First Edition Cycling News for November 13, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen
Rasmussen's deceit in detail
Michael Rasmussen deliberately misled the UCI regarding his whereabouts prior to the Tour de France, and should not have been allowed to start the Tour, an independent inquiry decided. The 48 page report compiled by an independent committee set up by Rabobank was released on Monday, Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer breaks down the facts.
33 year-old Michael Rasmussen was just days away from the pinnacle of his career on July 25, 2007. He had won stage 16 of the Tour – the final mountain stage – and was more than three minutes ahead of his nearest competitor, Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel), in the overall classification with just one remaining decisive stage. His lead was nearly insurmountable, and Rabobank was well on its way to the team's first Tour de France victory. Yet his team took the unprecedented step of firing the rider that very evening and secreting him out of France before the story broke.
What followed was a month long inquiry into Rasmussen's story – one that revealed a web of deceit, resulting in missed out of competition doping controls, the escalation of tensions between the Tour de France organisers and the UCI and the end of a respected director's career with the Rabobank team.
Rasmussen claimed that the team knew his whereabouts and had even provided him with travel arrangements for his trip to Italy and France in June and was disputing being sacked, so team sponsor Rabobank hired an independent committee headed by Peter Vogelzang, a former chief of the Utrecht Police and head of the 2004 Dutch Olympic team, to get the facts in the case. The 48-page report released Monday at a press conference at Utrecht, Holland, spreads the blame amongst Rasmussen and Team Rabobank, as well as the UCI.
The Vogelzang committee reported that Rasmussen "deliberately provided incorrect whereabouts information on multiple occasions and could therefore deliberately not be tested for a given period. When an athlete is deliberately un-locatable for doping testing organisations during a specific period before the Tour de France, and does not provide a credible explanation, this creates a strong suspicion that he may be using substances from the forbidden doping list." The report clarified, "This does not, however, prove that the related athlete has actually used doping."
To read the full news feature, click here.
Rabobank to stay
Rabobank board member Piet van Schijndel has labeled the scandal surrounding Michael Rasmussen's dismissal a crisis that he wouldn't wish on anyone, but has added that the organisation is determined to continue its involvement with the sport. "We have to learn from this report, but Rabobank will cycle on," Van Schijndel told AD.nl on Monday at the presentation of the report on Rasmussen's dismissal by an independent committee.
On Monday an independent committee, employed by Dutch bank Rabobank, announced in a 48-page report that it was wrong for Rasmussen to start the Tour de France. The committee was headed by Peter Vogelzang, a former chief of the Utrecht Police and head of the 2004 Dutch Olympic team.
"From the report we can obtain certain conclusions, for the sport, for the team and for us as sponsor," he added. "We have to learn from this, but we want to absolutely continue as sponsor. We have always taken the risk the riders will dope and in essence this is not a doping case."
Rasmussen announced late last week that he did indeed mislead the UCI and general public, however claimed that the Rabobank squad was aware of his real whereabouts. The Dane is scheduled to meet with the UCI to discuss his side of the story latter this week (see separate story).
"I think that we reacted openly and adequately," Van Schijndel continued. "Cycling will remain a fine sport and has brought us a lot. It is obvious that the sport needs to become stricter and more professional in regards to doping. I hope that this is a new step for all the teams."
Rasmussen reaction expected Wednesday
Michael Rasmussen has stated that he will react to the Vogelzang committee's report into the circumstances surrounding his withdrawal from the 2007 Tour de France and subsequent contract termination on Wednesday. The committee concluded on Monday that Rabobank should never have allowed the Dane to contest the Tour and that the team director's decision to remove him from the race was justified.
"I want time to read the report myself and to discuss it in detail with my lawyer and manager," Rasmussen told AD.nl.
That his reaction will come on Wednesday has yet another reason behind it. Rasmussen is scheduled to be in Switzerland on Tuesday, where he will meet with UCI officials to discuss the happenings at the Tour. "That discussion has unfortunately been set back a number of times," noted Rasmussen. "I would have liked to talk to the UCI much earlier about my case."
Rasmussen was fired by his Rabobank ProTour team during the 2007 Tour having lied about his whereabouts in the lead up to the event.
Belgian federation wants ProTour change
UCI President Pat McQuaid will be forced to defend the ProTour in Belgium today with event organisers there calling for cycling's head honcho to either listen to their suggestions or face the threat of a rival European series. The Irishman is traveling to the Belgian Cycling Federation's (BWB) 125th anniversary celebrations, which will consist of a an academic sitting in Oudenaarde, where former Tour de France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc will also be in attendance.
Leading into today's discussions, Tour of Flanders chairman and BWB treasurer Louis de Laet called for McQuaid to start listening to the European organisers' calls to respect the sport's roots in the region. "If the Tour of Flanders wants to align itself with the three Grand Tours, what will remain of the ProTour after the ASO bought the Tour of Germany and the race in Hamburg?" de Laet said to HLN.be. "It's about time that Pat McQuaid listened to our suggestions. The UCI is killing cycling in Europe so that other continents, where they have few riders, can benefit. This is something that we can't allow to happen."
De Laet's calls follow years of fighting between the Grand Tour organisers and the world governing body. "We have had many meetings already with representatives from the three Grand Tours as well as the federations from Spain, France, Italy, Austria and Luxembourg," De Laet continued. "Great Britain wants to join as well but is reluctant out of respect for McQuaid. Also Switzerland will join soon. Slowly we are becoming strong enough to tear Europe away from the UCI. If they don't want to listen to us in Aigle it may go that far. I hope that we can convince McQuaid to drastically change the ProTour."
Six Days of Gent to remember Gálvez
By Monika Prell
This year's Six Days of Gent will open with a commemorative lap on Tuesday, November 20, to remember cyclist Isaac Gálvez, who was died tragically while competing at last year's event. Organisers announced that a memorial stone will be uncovered in the Het Kuipke velodrome's entrance during a short ceremony where they will pay homage to Gálvez.
The track world champion and road cyclist for Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears collided with Dimitri De Fauw during Saturday night's race at last year's event and fell onto the rail at the top of the track. Gálvez lost consciousness immediately and died on the way to the Gent University Clinic hospital.
The venue has had several improvements made since last year's event, including the addition of protective padding on the rail at the top of the track as well as increased security measures to protect riders and fans alike. A new operating theatre was installed in cellar of the velodrome, as well as projection screens of acrylic glass at the entries and exits of the interior of the circle.
Juan Llaneras, the co-World Champion with Gálvez who was racing with him at the time of the accident has since returned to Six Day racing with fellow Spaniard Carlos Torrent, but will not contest the 67th edition of the Six Days of Gent, which will be held from November 20 to 25.
Six Days of Gent nearly sold out
The Six Days of Gent track meeting has exceeded expectations, with the event looking likely to sell out before it begins on Tuesday, November 20. "The ticket sales are on their last legs; tickets for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there are very scarce," organiser Patrick Sercu told HLN.be.
"We are offering cycling fans and connoisseurs once again one of the finest fields assembled at the 'Kuipke'," he added. "Switzerland's Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli are again assured for Gent and will be fighting for the overall win. Iljo Keisse has been partnered with German Robert Bartko. This duo was on its way to overall victory when the tragic accident with Isaac Gálvez occurred and the event was cancelled."
Dutch pairing of Robert Slippens and Danny Stam will again line up on the boards in Gent to fight for the win. "I am very happy with the return of the duo of Stam and Slippens," Sercu explained. "Slippens was forced to forfeit last year due to an injury, but can now return with his fixed partner."
The Czech pair of Petr Lazar and Alois Kankovsky will line up for the first time in their careers in Gent as will Mark Cavendish and future T-Mobile team-mate Bradley Wiggins.
Teams for the Gent six day: Iljo Keisse/Robert Bartko (Ger), Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi), Robert Slippens (Ned)/Danny Stam (Ned), Petr Lazar (Cze)/Alois Kankovsky (Cze), Bradley Wiggins (GBr)/Mark Cavendish (GBr), Andreas Beikirch (Ger)/Erik Mohs (Ger), Dimitri De Fauw/Alexander Aeschbach (Swi), Kenny De Ketele/Marco Villa (Ita), Luke Roberts (Aus)/Marc Hester (Den), Wim Stroetinga (Ned)/Matthe Pronk (Ned), Steve Schets/Ingmar De Poortere (Bel), Nicky Cocquyt/Steven De Neef (Bel), Tim Mertens/Andreas Muller (Ger).
CSF Inox to replace Ceramica Panaria
The CSF Inox Group of Montecchio has been announced as the replacement sponsor for Ceramica Panaria at Roberto Reverberi's Italian Professional Continental squad. The company has inked a three year agreement with the outfit, which according to a team release will contest next year's Giro d'Italia and Tour of Denmark.
"It's a commitment to promote the image of our Group at a European level," declared the CSF Inox Group's President Rolando Paterlini, "but also aims at the fairness, professional capacity and humanity of a person like Bruno Reverberi, an extraordinary man who has gained his rightful place in the history of Italian cycling."
Reverberi and the company signed off on the sponsorship agreement last week, after its multi-year sponsorship offer helped CSF Inox Group claim the title sponsorship from several other interested Italian companies. The Montecchio-based company produces pumps and valves for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.
The new co-title sponsorship arrangement will offer a "considerable increase" to the team's campaign over coming years, according to the release. The squad's 2008 lineup will be officially presented on November 16 at the Milan Trade Fair.
Felt Bicycles extends with Slipstream/Chipotle
Team Slipstream/Chipotle's riders will again ride Felt Bicycles in 2008 after the pair announced the renewal of their agreement overnight. The Professional Continental squad, including its development programs, will receive Felt's support in 2008, with the Professional Continental riders expected to use Felt's DA, F1, F1 Sprint and Z1 frames and forks.
"We are thrilled to be secure with Felt going forward," said team director Jonathan Vaughters. "Their products, capabilities and attention to detail are first class. Their designers have already begun working with our staff and riders to insure everything is in place, beginning with our opening '08 event. Clearly, they are as excited as we are and we are fortunate to have such a great partner."
The 2008 team bike graphics will compliment its new '08 clothing kit and include the distinctive argyle design. Slipstream recently held a competition in which the public could design then vote on the team's 2008 kit.
Slipstream has bolstered its roster for 2008, with the addition of ProTour riders Dave Zabriskie (USA), Christian Vande Velde (USA), Tom Danielson (USA), David Millar (GBr), Magnus Backstedt (Swe) and Julian Dean (NZl) expected to bolster its chances of being called up for big races. In addition to its Spring Classics aspirations, the squad is hoping to be included at the Tour de France, after inheriting the top American squad mantle following the closure of ProTour outfit Discovery Channel this season.
"We are simply delighted to be a part of this program," said Felt president Bill Duehring. "Felt is buzzing with enthusiasm as Jonathan and his team embark on this next step in their journey as a pro team. To say we are excited to be a part of this would be a gross understatement."
The squad, which is currently holding its first team camp with the 2008 lineup, will be officially presented on Wednesday, at the Boulder Theatre in Boulder Colorado.
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