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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for August 26, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

LeMond recommended drastic changes for cycling

Three time Tour winner Greg LeMond
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond is rarely afraid to speak his mind, and in an interview in the Colorado Daily Camera published on Saturday, the American spelled out some dramatic recommendations he has made to clean up the sport. LeMond was in Colorado for a charity event, and spoke frankly about his views on the state of the sport and what should be done to improve it.

LeMond travelled to the Tour de France this year, and while there, he met with the race director Christian Prudhomme, to whom he made some drastic recommendations. "I was asked what I thought could be done," LeMond stated in the interview, "and the first thing I said was to divorce yourself from the UCI." He continued, explaining his recommendation by stating the UCI has been negligent because they've "known what's been going on [doping -ed.] in cycling." He did concede that the organisation has "done a much better job under Pat McQuaid, no doubt."

The Tour organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), were openly critical of the UCI during the Tour, even to the point where they denied UCI president Pat McQuaid official passes to the event. The battle between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers has been a long, drawn out affair which dates back to the start of the ProTour in 2005, if not before.

According to the Colorado paper, LeMond went on to suggest other ways to combat doping, including keeping riders sequestered for two hours before races to eliminate unauthorised contact, increasing the number of randomly tested riders to 20, and lowering the hematocrit limit to 46 percent - the upper end of the range considered normal in medical tests. He also wants to see higher penalties for those caught cheating, but an additional consideration for those who would act as informants.

In LeMond's ideal situation, "There would be the ability to plea-bargain prison sentences, so when riders get busted they can rat out the system and come back to racing in much heavier testing." He went on to say that doping "needs to be criminalized because they are trafficking in illegal drugs. They are prescription drugs, but they are being illegally distributed throughout the peloton."

LeMond was also not afraid to take a thinly veiled shot at his fellow Tour winner Lance Armstrong, whose Discovery Channel team announced it would disband after ceasing its search for a new sponsor earlier this month. "I think we're fleshing out a lot of people who are leaving," he told the newspaper. "I think a lot of people are leaving not because they can't get sponsors, but because [investigators are] getting serious. The guys that have been getting away with it don't want to be caught."

Despite claiming that he was "the most optimistic I have been in years" about the state of the sport, he still holds some reservations about seeing youngsters starting their careers in professional cycling. LeMond's contemporary Davis Phinney has a son, Taylor, who just won a gold medal in the Junior World Championships, and LeMond has mixed feelings about his success. "He could be one of our most talented riders coming up," LeMond said.

"At first I thought, 'Oh, I'm so happy for him, and then I thought, 'Oh, I'm so sad for him.' Because I don't know if I was the parent, and my son would have won the worlds that I would allow him to pursue it on the professional level," LeMond continued. "I am optimistic that there is a change and it's shifting, and that maybe Taylor Phinney can have a chance like I did where you don't have to decide to either sell your soul to be part of a sport, or having your dignity and be proud of doing it on your own."

Rogge wants cheats banned from 2012 Olympics

Olympic president Jacques Rogge wants tougher measures in place for any athlete caught cheating in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He told Reuters that he wants any athlete who tests positive, even for a minor offence, automatically banned from the next Olympics - the 2012 London Games. "If you cheat, there will be no Olympic Games... that is the message," Rogge said,

The IOC's Executive Board met in Osaka, Japan, to discuss measures to fight doping in sport. Rogge explained, "The fight against doping in sport is a daily battle which must be fought in concert by the sports authorities, sports teams, athletes, coaches and governments." He continued, "The measures that we have reviewed today aim to reinforce the IOC's zero-tolerance policy."

The measures recommend that any athlete who is found guilty and given a ban of six months or more resulting from a drugs test at the Beijing Games would be prevented from competing in London, however cooperation with authorities could get them a lesser penalty. "If an athlete reveals who gave him the EPO for example, who was behind it, was it the doctor or coach etcetera. If he tells of other cases… if the information is very valuable then we might consider reducing the penalty," Rogge said.

Unibet director reflects on loss of sponsor

By Brecht Decaluwé in Heist

Hilaire Vander Schueren
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

It's been a few weeks now since Unibet announced that they would stop sponsoring their cycling team after its ProTour team was denied entry in many of the series events, including all three Grand Tours. Unibet's directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren was at the Eneco Tour, one of the team's final ProTour events in the green jerseys of its online gambling sponsor, and expressed mixed feelings on the sponsor's decision to quit. "It's sad they made the decision because with the recent developments it was possible to continue with a reduced budget."

Van Der Schueren pointed a finger in blame towards the UCI for selling an expensive ticket for events where the Swedish team wasn't allowed to race, but he didn't forget about the stubborn position from the Grand Tour organizers. "It's too bad that cycling has been troubling a sponsor that invests no less than €25,000,000 in the sport. I wonder if they realised that not only the riders but also 60 families are affected if the team can't continue."

Looking back on a troubled season, Van Der Schueren reflected on the constant uncertainty that afflicted the team throughout the year. "It was a difficult season where we never could make a schedule for the upcoming weeks. Constantly we had to adjust our program and keep ourselves busy with the troubles outside the racing itself. Maybe we will still find a new sponsor but Canyon can't do it on their own."

The 59 year-old has seen a lot in cycling but the way the season unfolded was completely unexpected for the Belgian. "At the beginning of the year I thought that we would be able to work for four years on a decent basis. I'm convinced that we have some of the best young riders in our team and I'm annoyed with the fact that we are probably also punished for that." But he told Cyclingnews that while he may be down, he's not out yet. "I'm a fighter and I will not let myself go down but I imagined things would've been different. I don't fear the future, I'm too young to retire just yet and if we can't find a sponsor for this team I might just do something myself," Van Der Schueren said.

Vierhouten reflects on Van Petegem

By Brecht Decaluwé in Heist

Aart Vierhouten
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

After yesterday's announcement from Spring Classics specialist Peter van Petegem that he would retire within two weeks Cyclingnews talked with a contemporary and former team-mate of the Belgian. "We had good times together at TVM," mused Aart Vierhouten, who now rides against Van Petegem's Quick-Step squad for the Skil-Shimano team. "Yesterday during the stage we were already talking about his decision before the news was known."

The Dutchman enjoyed a couple of successful years with Van Petegem in the team and he didn't mind working for the Belgian. "Peter is not a star who thinks what we do is obvious. He only asked us to work as much as we could and he showed a lot of appreciation for that," Vierhouten said of his friend Van Petegem.

Currently Vierhouten is the lead-out man for Kenny Van Hummel in the Eneco-Tour and he enjoys that role. "Kenny has the top speed so if he is delivered well then he can get the results. I think he should build up his muscles to become better than he is now," Vierhouten talked about the Dutch Skil-Shimano team's sprinter. "Leading him out is my job and I don't mind doing that as long as he stays in my wheel - which he does - I'm not riding in the wind for someone else," Vierhouten said.

After yesterday's stage Mark Cavendish explained that he didn't feel that Van Hummel could've beaten him saying he maybe would've been at 1 instead of 5 bike lengths. Van Hummel reacted before the start of stage 3 when he talked to the press. "Today I hope to claim my redress for what happened yesterday," Van Hummel talked about the sprint where Wouter Weylandt moved into his path on the right side of the road. When referred to the Cavendish reaction Van Hummel made clear that Cavendish should watch his words.

Antequera defends pre-selection of Valverde

By Monika Prell

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Freddy Guérin
(Click for larger image)

Spanish national coach Francisco Antequera, whose pre-selection of riders for the World Championships was published yesterday, defended the nomination of Alejandro Valverde. The 27-years old Caisse d'Epargne rider was declared "not welcome" by the German organisation in charge of the Stuttgart event because of rumours that Valverde was involved in the Spanish doping scandal Operación Puerto, but the Germans admitted that they were legally not able to prevent him from riding.

According to todociclismo, Antequera said that "there is absolutely no reason that Valverde could not participate in the World Championships. He already competed the Tour de France where every case was investigated in all details."

He does not believe that there will be an excessive animosity, "The Germans are very civilised people, they won't throw stones at our cyclists." He added that he "expects that the German journalists will ask aggressive questions in the press conferences or that they will bestow us some titles not very agreeable, but normally nothing more should happen, and even the last thing would not be logical."

Antequera is confident about the riders. "We don't take boys with us, but professionals who know to focus on their work. The Selección won't be discouraged, no, contrary! When things like those happen, you get stronger." Valverde, the most affected, "had already to stand up to pressure in the Tour de France. I am convinced that this that won't influence him."

The circuit, however, disappointed Antequera. "It is much more soft and less selective than the circuit of the last World championships in Stuttgart in 1991, where the winner was (Gianni) Bugno and where (Miguel) Indurain finished third. There is a little climb of 700 meters and 17%, but after a descent, so you almost can overcome it by the push you got in the descent. But after almost 260 kilometers, (Oscar) Freire and (Alejandro) Valverde will have their chances."

Mayo to wait three more days

By Monika Prell

The results of Iban Mayo's B-sample from the Tour de France was due to be known on Friday, but now will finally be published on Monday, according to El Correo. The rider tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO, but claimed his innocence. Josean Fernández Matxín, the director of Mayo's team Saunier Duval, sent yesterday an email to the UCI to find out the status of the procedure, and to find out when they could know the results of the B-sample, which was examined in the University of Gent (Belgium). The UCI answered that "nothing will be known neither officially nor unofficially until Monday."

According to Matxín, the laboratory "finished its work at noon". The UCI is the only authority which can communicate the results, so Mayo, who is suspended from riding, will have to wait three more days. The cyclists from Igorre (Bizkaia) denies having doped. "It's impossible" he said various times to Matxín when he was asked about the subject.

Otxoa adds another rainbow jersey to his closet

Basque rider Javier Otxoa (Saunier Duval), a former professional who held off a rampaging Lance Armstrong to win his only Tour stage at the top of Hautacam in 2000, won his third world title at the UCI Para-Cycling Time-Trial World Championship in Bordeaux. Otxoa clocked the best time in the Men CP 3 ITT on Saturday, crossing the finish line 37 seconds faster than his compatriot Maurice Eckhard and one minute faster than Great Britain's Darren Kenny.

Otxoa, who sustained brain injury when he was struck by a car in 2001, also took the silver medal in the individual pursuit and bronze in the kilometre time trial in the track events earlier this week.

Canadian Worlds selections announced

Svein Tuft (Symetrics) celebrates
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz/Action Images
(Click for larger image)

The Canadian Cycling Association announced some of the riders who have been selected for the upcoming World Championships in Stuttgart (September 26-30). In the elite men's race, Svein Tuft and Cameron Evans have been automatically selected for the road races, Tuft and Ryder Hesjedal have been selected for the time trial.

The third road rider and two alternates will be nominated on September 15 based on international results to that date from among the following athletes who met the minimum performance criteria: Michael Barry, Andrew Randell, Dominique Rollin, Andrew Pinfold, Charles Dionne, Mark Walters, Dominique Perras, Francois Parisien, Jacob Erker and Ryan Roth.

The CCA will send its list of contenders for the U23 World Championships to the Tour de l'Avenir in France, and the final selection will be made based on performances at the event which runs from September 6 - 15. Christian Meier, David Veilleux, Ryan Anderson, Éric Boily, Brad Fairall and Keven Lacombe will compete for the five spots for the U23 road race, while Meier and Veilleux have been selected for the time trial with Fairall as alternate, the organisation announced on Saturday.

Final selection for the road race at the road world championships will be made from among these riders based on an assessment of their performances at the Tour de l'Avenir.

The women will be selected in a similar fashion at the Tour de l'Ardèche in France, which runs from September 11-15. Leigh Hobson, Moriah Jo McGregor, Alex Wrubleski, Allison Testroete, Erinne Willock, and Julie Beveridge will compete for the road race spots, while Anne Samplonius was automatically selected for the time trial.

Join the Fantasy Vuelta a España Game!

Don't wait until it's too late, start creating your Fantasy Vuelta team today! The first provisional start list has been uploaded to the game site, so you can start creating your Vuelta teams now. If you've not taken part already in this year's games you'll find it's a great way to follow the Grande Tours in more detail. Be a professional team manager for the 2007 Vuelta and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's race. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Manager Hansemann
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Not sure who to pick? Manager Hansemann from Oslo, Norway won the 1st place runner-up prize last year (a pair of HED's Limited edition "Bastogne" wheelset and a pair of Maxxis Courchevel road tyres. Total value - US$884). Here's what he had to say about his selection strategy:

"Before the start of the Vuelta I did a lot of research into which riders that had done well in the last weeks. I also looked at last years results and studied the scoring system in detail to better know the distribution of riders (GC contenders or stage winners/sprinters). After the last 'free' stage I did my final team selection based on the above criteria and the results so far in the Giro. My team ended up with 8 overall contenders and 7 sprinters/stage hunters."

How to Choose your Mountains and Sprints Riders

If you are relatively new to the Grande Tours it can be a daunting prospect choosing your 15 riders. Fear not! The new ranking system can tell you some of the answers you need to know. Here's some direct links to last year's high scoring riders:

Go to the Top Pro Riders page and click on the "How to find top climbers/mountains and sprinters/points riders..." link at the top of the page to find out more.

Try the game for free!

Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Grande Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Vuelta start list. Then each day pick 9 riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders. For more details go to the rules section of the site. It's a great way to follow the Vuelta.

There's plenty time to join in the fun at this year's Fantasy Vuelta game at Cyclingnews . You can join until stage 4 begins on Tuesday 4th September.

Good luck from everyone at Fantasy

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