Latest Cycling News for June 5, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
Vinokourov: "I believe Saiz"
Alexandre Vinokourov has expressed confidence in his team manager Manolo Saiz in the wake of 'Operacion Puerto', where Saiz was one of those arrested on doping-related charges. The affair has so far led to Liberty Seguros pulling its sponsorship out of the team, to be replaced by Kazakhstan concern Astana.
"I still trust team manager Manolo Saiz," Vinokourov said to L'Equipe. "I have read the newspapers just like everyone else, but I have also heard Saiz' version. He has assured me that he has nothing to do with the affair and I believe him. I've always believed him, from the moment that I started riding with him. He admitted that his visit to Fuentes was unfortunate, but has not given up the fight. I believe Saiz."
Vino added that he had never had any contract with Dr Fuentes, who is one of the key figures in the affair.
The new sponsorship to fill the gap left by Liberty Seguros was done remarkably quickly, and was due in a large part to Vinokourov. "I couldn't leave my team in the lurch a month before the start of the Tour," he said. "Because the prime minister of Kazakhstan is also the president of the cycling federation, we quickly found a solution."
The Astana-Wurth team will ride in their new jerseys in the Tour de Suisse, which starts this Saturday, and Kazakhstan's blue colours will feature prominently. Vinokourov will not take part in that race, as he is doing the Dauphiné Libéré. His only other pre-Tour race will be the Kazakhstan national championships.
Botero stops for the season
Colombian rider Santiago Botero has decided to call it quits for the season after being sidelined by Phonak for his relationship with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes and Ignacio Labarta, two of the men accused in the 'Operacion Puerto' affair. While Botero maintains that he is innocent of doping, he claims to have completely lost morale for cycling at the moment, although it is too early to think of retirement.
In an interview with Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper, Botero admitted that he had links with Dr Fuentes and Labarta from his time with the Kelme team. "I don't deny that he helped me when I came to that team," he said. "I explained to [Phonak] that Ignacio Labarta did my training program. I have no reason to hide that. I was with [Fuentes] for eight years. I arrived at Kelme at the age of 21, like a boy, and the first thing that I discovered was that it was a team of people, of experienced riders and doctors, Fuentes and Ignacio Labarta. Since 1995, the did all my programs, prepared the calendar, effort tests, and everything that has to do with the preparation of a sportsman that has nothing to do with giving steroids, anabolics or anything that they found on them."
Botero said that the team's decision to prevent him and Gutiérrez from racing until the investigation has finished meant that, "I lost my morale and spirit...It seems to me like they threw firewood on the fire and fed the yellow press.
"I was not happy. I spent seven months preparing myself in Colombia, killing myself, training every day, living for the bicycle. I did road, track, I took care of my diet. I arrived in Europe in good spirits and was looking forward to doing a good Tour de France. I went to Alcobendas and did an excellent race. I said that I had lost the Volta ao Catalunya because of them and they did that to me. For me, the year was finished. I have no objectives, no ambitions. When am I going to race again? The decision doesn't seem to be just to me."
While saying that he has nothing to hide, Botero said that he is in a no-win situation now. "If I win, then I'm doped. If I lose, it's the same, then I don't have any way out.
"I have not thought about retirement, for the moment. This leaves me deflated, but what is the point of treating someone like a delinquent? That makes no sense and is not justified."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
Ullrich hints at retirement
Jan Ullrich has given himself at the most another two years in cycling, according to an interview with German TV station ZDF on Sunday. "Maybe I can ride for another one or two years if I am still motivated," said 32 year-old Ullrich.
Ullrich is aiming to win the Tour de France for a second time this year, following the retirement of his superior rival Lance Armstrong. "Anything other than a victory will be a huge disappointment," he said. In addition to his 1997 victory, Ullrich has five second places in the Tour, one third, and one fourth: his lowest ever placing in all his starts.
His main challenger this year will be Ivan Basso, who wiped the floor with the opposition to win the Giro d'Italia recently. Ullrich also rode the Giro as training, winning the flat time trial but not really showing himself in the mountains. He pulled out in the third last stage suffering from a sore back that flared up as a result of a knee injury. He will ride the Tour de Suisse as his final preparation race before the Tour de France.
An interview with Oleg Tinkoff
Minding his own business
One of Russia's best-known businessmen, Oleg Tinkoff, is now owner and rider in the former Soviet country's newest professional cycling team. Sponsored by the restaurant chain he made famous, this highly driven Siberian loves a big challenge, especially one very close to his heart, and as Sergey Kurdyukov finds out, he's determined to make it a success.
The man at the centre of Russia's newest cycling team stands apart from others. The idea of 'a man apart' was the central theme of a Tinkoff beer advertising campaign, with the slogan “He’s the only one”. It worked perfectly in Russia, a place used to uniformity rather than this sort of philosophy.
But it wasn't just an ad gimmick, it’s a fact of life for Oleg Tinkov, who has his own way of doing just about everything, and he doesn't care whether it’s proper for a wealthy businessmen to be as thin as a rake or to put 180km in his legs on a daily basis. He’s not the type of guy to pose for a reason, which has been all too common in the post-Soviet era; he’s a man of action, a ranger if you like, who constantly needs a fresh dose of adrenaline to keep him going.
Every time he feels the things go too smoothly and life becomes a sniff dull, he’s more likely to go for a fresh start. In this case it meant selling his thriving business and opening up a new page.
You’d ask where cycling comes in here. For Tinkov cycling is one thing that has never changed in his life. It doesn't matter that for almost 20 years he hadn't thrown his leg over a bike; his passion for cycling can be compared to an early teenage love who flew away with her parents to some distant country only to come across the boy, grown up into a man, at a connection airport after time had passed, finding out that thoughts of her have never left his head.
For Tinkoff that romance has been rekindled with the development of a team sponsored by the Tinkoff chain of restaurants. And a strange twist of the tale he'll be the first team manager/owner to ride races with his young charges, most of whom could be his sons. It's a reflection of the discipline Tinkoff possesses that he's ridden himself into shape to ride with some of Russia's most talented young riders - no small task at all.
In true Tinkoff style, our interview wasn't formal; heading out on a training ride, Tinkoff's plan was to keep his heart rate down to a maximum of 120 beats per minute. On the Olympic Krylatskoye circuit it’s much easier to push it up to 200 in a wild attempt to try and climb one of too many walls on the course. The way to keep this tendency under control was to discuss various subjects, from Tinkoff's business to his cycling ambitions. And there was a little instruction from his friend Viatcheslav Ekimov, of course.
Click here for the full interview
32 riders tested at Dauphiné
On Sunday morning before the start of the prologue of the Dauphiné Libéré, the UCI carried out blood controls on 32 riders from the following teams: Agritubel, Liquigas, CSC and Gerolsteiner. All were declared fit to start.
Langeveld to Rabobank?
21 year-old Dutch rider Sebastian Langeveld will sign a two year contract with the Rabobank team, according to reports in the Dutch press. Currently riding for the Skil-Shimano team, Langeveld won the Dutch U23 championships last year, resulting in a pro contract. This year, he won the GP Pino Cerami, and there have been several ProTour teams interested in him.
The deal doesn't appear to be done yet, however. "On the 9th or 10th of June, I have an appointment with Sebastian and his agent," said Skil-Shimano manager Arend Scheppink to AD. "He has a two year contract. According to me, it would not be smart to leave now. And the fact that other teams really want him, I don't find strange."
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