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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for April 25, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Sue George, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

Unibet to pursue damages after ASO denies Flèche Wallonne start

By Shane Stokes in Huy

This year, the Flèche Wallonne peloton is without Unibet
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Unibet.com has indicated that it will pursue damages of five million Euros against ASO, the organisers of Flèche Wallonne, after its riders were refused a start in the race on Wednesday.

Speaking to journalists before the start of the ProTour event, directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren confirmed that the team's entry had been blocked, despite a court order issued earlier this week by a court in Liège directing ASO to allow the Swedish-registered squad to ride.

The team's holding company Green Cycle Associates AB also issued a statement confirming this fact. "Green Cycle has itself initiated proceedings before the Liège courts against ASO on the basis of breach of competition and unfair trade practices law. A court order was issued ordering ASO to allow Green Cycle to participate in the races Flèche Wallonne and Liège Bastogne Liège under penalty of payment of EUR 5 million per infringement of the court order."

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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According to Van Der Schueren, the courts ruled that the team was entitled under European law to race in Belgium, and to use their regular Unibet.com team kit. However, when the management tried to gain accreditation for the race on Tuesday evening, they were denied, and the team car was also denied access to the start area this morning.

"It's not about the money," Van Der Schueren said. "We want to race. Our riders are sitting in the hotel rather than riding today."

UCI loses court case

Both Van Der Schueren and the press release also clarified some confusion relating to earlier reports that ASO had won a court action on the matter. The UCI had taken a separate legal action against the organisers in a court in Brussels, but this was over-ruled on the grounds that the court considered the March 5th 'peace deal' between them to be non-binding. The UCI had pursued legal action against ASO, saying that by excluding Unibet.com from its races, it violated the settlement that had been concluded prior to Paris-Nice.

Two court cases differ

The Liège proceeding was one taken directly by Green Cycle against ASO is the one which resulted in a favourable judgment.

"Since these two court cases concern different parties and are based on a different legal ground, the defeat of UCI before the Brussels courts has in no way altered the validity and existence of the Liège court order," stated the release. "Green Cycle has therefore presented itself at the team directors' meeting at the Flèche Wallonne together with a bailiff, who has officially established that Green Cycle was refused participation. In other words, ASO has chosen to neglect the Liège court order. Green Cycle will now pursue payment of the EUR 5 million penalty that was ordered by the Liège court."

The communiqué denied rumours that the Brussels court decision would have annulled the Liège court order. "On the contrary, these proceedings do not affect each other," it continued. "Therefore, Green Cycle is of opinion that ASO has willfully refused to obey the Liège court order and will take all necessary measures in order to make ASO accountable for this refusal to respect a Belgian judgment."

EU official supports Unibet

Charlie McCreevy, the European Commissioner for the Common Market, has made it clear that he opposes the actions being taken against Unibet.com. In letters to the UCI and Green Cycle Associates, which runs the team, he announced his support for the squad.

The Commission started an infringement procedure last October against French legislation, which prohibits the advertising of online gambling lotteries other than the French ones tolerated within that country (Francaise des Jeux, PMU).

McCreevy noted that Tour de France organiser ASO could not prohibit the team from riding in countries other than France, saying that promotion for Unibet was legal in other states of the Common Market.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Basso to give DNA sample for comparison?

By Susan Westemeyer and Hedwig Kröner

With his Operación Puerto case reopened, Basso may not be racing much for Discovery Channel this year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Italian prosecutor Ettorio Torri will ask Ivan Basso to submit a DNA sample next week to compare to blood taken in Operación Puerto - samples which Torri is allegedly already possesses.

According to todoclismo, Torri was quietly visited by members of the Guardia Civil several weeks ago, and based on their visit, reopened his investigation of Basso, with no public announcement. He asked the Guardia Civil to send him a complete report, including documents, transcripts, receipts, and tests of blood analysis. The prosecutor also asked Judge Serrano to allow Italian investigators to come to Madrid and take small samples from four bags of blood allegedly linked to Basso.

Still without any public announcement of any sort, the investigators reportedly went to the anti-doping lab in Barcelona last week, where the bags of blood are being stored. They took samples from two bags, which were identified with the name "No. 2", and which were dated January 12, 2006, and November 11, 2005. They also took samples from two bags under the name "Barillo", from August 8, 2005, and December 15, 2005.

Torri has meanwhile received the report and documents he requested, and based on these findings, has extended the invitation to Basso to meet with investigators on May 2.

He will also forward a copy of the report to Brescia, Italy, where prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota is investigating Basso's sister and cyclist Luca Paolini for trafficking in doping substances.

Meanwhile, Basso' lawyer Silvio Martelli continued his defense work, saying that the rider was being "massacred", and that he still relied on the ruling by Spanish judge Antonio Serrano from March 29, which said that the documents are subject to international letters rogatory. "On May 2, we will go to Rome and hear the accusations. If there is anything new, we will take note of it and verify if the information has been acquired legitimately. However, I know that the prosecutor's office works on a basis that it defines as 'anonymous'," Martelli told tuttobiciweb.

The lawyer also insisted that not only Basso should be investigated if this prosecution should go ahead. "There are 223 blood bags, of which nine have been attributed to Ullrich," he continued. "And we know that a total of 58 riders are implicated. If the UCI and the institutions want to make an anti-doping case out of this, we have to identify at least 150 blood bags. If we want the doping problem to be resolved, we have to ask all of the riders to submit to this examination together [give their DNA for comparison - ed.]. Not only Basso should be investigated."

At least concerning this last point made, almost all parties seem to agree. With the UCI, the IOC, WADA and also the race organisers like ASO backing the idea, some of the teams have also already spoken out on favour of it. "If we have to go with our team to Madrid [to remove suspicion], we will deliver 29 riders there," T-Mobile technical director Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews after a meeting between Flèche Wallonne organiser ASO and the teams in Charleroi on Tuesday evening. "That is us going a little bit further, but we hope that other teams are willing to do the same."

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

Landis case: French Anti-Doping Agency defends testing procedure

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

One day after the lawyers and defense experts of Floyd Landis have severely criticised the way in which the testing of the rider's B samples from the Tour de France was carried out in French laboratory LNDD in Chatenay-Malabry, the French Anti-Doping Agency has replied to the accusations.

In a press conference following the news that Landis' seven B samples also showed traces of artificial testosterone, the Landis camp had argued that their observers "were not allowed to see critical parts of the analysis", whilst "USADA's expert - not just their expert, but their lawyer - was present at LNDD."

Pierre Brodry, president of the French Anti-Doping Agency which supervises the work of the LNDD, replied that the lab was merely putting into practise what had been agreed beforehand. "Preliminary agreements had been concluded between the two parties (USADA and Landis) to make sure that no single party would be present inside the lab without the other one being present, too," he told L'Equipe. "By refusing the representatives of the rider the entrance on Monday, with USADA being absent, too, the lab director, professor Jacques de Ceaurritz merely respected this agreement. And that is normal."

The representatives of USADA were reported to have left the laboratory on Saturday evening.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case.

How the Hell was won

Stuart O'Grady's victory in Paris-Roubaix, arguably the world's toughest one-day bike race, was (quite literally) a monumental achievement for the Aussie and his Team CSC. Team director Scott Sunderland was in charge of the CSC crew for those epic six hours and gave Cyclingnews his thoughts on how the Hell was won.

O'Grady and Sunderland
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland
(Click for larger image)

"The day before the race, I had actually put the quote I used for years on my diary pages underneath the team's race day schedule. Some of the riders and staff were very moved by that bit of prose. It set the tone for what was to come.

"After analysing the Tour of Flanders, the warm weather and windless conditions; and with the same forecast for the Paris-Roubaix weekend I knew it wasn't going to be your usual day in Hell. Also, noticing the comments made by other top favourites, targeting Fabian Cancellara as the man to beat and the pressure he was consequently receiving from the press, I realised that I would have to apply different tactics for this race.

"All the other top favourites were going to sit and wait for Fabian to make his move like he did in Tour of Flanders. Fabian took responsibility and lifted all that pressure onto his own shoulders, leaving his team mates in a comfort zone in which they could mentally prepare for the race in peace. To be the absolute favourite for Paris-Roubaix is a heavy load to carry. Fabian had daily interviews with media from all over the world in the days leading up to the race. He could have refused but he's such a nice person and wanted to do his bit for the press and the sponsors. It was demanding and tiring. I realized it was going to prove a burden on the day itself and I knew we would have to play the game differently."

To read the full feature, click here.

End of season for Cappelle

Andy Cappelle of Landbouwkrediet was one of the Kemmelberg's victims in Gent-Wevelgem. He fell in one of the mass crashes and broke his elbow. But the bruises and pain around his right hip just didn't go away, and further examinations have now shown that his right hipbone is broken in three places.

According to Sportwereld, Cappelle now faces eight weeks of absolute rest, moving as little as possible, to be followed by a long rehabilitation. He is not expected to return to racing in 2007.

"I can't do anything, except read and watch television," he said. "It's too bad, because I felt very strong. I had the feeling that I could do something in a big race. This would have been my season and it would have been good financially, too.

"But I know I can count on a lot of support," he concluded. "The telephone hasn't stopped ringing, and that's a big help."

Can Petacchi repeat in Niedersachsen?

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi put his stamp on the 2006 Niedersachsen Rundfahrt in the ultimate way: by winning all five stages and taking the overall title. And although all five stages of the 2007 race starting on Wednesday are also expected to have sprint finishes, the Italian Milram sprinter doesn't expect to repeat his success this year.

"It will definitely be hard to continue the success from last year," he said. "But we are extremely motivated and will give everything."

Petacchi is still recovering from injuries he suffered last year, and has not come back as quickly as he had hoped. "I made some misjudgments and may have done too much over the winter. So I have been rather tired lately. But I am sure that not too much is now missing from the Petacchi of last year."

He will share the captain's role with fellow sprinter Erik Zabel.

Karpin Galicia and Fuerteventura - Canarias for Vuelta a la Rioja

By Monika Prell

The team Fuerteventura - Canarias has announced its roster for the coming Vuelta a la Rioja April 27 to 29. David Bernabeu will be accompanied by his team mates Dailos Díaz, David Belda, Chimo Ortega, Antonio Piedra, Iker Leonet, Manuel Lloret, and Javier Cherro.

Karpin Galicia will participate with the following riders: Under the survey of Sport Directos José Ángel Vidal will compete Marcos Serrano, Gustavo Cesar Veloso, Gonzalo Rabuñal, Serafín Martínez, Enrique Salgueiro, David Herreo and David García. Two of the riders will reappear in competition after injuries: David García is cured from his collarbone-break and Eladio Jímenez is able to ride again after his fall in the Vuelta a Mallorca, where he suffered a fissure of a vertebra.

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