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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for June 4, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Alpine feast in the Dauphiné Libéré

By Jeff Jones and Jean-Francois Quenet

Last year's winner Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Starting in Annecy on Sunday with a flat 4 km prologue, the 58th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré will feature a feast of climbing, and is considered the ideal race for the Tour de France contenders to hone their form. After eight challenging stages, it finishes on June 11 - just under three weeks before the start of 'La Grande Boucle'.

The prologue will be suited to a powerful short distance specialist, and Rabobank's Thomas Dekker, who hasn't raced since Liege-Bastogne-Liege, is said to be targeting it along with the race's second time trial on Wednesday. Also of interest are Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) and George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) - the latter in his first race since his crash in Paris-Roubaix. His team director Johan Bruyneel said before the start, "I've got no idea about his form right now."

One rider who will be missing from the start list is Brad McGee (Française des Jeux), who is skipping the Dauphiné in favour of the Tour de Suisse. He has recovered from his back problems that forced him out of the Giro d'Italia, but his form isn't quite up to scratch to start in Annecy.

The next two stages on Monday (Annecy-Bourgoin-Jallieu, 207 km) and Tuesday (Bourgoin-Jallieu-Saint-Galmier, 203 km) should be favourable to the sprinters - not that there are many competing in the Dauphiné, as usual. Even Tuesday's stage, with its four category four climbs, could produce a selection of GC riders and prevent a mass finish. But in the case of a sprint, look out for Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital) and Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner).

Stage 3 on Wednesday is a 43 km time trial starting and finishing in Bourg-de-Péage. This is a tough, up and down stage, and will be a good yardstick for riders such as Floyd Landis (Phonak), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Dave Zabriskie (CSC), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery), Denis Menchov and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), and Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval).

But the time trial is only the start of the difficulties. Stage 4 starts in Tain-l’Hermitage and finishes 186 km later on top of the mighty Mont Ventoux, the 1909m 'Giant of Provence'. The following stage from Sisteron to Briançon isn't much easier, as it features the even mightier Col d'Izoard (2360), with just a descent to the finish.

And wait, there's more! Stage 6 is almost the same as the Tour de France's 16th stage, starting in Briançon, ascending the mightiest of all, the col du Galibier (2556m, via the tunnel), then down into St-Jean-de-Maurienne, up the Col du Glandon/Croix de Fer (2067m), then over the Col du Mollard (1638m), before descending into the valley and tackling the final climb up to La Toussuire (1700m) after a total of 169 km. It's the first time that the Dauphiné has had a stage finish in La Toussuire.

The final stage from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Grenoble is somewhat easier, with the cat. 3 Col du Barrioz the main difficulty, but there are nearly 60 km to go to the finish after that climb.

The battle for GC will be interesting, as no-one has announced the Dauphiné as a goal for this year, but someone will have to win it. Thanks to the ProTour, nearly all the big Tour names are here: Landis, Leipheimer, Valverde, Vinokourov, Hincapie, Popovych, Mancebo, Moreau, Menchov and Mayo. But who has the right form in June?

UCI hits back at WADA

The war of words continues between the UCI and WADA in the wake of the "Vrijman report" on the Lance Armstrong/L'Equipe EPO allegations affair. After the report was released this week - essentially saying that Armstrong could not be accused of a doping offence because there were too many procedural and chain of custody gaps - the World Anti-Doping Agency "completely rejected" it, calling it "defamatory" to WADA and the LNDD and "so lacking in professionalism and objectivity that it borders on farcical."

The UCI, which supports the conclusions of the report, returned WADA's serve with a powerful volley of its own. "What strikes one most is that WADA leaves aside the main questions and conclusions of the report," the UCI stated. "WADA should not be allowed to divert the attention on side issues, but asked publicly to answer the many pertinent questions in the Vrijman report and in particular the following:

  • Is it correct that WADA has put pressure on the laboratory to include in research reports the original sample codes, thereby violating the confidentiality that is guaranteed to the athletes?
  • Will WADA make known which person within WADA has taken this decision?
  • Does WADA admit that the World Anti-Doping Code was violated in that the samples were analysed for research purposes without the consent of the athletes, as well as WADA’s rule in the doping control form that the origin of the samples must be made untraceable?
  • Will WADA confirm or deny that there have been contacts between WADA and D. Ressiot prior to August 23, 2005 that explain statements made by D. Ressiot in L’Equipe of that day?

Furthermore, the UCI accuses L'Equipe journalist Damien Ressiot of "shooting the messenger" in his June 2 article, and asks L'Equipe the following questions:

  • Did L’Equipe have contacts with WADA on this issue prior to August 23, 2005? If not, how did L’Equipe know or why did it write that WADA was studying which legal measures could be taken against the riders? How did L’Equipe know that the research had been done in collaboration with WADA?
  • L’Equipe knew that the analysis method was not valid: does L’Equipe find it normal to state categorically, as it did, that L. Armstrong used doping?

To be continued...

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

G.P. Gippingen: The battle of the Swiss riders

The Swiss hope to battle it out among themselves and win "their" HC-ranked race, the G.P. des Kanton Aargau in Gippingen. Swiss Team Phonak is sending six Swiss riders (and one Spaniard), Team Gerolsteiner is sending all four of its Swiss riders, and even T-Mobile will have its one Swiss rider on the start, former winner Steffen Wesemann.

The race consists of ten laps of a 19,6 km course with two mountains and 240 climbing metres per lap.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Targetraining targeting Triple Crown

The Targetraining Professional Cycling Team is gearing up to tackle the Pro Cycling Tour races in Lancaster, Reading, and Philadelphia (USA) this week, putting its best riders into the fray.

"We have constructed teams to tackle the different racing that the Pro Cycling Tour throws at us," said Ken Mills, directeur sportif. "Last year Lancaster came down to a sprint in a breakaway so our roster is designed to compliment the different race scenarios that might develop through out the week."

Team Captain Frank Pipp is coming off of a 6th place overall at the US Crit Series as well as a 5th place at stage 2 of the Joe Martin Stage Race. Co-captain Anthony Colby is also racing well after a 4th place finish at the Tour of Gila in New Mexico.

"The racers have been training hard and living as a team at the Targetraining Team House in Westport, CT," said the team's head coach, Rick Crawford. "Never before have the guys been as fit and cohesive as a team. We are hoping that their fitness and trust in each other will produce top results at the demanding PCT races and the gruelling stage races that are ahead on the schedule."

The complete roster for the Commerce Bank Triple Crown events is as follows; Alejandro Acton, Josh Bezecny, Anthony Colby, Bill Elliston, Eneas Freyre, Dan Greenfield, Andy Guptill, Wes Hartman, Dustin MacBurnie, Frank Pipp, Matt Shriver.

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