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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 5, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Confusion over Valverde's missed out-of-competition control

By Antonio J. Salmerón and Monika Prell

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde missed an out-of-competition control on June 23 during the lead-up to the Tour de France. The UCI has given him opportunity to defend himself within ten days according to Similar circumstances led to the ejection of Michael Rasmussen from the Tour de France and an eventual dismissal from Team Rabobank. However, Valverde's representatives have indicated the UCI knew of his location since it was the day before he rode the Eindhoven Team Time Trial.

"Just embarrassing," said Eugenio Bermúdez, the secretary of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC). "It seems to me embarrassing and cheap that the UCI asks Valverde to present his evidence, and it threatens him with an admonition. He is able to demonstrate his absence through his plane ticket. Furthermore, in the race he passed the [anti-doping] control. The UCI has pulled out some items that are not compatible with the reality."

According to Alejandro Valverde's manager, Sánchez Sabater, "the Caisse d'Epargne rider received an e-mail (in English) from the UCI saying that he had to justify where he was last June 23 when a doctor from the UCI could not find him at his home in Murcia."

Sabater noted to Cyclingnews that the UCI knew of his whereabouts. "We sent a fax [June 12] to UCI in which we indicated that the 23rd, 24th and 25th of June Valverde was going to be competing in Eindhoven [team time trial]. In this sense, we do not understand why the UCI has sent an e-mail like that to Alejandro Valverde, requesting him to justify his absence. He had already communicated it [to the UCI]. Furthermore, Valverde had to pass an anti-doping control while he was racing at Eindhoven."

Valverde showed this e-mail from the UCI to Spanish Federation members. They "helped him to translate the content of this mentioned writing into Spanish," Sabater recalled to Cyclingnews.

"We will undertake legal actions against all those that attempt to discredit Valverde, including the UCI. [Alejandro Valverde is angry] with all of these false accusations, and insists on his innocence."

Evans and Pereiro "limited losses"

By Hedwig Kröner

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The first leg-breaker of this year's Vuelta, the ascension of Lagos de Covadonga yesterday, September 4, has shaken up the general classification of the race in view of the overall win. With Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) undoubtedly being the first contenders at this point – sitting just over one minute behind new race leader Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) – Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) and Spaniard Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) cannot be counted out just yet.

The might-well-be Tour de France winner of 2006, Oscar Pereiro, said after the stage that he could "live with" his time loss of 1'57" on his Russian team-mate Efimkin, and pointed to the strength of his team which still has more cards to play. "It is an enormous challenge for him to win the Vuelta, but the difference with the favourites is less than one minute," he explained. "We have a really strong team. Karpets and I are just waiting for our moment, which will be the time trial in Zaragoza [on Saturday, September 8 - ed.]. And the next mountaintop finishes are better suited to us, too."

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Up the dreaded Lagos de Covadonga, Pereiro fell just a little short of keeping up with the other favourites. "The CSC's were unleashed, and that was just a little too fast for me," he told Sportwereld, adding "I could limit my losses."

But asked who his hot favourite was, the Spaniard indicated that the Tour de France runner-up of this year, Cadel Evans, made a very strong impression on him. Indeed, the Australian climber lost only 22 seconds on Menchov and Sastre on the climb. "I was a little afraid of this first climb," Evans admitted. "Ultimately, it's six weeks after the Tour and I'm racing against guys that have their whole year targeted on the Vuelta. But I've limited my losses; I can live with my time."

Despite being a climber, Evans is known to be a strong time trialist - which is something Carlos Sastre is also aware of. "Evans remains a dangerous man, and Pereiro cannot be counted out, either," he commented on the current state of the overall ranking. Next Saturday, in Zaragoza, the Vuelta might yet take another turn.

Piepoli: "Victory was my objective"

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Leonardo Piepoli finished Lagos de Covadonga second behind the 2007 Vuelta a España's new leader, Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne). The 36 year-old Italian sought to add another stage win in a Grand Tour to his year's tally, the last one being stage Giro d'Italia's stage to Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia. Unfortunately the little climber from Puglia was in a group of GC favourites that were concerned more with marking each other then pulling back the lone Russian.

"It is too bad about that long escape," Piepoli said with a tone of delusion after the stage to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Efimkin formed part of a 30-man escape group that dominated the day. "The victory was my objective, but I have another two occasions. I am not thinking of the classification, for this we have Marchante."

José Angel Gomez Marchante finished in a group one minute behind the Piepoli group that contained Menchov and Sastre.

"Saturday is the crono. It is better that I ride to save energy. I prefer a stage victory rather than a fifth place in the overall classification. At my age it would not change anything."

Efimkin does 1600 metres/hour

Efimkin: 1600 VAM
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) charged up the Lagos de Covadonga at 1600 per hour according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The speed of 1600 VAM (Velocity Ascended, Metres per hour Vm/h), over approximately 800 metres of climbing at 19.5km/h, was enough to hold of the likes of Piepoli, Menchov and Sastre.

For comparison, Gilberto Simoni recorded 1850 VAM when he won on the 10.1-kilometre Monte Zoncolan in this year's Giro d'Italia (1203 metres of climbing). That was faster than that of Ivan Basso on the Maielletta Passo Lanciano in 2006, 1805 VAM. Marco Pantani blasted up the Alpe d'Huez in 1997 with a 1791 VAM and Danilo Di Luca did the final four kilometres of the 2007 Giro's Tre Cime di Lavaredo with a 1750 VAM.

Vuelta's stage three crash count

By Iker Rioja

French Mathieu Claude (Bouygues Telecom) fell in the third stage of the Vuelta a España and broke his right collarbone. Unlike Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), also injured that day, he could not finish and had to quit the race earlier than expected.

On the other hand, Saunier Duval endured a double crash in the team as Rubén Lobato and Alberto Fernández De La Puebla touched wheels and lost control. The latter hit the ground with his jaw and, furthermore, cracked three teeth. Race organizer Unipublic arranged for dental aid so he could continue racing.

Astana keeps on going but releases Redondo

Jose Redondo
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Everything seems to be "business as usual" at Team Astana, according to a team press release issued Wednesday morning. General Manager Marc Biver is bound to the team through 2010, the team will continue, and plans for the 2008 license are being followed. The team has also released Spanish rider José Antonio Redondo for violating team rules.

Recent statements by Biver, the UCI and Kazakh federation officials had indicated that there may be major changes in the team's structure and management for the coming year, if the team even were to receive another ProTour license.

In the press release, the executive board of the team declared, "The Swiss company Zeus Sàrl, managed by Marc Biver and acting as the financial responsible of Astana Cycling Team, fills his tasks which binds it to the Kazakh Cycling Federation in accordance with the contract which links the two parts until 2010. So far, no indication was given to the executive board of the Astana Cycling Team that the team would not continue its activities. In addition, the formalities for the UCI 2008 license are in hand."

In addition, the team has released rider Jose Antonio Redondo "for violating team rules," according to the Belgian website Sporza. The team refused to give any details or further comment. "That is also in the interest of Redondo himself." He has already been removed from the team's website,

The 22 year-old Spaniard worked as a domestique on the team. He finished second in the second stage of this year's Dauphiné Libéré.

Australia announces 'long team' for Worlds

Cycling Australia announced the elite men's 'long team' and the U23 men's team for the upcoming Road World Championships. The race for the rainbow jersey will in Stuttgart, September 26 to 30.

The Men's pre-selection consists of Allan Davis, Scott Davis, Cadel Evans (also TT), Simon Gerrans, Adam Hansen, Mathew Hayman, Matt Lloyd, Trent Lowe, Robbie McEwen, Bradley McGee (also TT), Michael Rogers, Chris Sutton, William Walker and Cameron Wurf (only TT). The final team is due for confirmation on Monday, September 17.

The U23 men's team will be Simon Clarke, Zakkari Dempster (also TT), Wesley Sulzberger and Johnnie Walker.

Twins in the peloton

The Efimkin brothers
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Vladimir Efimkin of Caisse d'Epargne won the fourth stage of the Vuelta a España and took over the leader's jersey with his ride up to the mountaintop finish. The most important thing in the 25 year-old's life is his family, as he explained at the winner's press conference yesterday.

Even before the assembled journalists could pose their questions, he said, "I have a twin brother named Alexander. He is a much better rider than me, trains better than me, and doesn't have a contract for next year," reported La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The twins live with their mother, Ludmilla, in Villongo, Italy, in the province of Bergamo. They are not alone in the village, sharing it with fellow pros Kanstantsin Siutsou (Barloworld), Mauricio Soler (Barloworld), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Vladimir turned pro with Barloworld in 2005, before joining Caisse d'Epargne a year later. Alex turned pro with Barloworld in 2006, but is now looking for a new team, as his brother said.

The most famous twins in recent cycling history were Richard and Xavier Ochoa. Other twins currently riding include Martin and Peter Velits of Team Wiesenhof-Felt.

Fuerteventura-Canarias denies negotiations with Heras

By Monika Prell

Contrary to previous reports, team Fuerteventura-Canarias denied any contact with Roberto Heras. Team Manager Jorge Sastre affirmed that he had not even thought of signing the three-time winner of the Vuelta a España who is nearing the end of a two-year doping suspension.

Team Director Óscar Guerrero confirmed that there has been no communication with the 33 year-old Spaniard. "The only thing I can say is that neither [Jorge] Sastre nor I know anything about this subject," he noted to Deia. "Neither of us has talked to Heras during the whole year."

Furthermore, Guerrero questioned the future of his team. "How could we contact Heras with the intention to engage him when we all, assistants, directors, riders... don't know exactly how our future will be?"

The sponsors Fuerteventura and Canarias will confirm if they will continue to sponsor the team despite the non-invitation by Unipublic for the Vuelta a España. The sponsors "are satisfied about our performance during this season, but they still have not said anything to us," said Guerrero.

German women dominate in Holland

Judith Arndt of Team T-Mobile won the second stage of the Holland Ladies Tour, moving into the overall lead. German women dominated the day, taking first, third and fourth in the stage, and first and second overall.

Arndt, Irene van den Broek (AA Drink Cycling Team) and Trixi Worrack (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) escaped with only eight kilometres to go, and stayed away until the end with a scant 10-second lead over the peloton, led by Arndt's team-mate Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.

"We took turns to attack. Either one of us would get away, or we would set up a sprint for Ina," Arndt said on the team's website, "I attacked going into a corner around eight kilometres from the line. Trixi went with me, and shortly afterwards we bridged to Irene van den Broek who had already been off the front for a while," added Arndt. "It was just a coincidence that I was the T-Mobile rider that got away in the winning attack."

Worrack is now second overall, ahead of Marianne Vos of DSB Bank, who won the first stage.

Guesdon stays with Française des Jeux

Frédéric Guesdon will ride for La Française des Jeux for another year, it was announced Tuesday. The 35 year-old has ridden for the French ProTour team since 1997. His two biggest wins are Paris-Roubaix in 1997 and Paris-Tours in 2006.

Two more Belgian races for Astana

After having missed a month's riding in August, when Team Astana suspended itself after a series of drug scandals, the team's riders are making up for lost time. The team will be in two more races in Belgium this week, the Memorial Rik Van Steenbergen, in Aarselaar, and the 39th Prix Jerome Dekimpe, in Izegem.

Astana for Aarstelaar: Maxim Gourov, René Haselbacher, Serguei Ivanov, Benoît Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Guennadi Mikhailov, Dmitriy Muravyev and Michael Schär.

Astana for Izegem: Igor Abakoumov, Maxim Gourov, René Haselbacher, Serguei Ivanov, Benoît Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Guennadi Mikhailov and Michael Schär.

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