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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 6, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Cadel Evans leads Australian reconnaissance of Beijing road courses

Cadel Evans
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian Cadel Evans has two major goals for 2008 - the Tour de France and the Beijing Olympic Games. Evans, who last month placed second overall in the Tour de France to become the first Australian to finish on the podium of the event, will fly to Beijing on August 15 to contest the Good Luck Beijing Road events to be staged on the 2008 Olympic road race and road time trial courses on August 18 and 19.

Joining Evans will be fellow road professional Matt White, 2004 Olympic teams pursuit gold medallist, Peter Dawson, Australian pursuit champion, Phil Thuaux and three time junior 2006 World Champion, Cameron Meyer. Athens Olympic road race champion, Sara Carrigan and two time World Cup Series winner, Oenone Wood, will also make the trip for reconnaissance purposes as only men's races are scheduled for the test event.

"I'm looking forward to getting together with the Aussie team and going to a new place," said Evans who represented Australia at both the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic Games but as a cross country mountain bike competitor. "I'm keen to see the course because a 'recce' always gives you a mental edge.

"It's also good to have a picture in your head of the course before you go into the race," said Evans who prepares meticulously for major events including training on the course whenever possible.

The Beijing Olympic men's road race will be staged thirteen days after the Tour de France on August 9 (women's road race August 10) and the road time trials for both men and women on August 13.

"I think the timing will work pretty well because there's enough time to fit in a little bit of recovery and still keep the Tour de France form," explained Evans who, along with Canberra's three time World Champion, Michael Rogers, is expected to target the road time trial. "I'm interested in how polluted it is, what the climb and descent are like on the time trial and what gearing is going to work best," said Evans.

The Beijing Olympic road race course starts in Beijing before heading out to the Great Wall of China some 80 kilometres from the capital.

Piepoli heard by Monaco federation

Photo ©: Sirotti
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Italian climber Leonardo Piepoli will be heard by the cycling federation of Monaco tomorrow for his post-race 'non-negative' doping control following the Giro d'Italia stage to Monte Zoncolan, May 30, won by Saunier Duval teammate Gilberto Simoni. The 35 year-old who races with a license issued by Monaco, where he has lived since 1999, recorded a reading of 1800 nanograms per millilitre versus the limit of 1000. Following the announcement of the result on June 13 a Barcelona lab was unsuccessful in determining if the asthma drug that been inhaled as normal or injected.

"The summons arrived on Saturday," explained Piepoli to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The rider has a medical certificate which allows him to use Salbutamol above the 1000 limit. "Doping with Ventolin [a manufacturers name of Salbutamol - ed.] is impossible, there is a lot of scientific literature to demonstrate this. The certificate that I have does not have limits for use, and I have to say that I don't remember if on the day of Zoncolan I used it more than other days, it would be deceitful to give an indication as such."

Saunier Duval suspended Piepoli on July 5 as per the ProTour Code of Ethics that prohibit a rider racing if he is involved in an investigation.

The winner of the stage to Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia on May 22 has been continuing to train. "It is the only way not to think of this incident. ... The bicycle is the only 'medicine' that enables me to get over this nervousness.

"Have I heard from Petacchi?" he questioned of the Italian sprinter who is being investigated for a similar 'non-negative' control. "I have not thought to call him. He is going through difficult moments of his won and I don't want to disturb him." Piepoli will be represented by Federico Cecconi with assistance from pharmacist Giuseppe Pieraccini.

Fuentes earning from Puerto

An Argentinean television station has offered Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes 300,000 dollars for an interview, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

This is not the first time that the doctor has used his status resulting from Operación Puerto to earn some extra money. Het Nieuwsblad reported that earlier this year Fuentes received an invitation from the University Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid, to participate in a course on Communication and Sport Management.

Also invited were the Secretary of Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, and Alredo Relano, the director of the Spanish AS newspaper. Both of them refused to attend after being told of Fuentes' participation. When asked about doping, Fuentes is said to have replied that what he did was "to preserve the athletes' health."

Rasmussen's past blood profiles questioned

By Katharina Schulz

Rasmussen at the 2007 Tour
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Danish broadcasting company DR Sporten and newspaper Jyllands-Posten have reported that Michael Rasmussen had slightly irregular blood profiles in 2002 when he was still with Team CSC. He had been scheduled to take part in the Giro della Provincia di Lucca but he was sent home by DS Johnny Weltz after an internal blood test showed irregularities. Back then, Rasmussen told Danish news agency Ritzau that his withdrawal was due to stomach troubles and a fever.

CSC doctor Piet De Moor told DR Sporten that CSC "had no official test, but there were misgivings about some things, which didn't seem to be in order. I don't want to be nailed down to any figures, that's not the point. I only know that it [the hematocrit level] was not over 50, but that it was close to 50, which also was suspicious for me. That's why Michael was sent home," De Moor said.

CSC's press officer Brian Nygaard confirmed the information. "There were some peaks in his blood levels," he stated to DR Sporten. "We're talking about levels that could have been caused by an illness, by a health problem, or something else. I don't want to drag Michael Rasmussen's name through the mud but I do confirm this piece of information. Today, I think that there was no crystal clear doping case to be taken up against him back then."

Bjarne Riis was immediately informed about the matter, and when the team confronted Rasmussen with the results, he showed them test results from the same period that were normal. However, this incident seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and even though Riis and Rasmussen had agreed on a new two-year contract after Rasmussen won the queen stage in the Vuelta a Burgos, the former mountain-biker and the team went separate ways.

"The relationship [between Rasmussen and Team CSC] had been really tense in the run-up to this, and there was really no room for any kind of further differences or misunderstandings," Nygaard explained to DR Sporten. "Based on the facts we had we decided – and Michael totally agreed – to end our relationship. The relationship built on mutual trust that should have been there between Michael and us simply wasn't there any longer. And therefore there was no basis for a new contract with Michael," Nygaard confirmed. Apparently, Rasmussen also had a very good offer from Rabobank, who were also informed about the test results by Team CSC.

The team also told Jesper Worre, then and now head of the Danish Cycling Union DCU. "I can remember Bjarne Riis coming to me at some point, telling me that they would stop working with Michael and we were asked to keep an eye on him. This episode has been one part of the picture we have been making ourselves of him," Worre told Jyllands-Posten.

"We have been alert since then, but it's a constant balancing act, and we had no reason not to nominate him for the Olympics in 2004 based on the tests that were taken before the games. We also chose to have faith in the tests that Rabobank took in Rasmussen's case. This has proven not to be good enough, when for example in June we had no real insight as to where he was."

Michael Rasmussen himself chose not to comment on the matter either to Jyllands-Posten or DR Sporten.

Relax will race the Vuelta

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Unipublic, the Vuelta a España's organizer, has granted the third wildcard to Spanish Pro-Continental Team Relax-GAM through an official press release, in which it announced that, "the twenty-second squad invited to participate in the Vuelta 2007 will be the Relax-GAM."

Relax-GAM Team Manager David Plaza, a former professional, stated to Cyclingnews its "gratefulness towards Unipublic" by the decision.

The squad has shown its serious commitment anti-doping by agreeing with Unipublic to not allow any cyclist linked to a doping affair to participate. "Oscar Sevilla, Francisco Mancebo and Ángel Vicioso, who did not appear on the pre-selection list, will not be in Vigo on September 1," Plaza clarified. On the contrary, "we have requested from the Czech cycling federation a certificate where it specifies that Jan Hruska is not linked to Operación Puerto in order to be able to guarantee his disposition to participate in the Vuelta."

Relax-GAM will likely call upon Santiago Pérez, who already has fulfilled a sanction of two years after testing positive for a blood transfusion, as well as Daniel Moreno, José Miguel Elías and Jesús Hernández. "But the decision will not be taken until we are nearer to the beginning of the Vuelta."

"We want to have a strong performance, as we have always had, but with more emphasis," Plaza concluded.

Euskaltel readies for the Vuelta

Euskaltel-Euskadi is sending its big guns to the Vuelta a España next month. The team's technical director, Igor González de Galdeano, told El Diario Vasco that Samuel Sánchez will lead the team in Spain.

Haimar Zubeldia, Iñigo Landaluze, Iñaki Flores and sprinter Koldo Fernández are also already set for the squad. The remaining four spots will not be awarded until after the Vuelta a Burgos and the Deutschland Tour, but they are expected to go to Iban Velasco Murillo, Aitor Hernández, Markel Irizar and Dionisio Galparsoro.

Paride Grillo prospers in Portugal

Paride Grillo has returned back to his full sprinting speed with a win in the 69th Volta a Portugal stage 1. The 25 year-old Italian from Como was forced out of the Giro d'Italia on the mountain run to Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia but yesterday in the 196.4-kilometres stage to Beja he proved the mid-season 'pausa' did him well.

He took the sprint over compatriot Fabrizio Guidi (Barloworld) and Portugal's Manuel Cardoso (Riberalves-Boavista). Saturday's prologue winner Martin Garrido (Duja-Tavira) continues to lead the race.

Tour of Britain announces its first four teams

Barloworld's Hunter
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The Tour of Britain has today announced the first four teams that will be contesting the 2007 edition of the race, Team Great Britain, Barloworld, Tinkoff Credit Systems and DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed.

Barloworld is coming off the back of a successful Tour de France for the team. The team won Stages 9 and 11 of the race, the latter of these making Robbie Hunter the first South African to win a stage of the Tour de France, while Colombian Mauricio Soler won in Briançon, on his way to taking the King of the Mountains Jersey.

UK based Professional Continental team, DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed will be back for their third Tour of Britain, and will be hoping for a good result for Dan Lloyd. Lloyd recently came second overall at The Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.

Team Great Britain will also be riding and looking for more success in the race after two stage wins in previous editions thanks to Roger Hammond, and The Tour of Britain is pleased to welcome a new participant in the race, Tinkoff Credit Systems.

Tinkoff have had some impressive results so far this season, including wins at the Tour of Langkawi, Tour of Georgia and the Tour of the Méditerranéen Tour. Its rider Evgeni Petrov finished seventh overall in the Giro d'Italia earlier this year.

Sixteen teams of six riders will be on the start line for the prologue in Crystal Palace on Sunday, September 9.

This year the race covers over 950 kilometres, passing through the South of England, Somerset, the West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire before finishing in Glasgow on Saturday, September 15. Technical Director Mick Bennett explained, "This year's race will be the best yet, and the teams have been carefully chosen to make the most competitive and exciting race possible. We're looking forward to seven days of close racing, and the teams selected will provide that.

"We're also delighted to welcome Tinkoff Credit Systems to The Tour of Britain, and also pleased to welcome Barloworld, DFL and Team Great Britain back to race."

Colombian Niño positive for EPO

Libardo Niño of Colombia has tested positive for EPO (Erythropoietin) following his silver medal in the Pan American Games time trial.

He has pronounced his innocence. "I'm absolutely sure that I did not consume any banned substances, much less before the Pan American Games," the 38 year-old told Caracol Radio on Saturday, according to the AP. He said that he was willing to undergo another blood test.

Niño is currently ninth overall in the Tour of Colombia, a race he won in 2003 and 2005.

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