First Edition Cycling News for August 1, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen
UCI and ASO make up?
Following another drug scandal ravaged Tour de France and signs of increased tension between event organiser ASO and the sport's international governing body, the UCI, French health and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot has called on the organisations to unite in their bids to solve the sport's doping problems. Bachelot has pressed for a period of rebuilding between the two organisations in the lead up next year's Grand Tour, and urged ASO, to work with the UCI.
"I consider that the International Cycling Union (UCI) is an actor that can not be ignored," declared Bachelot, who visited the Tour as an ASO guest in the second week. "I understand the organisers of the Tour de France and the director of the race who was absolutely furious and more than that, sad because of problems - to say the least - that have occurred during the race."
ASO head Patrice Clerc added that the organisation isn't trying to free itself from the UCI, saying there has simply been a loss of confidence between the pair following events of the past month. "We have very good relationships with the UCI," declared Clerc, in stark contrast to comments made at his final day press conference with Tour director Christian Prudhomme on the weekend. "For us, there is just a real loss of confidence between some high-ranked people at the UCI and ourselves.
"Why?" he continued. "Because we have the feeling we've been betrayed several times, and - forgive me for the expression - we've been taken for a ride. So for us it is difficult today to take up with these people but clearly the ties are not broken with the UCI. I repeat. I've said it before. We do not want to free ourselves from this higher power, clearly not."
For his part, UCI president Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews last week that he's ready to sit down and hold discussions with ASO. McQuaid attended the final days of this year's Tour de France as a guest of various teams and a French television station, with ASO having not invited the UCI head to its event.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
Sinkewitz rues "great stupidity"
By Susan Westemeyer
Patrik Sinkewitz says that his positive doping test for testosterone was a "major mistake" and caused by his own "great stupidity". Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone during a training camp in June, with the results being announced during the Tour de France after he had crashed out of the event, breaking his own nose and putting a 78 year-old spectator into a coma. On Tuesday morning he declined to have the B-sample tested, resulting in his German T-Mobile squad terminating his contract.
In a statement published Tuesday afternoon on his website patrik-sinkewitz.com he explained the situation. "I had gotten Testogel, which is offered by the firm Jenapharm to compensate for testosterone deficit," read the statement. "The gel is applied to the skin and gets into the body that way. It is supposed to especially help recovery after hard training. Without thinking, and in great stupidity, I had secretly applied Testogel to my upper arm on the night before the doping control at the training camp in France. I did this instinctively and without thinking of the possible consequences.
"It was major mistake and it was irresponsible of me to the team, my colleagues, the sponsor and all of cycling to have used the Testogel," he confessed. "I would have been able to perform well without it, and I did exactly that, which T-Mobile Team, with its enormous engagement and as an example to others, wanted to prevent. I am very sorry for that."
Sinkewitz is the second of the magenta squad's riders to be dismissed this season, having already released Serhiy Honchar from its ranks with the rider recording irregularities in blood tests.
"My confession should be my first step towards making things right," he declared. "I will be available to the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer [German Cycling Federation - ed] and their independent commission. I hope for, and will do all that I can, that a new cycling sport, without doping and with all its athletic fascination, can exist.
"I wish that all cycling teams, especially 'my' T-Mobile Team, will continue to stay on this path and will not let themselves be scared off by the happenings of which I was a part," he concluded.
Astana suspends itself, BMC terminates sponsorship
Team Astana has suspended itself for the month of August in order "to think about the future," on the same day bike sponsor BMC announced its withdrawal with immediate effect. In a terse statement released Tuesday evening, the team said: "Following the last events, Astana Cycling Team decided to suspend its activities during the month of August. This time will allow the whole team - management, staff and riders - to think about its future."
The squad's self-sidelining follows Alexander Vinokourov's non-negative A and B samples from the Tour de France's Stage 13. In addition to being asked to leave the Tour, the Switzerland-registered squad was told it wasn't welcome at the Deutschland Tour, a ProTour event. The Kazakh-backed squad has since relieved Vinokourov of his duties, while the rider intends on fighting the allegations of blood doping having hired the same legal team that has represented last year's Tour winner Floyd Landis..
"The Astana Cycling Team's management will organise new regulations, as well on the level of the team's structure as of the ethical rules," it added. "The first concrete measures will be communicated later on."
In addition, Astana's bike supplier BMC announced Tuesday night that it has cancelled its agreement with the team, effective immediately. "The reason for this is the latest case of doping that occurred in the Astana team during the Tour de France that has just ended," the Swiss company said. "Whether BMC will engage again in the future as a sponsor of a professional cycling team is still an open question."
No date was set for further announcements.
Vinokourov's positive is the latest doping case to rock the team, with Eddy Mazzoleni quitting the team after becoming involved in the Italian National Olympic Committee's investigation of Dr. Carlo Santuccione and the Oil for Drugs case. Now former Astana rider Matthias Kessler also tested positive for testosterone in the spring. SW
Kazakh government continues Vino support
Embattled cycling star Alexander Vinokourov still has the support of his nation of Kazakhstan as he readies to fight the world's governing cycling body on allegations of a homologous blood transfusion. Vinokourov tested non-negative for blood doping with an A sample taken after his Stage 13 Time Trial victory at the Tour de France, a result later backed up by his B sample, but his compatriots support the rider's claims that blood treatment for his Stage 5 accident is the cause of the non-negative results.
"I do not believe that Vinokourov was guilty of doping," Kazakh deputy minister for tourism and sport Kairat Aitekenov told Reuters. "During the race he was injured and received treatment. He can't understand it himself, he's in shock. To win by doping is something he would consider below his honour, this is a principled sportsman."
Alexander Antyshev, executive director of Kazakhstan's cycling federation, also supported the notion that the positive test resulted from Vinokourov's crash during the Tour's fifth stage. "We will insist that the results of the A and B sample blood tests were the result of his heavy fall," Antyshev told a joint news conference with Aitekenov. SW
UCI targeted Mayo
Iban Mayo was stunned to hear of his positive doping test, telling team manager Joxean Fernandez Matxin: "It's impossible, it's impossible," according to dpa. Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid has said Mayo had been targeted by the governing body as a suspicious rider.
"In the future I will check my riders every day, even if it means I have to strip them naked," Matxin said.
It was announced Monday evening that Mayo had tested positive for EPO on the Tour de France's second rest day. The Spanish rider was suspended by his Saunier Duval squad instantly, and faces termination if his B sample is returned non-negative.
"It's another sad episode in the Tour de France," McQuaid said in an interview with Reuters. "People need to understand, the riders need to understand that that the UCI operates in a different way than in the past.
"Thanks to the blood tests, we target riders, Iban Mayo was one of the UCI targets," he added. "The riders have to understand that we use intelligence to target some of them. It is surprising that the riders still use it knowing it is detectable."
McQuaid also explained how the UCI came to catch Alexander Vinokourov for homologous blood-doping, saying that the Kazakh rider probably didn't know that the French lab used during the Tour could conduct the appropriate test. "Up to this year, only the Lausanne laboratory [in Switzerland - ed] was conducting tests for homologous blood-doping," McQuaid said. "But the Lausanne lab taught the French one how to detect it and therefore they were able to test Vinokourov's sample." SW
Moreni to go before CONI
Cristian Moreni is due to come before the Italian National Olympic committee (CONI) on the August 8, according to HLN.be. The Italian, who contested the Tour de France with the French Cofidis ProTour team, returned a non-negative result in a urine test for testosterone on July 19, which led to his squad being requested to leave the Tour.
Cofidis has began procedures to terminate the 34 year-old rider.
Hacker cracks Rasmussen's inbox
Danish police in Copenhagen released a statement on Tuesday stating that a hacker had gained access to Michael Rasmussen's e-mail inbox. The hacker's intention was to gather information on the rider to hand it over to the press, according to the statement.
The Danish newspaper B.T. was contacted by the hacker, who admitted that he had gained access to sacked rider's email account. The hacker allegedly found an email from the Rabobank team informing the rider of his termination, Danish press agency Ritzau reported. There were also details surrounding the activities of the ex-mountain bike world champion during June, one month before the Tour.
The Danish paper emphasised that it hadn't intended to use the information. "We would never buy or use information that was obtained in an illegal manner," declared B.T.'s head of sport Peter Brüchmann.
The hacker has not contacted any other media outlets and his identity is not yet known by the police.
Petacchi third in criterium comeback
Alessandro Petacchi celebrated his return to the peloton with a third place finish in the T-Mobile Altstadt-Kriterium in Graz, Austria Tuesday evening. Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) took the win ahead of T-Mobile's Bernhard Eisel.
"I have ridden more criteriums than I can count," McEwen said. "This one here in Graz, with its narrow alleys - where you can pass only with difficulty - the nasty climbs and the cobblestones, surely is one of the most difficult in the world. But the sensational fans are the motivation for us to keep on going and the motivation to keep on riding clean."
"It was damned close, but Robbie is simply the strongest sprinter in the world," Eisel added. "He is also the freshest. I rode the complete Tour de France and Robbie dropped out after a little more than a week."
It was Petacchi's first race after being cleared by the Italian cycling federation on charges of having tested positive for an asthma medication. The team had suspended him after the Giro d'Italia and lifted the suspension last week when the charges were dismissed. SW
Tour highlights package
If you missed July's Grand Tour, or if you'd simply like to review the actual racing action, rather than the associated doping controversies, then Cyclingnews' 2007 Tour de France highlights package is a must see. Starting with the French event's historic Grand Depart from metropolis London, England, the highlights heads across the pond for Michael Rasmussen's spectacular climbing throughout the second week followed by Alberto Contador's tough yellow defense after inheriting the jersey from his Danish breakaway companion.
Put the doing aside and review three weeks of racing action by clicking here.
Cox in intensive care
Team Barloworld's Ryan Cox is in intensive care following emergency surgery Monday to repair a bleeding artery, the team has announced.
Cox underwent surgery for a vascular lesion three weeks ago in Europe and returned to his home in South Africa to recuperate. "The South African cyclist's condition deteriorated on Monday, and he was rushed to hospital by his family," the team said. "After consulting with doctors, it was advised that Cox required an emergency operation to repair a bleeding artery." SW
T-Mobile to Denmark
T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish has had two weeks to recover from the difficulties of the Tour de France, and will be back in action leading the team in the Tour of Denmark.
"Mark was able to gather valuable experience at his first Tour and is really thrilled to start again after his two-week pause," sport director Rolf Aldag said on the team's website T-mobile-team.com. He added that he expects to see the 22-year-old at the front in the anticipated mass sprints.
While Cavendish will be going for stage wins, two Italians will be in the running for the GC: Marco Pinotti and Lorenzo Bernucci.
The team's seven riders will be joined by a stagiaire, 20-year-old Englishman Ian Stannard. The young sprinter was part of the team's Development Program in 2005 and 2006. SW
T-Mobile's Tour of Denmark roster: Lorenzo Bernucci, Mark Cavendish, Greg Henderson, Servais Knaven, Aaron Olson, Marco Pinotti, Frantisek Rabon and Ian Stannard.
Barloworld to Portugal
Team Barloworld is still happily recovering from its highly-successful Tour de France debut, which saw it bring in two stage wins and the mountain jersey. The British-registered, Italian-based, South African-backed squad described the Tour as: "a key moment for the future of the team as it grows into one of the best in the world. [But] there are other races on the calendar."
One of those other races is the Tour of Portugal, which runs August 4 to 11. "Team Barloworld will field a strong team of riders who did not ride the Tour de France but that does not mean the team will not be competitive," read the squad's release. It will be led by Pedro Arreitunandia, John-Lee Augustyn, and Hugo Sabido.
Team Barloworld's Tour of Portugal roster: Pedro Arreitunandia,, John-Lee Augustyn, Hugo Sabido, Giosue Bonomi, Diego Caccia, Fabrizio Guidi, and James Perry. SW
Farquharson injured in Thüringen Rundfahrt accident
Professional photographer CJ Farquharson has been injured in a motorbike accident on the Thüringen Rundfahrt's final stage. Farquharson, a long-time contributor to Cyclingnews, roams the globe covering women's cycling on every continent for her website womenscycling.net, however her 2007 season has been cut short following the weekend's crash.
Farquharson was riding pillion on a motorcycle at the German event on Sunday at the time of the accident. "We were just slowing to stop at a point on a hill for some photos when we were hit from behind by another race motorbike," she explained.
The photographer sustained an open compound fracture to both bones in her lower left leg, while the pilot of the motorbike she was riding on suffered a broken ankle. Farquharson was airlifted to hospital and underwent surgery to stabilise the leg with eternal fixtures, which will be replaced in a week with further surgery, when its expected she will have internal pins inserted indefinitely.
"I could be in hospital here in Germany for up to four weeks," said Farquharson. "It depends on how quickly things settle and when the plates are inserted. The medical staff has been excellent and it has huge experience in this type of injury. I have even done some work with the physiotherapist today [Monday].
"I guess my season is over and that's a huge disappointment; I love my job," she added. "I'll be working hard to get back on start and finish lines as soon as possible."
Farquharson thanked all her well wishers, and those that visited her after the race on Monday. "I would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and wishes, it means a great deal to me", said Farquharson.
Farquharson's accident topped off a bad month for Cyclingnews' contributing photographers, after Mark Gunter went from motorbike pillion to the boot of a team car in an instant at China's Tour of Qinghai Lake. The Cooma, Australia based photographer was covering the 2.HC event at the time of the accident.
"I was making my way through the convoy of cars when one of the cars pulled out quickly to do a wheel change," Gunter told the Cooma-Monaro Express. "It was pouring rain, the bike went straight into the back of the car. I just remember being in the back of the car and looking back and seeing [the motorbike driver] rolling down the road."
Despite his penetration of the vehicle's rear window, Gunter walked away with minor scratches and bruising and continued shooting the following day.
Bands for Ben
By Paul Verkuylen
The Ben Mikic Foundation is in the process of organising a benefit concert, named Bands for Ben, in the town of Bowral on October 27. Local year 10 high school students from Chevalier College, the school Mikic attended, are organising the concert that will include six local bands, a song writing competition as well as education booths, guest speakers, federal minister Tony Abbott, Commonwealth Games kilo gold medallist Ben Kersten.
On April 27 this year, while out training with his good friend Alex Tomlinson, Mikic, a talented 15 year-old cyclist from Mittagong, New South Wales was tragically killed in a collision with a car. Ben was a keen cyclist who like many young riders had dreams of one day racing the Tour de France.
The concert is targeted at 17-25 year olds, an age group that makes up 11 percent of the Southern Highlands population. The foundation is also running a painting workshop in the lead up to the event and for local kindergarten and year one students, to increase the awareness of cyclists on the road.
After his death, with the support of high profile Australian riders Bradley McGee and James Williamson, Ben's parents Andrea and Darren set up the Ben Mikic foundation, with the aim of educating young riders of the dangers they face on the road. The foundation is aimed at preventing more accidents like that which killed their son form occurring through creating awareness.
For more information on the benefit concert or to make a donation to the foundation, visit the Ben Mikic foundation website
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)