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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, June 20, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown and Bjorn Haake

Schleck provides further confirmation

Schleck tops Suisse stage 4
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Fränk Schleck further highlighted his ability with a storming stage win on yesterday's stage of the Tour de Suisse. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes was at the post stage press conference to hear the new yellow jersey talk about his victory and hopes for the race.

Officially, Carlos Sastre will be the sole CSC leader for the Tour de France, but Fränk Schleck's performance thus far in the Tour de Suisse suggests he could also be a protected rider in the race.

Schleck took off approximately seven kilometres from the finish of stage four, tearing up the near-ten percent slopes of the Triesenberg-Malbun climb and opening up a healthy lead over the other main contenders.

Russian rider Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) was 32 seconds behind the victorious Luxembourg rider at the line. José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) was 42 seconds in arrears, while Matteo Carrara ( and Schleck's compatriot Kim Kirchen came home a further six seconds down. Gilberto Simoni was sixth while big names such as Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel), Linus Gerdemann, Patrik Sinkewitz, Michael Rogers (all T-Mobile), Andreas Klöden (Astana) and Sastre were all much further back.

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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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Schleck is already a proven winner, having taken the Amstel Gold Race last year plus the l'Alpe d'Huez stage of the Tour de France, but winning a stage and taking the overall lead in the Tour de Suisse means a lot to him.

Read the full Schleck feature.

Good Suisse stage for Efimkin

Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Stage four of the Tour de Suisse, which finished on top of Malbun (Liechtenstein), produced a new leader and showed Caisse d'Epargne's Russians are on form.

Fränk Schleck, who won the stage solo after he attacked seven kilometres from the line, donned the yellow jersey, 49 seconds ahead of Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Efimkin. The Russian finished the stage in second place, which is now also his overall ranking.

The other Vladimir of the Spanish team, Karpets, who took seventh on the finishing line, is now sixth in the general classification.

The bad news for the team are that Sébastien Portal, who crashed yesterday during the third stage, has abandoned the race.

"Today was the first contact with the mountains," explained José Luis Jaimerena, team manager of Caisse d'Epargne in the Tour of Switzerland. "Efimkin and Karpets showed that they are feeling well and it is a fact that we will fight to remain within the first positions of the general classification, but the Tour of Switzerland is a very hard race and we will see day by day how they progress in the high mountain stages."

UCI releases text of riders' anti-doping declaration

By Susan Westemeyer

Cavendish (left) and Casar
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The UCI has released the text of the "Riders' commitment to a new cycling," which 600 ProTour riders will be asked to sign before the Tour de France.

"I do solemnly declare, to my team, my colleagues, the UCI, the cycling movement and the public that I am not involved in the Puerto affair nor in any other doping case and that I will not commit any infringement to the UCI anti-doping rules. As proof of my commitment, I accept, if it should happen that I violate the rules and am granted a standard sanction of a two-year suspension or more, in the Puerto affair or in any other anti-doping proceedings, to pay the UCI, in addition to the standard sanctions, an amount equal to my annual salary for 2007 as a contribution to the fight against doping.

"At the same time, I declare to the Spanish Law, that my DNA is at its disposal, so that it can be compared with the blood samples seized in the Puerto affair. I appeal to the Spanish Law to organize this tests as soon as possible or allow the UCI to organize it."

This declaration was announced after the UCI's meeting Tuesday with team managers and team doctors in Geneva.

"The UCI will not tolerate any individual or organization that causes damage to our sport," UCI president Pat McQuaid said. "There is no reason that cycling and doping should be linked and no reason doping should overshadow our sport."

The declaration shows "the riders' engagement for a new sport", McQuaid said. "Riders, sponsors and the team managers are interested in zero-tolerance in doping questions, so they have to act." The UCI will publish on its website a list of the riders who sign the declaration. "This will show those who are reluctant to sign it," McQuaid commented further.

In addition, the UCI is asking the teams to prohibit riders from using doctors other than team doctors. "Illegal practices will not be tolerated any more," according to McQuaid.

McQuaid has asked the teams not to use riders who do not sign, although he admitted the riders could not be legally obligated to sign it. "Of course you can say, that this is just a nice idea, but I am optimistic. I believe that there is a serious wish within cycling for change, and that this is one aspect."

Anne Gripper, head of the UCI's anti-doping program, said that she assumed that no rider who does not sign would start the Tour de France -- "not on legal grounds, but because of the ethical pressure." McQuaid agreed, "As I see it, there won't be any Tour start for riders who don't sign."

"This is a good way for the future. Now it is up to us, the riders are our employees," said Luuc Eisenga, technical director for T-Mobile Team. "This is absolutely a step in the right direction, even if some people see potential legal problems. That doesn't matter to the teams -- we have the power to accomplish this, and the unanimity of all 19 teams which were there yesterday was a good sign," Hans-Michael Holczer, Gerolsteiner team manager, told Cyclingnews. Holczer also acknowledged that "everyone can see that cycling is not free from doping."

In addition, the UCI announced that it has received about 1000 of the 6000 pages of the Operación Puerto documents from the Guardia Civil, but that the papers contained nothing new. McQuaid again called on the team managers to suspend riders involved in Operación Puerto, even if it is "still not clear" whether the documents can be used as grounds for such suspensions.

Moser and Bugno criticize UCI's proposal

"It is a proposal that goes against all rights," said Francesco Moser, head of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), in response to yesterday's decision by the UCI to require all ProTour riders to sign an anti-doping agreement.

The Italian argued for the riders' rights and he pointed out that the teams' management never pays the price for doping. "The riders are the only ones that ever pay but it is not true that it is only them at fault," he stated in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Moreover, it is betrayal."

Last Friday, members of the CPA met with UCI President Pat McQuaid in Aigle. "We discussed the possibility of a new Code of Ethics with the UCI . A code that would put the squads on the same plain of responsibility as the riders. Now the same McQuaid says to the teams that, if they want, the problem of doping can be resolved overnight. Last Friday there were five lawyers with us but then it came as a surprise that they were not allowed to talk [yesterday]. It is not normal."

Gianni Bugno, member of the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI), also voiced his concern. "It is an ad hoc law made for the Tour de France that could then go on to exist for all of the races. Again everything is made for the function of the Tour."

ACP President is unsatisfied

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The president of the Spanish Professional Association (ACP), José Javier Gómez, said to the press agency EFE that the antidoping measures announced by the president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, could be "the last straw that breaks the camel's back," after a set of decisions "always against the cyclist."

"They leave you speechless. It is something that violates fundamental rights. Here people only talk about money, but more important things are already lost," Gómez added. The president of the ACP indicated that it is peculiar that "a few days before the Tour, when it was somewhat calm, the situation has heated up again. And the sad part is that it is cycling's very own people who are doing it."

According to the request to submit DNA in any doping case, Gómez said "that is nothing new because that is already signed by the cyclists. Nobody opposed this, if it is required by a judge, no matter if it the UCI or the AMA who asks for it.

The ACP President said that "while the president of the UCI recognizes that the cyclist cannot dope by themselves, why are the sanctions only for the cyclists, never for the directors or the organizers?" Gómez asked. "More than trying to uncover the doping plots they just want to go hunting for cyclists."

Valverde not implicated in Puerto

Davis, Gil and Osa freed to compete

In yesterday's UCI meeting the relation of Alejandro Valverde in Operación Puerto was clarified. The teams gathered as part of the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP), made a decision to limit the cyclists implicated in the Guardia Civil investigation, which also included Allan Davis, Koldo Gil and Aitor Osa.

The discussion of Caisse d'Epargne's Valverde innocence brought heated reactions from the German, Dutch and French team representatives gathered. (Read No EPO in Basso's blood bags but different for Valverde.)

Aussie Allan Davis (Discovery Channel), Spaniards Koldo Gil (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Aitor Osa were also limited in their alleged involvement in the Puerto investigation and are allowed to continue race. Osa is currently searching for a team and is supposedly linked with Basque formation Euskaltel-Euskadi.

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

CONI recommends sentence for Muraglia and Kalc

Yesterday, Giuseppe Muraglia and Alessandro Kalc each met with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutors, Ettore Torri and Franco Consenza.

The prosecutors recommended a four-year sentence for Muraglia (Acqua & Sapone), who tested positive for hCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin) in a medical control on March 4, after winning the 22nd Clasica de Almeria. CONI's interrogation lasted for two hours, in which time it also questioned Muraglia over the Oil for Drugs affair.

"Danilo who?" asked the 27 year-old from Puglia in regards to the 2004 investigation and raids. At the time, there was a telephone interception where Muraglia talked of 'Danilo' Di Luca. (For more on Oil for Drugs, read NAS blitz nets nada and NAS raid Giro again from 2004.)

"I am calm and I have clarified my situation," explained Muraglia to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I don't know who Danilo is..." His attorney, Paolo Viviani (the same attorney for Michele Scarponi), gave his opinion. "We have contested the results from the positive finding at Almeria. Regarding Oil for Drugs, Muraglia has explained his relationship with Carlo Santuccione."

The prosecutors recommended a life sentence for 50 year-old, ex-mountain biker Kalc for his involvement in Operación Puerto. The Italian allegedly worked as a courier and a contact for the riders in Italy to communicate with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The sentence is based on World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) codes for "trafficking of all prohibited substances and methods" (Article 2.7).


Züri Metzgete officially cancelled

UCI President Pat McQuaid has confirmed that there will be no replacement race for the Züri Metzgete this year, but the UCI is hopeful of finding a new organizer to hold the race in 2008.

The original race organizer gave up in April when he announced that he had no sponsor for the race, and all further attempts to hold the race have failed, according to the Swiss press agency, Sportinformation.

The UCI had offered to back a loan to enable the race but it was not possible to establish a race course with adequate facilities at the start and finish in such a quick time.

The last offer was from the city of Lugano to hold the race in Tessin in conjunction with the VC Lugano, who's president is Elio Calcagni. They even had 700,000 Swiss Francs ready. However, the originally friendly reception of Lugano's candidacy by the UCI was "weakened by political squabbles."

The race was first held in 1914 and it had taken place every year since 1917.

Quickstep to Austria

Quickstep rider Alessandro Proni will be returning next month to the scene of his success. The winner of Tour de Suisse's third stage ending in Nauders, Austria, has been nominated by his team to ride the Österreich Rundfahrt, July 8 to 15.

Team manager Patrick Lefevere is expecting a lot from the young Italian. "He is the man of the future and has already shown us some good races this season. I know the course of the Österreich Rundfahrt, and I am convinced that Alessandro will be in the fight for the overall win!"

The Italian will be accompanied by veterans Andrea Tonti and Geert Verheyen as well as Maarten Wynants. The remaining four riders are all under 23 years old, including former U23 World road champion Dmitry Grabovskiy, Ivan Santaromita (10th in the Tour de Georgia), Kevin Seeldraeyers and Davide Viganň.

Parisien ready for Canadian Nationals

Francois Parisien (Team Slipstream) on the left
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

After struggling most of last year with knee trouble and being sidelined still this year until the Tour of the Gila in May, Francois Parisien's form is finally coming around. The native from Quebec, Canada, rode a brilliant Tour de Beauce in his home province.

Parisien was active and riding strongly the entire race. He joined a promising chase group in stage one, then sprinted to a third-place finish in stage two. The best came in an exciting stage three, where Francois was able to make the decisive breakaway and get second place on the mountaintop finish. He then showed his time trial ability by getting the eighth fastest time in stage 4a and made the break that was only caught in the last lap on stage 4b. He then rode in support to teammate Danny Pate to secure his teammate's third place overall.

The team started the Tour de Beauce with less manpower than the other squads. Stomach viruses and a forgotten passport kept the team down to four men to begin with. But its fellowship and aggressive racing made up for the loss in numbers and the diminished team was able to score its first UCI road race stage win.

Francois Parisien, who also rode a strong support role for Danny Pate in the Commerce Bank Triple Crown, can now dream of regaining the title of Canadian National Road Race Champion, which he won in 2005. The Canadian National Championships are held from July 5 through 11.

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