First Edition Cycling News for August 13, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
Demol was ready to succeed Bruyneel
Assistant directeur sportif for the Discovery Channel team, Dirk Demol was poised to take over the role of Johan Bruyneel, according to Het Nieuwsblad, until the dissolution of the team put an end to the squad's future. The Belgian indicated that Bruyneel was ready to step into more of a management role, leaving Demol, a former winner of Paris-Roubaix, to direct the day-to-day racing operations of the team.
"During the Tour, Johan Bruyneel told me that he had another role set aside for himself in 2008," explained Demol, "Similar to that of Patrick Lefevere at Quick-Step. I would move up a rank in the line of directeurs. I also felt ready to take that step," he said. Demol did not elaborate on why the tactical genius who directed the team to eight Tour victories in nine years would give up that role, but only said that Bruyneel was happy with the results the team had achieved during the Tour. "I believe that Johan was satisfied after all the success. Especially since we didn't have a sponsor," Demol said.
Despite taking first and third overall in the Tour and two stage wins, the team decided to give up its search for sponsorship and Bruyneel, in an even more surprising move, announced he would retire from the sport. While Bruyneel said that the timing was "an ideal moment to go out on top," there was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in the official press release, where Bruyneel stated that he would "miss the staff, riders and the excitement of the races, but not all the in fighting between the teams."
Demol still took a bright view of the future of the sport, saying that despite it being in a "dark tunnel" at the moment, it still had a solid future. "Give it a year or two," he concluded.
Yates says things look dim
Soon to be unemployed Discovery Channel assistant directeur sportif Sean Yates is taking a dim view of cycling's future in light of the announcement that the team's owner, Tailwind Sports, has decided to quit seeking sponsorship and disband the team at the end of the season.
In Germany for the Deutschland Tour, Yates was shocked at the news which came out on Friday about the team's demise. On his personal website, seanyates.co.uk, he described the atmosphere among the staff. "'Welcome to the morgue' - that's how one of the members of staff greeted me yesterday when I turned up at the team hotel here in Germany. It was then that the news I had received the previous evening really started to sink in. It was not just a bad dream, it was reality."
With dozens of staff members and riders suddenly thrust into the job market, Yates said that "Shock, Panic, etc. was the mood of the day." In an interview with dpa, Yates guessed that even Tour de France winner, Albert Contador, may not have an easy time finding a new team. He is "worth a lot of money, " but, Yates noted, his manager Tony Rominger "will have to do a lot of hard work in a difficult market."
"We were disappointed and shocked and learned that we have lived in a paradise the last few years," Yates told the dpa. "Those times are over now. The atmosphere for investors is not good because of the ongoing doping discussion. When even the team with the latest Tour winner, a team which has had the winner eight times in the last nine years, can't continue, then that is a bad sign."
Yates lamented the end of the team on his website, and expressed hope that he could stay in the sport. "I for one really want to stay in this line of work as you can all imagine, and have contacted a few teams with that in mind. I am hoping that in the next ten days or so I will have a good idea if that is possible or not."
Holczer still waiting
The season for sponsorship deals is winding down, and while T-Mobile, Milram and Cofidis have secured sponsorship renewal, Team Gerolsteiner is still awaiting a decision from the mineral water bottler. Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer stated in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau that he will sit down with the sponsor in September "and talk about what we do and how it will go further."
Holczer said that the decision isn't as much about doping scandals as it is about economics, and that the power lies in the hands of the water drinking public. "The consumer is the one who decides in the end whether Gerolsteiner will continue after 2008. One thing is clear: the whole purpose of sponsoring is to sell bottles of water."
While Gerolsteiner's decision to renew or not to renew might be about economics, finding a replacement sponsor will be increasingly difficult in light of the negative press the sport has gotten in recent weeks. "It's terribly difficult to be sure these days, even though I have had a good feeling since the second Tour de France rest day." The rival German T-Mobile team was able to extend its sponsorship through 2009, but whether or not this will have an impact on his sponsor's decision, Holczer is uncertain. "I'm not going to break out in euphoria and say that is an indication for the gentlemen in Gerolsteiner to do the same. But it surely doesn't hurt that T-Mobile made this decision."
The 53-year-old took an optimistic view of the state of the sport, saying that the doping cases which came to light during the Tour de France didn't indicate the sport had failed - quite the contrary. "I think that all the riders who were excluded from the race, no matter how big their names are, supports my position. For me, it wasn't a spoiled tour or a disaster, but probable the cleanest Tour that we have ever seen," Holczer stated. "They cracked down like never before. That is what we need in cycling."
Gerdemann angry at Sinkewitz
Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey holder Linus Gerdemann came out with sharp criticism of his former team-mate Patrik Sinkewitz this week. 24 year-old Gerdemann gave the team it's best result of the Tour when he won stage seven and took the lead in the overall classification, but then days later the team was crushed by the news of Sinkewitz's positive drugs test. Sinkewitz later admitted to using testosterone at the team camp where the out of competition doping control was performed.
"I'll never forgive him for this mistake," Gerdemann said in an interview with the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag. "I simply can't get back to a normal relationship with him. It was just too big of a matter."
Gerdemann's victory in the Tour was seen as a boon for clean cycling, but since the multiple positive tests during and after the Tour he said that he has had "angst for the profession of cyclists. We have fallen into disregard because of the many doping cases. Everyone is right to be sceptical -- but I defend myself against the blanket statement that all riders use dope. That is definitely not so."
"I think that cycling is generally on the right way. There are a lot of measures being taken in the right direction," Gerdemann continued. While in the not so distant past, riders who spoke out against doping were shunned and even persecuted for their statements, things are quite different these days. "People like me, who actively fight doping, are not handled as outsiders. But of course that doesn't mean that the sport will become clean from one day to another. But in contrast to earlier, the cyclists are dealing with the problem --- at least most of them are."
Stubbe to FdJ
Belgian Tom Stubbe will be moving across to the French team, Française des Jeux, joining his compatriot Philippe Gilbert for the 2008 season. The 26 year-old rode for the Chocolade Jacques team, and took second in the Vlaamse Pijl and fourth in the Paris-Camembert this year, as well as a third overall in last year's Tour de l'Avenir.
German cycling VP investigated
German Cycling Federation (BDR) vice president Udo Sprenger is being investigated by prosecutors after an anonymous person accused him of aiding riders in illegal doping in a June broadcast. The unidentified accuser's identity was disguised on the broadcast, and the person has not been identified.
Sprenger filed a complaint with German authorities about the allegations which were broadcast on June 25 on ARD television. The accuser said that Sprenger ran an illegal fund to help riders on the Team Nürnberger team purchase banned substances during his time as directeur sportif of the squad. Sprenger ran the team from 1998 to 2002.
According to the Associated Press, Sprenger said that "It's routine that the investigation against me has been launched, because of the public nature of the accusations."
The investigation is made all the more urgent considering the fervent antidoping climate in Germany and the fact that Sprenger's role in the BDR is to assemble the team which will contest the World Championships in Stuttgart.
Landis shows form in Leadville
Embattled 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis took second place in a Colorado marathon mountain bike race this weekend, clocking in just over seven hours to finish the Leadville 100, coming home two minutes behind five-time event winner Dave Wiens. The result showed that Landis is taking riding a bit more seriously these days, and went considerably better than the Teva Mountain Games in June, where he was passed by women's division winner Shonny Vanlandingham and finished 25 minutes down on the winner.
Landis has been fighting his positive testosterone doping result from the 2006 Tour de France since last year, and since the case is still unresolved, he's left without much to do except wait and wonder. "This race was good because it was something to train for and I could focus on that," said Landis according to thenewstribune.com.
"It's been three months since the hearing and I haven't heard a word - nothing at all," Landis said. "If they're going to do it right and they're going to take their time, that's fine, I don't mind. I just don't know what the time frame is. It would make it a lot more simple if they just said, 'It'll be next January.' That'd be fine."
Hopping on the mountain bike and suffering for seven hours can certainly take one's mind off of troubles, and Landis gave himself more to think about when he crashed early in the race but continued riding despite the blood dripping down his leg and scrapes on his elbows and hands. Riding on his Landis was closing in on Wiens until an untimely flat tyre left him chasing second place. "I chased too hard after the flat," said Landis, "[Wiens] probably was going to win anyway, even without the flat. He's in great shape."
Landis, riding on a surgically repaired hip, finished the race in 7:00:30, one minute 43 seconds behind Wiens was timed in 6:58.47, and then got back on his bike to ride home, according to AP.
Fertonani fights doping case
The Italian Olympic committee CONI has recommended a two year suspension for Macro Fertonani for his testosterone positive from the Tour Méditerranéen in February, but the Italian from the Caisse d'Epargne team is fighting the results of the test. Any sanction would have to come from the Italian Cycling Federation, and Fertonani is confident that this organisation will agree that the adverse finding was the result of a laboratory error.
Fertonani's lawyer presented a report back in July to CONI which detailed the mistakes made by the Châtenay-Malabry lab, the same laboratory responsible for testing Floyd Landis' 2006 Tour de France samples which came up positive for testosterone. This week the 31 year-old released a statement giving more detail about the results of his test, which he insists do not add up to a positive. The press release states that the testosterone:epitestosterone ratio was below the 4:1 limit at 3.1:1, that all metabolites in the IRMS analysis had normal absolute values, that his total amount of testosterone was well below the limit of 200 ng/ml at 8.7.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)