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Photo ©: Swift

Tour de France Cycling News Extra for June 30, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner

More riders named by UCI

After the Spanish sports minister and Tour de France organiser ASO officials, the International Cycling Union has also been given the detailed report on Operación Puerto, which links many pro cyclists of the international peloton the Madrid-based doping ring. The UCI has issued an official statement on Friday afternoon, saying that it "assumes that the following riders, registered to participate in the 2006 Tour de France, are involved in the affair: Sergio Paulinho, Isidro Nozal, Allan Davis, Alberto Contador, Joseba Beloki, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla."

Four more cyclists (Paulinho, Nozal, Davis and Contador) thus join the list of five riders that have already been refused the right to start the race tomorrow. According to the UCI, "The involvement [of these riders] does not mean that an anti-doping violation has been established. However, the indications of the mentioned report are serious enough."

At this point, it is not clear whether 'only' these nine riders will be excluded from the race; or if there will be more. The fate of team Astana-Würth is also still not known - even though the International Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday ruled that the team was granted the right to participate, ASO has refused to accept that decision. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the team should start with only four riders, as five of them seem to be caught up in the doping affair and that it is said that none of the excluded riders will be replaced.

Later during the evening, ASO is expected to issue the new, official start list of those cyclists that will take on the Tour de France tomorrow.

Leblanc: "An open Tour with clean riders"

Tour de France general director
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has appreciated the actions taken by various teams in the light of the serious accusations against some of their riders. T-Mobile suspended its leader Jan Ullrich, on Friday morning, which Leblanc called "a courageous move and a good example for the other directeurs sportifs."

The former bike racer and journalist, wo was already in his current position in 1998 when the Festina scandal rocked the race, was ready to 'clean up the peloton' if the teams did not do it by themselves. "We will ask the teams concerend to apply the ethical charter that they've signed and to expel the implicated riders," Leblanc continued. "If they don't, we will do it ourselves."

Even though this will mean that many teams will be reduced in number - as excluded riders will not be replaced - the Tour de France will get underway tomorrow, Saturday. ""Why shouldn't it?" asked Leblanc. "If the Spanish judiciary told us that, of the 200 riders starting in the Tour, there were 150 riders on their lists, we would have to think about it. But at the moment, there are only 5 or 6 riders (sic) that are concerned."

Leblanc still looks forward to the Tour de France, which will be his last one as director of the race. "I hope we can all start serenely on Saturday," he continued. "This is an organised mafia that spreads doping practices. I hope we can clean up everything now; all the cheats should be kicked out. then, maybe, we will get an open Tour with clean riders; a Tour in which there is space for ethics, sport and entertainment."

Team CSC: Ignorance or bluff?

By Anthony Tan in Strasbourg

Team CSC
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Although not available for comment after today's dramatic news, Team CSC was less tight-lipped at yesterday's press conference.

Asked about the problems stemming from 'Operacion Puerto', the now excluded team leader Ivan Basso replied: "My opinion is that I work hard for this Tour, and I think only about this race. My job is to ride the bike fast, and after the Giro, I put 100 percent [effort into] the Tour de France. I only read what has been written... I don't know more."

Said team manager Bjarne Riis: "I think it's obvious it's not good for cycling, but I'm in a situation where I cannot do much about it. I really don't know what to do or say about it... it affects us all, and it's bad for us all. Whether one should be doing this Tour or not, again, it's not up to me to decide that.

"As I said before, it's never good when things like this happen in cycling, in any sport. So... I don't know - you have to wait and see what comes out, and know what the situation is. There has been a lot of rumours, a lot of talking, a lot of noise... and it's been very difficult to handle; it's frustrating for us all, for the teams, for the press. I think a lot of positive things came out of '98... I don't know, let's wait and see."

Riis didn't have to wait long. Less than 24 hours later, the Tour de France world - in fact, the entire sporting world - has been turned upside down. Following a meeting between the French and Spanish ministers of sport this morning, and confirmed by race organisers A.S.O. at noon today, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla, Francisco Mancebo, among at least 16 others, have been withdrawn out of the 2006 Tour de France, and will not be replaced.

One of Team CSC's American riders, Bobby Julich, was the victim of a similar situation at the 1998 Tour de France, when the Festina doping scandal overshadowed a podium finish in Paris. Yesterday, Julich showed either ignorance or bluff when asked if he knew any more about the situation: "It has nothing to do with me and has nothing to do with my team, so we're absolutely focused on fulfilling our objectives of winning the Tour and being competitive as we can," he said.

Continued Julich: "A lot of it is still unknown, but in 1998, French cycling sort of purged itself because of the Festina thing. Obviously, it's very bad and very stressful to deal with in the Tour, but there was a positive outcome.

"Italy followed a few years later, and now it's Spain. That's always the negative thing, to have this sort of thing come out in the Tour de France, but if it's going to make this sport better and it's up to young riders like Frank Schleck or Cancellara to make sure this sport is clean. Y'know you have to clean it before you can expect things to change... Whatever happens in Spain is going to happen."

McQuaid: Saddened rather than shocked

By Shane Stokes

UCI head man Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Mark Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Contacted by Cyclingnews today at the UCI offices in Aigle, Switzerland, UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that he is "saddened, but not surprised" by what has happened today at the Tour de France.

"I’m sad that some of our top riders find themselves implicated in a doping affair but, on the other hand, if they are eventually proven guilty, then cycling is better off without them – we must insist on a clean sport," he stated.

"This development is not a shock, because it is something that we knew was coming. We have known about this affair for several weeks, I have been down in Madrid and spoken to the Spanish minister. We have had indications as to who is going to be involved, and now we have the actual facts.

"Now it is a question of clearing up the sport. There have been some courageous decisions taken by T-Mobile to exclude their riders and likewise there were courageous decisions taken by the teams today to exclude any rider involved on the list of names which has emerged. It is on the basis of the code of ethics of the UCI ProTour that they are excluding the riders."

McQuaid did underline the need for caution until further facts emerge. "No riders have been sacked, they have all been suspended until this affair is over."

"I have to stress that everything we are dealing with at the moment is allegations. Everybody is innocent at the moment, until we go through a process which proves them guilty. That has got to be stated. These riders that are being sent home from the Tour de France today are being sent home on the presumption of innocence, but because their name is implicated in this report, they have been suspended. They have not been fired, they will continue to get paid, they have been suspended."

However, he says that if they riders concerned are found guilty, they deserve to be punished. "From the sport's point of view and the Tour de France’s point of view, it is a disaster that such big names are going out of the race…. But if these allegations are eventually found to be true, it means that we lose these guys out of the sport. At that point in time, I won't really have much sympathy for them.

"Anybody that gets involved in doping will be found out and will be thrown out from cycling. We have the strictest rules of all sports as it is, in relation to the sanctions, and in the ProTour if any of these riders are eventually proved guilty, you could virtually say that their career is over. They will not just get the two years of the Wada code, they will also get two years extra out of the ProTour. So they are facing a four-year sentence out of the sport, that effectively will finish their careers.…

"This is hard for cycling, but I have to look at the positive side. It has to be a message to all the other riders in there that no matter how clever you think you are, you will eventually get caught out."

McQuaid also says that harsh penalties will also await any manager who is found to have encouraged systematic doping within their teams. When asked if they could face longer bans, he agreed. "Yes, you could take them out of the sport for good. We have that rule currently in there, as far as I know, and if through the information we are getting me find out that that has been happening, you can be sure that the managers involved will not be involved in cycling any more."

As to the rumoured involvement of other sports, McQuaid says that he believes more details about this will come out in time. "You must bear in mind also that this isn't just a problem of cycling. We have got this list from the authorities in Spain because we forced the issues; pressure came from the UCI and the French Ministry as well that we wanted this list before the Tour de France. There are other sports people from other sports involved this affair as well, and in time their names will also come out... I have been told that athletics, basketball, tennis and football are involved in this. Those details will all emerge over time."

A full interview with Pat McQuaid will appear on Cyclingnews later today.

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

More prizes for le Tour Fantasy Game!

Giant TCR Advanced
(Click for larger image)
Santini clothing
Photo ©: Santini
(Click for larger image)
BBB's BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses
(Click for larger image)
Speedplay Zero pedals
(Click for larger image)
Deda Alanera handlebars
(Click for larger image)
fi'zi:k saddles
(Click for larger image)
DedaTre RS Corsa clincher tyres
(Click for larger image)
Reynolds SV KOM carbon wheels
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews are pleased to announce that we will be providing six sets of Santini team wear for the lucky runners-up of the Fantasy le Tour game this year. Register now! You can join until stage 6 begins and there plenty time to learn how the game works. Many of the favourites in this year's Tour will be wearing Santini kit, from teams such as Milram, Saunier Duval, Liquigas and Lampre. The jerseys feature short sleeves with a 14cm zipper. The fabric is 40% polyamide and 60% polyester with three back pockets. The bibshorts with white mesh braces and Coolmax Techno padding (fabric is 22% lycra and 78% polyamide). The prize kit also includes: racing gloves with anti-sliding palms. The outer face is made of lycra net and with sweatband cotton sponge on the thumb; Cotton-Lycra socks, and Cotton racing caps.

Updated rider list Whilst it looks like there will be no replacements for those riders suspended, we will not update the fantasy game start list until this is confirmed and an official start list released by the ASO. We expect that this will be resolved later this evening (European time).

Fantasy Game even more exciting! Remember you can change your 15 riders right up until stage 6 begins so there is no need to worry too much about the recent changes to the start list. The good news is that the recent suspensions will open up the game to those who are really in-the-know about the form of those riders outside the obvious top 10 selections - it's going to make for an even more exciting game to play this year!

Even better prizes! The top prizes on offer are even more attainable to this year's Fantasy managers. Much like the Tour itself it's going to be wide open to managers from all over the world. If you haven't already, have another look at what's on offer... the Grand Prize of a T-Mobile GIANT TCR Advanced Team bike could be yours!!

Play the 2006 Le Tour game and win a Giant TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team bike! The TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team bike is Giant's lightest and strongest bike and the one used by Jan Ullrich and the T-Mobile team. Made from T-700 carbon fiber using Giant’s formulaOne technology, the frame is a jointless monocoque mainframe and features an integrated seat post and a Giant T-700 Full Composite fork. A small sized frame is only 865g making it one of the lightest frames on the market.

The bike comes equipped* with Shimano Dura-Ace group set and wheels, a Selle Italia saddle, Deda Elementi bars and stem, an FSA headset and Continental GP4000 tyres in the magenta/black colour scheme. (* Note that depending on where you live the specifics of the bike you might win may differ from country to country as the bike is sold with slightly different specs around the world).

It's free to play the first five stages - you could be our first winner of the great Daily Stage winner prizes from BBB. Registration has already begun.Be a professional team manager for the 2006 Le Tour and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Tour. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

The full Le Tour Fantasy Game Prize List

Grand Prize from Giant TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team bike.

Daily Prize from BBB Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen.

Runner-up Prizes - Set of wheels from Reynolds. - Cirro SV KOM carbon wheels

Runner-up Prizes - Ten pairs of tyres from DedaTre.

Runner-up Prizes - Handlebars from Deda Elementi.

Runner-up Prizes - Three Giro Atmos helmets.

Runner-up Prizes - Three sets of Speedplay's Zero pedals.

Runner-up Prizes - Three fi'zi:k saddles.

Play for free in the Fantasy Le Tour 2006 game

Remember you can play for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start list. Then each day pick 9 riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders.

For more details go to the rules section of the site. There's also some great tips and tricks in the downloads and winners sections of the site. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2006.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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