First Edition Cycling News for July 24, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo, Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen
Rasmussen moves a step closer
By Shane Stokes, with additional reporting by Gregor Brown
Another day, another jersey. Compared to the previous day’s first Pyrenean stage, Michael Rasmussen had a tougher time from Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) on stage 15, but by the finish in Loudenvielle-Le Louron the Rabobank rider had maintained his advantage over his rival and bolstered his lead over all the other GC contenders.
Rasmussen sprinted home glued tight to Contador’s wheel, the Spaniard and the Dane placing tenth and eleventh respectively, 5’31" behind Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).
Cadel Evans (Predictor – Lotto), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel – Euskadi), Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team), Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), who were all seen as dangermen in the general classification, came home a further 56 seconds back.
Rasmussen was happy with how the day went, even if Contador hurt him along the way. "He has an incredible acceleration and a couple of times I was almost dropped," he said in a television interview after the race.
He echoed this in the post race press conference. "It was so hard, obviously. He had a bit of advantage behind the motor bikes. He used them. But he has the best acceleration on the climbs. I was under pressure but luckily I managed to get back each time."
The Spaniard appeared stronger on the stage than he had seemed 24 hours earlier. However Rasmussen has just one more day left in the mountains, stage 16 on Wednesday, and has a rest day before then. He knows what he has to do. "I think if I can stay with Contador [on the final mountain stage] then I have a good chance. If I have the yellow jersey and a couple of minutes advantage at the start of the time trial, then that should be enough to win the Tour."
Rasmussen has been in the spotlight in the past couple of days due to the fact that he has missed out of competition doping tests and has two warnings each from the UCI and from the Danish National Anti Doping Agency. He was asked after the race for his reaction to a reported quote by UCI President Pat McQuaid, who said that this situation would make him uncomfortable if Rasmussen won the Tour.
"Oh well, that is new to me," he said, when hearing about that. "I have all the intentions to try to win the race. Every since I left the hospital bed last October, after crashing and breaking my left femur, I’ve been aiming for that."
He dismissed the media focus on his missed tests, saying that the yellow jersey is always under examination. "It is normal that the press shoot at number one. I know what Lance Armstrong was under fire for seven years in a row and he managed to continue to win. I guess that is normal reaction from everyone."
Evans fights for podium spot
By John Trevorrow in Loudenvielle
Cadel Evans lost more time in the second Pyrenean mountain stage to Loudenvielle, where he was isolated and eventually ridden off the wheel of the yellow jersey thanks to constant attacks from Discovery Channel's white jersey wearer Alberto Contador. "I was in the position at 12km to go and then, those guys combined against me yesterday, what with Astana and Discovery behind, well, unfortunately I had to race a little conservatively.
His team-mate Chris Horner was the last to be able to hang with the pace, but was dropped before he could help his leader in the crucial moments. Evans was then left to play it safe and ride the wheels. "It's not what I wanted to do but I was completely on my own, it was up to the other guys to work it, but what am I supposed to do when I am on my own, everyone else had a team-mate."
Evans, who rode like a yellow jersey contender on stage 14 was left fighting for what appeared to be just a podium spot in Paris. "Unfortunately yes, but you have to play the cards your dealt. Twelve km from home and I am on my own, what am I supposed to do," the Australian complained. "Today I rode to conserve a little. Unfortunately the team hasn't got the budget to hire a rider who can close those gaps for me."
After two weeks of racing and two tough mountain stages, the Predictor-Lotto rider is keen to have the rest day, and then on to his final goal - to be the first Australian on the final podium of the Tour. "I am ready for a rest. I would be very happy with that [podium spot]. But there's still a bit of racing to go. We'll just have to see."
Tour squads get 'routine' customs search
French customs officials pulled over at least four team buses of the squads contesting the Tour de France during yesterday's Stage 15. The team buses of the Rabobank, Team CSC, Discovery Channel and Astana squads were all pulled over on the A64 highway in France's southwest, near the town of St Gaudens, and boarded by customs officials who searched the vehicles in their entirety, including the personal effects of riders.
"They have searched the whole bus, they have searched the riders' personal effects," Astana spokeswoman Corinne Druey told Reuters. "They have found some prescription medicines but they did not take anything from the bus.
"The buses from the French teams have not been stopped, the customs have let them go," added Druey. "Now we are late. We have not reached the finish line yet."
The search, performed near the Spanish border was described as a 'routine check' by a Team CSC representative. It was a similar search of an Festina team car in 1998 that uncovered a stash of performance-enhancing drugs.
"We were stopped at the toll booth and they asked to see the papers and the contents of the bus and what we had in our fridge," Team CSC spokesperson Brain Nygaard told AP. "When you carry the things to the Tour for the riders, the vitamins, you need paperwork. It has to be according to how the French authorities want it. It took less than 15 minutes."
Stage 15 reactions
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana): "Yesterday I had no legs, I didn't feel very well in my head and I had no motivation at all. I understood during the yesterday's stage that I wouldn't win the Tour this year. My teammates were wonderful, they encouraged me a lot this morning. That's what make me attack in the first kilometers. I felt good, as well as my legs. At the first break, I thought there were too many riders and that I had to go on with my effort. As I saw I could make it, I tried to be alone and first at the top of the last climb, in order to be sure to win the stage. Today is a great victory. For sure, I wasn't lucky the first two weeks and without my fall, things could have been different. But that's sport "
Juanjo Cobo (Saunier Duval): "This morning we were saying that Mayo, De la Fuente or I should be among the breakaways of the day. We tried our best and the break seemed to fly down the first mountain pass. Although the leading group was made of more than twenty men, we were going well. I was doing OK, which I believe Vinokourov noticed, because he wouldn´t take his eyes off me. He followed me wherever I went and I did the same with him. We knew that the rider who managed to lead over the top of the last climb would take the stage, so we bet everything on it. Finally, Vino proved to be the rightful winner. I´m happy because I came to my first Tour ever just to go as far as I could. I had a bad day yesterday and the only thing I could do today was to try and do my best in the breakaway to grab a stage win. The Tour hasn´t finished yet; there are several stages ahead. Wednesday can be good to break clear. Of course, many other riders must be thinking the same! Anyway, the rest day is just what I need to regain strength."
Kim Andersen (Team CSC director): "The stage turned out the way we'd anticipated and I'm very satisfied with the fact that we managed to get two of our guys in the break and both Carlos Sastre and Fränk Schleck did well in the favorite's group. This secured us a good result in the Team's Competition, where our goal is to land among the top-three for the sixth year running - which is quite good statistics really."
Erik Breukink (Rabobank director): "I am not disappointed with [Denis Menchov]. On the contrary, it is admirable how quickly he adapted to his new role. Betting everything on one cyclist is better at this moment. [Cadel Evans, Andreas Klöden, and Levi Leipheimer] have lost another minute and appear to be too far behind at the moment. Our job for the last mountain stage is simple: we have to stay in Contador's wheel. That should be doable for the team until the Aubisque. And it is every man for himself during the concluding climb."
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank): "Menchov might have been ahead but there were also very dangerous men on the eventual escape. When Denis fell back towards us, he was able to keep up a good pace. That Rasmussen did not break under Contador's attack was supposed to happen. I could not do that at that moment. But luckily we are another day closer to Paris."
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel - Euskadi): "It has been a pretty stage for the team and for me, a pity that we've not managed to conclude the great work carried out. In previous days I've tried to flee, but for the moves didn't gel. Today, nevertheless, there has been luck and we have gone. I want to thank the great work that have done Rubén and Iñigo so that the escape progressed. The public has carried me in rush in the Pyrénées. I have suffered, but I have enjoyed the great support. Tomorrow we have a day of rest and Wednesday is the Stage of Larrau, that is a terrible ascent. The general is still in play, for which the fight will be very hard. The directors insist we are alive every day, and I believe that we are responding."
Swiss to send Ullrich bank documents to Germany
By Susan Westemeyer
German prosecutors can expect to receive Jan Ullrich's bank documents, which German investigators allege contain evidence that Ullrich paid Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and others for doping products, from Swiss authorities this week, the Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung has reported. The German cyclist's lawyers had tried to prevent the transfer of the documents, but a Swiss court ruled Monday morning that the handover could take place.
According to the NZZ, the documents in question are bank account statements from the Bank Credit Suisse from January 1, 2003, to June 30, 2006. The documents "will be an important mosaic stone in our investigation and expose the paths of payments to Dr. Fuentes or other persons close to him," Jörg Schindler of the Bonn prosecutors office told the press agency dpa. While waiting for the documents from Switzerland, the investigators are looking at material taken in a search of the house of Ullrich's advisor Rudy Pevenage.
Hans Ruedi Graf, the prosecutor in the Kanton Thurgau, told the Associated Press that he will now ask Ullrich's attorneys to agree to the handover of material taken in the search of Ullrich's house in September, apparently records connected with mobile and land-line telephones. If the attorneys do not agree to the move, the matter could go to court.
Ullrich responded to the statements in an interview with German television's Sat.1, saying, "I knew that someday the records would be made public. I opposed that on principle. My wife is the only one allowed to see my bank account. That's nobody else's business." Sat. 1 is the privately owned company which is broadcasting the Tour de France after the two government-supported stations ARD and ZDF stopped live coverage.
Ullrich also promised to speak out on the charges against him. "I will say something about it, when Germany is read for it. I have already written some things down and thought about it. Sometime it has to come out, otherwise I will burst."
Meanwhile, the German news magazine Spiegel reported Ullrich's case against doping crusader Dr. Werner Franke should come to trial in August. The cyclist is challenging Franke's statement that he paid Feuentes €35,000. The magazine says that Franke is said to have called Feuntes, Ivan Basso, T-Mobile Sport Director Rolf Aldag and Pevenage as witnesses.
Volksbank releases Trampusch
By Susan Westemeyer
The Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank announced today that it has terminated its contract with Gerhard Trampusch, effective immediately. The team management said that it based its decision on the Austrian rider's behavior contrary to provisions in his contract. "After careful consideration, this behavior was deemed to be no longer tolerable," the team said in its press release.
The team emphasized that the dismissal was in no way doping related and that it dealt solely with behavior contrary to his contract.
"Like any other rider, Gerhard had contractual obligations to his employer, especially information and notification obligations," team spokesman Michael Fruhmann told Cyclingnews. "Unfortunately Gerhard repeatedly failed to meet those obligations, and the team felt obliged to act. Otherwise, the team structure would be seriously damaged."
The 28 year-old turned professional in 2000 with Team Telekom. He rode for Mapei in 2002, Gerolsteiner in 2003, and Acqua e Sapone in 2004, before joining Team Akud (later Team Wiesenhof) for two years before moving to Volksbank this season. He rode the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia one time each, and finished 30th in the 2004 Olympics road race.
Sinkewitz to make statement
After suffering a serious crash and a positive doping control in the same week, Patrik Sinkewitz has indicated that he will give a statement on the charges against him "in the next few days," he said on his website, patrik-sinkewitz.com. The German rider was suspended by T-Mobile Team after the announcement of his positive A-test for testosterone, shortly after a crash with a spectator after a Tour de France stage sent him to the hospital with serious injuries. After facial surgery this week, he has been released from the hospital and he "is doing well under the circumstances and wants to first consult with his attorney over how to proceed."
His attorney, Michael Lehner, who also represents Danilo Hondo, Jörg Jaksche and Matthias Kessler, had said that he would advise Sinkewitz to confess, if he has something to confess to.
More French viewers than last year
By Jean-François Quénet in Loudenvielle
During the first week of the Tour de France, the population of France, including the numerous foreigners present in July in the most touristic country of the world, seemed to have fallen in love with their favourite bike race again. An average of 5.4 million people watched the race live during the first week of the event (39% of shares). However, the news isn't all rosy as the viewership had a slight decline during the second week, dropping to an average of 3.5 million daily (38% of shares).
Surprisingly, local broadcaster France Televisions announces that viewership "keeps increasing", but that's compared to last year when the audiences of the Tour de France had fallen apart drastically following the Operación Puerto. A peak was reached when 7 million people in France watched Christophe Moreau attacking several times in stage eight up to Tignes but only 6.1 million were again in front of their TV when Michael Rasmussen accelerated in stage 14 up to the Plateau de Beille.
Is it only due to the lack of performance of the wearer of the French champion jersey in the second part of the Tour de France? According to a survey conducted by Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche, 78% of French people deny any credibility to the yellow jersey. One year after Floyd Landis tested positive, the controversies around Michael Rasmussen don't help cycling to regain a positive image in the country of the Tour de France.
ProTour license up for renewal
The UCI has received three renewal requests from current ProTour teams before the July 15 deadline. The Italian team Lampre-Fondital, whose license expires at the end of this year registered its renewal request, as did Liquigas and Crédit Agricole, who have applied for an extension to licenses that expires in 2008. The UCI's Licenses Commission will now review the applications for approval.
Milram comebacks in Brixia Tour
Team Milram will be celebrating two comebacks at the Brixia Tour, which starts on its way through northern Italy on Thursday. Marco Velo and Igor Astarloa will return to racing again.
Velo was one of the victims of crashes on the Kemmelberg in Gent-Wevelgem in March, and suffered a broken collarbone and two fractured ribs and torn tendons in his right knee. Astarloa was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis in June.
Milram for Brixia: Igor Astarloa, Mirko Celestino, Sergio Ghisalberti, Matej Jurco, Mirco Lorenzetto, Fabio Sabatini, Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo
Gerolsteiner for Sachsen Tour
Team Gerolsteiner will look to Sebastian Lang, who is returning from an injury, to lead the team at the Sachsen Tour, which starts Wednesday in Germany. It is only his second race back after recovering from a broken right heel. Lang, a former national time trial champion, will be looking to do well in the Tour's fourth stage, a 35 km time trial.
Gerolsteiner for Sachsen: Thomas Fothen, Torsten Hiekmann, David Kopp, Sebastian Lang, Volker Ordowski, Matthis Russ, Tom Stamsnijder and Carlo Westphal.
Lloyd looks to championships
Following a stellar performance for his DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, Briton Daniel Lloyd is looking to carry his form forward to the rescheduled British National Championships on August 5th. Lloyd is on superb form after having fought a week long battle with Gabrielle Missaglia (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) and Francisco Mancebo (Relax-Gam) to secure a close second place in the final classification in China, just one second shy of eventual winner Missaglia.
On the final stage in the Tour of Qinghai Lake, Lloyd fought for intermediate time bonuses, but on the flat course, the Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia riders were able to control the sprints and keep Lloyd from taking over the lead. Discovery Channel was able to rack up another stage win by sprinter Allan Davis, who added to his tally of four wins.
"It’s a pity but, hey, we all rode our hearts out today and this is still a great result for me and the team," commented a clearly tired but satisfied Lloyd, "I have ridden better than some really big names in this tour and I can’t wait to get back to the UK and carry this kind of form into the National Championships in two weeks from now!"
The British Cycling National Road Championships Road Race will take place at Abergaveny, Wales on August 5th, and the tough course should suit Lloyd’s excellent climbing abilities.
Ex-pro cyclists wanted
The organisers of Britain’s only floodlit cycle race are looking for the country’s ex-professional cyclists.
The Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne which takes place on September 1st, features a "Past Masters" race, open to anyone who has held a Pro licence. The race, which is run every two years has previously featured top riders, like Sean Kelly, Sid Barras and Les West. Previous editions attracted over 14,000 spectators.
Co-promoter, Nick Jeggo explained, "We always put on the Past Masters event just before the main Pro/Elite race. It seems to attract a different sort of cycling fan; people who have followed the sport for years and who want another chance to see the top riders from their era perform again."
The entire prize list for the race is donated to the Dave Rayner Fund, set up in memory of one of the UK's most talented riders and which sends young riders to the continent to gain experience. A past beneficiary of the fund is Saunier Duval's David Millar.
"The Nocturne is only a few weeks away, so we'd like any ex-Pros to get in touch with us as soon as possible. It would also be great if some of them got sponsors for the night and gave the proceeds to the Dave Rayner Fund," said Jeggo. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tattersall's Cup now Timbercorp Cup
By Paul Verkuylen
The Australian cycling series known as the Tattersall's Cup will now be known as the Timbercorp Cup. Organisers announced the title sponsorship deal with Timbercorp yesterday, with the agribusiness expected to inject a total of $850,000 into the four part event. The new deal heralds a new era for the series, which has been known as the Tattersall Cup since its inception in 1996, when it was merely three one day races in Victoria.
"Timbercorp's involvement will enable the former Tattersall's Cup series to continue at the same elevated level of professionalism and excellence," said Cup director John Craven.
A major employer and investor in rural Victoria, Timbercorp is proud to be the title sponsor for the series "We are especially pleased that the event will allow hundreds of rural communities across four states of Australia to experience the event and see the sport's leading cyclists and future champions," said Timbercorp CEO Robert Hance.
The series, comprising of four individual races, consists of 22 days of racing over a nine week period. The series kicks off on August 1 with the grueling five day Tour of Gippsland, which takes place in a region ravished by flood waters in the past six weeks.
The series of races has been a breeding ground for some of Australia's best talents and is used as a stepping stone to professional careers in Europe and the USA, with many former winners of the series having done just that. Previous winners of the Cup include Wesley Sulzberger, Robert McLachlan, William Walker, David McKenzie, Eddie Salas, Ben Brooks and Robert Tigello, with both McLachlan and Tigello having taken the title twice in their career.
For the first time in the event's 12 year history, the series will span four states, with the addition of South Australia to this year's series. Cycling Australia's chief executive Graham Fredericks paid tribute to the series' growth and development which has seen races like the Tour of the Murray River grow from three days in it inception to eight days in its current format, which makes it Australia's longest bike race.
"The Timbercorp Cup is unquestionably one of the most important events on the Australian cycling calendar," Fredericks said. "It's a breeding ground and stepping stone in the career paths for young cyclists, and an increase to 22 days this year is fabulous for our sport."
The series is run based on a points system to crown the most consistent rider the overall Timbercorp Cup champion. With prize money of over $122,000, the Cup is set to be hotly contested as all three major teams based in Australia will be fighting for the win.
The program for the series is:
Women's Prestige Cycling Series continues in Altoona
Sprinters jersey remains in play
The Women's Prestige Cycling Series continues on Monday, with Pennsylvania's International Tour de ‘Toona. Mara Abbott and her Webcor Builder's team mates hold commanding leads in the individual, best young rider and team competitions, but the sprinters' jersey is up for grabs.
Rebecca Larson (Aaron's) will wear the red Series sprint jersey at Altoona, but 2006 Series sprint champion Brooke Miller (TIBCO) is in hot pursuit. Larson claimed the Wheaties Sprint Jersey at the Nature Valley Grand Prix last month, with Miller on the second step of the podium, moving them from 6th and 5th to 1st and 2nd in the Series sprint standings. Kori Seehafer (TEAm Lipton) and Laura Van Gilder (Team Cheerwine) are also within striking distance.
While the Series sprinter's jersey is still in play, Webcor appears to have wrapped up the team competition and Webcor's Mara Abbott controls her own fate for the individual and best young rider competitions. Her second place overall finishes at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Nature Valley GP have given her very comfortable margins in both competitions and she would have to falter badly to lose her leads in at Altoona.
The outcome of the International Tour de ‘Toona will also determine the teams invited to the CD&P Bermuda Grand Prix in September. This is the brass ring for the Series, with the top ten teams receiving travel stipends to attend this very popular race.
Visit womencyclists.com for more information.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)