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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for May 8, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Greg Johnson

Martelli: Basso won't name names

By Greg Johnson

Massimo Martelli, the lawyer of embattled professional cyclist Ivan Basso, has said that while his 29 year-old client has confessed to being involved with Operación Puerto he won't be naming others involved in the case. The revelation comes just hours after the reigning Giro d'Italia winner admitted to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) that he was involved in the Spanish blood doping scandal.

"This kind of activity was carried out individually," Martelli told AP. "He never saw or heard of other riders [being involved.]"

While Basso's actual admission to the CONI enquiry is not known, due to the transcript of the meeting being sealed, the organisation issued a press release overnight stating:

"The office of the anti-doping power of attorney has listened today to Ivan Basso (…) and he has widely admitted his own responsibilities relative to Operation Puerto and has supplied the maximum collaboration in order to clear up the relative facts of his involvement."

Basso, who was pardoned by request from the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team last week, could be banned for up to two years if found guilty of breaking article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code regarding, "use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method".

"He wasn't feeling good and he wasn't calm, and he wanted to lift a weight off his conscience," Martelli told the press. "During the interrogation he was shaking, but then he regained his composure to show great character."

While it looks unlikely Basso will name others involved in the doping ring, Italian Cycling Federation president Renato Di Rocco is hopeful that others among the 56 riders named when the case broke last year will follow the Italian's lead and confess.

"I hope that his voice will not be a solitary one," Di Rocco told APTV. "It is a voice that comes from a prominent figure in this sport and this makes me feel optimistic about the future. I hope that his sacrifice will not be in vain."

McQuaid: 'No reduced sentence for Basso'

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that Ivan Basso will not be granted a reduced ban from cycling after the Italian admitted involvement in the Operación Puerto affair. Speaking on Monday, McQuaid made clear that the World Anti-Doping Code does not make any provisions for confessions or collaboration, contrary to Italian legislation, and that if found guilty Basso would likely serve the standard two-year ban and could not ride for a ProTour team for a further two years.

"For the moment, I can only take note, I do not know all the details," McQuaid told AFP after hearing the announcement from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). "I am especially sad to learn that a talented rider like Basso has apparently partaken in illicit practices. However, I try to see this news in a more positive context. Our increased efforts, with our other cycling partners, to put riders under pressure appear to be paying off. Today it is not easy to circumvent the rules."

Continued McQuaid: "These last months, certain members of the Italian cycling community decided to take public positions (on the Basso case). These recent developments should lead them to reflect."

Should Basso be found guilty, McQuaid noted that he could still envisage seeing the Italian back in the professional peloton after serving his ban. "I will make a point of saying that Basso, like all the other riders, will not be given up by our world. That does not mean to say that the rules should not be complied with. They will have to pay the consequences of their actions.

"I confirm that according to the World Anti-Doping Code, no reduced sentence can be granted."

T-Mobile boss reacts to Basso confession

After learning of Ivan Basso's admission to involvement in Operación Puerto, T-Mobile Team manager Bob Stapleton has said that all implicated athletes must be investigated fully using DNA analysis, and not simply the high profile cases of Basso or former T-Mobile rider Jan Ullrich.

"Our position is that Puerto is not just about Jan or Basso," Stapleton told Cyclingnews. "It's about identifying all the athletes involved and to do that based on DNA testing the blood now and later, a review of all the additional supporting documents. Once identities are established, the normal suspension and sanction process should be initiated."

With the Tour de France fast approaching, and more potential Puerto suspects continuing to emerge, Stapleton insists that the Puerto mess must be cleaned up to avoid a repeat of last year's Tour. "We believe that there is still time to do this prior to the Tour," he said. "The ASO, UCI and WADA work together now and initiate a criminal or civil case. Otherwise, the Tour de France may have a repeat of 2007 - 49 new suspects identified and potential leading athletes identified at the start, during the race, or after the podium in Paris."

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

Hincapie heads to Giro d'Italia debut

George Hincapie (Discovery)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

George Hincapie has been drafted into the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team's lineup for this year's Giro d'Italia, which commences this Saturday, as a replacement for Tomas Vaitkus. The American was slated on the team's roster after the Lithuanian decided to sit the event out and focus on recovering from a persistent knee injury.

Hincapie will also contest the Dauphine Libéré and Tour de France with his American ProTour squad, Discovery Channel announced. The 33 year-old is believed to have fully recovered after breaking his wrist at the Tour of California in February, where he won stages two and five last year.

"We are obviously happy to have George on this Giro team because it means he has recovered from his injury and is back on form. Anytime you can add a rider like George to a grand tour squad, you don't hesitate," said sports director Johan Bruyneel. "Tomas' injury is more of the nagging variety so with this change, he'll get some much-needed time to bring the knee back stronger."

Contesting the Giro d'Italia will be a new experienced for the popular American rider, with Hincapie's Tour de France lead up usually consisting of a classics campaign followed by the Dauphine Libéré then the Tour. In fact, despite having contested the Tour de France 11 times and the Vuelta a España twice, this will be Hincapie's first outing at the Italian Grand Tour.

The reigning US National Road Racing champion enjoyed a strong return to the pro peloton at the Tour de Georgia, with a third-place Stage 6 finish before going on to finish 20th overall.

No Giro for Hamilton or Jaksche?

Following reports that Tinkoff Credit Systems riders Tyler Hamilton and Jorg Jaksche were named in the latest Operación Puerto dossier of 49 additional cyclists, it now appears that both riders have been sidelined by their team for the Giro d'Italia. Both were missing from the official start list issued yesterday by Giro organisers RCS sport.

Indeed, RCS signed a communique with the other major race organisers on April 26 agreeing to exclude any riders implicated in Operación Puerto from their races, although Tinkoff spokesman Omar Piscina told the Associated Press last week that: "We have no intention of suspending Hamilton or Jaksche. We haven't received any sort of notice from the authorities and nobody is investigating them as far as we know."

Rojas to make Giro debut

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Caisse d'Epargne
(Click for larger image)

At just 21 years old, José Joaquin Rojas is riding only his second season as a professional but the young Spaniard has been granted a starting spot in Caisse d'Epargne's squad for the Giro d'Italia which kicks off Saturday with a team time trial. "It has been a great surprise for me," Rojas told Cyclingnews, "because I never could have wished to ride any great race so soon."

The decision was taken by Caisse d'Epargne director Eusebio Unzúe and Rojas himself, "after considering my current form which is very good following the Spring Classics, and having 10 days rest after I was injured during a traffic accident in March."

Rojas has already claimed stage one of the Vuelta a Murcia at the beginning of March, but realises the competition in Italy will be a cut above. "In the Giro it will be more difficult (to win a bunch sprint), because the world's best sprinters will be there on top form, although I will certainly take advantage of any opportunity," he added.

Boonen starts Tour preparation

Tom Boonen (Quickstep)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen is now preparing for the Tour de France step by step, after a "well-deserved and welcome rest". His last race was Paris-Roubaix, where he finished sixth, nearly a minute behind winner Stuart O'Grady.

That race was followed by a crash of his Lamborghini, when he swerved to avoid a cat. The Belgian was scheduled to ride in the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, his hometown race, but had to cancel his appearance due to an intestinal infection.

Writing on his website,, he said he needed the break. "This had to do with the shit that has come down on me because I didn't win Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders. For some people, this meant I had a bad spring, and that criticism has affected me."

He took advantage of his time off. "I rested a lot," he said, "and got things into place again. Taking perspective was something I had to learn again.

"Because of the fine weather I stayed one more week with my parents. I had the opportunity to talk to my friends again. Right now, I'll be gearing up for the Tour. One step at the time, I am eager again!"

French anti-doping agency validates Landis testing procedures

The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) has reportedly validated two aspects of its testing procedures used in the Floyd Landis case. According to L'Equipe, the first test related to the analysis of Landis' B-sample, taken after stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France, while the second was an audit of the Isotope Ratio Mass Spectometry (IRMS) machine used to determine that Landis' samples contained synthetic testosterone.

"Following the attacks from the Landis camp, the AFLD took the initiative to require these two analyses," said AFLD president Pierre Bordry.

Landis and his legal team have been sent the results of these latest tests. The American's case is scheduled to be heard before an arbitration panel on May 14 in California.

Commerce Bank Triple Crown gets rolling in Lancaster

Lancaster, Pennsylvania will host the first of three races in the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling which kicks off with the Tom Bamford Lancaster Classic on June 7. Spectators are expected to show up in large numbers to watch the cream of US domestic riders battling on the same roads they drive to work on each morning. Over 200 professional cyclists including Olympic medallists and Tour de France riders will descend on Lancaster for one of the city's largest annual sporting events.

"Last year, we had one of the most successful race series ever in our history," said David Chauner, director of organisers Pro Cycling Tour LLC. "Thanks to our extremely enthusiastic sponsor, Commerce Bank, the tremendous support of the Commonwealth of PA, the cities of Philadelphia, Lancaster and Reading, we have a great formula for success and we plan on making it even bigger and better this year."

Last year's pro men's race was won by American Jackson Stewart who bided his time on the deceptively difficult 85 mile course before starting his sprint early and powering away from the tiring pack of finishers. After racing for three hours, nine minutes and 20 seconds, Stewart collected the biggest win of his life. Other big names to watch out for are Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC), Sergey Lagutin (Navigators), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health) and Tim Johnson (Health Net).

The course in Lancaster is a technical winding circuit that cuts through the city with many sudden short hills and tight turns. Starting and finishing on Queen Street, this year's race utilises Duke Street as well as Williamson and Rockford Roads making up a challenging circuit of 6.55 miles which will be completed 13 times by the pro men for a total race distance of 85 miles. At stake will be a share of the $15,300 that will be offered in prize money.

The action starts at 11:30 am with the elite amateur men's 35-mile race followed by the pro women's 25 mile race held on the downtown circuit at 1:15 pm. These early races will prime the large crowds for the professional race to follow at 3 pm. The course will use the same start/finish and infrastructure as the pro men's race but will be comprised of a short 0.6 mile downtown circuit with four turns and a short sprinter's hill each lap.

Viewing is free along all parts of the course and there will be music, race play-by-plays and a Sports Expo in the main staging area that spectators are encouraged to explore throughout the day.

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