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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 5, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan & Hedwig Kröner

New EPO test developed

According to an article published in today's International Herald Tribune, an Australian-based biotechnology company, Proteome Systems, has developed a refined urine test for EPO.

The current test for EPO first came under serious scrutiny this year after Belgian triathlete Rutger Beke had his 18-month ban from competition overturned by Flemish government authorities on August 9, citing there was "no evidence that he took EPO". Two weeks later, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was implicated for a similar offence, with French sports paper L'Equipe reporting that retrospective testing revealed 6 out of 12 positive EPO samples from the 1999 Tour came from his body.

The 33 year-old Texan has strenuously denied the L'Equipe allegations, including disputing the validity of the urine-based test for EPO. Armstrong's argument largely relates to the deterioration of his stored samples over time, along with accuracy of the testing protocol, which Dr. Martial Saugy, head of the Swiss anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne, implies is prone to error if not examined by an expert scientist. "You are looking at number and signals, but in the end what is most important here is the experience of the eyes of an expert. It's the 'now we see it - this looks like someone who has injected EPO,'" said Dr. Saugy to the Herald Tribune.

Although the UCI has been working with the French anti-doping laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry to refine the urine test - which was the impetus behind the retrospective testing from the 1999 Tour - it appears Proteome Systems has already developed a newer, more objective test.

Explained in scientific literature for the first time last month, the test applies electrical fields in two dimensions instead of one (proteins in the urine subject to an electrical charge leave patterned deposits, or bands, with the intensity of the bands used to identify recombinant EPO), and as a result, provides a clearer distinction between naturally-occurring and artificial EPO. Furthermore, head of the Austrian anti-doping laboratory, Dr. Günter Gmeiner, told the paper that his lab has developed software to help quantify the pattern of the bands, that, in theory, should reduce the margin of error.

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.

Friends, fans and racers support Phinney in San Fran

Surprise visit from Robin Williams highlights event

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in San Francisco

The Davis Phinney Foundation had one of its biggest fundraising efforts Friday night in downtown San Francisco, when fans and racers joined together to support arguably the best American racer in his battle with Parkinson's Disease. The Tour Baby film-maker Scott Coady and fi'zi:k saddles organized the "toast and roast" evening for the man known to many during his racing days as the "Cash Register" for his ability to clean-up all of the cash at any race he entered.

The evening consisted of a silent auction of many items, from numerous signed professional jerseys like an Eric Zabel Vuelta a España sprint jersey to one of Oscar-winning actor and devoted cycling fan Robin Williams' 60-plus bicycles. In fact, the Griffen bike Williams donated was not auctioned off silently, but live with the owner making a surprise appearance to facilitate the auction in his usual comedic fashion. After just one minute of auctioning the entire room was roaring with laughter as he poked fun at a variety of topics from French drug testing to Bob Roll. The bike earned the foundation $4,500 thanks to the entertaining auction calling by Williams.

Williams is a good friend of Phinney after the two met while riding one of the Ride for the Roses event a few years ago. "I was doing the Ride for the Roses and was cramping bad," Williams explained. "Davis and his wife really saved me." Cyclingnews caught up with Williams after the auction to see what his prediction was for Sunday's race. "Basso and George [Hincapie] but with the travelling it might be tough. There are so many people who can win!" As it turned out, Germany's young talent and Levi Leipheimer's Gerolsteiner team-mate Fabian Wegmann scored the win.

Other VIPs took their turn telling stories of Phinney - from Wayne Stetina talking about how his team passed on a young Phinney racing with them to Bob Roll talking about his racing days on the 7-Eleven squad. Everyone had a funny anecdote to tell, but all finished with similar sentiments - they are behind Phinney and his quest for Parkinson's research 100 percent.

Finishing the evening, Phinney thanked everyone for their generosity and efforts, saying that for him, each day is made up of small victories. But his anecdote was not one of winning, but a story of when he finished last in a race. Always a sprinter, he had to fight to get over the mountain passes during the Tour de France, and during a stage up to Alpe d'Huez, he was convinced he would not make the time cut for the day. But after making it over the first Col, he found it within himself to soldier on and up to the final slopes, well off the back of even the final support vehicles, the crowds still cheered him on as if he was winning.

This gave him enough to make it to the line (even though it was being dismantled as he crossed). Waiting for him was Jim Ochowicz who just whispered to Phinney, "Two minutes. You made it by two minutes." Phinney used this idea to show how he is trying to make a more important time cut in his life, and that even two minutes is enough to make a difference.

"The funniest time trial ever!"

Gerolsteiner's Thomas Ziegler prepared himself rather casually for yesterday's Stage 9 time trial at the Vuelta, "not as thoroughly as I would if I were going for the win. But what happened was the funniest time trial ever!" he told German Radsportnews in his daily diary.

"Bram de Groot started directly after me. We know each other and get along well. He caught me after only 11 km. Then we rode along together. Nothing illegal, just together. Sometimes one of us in front, sometimes the other. After 17km we caught up with the Spaniard Garcia Acosta. So now we were a group of three... We joked so much underway, that at times we could barely ride for laughing! We attacked each other as if it were a regular road race. I've never experienced anything like that before. One time I passed three riders in front of me in a time trial, but to be caught myself - and that the two of us together caught another rider - that doesn't happen very often."

"Time trials can be pretty long when you're out there by yourself. But the 48km today flew by. We'll have to see what the race commissaires have to say about our trio. We didn't actually do anything irregular. We were careful not ride in front of each other. But my soigneur in the team car said it looked pretty funny and not much like a time trial."

Clearly not amused, however, were the Spanish riders who were penalised by the race commissaires for cutting the course by disrespecting some witches hats. While Roberto Heras was given 10 additional seconds, Illes Balears' Paco Mancebo received just a two second penalty. "It's a crying shame!" team director Eusebio Unzué proclaimed after the race. "Mancebo only cut one curve and I think it's insulting to treat him like Heras - those who have seen Heras on TV told me that he was much more impudent!"

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

Armstrong helps Katrina victims

American cycling legend Lance Armstrong has donated US §500,000 to assist cancer patients whose treatment is delayed because of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "It just seems like help was late to come there," the seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Armstrong told the New York Times. "If you've started treatment and you miss a week or two weeks, it's potentially fatal." The donation was made through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. "For me and the foundation, we just looked at that and asked not just what can we do, but how does it fit into our mission?" said Armstrong, adding that the sum could be increased in the future. He expects the money to be used to move cancer patients between hospitals or cancer facilities for treatment.

185 entries for 'The Grafton'

A record 185 entries have been received for this year's Eastmon Digital Photo Stores Grafton to Inverell. Entries closed yesterday with Cycling NSW officials advising race organisers of the official entry number, expecting there could still be some late entries before the September 17 race day.

Notable riders include Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist and three-time world champion Peter Dawson. The 23 year-old West Australian is a member of Australia's all-conquering teams pursuit squad, with 2005 marking Dawson's second start in the Grafton to Inverell. Former winner Ben Brooks will return from the USA to ride; Brooks has been a regular competitor in the race and will be looking to emulate his winning ride from 1998.

Italian based professionals Trent Wilson and Russell Van Hout, who ride for pro team Colombia Selle Italia, will also line up in the A Grade. Wilson put in a gallant solo effort last year to chase the early leaders, eventually running fourth, and has indicated to organisers that he is keen to improve on his placing from last year. South Australian Van Hout has been in good form and has been riding strongly in the Sunraysia Tour in Victoria since returning from Europe. Sydney rider Klayten Smith has also been in good form dominating races in NSW over the past few months, with Cycling NSW officials rating him as rider to watch.

Goulburn to Sydney ambassador's charity ride

Goulburn to Sydney Cycle Classic Ambassador and Australian rugby legend, Simon Poidevin, will captain a team of seven members in an attempt to raise more than $20,000 for the Kids of Macarthur Health Foundation and Goulburn's Community Palliative Care and Oncology Support Group. The charity ride will leave Goulburn on September 24 at first light and will use the same race route that the elite field will compete on the following day. The team also comprises former Wallaby, Warwick Waugh, regarded as the world's biggest cyclist weighing in at 125kg and 6'7" tall.

The Kids of Macarthur Health Foundation was established by a group of local business leaders, hospital administrators and medical practitioners to raise funds to purchase medical equipment for local use. Every dollar raised stays in the region to enhance the quality of health care offered to local children.

Those wishing to make a donation can make cheques payable to the Goulburn - Sydney Cycle Classic. Contact: Paul Hillbrick +61 2 (0) 9820 4011.

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