First Edition Cycling News for August 30, 2007
Edited by Sue George
UCI says no Worlds for Valverde and initiates proceedings
By Monika Prell
Following the lead of German organizers, who have said they did not want Alejandro Valverde competing in the UCI World Road Championships in Stuttgart, the UCI announced in a statement Wednesday that it was not only prohibiting the Spanish rider from starting the championship event, but that it was also starting disciplinary proceedings against him.
Saying that it was acting in accordance with its regulations, the UCI requested the Spanish cycling federation RFEC "to open disciplinary proceedings against the rider as soon as possible."
"During the meticulous studying of the 6,000-page Puerto dossier, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has concluded that several documents may show the involvement of Alejandro Valverde in the affair," said a statement from the UCI.
The UCI carefully pointed out that the proceedings themselves do not imply guilt on the part of Valverde; however, it noted that if Valverde's involvement in the Puerto affair were confirmed and he were to receive at least a two-year ban, then as a signatory of the "Riders' Commitment to a New Cycling" pledge, he would be obliged to pay the UCI a contribution to the anti-doping campaign of a sum equal to his annual salary for 2007, in addition to any regulatory fines.
WADA withdraws Worlds involvement; UCI to expand anti-doping pledge
By Shane Stokes
Following rumours in recent days that WADA would pull out of its involvement in this year's world road race championships, it was confirmed on Wednesday that the agency would no longer play a role in the anti-doping measures in Stuttgart.
According to AFP, WADA sent a letter to both the steering committee and the German Ministry of the Interior regarding its decision. WADA confirmed to Cyclingnews Wednesday that the reason for the decision was because it had not been officially requested by the UCI to play a part in the testing there. "To participate in an event organized by an independent federation in any fashion, WADA needs a formal invitation from the independent federation responsible early enough prior to that event," clarified Frédéric Donzé of WADA.
"WADA never conducts in-competition tests," said Donzé. "WADA has an out-of-competition testing program that complements the international federations' programs to help them fulfill their responsibility under the World Anti-Doping Code."
At the start of July, the German Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble told German paper Tagesspiegel that he would prefer WADA to conduct the doping controls, rather than any federation.
Long-running tensions between the UCI and WADA chairman Dick Pound resurfaced during this year's Tour, with Pound saying that the UCI was not trying hard enough to eliminate doping. He said that he wanted to convene a meeting with the major players in cycling about the subject. However this was dismissed by the UCI on the grounds that it felt that Pound was doing so simply for the purposes of political mud-slinging.
WADA, the UCI and others may take part in a major summit in October. Richard Pound, president of WADA, met Tuesday in Paris, with Roselyne Bachelot, French Minister for Health, Youth and Sports, according to L'Equipe.
In early August, the UCI undertook to conduct a vastly improved battery of tests, both before and during the Worlds. It agreed to carry out 200 controls before the championships and 150 during the event. This was more than double the level of previous years.
Cyclingnews asked UCI President Pat McQuaid Sunday about WADA's withdrawal, which was heavily rumoured then but only confirmed on Wednesday. "It is not just because of the relationship with UCI, but also for financial reasons as well," he said, shortly after the finish of the Tour of Ireland in Dublin. "I don't know exactly what the reason is. But I don't think it will have any effect on the world championships. We have a steering committee which is working; we have a system in place with that steering committee to do a major number of out of competition controls by the UCI and with the national anti-doping agencies prior to the world championships."
He said that a major measure taken prior to the Tour de France would once again be used for the Worlds. "We have written to all the federations that will be taking part in the world championships, telling them that we want every rider who will be taking part in the championships to sign a pledge, similar to the one before the Tour. It will actually have to be slightly different for the Under 23 riders and the women, but it will be similar to the one we did for the ProTour teams before the Tour de France.
'We have already had many e-mails back from the Federation saying yes, they will do that, they will ensure all the riders signed the pledge and so forth. There are lots of things happening, already put in place for the world championships in Stuttgart. So whether or not WADA will be involved with the committee is not going to make any difference."
Gutiérrez shows good Worlds preparation at Eneco
By Monika Prell
The winner of the final stage of the Eneco Tour, José Iván Gutiérrez, believes that he is on a good track for the individual time trial at the World championships on September 27 in Stuttgart. The Caisse d'Epargne rider who finished Wednesday's time trial in second, 11 seconds behind winner Sébastien Rosseler (Quick.Step), said, "It is a pity that I did not win a stage, but I am very very content with my time and, of course, the overall win."
"I had some very strong adversaries for this time trial and also for the overall classification, with the [time trial] specialists [David] Millar, [Leif] Hoste and [Thomas] Dekker, but today I was the strongest one," said Gutiérrez. "I felt good during all the week and today, I began with a lot of confidence."
"This is my third victory this year after the Tour de Méditerranée and the Spanish time trial championship," said the Spaniard. "There is only one month until the beginning of the World Championships, and I think that I am on a good course in my preparation with the goal of achieving something in Stuttgart," finished Gutiérrez.
Hunter named to Worlds for South Africa after all
Cycling South Africa announced that Tour de France stage winner Robert Hunter, originally selected as a reserve team member for South Africa's team for the 2007 World championships in Stuttgart, will be racing after all. The Barloworld rider's name was left off the South African World's team initially published on the federation's website.
"Following discussions with Robert earlier today, Robbie, who was initially unsure of his availability to ride has confirmed that he will indeed be on the start line with Team South Africa in September," read a statement from the federation.
Hunter became the first South African to win a Tour de France stage in July. He also finished second in the green jersey (sprint) competition.
No Berzin for Tinkoff
Evgeni Berzin will not be returning to the professional peloton with Tinkoff. Although the 37 year-old Russian has spent the summer regaining his form and is a friend of Oleg Tinkov, the latter put an end to any speculation of Berzin's professional involvement with Team Tinkoff. Berzin won the 1994 Giro d'Italia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but has since retired from professional competition.
"We are friends, we have made breaks on a bicycle together," said General Manager Stefano Feltrin in a press release. "We have never spoken of his joining our team. We are happy he has found the passion of the sport again, but Evgeni does not enter in our plans and the strategy of team Tinkoff. If he wants to return to competition, he has a great past and great experience."
Cordero: Vuelta to be best ever
By Iker Rioja
In fact, the early trip to the mountains has some advantage. "It is a way to attract the public from the very beginning," said Cordero, who is "happier than ever" with the attendance of teams like Predictor-Lotto, "which, in leaving McEwen out, is surely thinking in the overall classification." Cordero called the Spaniards scheduled to participate in the race "stronger than ever."
After explaining how the teams were selected, Cordero explained that the Fuerteventura-Canarias team should have known since it picked its team that it would not be able to ride the Spanish Tour. "All the riders that are taking part in the Vuelta have credibility," said Cordero, and he call professional cyclists "by far, the most responsible sportsmen in the world." He added that of more than a thousand pros all over the world, "less than three percent are breaking the rules."
Should events of the Vuelta play out similarly to events of the Tour de France, Cordero said organizers "don't have the authority to send any team away. We can only recommend it leave the race."
When a fan questioned the state of the sport, Cordero said, "There is no need to suffer a year without cycling. In fact, we have been working on a side project to the UCI ProTour for three years, and 2008 could be the year in which the three major races can design their events however they like."
Looking toward future editions of the race, Cordero explained that Unipublic is working to take the race back to L'Angliru, the hardest mountain in Spain, and to prepare a nice stage around Los Ancares, in Galicia. "We couldn't do it this year as we are departing from there." Unipublic is also considering a night stage and confirmed plans for some foreign departures in the next few years. One such possibility is a Vuelta start in the Netherlands in 2009.
Biver still at Astana
Following news about the possible departure of manager Marc Biver, the Astana team issued a statement assuring fans that Biver will remain with the team, at least for now.
"Marc Biver, general manager of the Astana Cycling Team, wishes to specify that his decision, regarding his future at the top of the team, will be communicated until September 5, after taking all the parameters into account and in complete agreement with the Kazakh Cycling Federation," read the team's statement.
IPCT proposes anti-doping program
Several ProTour teams present at an IPCT meeting Wednesday announced a new possible anti-doping program.
Liquigas, Team CSC, Team T-Mobile, Rabobank, Euskaltel, Caisse d'Epargne, Saunier-Duval, Quick.Step-Innergetic, Lampre-Fondital, Team Milram, Predictor-Lotto and Gerolsteiner representatives agreed "to put in place the strongest possible anti-doping program, starting January 2008."
A statement from the IPCT specified at least 15 blood tests and 15 urine tests on each ProTour rider, for a total of at least 600 tests per team per year. The association is considering extending the program to also include Professional Continental Teams.
80% of these tests will be out of competition, and data collected will be made available for research. The statement specified, "The coordination and execution of the program will be done by an independent body in close conjunction with the UCI and the other relevant authorities within the rules and regulations of and approval of WADA and UCI."
ProTour teams will fund the program costs for testing their own riders. Further discussions with other teams, including those not present, to discuss program participation and details. Full details will be made public during October 2007.
The IPCT reported that the UCI has "accepted and applauded" the initiative.
Zabel and Klöden make preliminary Worlds team for Germany
By Susan Westemeyer
Erik Zabel and Andreas Klöden have been named to the preliminary World Championship team, the German cycling federation announced Wednesday evening. The participation of both riders had been in question in light of Zabel's doping confession and the doping problems of Klöden's team, Team Astana. Organizers had said earlier this month they did not want Zabel to participate in the race. Zabel's team Milram stood behind the rider's participation and sent a letter on his behalf.
"The presidium of the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, after intensive discussion and consideration of not just athletic aspects, has agreed with a clear majority to nominate Erik Zabel. An important aspect was Erik Zabel's behavior following his doping confession," said BDR vice president Harald Pfab.
The BDR will name its final nominations for the men's races no later than September 18, for the U23 after the Tour de l'Avenir (September 6-15) and for the women after the Rund um deie Nürnberger Altstadt World Cup Race on September 16.
Men (2 starters time trial, nine starters road)
Women (2 starters time trial, 6 starters road)
Men's U23 (2 starters time trial, 5 starters road)
Müller to challenge dismissal
By Susan Westemeyer
Christian Müller was summarily dismissed by Team Skil-Shimano last week, but he is not taking it lying down. "I will get the UCI and BDR (German cycling federation - ed.) involved, and if we can't reach an agreement, then I will look at judicial steps. I am not receiving any more salary and am standing there like a fool. A summary dismissal destroys your reputation, who would give me a contract now?"
The Dutch Professional Continental Team announced that it had terminated its contract with Muller because of "the rider's conduct and attitude as part of the Skil-Shimano cycling team, which are harmful to the team's interests and potentially to Skil-Shimano's reputation."
The 25-year-old said that small misunderstandings had been blown out of proportion, such as a delayed medical examination and a claim that he had trained too little on the first day after dropping out of the Brixia Tour. Another problem that the team cited was his non-start at the Deutschland Tour.
"I rode the Hainleite out of form and was perfectly awful," he told Radsportnews.net. "Then I told by Directeur Sportif, 'In this condition I don't need to ride the Deutschland Tour. Take someone else and let me train for further races.' A few days later they said 'ok'. That was the last that I heard from the team. And then I got the dismissal, which said that I didn't ride the Deutschland Tour."
Discovery to attend Kansas City and Fort Worth benefits
Tour de France Champion Alberto Contador, third place overall Tour de France finisher Levi Leipheimer and 2006 US National Road Race Champion George Hincapie, all of the Discovery Channel Team, will make an appearance at the Trek Bicycle Store in Kansas City on Monday, September 10th at 5:00 pm to raise money for "Headstrong for Jake" and the "Major Taylor Foundation."
All three will be competing in Discovery's last race on American soil. They will sign autographs for those who attend. A $10 donation fee will be required for autographs, with the money going toward both foundations. The first 200 donors will also be eligible to win prizes in a raffle.
Regarding his return to the US for the Tour of Missouri, Leipheimer said, "After a long season racing in Europe, I'm looking forward to coming back to the US and racing in front of our home crowd. This appearance gives us the rare opportunity to personally thank our fans and also raise money for two worthwhile causes."
After the Tour of Missouri, Leipheimer and Jason McCartney will also make an appearance at the fourth annual Bicycles Inc. Cycle for Science event in Forth Worth, Texas. The 30 mile ride on Friday, October 19th at 8:00 am will raise money for the Museum of Science and History. The ride is limited to 12 Yellow Jersey Individual Sponsor at US$2,000 per rider and 25 Green Jersey Participants at $500 per rider.
Team Discovery Channel for Tour of Missouri: Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych, Benjamin Noval, Tony Cruz, Fuyu Li and John Devine, led by Sports Director Johan Bruyneel.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)