First Edition Cycling News, December 10, 2008
Edited by Les Clarke
No case for Schleck to answer
The Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) has dismissed any case against Fränk Schleck for his contact with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, centre of the Operación Puerto doping investigation. The Team CSC Saxo Bank star was being investigated by that organisation for a possible doping violation under Article 4 of the nation's anti-doping code.
Section 4.2 of that code pertains to the "use or (of) the attempted use of a substance or a prohibited method," which it was implied Schleck may have tried to do by transferring funds to the Spanish doctor via a Swiss bank account. This emerged as a result of ALAD hearings on October 1, whereby the central question was whether Schleck was seeking to secure the services of Fuentes to aid in doping. Schleck admitted to wiring the money during questioning by the ALAD.
The ALAD held a meeting on 7 October 2008, during which it decided to conduct a further investigation and approach bodies and persons likely to provide new information or clarification on the matter; these included the Luxembourg State Prosecutor, judicial authorities and the Spanish government, in addition to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
December 9 was set as a deadline for submissions and the day the ALAD would decide whether Schleck had a case to answer. The organisation recorded that apart from the known transfer, no other evidence had emerged in the investigation, and information was received from the UCI noting the absence of evidence pointing to so-called contact between Fränk Schleck and Dr Fuentes.
It concluded that no use of a prohibited substance or method has been determined, or even alleged. The ALAD also clarified the fact that the transfer can not be seen as an attempt [to dope] punishable under Article 4.2 of its anti-doping code.
Belgian Six-Day rider Iljo Keisse tested positive for an unnamed substance at the Gent Six Day race, November 18-23. He has requested that the B-sample be tested and has meanwhile been suspended by his team.
Keisse, who announced the positive, said that, "it is certainly not EPO or CERA," according to the Belga press agency. He had no further comment on the matter. It has already been announced that he will not start Thursday in the Zürich Six Day race.
The 25-year-old tested positive on the last day of the race, which he won with his German partner Robert Bartko. The International Cycling Union (UCI) sent a fax announcing the positive to his team, Topsport Vlaanderen, whose communication manager Christophe Sercu said that he then discussed the matter with Keisse.
"I want to keep the contents of that conversation confidential, as well as the name of the product for which Iljo tested positive," he said. The team suspended Keisse immediately and Sercu explained that they will await the results of the B sample. If it is also positive, he will be dismissed.
Countryman and Olympic teammate Kenny De Ketele said that Keisse was emotional about the test result but was honest in relation to his indiscretion. "Iljo called me Tuesday and confirmed his positive test," De Ketele told Sporza. "Iljo didn't want me to hear the news from journalists."
"What did he say?" continued De Ketele. "Well, the facts: that he had tested positive during the last day of the Gent Six. He didn't say more than that." De Ketele, who rode the Madison with Keisse at the Beijing Games, said that his friend "sounded very emotional." (SW)
Olympic sample retesting begins January
Yesterday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will begin re-testing blood and urine samples taken during the Beijing Olympics in January.
According to Tuttobiciweb, 500 samples will undergo reanalysis, the first batch taken from endurance sports such as cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics. Most of the new testing for CERA – 400 blood samples - will be undertaken in WADA's laboratory in Lausanne, while 100 urine samples will be tested for insulin in WADA's Cologne facility.
Eneco Tour granted licence
The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced yesterday that the Eneco Tour was granted a four-year ProTour licence. The Benelux event becomes the 12th event to obtain a licence from the Commission. It also outlined that the applications for admission submitted by the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold Race were yet to be decided upon.
Piepoli hearing next week
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri, has decided that Leonardo Piepoli's hearing will begin next week. Tuttobiciweb has reported that Torri will commence hearing evidence relating to the rider's positive doping test on December 14, with a result expected on December 18.
The former Saunier Duval-Scott rider was found to have used blood booster CERA in tests conducted on July 4 and 15, with the news of his offence breaking in early October. His B-sample also tested positive and that result was announced on November 21.
Bruyneel back where he belongs
Like Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel finds himself back in the spotlight after spending some time off the radar of many cycling fans. Massive media attention at Team Astana's recent training camp in Tenerife is evidence of this, and the Belgian is now at the epicentre of a 'perfect cycling storm' – an incredibly talented team bearing the name of Kazakhstan's capital city. Cyclingnews' Bruce Hildenbrand spoke with the successful directeur sportif during that camp. Below is an excerpt from the feature, only on Cyclingnews.
When he took over the beleaguered squad at the end of 2007, nobody wanted to join his team. Then, after he was able to hire some of the best stage racers in the world, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) did not want his team to participate in the Tour. Throughout all the drama, Bruyneel and his riders persevered and in the process won the Tour of California, the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Vuelta a Castilla y León, the Tour de Romandie and the two Grand Tours to which they were invited, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España.
Bruyneel reflected on a very successful season and noted the two things of which he is most proud of. "Number one, taking all these victories, the fact that Team Astana stands for a reference in cycling right now that was not the case last year at all. Number two, after all the difficulties we had starting up this team again which wasn't easy at all, getting kicked out of races and stuff like that that we have been able to prove that this is the best team."
Trying to prove you are the best team without competing in big races like the Tour, Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège was difficult. "I just kept believing that we had a strong group of riders and a strong group of staff. The mental strength of the team was very, very strong. I have said it before, if you can be successful in the most difficult circumstances the satisfaction afterwards is so much bigger," he said.
Quality field for Aussie Crit Champs
This year's Cronulla International GP – the Australian Criterium Championship – will again boast an excellent field as pro riders aim to become national criterium champion. The event will also be broadcast live on the Channel Nine national network.
Olympic gold medalist Graeme Brown, winner of the inaugural Cronulla GP, returns to the race on his home turf. He'll be up against another local, Garmin-Slipstream's Chris Sutton, Team Type 1 rider Matt Wilson, track fast man Ben Kersten, US Pro criterium champion Hilton Clarke and defending national criterium champion Baden Cooke.
Cooke's former teammate at Unibet.com, Jeremy Hunt, will ride the event, in addition to Hunt's teammates at Credit Agricole this year, Mark Renshaw and Simon Gerrans. They'll be pushed all the way by young, fast and talented riders such as Bernie Sulzberger, Robbie Cater and Dean Windsor in addition to US-based pros Trent Wilson and Cody Stevenson, who will be making a bid to secure rides for next year by performing well in Cronulla.
Racing begins this Sunday with the corresponding women's championship at 11.30am; the men's event commences at 1pm.
Irish enhance track programme
By Shane Stokes
Having seen the example set by geographical neighbours Great Britain, Ireland is to place a greater emphasis on international track racing in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The country lacks an indoor velodrome at present, necessitating its riders to go to Manchester, Newport or Gent in order to prepare for elite competition, but Cycling Ireland hopes that this will be rectified and a project started next year.
"The deadline was earlier this month and the three locations in Northern Ireland were submitted," said CI's CEO Geoff Liffey about the tender process. "The venues are Belfast, Newry and Co. Down. The next stage is that in January there will be a technical assessment done of each of those applications. Cycling Ireland will be involved, we will have Ken Farnes as a technical consultant. He is the European Track President and works with [race promoter] Alan Rushton."
Liffey states that after a full review of each proposed plan, a final decision will be made approximately six months later. Providing a tender is approved and given the necessary funds to build the velodrome, a completion date between late 2011 and mid 2013 is likely. Liffey hopes for the former, predicting that there could be a demand for its use by countries preparing for track competition at the London Games.
Cycling Ireland's best ever track result was achieved earlier this year when David O'Loughlin finished a fine sixth in the individual pursuit at the world track championships. He and five other Irish riders – David McCann, Martyn Irvine, Paul Healion plus the two juniors Sean Downey and Aaron Buggle – were at a recent training camp in Aigle. This provisional squad will include other competitors; in addition to other internationals such as junior European points race champion Sam Bennett, Liffey said that riders from CI's new talent transfer and talent ID programmes may also be included.
The first group is formed of athletes from other sports such as rowing and triathlon who have fared well in assessment tests, while the second comprises existing cyclists who have done well in the screening programmes and shown that they could make good track riders.
Apart from these measures, Cycling Ireland is currently recruiting a new High Performance Director. Frank Campbell had previously filled this role but CI decided on a change. "In line with most of the other governing bodies after the Olympics, we thought it would be sensible to review the high performance team in terms of freshening things up and getting some new blood in," said Liffey.
García-Casarrubios back with Murcia-AMPO
Former Relax-GAM rider, Óscar García-Casarrubios, has signed with the Spaniard Murcia-AMPO for 2009. Having spent this year with Supermercados Froizon in the Galicia region of Spain, the 24-year-old will return to the professional peloton having raced for the now-defunct Relax pro squad for two seasons – 2006 and 2007.
García-Casarrubios performed well this season, winning the Vuelta a Galicia, the Vuelta a la Comunidad Aragonesa and the Vuelta a Coruña, in addition to a third-place finish in the Vuelta a Salamanca overall classification.
Having been born in Ciudad Real, García-Casarrubios was negotiating with the Xacobeo-Galicia team but decided upon Murcia-Ampo instead. The Pro Continental squad also boasts some other promising talent, with Rafael Serrano (fifth in the European U23 time trial championship), Sergio Domínguez and Ruben Reig amongst its ranks. (AS)
Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll
It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.
As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!
(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer and Antonio J. Salmerón.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)