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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 1, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

Former Olympic head spears Armstrong

Alessandro Donati, former head of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) medical commission and an outspoken critic of Dr Michele Ferrari, has told German weekly Die Zeit that he believed Lance Armstrong used not just EPO as alleged by L'Equipe one week ago, but a range of substances.

"No one could achieve what Armstrong has achieved taking EPO on its own," said Donati. "EPO improves your breathing capacity. But you also need other substances, such as anabolics, testosterone and a lot of others."

He added: "A lot of riders take whatever they can get their hands on, I mean everything, to go faster than the next guy. Cycling is still a victim of widespread doping. It is caught in the jaws of doping because tactics in cycling plays a very minor role. What you need absolutely most of all is sheer physical strength."

Donati also gave a serving to L'Equipe and his own Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, stating: "newspapers who report on cycling shouldn't be organising races"; L'Equipe is owned by Tour de France organiser A.S.O., while the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta is owned by R.C.S., organisers of the Giro d'Italia.

Although raising conflict of interest issues when both organiser and primary media outlet are under one roof, Donati believed L'Equipe's findings to be sound to the point of being 'unquestionable'.

"During the past few years there have been clear indications as to how Armstrong has been so successful. The documents printed by L'Equipe are very damaging but also unquestionable," he said.

Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.

Trent Lowe interview: The Lowe down

Who's a lucky boy then?
Photo ©: Bill Parsons
Click for larger image

After a season of highs and lows, young Australian mountain biker Trent Lowe will be riding the road in the colours of Discovery Channel for 2006. It's a huge opportunity for Lowe, who has been riding the NORBA series for Subaru-Gary Fisher in 2005, and he knows it. Cyclingnews' Les Clarke checked in with Lowe as he prepared for the MTB World Championships in Livigno, Italy to discuss this big development.

After a strong showing at the Tour de Georgia and Redlands Bicycle Classic, Lowe was signed to the Discovery Channel team just last week, adding to the growing list of Australian riders plying their trade with Pro Tour teams. A two-year deal to ride on the team of now-retired Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, rising stars Yaroslav Popovych and Tom Danielson and two-time Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli was an opportunity the 21-year-old Victorian "just couldn't resist."

Riding for the Jittery Joe's squad at Georgia and Redlands, Lowe took the best young rider jersey in the Georgia race, and shortly after this the good folk at Discovery Channel came a knockin'. "They started talking to me after Georgia, and then a bit more after the Tour de France. It all happened pretty quickly. I mean, a year ago, I had no idea this could've happened - it's such a great opportunity," said Lowe.

And like another ex-mountain biker Ryder Hesjedal before him, Lowe is already in the 'family' so to speak, riding for the Subaru-Gary Fisher MTB squad - Discovery Channel and the Subaru team are partners, sharing commercial links through the Trek corporation. Lowe believes this has, and will, make the transition easier, saying, "I'm not holding back with this, and neither are they. The team I ride for [Subaru-Gray Fisher] is linked to Discovery Channel; what has happened with me is similar to what happened with Ryder last year. It's pretty exciting."

It seems, therefore, that the road is now where it's at for Lowe, and he confirmed this. "I'm now one hundred per cent focused on the road. I mean, I'll still get off road for some training and a few races here and there, but for me it's the road now." And he follows good company, with dual MTB World Champion Cadel Evans riding for Mapei and T-Mobile after his switch from off road racing. He's now settled well and winning on the road with Davitamon-Lotto. When asked about comparisons between himself and Evans, Lowe is enthusiastic, saying, "I'd definitely like to aim for it. Road racing is so big, you've got to aim high. It's like the Formula 1 of cycling. I'm really happy I'm able to make the move early in my career, because you never know when you're going to get the chance. I'm definitely excited to be handed such a big opportunity so early."

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Hammond weighs in on L'Equipe

When Discovery Channel's sole British rider Roger Hammond was asked what he thought on the L'Equipe allegations concerning his former team-mate Lance Armstrong, the French sports daily claiming evidence of EPO use dating back to the 1999 Tour, the 31 year-old was quick to defend the seven-time winner of La Grande Boucle.

"I find it very sad that there is still a witch hunt going on and the reputation of the sport is still being dragged through the mud," said Hammond to UK newspaper The Herald. "There is no more tested cyclist than Lance Armstrong and the new allegations seem far from proven."

Hammond only had praise for the team he's been with since the start of the year, saying, "It's like joining a team with David Beckham on it and I'd previously only ridden in small teams when I'd been one of the star riders. There are more support staff than riders and you want for nothing - the best coaching, equipment and support. Everything is geared towards getting to the start-line in the best possible condition."

Heras' predictions on Valdelinares

On Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España, Liberty Seguros' Roberto Heras was one rider who placed himself in a good position before the final climb of the Alto del Castillo, and in the end, placement proved decisive, with just 35 riders finishing in the first group that was led home by Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole).

"I had good sensations [on the climb], but the good placement did a lot," said Heras. In the sprint, I had to be there [at the front] because the road went slightly up. In the battle for the general, I have [Carlos] Sastre and [Francisco] Mancebo ride well. Aitor Gonzalez has lost time, but not too much; he fell because there were a lot of nerves. [José] Azevedo also lost time, but he has enough quality to make war when we know what condition he comes in to the Vuelta."

While the triple Vuelta champion said he felt good on the climb, it was more a confidence boost than anything else, acknowledging today's [Stage 6] mountain-top finish to the ski station of Aramon Valdelinares will be a different kettle of fish. Having said that, however, Heras doesn't expect any significant differences: "Valdelinares is a nine kilometre climb with hard ramps, but also has some places to recover. I believe that there will no be big differences, though after 220 kilometres, [the GC riders] will show themselves," he said.

"It will be a finish with a lot of different interests. There are people who want to take the leadership, like Saunier and Joaquín Rodríguez, but without thinking so much about the general, and others that will look only for the stage victory. The Vuelta is still in its infancy and riders still have strength. In the first days we have not ridden very fast, although it has been hot. The most dangerous in Valdelinares will be [Denis] Menchov, who has been very consistent in the first week of a big tour, and Carlos Sastre, who is also good in the first 10 days. Mancebo, certainly, the same for [Leonardo] Piepoli, Joaquín Rodríguez and [Gilberto] Simoni, plus the unknown quantity of Aitor Gonzalez."

Cyclingnews' live coverage of Stage 6 will begin at approximately 14:30 CEST today.

Nuyens rates Blaudzun as biggest threat

Although Tour of Britain leader Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step-Innergetic) lost his jersey for less than an hour after the finish of Stage 2 yesterday, successfully appealing his crash that occurred inside the final three kilometres, the 25 year-old Belgian still rates his closest adversary on the overall classification as his biggest threat to claiming overall honours.

"I think [Michael] Blaudzun will be my biggest rival for the overall," Nuyens said of the crafty rider from Team CSC. "He was very strong today, and although the time trial is just four kilometres long, I think he will be good there."

Today's stage [Stage 3] is a carbon copy of last year's stage to Sheffield won by Colombian Mauricio Ardila, who went on to win the race. It's certainly the hardest of this year's Tour of Britain, with four tough climbs lying between the start in Leeds and the finish in the hometown of Malcolm Elliot, former points winner in the Tour of Spain.

Diary watch: An old hand in Britain

T-Mobile's Tobias Steinhauser, 32, recently announced that this would be his last year as a pro rider, and actually had planned the Deutschland Tour as his last race. But, as so often happens, things didn't work out that way, and Tobias finds himself riding the Tour of Britain, where the going is wild and woolly.

"In the peloton, everyone is riding as if it was the world championships, and the worst in the troupe is the Japanese. They have no form, fall back on the slightest incline, but seem to all be trained "kamikaze" pilots and they ride like that - my goodness!" wrote Steinhauser.

"I asked one of them at the beginning of the race, why they ride the way they do. His answer was just, "F**k you!" I didn't say anything more, but a couple of kilometres later, he lay on the street. He f**ked himself! Not that you all think I had anything to do with it. I'm innocent, he ran into a motorcycle."

In the land of Harry Potter, Steinhauser seems to have caught a little of the wizard's magic, since those who cross him seem to crash. "Before my flat tire, a rider from Landbouwkrediet cut me off. I asked him if he was crazy, but nevertheless gave him the right of way. However, when I finally came around the last corner after having my tyre changed, he was sitting on the road in the last curve before the finish line! Do I have a bad "aura" today?" he asks. (

Australian club nationals roll into action

By John-Michael Flynn at Peregian Springs - Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Lorian Graham back to where it all started for her in 2002
Photo ©: John Flynn/CN
Click for larger image

Returning to the happy hunting ground which brought a breakthrough victory in the sport she so dearly cherishes, injured A.I.S. cyclist Lorian Graham today spirited in the start of competition at Australia's National Club Road Cycling Championships on the Sunshine Coast.

Still nursing a shattered kneecap from the horror crash which claimed the life of her 'cycling sister' Amy Gillett and seriously injured four other team-mates, Graham urged Australia's next generation of women's cyclists to aim up, with nine days of racing about to get underway.

It was on the Sunshine Coast in 2002 where Rockhampton born Graham was first noticed by scouts from Australia's elite national program, upon winning a gold medal in the criterium event.

"It was fantastic to receive a first gold medal for any athlete that's an amazing achievement," Graham recalled of her experience. "But its also you know, it pushes you onto the next goal, with results, that's what's kept me going."

The message couldn't come louder or stronger for the hundreds of competitors, both junior and senior, women and men, who will take to the streets of Queensland's Sunshine Coast chasing individual and Club glory in road races, time trials and criterium events.

Success here, according to Graham, will go a long way to securing a future in the sport and the advice from Australia's Open Female Road Champion is straight to the point.

"You go in there in contention to actually win the race. It's a learning race and in that way it's a learning race for the bigger races you have to experience overseas," Graham said. (An interview with Lorian Graham will follow.)

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Largest field ever for Green Mountain

With Labor Day soon approaching, the Green Mountain State of Vermont is set to host the 5th Annual Green Mountain Stage Race this weekend. This year, nearly 900 competitive cyclists from all over the United States and Canada will come to Vermont for this four day event to tackle the difficult climbs of the Green Mountains and the fast, technical streets of Burlington.

The event will offer races in 10 different divisions, including professional men and women, amateur men and women, masters and juniors categories. It is one of the largest pro/am cycling events in the country, and attracts riders for the challenges and scenic beauty of its courses. The pro/am men's field will see more of a regional flair this year, as a conflict with the popular San Francisco Grand Prix will cause 8 of the top 10 riders from last year to miss this year's event, including two-time defending champion Mark McCormack. But many teams from around the country and Canada are seeing this as an opportunity to make their mark on a national level, and the field is at its largest this year at 130 riders.

The pro/am women's field is almost 70 strong this year, and will be also be wide open as last year's winner Amy Moore is not returning to defend her championship. This year's field is very deep and unlike the men, features 7 of the top 10 from last year's race and the two-time defending category 4 women's winner Joelle Numainville (Espoirs Laval).

The Green Mountain Stage Race begins on tomorrow (Friday) afternoon with an 8-mile hill climb up the eastern side of the Appalachian Gap. Racing begins at 2:30pm.

More information:

150-plus expected for Grafton to Inverell

With entries for this year's Eastmon Digital Photo Stores Grafton to Inverell closing this Sunday, early entries indicate another big field will contest the race. Organisers are confident the final entries for the September 17 classic in northern New South Wales will top 150. Early entries include riders from Tasmania, Victoria, ACT, Queensland and NSW.

Third placegetter in last year's A Grade race, Richard Vollebregt, has confirmed he will be starting the 228km race. Joining him the A grade race will be Peter Milostic. Penrith rider Milostic has had several podium finishes in the Grafton to Inverell over the past five years and will be looking to fill the top spot this year. Young local rider Andrew Wyper has confirmed his entry for his first attempt at the race. Wyper will return from a stint racing in Europe on September 9th and will line up in A Grade.

The A Grade field will contest two different competitions within the race. The Danbuilt sprint king series will see riders collecting points in a series of sprint points along the course. The riders more suited to the uphill sections will chase the Adina Watches King of the Mountains (KOM) title. Points for the KOM will be awarded to the first three riders to reach the summit of five selected climbs during the race. To win either of these competitions, riders will need to complete the course inside the 5pm cut-off.

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