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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for May 5, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Cycling's leaders create 'united force' against doping

Christian Prudhomme, Pat McQuaid and Patrick Lefevere
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Cycling's power brokers met in Moudon, Switzerland, at the Tour of Romandie, and called for a 'united force' between the groups to combat doping and salvage cycling's reputation in light recent doping scandals.

Friday, May 4, UCI President Pat McQuaid, Director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme and AIGCP President, Patrick Lefevere agreed to increase random doping controls "like never before" and to exclude riders suspected of doping from the upcoming Grand Tours.

According to the AFP, Lefevere said he is ready to exclude suspected riders despite the legal implications. "It is a risk we must take. The ideal way would be for justice to go all the way but it could take one or two years and by then, our sport would be dead," he said.

Prudhomme agreed that the doping issue is the most critical problem the sport faces, and called the meeting "the expression of a common will to act against doping." He continued, "I would not use the term 'historic' but it is a very important date. We can afford to disagree on all issues except this one."

Last year, just weeks before the start of the Tour de France, a raid by Spanish authorities on the clinic of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes netted more than 150 bags of blood and over 500 pages of evidence. While 58 riders were originally named, to date only German Jan Ullrich has been linked by DNA evidence to the blood. Ullrich retired from the sport before the evidence was made public.

Prudhomme indicated that the DNA link "showed us that there were ways to confound the riders and solid ground on which to act against the cheaters."

Prudhomme (L) and Lefevere (r) listen to Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The so-called Operación Puerto case, which was shelved by the Spanish judge Antonio Serrano earlier this year, was recently reinvigorated, and news that the Spanish Guardia Civil had released a 6,000 page dossier containing 49 additional names, along with an Italian investigation into the involvement of 2006 Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, brought the situation to a critical point.

The renewed investigations led to several riders being excluded from racing by their teams. The Discovery Channel team requested that Basso stop racing in light of the CONI investigation, leading the Italian to resign his position, while the ASO appealed to teams to withdraw riders who were named in the investigation from the start list of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

In an open letter to the UCI, Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport appealed to the UCI to make the determination of which riders are suspect and should not be allowed to race in the tour, which begins next week.

McQuaid underscored the difficulties in making such determinations earlier this week. "There is no way we have the eyes to go through these 6,000 pages and determine who is guilty and who is involved in some way or another," McQuaid said, according to AFP. "There is no way we can be finished before the end of this year. They are the practical issues which make it difficult for us with the best will in the world."

However, after the May 4 meeting, McQuaid seemed to be ready to keep riders from racing before the evidence has been sifted through. "If great riders have to be excluded, the will is there. Other riders will replace them. Clean riders," he said.

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

Voeckler to lead Bouygues Telecom Giro team

Former French Champion and Tour de France yellow jersey holder Thomas Voeckler will lead the Bouygues Telecom in the Giro d'Italia. The all-French team, under the direction of Philippe Mauduit and Ismaël Mottier, will also include Nicolas Crosbie, who is showing good form at the Tour de Romandie, and spent the better part of stage two on a solo breakaway.

Bouygues Telecom for the Giro: Olivier Bonnaire, Nicolas Crosbie, Pierre Drancourt, Yohann Gène, Arnaud Labbe, Yoann Le Boulanger, Alexandre Pichot, Franck Renier and Thomas Voeckler.

Di Luca tests Giro climbs

Di Luca changes gears for the Giro
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Just one week remains before the start of the Giro d'Italia, and the protagonists are making their final preparations to take on the biggest challenges of this year's course. Liquigas' Danilo Di Luca and Alessandro Spezialetti took in many kilometres to preview the decisive climbs of stage 15 and 17, despite cold, rainy weather.

Danilo 'The Killer' Di Luca, who recently won the Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, previewed the Giau Pass by car, then rode from Cortina d’Ampezzo over the Passo Tre Croci and up the finishing climb of stage 15 to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

After another transfer by car, the pair rode up the Tualis finally up the demanding Monte Zoncolan. DI Luca enjoyed the day, finding no problem with riding the courses, "except for the cold (only 1 degree) on the Tre Cime DI Lavaredo and the rain climbing the Zoncolan. I rode the Tre Cime with a 36x26 and the Zoncolan with a 36x29 - there are five and a half kilometres where you risk falling over because of the slope."

After previewing the climbs, DI Luca summed up his view of the hardest climbs in Italy. "As far as the maximum slope, the Angliru beats the Zoncolan 1-0, but on the whole, the Zoncolan is more difficult." And what about the Mortirolo? "Well, that is even worse..."

DI Luca will be watching his fellow Italians on these decisive stages, and he tipped Simoni, Cunego and Savoldelli as the ones to watch. "Me? Fourth again, but before then I will win three stages...".

Liquigas for the Giro: Danilo DI Luca, Enrico Gasparotto, Vladimir Miholjevic, Vincenzo Nibali, Andrea Noè, Franco Pellizotti, Alessandro Spezialetti, Alessandro Vanotti and Charles Wegelius.

Team manager Stefano Zanatta will be supported in the first week by Mario Scirea, then by Mario Chiesa.

Clerc responds to Denmark race director

By Gregor Brown and Hedwig Kröner

ASO's Patrice Clerc has explained to Cyclingnews that his organisation did not have any influence on the request by the Danish Sports Federation (DIF) to the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) to not allow Unibet.com to race in the Tour of Denmark. He refuted any insinuations to that end made by Tour Race Director Jesper Worre, published yesterday.

Clerc referenced back to the decision made by the Grand Tours in December 2006, where the Grand Tour race organisers (ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic) decided to allow only the then-existing 18 ProTour teams in to its races automatically.

The decision excluded Astana and Unibet.com, who were subsequently granted licenses by the UCI into its ProTour. Clerc continued to explain that ASO did want other non-ProTour teams in its races, but noted that the ongoing conflict between the French government and European Union over the state-owned gambling monopolies played into the difficulties of selecting a team like Unibet.com.

The ASO, however, did not have any authority within this legal battle, which concerned European national governments, the European Union and the online gambling companies only, according to Clerc.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Caisse d'Epargne is optimistic in Romandie

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Joaquim Rodriguez
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

With just two stages to go in the Tour de Romandie, the overall classification is separated by just 16 seconds among the top twenty riders. Caisse d'Epargne has two riders in this group - Francisco Perez, currently 9th and ten seconds behind leader Paolo Savoldelli, and Joaquím Rodriguez in 15th, a further three seconds in arrears.

Team director Eusebio Unzue was optimistic going into stage four. "The stage that will take place tomorrow is going to be the queen stage of this Tour of Romandy", explained Unzue, "With four first category passes, and the finish located at the top of the last climb, the stage will obviously be decisive for the final general classification. We also will have to reckon with the final time trial on Sunday.

"Our team, with Joaquím Rodríguez, Fran Pérez and David López, can rely on three riders in good condition and able to fight for the stage win as well as for the overall ranking, also if the task will not be easy because there are many candidates."

Perez told Cyclingnews that he was unsure how his legs would handle Saturday's race. "I had good legs in the first stage, but at the moment, I do not how I am. The stage will be very hard, with many climbs and many rivals", the Spanish rider said.

Joaquím Rodriguez feels confident following his third place on stage one. "I feel very well, but the race will be very hard at the end, especially if it is raining. I will try to attack on the last climb to win the stage. In order to make the podium, it will be also necessary to gain time on the time trial specialists. Now, the race is open."

Euskaltel prepares for Giro TTT

By Monika Prell

Koldo Fernandez won stage 7 in Tirreno-Adriatico
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Euskaltel Euskadi began preparations for the Giro's opening 24 kilometres team time trial this week. The nine riders who will compete in the Giro d'Italia, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Hernández, Joseba Zubeldia, Antton Luengo, Beñat Albizuri, Markel Irizar, Iván Velasco, Aketza Peña and Dioni Galparsoro, as well as the Manager, Miguel Madariaga, the technical secretary Igor González de Galdeano and the director Jon Odriozola met in Vitoria, the capital of the Basque country to hone the team's skills for the stage.

After a short team meeting, the nine riders covered 110 kilometers, in more than three hours they trained to harmonise with each other on their time trial bikes, and at the end, the riders as well the directors were pleased with the practice.

The team for the Giro d'Italia has one clear goal: to get at least one stage win. Koldo Fernández is the one who has the best chances to fulfil this dream. After his victory in stage seven of the Tirreno - Adriatico, the 25-years old dreams of more. He will have the full support of his team, especially Beñat Albizuri, who will be the final lead-out man for the sprinter. Aketza Peña and the veteran Joseba Zubeldia are good all-rounders who also can help in a sprint.

Historically, the team's strength has been in their climbing abilities, and this year is no different. Aitor Hernández won the mountain classification of the Vuelta al País Vasco and Antton Luengo has also proven his abilities as a climber. Euskaltel also takes along the neo professional Iván Velasco. For the overall classification, the team will count on Markel Irizar and Dioni Galparsoro.

Dioni Galparsoro went very well in the Vuelta a la Rioja, finishing fourth in the overall classification. After two years of injuries and illness, where he only competed 25 days, he is keen on getting back to top form. "It is possible that I will lack a bit of rhythm, but I feel very well, and I feel like racing", the 28-years old said to Diario Vasco. It's his first three-week race, and he is confident: "If I don't have physical problems, I know that I will compete well." He will also have another motivation: within two weeks, he will become father for the first time.

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