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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 17, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Discovery and Basso confirm agreement for DNA testing

Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel and Ivan Basso confirmed on Friday that under the terms of their contract, the Italian rider has agreed to provide a DNA sample if this is requested in a national judicial or disciplinary investigation.

"There has never been a DNA issue," Johan Bruyneel said. "Ivan agreed through his lawyer even before we signed to give a sample. He just wanted to make sure that the guarantees provided by the law would be respected."

Bruyneel added parts of the Code of Conduct hastily adopted by the teams should be reviewed. "We believe that even an athlete is innocent until proven guilty. A French prosecutor announced an investigation of Lance Armstrong in January 2005. Just this month, 22 months later, he announced that he was dropping the case. Under the Code of Conduct, would we have had to sideline Lance from the 2005 Tour?" the Discovery Channel team director asked.

The Code of Conduct provides among other things that teams will not allow any rider to compete if there is any disciplinary or criminal proceeding pending, even though no guilty verdict has been reached. The Code also requires any rider who is found guilty to be excluded from racing for four years after the guilty verdict, even if the official suspension is for shorter period.

"The Code of Conduct creates some issues that we will have to work together to resolve," Bruyneel said.

WADA to revise Anti-Doping Code

The Executive Committee and Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will meet respectively on Sunday, November 19, and Monday, November 20, 2006, in Montreal, Canada, to discuss the working draft revision of the World Anti-Doping Code. The product of this first of three consultation phases will be reviewed by its stakeholders (athletes, national Olympic committees, international federations, governments, laboratories and international agencies) by January 2007 for the second consultation phase. The Code review will then culminate at the Third World Conference on Doping in Sport, held by WADA in partnership with the Government of Spain from November 15-17, 2007, in Madrid, Spain.

On Wednesday, November 15, WADA president Richard W. Pound confirmed in a press conference that the International Association of Athletics Federations had proposed doubling the standard penalty for a serious doping violation from a two-year to a four-year suspension. "That is a suggestion that has come forward, and it will be considered by the Review Committee," Pound said. "I'm not quite sure what decision will be made on that, but the consensus will be reflected in the draft code that we send out shortly after our meeting."

Pound also said that the current testing procedure of having both an A and a B sample was being discussed, possibly resulting in the suppression of the counter-analysis. "There is a body of thought amongst our stakeholders that the A (sample) should be enough; and there is another body of thought amongst others that the B provides a protection in the very few cases where the A might be improperly analysed," he said.

While Pound did not take a stand on the matter personally, he said that there would have been no recommendation for a change of the anti-doping code unless there was evidence that the tests could be relied on. "The science has improved over the years, which is one of the reasons why some people think that you don't need this anymore. When that system was first put into effect, the science wasn't as good as it is now. But it's far too soon to say that there will be a change, and WADA itself doesn't have a view on it. We reflect the consensus of our stakeholders."

On the issue of the Floyd Landis case and the alleged external intrusion on the main server of the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory, Pound argued that "For me, the real problem is the activities of one or more hackers who entered into the system without permission, possibly against the law. We have to wait for the result of the investigation. There will be a hearing in January, where arbitrators will consider all the evidence."

Asked what he thought about the administrative mistake made by the laboratory with regard to the labelling of Landis' B sample, Pound replied, "The code contemplates minor errors that don't affect the ability and the analysis (of the lab). Ideally, of course, you don't want there to be any errors, administrative or otherwise, that may get corrected in the process. We just have to wait and see. This is kind of an unusual situation. It's entirely possible that a lot of this information has been illegally obtained, and that there may be consequences arising from that."

At the meetings on Sunday and Monday, WADA will also elect a new vice-president to succeed to Denmark's Brian Mikkelsen, with French sports minister Jean-Francois Lamour being the only candidate to the position. Lamour will be one of the possible candidates to replace Pound when his term expires next year.

Crake's parents give thanks

By Greg Johnson

The parents of injured cyclist Paul Crake, Peter and Elizabeth, have spoken for the first time since the 29 year-old's freak accident during last week's Tour of Southland through a release distributed by Cycling Australia. "We would like to express our sincere thanks for the support and good wishes we have received from the countless number of people from all walks of life following Paul's cycling accident," the statement read.

"We would like to assure all his friends that Paul, who underwent spinal surgery on Wednesday, is progressing well and is fully aware of his condition. Despite the brutality of the situation Paul has been spared and we still have our son. He is still very much the Paul that everybody knows, loves and admires. What is in front of him will be his greatest challenge yet."

Cyclingnews has learned that the Australian has suffered extensive damage to his spine and is unlikely to walk again. Crake is said to be in good spirits after undergoing surgery on Wednesday to stabilise his cervical vertebrae and to pin and secure the T5 and T6 vertebrae.

The accident occurred two kilometres from the end of the Tour of Southland's eighth stage when Crake was blown from his bike. "It was just incredibly windy and they were caught by a gust and blown down the bank," said ACT Cycling Federation President Steve Blair following the accident. "Paul hit his back on a fence post at the bottom and lost consciousness for four or five minutes but when he came around he was quite lucid and all his vitals were good."

Crake switched to competitive cycling in 2002 after claiming five consecutive stair climbing titles in New York's annual Empire State Building climb. He had spent 2006 racing professionally for Italian squad Naturino-Sapore di Mare and was a member of Australia's Road World Championships team in 2004.

"We would also like to thank the medical staff here in New Zealand," concluded his parents' statement. "Their expertise and professionalism has been second to none and we owe his survival to them. Last but not least thank you to Cycling Australia for all the support and assistance we have received."

Roche happy with team move

By Shane Stokes

Wolf and cub...
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Following what was an encouraging second season as a professional, up and coming Irish rider Nicolas Roche has said that his initial impressions of his new team have been positive. The 22 year-old is moving from Cofidis to Crédit Agricole and will compete with the ProTour squad in 2007 and 2008.

"I’ve had a good first impression," he said. "They look to be well organised in the way they do things. For example, I already know that I will start my racing programme in the Tour Down Under next season, and before then will get most of my stuff (clothing and bikes) in the first week of December."

Roche is the son of the 1987 Tour de France, Tour of Italy and world championship winner Stephen Roche and has made strong progress over the past few seasons. This year was his second in the pro ranks and he posted a number of good performances, including a fine stage win and tenth overall in the Tour de l’Avenir, fourth on a stage and overall in Paris-Corrèze and fourth again in the Irish road race championships.

The Tour de l’Avenir result was particularly notable as the race is seen as a predictor of the riders who will be making an impression in events such as the Tour de France in future years.

Roche has been staying in shape during the off-season and is already doing bike-specific training. "I started back training four weeks ago, and wasn’t doing much riding then, just two to three times a week for two hours. I was mostly doing running and swimming, but have now started riding more often since, doing two to three hours five times a week.

"The first training camp runs from the 11th until the 15th of December in Paris. We will then go to Bordeaux for the team medical and fitness test."

Before then, Roche will be one of several Irish professionals who will head to Belgium towards end of this month for a trial on the velodrome in Gent. Cycling Ireland’s performance director Frank Campbell has arranged for a tryout in order to examine the feasibility of some of the country’s road riders doing some track racing in the future.

Kabush joins Symmetrics in 2007

One of Canada's best mountain bike riders, Geoff Kabush, will be riding with Symmetrics Cycling on the road in 2007. Kabush, a multiple National champion in mountain bike and cyclo-cross, placed ninth at the 2000 Olympic Games and won the World Mountain Bike Relay Championships in 2004.

Kabush will ride for the team in select road events that complement his mountain bike schedule. "I've watched Symmetrics grow over the past couple years and I have really been impressed," he explained. "The Cunninghams have created an incredible team filled with great riders and, more importantly, great people. I'm really excited that I am able to fit in some road racing next year and there is no other team I would rather join up with."

Kabush has raced several top-level road events before, finishing 31st in the Tour of Georgia, as well as participating in international races like the Tour of Malaysia and the USPRO Championships. His climbing skills will be a definite asset to the team. "I'm definitely hoping to do some of the more difficult races with some hard climbing," Kabush said. "I am looking forward to the challenge of racing on the road again; I really want to help out the squad in whatever capacity I can. I know most of the guys pretty well - Pinner was my best man at my wedding."

Klier's season to forget

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klier (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Andreas Klier will be a happy man on New Year's Eve - the German will be happy to say goodbye to 2006, a year that absolutely didn't turn out the way the T-Mobile rider had hope it would.

"The season started for me with a personal record, but one that I would gladly not have had," the T-Mobile rider wrote on the team's website. "In the Mallorca Challenge and the Ruta del Sol I crashed four times - as often in two weeks as in the last eight years!

"My crash injuries weren't really bad, but they affected my development for the Classics so much, that my form at Het Volk was unacceptable," he continued. However, things improved over the spring and "I was one hundred percent fit for my season highlight, the Ronde von Vlaanderen..."

But once again things didn't work out as expected. Klier purposely didn't attack in Valkenburg, because of the headwind. He waited and attacked a few kilometres later, when there was side wind. "That was my plan. Unfortunately it didn't work out, because we were unable to catch the escapees."

His last chance to save the season was the World's. "I knew that I would ride it if I did well in the Benelux and Poland Tours." And what happened? On the first stage of the Benelux Tour, "I crashed and fell on my head: concussion! My fifth crash of the season, and the end of my season."

Klier still noted that while his season was one to forget, the year itself was a good one. "Our daughter Emma was born in January, a healthy baby. And this is more important to me than winning all five Classics."

Pradera to Benfica

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Mikel Pradera has reached a contractual agreement with the Portuguese squad Benfica. The Spaniard will leave Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears after two seasons, as he has finally found continuity for next year with Benfica, which will be directed by Orlando Rodrigues.

The Portuguese team has already signed three other riders coming from the neighbouring country: Jose Antonio Pecharromán (Comunitat Valenciana), the sprinter Javier Benítez (Grupo Nicolás Mateos) and the neo-professional Didac Ortega (FC Barcelona). Portugal's own Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel) will be the 2007 leader of this new Continental Pro squad.

Benfica will face an ample international calendar, but mainly race in Spain and France. The Vuelta a Andalucia, Vuelta a Valencia or Vuelta a Murcia are included in its race programme.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)