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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 29, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Les Clarke

Landis Lovin' Life: Floyd looks to improve in 2006 Tour

By Tim Maloney - European Editor in Paris

Phonak's main men for 2006
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
Click for larger image

Cyclingnews caught up with Phonak's Floyd Landis in Paris, and it was the first and probably last time we'll see Floyd in a suit and tie until next year's Tour presentation. After seeing the parcours for the 93rd Tour De France, the smartly-clad Phonak rider told us that "Yes, I like this Tour course and it's a good one for me. I think it's too bad about the team time trial, because that's normally good for me, too; although the Tour is never easy and it's always going to be hard. I like the course better than the 2005 edition."

Landis has been a very busy man since we last saw him at the Interbike show in Las Vegas, almost a month ago. "I've started to ride my bike a bit...every year it gets harder to get started again if you stop for too long. I took six weeks off and that was enough for me. Last week I was in Malaga, Spain for a few days with Phonak for some team meetings, then I flew back home to California for one night, then went to Park City, Utah for Dave Zabriskie's wedding on Saturday. Then I went home to California for a couple of days and headed to Paris for the Tour presentation. Once I get back home, I'm not even going to answer the phone in case someone wants me to go somewhere."

Landis will start his 2006 training programme on November 1, saying "I need to get some structure now; last year, I started my training late, just because there was a lot of chaos on the team, and for next season, I would rather be in shape in February and March like previous years, so I'm motivated to start going now." Landis was positive about Phonak for 2006, telling us that "things are good; there have been some changes in the team staff and riders that will make things more focused. And the other thing that happened is that it was found that [Fabrizio] Guidi was not positive for EPO.

Finally, there was some positive reinforcement for Phonak team boss Andy Rihs. "It was just one thing after another and at least this good news got the teams morale back to where it should be. It's as good as it's ever been since I've been here." Landis confirmed reports that he had been approached by Discovery Channel to come back to his former team, but told Cyclingnews that he'd decided to finish his contract with Phonak at the end of 2006. "What I am happy about is that my relationship with Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel is back to where it was. There were some misunderstandings and some things just got exaggerated, but I'm glad to say I have a good relationship with Discovery Channel again."

And besides his BMC bikes, a recent edition to the two wheel stable of Landis has a proud place of honour in his Southern California garage. "My wife Amber bought me a Harley-Davidson Sportster for my 30th birthday (October 14th) so I'm looking forward to riding it too."

Phonak intends to be right up there

Team Phonak intends to be among the front-runners in next year's Tour de France, after the parcours was presented on Thursday in Paris. "We're going to the Tour with the intention of being right up there at the top," said boss Andy Rihs, who added that he was happy with the relatively straightforward first week. "That offers the riders the chance to start out the Tour on a quiet note," said Rihs. But team manager John Lelangue warned against taking the first week too lightly. "The stages have rolling terrain, which suits us well. The first days, however, are always a bit tense. We have to be careful that we go into the first time trial in the best shape."

Lelangue expects Floyd Landis to play a major role, especially in the difficult second half. "During a big tour, Landis will get better with each day," said Lelangue.

At last week's training camp, the Phonak team organised its training program with a view to the 2006 Tour de France. Last year, Lelangue did not take over the reins of the team until January. "Now everything is running smoothly and there's no reason for me to have any doubts as far as the future of the team goes," finished Lelangue.

Mirabella losing Athens bronze

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Maria Luisa Calle
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

U.S. Olympic track cyclist Erin Mirabella's Athens bronze medal, which she won in the scratch race after Colombian Maria Luisa Calle tested positive for a banned substance, will be taken away from Mirabella and returned to Calle after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) determined Calle did not take the banned substance. Calle was disqualified from the scratch race by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after Heptaminol was found in her system.

The IOC Executive Board decided last Thursday to re-award the bronze medal to Calle and has instructed the U.S. Olympic Committee to have the medal returned. Unfortunately, communication during this process has been lacking between the CAS, IOC and the national federations. Mirabella did not even know about the appeal until she read about in a news report last week. "It's been an emotional roller coaster - just the shock of it all," Mirabella told Cyclingnews. "This whole thing has been so confusing and so much to absorb. I need some time to look over the decision."

However, Mirabella is not going to delay in complying with the decision. "In the end I just want what is right to happen. I know Maria has been through a lot, and the last week I have been dealing with a lot, but this is the right decision. I am putting [the medal] in the mail to the U.S. Olympic Committee today."

Calle's defense said she had been prescribed Neo-Saldina by a doctor with the Colombian National Olympic Committee delegation for a migraine headache. During the CAS hearings, it was determined that the presence of Heptaminol in the Calle's sample was the result of the Neo-Saldina containing the substance Isometheptene, which transforms into Heptaminol during laboratory analyses. Since Isometheptene was not on the banned list during the 2004 Olympics nor was it determined to be similar to a banned substance, according to the World Anti-doping Agency's three criteria mentioned in article 4.3 of the World Antidoping Code (potential performance enhancement; health risk; violation of the spirit of sport.)

Mirabella was in her final preparations for the first world cup race of the season in Moscow when she learned of the news. "This week has been very distracting for me," she said. "I have trouble focusing during my workouts - some of which comes from the fourteen phone calls I get during my workouts! " But the 27 year old is not going to let this affect her performances in the future. "I don't think it will be a problem for future races. Each race is an opportunity to win a medal."

When asked wether this development will change her view on her 2004 Olympic experience, as well as future Olympic aspirations, Mirabella replied, "Before I was awarded the bronze I was still proud of my fourth place performance. I'm just taking it a season at a time, but the Olympics are only a couple of years away."

Regardless, one of Mirabella's hopes is that the powers-that-be will use this as an example of how not to handle similar situations in the future. "I hope that in the future there is better communication to the athletes and the federation. It has made it so difficult. And the timeliness - having to wait fourteen months. And having false statements made over the past week about my status has really been hard."

Mirabella continues to look on the bright side of life, even with this less-than-ideal turn of events. "It's ironic that the day I am returning my medal is also the day I'm signing a contract for my children's book I am publishing. Just shows how when one door closes another one can open!"

Resistance to out of competition testing for English Soccer

By Shane Stokes

WADA chief Dick Pound has become known for his highly vocal stance when it comes to the subject of doping in sport. Following criticisms of cycling, which were published in recent days in the Guardian newspaper, the Canadian now looks set for a run-in with some of those involved in English soccer.

Professional Footballer's Association chief executive Gordon Taylor voiced his strong opposition to out of competition testing this week, saying that the PFA would fight plans to collect samples away from the training ground.

Under the plans, football would follow the same rules currently governing Olympic sports; namely, that players would be liable to be tested at little notice at home and in other locations. Cyclists are amongst those who are already required to undergo such testing, but Taylor is having none of the new plans, stating that the PFA would do what it could to stop them being implemented.

"This testing is not acceptable. It is a total invasion of their privacy," Taylor was quoted in the British media this week. "The players will fight this collectively and this could be a test of strength. Players feel that they have little privacy as it is and this would make them feel as if they had none at all. This could be an issue of human rights. It's too early to talk of a strike but we will take a tough stance."

Resistance to the notion of full testing was encountered two years ago when Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand was called to provide an out-of-competition sample at the team's training ground. Ferdinand missed the test, later saying that he forgot about the sample and went shopping instead. Somewhat predictably, this met with sharp criticism and a ban from competition, although his eight months suspension with pay was not a particularly tough rap on the knuckles.

Concerns that football does not take testing seriously enough will have been compounded by Taylor's stance and his talk of human rights issues, especially after other sports have long accepted the requirement to provide out-of-competition samples. For his part, Pound reiterated the need for soccer to comply. "By testing players only at training it gives them the chance to get away with drug use," he said.

WADA supports stronger doping controls in 2006 Tour

Although it may be at odds with football, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) welcomed the call of the Tour de France organizers for stronger anti-doping efforts during the 2006 Tour.

"We are encouraged by efforts of the Tour de France organizers to establish an enhanced testing program for cycling's marquee event," said WADA Chairman Dick Pound. "We welcome this opportunity to work with the Tour and UCI to strengthen the testing program to ensure that cheaters are caught and the integrity of both the Tour de France and the sport of cycling is protected."

Petacchi: I can win more than just Grand Tour stages

Sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, riding in the coming year for the new Team Milram, wants to prove he can win more than just stages in the Grand Tours. He not only plans repeat his victory in Milan-San Remo, but is also looking at the Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem, the HEW Cyclassics and Paris Roubaix He says he expects to be helped by his new teammate Erik Zabel and friend and former teammate Michele Bartoli, with whom he will train over the winter.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Wiesenhof-AKUD signs three veterans

The German team Wiesenhof-Akud, which will be a Professional Continental Team next year, has signed three veterans, Torsten Schmidt, Gerhard Trampusch and Tomas Konecny. Schmidt recently announced that he was leaving Team Gerolsteiner after 6 years.

"He is a valuable addition for us," said Sport Director Jens Heppner. "A man who in his younger years finished the Giro and Tour in the same year, has potential. He will have the chance to ride for himself with us. That will give him an extra motivation."

The Austrian climber Trampusch has extended his contract for an additional year. "I felt well here last year and the fact that we are moving into the next higher league is an additional motivation for me," he said.

Konecny was last with Team T-Mobile. He missed most of the 2005 season while recovering from a severely broken leg suffered last off-season in an ice hockey game.

Team Wiesenhof-Akud 2006: Gerald Ciolek, Artur Gajek, Tim Klinger, Tomas Konecny, Christian Leben, Felix Odebrecht, Steffen Radochla, Robert Retschke, Torsten Schmidt, Marcel Sieberg, Corey Sweet, Lubor Tesar, Gerhard Trampusch, Lars Wackernagel, Carlo Westphal

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

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