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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for July 28, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Landis' positive: Reactions

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The news of Floyd Landis' "adverse analytical finding" in the Tour de France has shocked the cycling community world wide. The Phonak rider, who just a few days ago waved the American flag so happily on the Champs Elysées in Paris, has not yet given a statement on the positive return of his A sample on the evening of stage 17, but many reactions have been issued in the international press. It is the first time a Tour de France winner has tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance during the event.

"If the counter-analysis confirms this result, we will feel angry and sad," said the Tour de France organisation ASO in a statement. "Even if this is very painful for cycling, it does prove that the fight against doping by the Tour organisation, the teams and the sponsors is gaining ground in an irreversible manner."

Christian Prudhomme, race director of the Tour de France, said on French television, "The fight against doping is a never ending combat, a true trench war. But we're ready to fight it, because if we didn't, the culture of doping would win, and not the culture of sport." (France 3)

Koos Moerenhout, teammate of Floyd Landis at Phonak, couldn't believe the news. "Personally, I've never noticed any usage of doping products in the team. I hope that the B probe will clear up this positive test." (ANP)

Arlene Landis, the rider's mother, said in a phone interview from her home in Farmersville, Pennsylvania, on Thursday that she wouldn't blame her son if he was taking medication to treat the pain in his injured hip, but "if it's something worse than that, then he doesn't deserve to win. I didn't talk to him since that hit the fan, but I'm keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are. I know that this is a temptation to every rider but I'm not going to jump to conclusions ... It disappoints me." (AP)

Fourth-placed Carlos Sastre of Team CSC might make that jump onto the podium, after all. "I have a lot of respect for him, and I keep that respect until the result of the second test," he said. "But it really is very bad news." (France 3)

"It's a catastrophe, a real disaster," said Quickstep manager Patrick Lefévère. "We have to wait for the result of the counter-analysis, but most of the times it is the same as the first test. Some will never learn; these sorts of people kill the sport of cycling. They refused to let Astana start in the Tour - now, it's time that the UCI reconsider Phonak. Eight or nine positives in three years - that can't be coincidence anymore." (Sporza)

Erik Breukink, Rabobank team director: "It's a black time for cycling; this is dramatic. The Tour started badly, and now we can erase the winner, too. Was he that desperate after stage 16? It resembles an everything-or-nothing move. Actually, it doesn't surprise me that he got caught after stage 17. His ride to Morzine was exceptional." (Sporza)

Discovery Channel's team director Dirk Demol was more reluctant to jump to conclusions. "I really can't believe it. I asked myself some questions after his performance to Morzine, because I know out of experience that a bad day can be followed by an excellent day, where you don't feel pain in the legs anymore and you really transcend yourself. But let's wait for the result of the B sample." (Sporza)

"One day you shake his hand to congratulate him on the Tour victory, and on the next you're told he's positive," said CSC rider Stuart O'Grady. "If it's really true, then I don't know what to think anymore." (France 3)

His teammate Jens Voigt almost ran out of words to describe his feelings. "What shall I say? I'm shocked, horrified, disappointed, that something like this can happen again," he told the dpa.

Former pro Marcel Wüst, himself a stage winner in the Tour de France, told Cyclingnews: "Shit happens..."

German Udo Bölts, who used to be Jan Ullrich's domestique at Team Telekom, is afraid that the sport is facing his biggest challenge yet. "Cycling had the noose around its neck and the Landis case pulled it tight," he told Cyclingnews.

Hans-Michael Holczer, team manager at Gerolsteiner: "It's simply nauseating. I can't think of it any other way. Maybe we should just stop all of pro cycling for six weeks, and then again for six weeks after the next doping case. I cannot understand at all why some people are destroying pro cycling." (dpa)

Christian Frommert, T-Mobile Spokesman, tried to see the bright side of things. "This is another hard blow for cycling, if the B sample upholds the A sample. But the only thing other than the sample that is positive is that it is another prominent case. Now it will be clear to absolutely everybody, that only a very hard line and a deep-reaching structural change can save cycling. The doping tests have to be improved, because now people will say: They all take something. But I refuse to believe that." (dpa)

For Rudolf Scharping, President of the German cycling federation, the message of the case was clear. "The Landis case reveals another dumb, audacious and dishonest energy, that we have to fight in cycling and all of sports. The Tour victory must be taken away, and I hope that the organiser is also able to pay all of the premiums to the legitimate first, Oscar Pereiro, and the legitimate second, Andreas Klöden. For international cycling, we have to confirm: The fight against doping and cheating will be fought with everything we have. The BDR will do its part in Germany with the teams, the sporting management, the sponsors and the race organisers. We now hope for the help of the lawgivers, who the sport can't do without." (dpa)

McQuaid vows to step up fight

By Shane Stokes

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Although he has stressed that Floyd Landis should be presumed innocent until such time as an analysis of his B sample proves his urine test was positive for excessive testosterone, UCI President Pat McQuaid has said that Thursday’s news is of huge concern to cycling.

The Irishman said he would be very annoyed if the 2006 Tour winner was shown to have doped and promised to take serious action to step up the fight against drug use in sport.

"Floyd Landis has to be regarded as innocent until such time as the B sample confirms the result. But if that analysis is positive I will be very, very angry," he told Cyclingnews, annoyance clear in his voice. "I find it hard to believe that guys nowadays would continue to try to beat the system when the system has been proved to be working well. I would also have thought after the start of this year’s Tour de France, with all the emphasis and the pressure on doping, that the riders would have ridden it clean."

The last time a final yellow jersey was disqualified from the race was in 1904 when defending champion Maurice Garin was stripped of his title when it was judged he had taken a train during the race, rather than completing the full route. McQuaid is under no illusions as to what the potential disqualification of Landis would mean. "It couldn’t be any more serious for cycling," he admitted. "It would be a disaster for the Tour and indeed for the sport as well. The situation is intolerable. We will have to do a complete audit on the sport in the days ahead to see where we go from here.

"We will have to take some very hard decisions over the coming weeks and months, getting to the bottom of this scourge and get it cleaned up. This is now going to become a personal crusade of mine, I am determined to tackle it - we have to get rid of anyone who is doping, for once and for all."

When asked if a tougher stance could include stronger sanctions against riders, McQuaid said that the UCI was bound in some ways by the rules which are in place. "We have to remain within the WADA code. As it is, within the ProTour we already do more than that [the standard sanctions]. But as I said, I think we are going to have to do a complete audit on what the situation is within cycling at the highest level. Then make some hard decisions based on that. There are various things going around in my head at the moment and in the coming days I will be making them concrete, then we will release a statement about it."

When asked as to the likely timescale for Landis’ B analysis to come back, McQuaid said it would take a few days. "We sent out a registered letter yesterday," he said. "They [the Phonak management] would have got it today and I think they have five days to respond to that, which brings us into next Monday or Tuesday. Tuesday is a bank holiday in Switzerland so it will be Wednesday when they need to respond to us by. Then you are looking at a situation where the rider may decide that they want experts to be there, so you have to find the experts in case they want to question anything. The availability of a lab is also a factor, so in theory it could be a week or even two weeks for the B sample to be confirmed."

Astana reviewed by ProTour license commission

The UCI has announced that the license of the Astana team, successor to Liberty Seguros-Würth, will be reviewed by the ProTour licensing commission once again. The UCI is currently sending the files of riders involved in the Puerto affair to their respective national federations, and "has asked for disciplinary proceedings to be started in accordance with the rules."

The UCI announced in a statement, "The President of the UCI ProTour (CUPT) has concluded that the information obtained by the Spanish authorities indicates that there was one sole team in the ProTour, managed by the financial entity Active Bay (previously sponsored by Liberty-Würth and currently by Astana), a system of organised doping involving many of the riders.

"In view of the above, the CUPT President has decided to refer the case to the Licences’ Commission, and has asked for its judgement as soon possible. In the meantime, in agreement with the AIGCP, it has been decided that the team Astana may continue its activities but only with the riders and other staff members that have not been involved in operation Puerto."

No Vuelta for Comunidad Valenciana

Not long ago, Vuelta a España organiser Victor Cordero had told newspaper El Faro de Murcia that Unipublic would wait until the week before the Vuelta to make a decision on the participation of Comunidad Valenciana, the Continental team linked to Operación Puerto. But now, the organisation has taken back the wild card due to the team's implication in the Spanish doping affair.

In a statement, Unipublic said, "According to the information remitted by the Spanish Interior Department (Ministerio del Interior), which has been facilitated by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) and the Spanish Civil Guard judicial informing on administrative infractions observed in the so-called procedure Operacion Puerto, we have decided to withdraw the wild card from Comunidad Valenciana for participating in the Vuelta a España 2006. This Professional Continental team was invited by Unipublic under the conditions of the Ethical Code, and it was accepted by Comunidad Valenciana. We took this decision on the basis of our responsibility and credibility."

Later, Victor Cordero explained the decision further. "The Comunidad Valenciana exclusion was decided after verifying that, in the Spanish Civil Guard report on relation to the Operacion Puerto, not only Ignacio Labarta was implicated, but also 17 additional members of Comunidad Valenciana," he said. "We requested a copy of the mentioned report from the Spanish Cycling Federation. Comunidad Valenciana signed the Ethical Code, therefore we must withdraw their wild card. The excluded riders of the Tour de France, such as Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo, will not be in the Vuelta, either. The ethical code of Strasbourg will be applied in Malaga."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

Jaksche in Hannover?

Is Jörg Jaksche going to ride in the "Nacht von Hannover" criterium on Friday night? Not if the German federation, Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, has anything to say about it. "He is one of the riders who is under suspicion for blood doping," said BDR vice president Udo Sprenger. "We have suggested that the organisers get a confirmation from his team, but we cannot forbid his start."

According to the race organiser, Jaksche plans to ride the race. He has a contract for it, and has his attorneys working on the matter. "It's up to him," a race spokesperson told the German press agency dpa. "It's a private matter, since he doesn't have any appointments with his 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

TdF stage winner Kessler at Hamburg Cyclassics

The T-Mobile Team has announced its rider line-up for the Vattenfall Cyclassics on July 30 in Hamburg, Germany. For the only ProTour classic on home turf, the magenta team are bringing a two-pronged attack.

Matthias Kessler, fresh off an impressive Tour de France where he won the stage in Valkenburg, Netherlands, will share the captain’s role with Italian one-day specialist Lorenzo Bernucci. Over the 250.5km-long route, the duo will count on the support of Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen, Stephan Schreck, Daniele Nardello, Thomas Ziegler as well as the sprint-duo André Korff and Olaf Pollack.

Should the race be decided in a breakaway group, then Matthias Kessler and Lorenzo Bernucci are T-Mobile's first-line tactical options. Kessler came back from the Tour in great shape, and Bernucci finished second overall at the Sachsen-Tour last week, behind winner Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel).

"Both riders are in top shape right now, and the rolling but not so challenging parcours will play to their strengths," said Valerio Piva, who reckoned that the infamous Waseberg climb will play the decisive role in finding a successor to 2005 winner Filippo Pozzato. The peloton will tackle the short but sharp climb four times on Sunday, something that will suit a 'puncheur' like Kessler. "The race situation will decide which of the two captains we will ride for. A lot of factors will come into play", Piva continued. "It is a difficult race to control. We will have to wait and see how the race pans out."

If it all boils down to a bunch sprint decider, then Piva will be relying on the fast-twitches of Olaf Pollack to get in the mix. Pollack, who has been quiet since he pulled on the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia in May is keen to get the second part of the season going. Proven classics riders like Schreck, Nardello, Ziegler and Korff have the legs and the head to last the distance and support their leaders all the way.

20,000 recreational cyclists will also ride through the Hanseatic city at Sunday’s mass participation race, while the police are expecting up to one millions spectators to line the streets for cycling's most northerly classic.

Italy wants the World's

In the last week of the Tour de France, an Italian delegation visited the site of the upcoming World Road Cycling Championships in Salzburg, Austria. Paolo Bettini (Quickstep) and Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) both made four laps of the course which will see, on September 24, the World elite peloton battling it out for the supreme title. Italian coach Franco Ballerini joined them.

After the ride, three-time World Cup winner Bettini said, "This is a route for me! Similar to the championships in Zürich," - which 'Il Grillo' won last year. "The route is very nervous because in some places the downhills are very narrow," he continued. "You have to stay in the Top 20 right from the start in order to have any hope."

Last year's ProTour winner Danilo Di Luca had a similar view, and was sure that riders like Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov and Michael Boogerd will be up front. "The route is too difficult for Tom Boonen; even for a rider like the Austrian Bernhard Eisel. I think that Totschnig has better chances on this route," said Di Luca.

National trainer Franco Ballerini, himself a successful former pro and two times winner of Paris-Roubaix, was hoping for the same situation as in 1982. "Italy was the World Champion in football and soon after, Giuseppe Saronni became cycling World Champion in Goodwood," he said. "Why shouldn’t it happen again this year? We’ve got the football World Cup! We will do our best to put our stamp on this race. The route is difficult and we only have nine riders starting, but we will try everything to have one of us up front in the end. We want the World Championship title, it doesn't matter which rider gets it."

Last year's mistake in Madrid, where the Italians had set all their hopes on Alessandro Petacchi, is not going to be repeated this year according to the coach. "We have Paolo Bettini, Danilo Di Luca and many other good riders. The final pool won’t be announced until the first week in September," he added.

The Squadra Azzurra looks to be very motivated for the Cycling World Championships in Austria. "We are friends and will sit in the same boat," Bettini said. The 'killer' Di Luca also wanted Salzburg to be a success: "Before the start of the season, I had two objectives - the Giro d’Italia and the World Championships in Salzburg. The Giro didn’t go to plan, so I’m hoping for success in Salzburg."

Women's World Cup continues this week-end

By Kristy Scrymgeour

A month has passed since Judith Arndt (T-Mobile) won round number seven of the Women's UCI World Cup Series in Montreal, Canada moving herself up to second place in the series, just behind Nicole Cooke (Univega) and in front of two-time World Cup Series winner Oenone Wood (Equipe Nürnberger). Starting again for the first of the final five races, 20 teams have traveled north to Sweden and Denmark to baptize two brand new events on the World Cup schedule.

The first of the two takes place on Friday in the town of Vårgårda, not far from Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg. Here the riders will do 11 laps of an 11.6 km circuit for a total of 127.6 km. The course is very technical especially when the loop travels through town near the start finish line. There is also small climb mid lap which will be tough towards the end of the race.

The second race of the weekend is round 9 of the World Cup Series and is the first ever Team Time Trial event in the history of the series. The course starts and finishes in the town of Århus, traveling 20km over rolling terrain to Hvilsted before looping around and heading back to the finish line. This year the World Cup Series also has a teams classification. Univega will be hoping for a strong performance in this race to defend their current lead over T-Mobile.

In addition to the team standings, the current series leader from Univega, Nicole Cooke will be looking to defend her lead. She currently leads Arndt by 49 points and third placed Wood by 129 points making Arndt the only rider who can surpass her lead on Friday. Cooke comes directly from an impressive win at the women’s Thüringen-Rundfahrt and will be hard to beat on Friday.

Her Univega team also has a strong time trial line up including two time and current World TT Champion Karin Thürig, winner of the time trial at Tour de l’Aude this year Priska Doppmann and winner of the prologue at Thüringen, Christiane Soeder. They will have to beat Buitenpoort Flexpoint however, who won the Team Time Trial at Tour de l’Aude and T-Mobile who has a strong time trial line up.

T-Mobile’s Judith Arndt will certainly be aiming to take some point back from Cooke. Arndt is coming back to racing after a few weeks off due to illness, missing both the National Championships and Thüringen, held in her own backyard.

Oenone Wood and her Nürnberger team will also be hoping to move up the ladder a bit and you can look for results from riders such as former World Champion Susanne Ljungskog and her Buitenpoort Flexpoint teammate Linda Villumsen, who have had some excellent results of late and will be looking to impress whilst at home in Sweden and Denmark respectively.

Liquigas for upcoming races

Italian team Liquigas is scheduled to move to the European North for the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, which will be followed by the Deutschland Tour and the Post Danmark Rundt. In Hamburg, the team will line up Luca Paolini, Manuel Quinziato, Stefano Zanini and Magnus Backstedt. After the ProTour race, the Swedish rider and Quinziato will fly to the Post Danmark Rundt, whereas Cioni and Pellizotti will represent the team colours at the Deutschland Tour. The full rosters at the three races will be:

Vattenfall Cyclassics: Michael Albasini, Dario Andriotto, Magnus Backstedt, Enrico Gasparotto, Marco Milesi, Luca Paolini, Manuel Quinziato and Stefano Zanini. Team managers: Mario Chiesa and Mario Scirea.

Deutschland Tour: Dario Andriotto, Dario Cioni, Francesco Failli, Marco Milesi, Andrea Noè, Franco Pellizotti, Charles Wegelius and Stefano Zanini. Team manager: Mario Chiesa.

Post Danmark Rundt: Magnus Backstedt, Daniele Colli, Alberto Curtolo, Mauro Da Dalto, Nicola Loda, Vincenzo Nibali, Marco Righetto and Manuel Quinziato. Team manager: Dario Mariuzzo.

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