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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for June 25, 2007

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Italian paper calls Giro doping test results 'abnormal'

Italian newspaper Corriere Dello Sport is reporting that Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana), Gilberto Simoni and Riccardo Riccò (both Saunier Duval - Prodir) are being scrutinized by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) for what are being called 'abnormally low' hormone levels.

The newspaper characterized the results as 'extremely bizarre' saying that they were returned from blood and urine tests given after the stage to Monte Zoncolan on May 30th.

CONI is reported to have requested a meeting with UCI president Pat McQuaid regarding the alleged abnormal results and wants access to the UCI's files containing the athletes' quarterly blood tests to compare against the Giro test values.

The low hormone values are said to be rare as a natural occurrence - levels expected in prepubescent males and not those of fully mature adults - and a red flag to the possible use of masking agents designed to thwart anti-doping controls. However, decreased levels of testosterone have been demonstrated during a study of riders in the 1999 Vuelta a España published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (in 2001).

Cancellara book-ends Tour de Suisse

By Shane Stokes in Bern, with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake

Fabian Cancellara (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Charging along with his race number 13 turned upside-down to ward off bad luck, Fabian Cancellara ended the Tour de Suisse as he had started it; winning against the clock in the rainbow jersey of the reigning world champion.

Many expected him to deliver the goods today and he didn't disappoint. He was the 50th rider to start and smashed the previous best set by teammate Stuart O'Grady. The big Swiss rider was 2'20 faster than the Aussie and this proved enough to hold off the efforts of all the others. German duo Klöden and Schumacher were closest, going 20 and 33 seconds slower, respectively.

Cancellara thus held true to the promise made last Sunday to perform strongly in front of his home crowd in Bern. After the race he travelled by helicopter to a TV studio in Zurich, thus missing the press conference. However he later expressed his satisfaction with the result.

"I'm extremely happy to have won here in my hometown. I'd hoped to win both time trials in this race, so it was perfect, really. The fact that I got three days in yellow was a nice bonus, too.

"I had some problems with my bike at the beginning, where the officials were saying that my bike was the wrong size. That took some of my focus away right at the very start of the stage, but I quickly regained my rhythm."

Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne) took the overall Tour de Suisse win. Vladimir Gusev's (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) long break on stage seven earned him the mountains classification and Florian Stalder (Team Volksbank) took the intermediate sprints jersey.

For complete Cyclingnews coverage of the 2007 Tour de Suisse, click here.

Cavendish ups Tour team chances with Elektrotoer finale win

Cavendish at Catalunya earlier this year
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

British neo-pro sprinter Mark Cavendish, one of the first riders to sign the UCI's anti-doping pledge, won the final stage of Ster Elektrotoer in Holland; his sixth win of the season.

Cavendish, who was recently named to T-Mobile's pre-selection of 13 riders for the Tour de France and is waiting to hear if he will be named to T-Mobile's 9-man final squad, won in a bunch sprint. "I was below par at the start of the tour after traveling here direct from signing the UCI declaration in Geneva," Cavendish said after the race. "My legs were a bit heavy. But I got my rhythm going again in the past couple of stages. Today I was back to my best. My team mates set up the sprint for me perfectly. I moved to the front with 800 to go and kept it going all the way to the line."

Belgian cycling legend Johan Museeuw was quoted on BBC Sport's website Sunday as saying "British cycling needs a star to take it to the next level - like Lance Armstrong (in) America. Cavendish can be that star. He is ready."

Wouter Weylandt (Quickstep) and Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) finished second and third on the 149 km stage between Sittard and Eindhoven at Ster Elektrotoer. Germany's Martens had led Langeveld by two seconds going into the stage, but the Dutch rider picked up time bonuses on the intermediate sprints during the stage, and ended up two seconds ahead of his rival.

T-Mobile is reported to be announcing their nine-man Tour de France lineup on Monday.

Latest ProTour standings - top three unchanged

Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca retained his healthy lead in the latest round of ProTour standings, released after Sunday's final stage of the Tour de Suisse. The Italian still has a 50 point advantage over compatriot and Flèche Wallonne winner Davide Rebellin with neither of the top two competing in either the Tour de Suisse or the ProTour Team Time Trial in Eindhoven this weekend.

Alejandro Valverde formed part of Caisse d'Epargne's team time trial squad in Holland, netting himself four additional ProTour points and staying in third position overall.

Not surprisingly, the big mover was Vladimir Karpets who leapfrogged up from 25th to fifth courtesy of his second ProTour stage race win this season at the Tour de Suisse. T-Mobile's Kim Kirchen also broke into the top ten, rising from 34th to eighth after finishing second to Karpets.

Team CSC continue to top the team standings, a fact underlined by their Eindhoven TTT victory while in the nations ranking Italy leads with a massive 613 points to Spain's 382.

For the complete ProTour standings, click here.

Brajkovic out with back injury

By Shane Stokes in Bern

Janus Brajkovic (Discovery)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

One year ago Janez Brajkovic finished fifth overall in the Tour de Suisse. This time round, things were not the same. He finished 44th on the seventh stage, crossing the line 8'19 behind his victorious teammate Vladimir Gusev (Discovery), and then pulled out on Saturday.

The Slovenian had told Cyclingnews about the problem affecting him before the start of stage seven. "Things are going quite badly, I have to say. It is not good. I have a back problem since my crash in the time trial. I hope I am going to be able to finish the stage but it is getting worse each day and I don't want to push too much."

That problem finally came to a head on stage eight. All going to plan, Brajkovic will recover and then ride the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.

Watson exhibits 30 years of TdF photos

A display of photographer Graham Watson's Tour de France imagery is scheduled to open July 1st at the County Hall Gallery in London. The exhibition celebrates Watson three decades of photographing the Tour and will feature 200 selected images. "Basically, it's 30 years since I took my first images; of the 1977 Tour de France," Watson says about the significance of the show. "I then sold an image of Eddy Merckx to Cycling Weekly that autumn, which formed the foundation of my cycling photography career."

The gallery's address is County Hall Gallery, Riverside, London S.E.1 - across the River Thames from Big Ben and the British Houses of Parliament and 50-metres from the London Eye. The exhibit runs from 1st July to 9th July, from 10.30am to 6.30pm and the entry is free.

UK hosts first-ever closed-course Etape

In a testament to the health of cycling in the UK, more than one thousand riders took part in Britain's first closed road sportive cycling event, the 'Etape Caledonia' Sunday in Pitlochry, Perthshire. The 134 kilometre (82 mile) route took in some of Scotland's most stunning cycling areas include Lochs Rannoch and Tummel.

The event, started by twice world cycling champion Tony Doyle, was won by 28 year-old Edward Woodhouse, from London, in a time of 3 hours 48 minutes and 15 seconds. The first female rider, Catriona Phin, from Stirling triathlon club, finished a mere minute behind in a time of 3 hours 49 minutes and 54 seconds, just two days after celebrating her 40th birthday.

The Intermediate event, a 45 kilometre route, was won by Gavin Love from Dundee in 1 hour 22 minutes and 36 seconds.

"It was a good course with a real stinger of a hill in the last five miles at Logierait," Doyle, who rode the event with two friends, said. "The support from the local villages was great and the marshalling superb. We will definitely all be back next year!"

The event helped raise 'in the region of' £20,000 for its two official charities, Maggie's Cancer Care Centres and Action Medical Research.

"It was a fantastic ride," Woodhouse said at the finish. "I managed to get in a big group of riders at the start. I have done several sportive rides in France such as the famous L'Etape du Tour and this event is just as good."

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