First Edition Cycling News for November 9, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke
Heras blames "Lab error" for test result
Roberto Heras has proclaimed his innocence of drug use after being suspended by his team following an A-sample test at the Vuelta a Espana that was non-negative for EPO.
"I was very surprised," Heras told the newspaper El Pais. "I am convinced it is a mistake because I have never taken anything."
The mistake, Heras believes, is some sort of error at the testing lab. "They told me the news at the end of October. The only thing I can think of is that it is a laboratory error," Heras, told radio station Onda Cero on Tuesday.
"My lawyers and the team are working on the case as we speak and there will be a 'B' test on November 21. I don't want to start speculating about whether the samples could have been mixed up, but when they open the samples for the second test we want to be there," he said.
If Heras B-sample confirms a positive finding he faces a two-year suspension from cycling and a four-year ban on riding for any ProTour team. He would also be stripped of his victory in the 2005 Vuelta a Espana, an event that Vuelta director Victor Cordero told the Reuters news service "would be a disaster for cycling in general and, within that context, for the Tour of Spain."
"On a purely personal level, I am hoping that the second test will be negative," Cordero said. "But if we have to take action, and Heras loses his title, we will take it, even if I am surprised that it has taken such a long time for the test result to come out."
If Heras' B-sample is also positive for EPO, runner-up Denis Menchov would be awarded the victory, but that's not a prospect that has Menchov's Rabobank team celebrating, even though it would be the team's first victory in a grand tour.
"We won't really have anything meaningful," said Rabobank team manager Theo de Rooij. "If Heras is found positive, Denis gets the victory for the history books. It changes figures and tables but it really doesn't mean anything else."
"We will just have a sour taste that Denis would have wanted to win the Vuelta under normal circumstances. But we can talk about that if Heras is found positive by the B sample test. It will look very bad for cycling for such a rider to test positive."
T-Mobile confirms new look team for 2006
In the wake of yesterday's announcement that Judith Arndt would ride for T-Mobile in 2006, the company has confirmed details of its new-look women's team for 2006.
T-Mobile US has sponsored a women's team since 2002, but the new outfit will be based in Bonn, Germany - home of the T-Mobile men's team - and is seen by T-Mobile as a complement to the men's team. The women's team sponsorship will run until 2008.
Andrzej Bek, currently directeur sportif of the US-based T-Mobile team, will continue in that role and plans to take the team above and beyond its recent US arena. "Our goal is to nail down a top position in the UCI-World ranking list", said Bek. "For that, we will target both one day classics and international stage races."
Bek added that he was looking forward to "sending rosters of world class riders into action at major races."
The team will be formally launched in Mallorca on January 14. Cyclingnews understands that as well as Judith Arndt, the team will include current T-Mobile riders Kimberly Bruckner and Ina Teutenberg. Team sources would neither confirm nor deny the rumoured involvement of top British rider Nicole Cooke, for whom this deal would carry her to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Wellington World Cup round announced
Organisers of the New Zealand leg of the women's World Cup have announced details of next year's event in Wellington. The second of eight legs in the women's World Cup, the Wellington race will be held on March 5, 2006. It will again be preceded by the Trust House Women's Tour of New Zealand - a three-day tour around the Wellington region, and follows the first World Cup round a week earlier in Geelong, Australia.
The race will comprise 20 laps of a 6.5 kilometre course around Wellington's central city, starting and finishing in the grounds of Parliament. Race director Jorge Sandoval says the March 5 date is a coup for the Wellington event, as it is two weeks before the women's road race at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He says countries will be looking for competition to fine tune their teams, and it's likely next year's field will have even more of an international flavour than the inaugural event earlier this year.
"When we first started working on the 2005 race we thought we would have around six to eight countries involved. So when we managed to get 18, including both the Olympic and world champions, we thought we were doing pretty well," he said. "But this time we could have as many as 24 countries because the race is so close to the Commonwealth Games. It's perfect timing for us. The 2006 race will be even bigger and better."
The main change to next year's event will be a later start time, with the start moving from 10am to 12:30pm. Sandoval believes that will encourage more spectators to come and watch, and says the race is a great opportunity for both New Zealand cycling and the New Zealand public. "I don't think New Zealanders realise yet just how big this event is. These top cyclists can ride in front of crowds of 100,000 people in Europe. This year's Wellington race was shown on TV in 35 countries. It is a very big event," he said.
Sandoval praised the continued support and financial contribution of Trust House and the Wellington, Hutt City and Masterton local authorities, saying that without it the race wouldn't be possible.
Cooke and Pendleton to ride Revolution 10
After the resounding success of the women's sprint omnium at Revolution 9, the organisers of the event have confirmed that for the first time at a Revolution event there will be women's endurance omnium at Revolution 10, with British stars Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendleton scheduled to ride in Manchester on November 19.
Pendleton fought hard for her victory over Anna Blyth, Willy Kanis and Yvonne Hijgenaar at Revolution 9, and will be testing her endurance skills at this event by joining a field of 20 riders, including powerhouse rider Cooke and young international hopefuls from the UCI school in Switzerland. With a strong field the racing will be intense, and British endurance star Rachel Heal is already looking forward to the challenge.
"We get so few opportunities to ride in front of big crowds, or indeed to compete, that we are all going to be full gas from the outset," said Heal. "We have three weeks to get ready for the World Cup where we will be taking on some of the world's best riders and Revolution is the perfect opportunity to really get our competition head on. I am out to win I can tell you that much."
Tickets and additional information are available from www.cyclingrevolution.com. Tickets will also be available on the door on the night.
Cooke vs McEwen at 2006 Jayco Bay Series
Australian crit champion to be decided in Geelong
The seaside towns around Melbourne, Australia will play host to the 2006 edition of what's becoming an annual sprinters' show-down when the five-day Jayco Bay Classic criterium series starts in Williamstown on Wednesday January 4.
Presented by Australia's leading caravan manufacturer, Jayco, the series will see Robbie McEwen trying to do a Lance Armstrong and take out win number seven, while Baden Cooke plans to throw a spanner in the works and repeat his 2004 win. Cooke will be assisted by friend and FdJ team-mate Brad McGee who this year become the first Australian to wear all three Grand Tour leader's jerseys. McGee showed his class in winning a tough stage in Portarlington in 2004.
Kiwi Greg Henderson will be back and looking to improve on his sprint series and stage win of a couple of years back. With other serious contenders in Mark Renshaw, Simon Gerrans, Henk Vogels, Brett Lancaster and Hilton Clarke, the Jayco Bay Classic looks set to live up to its reputation as the fastest criterium series in the world.
The women's event has evolved into a brilliant series over the past decade, and will again be a teams event. The international women's series will feature dual World Cup champion Oenone Wood, Olympic road race gold medallist Sara Carrigan and Olympic pursuit silver medallist and world champion Katie Mactier.
Wood, the defending champion, had a great year and she will start favourite. But she will have plenty of stiff opposition. Other riders to put up their hands to challenge are Germany's Ina Teutenberg, Rochelle Gilmore, 2003 winner Kate Bates, Belinda Goss and 2004 runner up Hayley Brown (nee Rutherford). One of the highlights of the series will be the expected return to racing of Kate Nichols and Alexis Rhodes after the crash in Germany earlier this year that killed their AIS team-mate Amy Gillett.
Australian crit championship
The Friday evening event on Geelong's magnificent waterfront will also be the Australian Criterium Championship for men and women. The men's support event has become a fantastic race over recent years with the young stars of the future rivalling the speeds of the international race. Many say it is harder to win the support race in the Bay Series than most A Grade events around the country.
On Saturday January 7, the 2006 Jayco Bay Classic will host the inaugural Amy's Ride, a memorial event in Geelong to raise funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation. The ride provides a unique opportunity for thousands of cycling fans to ride with the stars of the Jayco Bay Classic.
The ride starts at 9.30am. All sponsorship dollars raised and $10 from each entry will go towards the Amy Gillett Foundation. For more information go to www.amysride.com.au
There is also a grand Gala Dinner at the Melbourne Sofitel on Jan 8. This wonderful night is also the Victorian Cycling Hall of fame awards night and is hosted by Phil Liggett and Rob Gaylard. It gives another special opportunity to mingle with the elite of the cycling world.
Jayco Bay Classic 2006
Race 1 - Wednesday, January 4: Williamstown
For more information see www.jaycobayclassic.com.au
More international riders for Tasmanian carnivals
Four members of the Scottish endurance track cycling team have signed on for the Tasmanian Christmas carnivals, and will arrive in time for the Rosebery Carnival on December 17. They'll stay and compete in Tasmania until the Hobart Carnival on January 8.
Evan Oliphant, who rides for the Recycling.co.uk road team and recently won the criterium stage of the Sun Tour in Victoria will be making the trip, along with James McCallum, Scottish pursuit and scratch race champion, Kate Cullen, silver medallist in the British points championship and Katrina Hair, British scratch race champion. All riders are expected to represent Scotland at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
The Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania (SCAT) has also signed Isle of Man cyclist Mark Kelly. Kelly has won 21 medals in British championships and will represent the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games. In 2005 Kelly won the British national 15km scratch event.
The Association is also negotiating with some English riders hopeful of riding at the Commonwealth Games who are expected to race at the Carnivals, which are starting to look like a 'mini Commonwealth Games' with Canadian, Scottish, New Zealand and Isle of Man cyclists having now agreed to ride.
For more information see: www.tascarnivals.com
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