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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for June 1, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Anthony Tan

UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report

By Jeff Jones

There has been a slew of press releases issued on Wednesday afternoon in the wake of the leaking of Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman's 132-page report on the 1999 Tour de France urine sample case. Ironically, Mr. Vrijman's report found its way into the Dutch press before the UCI or WADA saw it - much to the annoyance of both sporting bodies.

The report recommended that Armstrong should be cleared of any suspicion surrounding the retrospective testing of his blood samples from the 1999 Tour de France, where were claimed by L'Equipe to have contained EPO. It denounced the manner in which the doping laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry carried out its research, as well as questioning the ethics of World Anti-Doping Agency chairman, Dick Pound.

The UCI's response was tinged with more than a little frustration, as it had appointed Mr. Vrijman to do the investigation in the first place. "The International Cycling Union has learned with great surprise the declarations conveyed to the Dutch press by Mr. Emile Vrijman, independent investigator within the context of the urine sample analysis during the 1999 Tour de France case," the statement read.

"The UCI firmly deplores the behaviour of Mr. Vrijman, who has prematurely voiced, offending the agreements that foresaw that all parties implied would be informed before any public comment on the report content would be done. Still waiting the receive the definite version of the said report written by Mr. Vrijman, the UCI underlines its deep displeasure with regards to the regrettable development of this case."

The UCI finished by stating that it will study the contents of the report in detail before publishing it in full.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) statement was similarly disapproving, most of all at the fact that the report criticised WADA's ethics in the case. "The World Anti-Doping Agency expresses grave concern and strong disappointment following media reports in which Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman, who was appointed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to investigate urine samples collected from the 1999 Tour de France, criticises anti-doping authorities," read WADA's statement.

"WADA is not in a position to comment at this time other than to state that elementary courtesy and professionalism would have dictated that WADA should have been provided with a copy of the report before interviews were given to the media.

"WADA continues to stress its concern that an investigation into the matter must consider all aspects - not limited to how the damaging information regarding athletes' urine samples became public, but also addressing the question of whether anti-doping rules were violated by athletes. WADA will respond in due course once it has fully reviewed the report."

In addition, WADA president Dick Pound was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "It's clearly everything we feared. There was no interest in determining whether the samples Armstrong provided were positive or not. We were afraid of that from the very beginning."

The only party who was happy with the report was Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who was implicated by the L'Equipe article. In his statement, Armstrong thanked Mr Vrijman and his staff for their "hard work and diligence in this process. I have not had an opportunity to study the report yet, but I wanted to let you know my preliminary reactions to the report," said Armstrong.

"Although I am not surprised by the report’s findings, I am pleased that they confirm what I have been saying since this witch-hunt began: Dick Pound, WADA, the French laboratory, the French Ministry of Sport, L’Equipe, and the Tour de France organizers (ASO) have been out to discredit and target me without any basis and falsely accused me of taking performance enhancing drugs in 1999. Today’s comprehensive report makes it clear that there is no truth to that accusation.

"The report confirms my innocence, but also finds that Mr. Pound along with the French lab and the French ministry have ignored the rules and broken the law. They have also refused to cooperate with the investigation in an effort to conceal the full scope of their wrongdoing. I have now retired, but for the sake of all athletes still competing who deserve a level playing field and a fair system of drug testing, the time has come to take action against these kinds of attacks before they destroy the credibility of WADA and, in turn, the international anti-doping system."

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Würth Team denies new sponsorship agreement with Kazajan Oil

Begins Euskal Bizikleta minus Sanchez

By Antonio J. Salmerón

At the start of today's opening stage of the Euskal Bizikleta in Spain, Würth rider Luis León Sanchez did not join his teammates in Eibar. Instead, the team was comprised of Joseba Beloki, David Etxebarria, Aaron Kemps, Aitor Osa, José Antonio Redondo, Carlos Abellán, Assan Bazayev and Angel Vicioso, who were wearing white-painted gear with Würth logos on their clothing.

Press officer Jacinto Vidarte denied speculation that team manager Manolo Sáiz had reached an agreement with a company known as Kazajan Oil, but did confirm negotiations were taking place: "We are working on this, but there is nothing concrete," he said.

Likewise, Vidarte denied any truth behind now sole sponsor Würth issuing Sáiz an ultimatum if the team were left out of the ProTour as a consequence of 'Operation Puerto': "It was a supposition more than a reality, because we have not [had] any warning in this sense."

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

An interview with Fränk Schleck

The hopeful helper

Once a domestique with plenty of promise, Fränk Schleck's name is now being cast as one of the future stars of cycling. Björn Scheele finds out a little more about the friendly-faced Luxembourger, who achieved his crowning moment at this year's Amstel Gold.

On April 16 at the Amstel Gold Race, the man of the moment was Fränk Schleck

Photo ©: Anthony Tan

(Click for larger image)

After winning the 2006 Amstel Gold Race, 26 year-old Fränk Schleck proved that he is slowly but surely becoming one of the really big names in cycling.

Last year Schleck fought for Ivan Basso's victory at the Giro d'Italia. But on the legendary Stelvio stage, Captain Basso was weaker than expected. Schleck waited for him and prioritised his team's ambitions over his own personal interests. Many will wonder how it felt knowing that he was stronger than Basso that day.

"The whole team suffered with Ivan," he says. "It had been a long day and we were sitting on our bikes for eight hours. You just have to stay with a rider like Ivan and support him one hundred percent, on good and on bad days. It was a truly terrible day, but we showed that we are the best team in the world - not only because we ride fast!

"We proved that we are an extraordinarily homogenous team and that friendship means a lot for us. Especially Ivan, who's very sensitive to these things, saw that we were standing right behind him." Schleck admits that there are people who have said he should have tried to get something out of it for himself. But he would have never even thought of that and is deeply convinced he and his team-mates did the right thing.

Click here for the full interview.

Milram for weekend races

Team Milram will field the following line-ups at Saturday's Trofeo Mercatone Uno/Memorial Pantani and the GP Kanton Aargau on Sunday in Switzerland.

Trofeo Mercatone Uno, June 3

Riders: Mirko Celestino, Alberto Ongarato, Marco Velo, Fabio Sacchi, Fabio Sabatini, Giovanni Visconti Directeur sportif: Oscar Pellicioli

GP Kanton Aargau, June 4

Riders: Simone Cadamuro, Michele Gobbi, Dennis Haueisen, Martin Müller, Carlo Scognamiglio, Elia Rigotto Directeur sportif: Antonio Bevilacqua

Lampre and Liquigas to Dauphiné Libéré

Following the Giro, the next stage race the Lampre-Fondital team will compete in will be the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, held from June 4-11, 2006. Attention will be focused on the return of sprinter Danilo Napolitano, who took a break after his two stage victories at the Settimana Ciclista Internazionale Coppi-Bartali in March.

Young riders such as Corioni, Bono and Possoni will have their chance, and the performances of more experienced riders such as Marzano, Carrara, Szmyd and Sabaliauskas will also be monitored.

Riders: Matteo Bono, Matteo Carrara, Claudio Corioni, Marco Marzano, Danilo Napolitano, Morris Possoni, Marius Sabaliauskas and Sylwester Szmyd. Direttori sportivi: Guido Bontempi, Bruno Vicino

Liquigas will have Vincenzo Nibali as its captain for the Dauphiné, the team said. The Sicilian rider, who has a stage win in the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali will be joined by Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Failli, Nicola Loda, Marco Milesi, Manuel Quinziato, Marco Righetto, and Alessandro Spezialetti in France. The team will be directed by Dario Mariuzzo and Mario Chiesa

Teams for Tour of Denmark

With Skil-Shimano the final team confirmed for this year's Tour of Denmark, scheduled for August 2-6, the 16-team line-up is as follows:

Team CSC, Team T-Mobile, Liquigas, Davitamon Lotto, Gerolsteiner,, Panaria Navigare, Team Barloworld, Chocolade Jacques - T Interim, Team Intel Action, Team GLS, Glud & Marstrand Horsens, Team Designa Køkken, Team LPR, Skil-Shimano, Team Post Danmark

Delaware cyclist killed in hit-and-run

Last Monday in Delaware, USA, a cyclist was involved in a fatal hit-and-run, with state authorities seeking further evidence to identify the driver.

Delaware Online reports that 29 year-old Russell C. Kennedy III of Milford was found by a passer-by at approximately 8:45pm on Mosley Road in the South Bowers area, just west of South Bowers Road. Investigators determined that Kennedy had been riding west on Mosley Road when an eastbound vehicle crossed the centre line and hit him, said Delaware State Police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham.

The head-on impact threw Kennedy from his bicycle onto the road, with the motorist, required by law to render aid, notify authorities and stay at the scene of the accident, fleeing the scene. Rescuers took Kennedy to Milford Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:26pm.

"They have found some evidence of possible paint chips on the bicycle," said Oldham. However, more evidence or eyewitness accounts are required to further the police investigation.

Anyone with information on the hit-and-run should call state police in Camden.

Donegal three day

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

The category one cyclists had their day in the sun (well, rain) last week in the FBD Insurance Ras, and now it's the turn of the lower categories. They will be heading to the Bayview Hotel Ras Dun na Gall, which will be held in Killybegs, Co. Donegal over three days starting on Friday evening.

The event lapsed over five seasons ago, but according to race organiser, John Curran, "The emergence of Philip Deignan, who now races alongside Mark Scanlon on the AG2R Prevoyance team, heightened the profile of the sport in the area. The enthusiasm amongst the locals and the promise of sponsorship was the turning point in kick-starting the event again."

Curran expects somewhere around 130 competitors for the event. Niall Brosnan, of the Earl of Desmond/Tralee Bicycle club, and Michael O’Donnell, a former winner of the Shay Elliott Trophy, are regarded as pre-race favourites.

The race kicks off on the Friday with a 35 mile stage beginning in Killybegs and taking in Carrick, Glencolmcille, Meenaneary, and Carrick again and finishing in Killybegs. A 5.2 mile time trial follows on Saturday morning using the hilly and twisting coast road from Fintra to Killybegs and back to Fintra, with a 54 mile afternoon stage from Killybegs to take in Bruckless, Dunkineely, Ardaghey, Kilraine and a lap of the Ardara-Narin-Maas-Glenties circuit, before finishing once more in Killybegs.

The final stage on Sunday leaves Killybegs for Ardara for a reverse of the Ardara-Narin-Maas-Glenties circuit before tackling the famous Glengesh Pass and returning to Killybegs via Meenaneary and Carrick, to give a total distance of 57 miles. The racing will be hard and fast on the Donegal roads with plenty of spectacular scenery.

The race is open to second and third category riders, juniors, ladies, and veterans. As an aside, juniors will welcome the return of this high profile stage race, as it was regarded as an ideal preparation for the Junior Tour which is now sponsored by MDonnelly and is scheduled to take place in Castlebar in early July.

The Four Masters Cycling Club was established in 1987 by Cathal Ó Raghallaigh, who himself was a competitive rider, with a stage win and a fine third overall in the 1958 Rás Tailteann, which has the backing of FBD Insurance now.

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