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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for September 6, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Heras plays it cool

Heras wearing Gold on stage 8 - the Spaniard is confident he can get the jersey back
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is confident about taking the Golden jersey of the Vuelta a España overall lead back from Denis Menchov (Rabobank). Heras was satisfied with his performance on yesterday's first Pyrenean stage, where his rival was able to hold on to his wheel, but the three-times Vuelta winner knows theres is still a long way to go before the race's finish.

"I felt well, especially when I attacked in the tunnel with five kilometres to go," Heras said after the stage. "But I couldn't continue because this climb wasn't very difficult. The hardest bit was at the beginning, and Menchov stuck to my wheel so that didn't make it easier: there was a headwind."

The experienced Spaniard is prepared to take the race day by day. "The Vuelta needs to be ridden little by little, and there is still a lot of racing ahead. For me, the question isn't to take advantage of every day, but to go little by little. Sastre lost some seconds, but you can't jump to conclusions about it, because he started the climb very strong. In a three weeks Grand Tour, the key is regularity, because every day is different," continued Heras, who wants to take a fourth Vuelta overall win this year.

Nevertheless, he regretted that Mancebo passed him with a few metres to the finish line in yesterday's stage ten to the ski station of Ordino-Arcalis. "It was a pity that i couldn't finish with a stage victory," he said. "I threw the sprint, but Mancebo came around very strong from behind. I saw him come, but I couldn't do anything - I don't know what would have happened had I started a bit later... you never know."

Heras' team director Manolo Saiz was also happy with the way things went yesterday, and was already focussing on the next stage ahead, where he believes his rider can make more of a difference. "It's a very difficult climb, and when there's a headwind there's no relief at all. You're glued to the ground after every curve," Saiz explained, also noting that the most important thing was the stability of his team. "For me it's important that the team was fine yesterday. Today will be more difficult as we will miss Nozal [who abandoned], and the stage is hard from beginning to end. As for our rivals, Mancebo recuperated better than Sastre, which shows that he is a better rider, but there's still a lot of the Vuelta to come to get some time back."

WADA vice-president criticises Pound

Just a couple of days after the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Dick Pound told the press that there was "very high probability that there was performance-enhancing drugs activity" in the 1999 Tour de France, Danish Minister of Culture Brian Mikkelsen, who is also the vice-president of the WADA has criticised Pound's allegations.

Accusations that Lance Armstrong was drugged during the 1999 Tour lack hard evidence, Mikkelsen said on Danish government website Denmark.dk. "Such a statement should only be made if there is a legal basis for it," he explained. "That's why I think Dick Pound's statement was unwise."

Mikkelsen preferred to wait for a report from WADA detailing the case before he offered his view on Armstrong's alleged drug use. "Before I have received the report, I won't comment further on the case. I will contact Dick Pound, however, and inform him about my view on the matter," he concluded.

Hamilton appeal to be heard this week

Tyler Hamilton will have his hearing this week before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the CAS has confirmed. "The hearing takes place this week. The final decision will however not be announced immediately after the hearing but later, after the end of the deliberations which may last a couple of weeks," it announced.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency ruled in April that Hamilton had doped himself by transfusing another person's blood and ordered him suspended for two years, the maximum suspension for a first-time doping offender.

Hamilton tested positive at the Vuelta de España on September 11, 2004 and forfeits all results achieved from that date. His two-year period of suspension ends on April 17, 2007.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Dekker still to World's

Dutch rider Erik Dekker, who broke his collarbone in his homeland's Tour de Rijke on August 20, will be able to attend the World Championships in Madrid after all. The healing of his fracture is evolving better than expected. "The chance that I'll ride the World's is a 100 percent now," Dekker told the Telegraaf. "My shoulder is almost without pain and I actually feel better than expected," said the 35-year old, who is currently training on Mediterranean island Ibiza with Karsten Kroon and Thomas Dekker.

Dekker the Elder will refine his form in the Tour of Poland from September 12-18. "But the the national coach has still to select me," Dekker laughed, knowing that Egon Van Kessel will surely pick him if his form is good. "I received an SMS from Erik that he feels good," Van Kessel said in return. "So there's no doubts about him: he'll be on our roster and with him, it doesn't look so bad for us at all. We're not favourites, but with Erik and Max Van Heeswijk's sprint victory in Spain, our chances go up."

The Dutch coach will announce his nine-rider selection next week, with one rider out of the following ten to miss out: Erik Dekker, Thomas Dekker, Michael Boogerd, Bram Tankink, Joost Posthuma, Pieter Weening, Leon Van Bon, Max Van Heeswijk, Karsten Kroon or Servais Knaven.

Ag2r to Memorial Van Steenbergen

French Professional Continental team Ag2r, who will count Vuelta stage winner Francisco Mancebo as well as Christophe Moreau in its ranks for next season, is participating in the Belgian one-day race Memorial Van Steenbergen this Wednesday. Hessen-Rundfahrt stage winners Jean-Patrick Nazon and Alexandr Usov will be at the start, as well as Erki Putsep, Tomas Vaitkus, Andy Flickinger, Yuriy Krivtsov Estonian stagiaire René Mandri. The same squad will be lining up at Paris-Bruxelles on Sunday, September 11.

Hoy out, Hammond in!

Continental cycling star Roger Hammond has stepped in to replace Olympic Champion Chris Hoy at the Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne taking place this Saturday, September 10 in Newport, UK. With Hoy injured, the organisers needed a big name rider to fill the gap. Promoter Nick Jeggo said "It's fantastic to have another top rider at the event. It was a big worry when we heard Chris Hoy couldn't make it. With a popular rider like Roger taking part in his place we 'll still get a massive crowd".

Hammond, a team mate of Lance Armstrong, has just completed the Tour of Britain where he won stage two and went on to finish 3rd in the overall Sprints competition. The Discovery Channel Team rider is a former World Cyclo Cross Champion, but over the years he has gradually devoted more of his energy to road racing. In 2004 Hammond sprinted to third place in the classic Paris-Roubaix race, and this performance brought him to the attention of seven times Tour de France winner, Armstrong, who then signed him for his Discovery Team.

Nocturne newcomer Hammond will first ride the special Inter County Couriers Olympian Challenge one lap time trial against the likes of Olympic medallists Jason Queally and Rob Hayles. Straight after that effort he will be on the start line for the main Elite race. Although he is a superb circuit race rider, Hammond will be up against the last winner, Russ Downing, ex Milk Race winner Malcolm Elliott and, of course Newport's own Ian Holt who won the Bob Chicken Grand Prix in Westminster on Saturday.

The Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne begins 6.45pm. For more information, go to www.bikerace.co.uk

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