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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 2, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Levi Leipheimer interview

Back to the fold

Levi Leipheimer's immediate focus is the defence of his Deutschland Tour title, but he is also hoping that a change of team will bring increased success in the Tour de France and other races next year. In this two-part feature, Leipheimer spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes about his German tour defence, signing for his new team and his ride in the 2006 Tour.

Leipheimer was happier man
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Although the Tour de France didn't work out as well as he had hoped this year, Levi Leipheimer is looking to the future with increased motivation after his signing for the Discovery Channel squad. The American has achieved strong results with the Rabobank and Gerolsteiner teams, finishing eighth, ninth and sixth in recent Tours, and is convinced that his move back to the squad he competed with when it was sponsored by the US Postal Service will enable him to step up another notch.

The 32-year-old says that he is happy with the signing, which was announced just after the end of this year's Tour on July 23, "I am very excited," he told Cyclingnews last Wednesday. "That is where I started my career, in Europe at least, and I think that is where I made the biggest progress, during that time. I am looking forward to going back. I have learned a lot over the past five years, but I'm looking forward to having the expertise and experience of Johan [Bruyneel] and the team behind me."

Leipheimer finished third in the 2001 Vuelta a España and then moved to lead the Rabobank squad in 2002. However he has maintained contact with the American team since then and, with Discovery looking for a new leader, his strong consistency in the Tour plus his victories in the 2005 Deutschland Tour and 2006 Dauphiné Libéré marked him out as a good choice.

Click here for the full feature

Rogge wants to fight back

IOC president Jacques Rogge is concerned that the public will lose its confidence in sports, in the wake of the recent high profile doping cases involving Tour winner Floyd Landis and 100m sprint world record holder Justin Gatlin. Speaking to Belgian, Rogge said, "What happened with Landis and Gatlin is very disappointing. Naturally I understand that the public can lose its confidence. What alarms me the most is the judicial investigation Operacion Puerto in Spain, where 56 names have been circulated. The fight against doping is certainly not perfect, and could be improved. But you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater: we have to keep calm and simply fight harder."

Rogge said that he was not naïve when it came to doping in sports, but he was disappointed. "My first priority is always zero tolerance against doping. You have to be a little bit realistic: 800 million people do competitive sport. They are not all angels: whining and deceit are part of human nature, and sport is not holier than society. But it is our sacred duty to fight."

Rogge is of the opinion that there are four things that will help combat doping the most. Firstly, more surprise out of competition testing. "And by that I mean real unannounced controls, out of the blue. So you don't say: in an hour or early tomorrow morning we'll be here or there. Among others, we caught the Greek athletes Kenteris and Thanou like this.

"Secondly, we have to catch a lot more of the entourage: sports directors, trainers, doctors, physiotherapists..."

Although doping is not a criminal offence in most countries, police have been able to uncover doping networks on the basis of other crimes, e.g. Operacion Puerto is based on the charge that certain doctors are endangering the public health by allegedly carrying out blood transfusions and other doping practices. Both Rogge and UCI president Pat McQuaid have called for more police help in their quest to clean up sports. "Operacion Puerto proved that," said Rogge. "We can not organise phone tapping and house searches."

Finally, Rogge proposed that sporting competitions should be intrinsically easier to discourage doping. He pointed to women's tennis, where injuries are common among most of the top players. "Is the pace of tennis too difficult for the body?" he asked. "The Williams sisters are injured a lot, Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce... couldn't there be longer rest periods between the tournaments?"

As far as cycling goes, Rogge put forward a controversial view. "We have to dare to ask the tours of France and Italy whether the load is ideal. In this context, a panel of specialists together with the riders can examine what the ideal load is. I'm not the only one who's said that: Tom Boonen has also said it."

Incumbent Tour boss Christian Prudhomme is against the idea of making the race shorter, however. "We will neither shorten the stages nor the total distance," he said in Germany on Tuesday. "Nobody had the idea to shorten the 100 metres to 90 after the positive test of Justin Gatlin, did they?"

Rogge was also asked whether he believed all drugs should simply be legalised in sports, as some have suggested. "Never! That's impossible. Then you let all your responsibility go. You have to protect the clean athletes. It's the same as if the police said that they couldn't catch all the criminals, therefore they should give up. That cannot happen, of course."

3 Molinos Resort sacks 14

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The imminent goodbye of the 3 Molinos Resort-Murcia Turística team has been confirmed after El Faro de Murcia published that 12 of its 20 riders and two technicians will be sacked due to "under performance", according to a letter sent by 3 Molinos Resort to some of the riders.

The team's collapse was precipitated by the the Santos González affair in the Vuelta a Murcia 2006. González tested positive for a banned 'therapeutic' substance, which was not in his health booklet. Thus, he was stripped of his overall victory in the race. That was enough for 3 Molinos Resort to reconsider its sponsorship, as well as claiming that the team hadn't returned on investment. The company also wrote that it is necessary "to reconstruct" cycling in order to assure its continuity in the future.

Several of the team's riders received the letter informing them of their dismissal on Tuesday of last week. These riders are considering legal action.

Ludewig out for the season

Jörg Ludewig will not do any more races for T-Mobile this season, according to German newsagency dpa, quoting team spokesman Christian Frommert. The 30 year-old admitted that in 1998, while still riding as an amateur, he sent a letter asking about "medical preparations that could increase my performance." Although he denied ever using banned drugs, T-Mobile considered the letter serious enough to put him on the bench for the rest of the year.

Dessel big attraction in Tour de l'Ain

Frenchman Cyril Dessel (AG2R), who finished seventh overall at the Tour de France, will be the top star at the Tour de l'Ain, which starts this Sunday, August 6. Dessel's teammate Sylvain Calzati, a stage winner in the Tour and Samuel Dumoulin, will also be present, along with Tour of Austria winner Tom Danielson (Discovery), and Credit Agricole riders Patrice Halgand and Christophe Le Mevel. In total there are 17 teams, including eight ProTour squads.

The four stage race is 579 km long and consists entirely of point-to-point road stages.

Teams: AG2R, Agritubel, Auber 93, Bouygues Telecom, Bretagne Jean Floc'h, Capec, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole Discovery Channel, Française des Jeux, Jartazi, Maxbo-Bianchi, Omnibike, Quick.Step, Rabobank, Sean Kelly Team, TIAA-CREF.

The stages

Stage 1 - August 6: Pont-de-Vaux - Arbent, 155 km
Stage 2 - August 7: Pont-'Ain - Péronnas, 145 km
Stage 3 - August 8: Lagnieu - Lelex Monts Jura, 144 km
Stage 4 - August 9: Culoz - Belley, 135 km

Tour of Utah field announced

Organisers of the inaugural Tour of Utah in the USA have announced the team line-up for the race, which begins on August 7. 16 American teams and nearly 100 riders will compete in the six day race, covering over 800 km.

"I've dreamt for years of competing with the best riders on the beautiful roads of my home state," said local pro cyclist, and member of the Navigators Insurance team, Burke Swindlehurst. "Thanks to the Tour of Utah, the dream has become reality and I couldn't be more excited!"

The race begins Monday, August 7 at 3 p.m. with the 169 km NuSkin Road Race. Stage 2 will take riders more than 145 km from downtown Provo to the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele. Stage 3 is an individual time trial, in Heber. On Thursday, riders get their first taste of the mountain stages when they climb to the top of Mt. Nebo. Friday night will see the Salt Lake City circuit race, which is expected to be popular among the crowds. The final stage, on Saturday, August 12, will include more than 12,000 feet of climbing as riders race for 183 km from Deer Valley to the finish line at Snowbird.

On Friday night, prior to the downtown circuit race in Salt Lake City, local riders are invited to participate in the first annual Freedom Peloton. This ride of a lifetime will raise money for the Larry H. Miller Charities for the benefit of education and promotion of child health and fitness in Utah. Donations will also be made to the Utah Bicycle Coalition. Each rider must raise a minimum of $100 to participate in the Freedom Peloton; the rider who raises the most money will receive a free one-year lease of an official Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah vehicle.

OLN commentator Bob Roll will get into the action on stages 5 and 6. Roll, who also rode the Tour de France in the 80's, will participate in the Tour's charity ride and serve as announcer for stages 5 and 6.

Teams: Navigators Insurance, Toyota United, Health Net by MAXXIS, TIAA CREF, Nevada Pro Cycling, Symmetrics Cycling, Priority Health, Team Successful Living Pro Cycling, Team Einstein's Cycling, Team End (Utah All Stars), Sienna Development-Goble Knee Clinic, California Giant Strawberries, Vitamin Cottage, BMS Racing, Broadmark and the KJZZ composite team.

The stages

Stage 1 - August 7: NuSkin Road Race, 168 km
Stage 2 - August 8: Provo - Tooele, 149 km
Stage 3 - August 9: Heber ITT, 12.7 km
Stage 4 - August 10: Provo - Mt. Nebo., 151 km
Stage 5 - August 11: Salt Lake City circuit race, 68 km
Stage 6 - August 12: Deer Valley - Snowbird, 183 km

De Weert to Cofidis

Belgian rider Kevin de Weert will follow his Quick.Step teammate Nick Nuyens to Cofidis. De Weert has a two year deal with the French team.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)