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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for July 29, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan & Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Landis looks for a natural explanation

By Jeff Jones

Floyd Landis has given his second press conference in 24 hours to address his high testosterone:epitestosterone level that showed up in an A sample following a Tour de France drugs test. In contrast to his Thursday teleconference, Landis was in a much more defiant mood as he read out a statement to reporters from a hotel in Madrid, Spain.

"As always, since I have cycled, my physiologic parameters of testosterone and epitestosterone are high, as of those of any other sportsman and in special cases as in mine, for natural reasons, this level is higher still," said Landis. "I'd like to make it absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process. In this particular case, nobody can talk about doping. And for this reason, I ask all the media, both in Europe and the United States, that they know how to interpret and understand where we are."

Landis continued by saying that he will now "undergo all these tests and controls that the UCI and the WADA feel necessary to accredit that the levels I have had during the Tour and all during my career are absolutely natural and are produced by my own [body]...Until such research has been carried out, to which every sportsman in the world is entitled, I ask not to be judged, and much less to be sentenced, by anyone.

Landis finished by saying, "I declare convincingly and categorically that my winning the Tour de France has been exclusively due to many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling, to the sacrifice of my entire life to carry out my dream, a dream of thousands of kilometres that I have completed through an absolute respect to the cleanness of the sport."

Landis continues media exposure in U.S.

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Floyd Landis began to increase his reach to the mainstream sports fans in the U.S. today with a live satellite appearance on the ESPN sports program Outside the Lines. Host Bob Ley began the interview by asking Landis a few process questions before trying the blunt angle. "Have you ever taking performance enhancing substances?" To which Landis replied equally as bluntly, "Absolutely not."

Ley asked Landis if he had ever had a high testosterone level before, along with more questions about the specifics of the violation of the testosterone-epitestosterone ratio, with Landis trying his best to educate everyone in the media as he went along. "The ratio is four to one, which has been set by the UCI. Mine was above that. There is no indication of an outside source of testosterone. As far as what mine is, I don't know that. The blood tests that we give every three months to our federation don't give that. So I am waiting on the urine tests in the three races I won this year and the test from the Tour de France."

Landis was asked what his reaction to the news was when he first heard. "I was caught as much my surprise as anyone. I had two days of enjoying the biggest success of my life, and now I have to deal with this. But I have experts working on it to explain this natural occurrence."

Switching gears to the more general doping in cycling end of the spectrum, Landis said, "Clearly we have a reputation because we make it public before the person has a chance to defend himself. I was given less than forty-eight hours after the A sample showed an abnormal result. Because of this reputation I think it is above all other sports - we are more honest and out in the open."

Ley then played an excerpt from a morning program on which Lance Armstrong made comments regarding Landis, specifically what advice he would give to his former teammate. One of the pieces of advice that Lance had for Landis - one that he is obviously taking - is that if he believes he is innocent, to speak out as much as possible. When asked to comment on Armstrong's statements, Landis replied, "He is the biggest champion in the years I have been around. I got to experience winning [the Tour] with him and I saw him deal with [the accusations.] Now I have to deal with it. Walking through Charles de Gaulle on the way to Madrid today, I saw my face on the cover of every newspaper about it and it is not an experience I wanted to have."

Looking beyond in the direction that Landis would like to be looking at the moment, Ley asked if the glory of winning the Tour has been lost, even if the outcome of the test is a favourable one. "The glory from the outside perception, I cannot say. For me, I know the truth. I won it, I spent the last fifteen years of my life training for it. For me, it's good enough. It was something I proved for myself."

Finally, when asked about the comments his mother, Arlene Landis, had made to the press - specifically about the morals of his upbringing, Landis paused and then said, "It is the one thing to allow me to keep my dignity. I didn't talk to her as much in the recent years as I was training, but hearing that from my mother is enough to make me cry."

Five years, 11 doping scandals: The Phonak legacy

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

The cycling team with the most doping scandals; is this how Phonak will be remembered?
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Although the definitive results of American Floyd Landis' "B" sample from Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France are not yet available, and may not be communicated for a few weeks, it's now clear that Phonak can claim the dubious prize as the cycling team with the greatest frequency of doping scandals in the sport.

The team fired Austrians Jochen Summer in early 2001 and Mathias Buxhofer in 2002 after they tested positive for banned substances, but the first big scandal broke for the Swiss squad just before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, when 1998 world champ Oscar Camenzind was found positive for EPO from a surprise, out of competition test conducted by the UCI. The former postman subsequently retired.

Next up in the scandal sweepstakes for Phonak were American Tyler Hamilton and Spanish rider Santi Perez. After winning a time trial in the 2004 Vuelta a España, the newly crowned Olympic TT champ was controlled positive for blood doping in Athens. Hamilton's Phonak team-mate Santi Perez, who finished second in the '04 Vuelta, was also controlled positive for blood doping when he was checked at home with a surprise test. Both riders were given two year suspensions.

Even though the Swiss squad cleaned house by firing key management in late 2004, last year produced more Phonak doping scandals under new management. First, Slovenian rider Tomas Nose was caught with illicit doping products in his suitcase at the Tour of Georgia, and was fired by Phonak in April. Just before last year's Dauphiné Libéré in June, Spanish rider Santi Gonzalez was found to have high haematocrit in a team check and was fired by Phonak. In August, Fabrizio Guidi tested positive for EPO, but his B sample returned a negative result, so he was cleared, and is still racing with the team.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

The end of Swiss cycling?

By Susan Westemeyer

Floyd Landis "has stolen the future of Swiss pro cyclists" said Swiss newspaper Blick.

"It is clear that after this newest doping scandal, Andy Rihs (53) will throw in the towel. His ARcycling AG will either be sold or dissolved. Because the new sponsor iShares will withdraw despite its contract (from 2007 to 2009)," it reported.

On Thursday, Phonak rider Fabrizio Guidi won a stage in the Tour de la Région Wallonne and took over the leader's jersey, claiming the overall win on Friday, despite directeur-sportif's Rene Savary's comments: "I don't know how we are supposed to defend the jersey on Friday. Or whether we will even be at the start Sunday in Hamburg."

However, according to the team's webite, Savary will be taking the team to the upcoming ProTour classic in Germany. "That's why we are still focusing completely on the race here in Wallonia," he said, contradicting his earlier statement, "because we want to take this tour to a successful conclusion so that we can start the race in Hamburg with high morale."

Klöden and Zabel disappointed and angry

Andreas Klöden doesn't want to be congratulated on possibly moving up to a second place in the Tour de France. "I don't want to win the Tour this way," he said, adding, "If the B-sample substantiates the results, then I will feel cheated."

Klöden and former teammate Erik Zabel talked to the German press agency dpa before the Nacht von Hannover race Friday. According to Klöden, "Out of 1000 athletes, there are a few black sheep. We have a good control system in cycling."

"The grace period is over," said Zabel. "It can't go on this way. A lot has to happen." He also urged the riders to not just concentrate on the Tour de France. "The riders shouldn't just pick out a few races, more of them should ride the one-day classics." He also recommended that the Tour organizers take the riders more into consideration when planning the route. "You don't need to have three difficult Alpine stages in a row. The winner also doesn't have to ride 41 km an hour. 39 km an hour is good, too."

Renshaw stays with Crédit Agricole for two more

By Cyclingnews staff

Up-and-coming Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw has confirmed he will stay with his Crédit Agricole team for two more seasons. In an email to Cyclingnews, the 25 year-old from the country town of Bathurst, New South Wales, wrote: "Credit Agricole are looking to blend me into a role of leadership/sprinter, and when racing with Thor [Hushovd], to play the worker role."

"I'm pretty happy with this set-up, because it will give me the freedom to win in some races at a lower level and also ProTour level," continued Renshaw, "but on the other hand, I will hopefully be setting Thor up for some more wins in the big races. I know I can one day be at his level; it's just going to take some more racing, training and hard work."

As for the doping controversy surrounding Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, Renshaw lamented for the sport he loves. "I see another long, drawn-out court case, where once again, cycling keeps getting dragged lower into the shit and nobody really has any idea.

"If he did cheat and they prove it, I don't feel sorry for him. I have some hope he didn't cheat and he can prove them wrong, because cycling is getting dragged once again up shit creek!"

Gerolsteiner's weekend plans


Gerolsteiner is looking to repeat its success at the LuK Challenge on Saturday in Germany, if not do better. 2004 and 2005 saw the mineral-water boys taking both second and third place.

"It's difficult to make a prognosis. We have to wait and see how each rider has come through the Tour de France. But we ought to have at least one podium place," says Team Manger Hans-Michael Holczer. The LuK Challenge is a rarity, a two-man team time trial. Gerolsteiner is sending two "teams" and three of the riders were in the Tour de France.

Markus Fothen and Sebastian Lang will be riding together, as will Levi Leipheimer and Stefan Schumacher. "The important thing is that the pairs ride evenly balanced, especially in the last half of the race," says Holczer.

Cyclassics Hamburg

The only one day German Pro Tour race is Sunday in Hamburg, and Gerolsteiner is "going on the start with a strong team." Davide Rebellin will lead the team, after taking a stage win and the overall win in the recent Brixia Tour. In addition, in the last four years he has not finished worse than sixth in Hamburg.

Directeur Sportif Christian Henn has other cards to play, though. "With Fabian Wegmann we have another ace up our sleeves," he said. He notes, too, that it is important that the team do well there "because as a German team we stand more in the spotlight than the others."

Gerolsteiner for Cyclassics: David Kopp, Sven Krauss, Andrea Moletta, Volker Ordowski, Davide Rebellin, Fabian Wegmann, Petre Wrolich, and Markus Zberg.

Sinkewitz to lead T-Mobile in Germany

Fresh off a solid Tour performance, where he finished 23rd overall, Patrik Sinkewitz will spearhead the T-Mobile Team at the Deutschland-Tour, which starts next Tuesday in Düsseldorf.

Two years ago, Sinkewitz edged out a top-class field to win Germany's most prestigious stage race. The now 25 year-old German will be hoping to repeat that performance next week, with the help of Andreas Klöden. "At the Deutschland-Tour, the team will ride in support of him [Sinekwitz]," said sporting director Valerio Piva, who also has Linus Gerdemann as a second GC option.

Gerdemann finished an impressive seventh at the challenging Tour de Suisse in June. Last week, the 23 year-old also finished second on the queen stage of the Sachsen-Tour, narrowly losing out to Team CSC's Andy Schleck (CSC) in a two-up sprint for the stage win. "Gerdemann performed very well in his last few races, and should have the right form to play a leading role," said Piva, who believes the team's dual-leadership strategy will "make things much more complicated for the competition".

Supporting Sinkewitz and Gerdemann co-leadership is Eddy Mazzoleni, who performed well in the Alpine stages of the Tour de France, as well as Italians Daniele Nardello and Lorenzo Bernucci, who placed second overall at the Sachsen-Tour. Stephan Schreck, Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen and sprinter André Greipel round out the roster.

Riders: Lorenzo Bernucci, Linus Gerdemann, André Greipel, Kim Kirchen, Eddy Mazzoleni, Daniele Nardello, Stephan Schreck, Patrik Sinkewitz
Directeur-sportif: Valerio Piva

Astana for upcoming races

Astana - the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros-Wurth - will return to the competition this Sunday at the Vattenfall Cyclassic Hamburg, with the same eight riders heading to the Tour of Germany. On Monday, July 31, Marino Lejarreta will direct a group of eight riders at the Circuito de Getxo "Memorial Ricardo Otxoa" in Spain.

Meanwhile, Active Bay is finishing negotiations with representatives from Astana to reach a definitive agreement in the sale of the team.

Riders for Vattenfall Cyclassic: Carlos Barredo, Assan Bazayev, Andrey Kashechkin, Sergio Paulinho, Josá Antonio Redondo, Luis León Sánchez, Alexander Vinokourov, Sergey Yakovlev
Riders for Deutschland-Tour: same as above
Riders for Circuito de Getxo: Carlos Abellán, Dariusz Baranowski, Aaron Kemps, Koen de Kort, Daniel Navarro, José Joaquín Rojas, Eladio Sánchez, Iván Santos

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