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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 24, 2007

Edited by Sue George

T-Mobile calls press conference, Aldag to confess?

By Susan Westemeyer

Stapleton and T-Mobile team manager Rolf Aldag
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)
The T-Mobile Team has called a press conference for Thursday mid-day, at which Sport Director Rolf Aldag is expected to confess to having used doping products while riding for the team in the mid-1990s. Team manager Bob Stapleton flew back Wednesday from Italy to Germany to prepare for the ordeal, and indicated that Aldag would not be fired.

"I think that Rolf is very committed and very much supports what we are doing now," Stapleton told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "He simply had a moment of weakness and now we have to see that we all come out of it and continue on with him."

"Of course we had a few personal things to talk about between ourselves," he continued. "But everything that he has done has convinced me and was practically perfect. He hasn't made any mistakes in his current activity as Sport Director." However, Stapleton noted, "he should of course have been more open about his past, that's clear. But it is my plan to continue working with Rolf. He is still the best choice for the position, and he is still capable of doing the job."

Stapleton admitted that Aldag was now more or less forced to come clean. "But I know that in the past two weeks, he has seriously thought about disclosing things. He wanted to do it and was looking for a way to express himself fully and understandably. And it is very difficult to do that and still work in the cycling world. ... Naturally he should have done it earlier, and he could continue now to do nothing. But that he is doing it now speaks well for him, because it will be hard for him. And it is a very delicate thing, to speak about something like this without involving other people. That is what was most difficult for him: There are deep friendships and long-term relationships, and if you want to continue in this business, then it is difficult to do right by everybody."

T-Mobile has two other directeur sportifs who also rode for the team in the 1990s, Brian Holm and Jan Schaffrath. "Brian has already admitted that he doped in the past, he has even written a book about it," Stapleton said. "And as to Schaffi, I can only say, that his behavior now is a model to the team."

Looking to the future of cycling, he concluded, "Some people surely have a big problem and don't intend to change anything. Others want to change things or themselves, and there is a lot of support from other athletes and managers for our new way. But there are some absolute enemies of the system, and they won't change because they are afraid to lose their jobs. My hope for the present situation is that this is a chance for a complete new beginning for cycling."

Further reactions

T-Mobile general manager Bob Stapleton
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

More riders and others involved with Team Telekom in the 1990s have given their reactions to the current charges and situation, the Berlin Morganpost reports, all denying that organized doping ever took place.

Steffen Wesemann, with Telekom/T-Mobile from 1993 to 2006, and now with Team Wiesenhof, said "I rode for Telekom longer than Bert Dietz did, but funnily enough, nobody ever offered me anything. What I don't understand is that these people always speak out at a lucrative time, like now so soon before the Tour – when they've been plagued by a guilty conscience for ten years. And first they earn money with cycling and then admit to doping and earn money for that."

Former team manager Walter Godefroot, now with Team Astana, said, "Dietz was paid to say that. If Erik Zabel said something like that, it would be a different matter. I have never made my riders take illegal medications. I can tell you the names of 20 people who can swear that I have never recommended illegal medications."

Brian Holm, who rode for the team from 1993 to 1997, and is now a directeur sportif for the team, said "There was no systematic doping at Telekom. I don't know whether the riders took something or not. I didn't know that Bert Dietz – who is a good guy – took EPO. I was never offered anything by our doctors. Our team manager at the time, Walter Godefroot, never spoke to me about drugs."

Jens Heppner, currently Sport Director at Team Wiesenhof, told the dpa press agency, "I cannot confirm Bert Dietz' statements, they seem to me to be partly lies. ... If he doped, then that is his problem."

Bölts and Schmid admit doping involvement

Ex-pro racer Udo Bölts and physician Dr. Andreas Schmid admitted to involvement in doping Wednesday according to the Radsport-aktiv.

Bölts said he took EPO and growth hormones to increase his output on the bike while riding for Team Telekom (later T-Mobile). He admitted to doping in 1996 in order to make the team's Tour de France squad. Bölts retired in 2003 and is now a director sportif at Gerolsteiner. He has taken part in twelve consecutive Tours de France, from 1992 to 2003. In 1996 and 1997, he was a key domestique for two teammates and winners of the Tour, Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich.

Already suspended from his role as team doctor for T-Mobile, Freiburg sporting doctor Schmid admitted to having been involved in the doping practices of riders on the Telekom team, and its successor, T-Mobile, beginning in the mid-1990's. "I admit to having supported the doping of individual pro racers since the mid-1990's," said Schmid according to the dpa. He is considering terminating his role as a sport physician at the University hospital of Freiburg.

Doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich were both named by former soigneur Jef d'Hont in his book as having provided illegal doping products to Team Telekom members during the 1996 Tour de France. The two are facing an investigation by the Freiburg, Germany, prosecutor's office. Both have already been suspended by Team T-Mobile and are under investigation by the University Clinic Freiburg.

Schmid's admission represents a change tune. He denied charges of being involved in doping last week and had said, "I reject the charges made against me by the Belgian former soigneur. They have no basis in fact. I have never given athletes EPO or growth hormones, provided it to athletes or so-called soigneurs or sent an athlete a plan for the use of doping preparations, nor prepared such a plan."

A strong start for Carroll's career

By Kirsten Robbins

Katharine on the attack
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The women's peloton in the USA is witnessing a profound evolution in recent years. Previously dominated by riders in their 30's, the podium is now being filled by a new crop of young women who have come up through the developmental ranks. Just two years into her professional racing career, 26 year-old Katharine Carroll has climbed up onto the top step of the prestigious Athens Twilight criterium and the Joe Martin stage race. The modest all-rounder hails from Nashville, Tennessee, and is fresh off a winning streak.

Katharine 'Kat' Carroll, a former Division I collegiate soccer player with Vanderbilt University, turned to road cycling in 2004 and after less than one year of racing, immersed herself in the National Calendar races with her first cycling team, the BMW-Bianchi Women's team based out of North Carolina. Carroll was baptized by fire with her first NRC event at the Athens Twilight criterium in 2005, where she nearly cracked the top ten, and then quickly moved forward to place fourth in the Joe Martin Classic that spring.

After two years of increased experience and fitness under the guidance of her coach, Michael Engleman, she has put her stamp on American racing this year, winning the two races that began her professional career - Athens Twilight and the Joe Martin Classic.

"When I started I didn't even know what NRC stood for," laughed Carroll. "I feel like I'm on a high right now because I was able to go back and compete in the first two races that started my career in cycling, and so to win them both two years later is an incredible feeling. Athens Twilight and Joe Martin both showed me what my cycling possibilities were and so winning them is huge for me. Our Aaron's sponsors were in Athens that night, and there was no better way to say thank you to them for supporting us."

To read the complete feature, click here.

Landis hearing "finishing" Wednesday

Floyd Landis
Photo ©: AFP
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Testimony is wrapping up Wednesday in the Floyd Landis arbitration hearing. Unlike other, more dramatic days of the hearing, testimony on the final day has been limited to the more scientific variety, much of it calling into question the testing techniques used by the French lab which was responsible for testing Landis' samples from the 2006 Tour de France.

Simon Davis continued his testimony for the Landis team, which he began Tuesday. He was followed by Dr. J. Thomas Brenna, a rebuttal witness, to testify about lab software involved in the testing. Brenna first testified last week for USADA.

According to the Associated Press, Davis called the software too unreliable to produce trustworthy results. "What we're looking at is very expensive, rather large random number generators," Davis said.

On the other hand, Brenna justified the science behind the procedures done by the lab technicians. "It was easy to see because they were doing the same thing every time," said Brenna. "It was very mechanical."

Closing arguments were planned for late Wednesday afternoon, but arbitrators will have at least a month to decide a verdict. If Landis' positive test is upheld, he will lose his Tour de France title from 2006. During the review period, arbitrators will go over documents from the nine-day hearing. Upon appeal from either side, the case will move to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for more coverage of the Landis hearing.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case.

Buffaz upset in solo break

By Jean-François Quénet in Pinerolo

Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis) behind Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The peloton obviously decided to take a day off instead of competing seriously during the 198 kilometer stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia. But there were still some hot spot sprints on the way, and it would have been an offense to the organization to boycott them.

The Cremolino prime at kilometer 38 was contested by some French riders who have been relatively quiet in this Giro edition thus far. Lilian Jégou from Française des Jeux won, and Mickaël Buffaz from Cofidis and Ag2r's Carl Naibo continued on after the sprint. Naibo soon stopped pedaling and Buffaz, a 28 year-old who turned pro with Jean Delatour before racing for RAGT, Agritubel, and now Cofidis, found himself alone in the front without having intended to break away.

As he awaited the bunch, it happened that the speed behind him was even slower than his 20 kilometers per hour, so although the average speed of the race didn't exceed 32.5km/h, he still got a five minute gap.

Buffaz stopped to answer the call of nature and he got a wheel change after a flat tyre at kilometer 138, but TV viewers were surprised to see him in tears and upset and in a moment of crisis by the side of the road. After some words of encouragement by directeur sportif Bernard Quilfen, Buffaz was back on his bike riding with focus for the remaining 50km to go.

"He cracked emotionally," explained Cofidis' team manager Eric Boyer. "He didn't know what he had to do. This is his first Grand Tour and he was afraid that his move would be badly interpreted." Buffaz was caught after 147 kilometers off the front, and he's the new leader of the "Fuga Gilera" trophy, which is based on the number of kilometers covered in breakaways. He leads that classification ahead of Tinkoff riders Mikhail Ignatiev, Elio Aggiano, and Pavel Brutt.

Bad luck for Euskaltel Euskadi

By Monika Prell

Is it broken?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Euskaltel Euskadi was having good Giro until Wednesday. Every day Koldo Fernández de Larrea has been coming closer to a stage win. He's finished 13th, 10th, fifth and seventh in the massive sprints ending stages. And Dionisio Galparsoro logged some finishes to satisfy this team including 20th, 23rd, 25th, and fifth.

But in the terrible crash at the finish line, Euskaltel almost lost all its hopes. Young Aitor Hernández, winner of the mountain classification of the Vuelta al País Vasco 2007, broke his left collarbone and was taken to the hospital. Galparsoro also crashed, hitting the ground with his back while Joseba Zubeldia suffered various contusions in that same crash.

"Too bad, it's incredible!" said Director Jon Odriozola. "We are not lucky. Today, the entire team worked very well for Koldo until the end. Aketza [Peña], Joseba [Zubeldia], Aitor [Hernández] and Dioni [Galparsoro] worked to position Koldo [Fernández] well going into the final kilometer, where it's Koldo's business to struggle against the others. Today, he finished seventh, a satisfying result. The most important thing is that he is stable, that he gets used to being there, and that he is constantly in the finishes." Odriozola showed himself generally content with the young sprinter.

But then the accident happened. "The ground was slippery due to the rain and, mainly, for the finish markings. [Nikolai] Trusov, who finished 13th, crashed and so did all the others in a cascade. We had a lot of riders in front and we could not avoid the falls."

Odriozola lamented, "Aitor Hernández broke his collarbone, now, when the optimal terrain for him begins. I [have] watched the classification and saw that he finished the stage in 18th; he was in the front group, but… Dioni, who could make a good overall rank, injured his back. We will have to see how he recuperates for tomorrow.

"And Joseba suffers a lot of contusions. Let's add that Antton [Luengo] also crashed when the race had hardly begun and that [Iván] Velasco also suffers pain," finished the Sport director."

No premature end to Gerolsteiner sponsorship

Gerolsteiner Brunnen GmbH has indicated that it will not end its sponsorship before its contract expires in 2008, communications director Stefan Göbel said, according to the Frankfurter Rundschau.

It was reported earlier that the mineral water bottling company was considering an early out because of cycling's doping problems, including the confession by Sport Director Christian Henn that he had used EPO during his pro career.

"This confession won't have any influence on our decision about the continuation of our sponsoring engagement." Göbel said. That decision is expected to be reached in August.

Otxoa collects four titles

Saunier Duval-Prodir racer Javier Otxoa collected four national titles in the Spanish Adaptive Cycling Championships, held in Dos Hermanas, Seville last weekend.

Otxoa won the kilometer and the individual pursuit on the track and the road race and time trial off the boards. His performance takes him one step closer to his priority event of the year, the UCI Cycling World Championships in Bordeaux in August.

German TV rejects call to boycott races

Some German politicians have recommended that the national television channels boycott cycling until it gets cleaned up, but the two senders, ARD and ZDF have said that they want to continue showing the sport.

Peter Danckert, head of the German parliament's sport committee, called for the publicly-supported stations to stop showing races. "I recommend a temporary boycott, until things have been cleared up," he said, according to the press agency dpa. "It shouldn't be so that millions of people pay fees [for the TV stations] which go to support a sport that is not doping-free."

"At this point we do not see any reason for a boycott – that would just ignore the problem," said ZDF spokesman Alexander Stock. He added though, "We will keep an eye on things. If it is proved that current riders are involved, then the ZDF will have to think about what to do."

The ARD, which was a co-sponsor of Team Telekom from 1998 to 2004, and had an exclusive contract with Jan Ullrich, noted that "Never before was there a better chance than now to reform cycling.

2008 Track Worlds confirms schedule and opens ticket sales

Tickets for the 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester have gone on sale. The Worlds will run from March 26-30 at the Manchester Velodrome in SportCity per a schedule now confirmed by organizers.

In front of a home crowd, Great Britain will be looking for a repeat or better performance of the 2007 Track World Championship, where the team took seven titles. The 2008 championships will last five days instead of four, so some racers will be able to do additional events. For example, gold medal sprinter Victoria Pendleton could add the women's 500m time trial race to her competition schedule.

The 2008 World Championships are the last chance for the world's top nations to qualify places for the Beijing Olympic games later in the year.

Tickets are available at Day ticket prices start from £15.00 for adults and £7.50 for U16. There are also discounted day family ticket options available - 2 adults and 1 U16 for £45.00 or 2 adults and 2 U16 for only £50.

March 26 - Men Individual Pursuit, Men Scratch Race, Men Team Sprint, Women 500m Time Trial
March 27 - Men Team Pursuit, Women Individual Pursuit, Women Team Sprint, Men Sprint Rounds & Quarter Final
March 28 - Men Points Race, Men Sprint Semi-final & Final, Women Team Pursuit, Women Sprint Rounds & Quarter Final
March 29 - Men Madison, Men Keirin, Women Points Race, Women Sprint Semi-final & Final
March 30 - Men Omnium, Men 1 Kilometre Time Trial, Women Scratch Race, Women Keirin

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