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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 20, 2007

Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo

McQuaid blasts Pereiro allegations, commends WADA changes

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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By Shane Stokes

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
UCI President Pat McQuaid has strongly criticised the French anti-doping agency AFLD and the Le Monde newspaper over their suggestions that Tour de France runner-up Oscar Pereiro doped during the Tour de France.

On Thursday Le Monde said that Pereiro had twice provided urine samples containing traces of the controlled substance salbutamol. The Spanish rider has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) permitting him to use Ventolin to treat this, but according to the Le Monde story, he hasn't provided sufficient proof to show he needs this.

In a press conference, his personal allergist, Dr. Luis Sands, stated that Pereiro suffers from "moderate" asthma and denied that the usual dosage of medication could give a positive test. McQuaid also said that the rider's condition was genuine.

"It is a completely ridiculous situation and is typical of the AFLD, the French anti-doping agency," the Irishman told Cyclingnews on Friday. "Everyone in the sport accepts the WADA rules [regarding standards for TUE's], but they go off and do their own thing. It is typical. There is no way he can be considered positive. He is an asthmatic, he has all the medical backup to show that he has been an asthmatic, and I believe he has now sent that to the AFLD. That should be the end of it.

"It is scandalous reporting on the part of Le Monde to put down that Oscar Pereiro was positive. He was not positive. He uses Ventolin to treat asthma, as many people do. It is not a doping product or anything like that."

To read the complete feature, click here.

Pereiro submits medical documentation

Oscar Pereiro, the Tour de France runner-up who came under fire this week for failing to back up his authorisation to use the asthma drug, salbutamol, has submitted his medical certificates to the French antidoping authority, AFLD, today. Pereiro tested positive for the drug twice at last year's Tour de France, and although he had permission from the UCI to use the drug, the AFLD required further documentation.

Pereiro's failure to submit the certificates in a timely manner erupted into a flurry of news stories about the positive test, something the Spaniard was incensed about. "It's been a massive misunderstanding, and I hope those responsible for it apologize," the Spaniard told Radio Marca yesterday. "I'm very calm about the whole thing and know it will be sorted out when I send the paperwork tomorrow, but I'm upset that my reputation might have been stained by this report."

Phillipe Dautry, the Secretary General of the AFLD confirmed today that they had received the documents, "On Friday we received the certificates on which we have been waiting by fax," but declined to call the case closed, saying it was too soon to conclude anything based on the certificates.

Davis on his way to ProTour team contract

So, Alby, who are you riding for this year?
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Even though Cycling Australia had received formal confirmation in December from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) that the investigation into Allan Davis' involvement in the Operación Puerto case had been closed, and although Davis had already resumed racing in Australia in October, the Australian sprinter is still to confirm signing for a new team.

Inquiring about Allan Davis' possibilities of riding for a pro tour team again next year, his manager Paul De Geyter (Celio Sport & Image) told Cyclingnews that Davis is in the last phase of his contract negotiations and that things should be wrapped up by the time the European season kicks off.

De Geyter said, "Indeed, I want Allan to have a clear situation by the beginning of February."

While riders like Ivan Basso and others named in the Operación Puerto case have already found a new employer, Davis is one of the sport's best cyclists who is allowed to race still without a confirmed contract. His manager explained, "It took much longer than expected because of the position taken by the IPCT (International Professional Cycling Teams).

"Their position has till now prevented Allan to join a ProTour team. However, I have obtained confirmation from the IPCT that it won't undertake any measures towards a ProTour team wishing to hire Allan."

According to De Geyter, manager of the Belgium-based Celio Sport & Image group, which also handles riders like Tom Boonen, Davis has got some solid offers which they are currently considering. Paul De Geyter: "At this moment I am in negotiations with three ProTour teams and I am confident to have Allan joining a ProTour team before the end of this month."

Davis is currently racing in Australia at the Tour Down Under for a special 'composite' team, called Australia-UniSA (featuring a team made up of riders from four different pro squads). Many have observed he is riding a Discovery-badged Trek and indeed, there has been wide speculation he is to join the USA ProTour team, but the rider himself declines to comment.

Davis is currently focused on helping his Australia-UniSA team-mate, Tasmanian Karl Menzies, defend his leader's jersey in Australia's premier stage race. Menzies, who usually rides for the US-based Health Net squad, had a slender one second-lead going into the decisive stage 4 of the event which tackles 'Willunga Hill'.

(Cyclingnews continues its coverage of Tour Down Under with live coverage of this important stage later today.)

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Millar and Lelli acquitted

David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

David Millar and Massimiliano Lelli were acquitted Friday on doping charges stemming from the 2004 Cofidis affair. According to the court, "it could not be determined whether the accused behavior took place in the national [French] territory."

Physiotherapist Boguslaw Madejak was sentenced to one year imprisonment, with nine months suspended. Seven other individuals received suspended sentences of three to six months.

Millar admitted to having used EPO and was stripped of his world time trial championship title. He served a two-year suspension and returned to the peloton just in time for the 2006 Tour de France.

According to Reuters, Millar's Cofidis team tried to seek damages for what it viewed as harm to its image, but judge Ghislaine Polge threw out the request, saying "Through its involvement in professional cycling, its established knowledge of doping and the absence of significant measures to eliminate it, Cofidis could not have been unaware of the well-known doping phenomenon or of its magnitude.

Australian track team hit with scratching

Australian track sprinter Mark French, who has been resurrecting his career after a doping suspension in 2004, was turned around and sent home from Los Angeles airport on Friday after what Cycling Australia describes a 'code of conduct' issue on his flight from Australia to the US.

A Cycling Australia (CA) official declined to outline to Cyclingnews the nature of his violation on the flight, but it's understood the cyclist will be counselled and could face further penalties imposed by his federation.

His sudden scratching from the Australian team will weaken its sprinting capabilities at the upcoming Los Angeles round of the UCI Track World Cup, which got underway on Friday. At the Moscow round, French qualified eighth-fastest for the men's sprints, while in Sydney he qualified fourth-fastest.

Gilbert undergoes skin cancer surgery

Philippe Gilbert
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Philippe Gilbert of La Française des Jeux had a skin cancer removed from his thigh in an operation on Thursday in Liege, Belgium. The doctors removed a melanoma and ordered him to rest for 10 days, according to the AFP.

"It is a 'beauty spot' which had to be removed. The wound is serious, but not in a bad location. However, if I ride it will heal more slowly," Gilbert said.

He must now delay the start of his season. "I was to start with the [GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise] on February 6," he said, "but now it will undoubtedly be with the Volta ao Algarve on February 21."

Austin International postponed until 2008

g4 Productions has postponed the Austin International for one year. First announced in November, the inaugural edition of the race, which was to be held in Lance Armstrong's hometown, has been rescheduled for June 2008. The race had earned a UCI category 1.1 rating.

"We have formed some fantastic partnerships in the Austin community and we will continue to work closely with the city, the Austin Sports Commission, our media partners and the Austin cycling community to make the 2008 race one of the best one day races in America," said Robin Morton, partner, g4 Productions.

The ongoing doping problems affected promoter's efforts to secure funds needed for a 2007 edition of the race. "We've obviously felt some impact of the scandals of 2006 on the sponsorship side," said Morton. "Now planning ahead for 2008, we have provided our sponsors and partners ample time to plan for and effectively activate their sponsorships."

Matthew Pay, Executive Director of the Austin Sports Commission voiced his organization's commitment to the event. "While unfortunate that we will have to wait another year, the partners of g4 have the full support of the Austin Sports Commission and we will continue to work closely with them to produce a world-class event.

Tchmil managing Moldavian sport

By Gregor Brown

After an epic battle with Johan Museeuw, Andrei Tchmil eventually won
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"Andrei was a major professional athlete, regarded all around the world; he has good international relationships and knows the problems of sport, and not just in theory. I have a lot of trust in him and his project." Those are the words of Vladimir Voronin, president of Moldova, describing one of cycling's great one-day racers, Andrei Tchmil.

The former pro cyclist, retired in May 2002, was recently appointed as the new minister of sport for Moldova. The country's sports program is in desperate need of direction, and the heads of state thought of Tchmil to lead the way.

Moldavian sports have found a man that triumphed in the hellish conditions of the 1994 Paris-Roubaix, foiled Erik Zabel in the 1999 Milano-Sanremo and in 2000, at 37-years-old, became the oldest rider to ever win the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

A man that has been a Soviet, Russian, Ukrainian, Moldavian and Belgian, who for 12 years lived in Italy, speaks eight languages and sits at ease with members from the UCI or IOC (International Olympic Committee).

Tchmil really never stopped. The 43-year-old, 44 on January 22, briefly lived the life of a retired worker but then that changed. "My son said to me, 'how can you go on like this?' So I started to do a series of things, but I knew I did not want to work as a director sportif. I did some consultant work for a while with Chocolade Jacques but the riders would not listen to me, so I said 'ciao,'" recalled Tchmil to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Then, three years ago, I got a call from the UCI, who were opening up a cycling centre in the East and they entrusted me with the responsibilities. Now there are six of these centres in the East."

Andrej Tchmil
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The work encompasses all sports, not only Tchmil's bread and butter, cycling. "It is up to us to handle the salaries of the staff and the calendar of the federation. There is a lot to do. ... The structures form the 1970s, we need to fix those and we are looking for private funding. One of thee first objectives is the Olympic swimming pool and gym."

His managerial skills are impressive but he also serves as a role model for the young Moldavians coming though the system. "They have to understand that to be a part of this sporting system is an honour, also for economic reasons. They are getting salaries that are more than the average worker in Moldova," continued Tchmil to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We want our athletes to go to the Olympic Games not only to participate. When they go they have to fill goose bumps on their skin, and be ready to give 100%."

Cycling still remains in Tchmil's heart although he does not go out riding anymore, preferring to take brisk walks in the mornings. He remembers fondly his old sparring partners, "Ballerini and Museeuw, two of my biggest rivals," but he also appreciates the younger class, like Paolo Bettini. "Bettini is wonderful. His method for racing reminds me of my own. When he has an objective in his head he concentrates and then goes and wins. In 2002, I remember, he said to me, 'Andrei, you are incredible. How do you do it at 37-years-old; with the enthusiasm of a youngster?' That gave me the motivation to continue for 10 more years."

Brief palmarès: 1994 GP Ouest France, 1994 Paris-Roubaix, 1997 Paris-Tours, 1999 Milan-Sanremo, 1999 UCI World Cup, and 2000 Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Chasing the Tour: Vinokourov gets ready

All thumbs up
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Having won most of the races he wished to in his career, Alexandre Vinokourov is staking everything on the big one this year. The Tour de France is his sole target and he's hoping that this time round, everything will come together. Shane Stokes of Cyclingnews reports from the Astana training camp in Mallorca, Spain.

Alejandro Valverde may be increasingly regarded as being amongst the biggest of contenders for the Tour de France, but the rider who beat him in the 2006 Vuelta a España is heading into the season with the goal of coming out top of the pile once again.

Four months ago Vinokourov bounced back from the disappointment of missing the Tour by producing a career-best ride at the beginning of the autumn. His absence from competition meant that he was a little rusty heading into the Vuelta, losing time on the first big mountain stage, but from that point on he became stronger and stronger as the race progressed.

Valverde's incredible burst at the end of the seventh stage to the top of the Alto de El Morredero (Ponferrada) showed he was by then in peak condition, but his Kazakh opponent was the one whose form was continuing to grow. Vino won stages eight and nine, and then seized the maillot oro en route to finishing second on stages 17 and 18. He then copper-fastened his grip on the race with an impressive win in the penultimate day's time trial, ending the three-week race 1 minute and 12 seconds ahead.

That represented the first ever grand tour win for the Astana rider and, confidence solidified by the victory; he is staking everything on success in France this July. As a result, the former winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will forfeit the chance to chase a second victory if this means he is going to be in better condition at the Tour start in London.

"I will not go to Liège aiming to do something," he said at a press conference held in recent days at the team training camp in Mallorca. "The Tour de France is my main objective for the season. However, I will take part in Liège-Bastogne-Liège because it's good training for me. I will go there to help Kessler and Kashechkin. I already won this race once so it is not my main objective this year."

To read the complete feature, click here.

Marchante: "I don't have a private life"

By Monika Prell

Yesterday the team Saunier Duval - Prodir was presented in Estepona, in the south of Spain, where they are holding their training camp. Vuelta al País Vasco winner José Ángel Gómez Marchante talked to the Spanish newspaper Diario Vasco about his expectations for 2007 and the changes he experienced after winning the Basque ProTour race.

When asked if he considers himself more valued now, he answered, "Concerning the team and the fellows, yes. Concerning other things, I feel less valued. I'm in the UCI's top fifty, so I had to fill out a form of which I don't know how many pages it contained, and on top of everything it came to me in French and in English, of which I don't understand anything."

"They asked me to say where I will be every day in the coming three months. I will have to fill out these forms every four months. My girlfriend had to help me. I have to be able to be reached from seven o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock in the evening, this means 24 hours a day. I don't have a private life. I have ten hours of sleep. Does this happen in any other sport?"

His big dream is winning the Vuelta in 2007. "Reaching this depends on many things. You have to be in excellent form, luck, physical health, and have a team that helps you a lot," said Marchante. The biggest problem could be his health, as he admits weighing only 59.5 kilos -- not very much for a height of 1.75 meters. He recognizes that the cold is not good for him. "I get cold very fast with this body. I love the heat. 40 degrees? Always better than the cold."

Kashechkin aiming for Vuelta win

By Shane Stokes

Vino and Kashechkin
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Third last year, Andrej Kashechkin has said that he will travel to the 2007 Tour of Spain aiming for the top step of the podium.

"The Astana cycling team's objective is to win the Grand Tours. And for me, the goal is the Vuelta," he said at the recent training camp held in Mallorca.

"In 2007, I will work for Vinokourov in the Tour de France and then go for personal victory in the Tour of Spain. I know that I can achieve a top result in a race of three weeks. Riding well in the 2006 Vuelta meant that I am now more confident in myself, and I hope to have an even better season this year."

Team leader Vinokourov has already said that it is unlikely he will participate in the Vuelta, making it likely that the team will put their full weight behind the other big name Kazakh rider.

Kashechkin made a big jump in terms of his riding in 2006. He won a Tour of Spain mountain stage and finished just behind Vinokourov and Alejandro Valverde in Madrid. He also fared well in other events, with a stage win in Paris-Nice, victory in the national road race championships, third in the Tour of Germany, third in the Clasica San Sebastian and fifth overall in the ProTour marking him out as a big threat in both stage races and one day events.

His planned pre-Tour schedule sees him debut in the Tour of Murcia, then do the Settimana Ciclista Internazionale, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour de Romandie and Dauphiné Libéré.

A full interview with Andrej Kasheckin will feature soon on Cyclingnews.

No Cipo for Liquigas

Mario Cipollini is having bad luck in his business affairs of late. First, the former world champion was investigated for tax fraud by the Italian authorities; now his Liquigas team has announced that Cipollini will no longer act as 'technical consultant' for the team. The decision, according to the team, "is due to Cipollini's increased professional engagements".

Thomas pleads not guilty in steroid scandal

On federal court in Friday, former pro Tammy Thomas pleased not guilty to charges of lying to a grand jury in the BALCO steroid case according to All Headline News. The 2001 world silver track sprint medalist, who was banned for life from the sport after a positive drug test for Norbolethone in August 2002, was indicted on three counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. She was released on bond after entering her plea. If convicted, Thomas could spend up to five years in prison for each count plus pay a US$250,000 fine. The court has not set a trial date.

Aaron's pro women's team starts season

Aaron's Pro Women's Cycling Team
Photo ©: Micah Rice
(Click for larger image)

The Aaron's pro women's cycling team kicked off their season with a camp in Georgia last weekend. Team members got to know each other and to test out their new bikes: SRAM equipped Specialized Ruby S-Works. The team is sponsored by Aaron's Corporate Furnishings.

The did back-to-back four hour training rides in the Athens area. For 2007, the roster includes Katharine Carroll and Felicia Gomez from California, Carmen McNellis and Catherine Powers from Colorado, Kristin Sanders and Rebecca Larson from Florida, Sarah Caravella from North Carolina and Shannon Hutchison, Julie Granger, and Lee Anne Asbury from Georgia. Micah Rice serves as team director, and former pro racer Carmen D’Aluisio is team director.

Sydney cyclists hit with road closure

Cyclists who live in the north west of Sydney have learned that its state government plans to close off a key commuting lane into the city. The cyclelane in the M2 motorway, which represents a direct and relatively-safe corridor for commuting and recreational cyclists, is to be closed and converted into another car lane, supposedly to alleviate daily traffic congestion.

The wide shoulder has served as a commuting and training cyclelane for the last 10 years. Transportation experts say its closure will have little effect on reducing congestion. The alternate route suggested by the government involves congested, hilly roads, with multiple road crossings. Bicycle NSW CEO, Alex Unwin said , "The key risk is that the alternate route will have a counter effect on the continued growth in the use of bicycles as a means of transport in this key corridor, denying the community the triple benefits of improved health, pollution reduction and congestion easing associated with cycling."

Advocacy officer Kate Marley added, "This is one example of many poor decisions made, without the required consideration of the health, environmental and sustainable transport impacts, by governments around the world in relation to cycling infrastructure."

For further details and to comment, please click here.

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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini