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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for November 23, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Mayo analysis delayed

Gripper clarifies situation vis-à-vis B sample

By Shane Stokes

Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at the start of stage 12 of this year's Tour de France, four days before his positive doping control
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The scheduled re-examination of Iban Mayo's B sample set to be carried out on Wednesday has been delayed, according to UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper. The Spanish rider returned a non-negative A result for EPOduring the Tour de France and was due to have the counter-analysis done this week in the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory.

Speaking to Cyclingnewson Thursday, Gripper said that it was decided to delay the analysis so that the rider or a representative could be there. This contrasted with a previous statementthat the procedure would be carried out then either way, and has presumably been done in order to avoid any possible complications.

"The analysis of the B was scheduled to occur in Paris yesterday [Wednesday], but it was postponed to make absolutely sure that Mr Mayo had the opportunity to attend or elect a representative to attend the opening and analysis on his behalf," she stated. "I can't confirm the new date publicly until Mr Mayo, RFEC [the Spanish Cycling Federation] etc. have acknowledged receipt of the information."

Mayo's B sample has already been tested once in Belgium but the decision was taken by the UCI to carry this out again as the original finding was not verified. Some protested at this, including the RFEC, saying that the UCI were trying to find Mayo guilty despite that result.

However, Gripper clarified the situation on Thursday, reaffirming that the result of the second test was unclear rather than negative.

"The analysis of the B sample was conducted by the Gent lab. It was inconclusive. They sent the results (actually a photo of the electrophoresis process) to the Sydney lab for a second opinion. The sample itself was not sent to Sydney. Sydney confirmed the inconclusive result and suggested that the remainder of the B sample be analysed in the Paris lab to obtain a conclusive result."

Mayo was targeted for a surprise test during the Tour de France's second rest day due to what the UCI said were 'suspicious blood values'. The rider had been displaying his best Tour de France form this year since his sixth place in 2003.

Doctors deny Leukemans' sex life responsible for test

In another attempt to explain his positive doping test for testosterone, Björn Leukemans has said that he was having sex when the doping controllers arrived to take his urine sample in an out-of-competition test shortly before the Worlds in September. However, anti-doping experts have laughed this explanation off. While not addressing the specific case, Wilhelm Schänzer of the anti-doping lab in Cologne, Germany, said, "If you ask whether sex has an influence on testosterone levels, I say: sex has nothing to do with synthetic testosterone." Hans Cooman of the Vlaamse Gemeenschap [Flemish Community in Belgium], who took the sample from Leukemans, confirmed to Sportwereldthat "The natural testosterone [level] may perhaps be higher [while having sex], but I do not see how sex can influence synthetic testosterone."

According to Sportwereld, Leukemans' A sample was first tested in Gent, where scientists found a too high epitestosterone/testosterone ratio: 5.7:1, with the legal threshold being 4:1. The lab then sent the sample to Cologne, Germany, which has the proper equipment to conduct the carbon isotope test for testosterone, determining if the hormone is naturally made by the body or synthetic. Leukemans has now said that he will request that the B-sample be tested in Barcelona.

Team doctor trusts the tests

Lotto-Predictor team doctor Daniel De Neve noted that Leukemans has a medical certificate for high testosterone from the Cologne lab dating back from 2001, and that the lab this time did not accept its own certificate as an explanation for the results.

He would like to believe that Leukemans didn't used any forbidden products, but for him, "If the B-sample confirms the A-sample, then he is positive. That's it. I don't know the riders well enough as people to evaluate whether they are lying or not lying." He noted that "I have been a general practitioner for 25 years and know that it frequently happens that people sometimes say things which they afterwards acknowledge were not correct.

"It is not that I condemn Björn," he continued, "but I must trust the scientific tests instead of personal judgment. I would do the same if it were Cadel Evans or Robbie McEwen involved."

Sponsor unhappy

Meanwhile, the team sponsor is understandably not happy with the current events and resulting publicity. "Whether or not it is an isolated case, whether or not Björn has had mistakes made in his test or he has cheated, we have been put in an unattractive light," said Marc Frederix, head of marketing for the sponsoring National Lottery.

The sponsoring contract expires the end of 2008. "To stop now would be to say that the whole team must pay for that one rider – if he proves to be positive," Frederix told Sportwereld. "This is an unpleasant case, but I take into account the fact that as soon as it heard the news of the A-sample, the team suspended him pending the B-sample. And if the B-sample is positive, he will be dismissed. The team management has acted properly, the more so if you compare it to how Rabobank settled the Rasmussen matter."

Frederix said that the team must improve its internal doping controls and show more initiative. "With the internal team controls it can be checked whether a rider has raised testosterone values. Why do we have to wait for tests by the Vlaamse Gemeenschap? Why can't the team itself take the initiative?"

Raisin: "My dreams are dead"

Saul Raisin will probably never race again
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

American rider Saul Raisin, who had been hoping to come back to racing after suffering severe head injuries and falling into a coma last year, has announced that despite his miraculous recovery, his pro cycling career is over. "My dreams to be a professional cyclist are dead," he wrote on his website, His French team, Crédit Agricole, announced on Thursday that it would not allow him to return to competitionfor his own safety after reviewing the results of extensive health testing.

"Yesterday I was greeted by my Mom and Dad early in the morning in Salt Lake City," Raisin said. "I was so surprised to see them but the fake smile on my Mom's face revealed something was wrong. Roger Legeay had called them the day before to tell them that the French doctors would not release me to race. His voice cracked as he later told me the news and I tried hard to fight back the tears."

Raisin continued, "I did very well on my neuro-psych tests but the doctors said it would be too dangerous if I were to crash and hit my head again. It is hard to take in the fact that all the last 13 years of hard training are now over."

He added that he was thankful to his family and friends for the support that he had been given and was looking forward to his upcoming marriage.

Considered one of America's up-and-coming talents, Raisin suffered severe head injuriesresulting from a crash during the Circuit de la Sarthe in April 2006. He was in a coma for a week and was paralysed on the left side of his body after the accident. Despite doctors fearing for possible brain damage, Raisin recovered fully and is now able to lead a normal life, even racing the individual time trialas he did at the US Pro Championships in September this year.

Cyclingnews' Shane Stokesinterviewed Raisinin August 2006, outlining Raisin's progress on the road to recovery.

Busy racing schedules put pressure on CXers

By Brecht Decaluwé

After last week's row between American cyclo-crosser Jonathan Page and his team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen, the two have buried the hatchet. Together with Page's agent Paul De Geyter, a new deal was agreed and that will keep Page in the Sunweb-Projob team until the end of the season. In the official statement, Mettepenningen claimed Page apologised for his behaviour. But when Cyclingnewscontacted the rider to hear it from himself, Page explained that both parties had agreed not to comment on what had happened. "I'm happy that the team and I have come to an agreement, so I can move forward with my career," Page said. The rider will be able to ride his own programme, which was the cause of the problems.

Not only Page disliked the fact that all the team's riders had to show up in every race Mettepenningen wanted them to be. The team's other big name, Sven Vanthourenhout, complained about the same issue, right after Page launched his attack on Mettepenningen. "After the cross in Hasselt, Mettepenningen told me that I was paid to deliver," Vanthourenhout said in Sportwereld. "My performances are suffering under the busy programme the team wants us to ride. Due to the surgery I underwent in July it's too hard for me to ride two races in one weekend. From now on, I'm riding my own programme. I can't have my career destroyed by these ridiculous demands."

In Europe, the professional cyclo-crossers only start in races for which they have negotiated a contract. Clearly, Mettepenningen wanted his riders to start in other races as well, mainly to please his sponsors, who understandably want their name in the picture as much as possible. On Saturday, three Sunweb riders will take part in the World Cup race in Koksijde: Sven Vanthourenhout and Jan Verstraeten were selected for Belgium while Jonathan Page represents the USA. Cyclingnewswill provide full coverage from Koksijde for both the men's and women's races.

Bettini organises burlesque 'Bettiniadi'

Always ready for a good laugh: Paolo Bettini
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Olympic and double World Champion Paolo Bettini is not only known for his fierce racing – the small Italian all-rounder also has a unique sense of humour similar to the one of his compatriot actor of the same name. This winter, Bettini will for the first time organise his own competition, but one of a very special kind. Along the lines of the 'Olimpiadi', the Olympic Games in Italian, the 33 year-old incidentally born on April 1 will host the 'Bettiniadi' in his home town of Bibbona.

On Sunday, December 2, two teams will gather on the sports field La California-Bibbona: one composed of riders that helped Bettini win the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart, amongst which Damiano Cunego, Pippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto, Andrea Tonti, Marzio Bruseghin, Alessandro Ballan and Giovanni Visconti; and another including some of the most important cycling journalists that have been following the career of 'Il Grillo' for many seasons.

The disciplines leading to overall individual as well as team rankings have nevertheless not much in common with the bike. Competition will start at 2.30pm with a sack race, followed by 'flag stealing', an obstacle chase, some combat for the stronger men and a 4 x 100 m relay race, of which details are yet to be provided. Last but not least, the event will be crowned by a throwing competition of... mobile phones!

On top of surely providing a whole day of great fun, the 'Bettiniadi' will also raise money for various charities and expose some of the region's typical food and wine.

Cavendish and Wiggins to concentrate on 2008 Olympics

Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) at the 2006 Track World Cup round in Sydney
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are planning to race the Giro d'Italia for T-Mobile Team next season, skip the Tour de France and then concentrate on the Olympic Games in Beijing. The two hope to ride together on the British Olympic track cycling team.

"The Tour is not on my programme for next year," Cavendish, 22, told the Manchester Guardian, "because I'm putting everything into the Olympics. I know that as a rider the Tour is more important than the Olympics, but in Britain that's not the case. The Olympics mean more, so I'll be concentrating on the track after the first part of the season."

He is still trained by British U23 coach Rod Ellingworth, who said, "If he gets an Olympic place with Bradley [Wiggins] in the madison then he wants to prepare properly for it, and he's prepared to miss the Tour to do that. It's a sensible approach. He dreams big, but he knows he can't achieve everything at once."

Cavendish had a stunningly strong first pro year, with eleven wins including two ProTour victories. The youngster started this year's Tour de France but dropped out after the eighth stage.

Cavendish and Wiggins are currently riding in the Gent Six Dayrace, where they are in 10th place after three nights. However, race organiser Patrick Sercu is not satisfied with Cavendish's performance there. "Unfortunately Mark Cavendish didn't bring the right form with him to Gent," he said. "It is a pity, because Wiggins is riding OK."

Gent-Wevelgem keeps Kemmelberg

Classic Gent-Wevelgem will once again ride over the Kemmelberg in 2008, the scene of multiple serious mass crashesin 2007. According to Sportwereld, race organisers met recently with municipal authorities and agreed to keep the cobbled climb in the race, even if it is considered by many as being the most dangerous descent throughout Belgium. The 70th edition of the event will be held on April 9, 2008. This year's racewas won by T-Mobile's Marcus Burghardt.

Volksbank hires two, extends two

Austrian team Volksbank has announced two new signings and two contract extensions. Josef Benetsender and Andreas Matzbacher have both extended for a year, and youngsters Christoph Sokoll and Alexander Egger will join the team with two-year contracts.

Benetsender, 24, turned pro with the Professional Continental team in 2006. "He had a great year in 2007 and showed a lot of improvement," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "In the coming season, it is time for him to get out of the helper role, move up and take more responsibility." Matzbacher, 25, started out with Saeco in 2004, riding for Lampre in 2005 before joining Volksbank in 2006. "The past season didn't bring him the expected success; he put too much pressure on himself, because he knows he can do better," Kofler noted.

Sokoll, 21, won the U23 cup ranking in Austria this season. "Very experienced, despite his youth," according to Kofler. "We will introduce him carefully. Christoph should get to know it all first and test his possibilities." Egger, 20, had an outstanding year as a junior in 2005, winning gold in the national time trial and pair time trial championships, as well as silver on the road. Kofler called him "one of the best young riders in Austria. Strong willed, professional and infected by cycling. With this attitude, the way to the top should be open to him."

Max VO2 – movie seeks actors

Production company Red Cloud Productions, LLC, is seeking actors for the feature film Max V02 – The Potential Inside, to be released in theatres in late 2008/early 2009. Attached to the project are Jerold Franks, CSA, who cast the pilot for TV show "Lost", as well as Ransford Doherty who co-starred with Bruce Willis in "Hostage".

Max V02 – The Potential Inside is about the hard road to becoming a top contending Elite rider, with a young talent being trained by a retired veteran cyclist who is battling his own inner demons. The movie will feature some spectacular racing scenes filmed on the East Coast of the United States.

Both actors and professional riders are needed. Interested individuals may submit their head shot and resume to the contact address in the movie website at

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)