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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for July 6, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

Bad luck for Mayo, but without consequences

Iban Mayo (Euskaltel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

One of the serious rivals of Lance Armstrong three years ago, Iban Mayo, has struggled with a bit of bad luck lately. During the first days of the Tour de France, the team leader of Basque Euskaltel crashed in the finale of stage 4, and it was only with the help of his team that he was able to come back onto the peloton before the sprint.

"Somebody tried to ride where there wasn't any space and several of us went down," Mayo told Todociclismo. "I looked at my bike quickly, and there was something wrong with it so Iñigo Landaluze gave me his. Like this, I didn't lose much time and we saved the situation. The distance to the finish was short; there wasn't any time to lose! My teammates waited for me and took me back to the group without problems. I fell on my right side, but it wasn't bad."

But it wasn't the only mishap the winner of the 2003 stage to L'Alpe d'Huez encountered until now. "That makes two days where I've had problems; it's bad luck," he continued. "The day before, I punctured at 25 kilometres from the finish, and had to make an extra effort, too. Finally, I lost 12 seconds, but I don't give that a lot of importance." Mayo knows from experience that it could have been worse: "With the help of my team, I got out of these situations without losing much time," he said. "If you can't avoid ill fortune, I'd rather have it like that. These first Tour stages are always nervous; there's still a lot to come and you notice it in the rhythm of the race. The guys go strong, but it has only just started. It's a different Tour this year, but as always, it will be very hard."

As for his options in the race, Mayo plays it low. "It's a test every day, and we have to take it step by step," he commented. "The most positive thing is that I feel good."

Fuentes: "High-level sport is not healthy"

In an extensive interview broadcast by Spanish radio Cadena Ser, gynaecologist and doping expert Eufemiano Fuentes has talked about his behind-the-scenes activities in the sport. First of all, he insisted on his belief that he was not a criminal and only attended to his medical duty of preserving the athlete's health.

"I'm don't feel like a criminal; I haven't killed anyone and I haven't destroyed anyone's health," he said. "I'm a health professional; my priority is to cure my patients because I think that the sport at high level is not healthy. I'm accused of crime against public health, but they should sanction those who play at being doctors." So instead of boosting the rider's performances, Fuentes considered that he only "supplemented and adjusted" those bodily functions of the riders which showed a deficit.

"[Cyclists] are very special sportsmen because they reduce their heart rate by half when resting," he continued. "Their hearts are big, and when they stop cycling their hearts reduce their size to normal within six months, which results in what we call 'sudden death'."

Fuentes, who added that his treatments also concerned other sports than cycling (football, tennis, athletics), said that it was possible to ride the Tour de France without "medical" help, but not at that speed. "You just can't ride four of these mountain stages successively at that speed, it's very harmful," he said, adding that in his opinion it was more dangerous for a cyclist to start the Tour de France with a hematocrit level of 31 percent, than one of 51 percent - even though this meant that the rider would be excluded from competition.

The Madrid-based doctor named two cyclists, Alberto Contador and Vicente Ballester, but only to say that he did not know them and that he did not know why their names were on the list established by the Spanish criminal investigators. He also said that there were riders still participating in the Tour de France that he had treated and that he "had enough of the hypocrisy. The Tour direction sent home riders that I never treated, and there are now clients of mine in the peloton. I'm furious. People were named that I don't even know but other names were concealed."

Moreover, he stated that the bags of blood that were found were destined "for use in the next ten years", and that the quantities of EPO seized "for a family member who might need it." he also added that he had been threatened not to reveal any persons involved with him. Fuentes felt "lynched by the media" and "killed professionally".

Leipheimer in Ferrari hotel

German press agency dpa has reported that Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer had confirmed information according to which his Tour de France leader, American Levi Leipheimer, had possible contacts with controversial preparatore Michele Ferrari. At the start of stage five in Beauvais, Holczer admitted that Leipheimer had stayed in the same hotel during a training camp on Spanish island Tenerife last year. "But he assured me once again that he isn't working with the Italian," said Holczer.

Paulinho to Discovery

Portuguese rider Sergio Paulinho is changing to Discover Channel next year, although he was one of the riders apparently implicated in the doping affair around Madrid-based doctor Fuentes. But team manager Johan Bruyneel does not think that there is a problem according to Belgian Sporza. "He doesn't have to do anything with the case at all," Bruyneel said. "He has a certificate from the Portuguese federation which clearly states that he has been linked wrongly to the case. In these matters, I don't take any risks."

Astana buys out Saiz

On Tuesday, the Kazakhstan sponsors of the soon-to-be Astana cycling team have bought the remaining shares of former team manager Manolo Saiz. Present at the deal was Tony Rominger, who is rumoured to become the new manager of the squad. Former pro Alexander Shefer has been named as a directeur sportif for the team.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Gerolsteiner notes

"Tom Boonen apparently said in an interview, that the Tour is a race for masochists. He could be right, when you consider what pains the Tour is associated with," said Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann on his website. "But winning the mountain jersey makes up for it."

Everything is not going so well for him, though. On the sprinter's stage on Wednesday, the German had some problems. "My back hurts a little. That comes from my crash in the prologue."

His teammate René Haselbacher isn't riding the Tour this year, but he doesn't let that stop him from commenting on it for sport1. "The fight for the green jersey will be hard," the sprinter wrote. Robbie McEwen had good chances, "and is super motivated." Haselbacher cast some doubts on World Champion and yellow jersey wearer Tom Boonen. "The first two sprints were for nothing. I'm not entirely convinced that he is top fit. But he is a fighter, who rides for every single point in the bonus sprints."

Haselbacher also likes the chances of Erik Zabel, "although he's not the youngest anymore." But "why shouldn't he win the green jersey in Paris for the seventh time?" Still, Haselbacher was certain about the winner. "This time Thor Hushovd will win the green jersey, for the second year in a row. I'm sure of that," he said.

Hervis Tour notes

Wiesenhof-Akud's Austrian rider Gerhard Trampusch finished third on the Kitzbüheler Horn Wednesday. "I gave everything I had today," he said. "I was simply one minute too slow to win. I tried to ride up on my tempo. I compliment Christian Pfanneberger, and I'm happy for him. Tomorrow will be a big fight, everything is open. The heat was not the problem today - my legs just couldn't go any faster."

T-Mobile's Austrian rider, Bernhard Kohl, went into the race as the favourite for the overall win. However, he now finds himself in seventh place, over two and a half minutes down. "Sometimes it seems like you're jinxed," he wrote on his website. "When you really want something, concentrate on it and believe yourself to be perfectly prepared - then it just doesn't work out. Of course I wanted to win, that's no question." But he doesn't look for excuses: "You can search for reasons why it worked out that way today, but I can tell you: I just couldn't do it." However, he still hopes for a stage win on Thursday to thank his team, "which has worked so well for me the last few days."

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