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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for July 25, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake, with assistance from Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Gripper on out of competition testing

By Shane Stokes

Australian Anne Gripper
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tuesday was undoubtedly one of the busier periods for Anne Gripper, head of anti-doping with the UCI. When the news broke about Alexander Vinokourov’s positive A sample for homologous blood doping, the Australian‘s view was requested by many media organisations. However, as both she and UCI president Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews, she was unable to comment on the case for now. It is likely that this will remain the case until the B sample result is known.

Gripper started working with the UCI last autumn and in that time two major anti-doping initiatives have come into place. The first of these, '100% Against Doping', sees a greatly increased number of out of competition tests being carried out. In June these tests were highlighted when news emerged that the UCI was scrutinising riders whom the press referred to as the 'Men in Black'. At the time, Astana rejected media suggestions that its riders were involved in anything untoward, saying that while some of its riders trained in non-team clothing, it was to evade attention from the fans rather than from the testers. It later emerged that Alexandre Vinokourov was working with the controversial doctor Michele Ferrari.

Cyclingnews spoke to Gripper prior to the Tour de France and then – as now – she declined to indicate which riders or teams were being monitored. She confirmed however that there is targeted testing taking place. “We have a group of ProTour riders who are on what we call our registered testing pool, which is a pool that covers all disciplines - road, track, BMX - all the Olympic disciplines. And it consists of the top riders, male and female, from those disciplines,” she said.

“One of the criteria is the top 50 riders on the road, based on the rankings. And then there are another 20 ProTour riders who are on there for other reasons. Either they have got a certificate for high hematocrit or they are under suspension or there is a whole range of other reasons. So those 70 riders are required to give us daily whereabouts information, and on the most part they are good [at doing so]. But the riders who are more difficult for us to test are those who aren't required to do that, and more and more we are going to be relying on the teams to ensure that their riders do provide their whereabouts.

“The comments about the Men in Black was just one example… when we get information, it is about strange behaviours, either in training in competition. That is what we act on. And when we hear about riders going off to other parts of the world to do intense training, maybe where there is not the opportunity to be tested, well then that raises alarm bells as well. This year we are making attempts to actually go to those places.

"We want to make them know that there is no longer any sort of haven. This year, the '100% Against Doping' is the first time that we have really organised a properly thought out out-of-competition, unannounced programme. We want to make it clear that it is not just in Europe that they can be tested, they can be tested anywhere in the world. And if they do take themselves off to unusual places to train, we will find them there as well.”

Watch out for a full interview with Anne Gripper soon on Cyclingnews.

Rasmussen fronts the media

By Brecht Decaluwé in Pau, France

Embattled Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Makoto Ayano
(Click for larger image)

After a week full of rumours and speculation on the credibility of Michael Rasmussen, the rider and his Rabobank team tried to dissolve the dark clouds that have gathered over the Danish cyclist during a rest-day press conference in Pau. Rasmussen stepped into the press room together with his team manager, Theo De Rooy, and lawyer Harro Knijff - signaling intentions of dealing with the accusations seriously. The accusation is that Rasmussen has been careless in informing the UCI of his whereabouts in the past two years and as a result the media had doubts on the credibility of the Danish rider.

The Dane, affectionately known as Chicken, started by admitting he made an administrative mistake. "I accept it and take full responsibility for that," Rasmussen declared. "I'm sorry that it is now during the Tour de France and I'm sorry that it harms cycling, the sport I love and also [Tour de France organizer] ASO."

Before digging into the accusations and warnings, lets rewind to the start of events that have lead to this moment. Back in March, 2006 Rasmussen was too late in providing his movements schedule for the second part of the 2006 season to the UCI. Another issue is that the Danish federation claims Rasmussen missed an out-of-competition test on May 6, 2007, afterwards correcting that date to April 6 and adding another missed test on June 21, 2007. Finally in June 2007 Rasmussen was again careless with sending his whereabouts schedule to the UCI, according to the claims.

During the press conference the technical details were provided by Rabobank's lawyer Knijff. He confirmed that Rasmussen made a mistake by not informing the UCI in time on his whereabouts for June 2007, explaining that he received a so-called 'recorded warning' in a letter on June 29. Knijff added that a similar letter for the same offence, but in the second half of 2006, had also been received however neither Rasmussen or Rabobank ever received a official warning for that incident, with the Dutch lawyer claiming it was only a written warning without consequences.

To read the full story on Rasmussen's press conference, click here.

Predictor Lotto on the days past and ahead

By John Trevorrow

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Mark Sergeant reflected on the team's overall performance by saying "Back in London we had two goals. The first was to win a stage, which we did with Robbie. The second was to be on the podium in Paris with Cadel, and right at this moment he is in third place with five days to go. So we're on schedule. We're going to need to do everything we can to keep him there or maybe to improve."

He went on to thank all the team, the crew and even the new cook. He also didn't want to be drawn in to the Rasmussen saga. "I ask you kindly not to ask too many questions about the Rasmussen case. That's a problem for the UCI. That's not our problem."

Cadel Evans was also on hand to answer some questions. Asked if he agreed that his race has changed from competing about the overall win to the race for a podium spot the Australian didn't quite agree, "Not completely. Two days ago it was a hill top finish and yesterday there was 12 kilometres to go from the summit. Plus those two collaborated together to work against me. That scared me a bit." But the Aussie said he is not giving up yet and the win is still what counts for him.

He did agree with that right from the start in London he had ridden a perfect race tactically, "That, for me, is one of the more important things to come to the Tour and just do everything as best you can. Whether you come first or tenth, if you've done the best you can then you have to be satisfied with that."

Evans talked about many more things, including his team-mate Chris Horner. Stay tuned on more from Cadel Evans in a full feature coming up on Cyclingnews.

Gerolsteiner reacts to Vino news

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Gerolsteiner was angry, sad, worried -- and trying desperately to be hopeful for the future.

"It's terrible, what impudence some people obviously show -- and at the same time, it is good to know that the new controls are making things harder for the cheaters," team manager Hans-Michael Holczer told Cyclingnews.

"My first thought, when I heard that Vinokourov had tested positive, was that the system with its strengthened doping controls worked. At the same time, it is a major blow for our sport, because those who feel that cycling is totally rotten will feel that their point has been confirmed," said Fabian Wegmann on his website,

"We are really in the middle of a dung heap, but if we want to get out, then we have to fight those who dope. Am I worried about my career? No, we at Team Gerolsteiner are a clean team, and I hope that our sponsor will stay. But sure, you have to think about such things. It used to be that someone who doped really only hurt themselves. Now it is different. When someone tests positive, then that affects the others, as could be seen with Patrik Sinkewitz. That makes me angry, especially since at the moment I just happen to be riding the Tour de France in my spare time. "

And, as usual, sprinter Robert Förster didn't mince his words. "We are all so angry, angry at this idiot who couldn't say no. Always the same people. And of course Vino isn't the only one. We sat outside to eat this evening, our cooks made a barbecue. It should have been a really nice evening, but the mood was rotten. This theme was the only one, there was nothing else. This affects our jobs, which are being destroyed. All of cycling is deep in the shit now. How will it go on?" the German sprinter asked in is diary on

Floyd Landis reacts to Vino news

Floyd Landis
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

The news Tuesday that Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for homologous blood transfusion and that the Astana team will withdraw from the 2007 Tour de France raised a number of concerns with Floyd Landis. One of them was the question about fairness, which the California resident said was not adequately considered in the months leading up to the Floyd Landis trial in Malibu, California that alleged Landis used testosterone in the 2006 Tour de France.

"Just as in my case, LNDD (Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage / National Anti-doping Laboratory) has leaked the test results to l'Equipe, permanently damaging Vino's reputation and causing him to defend an allegation without any evidence. Furthermore, it is similar to my case because the LNDD's leaked results have the potential to alter the outcome of the Tour de France before they have proved the alleged doping violation," said Floyd.

Floyd is awaiting the results of the nine-day arbitration held on May 14. "Although we certainly are concerned about the impact of doping on sports, we hope that LNDD's allegations will be supported by evidence, unlike Floyd's case, for the sake of the Tour de France and all its riders," said Landis' attorney, Maurice Suh.

2007 Herald Sun Tour launched

The Herald Sun Tour trophy
Photo ©: Richard Jupe
(Click for larger image)

The 2007 Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be held from October 14 to 21, will be disputed by 14 professional teams of seven riders each and will run for a total of 665.5 kilometres, not including the opening 1.7 kilometre circuit race in Bendigo, which will be part of the 'Bendigo on Wheels' celebration but not count towards the overall classification.

The first day of the Tour on the open road offers something for every rider and spectator. The Tour peloton sets out from Bendigo through the beautiful gold fields country with the hill climbs coming early including the steep slopes of Mt Alexander. The stage gradually flattens out for the 141.9km run through Heathcote and into the lakeside town of Nagambie. A small breakaway managed to hold a gap over the main field in 2006 on this stage, and in 2007 we expect the sprinters to bring it all together for a mass sprint finish.

The Tour returns to the Mitchelton Winery for a morning of festivities to send the 14 professional teams of seven riders each on their way on day two. This stage, 145.6km through the Strathbogie Ranges and two difficult climbs, will surprise some riders, and you can expect a struggle from the sprinters to get back into the peloton as they storm towards a fast downhill finish in Mansfield.

The third road stage, a 139.5km journey from Mansfield to Beechworth is a ride through some of the finest countryside in Australia. Riders will tackle an early hill climb up the Tolmie Road before a long technical descent into King Valley. A steady and long climb brings the peloton to the preserved gold rush town of Beechworth.

Stage four presents the moment of truth and the queen stage of the Tour. It's just 116.5 kilometres from Beechworth to Falls Creek, but 40 kilometres are uphill. A fast descent from Beechworth towards Bright, then the riders face the sharp climb up Tawonga Gap followed by another fast descent into Mt Beauty before the 30-kilometre climb to Falls Creek. There may be snow, and there will be a battle royale as the contenders for the Yellow Jersey take the initiative.

The sprinters will get another shot at glory on the long, flat, 110.9-kilometre run from Mt Beauty to Wangaratta on stage five. Expect the breakaways to go early on the final road stage of the Tour, and expect the teams with the leading sprinters to get the train going to bring it all together before the finish.

The Tour returns to Melbourne for the final two stages and a weekend of cycling-centric activity. The penultimate test is the race of truth, with one rider at a time against the clock in the individual time trial. In 2006 the Tour’s top three were just one second apart after the time trial, and in 2007 a technical and picturesque course is offered around Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens which should produce another tight finish. With the start and finish close together and a course that is expected to travel alongside the famous Tan, this is a great chance to see the leaders attempt to take control.

A flat and fast final stage circuit race in Melbourne concludes the week-long Tour in Victoria. For pictures of the launch check out the photo gallery.

Rasmussen could still go to the games

Michael Rasmussen may still make it to the Olympics in Peking after all according to de Telegraph. Last week the Danish cycling federation went public, announcing that because Rasmussen failed to make himself available for out of competition doping controls, that he would no longer be eligible to represent Denmark for the world championships or the Olympics.

In a new twist to the saga, the Danish Olympic committee has announced that they don’t have the authority to do so and that the current leader of the Tour is still a candidate to represent his country. “We have not discounted Rasmussen” said Niels Nygaard of the Danish Olympic committee, “the Danish cycling federation was too quick to react, and they are not in the position to decide on behalf of us. They have also never discussed with us that they would make this announcement.”

For Rabobank, Rasmussen’s employer, it was news to them on Tuesday but according to their director Theo de Rooij “it is good news.”

This means that for Rasmussen the decision by the cycling federation barely affects him, the course for the world championships in Stuttgart does not suit him. The Dane does want to compete in Peking, but in the mountain bike race, the discipline that he began his cycling career in.

Astana confirms in Sachsen and Brixia

By Susan Westemeyer

René Haselbacher was looking forward to returning to racing in the Sachsen Tour, after a knee problem had sidelined him since the middle of May. "I am really excited about the race," he told But then the bombshell about his Astana teammate Alexander Vinokourov exploded.

At first the team's immediate future was unsure. "Right now we're all up in the air," he said Tuesday evening, and said he didn't know what was going to happen. His reacted to the news about Vino, "I am shocked."

Later in the evening, Team Astana confirmed its further existence and said that contrary to some press reports, its riders would be at the start of both the Sachsen and Brixia Tours.

Another Astana vehicle searched

An Astana vehicle was searched by French customs officials Tuesday evening at 11 p.m. near Toulouse. Paul Michel, an attorney with the investigation, said that "Several persons from the team were on board the vehicle. They have been questioned by the customs officials. Police was there as well, ready to search the vehicle," according to He added that "it could have to do with doping."

Sinkewitz' B-sample to be opened

Patrik Sinkewitz is prepared to tell all he knows, but is not interested in becoming a state's witness, according to his attorney, Michael Lehner.

"Becoming a state's witness is something you do only when there is a proceeding which could produce sanctions. That is not the case at the moment. And therefore we are not looking into that at the moment," Lehner told the German news television N24. Instead, "we will hold discussions with the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer {German cycling federation} and T-Mobile Team in the next few days."

On Tuesday afternoon, Lehner and the BDR agreed that the B-sample will be tested next Tuesday, July 31.

Cortinovis on today's stage

Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

It was Milram's Alessandro Cortinovis' turn to describe the race of its team's perspective. He said, tongue in cheek, that "it's another ideal day for the sprinters...Help! What a profile."

He thought it'll be the last stage where the GC favourites can do something, except for the time trial, of course. The all rounder wrote on his team's website, that there would be a hard and long day looming ahead, even though everybody was already out of strength in the third week. As for his local knowledge, he only knows the Col de Marie-Blanque and the Col d'Aubisque and he described them as "both are very hard. When hitting the Aubisque, we already have 200 kilometres in our legs." He was also expecting it to be very hot, which wouldn't help matters.

He joked that he doesn't really remember the Marie-Blanque, "but that probably has its reason." Cortinovis was drawing strength from the fact that it's the last day in the mountains. The Italian hoped that "with luck we'll get to the Marie-Blanque in the first group and then hopefully there is a gruppetto."

Soler re-ups for two years

Team Barloworld took advantage of the Tour de France's rest day to sign Tour stage winner Mauricio Soler for two more years, through the 2009 season.

"I'm really delighted. Mauricio is a true professional who found in our team the perfect conditions to demonstrate his skills," said team manager Claudio Corti.

Soler, 24, won the ninth stage to Briançon.

T-Mobile for Sachsen Tour

Thomas Ziegler will lead T-Mobile Team in the Sachsen Tour, with Giuseppe Guerini also looking to do well in the hilly Tour. The Italian has recovered from the stomach problems which forced him out of the team's Tour de France squad at the last minute. Andre Greipel will lead three sprinters in the search for stage wins.

The entire T-Mobile team for Sachsen includes Eric Baumann, Andre Greipel, Giuseppe Guerini, Roger Hammond, André Korff, Aaron Olson, Stephan Schreck and Thomas Ziegler.

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