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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 19, 2006

Ullrich leaves the Swiss federation - but why?

by Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich has explained his withdrawal from the Swiss Cycling federation as a move of protest against an organization that has treated him unfairly, and he may ask for damages. "Jan Ullrich will no longer allow his personal rights to be kicked with both feet by Swiss Cycling," a statement on his website proclaims. "The Swiss federation has steadfastly ignored his previous complaints. Jan Ullrich has suffered under this handling of the situation. The pro cyclist reserves the rights to sue for damages."

He says that the federation claims to have the notarized documents from the UCI. "In actuality, Swiss Cycling does not have any documents which would justify a proceeding against Jan Ullrich. The charges against the German are entirely based on a falsified document from the Spanish police," he says, without specifying which document he means.

However, most observers disagree with his interpretation and see his act as a withdrawal from more than just the federation. The German press agency sid calls it a "panic reaction," brought about by the federation's statement that it would not cancel its investigation. "He had probably hoped for a dismissal after the acquittal of Giro winner Ivan Basso in Italy," sid says.

When he left the federation, he also automatically lost his pro license, but he claims to have "contacts with other cycling federations as to a license for 2007," without saying which federations or countries might be involved. "Jan would naturally move out of Switzerland if he changed to another federation," said his manager Wolfgang Strohband. "He is married to Sara, not to Switzerland."

The sid further adds that "Ullrich may have ultimately played away not only his professional future but also the last remains of his believability with his withdrawal. Rudolf Scharping, president of the Bundes Deutscher Radfahrer, could hardly believe the news, and refused to comment on it." Ullrich's former team, T-mobile, also refused to comment.

Fellow German cyclist and CSC star Jens Voigt said he was "pretty fed up" with the whole Ullrich situation. He told, "That's why I don't follow it so closely any more. But Ullrich will surely have his reasons for taking this step." Lothar Heinrich, who worked with Ullrich for many years as T-Mobile's team doctor, said, "I am personally very disappointed. After everything that has happened, I would have problems with it if he were to ride again."

The science behind the Landis case

Floyd Landis
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis has been on the defensive since news of his positive dope test was leaked just following the Tour de France. He's been tried in the court of public opinion, but now that he has the data from the test, he's taking the facts of the case to the people. Making his case public could be a telling preemptive strike for Floyd Landis and his legal team as they prepare for the battle ahead. But how sound are their arguments? Laura Weislo analyses the controversial dope test that allegedly showed Landis used testosterone during the Tour de France, as well the Landis team's legal strategy.

The stakes are high in this battle to clear a rider's name, save his career and the yellow jersey he won at this year's Tour de France. The decision to publish extensive documentation last week outlining their case is also a counter to the successive leaks and judgments handed down by senior sports administrators that have had Landis and his head counsel, Howard Jacobs, playing catch-up for weeks after the positive dope test was leaked to the press before Landis was officially notified of the result.

Now they have started to court public opinion as they prepare for hearings they want opened to the public. If granted their wish, the hearing could be standing-room only, as it seems that thousands of cycling fans and anti-doping advocates are devoting massive amounts of their free time to reading and discussing the documentation of this case, poking holes both in the WADA data and the Landis defense.

Click here to read the full feature

Tauler looking for more

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Spanish national time trial champion, Toni Tauler, may have fallen victim to the deficiencies of the Spanish cycling market. Tauler made debut in 1998 with Kelme-Costa Blanca, and remained there until 2003 when he moved to the Illes Balears ProTour team in 2004. After two seasons, Tauler was signed by the now ending 3 Molinos Resort team. "I arrived full of optimism and enthusiasm to this last one, after being disappointed with Illes Balears, but things were not done well with 3 Molinos Resort from the beginning, and in spite of that, I made reality a dream so determined as I was to win the national time trial championship", Tauler said to

The Spanish cyclist is still involved in track cycling, and considers that, "I am still ready to continue to fight for more victories". Although, at the moment, Tauler is looking for a new opportunity for 2007, hoping to leverage his national champion jersey. "I think it would be very interesting for any sponsorship". But, Tauler also admits that he might not find any more opportunities, and then he would have to put and end to his long sporting career. "I am working on building a gymnasium on my property in Manacor (Mallorca)". "Until now, I had not had problems finding a team, because anybody cannot say that I have not worked very hard anywhere I have been before", he concluded.

Granny Gear Promoters respond to Moab racers’ criticism

By Sue George

Martin and Ross Photo ©: Xavier Fane
Click for larger image

Racers at this year’s 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race, held last weekend in Utah, confronted not only unusual weather conditions, but also a series of controversial decisions made by the race promoter, Laird Knight of Granny Gear Productions. Knight stopped the 24-hour race at 8:00 PM on Saturday in response to conditions created by a storm. He restarted the race at 9:00 AM Sunday, but the dispute over results continues nearly a week after the race.

According to Knight, despite two storms which set a 105-year rainfall record in the days preceding the race, the course was in great shape.

Then things changed. After several hours of routine racing, a third storm dumped on the race and produced waist-deep flash-floods and gaping erosion ditches. The storm suddenly dropped temperatures. Water and sand combined to wreak havoc on racers’ equipment. Solo men’s category racer Nick Martin (Trek/VW) said his mechanic could barely keep up his equipment, even with him switching bikes every lap. He went through at least one set of brake pads per lap during the storm.

In his first controversial decision, Knight closed the course to racing out of fear for “dozens of hypothermia cases and other potential injuries that would have overwhelmed the EMS response teams and put racers in mortal danger.” Many riders disagreed, saying conditions were not out of the norm accepted by most racers.

Knight planned to restart the race based on spilt times determined from teams’ finish times off the last laps the previous evening. Confusion ensued regarding the next morning’s rider meeting, start time, and start order.

Then some teams were allowed by Granny Gear Productions to cancel a lap (allowable under the rules in normal 24 hour races). So they negated their last slow, cold, wet lap from Saturday night, thereby eliminating a late starting split time at the restart and getting to race that same lap under much faster, drier conditions.

This second decision caused more controversy. Unaware of this strategic choice, many teams, including some in the lead, who had just gone out on their lap did not take advantage of this strategy. They later complained of unfairness.

In response, the Knight issued a third decision after all racing ceased. “The fairest way would be to cancel all teams' morning laps, taking the race back to a point where no one had canceled a lap for strategic reasons and thus putting all the teams on more equal footing going into the restart.”

The final decision failed to quell all complaints of inequity. In fact, later after close scrutiny, race officials determined that many of the second-to-last laps reflected widely different lap times as well due to the timing of when the rains arrived and when teams went out for their laps. These widely different lap times created the same sort of inequities—just earlier in the race.

Knight acknowledged the larger problem. “When any 24-hour race is closed because of foul course conditions, it is impossible to restart the race based on finish times because inevitably, some teams will be out on course during the worst conditions and have long lap-times and some teams will not. Using split times to restart the race gives a huge advantage to teams who finished right before the course closure. Depending on the discrepancies of lap-times created by foul riding conditions, this situation can make it possible for teams to make up 30-minutes or more on their competitors, creating a wholly unfair outcome.”

Ultimately Knight decided the final results will be those of “the race as of the course closure at 8:00 PM, Saturday evening.” Yet even these remain uncertain. “In all the chaos, it is possible that even in these 8:00 PM results there may be some human errors.” Results will not be “absolutely official” October 27. Until them teams are welcome to comment.

And for those curious about what might have been, Granny Gear will post a second set of results - unofficial results that includes all other laps logged, including canceled laps.

Defending itself, Knight noted it had a plan in place, previously used at 24 hours of Landahl, but that it was inadequate and therefore failed at Moab. “We did not foresee the consequences of closing the course during foul riding conditions. Our attempts to reconstitute the race in a fair manner were ill-fated and caused a great deal of chaos, confusion and disappointment.”

Out of this experience, Granny Gear developed a new plan. In future races, in the case where a course must be closed due to extenuating circumstances and there is a possibility of a restart, there will actually be two races run with two separate mass starts and the final results will be based on the combined scores of both races.

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