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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 22, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo & Ben Abrahams, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion

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

The UCI has announced that Oscar Pereiro is now officially the winner of the 2006 Tour de France after Floyd Landis lost his appeal and was handed a two year suspension. Landis is still weighing his options regarding an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a move which will add more financial pressure to the American, who spent $2 million on the appeal which he lost.

"Following the decision of the competent American authority to sanction the American cyclist Floyd Landis for doping, and in accordance with the International Cycling Unions regulation, the Spanish rider Oscar Pereiro is declared winner of the 2006 Tour de France," the UCI statement read.

Landis has one month to appeal the verdict to CAS, and the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, will wait until that process is over before making the ASO's official declaration. "Oscar Pereiro will be the winner of the 2006 Tour as soon as all the appeal procedures will be over," Prudhomme told Associated Press. "We feel a bit like Oscar Pereiro, who said himself that he would have preferred to have won under different circumstances."

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Pereiro still stands a chance of being relegated back to runner-up if Landis appeals to CAS and wins, but for now he can call himself the Tour de France champion - something he hasn't been able to do for more than a year. "I have suffered prejudice from a publicity point of view," Pereiro told Marca. "It isn't the same to negotiate my future as a runner-up as to do it as the winner of the Tour."

Pereiro shares a similar fate as current Vuelta a España leader Denis Menchov, who took second in the 2005 Vuelta but then was declared the winner after Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO. Unipublic general director Ignacio Ayuso was glad to see his countryman crowned the Tour champion at long last. "We can (now) recognize Oscar Pereiro's rightful victory in the Tour instead of having to live with a cheat's," Ayuso told Reuters.

Ayuso said that this action "shows just how serious we are in getting rid of the cheats from this sport", and congratulated the UCI and antidoping agencies for coming to the conclusion.

Landis case raises issues

Floyd Landis observes proceedings
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis may have lost his bid to keep his 2006 Tour de France title when the arbitrators made their 2-1 vote to deny his appeal and the rider was handed a two year suspension, but the decision has raised a number of flaws in the system which found him guilty of doping violations.

The length of the process bothered Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, who had to deal with the awkward situation of holding this year's race while the previous year's winner was still to be decided. "It's quite logical that Floyd Landis did everything he could to defend himself," Prudhomme told the Associated Press. "But of course, it would be quite normal in the future that cycling authorities could work on a system that would be quicker."

The arbitrators who decided Landis' fate were all critical of the LNDD laboratory, the lab responsible for testing Landis' samples. Landis' defense team put up a convincing case that the lab's practices were questionable, leading the panel to reject the initial testosterone:epitestosterone readings as unacceptable, as it was "not established in accordance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories".

Despite the rejection of the test results which were the reason behind further investigation using Carbon Isotope analysis, the panel decided that the Carbon Isotope ratio was sufficient to warrant a doping charge. Landis' lawyers were highly critical of this decision, saying, "The majority Panel's decision is a disappointment, but particularly so because it failed to address the joint impact of the many errors that the AFLD laboratory committed in rendering this false positive. To take each of these errors singly, is to ignore the total falsity of the result."

LNDD laboratory director Jacques de Ceaurriz said that he was unhappy with the criticism his organisation had been dealt. "We took a lot of flak," he told AP. "It was a little exaggerated. Things could have been handled better, without attacking the laboratory."

The opinion opened the doors for Landis to appeal to CAS, but it's something his family and friends would rather he didn't do. "I'm not a fighter and I really think he's proven his point," his mother Arlene Landis told AP. "He's made everything clear to the public. He's been open with everything.

"If it was me, I would just feel like I'm not being treated fairly, but I know in my heart that I won the race so let people make their own decisions."  

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

Reinventing the ProTour: the calm after the storm?

McQuaid is still hopeful for the ProTour's future.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

2008 will see a major change in professional cycling, now that a significant number of races will no longer be part of the ProTour. The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España will be missing from the top-ranked series, and it would seem that other hallowed events such as Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Lombardy will also be on a separate calendar. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to Pat McQuaid about these developments, and discovered that despite the upheaval, the UCI President still remains positive about the future of the series.

This week's announcement that the UCI have accepted the Grand Tour organisers' insistence that they will not be part of the ProTour means a return to uncertainty for many of the big teams. Holding a ProTour licence was seen as a guarantee for them to take part in those major events. Unibet.com was an obvious exception, the team appearing to be excluded by the Grand Tour organisers this year due in part to the ProTour standoff with the UCI, but others benefited by having a licence.

Since the series was introduced in 2005, teams have been paying big money to be part of it. With their guaranteed participation in the major races now no longer assured, it is very possible that some of those squads may be questioning the value of their investment. Yet, rather than being downbeat about the turn of events, UCI President Pat McQuaid has told Cyclingnews there is still plenty of benefit for teams to have a ProTour licence. And, he says, these pluses will become even more clear as time passes.

"There will be certainly an incentive for the teams in the ProTour," he insisted this week. "The system will be one which will be designed and developed to assist the teams and to assist the organisers in growing, in moving forward. That is what it was initially meant to do, to find other sources of funding for the teams and the organisers alike, and also for economies of scale in terms of TV production.

"There are a lot of factors in there, all of which will help them and to benefit the sport. The teams are keen that that should happen."

To read the full ProTour feature, click here.

Devolder out of Vuelta, questionable for Worlds

Stijn Devolder
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

A Belgian rider crashed in the Vuelta a España, injuring his knee enough to cause him to drop out of the race and endanger his start in the Worlds next week. Tom Boonen? Yes, but also Stijn Devolder. After finishing nearly half an hour down Thursday, the former golden-jersey wearer called it quits and did not start on Friday.

"The knee still hurts too much," the Discovery Channel rider told Sportwereld.be. "I just got back from the doctor, who says it might be inflamed. If that is the case, then my participation in the Worlds is in danger, and I would rather give my spot to a rider who is 100 percent fit. I will call national coach Bomans as soon as possible."

Volksbank extends sponsorship

Despite all the bad press cycling has received this year, another sponsor has declared its trust in cycling and extended its contract to support its team. The Austrian Volksbank has extended its sponsorship of the same-named Professional Continental team through 2008, with an option to continue.

"I am relieved and happy that we have agreed so soon," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "Now we can make our plans. There is a lot to do. We have goals which require our full concentration."

The renewal of Volksbank comes along with other big-name sponsor renewals such as Nordmilch (Milram), T-Mobile and Cofidis who announced their continuing support in face of the numerous doping positives of this season, indicating that companies have faith that cycling is cleaning up its act.

Danielson looking forward to a better 2008

Danielson making one of few '07 appearances at Paris-Nice
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

2007 didn't work out the way Tom Danielson had hoped it would. As if it wasn't enough that sponsor Discovery Channel announced that it would stop at the end of the year, and the whole team ultimately ending, too, he had to cope with not only an enduring stomach problem and finally a crash in the Vuelta a España and a resulting shoulder operation.

The year has "been positive and it's been negative," he said in an interview on the Discovery Channel team website, thepaceline.com. "On the positive side I feel I've solved some problems I've been dealing with for a long time. It took a long time to solve my stomach problems and that was brutal. People tell me now they feel bad for me with my broken shoulder but believe me the stomach problem was worse than this. This is so much more defined. It's a broken shoulder and is visible, so it makes more sense to me."

The American rider took an insightful look at himself. "To be brutally honest the one weak point in my career has been my head and it always has been. When my head is really good I'm strong but when it's not so good I am worthless. You can see that in my performances.

"Overcoming all of these challenges since the Vuelta last year has put things into perspective for me. I have a better idea of who I am and what I'm doing and how I can overcome things for myself in the future. This happens to everyone and it was just my turn. So I have learned to put things in perspective, to put my career in focus. It's made me a lot stronger in my head and I needed that. I needed a good knock-down so I could learn to pick myself back up.

One piece of good news for him is that he already has a contract for the coming year, with Team Slipstream. "For me the first and foremost thing was that it is a growing team and a building team. And it's an American team so I like that and I like the riders on it. I look at my career and I see where I've been and where I need to go and realize I need to take some chances to try to get some big results. I need to push it to see where I can go and here's a team that is doing the exact same thing. They want to be at the top of cycling and they're based out of Colorado, too!

"They look a lot like Discovery Channel to me in a younger stage. They have a good budget, good ethics, and good motivation. They want to develop their riders, especially the young ones, to be sure they are well trained and are given opportunities. And the team is getting results now. You always saw them in the peloton and you knew they were good, they were always in the right place, they just weren't getting the wins quite yet. But now they are being pushed a little more and given better tools to get the results."

Heras will make a decision at the end of the year

By Monika Prell

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Unipublic
Click for larger image

Roberto Heras, triple winner of the Vuelta a España, will come to the end of the two-year ban he received after he tested positive on EPO in the 2005 Vuelta a España, but will wait until the end of the year to decide if he will make a comeback to the peloton. According to todociclismo, Heras isn't lacking for offers, and is weighing each one "according to the conditions and circumstances."

"I like the bike and I am training every day with the objective of joining a team and racing the next season, but we have to see the circumstances. At the moment I have offers, one from the team Fuerteventura, but you have to balance some things," said Heras.

The 33 years-old stated also that if he doesn't find a team "this won't be the end of the world".

Heras also talked about this year's Vuelta a España and opined that "the Vuelta was decided in Andorra in favour of [Denis] Menchov." He didn't give an opinion on whether the parcours was too easy, saying that "a race is as hard as the riders are willing to make it."

Heras believes that Alberto Contador is "the present and the future of the Spanish cycling" and went on to express his concern for riders such as his compatriot Alejandro Valverde and Australian Allan Davis, who are facing exclusion from racing even though they are not suspended. "They are victims of an error. The case [Operación Puerto] was closed and some riders were vetoed. They only want their situation to be cleared up, that they say them either yes or no, but at the moment they are in a confused and uncertain situation; and this is not fair", mourned Heras.

Unipublic suspends Abu Dhabi Race of Champions

Spanish race organiser Unipublic has decided to suspend the 2007 Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions citing "repeated failure to meet contractual obligations" by local contractors Kenzay LLC as the reason for its decision. The inaugural edition was scheduled to be held from November 6-9 in the United Arab Emirates and had attracted several ProTour teams with its unprecedented first prize of one million US dollars.

In a statement issued on Friday, Unipublic, which also organises the Vuelta a España, said it contracted Kenzay in early 2007 after a recommendation from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority to help with local production of the event. This included setting up crowd barriers, obtaining police permits and searching for sponsors and financial backing, obligations which Unipublic says have not been met.

Unipublic insists it has met its own contractual obligations as regards the race, and said it remains interested in organising the event in future years once local infrastructure is fully in place.

World champion Vervecken to race New York 'cross

World cyclo-cross champion Erwin Vervecken will head across the pond to participate in the Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Cup in New York on October 6 and 7, and his rainbow band jersey will significantly raise the profile of the C1-ranked race. The three-time world champion will join Tim Johnson,and Ryan Trebon in the only UCI-sanctioned 'cross race in the state of New York.

Held in the Long Island town of Southampton, the area is more generally known as "The Hamptons", an area known for attracting Manhattan's rich and famous, and Vervecken will feel right at home close to the Flanders Bay.

The race will also have the richest women's cyclo-cross purse, a feature which will attract the top stars such as Lyne Bessette and Katie Compton.

For detailed information on the Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Cup on October 6 and 7 in Southampton, New York, see BikeReg.com or call (631) 255-9568.

Moninger announces retirement

American Scott Moninger has called time on his 17-year professional career, retiring as the winningest active U.S. rider with 275 victories. The 40 year-old's final race for his BMC team was the Tour of Missouri where he finished 24th overall.

"At this point I would have to say that I am content with what I have accomplished during my career," said Moninger, who won 12 races in his final season. "I don't know if any athlete is ever completely, 100 percent satisfied when looking back over their own performances. But I do feel that my appetite for competition and victories has been fulfilled. This was not an overnight decision for me, but one that I came to after much thought and consideration."

Moninger's career highlights include four victories in both the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Nevada City Classic, two in the Tour of the Gila, plus wins at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Tour de 'Toona. He also topped the individual NRC standings in 1992 and 2005.

The Colorado native rode for six teams during his professional career, namely Coors Light (1991-94), Chevrolet-Los Angeles Sheriff (1995-96), Navigators Insurance (1997-98), Mercury (1999-2002), Health Net presented by Maxxis (2004-06) and BMC (2007).

"Cycling has been my life, my love, and my passion for nearly three decades and I can honestly say that it has been a great ride for nearly every minute of every mile," he said. "Cycling has a unique way of giving back exactly what you put into it. I think that is what has kept me addicted to this sport for so many years... knowing that the harder I worked, the greater the rewards would be."

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