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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 28, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Hamilton's lawyer hits out at UCI

Tyler Hamilton's lawyer, Howard Jacobs has criticised the International Cycling Union (UCI) for discussing details of the Hamilton case with Cyclingnews [see feature 'Wire in the blood': Part I, Part II] even though both sides had agreed not to talk to the press before the Court of Arbitration for Sport reaches its final decision.

"We are disappointed that the UCI has violated this agreement by providing case specifics to," Jacobs said in an e-mail. Moreover, the Los Angeles based attorney stated that, by doing so, the UCI was trying to manipulate public opinion. "We are even more disappointed in the numerous inaccuracies cited by the UCI, in what appears to be a transparent attempt to mislead the public and garner support for a flawed test.

"The true facts will come out at the appropriate time," Jacobs continued. "For now, Tyler Hamilton will not respond to the UCI's deliberate attempt to harm him and his case. He will instead wait until the agreed upon time period to share the full context and numerous issues raised regarding this test and the charges against him."

McEwen takes to the track

By Anthony Tan

Mark Renshaw leads Robbie McEwen at the Sydney Thousand track meet
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

On a rainy Sunday afternoon out at Dunc Gray Velodrome, newly crowned Australian cyclist of the year Robbie McEwen found himself in a hostile environment, racing against some of the top track riders in the world at the Sydney Thousand track carnival.

Jumping off a plane from the Gold Coast a few hours before he was due to race, the 33 year-old struggled in his first event - a 30-lap motor pace - where a breakdown in communication saw him lose the wheel of his derny rider Tom Skulander. "In the motorpace, the communication wasn't quite there; it wasn't according to the plan that we talked about before the race," McEwen admitted to Cyclingnews.

"The plan was just stay with him [his derny rider] and go towards the front with around 10 to go. We nearly lost half a lap straight off the start, so I had to cross that gap and that hurt already. And then I got caught high up on the track and was there for 10 or 12 laps; I said 'wooh', he let go, and he left me... " One rider far more comfortable on the boards of Dunc Gray, Mark Renshaw (soon to move from his current Francaise des Jeux team to Credit Agricole in 2006), found himself in the box seat, outriding Cofidis neo-pro Chris Sutton and Chris Young to claim victory.

In the final event of the afternoon, a 30-lap scratch race, the two-time Tour de France green jersey champion looked far more comfortable. When McEwen's turn at the front came, the 2,000-strong crowd of knowledgeable onlookers cheered on the most recent winner of 'the Oppy'.

"The scratch race was good; I had a couple of hard moments, but it was actually nice to see a few track riders pulling out of the line and pulling out of the race," he said. "I actually - for a brief moment - thought about making an attack before they started going quick again. I was thinking: 'Maybe I should go now... '"

However, before McEwen committed himself, the 20-odd riders remaining upped the pace significantly. At that point, the Queenslander was at the back of a strung-out line of riders, and when a rider in the middle sat up, it was game over for Robbie. In the end, Korean national team member Sun Jae Jang showed a great turn of speed to win the race comfortably over 16 year-old Sydney Thousand winner Leigh Howard and Peter Fitzpatrick.

"It was good fun, I had a really good time. I felt fine in the scratch race; I reckon if I'm fit and I race on the track again, I'd go alright," said McEwen, summing his second brief stay in Sydney within the space of a week." Less than two hours before was due to catch a 9pm flight back home, an ASDA official lurking in the background asked him to provide a urine sample - the drug testers never too far away.

For complete coverage of the Sydney Thousand, click here.

Heras in denial

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) celebrating his fourth Vuelta win on September 18 - this victory will now belong to Denis Menchov
Photo ©: Unipublic
Click for larger image

Although it has been scientifically proven that Spanish pro cyclist Roberto Heras used recombinant EPO (rEPO) to achieve his fourth Vuelta a España victory - which will now be awarded to Rabobank rider Denis Menchov - the 31 year-old continues to deny that he has taken the banned substance and is determined to clear his name. "Right now, I don't think of retirement at all, rather about fighting until the very end to show my innocence," Heras told Spanish media over the week-end following the analysis of his B sample. "To me, my personal and professional credibility is more important than to win the Vuelta a España," he added.

To achieve this, Heras appointed his attorney José María Buxeda to recur to all pertinent legal instances. "If the Spanish Cycling Federation sanctions us (sic), we'll appeal," Buxeda said. "Then we'll continue with the instances in sports, the Spanish ones as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If needed, we will recur to a civil court, too."

Buxeda doubts the validity of the test approved by the international institutions UCI, IOC and WADA. Another argument of the lawyer will be an error of form in the testing procedure. "We want to know what happened during the transport of the vials to the laboratory," Buxeda said in Sunday's L'Equipe. "As I understand, the driver of the transporter delivered them only on Monday, as the day before was a Sunday. What happened with the samples between Saturdays, the day of the time trial, and Monday morning?"

Heras, former team mate of Lance Armstrong at US Postal, has now officially been sacked from his Liberty Seguros team. In a statement, the squad announced the cessation of the rider's contract. Team director Manolo Saiz said that he was "deeply saddened" upon hearing the news of the positive counter-analysis, but that he hoped that Heras could "prove his innocence in the near future. He can always count on my support."

Meanwhile, many Spanish cycling personalities have expressed their outrage over the doping case, which overshadows one of the nation's greatest teams, Liberty Seguros, whose fate has yet to be determined by its American sponsor. Ignacio Ayuso, head of the Vuelta a España, shared some of his thoughts with "If Heras says he's innocent, that he didn't take anything, he should accuse Liberty. If he's not the one responsible for this, he shouldn't let them sack him like this. On the other hand, if Liberty is certain that it wasn't the team doctors who administered the cyclist something prohibited, the team should sue Heras for the damages he caused the sponsor, who puts in a lot of money. This works in all businesses. Why not in cycling?," Ayuso asked.

Giro insists on half stages

Despite the rejection of the Professional riders association CPA and its representatives in the ProTour council, Jens Voigt (also see: interview with Jens Voigt), Giro d'Italia organiser RCS is determined to go ahead with the planned half stages on the final day of the three weeks Grand Tour in 2006.

At the general meeting of the race organiser's association (AIOCC) on Friday, RCS director Angelo Zomegnan said that he maintained his will to carry out the proposed 11 km-time trial up the Ghisallo mountain, before finishing the stage race in Milano on May 28, 2006. "According to UCI rules, half stages are permitted. It's only within the framework of the ProTour that they forbid it - but RCS doesn't have a ProTour licence," Zomegnan said. Along with its French and Spanish counterparts ASO and Unipublic, RCS still refuses to enter the UCI's top circuit for European road racing.

Meanwhile, the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, which is part of the ProTour and traditionally features two half stages on its final day, will have to review its schedule for next season.

Swedish Cyclist of the Year awards

At the Swedish Cycling Gala, the awards for best female and male rider of the year 2005 were given to Susanne Ljungskog (Team Buitenpoort/Flexpoint) and Tomas Lövkvist (Francaise des Jeux) respectively. Ljungskog, World Champion on 2002 and 2003, took the Swedish Championships again this year, while 21 year-old Lövkvist is the Northern nation's greatest cycling talent.

'Day in Yellow' a success

Canadian Team Giga-Bike’s fundraising event 'A Day in Yellow' with David Zabriskie (Team CSC) raised $8,365 to help purchase team equipment for the 2006 race season. The event on Saturday, November 19, involved a leisurely 50 km ride with Yellow jersey wearer David Zabriskie through and around Victoria, Vancouver island, B.C., as well as dinner and a movie for the 30 participating persons.

'A Day in Yellow' sold out within weeks, contributing to the financing of the Victorian based development squad. During the event, which also included local professional cyclist Erinne Willock of Team Webcor and Olympic Gold Medal winning triathlete Simon Whitfield, Zabriskie presented a check for $1000 towards the Canadian Cancer Research foundation.

For more information on Team Giga-Bike, go to


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