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Latest Cycling News for September 12, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Bruyneel defends Contador's Tour de France win from French criticism

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Bruyneel and Contador
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews has obtained a document sent by Discovery Channel Sports Manager Johan Bruyneel to members of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) organization where he defends Discovery Channel rider Alberto Contador's recent Tour de France win from criticism from two French team directors, Vincent Lavenu (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Marc Madiot (Française de Jeux).

Bruyneel opened his communiqué by saying "it's a good time to get together, to reflect and discuss the current situation and future of our sport. We should stop bickering about things as this isn't a solution to anything. As long as we continue to throw accusations around in our own sport, we're not going to solve anything."

Bruyneel referred to two L'Equipe TV video clips from the Tour de France (Video 1 and Video 2) where Lavenu and Madiot criticize Contador's Tour de France win. While Lavenu called Contador's victory "suspicious," Bruyneel replies to the IPCT members by saying "if we're going to make a 'scientific' analysis, where we can calculate the supposed wattage output (without knowing the weight of the athlete or his material), and so I made my own calculation to look at the differences in climbing speed [VAM, Velocity Ascended, Metres per hour Vm/h - ed.]. It's an easy calculation to make to compare various riders' performances."

Bruyneel continued by saying "Mr. Lavenu allows himself to be judge and jury when he says the performances of Contador suspicious, and all but accuses him of doping. I compared the performances of one of his riders at Ag2r, Christophe Moreau in the Dauphiné Libéré, and then compared this to Contador on the Col de Peyresourde in the 2007 Tour de France with Moreau on the Col du Télégraphe in the Dauphiné, the stage where he took the maillot jaune. For an example, a VAM of 1750 metres per hour is very fast, while 1500 metres per hour is a strong rhythm but not that fast."

Bruyneel continued his discourse with the IPCT with two key points:
1. Contador's average speed climbing the Col de Peyresourde was 1642 metres per hour, a really good performance but nothing extraordinary, since we've seen people climb at a VAM of 1750 in the past.
2. Moreau average speed climbing the Col de Télégraphe was 1647 metres per hour, faster than Contador...

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Bruyneel then poses two rhetorical questions in defence of Contador:
1. Was the performance of Contador (on the Col de Peyresourde) suspicious? Or normal, given that he is one of the best climbers in the peloton?
2. How should we interpret the performance of Moreau, leader of Mr. Lavenu's team, knowing he is not a climbing specialist and is 36 years old?

Alberto Contador on the Col de Peyresourde
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Bruyneel concluded his defence of Contador by explaining "I didn't criticize or question [Moreau] and I won't do so. On the other hand, I analysed this and accept the facts. If we [IPCT] can all take this approach, we'll be halfway along the right road".

When Cyclingnews reached Johan Bruyneel by telephone in Kansas City, Missouri, where he and Tour de France winner Contador were at the Tour of Missouri, Bruyneel confirmed he had sent the e-mail to the IPCT, and explained "the criticism in the two video clips, and in general from the French teams of Contador's Tour win has been unwarranted and inappropriate.

"I had to set the record straight. It is frustrating to see the infighting and bickering among the IPCT teams, and I don't think this is good for the sport of cycling." Bruyneel did not confirm whether he had made a further decision on taking over the Astana team. "We're just here to focus on the Tour of Missouri and hope to win the race," concluded Bruyneel.

(Recent VAM articles: Efimkin does 1600 metres/hour and Simoni goes 1850 metres/hour.)

Carlos Sastre: Bring on the racing

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) holds fourth on general classification
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Carlos Sastre is the highest ranked Spaniard at his home Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, currently holding fourth spot. Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson discovered how a new approach is fueling the Team CSC rider's Grand Tour ambitions.

Team CSC's Carlos Sastre is tackling the tough climbs of Spain's country side and crossing the finish line with a smile. It's all a part of the 32 year-old's new approach to taking on the world's biggest races. "When I say that I am passing it well, I mean I have taken this Tour different from previous races of these characteristics," he explained. "This time I have taken it with the intention to try to enjoy, to be more with the people, to gather the fruits of the fans' affection after so many years of work, to be thankful to them that they are lining the road and highways supporting us.

"I feel like a privileged person," he added. "I like my profession, I do not have a health problems, I have a team that supports me and I am fighting to try to be the best I can be in the Vuelta a España, that is the tour of my country."

It's this approach which has Sastre placed in a credible fourth place on general classification. It's this approach which Sastre hopes will earn him victory when the professional peloton reaches Madrid on September 23. "But that does not mean that I don't suffer," he added. "I am suffering like always, I am trying to fight as always and I am going to continue doing it until we arrive in Madrid."

Currently sitting 3.02 minutes behind overall leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Sastre believes the 10 stages already run have had little impact on who will stand atop the rostrum in Madrid. "As I said at the beginning of the race, I believe that at this Vuelta a España there is not a single day in which you can be relaxed for a minute," he explained, referring to this year's route. "Perhaps there is no decisive stage, with a sufficient mountain so that great differences can be made, but [its length is] sufficient to make enough damage. Until we arrive at Madrid there is nothing gained, nor nothing lost.

Read the full Carlos Sastre interview.

Euskaltel-Euskadi's favourable Vuelta

By Monika Prell

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The team Euskaltel-Euskadi has taken favourable balance of the first part of the Vuelta a España.

Directeur Sportif Gorka Gerrikagoitia summarized the first part of the Vuelta. "We have reached the half-way point of the Vuelta, and we can already draw some conclusions. [Denis] Menchov is very strong and the biggest favourite for the overall win. [Cadel] Evans or [Carlos] Sastre are also good.

"From our team 'Samu' [Sánchez] is doing a very complete race; he is going well in the time trial, as well as in the mountain stages. Igor Antón rode well in the mountain stages; very positive news. And Koldo [Fernández] is confident for the sprints; he has already been second and fourth. The team worked fine in the stages. It would be great to reach a victory as a compensation for this work. We have passed ten stages, and we will continue in the same way. The results will will come."

On the first rest day that was dedicated to a transfer from Andorra to Castellón the riders rode the last 50 kilometres from Castellón to Oropesa del Mar, where tomorrow's stage will start.

Samuel Sánchez, the team leader, was happy about the rest day. "A rest day is always convenient, even if such a long transfer tires you out after four hours of sitting in the car. The best thing of those days is that in the afternoon you can have a little siesta and break the routine. You can benefit from the day, and charge your batteries.

The team leader is satisfied with his performance. "I draw a favourable balance of the Vuelta. There still remains a lot of the tour. I am optimistic because I feel good, and I will continue struggling to improve. We have important stages before us. The rivals are hard, especially [Denis] Menchov who is very strong, but we will have to try something on the stages that remain."

The young hope Igor Antón affirmed his condition. "I feel better than I thought. I have been with the best riders during the three mountain stages, a fact that motivates me a lot. I am not think of a stage win, but helping the team. We are riding a good Vuelta, in the queen stage we had two riders in the breakaway group, 'Samu' finished third and I was eighth. I think that those are results that you have to value, it is not easy to obtain those results."

Santiago Blanco takes aim at Sastre complaints

By Iker Rioja

Former professional rider Santiago Blanco has taken aim at Carlos Sastre's post Vuelta a España stage 10 comments. The Spaniard, winner of a stage in the 2001 Vuelta, made his thoughts known in a letter to Spanish newspaper AS.

"I think that he has made a big mistake," explained Blanco. "Whenever his interests are harmed, he blames other riders, just like he did after Landis' breakaway back in last year's Tour de France." He added that "words are worthless, he should concentrate upon cycling, which he does very well".

Blanco defended the riding tactics of Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Italian Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir). "I know both Leonardo and Menchov, they are friends. If the Russian helped Leonardo the day before, it's quite normal that he returned it yesterday," said the former Banesto rider who completed the Vuelta seven times in his seven year career. "This is what we have always done in this sport."

Menchov felt betrayed by Rasmussen

"I feel myself cheated by Rasmussen," Denis Menchov has said on the Vuelta a España's first rest day. He had been Rabobank's captain going in to the Tour de France this year, but gave up his ambitions when his Danish team-mate took over the leader's jersey. Rasmussen was later removed from the Tour for uncertainties of his whereabouts leading up to the race, and later fired by the team.

The remaining team members decided to stay in the race, but Menchov dropped out the next day. "I couldn't do it any more," he told "Mentally I was at the end. Actually, I wanted to stop after the first time trial in order to prepare myself for the Vuelta a España. I had no more chance for a good final classification, but I continued for Michael Rasmussen.

"When I hear about Rasmussen, I felt betrayed by him. I worked very hard for him, just like the rest of the team. After he had been removed from the Tour, I didn't see any point in my remaining."

He continued by adding he has no desire to speak to his former co-worker. "I haven't spoken with Rasmussen since then. I don't see any need to."

Kopp happy to win again

The final few kilometres in Tuesday's second stage of the Tour of Poland were very hectic, with the peloton being misdirected and having to dodge buses and even police cars. After two sharp curves in the last kilometre, they group came on to the short closing stretch.

Peter 'Paco' Wrolich of Team Gerolsteiner set up the sprint for team-mate David Kopp, who pulled away with 300 metres to take his first win of the year.

"That was perfect timing. Paco set me up perfectly," Kopp said. "The sprint was very, very long, but it worked out." The native of Cologne, Germany, said that he had noted in his fourth place finish Monday "that I could do something here."

Kopp benefited from the bad luck of his team-mate, sprinter Robert Förster. "'Frösi' crashed about 15 kilometres before the finish, and then said that the team should ride for me," Kopp noted.

"It has been a long time since my last win. I feel a lot better now, of course." It had really been a long time; Kopp's last UCI ranked win was the sixth stage of the 2006 Eneco Tour.

José Joaquín Rojas comes close

The young Spaniard of Murcia, José Joaquín Rojas, took the second place of the third stage of the Tour of Poland, and is happy with his form. Despite bad organization and a slight lack of power in the engine room, the Caisse d'Epargne rider finished behind German David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Belgian Wouter Weylandt (Quick.Step - Innergetic) after 192.2 kilometres of racing.

"I was very close to victory," explained Rojas after he crossed the line in Gdansk. "The finish was very complicated because of the bad organization. At one kilometre and a half from the line, there was a car in the middle of the road, which obliged us to pass over the rails of the tram."

Six months ago Rojas took his first professional win at home in the Vuelta a Murcia. Yesterday, far from the laid-back atmosphere of southern Spain, he found himself well placed for the final dash.

"I was able to have a good placing to dispute the sprint, and under the red flag of the last kilometre I was in fourth-fifth position. I came very well out of the last curve, but I missed a little something to be able to pass Kopp before the line."

Rojas continues to push for his second victory of the year. "I hope that other opportunities will arise, because I feel myself very well and I really hope that the important victory I have been trying to reach for a while will arrive."

Trusov takes first in Britain

Trusov knows he has won the stage
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Young Nikolai Trusov of Tinkoff Credit Systems marked his first win of 2007 in stage two of the Tour of Britain. The 22 year-old fourth year professional went head-to-head with CSC's Luke Roberts at the end of a 169-kilometre day in Taunton. Thanks to the win, Trusov moved in the overall lead by eight seconds over Australian Roberts.

"It is a success that is filled with joy," affirmed Directeur Sportif Claudio Cozzi. "We are really happy for Trusov because he is a straight-forward boy, who always listens and does what he has to do. To see him win was a huge emotion."

Trusov made the jump to the Italian Professional Continental team this last winter as Tinkoff Restaurants upgraded. Team financier Oleg Tinkov made the needed financial push and signing of rider for the team to compete at the highest level.

He made his way through the 2007 Giro d'Italia while placing himself well in the sprints. The most visible day for him happened to be part of the maxi-caduta ('large crash') at the end of stage 11 to Pinerolo. Trusov was the first one to lose control on the wet finishing straight that saw many top favourites scrabbling across the ground. Last month, he gained an important morale boost by finishing second behind Italian Alessandro Petacchi in the opening stage of the Regio Tour, and signalled his continued emergence as sprint force.

Joining Trusov in Britain are Alexander Serov, Salvatore Commesso, Daniele Contrini, Bernardo Riccio and Elio Aggiano.

Surgery for Soler

Mauricio Soler's injuries from his crash in the Coppa Agostoni last month have turned out to be more serious than originally thought. He will under surgery later this week which will end his season.

It was originally reported that he had suffered only a badly bruised elbow. While that injury has cleared up, he also had a blow to the knee and has tendonitis in his right wrist. He will have microsurgery on the wrist this coming Friday in Milan to rebuild the cartilage, the team has announced.

The 24 year-old Colombian won a mountain stage in this year's Tour de France and took home the maillot blanc à pois rouges of best climber.

Cummings to Barloworld

Another Discovery Channel rider has found a team for the coming season. British rider Steve Cummings has singed with Team Barloworld, the British Professional Continental team announced this morning.

"He's a very talented rider and I'm sure like with others, he'll develop into a successful rider at Team Barloworld," stated to Team Manager Claudio Corti. "He's an excellent rouleur and has lots of track experience. He'll be an important part of the team."

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