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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 17, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta stage 20 wrap-up

Vino's birthday present

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Race leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) made himself the most beautiful birthday present today, by showing again that he was the well-deserved winner of the Vuelta a Espańa. On the day the Kazakhstani turned 33 years old, and only three days after taking the maillot oro off Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), he gave his very best once more to take his third stage victory in this Grand Tour: 'Vino' won the second and last time trial of the race, six seconds ahead of Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Former overall leader Valverde lost another 19 seconds on Vinokourov and finished third in the stage.

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"I started out carefully," said Vinokourov, who will now savour his first overall victory in a Grand Tour. "But when I saw that I could win the stage, I put on the gas. The first week of the race was hard for me. After I won the stage in Lugo and La Cobertoria, things changed radically. And I started to think about the overall victory in Granada (finish of stage 17). This victory in the Vuelta is what I needed to be competitive in the 2007 Tour de France."

There were no changes on the general classification's Top 5. Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) moved up from tenth to eighth placing on GC after a solid performance in the time trial, where he finished fifth behind Vinokourov, 30 seconds down. Hungarian Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), who led the race before the favourites had started, ended up a very respectable fourth.

Click here for the Full results, report & photos, and live report from stage 20.

Austria boots two U23 riders for missing doping test

By Susan Westemeyer

Two U23 riders on the Austrian World's team have been removed from the roster for missing a doping control Thursday evening, the Austrian cycling federation (ÖRV) announced on Saturday. Christian Ebner and Markus Eibegger were not suspended, but will not be allowed to ride for the national team in the upcoming World Championships in Salzburg, ÖRV general secretary Rudolf Massak said.

According to Austrian ORF television, the incident took place at the ÖRV's training camp in Bad Tatzmannsdorf. Dinner was set for 7 p.m., and the doping controller appeared at 7:15 p.m.. Shortly thereafter "Ebner and Eiberger disappeared." Eiberger finally performed the test at a doctor's office on Friday evening, but did not give a reason for skipping the earlier test when he called Massak. "We didn't have time for a long talk, he had to make the test quickly. And now we have to wait for the next step and let the institutions do their work. If there should be a doping problem, the ÖRV's anti-doping committee will get active." Eiberger, 22 years old, was considered to have a good chance in the World's, as he has won several races in the last few weeks.

Massak had not heard from Ebner. "I haven't been able to reach him, I have also tried it through his parents. I would very much like to know what is happening," he said.

"Because the behaviour of the athletes absolutely contradicts the strict anti-doping policies of the federation, the ÖRV management has decided not to allow the two athletes to participate on the national team until the situation has been made clear," according to the federation's statement. The federation met on Friday evening. "We discussed it along time and sadly came to this conclusion, but we have strict rules and cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour," MAssak said. He emphasized that the two were not suspended: "Naturally they can ride other races."

McQuaid concerned about Spanish investigation

UCI chief Pat McQuaid has affirmed his concerns about the ongoing doping investigation around doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in Spain. Talking to the Telegraaf, the Irishman said that he did not understand why there were only cyclists yet publicly linked to the affair, when Fuentes himself had admitted that a great deal of his clients belonged to other sports.

"When I was visiting Lissavetsky in June, I was told very clearly that [the affair] concerned 200 sportsmen," McQuaid said. "Thirty percent cyclists, thirty percent football players, twenty percent tennis men and a number of athletes. So far, not a single name has been named by the other sports. Spanish politicians even deny now that tennis and football are concerned, while Fuentes himself affirmed it. I do think that's odd, and have asked IOC president Jacques Rogge to start an investigation. I've also asked the World Anti-Doping Agency to follow up on it. I think that all sports should be treated the same."

The president of the International Cycling Union continued by saying that the current investigation had led him to believe that it was possible to take performance-enhancing substances and go unnoticed in the anti-doping controls. "The past has taught us that many regulations are not completely successful," continued McQuaid. "With our controls and by collecting medical data, we knew that something was going on in Spain - but it wasn't clear to us what exactly it was. The best example for this is Jan Ullrich. Between the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France, the Swiss Olympic Committee performed out-of-competition controls every week on him. All the results were negative. But if we believe the Fuentes dossiers, he was taking all these banned substances in that period. 'Operacion Puerto' has shown us that there are many doping practices which we can't get a hold of, and that is a source of great concern."

McQuaid explained further that it was because of these limitations in the fight against doping that the world governing body of cycling turned to other instances for help. "We can't do it on our own yet," he admitted. "That's why we need the support of politics and justice. The fact that athletes are then treated like criminals is a negative consequence, but it's a situation that the sport created itself. It's not only a problem of the sport, but of society: everywhere, also in politics, there are cheaters. That's why it's also unreal to believe that you can get doping out of the cycling sport altogether. But it is our task to make cycling credible again in the eyes of the greater public. That task is now on our shoulders."

Saiz' accusation admitted

On August 12, Manolo Saiz, the former manager of the Liberty Seguros team, himself accused in the Operacion Puerto affair, has submitted to the Madrid court dealing with the affair, an accusation against the director of the Superior Council of Sports, Rafael Blanco. This accusation has now been admitted to procedure by the judge responsible for the case.

Saiz stated that Blanco had acted in bad faith against his company, Active Bay, by transmitting to the Spanish cycling federation a document of the Guardia Civil which had not yet been validated by the judge investigating the affair. This document included annexes which judge Antonio Serrano had not authorized to be passed on.

Moreover, Saiz claimed that the Superior Council of Sports had received documents about the case only on July 7, but that it sent information about it to the Spanish cycling federation already on June 29. This information ultimately led to Liberty Seguros' exclusion of the Tour de France, and was "clearly intended," according to Saiz, "to cause damage and give a public lesson" to the Spaniard.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Boonen considers legal action

World Champion Tom Boonen is defending himself against insinuations from a Belgian senator, Jean-Marie Dedecker, who said that he had "information according to which three Belgian top cyclists had received performance-enhancing drugs in Italy in February." Even though no names were mentioned, Boonen feels that he is being linked to doping, and now considers legal action against the senator.

"When somebody speaks of top cyclists in our country, everybody thinks of Tom right away," said Patrick Lefévčre, team manager of Quick Step-Innergetic. "We're examining legal action against Dedecker for damaging his reputation."

Vuelta: no ceremony for ProTour leader's jersey

The organisers of the Vuelta a Espańa have made known that there will not be an official ceremony to award the white jersey of leading ProTour rider on Sunday in Madrid. Vittorio Adorni, president of the UCI ProTour council, was going to come to the Spanish capital to officially award the jersey to Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who retains the lead, but Unipublic officials have told him that no such ceremony was planned.

Gates hopes for Tour next year

Davitamon-Lotto rider Nick Gates has had a good season, and has been rewarded for it with his nomination for the Australian national team at the Salzburg World's next week. "It was a bit unexpected," he told the Manning River Times. "I've had a few small wins and some strong performances this season, and I've been consistent and that's always important."

The 34 year-old Gates hadn't been included in the national squad for three years. Moreover, he has good hopes to be racing the Tour de France again next year, a race which he has contested twice already. "I've already been told I'm in the team for the Tour de France next year," he said. "So that's good news."

At the World's in Salzburg, Gates will be supporting teammates Cadel Evans and Robbie McEwen, but isn't ruling out his own chances. "We'll have three leading riders - Robbie and Cadel will be two... while the rest of us will be in there assisting them," he explained. "But if you get a break, well, who knows?"

After the event, Gates will be headed home to Australia for some R and R before gearing up again for the Australian season.

Sciandri and Sorensen join Revolution

With the fourth season of Revolution set to start on October 14 at Manchester velodrome, the Italian countryside has already seen an increase in activity recently with Andrea Tafi, Franco Ballerini and Silvio Martinello out on the roads in preparation for a one-night-only return to racing. Now, Max Sciandri and Rolf Sorensen have dusted off their bikes to take up the challenge and revive old rivalries to entertain the Revolution crowds.

"We’ve all been out training and everyone is really looking forward to it," commented Sciandri. "Rolf already pulled off on a climb at the end of the ride so I took the opportunity to joke with him about his chances at Revolution." With 10 years having passed since Sorensen took silver ahead of Sciandri in the 1996 Olympic Games road race you’d think the grudge would be long over, but Sciandri has already been provocative: "Rolf has put a bit of weight on so I don’t think he’s as much of a threat as he used to be - at least I’ve managed to stay in shape."

Sciandri is less confident about his chances of meeting up with some of his academy riders who train with him in Tuscany. "It’s going to be a hard evening, track racing is really fast so it will be tough against the younger guys," he said, on a more serious level. "It’s going to be really cool riding against the younger riders but we’ll just have to see how things go."

For more information and to buy tickets got to VIP track centre tickets are also available.

Sooty Park returns

The second series of Australia's popular cycling TV show Sooty Park is planned to return to Channel 31 during the first week of December, 2006. Show times will be finalised shortly.

The Sooty Park series 1 is headed to Perth’s Channel 31 (Access TV) next month, and will show on Thursdays at 10.30 pm and Tuesdays at 1.30 pm, starting October 5. The Sooty Park makers have "collected lots of great footage overseas, from couriers in Madrid to dog-trailers on the Col du Glandon. A highlight is the Dutch corner on l'Alpe d’Huez, the day the Tour de France passes." The crew is still filming locally, "so smile if you see a camera around."

The Sooty Park crew is also looking for sponsors to be able to get an outdoor venue to host the ‘Roller Room’ competition, thereby opening it to the public. The show is exposed to 65,000 Melburnians and "some" Perth's weekly.

Webcor/Alto Velo rider killed

Webcor/Alto Velo member and Category II racer, John Peckham, was killed on Friday, September 8, when a drunk driver crossed into his lane and collided with him head-on not far from the campus of Stanford University. The driver is currently in jail facing four felony accounts related to the death of John Peckham.

John Peckham, a 31 year-old bio-medical engineer, started racing in 2005 and used his natural riding ability and an explosive sprint to move up to Webcor/Alto Velo's Elite Pro 1/2 squad. Known for his criterium skills, Peckham surprised many when he placed 13th at the Valley of the Sun Stage race last February as a Cat III, and second in his first Cat II race, the Menlo Park Grand Prix. Teammates, friends and family recall an intense, caring and supportive man who was passionate about cycling and racing.

Peckham will be honoured with a memorial ride on Sunday, September 24. Details will be announced on Webcor/Alto Velo's website

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