First Edition Cycling News for June 28, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo
Discovery Channel announces Tour roster
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
In a teleconference with media from around the world, Johan Bruyneel announced today that the nine-man Discovery Channel roster for the Tour de France will be led by American Levi Leipheimer.
Joining Leipheimer will be fellow American George Hincapie, along with Alberto Contador, Vladimir Gusev, Egoi Martinez, Benjamin Noval, Sergio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych and Tomas Vaitkus.
Disco boss Bruyneel made it clear why he picked the team that he did. "I am going into this Tour de France with three goals in mind. First, and most important, I want to have Levi on the podium in Paris. He has been three times in the top-10 and I think he has the form and experience to be there."
"Beyond that, I would like to win at least one stage and also have Alberto Contador win the Best Young Rider competition. That is of course a lot to ask of one team but I think it is possible given the amount of talent we have on our roster. I would even say that a fourth goal is to wear the leaders jersey too, but for me that is not a major focus unless it is because we are wearing it into Paris."
Leipheimer was his usual calm and collected self, even when posed with the question about being the team leader for the team he started with back in the US Postal days. "It definitely does mean a lot to me. I started my career with this team and now to be back with riders like George it is a dream come true. And to go in as the leader of the classification is an honour for me."
Check back for Cyclingnews' full feature about Discovery Channel's pre-Tour press conference.
Kessler suspended by Astana
Astana's Matthias Kessler has returned an adverse analytical finding for testosterone, according to a team press release issued today. The sample was taken in a surprise doping control on April 24 in Charleroi, Belgium prior to La Flèche Wallonne. Kessler finished fourth in the race.
The 28 year-old has been suspended by his Astana team while he awaits the results of the B-sample analysis. "This result is for me inexplicable and I will immediately require a second assessment," said Kessler according to his team.
The Astana team was suspected in the press last week of being the 'men in black' - riders who were targeted by the UCI for training incognito in unusual locations, something the UCI felt was an attempt to avoid doping controls.
UCI antidoping program director Anne Gripper told Belga at the time that, "Several abnormal results have already come in" and indicated that there may be announcements before the start of the Tour de France. Gripper declined to comment today on the Kessler case, saying that she would not do so until a B sample result was established.
The Astana team defended itself against suspicions about their training methods, saying that the riders have a right to train in an anonymous way so as to not be disturbed by cyclotourists. "The Astana Cycling Team shows that it is perfectly favourable to the surprise controls which can be carried out by the team itself, the UCI, national Federations or WADA. The riders from Astana do not avoid this in any sense," the team stated in response to the UCI allegations.
While the UCI would not confirm that Kessler had been one of the 'men in black', Gripper did state last week that "We have picked out six or seven riders who are considered high-risk cases because of their suspect behaviour and subsequent good performances in the Tour de France." Kessler won stage three of the 2006 Tour while riding for the T-Mobile squad, but finished the race in 54th place, nearly two hours behind Floyd Landis in the general classification.
As the public learned from the Landis testosterone case, an adverse finding on an A-sample isn't the final step for a positive antidoping control. The UCI would not comment on whether Kessler's sample had been analysed for synthetic testosterone, and if it has not, there is a chance that an elevated testosterone:epitestosterone ratio could be due to natural causes. Neither the UCI nor the Astana team has announced the date of the B-sample analysis.
British championships cancelled
By Greg Johnson
Flooded roads and more rain in the forecast have forced the organisers of the British road national championship races to cancel this weekend's event. The situation in the region is so dire that hundreds of families were evacuated from an area threatened by a failing dam, and the organisers could not ask the already overburdened emergency personnel to deal with running a bike race.
"The organisers deeply regret having to cancel these events," said race director Andy Cawley. "We have been working with the police during this very difficult situation and understand they are very stretched. We felt the responsible decision was to cancel the events. We will now work with British Cycling to look at potential new dates."
With the chance to wear the national jersey at the Tour de France's London debut on the line, the smart money for this weekend's Elite men's British champion title would have been on the Grand Tour contestants. However, due to the cancellation, Roger Hammond (T-Mobile), David Millar (Saunier Duval) and 22 year-old rising stars Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) and Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) won't have the chance to battle for the rights to wear the Union Jack at July's Tour. Event ogranisers announced the cancellation of this weekend's national championships just days before the scheduled run.
An announcement from the organisers read, "The race organisers felt it was important the emergency services and police were not asked to divert resources to helping with the cycle race when the recovery from the severe weather is still ongoing. Also, some sections of the routes for the June 30 and July 1 races are still closed."
The East Riding of Yorkshire Council will now work with British Cycling to organise an alternative, post-Tour date for the event.
Zabriskie wants "100 percent transparency"
By Gregor Brown
David Zabriskie became the fourth American to sign the UCI riders' antidoping commitment this week. Zabriskie joined compatriots Saul Raisin (Crédit Agricole), Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) and Aaron Olson (T-Mobile) in penning his name to the document.
In typical 'Dave Z' sardonic humour, he told Cyclingnews, "I am for 100 percent transparency and am willing to wear a GPS locater so that doping control officers can find me 24/7." Calling from his home in Spain, Zabriskie told Cyclingnews, "If they wanted to do a GPS locator system I would not disagree, I think it would be easier than filling out the athlete location forms."
Zabriskie, wearer of the Tour's Maillot Jaune in 2005, indicated that his Danish team, Team CSC, was not the deciding factor in his acceptance of the commitment. "The team sent an e-mail saying we had to do it, but I was going to do it on my own. 'We download the document and we would like everyone to sign it,' they wrote in an e-mail."
Zabriskie put his name to the document that reads, "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 antidoping rules. 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."
Less than two weeks to the Grand Départ of the Tour de France there seems to be dissension amongst the ProTour riders, and even within team CSC. Just before Cyclingnews spoke with Zabriskie, his Swiss team-mate Fabian Cancellara noted on tuttobiciweb.com his disapproval of the UCI's actions.
"It is truly stupid. I am 100 percent against it," noted Cancellara. "I want to phone the president of the UCI and say that something is not right. He is acting like a godfather..."
Cancellara, like Filippo Pozzato (vice president of the ACCPI) last week, is expressing his disapproval of the UCI's measures. Is the UCI taking too much power and is the cyclist voice lost in the rush to clean up a sport that is the most tightly controlled? "I can't say I am against it and I want the sport to clean up," Zabriskie stated. "I wish I had a little more input before they made their final decision, but this is the way they went about it and I am onboard.
By signing the agreement, riders agree to give up a year's salary if they test positive, and that concerns Zabriskie. "You want that the testing will be 100% accurate. You don't want to end up paying a year's salary [out of error]. You sign this document hoping that they act in good faith because I am acting in good faith, but you never know and I just hope for the best."
The UCI is demanding that all riders who wish to to race in the Tour de France sign the document, and Zabriskie was unsure of whether or not that was a fair demand. "It is difficult to say," he told Cyclingnews. "I can't say that I disagree with them for trying to fight for their rights. I believe strongly in rights. One way to gain rights is to essentially give up all of your rights; gain privacy by giving up all your privacy. It is the way the sport has become and I am willing to adapt to it. ... Those guys should be allowed to race."
Zabriskie is still awaiting for Team CSC to release names of the nine men who will represent the squad in the Tour de France. "I am sitting here in limbo, in space. ... I am waiting to see if I can go to the Tour," he said. "I should know in the next couple of days. The way I performed my chances should be good. I have improved a lot in mountains and I will help Carlos [Sastre] and Fränk [Schleck] in the mountains."
Lampre, Saunier Duval and Gerolsteiner announce Tour squads
Lampre-Fondital has chosen all but one of its nine-man Tour de France squad, a team press release announced today. Directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi said that the team directors and general manager Giuseppe Saronni, "chose riders of quality with great morale."
The team, according to Bontempi, will focus on stage wins, and will count on sprinters Daniele Bennati - winner of the sprinter's jersey at the Tour de Suisse, and Danilo Napolitano - a stage winner at the Tour of Slovenia for the flat stages, and Tour of Flanders winner Alessandro Ballan for the transitional stages and Tadej Valjavec in the mountains.
Lampre: Daniele Bennati, Paolo Bossoni, Marzio Bruseghin, Danilo Napolitano, Daniele Righi, Patxi Vila and Tadej Valjavec. The final slot to be decided among Fabio Baldato, Claudio Corioni and Massimiliano Mori.
Another team in the hunt for stage wins will be the Saunier Duval-Prodir squad. Directors Joxean Fernández Matxin and Sabino Angoitia will be looking to David Millar for the prologue, Iban Mayo for the hills, last year's Tour de France most combative rider David de la Fuente for breakaways, and Francisco Ventoso for the sprints.
Saunier Duval-Prodir: José Ángel Gómez Marchante, David Millar, Iban Mayo, David de la Fuente, Juanjo Cobo, Iker Camaño, Rubén Lobato, Christophe Rinero and Francisco Ventoso. The reserves will be David Cañada, Ángel Litu Gómez and Jesús del Nero.
German squad Gerolsteiner has announced six riders that will take to the start of the Tour on July 7, in support of its GC hopes Markus Fothen and Bernhard Kohl.
Along side its two leaders, the squad will send Fabian Wegmann and Stefan Schumacher, with both riders expected to go for stage wins, along with Heinrich Haussler, stage winner in the recent Dauphiné Libéré and Robert Förster who are the teams hopes for the sprint stages.
The final three places for the squad are expected to be announced after the weekend´s national title road race.
Bennati considers Italian Championships
By Gregor Brown
26 year-old sprinter Daniele Bennati is still undecided on whether he will ride the Italian championship road race in Genova on Sunday. Bennati showed he is in form by taking the points jersey in the recent Tour de Suisse. After an intestinal bug disrupted his spring campaign, Bennati is now building for the Tour de France, and the championship race may fit into his preparation schedule.
"I think I will do the national championships this Sunday [in Genova]," he explained to Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "I have still not decided, but I think I will go.
"I don't know if it will be a sprint finish or not. I think it will be difficult arrive in a sprint finish. I hope, but I think it will be difficult. If there is not a sprint I will be there to help [team-mate Alessandro] Ballan."
Read National championships: The global preview for a preview of the Italian race.
Murphy and Gunn team, Irish champ for Tour of Ireland
By Shane Stokes
Irish Continental team Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/ M. Donnelly Sean Kelly has been confirmed for the Tour of Ireland, expanding the lineup for the event.
The team is based at the Kelly Cycling Academy in Belgium and features riders such as current Irish under 23 champion and FBD Insurance Rás runner-up Paídi O´Brien, Paul Healion and former national champion Morgan Fox.
"It's going to be exciting seeing the team competing with some of the best riders in the world on home soil," said Stephen Murphy, director of the Murphy and Gunn company on Wednesday: "This is our second year with a team like this and I never thought we would have a race of this standard in Ireland to compete in. It's like a dream come true to become involved as the only Irish pro team."
"It's a great opportunity," agreed former world number one Sean Kelly: "It's great for an Irish team with Irish sponsors and we are hoping to produce some good results. The Tour of Ireland is now one of our main targets for the year.
"Paídi O´Brien is in very good shape and rode a magnificent Rás. He will be one of our main men for the race. We will be putting together a racing and training programme that will help the team prepare fully to give us the best possible chance of a result."
Meanwhile Irish road race champion David McCann will lead another Continental-ranked squad, the Colavita / Sutter Home team, in the race. He will attempt to defend his national title on Sunday and will also try to take another Irish time trial gold on Friday, having won several in the past. McCann is the reigning Irish ten mile record holder and a previous winner of the FBD Insurance Rás.
The team is managed by former 7-Eleven pro Tom Schuler and is based in the US.
The Fáilte-Ireland sponsored Tour of Ireland runs from August 22 – 26th and is ranked 2.1 on the UCI calendar. Full route details are to be announced next week. More information on the race can be found at www.tourofireland.ie.
Bigla pro hit by car
By Tomas Nilsson
26 year-old Veronica Andreasson (Bigla Cycling Team) was hit by car while cycling from her home in Uppsala to the Swedish TT championships in Uppsala Wednesday. Andreasson was unconscious when she was taken the Academic Hospital in Uppsala. Reports says she was still unconscious Wednesday evening, and her condition is described as serious but stable.
The accident happened at a crossing with traffic lights, and according to police the lights were changing when Andreasson was hit by the car. Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet quotes Uppsala police man Per-Erik Eriksson as saying, "The driver of the car claims it was green, but we haven't had a chance to talk to all witnesses yet, so we cannot say anything for sure."
Andreasson came in second place in last years' Swedish time trial championship behind Susanne Ljungskog.
Fantasy Le Tour Game has started
Game is ready to play - create your teams now!
The first (very) provisional start list has been uploaded to the game site. You can start creating your Le Tour teams now. If you are lucky enough to come first in this year's Le Tour Fantasy game you could soon be riding a Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle equipped with Shimano Ultegra 10-speed, R-550 wheels, FSA cranks, bars & stem, Selle Italia Marco Ponza saddle, Cervelo aero carbon seatpost, and Vittoria Diamante Pro Lite tyres. Retail value $4,750.
Even if you don't win the Grand Prize, the Fantasy Le Tour game is a great way to follow the Tour each day here at Cyclingnews. It's free to play the first three stages - try it out today. You don't need to be a cycling expert to win prizes. Registration has already begun.
Who should you pick this year?
With the drastic changes in the field of top riders this year, selecting the right team in the Tour looks to be a truly exciting prospect. If you are not that familiar with the lesser seeded riders that you'll need to pick from to make up your 15 this year, there are a number of sources of information you can use to help your selection process. We've answered some common questions below:
"What's a good Fantasy game strategy?"
"How can I see who did well this year and last?"
Go to the Top Pro Riders section to see what each rider actually scored in the games last year in each of the Grande Tours.
"How do I know which rider is a Climber or a Sprinter?"
To work out which riders are good GC (General Classification or overall winner), MTN (Mountains or Climbers), PTS (Points Classification or Sprinters) - in the Top Pro Riders section, select a previous Tour, then click on the relevant column heading and re-order the riders to show you the best riders in each category. You can compare all the previous Grande Tour games. You can also download these in Microsoft compatible spreadsheet formats should you want to do some more in depth analysis.
"How do I know who's on form?"
The best way to know what's going on with the riders and the teams is to follow the News here at Cyclingnews and to read the feature stories and diaries in the Le Tour site at Cyclingnews. The complete rules with worked examples can be found in the Rules section of the site.
What is the Fantasy Le Tour game?
The online game allows you to assume the role of a professional team manager for the 2007 Le Tour and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Tour. In what's set to be the most open Tour in decades, based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.
Update - Le Tour Fantasy Game Prize List
Prize summary: From one Grand Prize and one First Runner-up to three each Second, Third, and Fourth Runner-up prize packages, there are eleven chances for you to win based on your overall performance in the 2007 Le Tour Fantasy Game. There are also 21 daily prizes for each stage's top performer. All prizes are as listed (substitution requests cannot be honored). The roster of prizes so far is as follows:
Grand Prize from Cervelo Soloist Carbon CSC team replica bicycle
worth $4750 USD.
Daily Prize from BBB Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen.
10x Runners-up Prizes
More prizes will be announced in the coming days. To find out more visit the prizes page.
Play for free in the Fantasy Le Tour 2007 game
Remember you can play for free for the first three stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start list. Then each day pick nine riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters, and general classification riders.
For more details register for free now. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2007.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)