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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 18, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

Vuelta final stage wrap-up

Golden Vinokourov rides to victory; Zabel caps off Vuelta with stage win

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

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) has become the first Kazakhstani rider to win a grand tour, finishing 79th in the final stage in Madrid after a triumphal golden parade into the Spanish capital. The stage finished in a bunch sprint as expected, with a resurgent Erik Zabel (Milram) winning his second Vuelta stage ahead of Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Aurélien Clerc (Phonak). There were no real chances in the general classification.

The final stage was mostly a procession into Madrid before the final six finishing circuits, although there was an attempt to get away after 47 km by Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas). The trio managed a minute's lead, but was caught by the bunch after 55 km. On the finishing circuits, a more dangerous move went with Frédéric Bessy and Luis Perez (Cofidis), Chris Horner (Davitamon), Ángel Vallejo and Raúl García De Mateo (Relax-Gam), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) and Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues). The peloton allowed them as much as 22 seconds, but brought things together for a bunch sprint with one lap (6 km) to go. In the end, Milram gave Zabel a great lead out, and the experienced German hit the front with 150m to go and was never headed.

Click here for the full results, report & photos, and live report.

Vinokourov: "Valverde strong rival for Tour"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Vino and Valverde
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

On Sunday in Madrid, Alexandre Vinokourov sketched a timid smile when saying, "this triumph is, without any doubt, a gift for me." Great adversary and entertainer in the final days of the Vuelta, the Astana leader now put his aspirations of success on the World Championships in Salzburg, where he will again have as main rival Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

But Vinokourov already thinks about next year, about his obsessive will to win the Tour de France: "Thanks to the help of my prime minister, we found sponsorship for the next years, and now, this victory is a great celebration for all of my country. Next year, I want to win the Tour to complete my dream. Our exclusion in the Tour was an injustice, because Paulinho and Contador have not had any relation with Operacion Puerto. This Vuelta has been a great motivation for going to the Tour in 2007, with even more desire to win. My rivals? After the strength demonstrated Valverde, and seeing his youth, he is a very strong rival, although I have to take into account Damiano Cunego and Ivan Basso, if he is cleared."

The other main goal for Vinokourov is to terminate his contract with Manolo Saiz's Active Bay company, which currently manages the Astana team. His agreement runs through 2008: "Manolo Saiz has all my respect; I believe that he is an intelligent person and he has to take into consideration that I brought this sponsor (Astana). I hope that he sets me free, because it would be very difficult to participate with him in the Tour."

Among the guests invited to the Vinokourov's evening party in Madrid was his teammate Luis Leon Sanchez, who has negotiated a pre-contract with the new Astana squad for 2007 - just in case Manolo Saiz doesn't find a replacement for Astana as sponsorship.

Landis reiterates innocence claim

The winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis, was in Madrid for the final stage of the Vuelta a Espańa and repeated to journalists that he was not guilty of having boosted his performances despite having been tested positive for a too high testosterone/epitestosterone ratio during the event in July.

Landis had been in the Spanish capital since Thursday to meet with his lawyers. "The Tour's doping tests are full of irregularities," the American told Spanish Marca. "I'm innocent and I think my lawyers are going to be able to prove it, although they've had lots of difficulties gathering information.

"I have come to talk with my lawyers and also to say goodbye to my colleagues at Phonak, given the fact that after the Tour I hardly had time to do so," he explained, adding that he still felt that he was the winner of the 2006 Tour de France. "But I can understand my friend Pereiro too - it's a complicated situation."

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

No DNA samples taken from Ullrich

Contrary to earlier reports, no DNA samples were taken in the search of Jan Ullrich's house in Scherzigen, Switzerland, this week. Chief Swiss investigator Herbert Amman said "That was a hoax." Since Ullrich was not at home at the time, no sample could be taken, he pointed out. The searchers had the right to take a saliva test, but it was not carried out due to Ullrich's absence. Amman conducted the search with the help of German investigators.

Ullrich "has in the meantime appeared and has been oriented over the search," according to Amman. In fact, Ullrich got in touch with the investigators on the day of the search. Amman did not comment as to whether or not Ullrich had given a voluntary DNA sample.

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

Skipped Austrian doping tests lead to different handlings

The two U23 Austrian riders who skipped a doping control last week are being treated differently - one is considered to have purposely missed the test and will therefore be investigated, the other will be treated only as a disciplinary case, according to Rudolf Massak, general secretary of the Austrian cycling federation, ÖRV.

Massak explained that the doping controllers appeared Thursday evening while the team was eating dinner. The team was informed of the upcoming controls. Subsequently, Ebner and Markus Eibegger disappeared, "without saying that they were going or giving an explanation," said Massak. The two were subsequently removed from the World's team.

Ebner finally underwent a doping control test nearly 48 hours later. However, he had been selected to have the test made Thursday evening, and his disappearance is considered a refusal to take the test. Such a refusal is considered to be the equivalent of a positive test, and he is now threatened with up to a two-year ban. Massak said that the next step would be a request from the Austrian anti-doping committee for him to open an investigation against Ebner. "Which I will do," he said.

It appears that Markus Eiberger will come off far lighter. Since he had not been selected for a doping control, he is not considered to have evaded the test. He made a doping test some 24 hours later. "We have to wait for the results of his test, and we should get the results Wednesday or Thursday. Even if it is negative, he won't start at the World's," said Massak. "The fact is, that there will be a disciplinary action."

Eiberger himself gave contradictory reasons for his behaviour. He had recently finished an altitude training, and apparently was worried that this might reflect unfavourable in his blood values. "It was stupid that I lost my nerve, but I was worried that I would get a two-week ban, if my blood values were too high. But they turned out to be okay," he said.

On the other hand, he claimed not to know anything about the proposed controls in Thursday evening. "Nobody told me about it. I ate my salad and left. The ÖRV sees that as a behavioural problem and started a disciplinary hearing," he complained. It's too bad that he will miss the Worlds, he said, but it shouldn't affect his future career, which hasn't been looking too hopeful anyway. "I've been turned down by some of the big teams already this week. There was still a tiny chance with T-Mobile, but only if a lot of other riders had turned them down."

Contract news: Zubeldia, Fritsch

Zubeldia staying at Euskaltel

Haimar Zubeldia, after many discussions and rumours, has decided to stick to his team Euskaltel-Euskadi through 2008. The Basque rider, who finished in the Top 10 of the Tour de France twice in his career, had been linked to other teams in the media, together with another well-known climber of the team: Iban Mayo. The squad's management has not yet revealed if Mayo will remain or if he will leave.

Fritsch to Gerolsteiner

Nicholas Fritsch (Saunier Duval) has been reported to have signed a contract with German Gerolsteiner for next season. The 27 year-old French rider has been a professional since 1998, and won the Tour du Finistčre in 2003.

ProTour standings: Valverde consolidates lead

By Shane Stokes in Madrid

ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde’s excellent second place in the Vuelta a Espana makes it virtually certain that he will win the 2006 ProTour classification. The Spanish rider is now on 285 points, almost double that of second-placed Cadel Evans. Andrey Kashechkin’s stage win and high Vuelta finish means that he moves up 12 places to third, holding 156 points, while Alessandro Ballan drops a place to fourth, one point further back. World champion Tom Boonen is just behind him in fifth, while Frank Schleck rounds out the top six.

Fellow CSC rider Ivan Basso is seventh, although he will lose his place in the standings if he is proven guilty under the Operación Puerto investigation.

Rankings as of September 17, 2006

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse D'epargne-Illes Balears     285 pts 
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                    162 
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana-Würth Team                            156 
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                              155 
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                             154 
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                         150 
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            138 
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                 133 
9 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                    133 
10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana-Würth Team                        121 
1 Team CSC                                                             333 pts 
2 Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                                       325 
3 Rabobank                                                             308 
4 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                   295 
5 Lampre-Fondital                                                      280 
6 Phonak Hearing Systems                                               270 
7 T-Mobile Team                                                        267 
8 Astana Team                                                          252 
9 Saunier Duval-Prodir                                                 252 
10 Gerolsteiner                                                        239 
1 Spain                                                                728 pts 
2 Italy                                                                599 
3 Germany                                                              475 
4 United States Of America                                             316 
5 Belgium                                                              292 
6 Kazakhstan                                                           286 
7 Australia                                                            285 
8 Netherlands                                                          239 
9 France                                                               231 
10 Russian Federation                                                  229 

Also seethe full rankings: individuals, teams and nations.

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