders who will start racing tomorrow. The World Championships in Madrid are just one month away.

On Thursday, Antequera gave a list of 14 riders the would represent Spain in the road race and time trial: Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), Santos Gonzalez (Phonak), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears), Isidro Nozal (Liberty-Würth), Luis Leon Sanchez (Liberty-Würth), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), David Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana), Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Luis Perez (Cofidis), Benjamin Noval (Discovery Channel) and Xavier Florencio (Relax-Fuenlabrada).

Cyclingnews caught up with him in the press room and asked him about the team, which has suffered a few losses of late. "So far, we are fine," said Antequera. "We should consider that Oscar Freire won't be there; he was an important rider inside the outfit and gave prestige and greatness to the team. His absence should be substituted by another rider. We still have expectations and a good team though."

Unfortunately for the Spanish, Alejandro Valverde is not in good condition either, and it's unlikely that he will race in Madrid. "I talked to him yesterday," said Antequera. "Right now his presence is uncertain. At first, he will do the Tour of Poland, but I think that won't be enough to come to the World's in good condition. Last year he rested, he competed at the Vuelta a Burgos, he won it, but then in the Olympics he didn't have the competition tempo. So, I think Poland will be scarce for Valverde. So far, there are not great hopes."

Without Valverde and Freire, the question is who will be the strong man inside the team for the victory in a bunch sprint. "There are some riders like [Juan Antonio] Flecha, [Igor] Astarloa, [Miguel Angel Martin] Perdiguero, even [Angel] Vicioso. In case Valverde doesn't ride, his substitution would be Vicioso and the team boss would be Perdiguero. Perdiguero is the fastest rider from the squad."

LPR signs Dietziker

Swiss rider Andreas Dietziker is the latest acquisition for the LPR team. The 22 year-old who turned pro with Ed' System-Zvvz this year, has signed a two year deal with the Italian squad. Dietziker is an all-rounder with a good time trialing ability and a handy turn of speed from riding on the track. His best result this year was a third place in a stage and sixth overall in the Uniqa Classic.

"He's a young guy with big prospects," said LPR's PR man Massimiliano Bordogna. "Probably the most complete rider of all the Swiss riders in this current generation. In the under 23s he's done important things and in the next two years, we should see him mature. The results obtained in the last few seasons show that he is a rider with a very interesting potential. We are putting the greatest faith in Andreas Dietziker, now it just depends on him."

Baguet out of Plouay

Belgian champion Serge Baguet will not race in the GP Ouest France in Plouay after injuring himself at home a week ago. "The race comes a bit too early for my heavily stitched shin, a souvenir of a fall from a stair on Saturday," he told "On Tuesday, I'll start in the Schaal Sels in Merksem."

Quick.Step and Lampre to Plouay

The Quick Step-Innergetic team will contest the GP Ouest-France in Plouay this Sunday with the following riders: Davide Bramati, Cristian Moreni, Nick Nuyens, Luca Paolini, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Bram Tankink, Davide Viganò. Directeur sportif: Rik Van Slycke.

The Lampre-Caffita team will ride in Plouay with Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Gianluca Bortolami, Paolo Fornaciari, Enrico Franzoi, Oleksandr Kvachuk, Evgeni Petrov, and Daniele Righi.

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