First Edition Cycling News, January 18, 2008
Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo
Independent testing to continue alongside UCI's 'biological passports'
By Laura Weislo
With the announcement of the UCI's intention to roll out its 'biological passport' testing program this season, a question has arisen as to whether teams which have invested in their own similar testing programs will continue to pour hundreds of thousands of euros into testing their riders. Cyclingnews spoke with some of the sport's most innovative directors about the UCI's plan.
Beginning in 2007, Team CSC was the first to adopt a strict independent testing program which examined riders' blood profiles over the course of the season to detect any abnormalities which might suggest doping was taking place. Begun by Danish anti-doping expert Rasmus Damsgaard, the program was also adopted by the Astana team for the 2008 season.
Around the same time as CSC introduced its measure, Team Slipstream hired the California based Agency for Cycling Ethics to perform its own testing program. The same company was later hired by Team High Road for the 2008 season.
Slipstream director Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews that the team will continue testing its own riders even after the UCI rolls out the 'biological passports'. "We'll continue with our testing, but we will be fully integrated with the [UCI's] blood passport system. I am 100% behind the UCI's system and we will back it financially to any degree they deem necessary. We will also continue with our ACE program, as we feel it's a complimentary element to the biological passport program."
New Astana general manager Johan Bruyneel will also continue using the services of Dr. Damsgaard while backing the UCI's program. "We surely will continue. We were one of the first teams to apply the Damsgaard system. It costs us a lot of money, but we all understand that it is the best way to prove that our team is clear."
Team High Road manager Bob Stapleton will also continue with the ACE testing program, and echoed the sentiment that it complements the UCI's tests, indicated that the company tailored its plan to work with the passports. "ACE aligned the program with the UCI," said Stapleton. "The same tests are being done [in both programs] and all results will go into a common profile," he continued. "Our rider profiles started being built with tests in October and will combine with the UCI tests when they begin."
Stapleton pointed out that the ACE program is more comprehensive than what the UCI has planned. "We are profiling both blood and urine. This goes well beyond the UCI testing, but is a good investment in reinforcing comprehensive and frequent testing and testing for additional banned substances."
Continue on to the full feature.
German TV backs down on doping charges
By Susan Westemeyer
German television station ARD has retracted its charges that four pro cyclists and unnamed German skiers and biathletes were involved in illegal doping at the Viennese blood center, "Human Plasma". Before Thursday afternoon's broadcast of a biathlon race, a moderator said, "It is not justified and not compatible with our professional standards, that such sweeping charges be made without having any evidence to back them up. We regret that accusations and suspicions against athletes arose because of this report."
Earlier this week, the ARD had claimed that some 30 to 50 world-class athletes visited the facilities for forbidden blood transfusions, including cross-country skiers and biathletes, as well as four professional cyclists.
However, the situation is far from over. The Bundeskriminalamt, German national police, said that it is continuing to investigate whether German athletes were involved in blood-doping at the lab. A spokeswoman told the sid press agency, "We are conducting an intensive exchange of information with the Austrian officials."
The cyclists were not directly mentioned in any of the statements issued today.
Tour of California announces teams
Tour of California organizers announced a field of 17 domestic and international cycling teams set to compete in the 2008 edition of the race from February 17-24. In the third edition of the annual event, 136 racers will cover 650 miles (1,046 km) over eight days from Palo Alto - Stanford University to Pasadena.
"The success of the Tour of California over the past two years has created a very positive reputation among the professional cycling community, which has helped to ensure the high level of competition that people have come to expect from our race," said Kristin Bachochin, senior director of AEG Sports, presenter of the race.
Among the top teams are Team CSC, the world's number one ranked team and Team Astana, the new team of last year's winner Levi Leipheimer. Health Net presented by Maxxis will lead the domestic squads as the winner of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The teams are split among those which compete for the UCI ProTour and those which race predominantly in the US. Jonas Carney's Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team is one of those which will benefit from the chance to race the larger outfits.
"Even though the new Astana Cycling Team is making its US racing debut, we are bringing numerous riders who have found success on U.S. soil in the past," said Philippe Maertens, spokesman for the Astana Cycling Team. "The riders are excited to begin the season in California and are motivated to help Leipheimer defend his Amgen Tour of California title."
Several of the 17 professional cycling teams will hold their pre-season training camps in California.
Teams for Tour of California: Astana, Bissell Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing Team, Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, Health Net Presented by Maxxis, High Road Sports, Jelly Belly Cycling Team, Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast, Quick Step, Rabobank Cycling Team, Rock Racing, Saunier Duval-Scott, Team CSC, and Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle, Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team.
Eye of the Tornado
By Ben Atkins
Tom Boonen had a consistent 2007, winning races from January right through to the Tour de France and beyond – finally netting the green points jersey on the way. The Flemish superstar was recently at the Quick Step team's recent Benicassim training camp.
"For me it went okay," says the former World Champion, reflecting on a consistent 2007, "I had a very good year last year and I won my races in the beginning, straight on from the start in the Classics, I had my victories in Belgium." But the big one eluded him, as things didn't go to plan in the quest for a third consecutive Ronde van Vlaanderen. "The only thing: in Flanders I had a crash in the beginning of the race and it was hard to get into the race again. So that was I think the most terrible day of the Spring Classics for me. It was still okay; I mean ___ happens in races like that.
"Roubaix was very good, but we never got into a situation where we could bridge across for the first place in the final. Everybody was just waiting, it was a very very strange race, just like Tour of Flanders with the good weather, it was almost summer, it was 30 degrees. Strange races."
With the Classics over for another year, targets in the summer were also achieved by Boonen and his Quick Step team: "And then the Tour was very good: Green Jersey and two victories [not forgetting teammate Gert Steegmans' victory in Gent, where Boonen took second], so I think it was a successful year for me."
Another year, and another spring comes around, and for a powerful Flemish rider the targets remain constant. "It's always the same." He laughs, "I was in for the Classics, which won't change this year, and then the Tour. Then after the Tour we'll see if there's anything left in the body and maybe go for the Worlds."
Last year's Tour of Qatar – also the first race of Boonen's 2008 season – proved highly successful for him and his team. Boonen himself netted four of the five road stages and Quick Step took the team time trial, while team-mate Wilfried Cretskens took the overall. The team is not tempted to go all out this year to make it five out of five for Boonen, preferring to save something for what will prove to be a punishing early spring schedule.
"This year we'll try to do a little bit less in Qatar and just take it a little bit more easy in the beginning. We go to Qatar, to California, Paris-Nice, so I go to each side of the world. Then five days after Qatar we go back, then six days later we're in San Francisco. Then the Tuesday before Het Volk – that's only three days before Het Volk – we get back in Belgium so I think it will be a little bit of globe travelling."
The arduous travel must surely be one of the negative side effects of the increased globalisation of cycling. "We will be looking a little bit for a good shape, and trying not to be too good, too soon, and reserve everything for Paris-Nice, and then we're going for Sanremo and all the Classics."
Read the complete feature.
Hoy recovering from illness
Great Britain's track star Chris Hoy was missing from the last Revolution event held in Manchester on Saturday, January 12. He pulled out from the event due to illness after having abandoned the Rotterdam six earlier in the week.
"I came down with a fever at Rotterdam which hit me hard," said Hoy. "I hoped that it was just a case of resting and waiting a few days but the doctor advised that I couldn't do anything for four or five days."
"It was hugely disappointing to miss the Revolution," he said. "I haven't raced at the event for a long time so I was really looking forward to it. I'm even more gutted as it sounds like it was a fantastic event."
Hoy will get another chance to race in front of his home crowd though with the final event of the series taking place on February 23. This time the Brits will face an even stronger sprint challenge from the French.
Team sprint World Champions Arnaud Tournant and Gregory Bauge will be joined by rising French star Mickael D'Almeida in a crucial showdown with the powerful British squad. As the last competitive event before the Manchester World Championships the contest will provide and important test for both nations,
"The French are the team to beat at the moment," said Hoy. "They have been World Champions for the last two years so any opportunity to race against them and find a chink in their armour is very important. It will also be the last chance before the worlds so it will be a very serious event for us."
Hoy will be joined by a strong British line up including Jamie Staff, Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar, Junior World Champions Christian Lyte and Dave Daniell and an in form Jason Kenny.
Kashechkin fires lawyer
By Susan Westemeyer
Andrey Kashechkin has separated himself from his Belgian lawyer, Luc Misson. A reason for the decision was not made public.
The former Astana rider tested positive for blood doping during an unannounced control while on vacation the beginning of August. He and Misson subsequently filed a lawsuit in Belgium charging that doping controls violate basic human rights. Misson said at the time that he was willing to pursue the case to the highest courts possible.
The Belgian court refused to hear the case, announcing the end of November that it had no jurisdiction in the matter.
It was not known whether Kashechkin would continue the lawsuit.
Reade eyes up 500m world title
By Gerry McManus
Double world cycling champion Shanaze Reade has one eye on the women's 500m time trial world title this year as well as targeting the defence of her BMX crown in China a month later.
20 year-old Reade believes that she can improve on her fifth place in the 2007 Track Cycling World Championships in Palma, Mallorca, and would love to have a chance at the solo title. Reade won gold in the women's team sprint in Palma teaming up with Victoria Pendleton to beat the Dutch pairing of Yvonne Hijgenaar and Willy Kanis to clinch the gold medal.
"I never set out on my track career with a target of winning the World Championships," said the British sprinter from Crewe. "It was always crossover training for BMX and it still is at the moment but I seem to be getting faster and faster on the track and you can shut the door on it. Sometimes I think that I should put all my eggs in one basket in BMX but last year I did both and managed win gold medals in each and it was the best year I have had in the sport so far."
"It is so hard to qualify for both BMX and the track so I am going to carry on like I did last year and see what doors open for me," explained Reade. "I am leaving it late for the World Track Championships again. I have only done one training session since Palma but I have produced a personal best on starts. So I am getting faster without specific track training. So now I want to concentrate more on the 500m time trial. The event is something that is special to me."
"Winning the team sprint event in Palma was something that I never even dreamed of. I used to watch track cycling on TV when I was a kid and it was mad when I went home and watched a tape of my ride in Palma on video tape. I am working alongside Iain Dyer now. He is the best coach in the world at getting somebody to peak for one given day. I have got 110% faith in Iain. I am going into a training phase aimed at helping my BMX but I think I can also win a world track championship out of it."
Reade finished fifth with a time of 34.633 seconds in the Palma 500m time trial in her first ever attempt in top competition and was just over two tenths of a second behind former world sprint champion Natallia Tsylinskaya from Belarus who won the bronze medal.
"I was called up in Palma to take Victoria Pendleton's place in the 500m time trial when she had made the sprint finals and it was not something I had specifically trained for," continued Reade. "I had never even done two laps before so I thought I would just give my best and pedal as hard as I could to the finish and I ended up fifth behind the Olympic champion and world record holder. I was so close to making the podium without training for it. I hadn't even used the aero bars or ridden double disc wheels before so I want to get on the podium this time."
Britain can qualify for two places in the 500m time trial and Reade will have to be going faster than either Anna Blyth or Victoria Pendleton if she wants the ride. The five-day championship event in Manchester means that Pendleton can go for four events this time including the 500m event. Pendleton holds the British record of 34.070 seconds but this is likely to be challenged by Reade this year. Both riders will have to beat current world champion Anna Meares in Manchester. Meares produced a blistering two laps to win the gold medal last year and set a new world record of 33.588.
Meares won 500m race in the Sydney round of the World Cup in November and Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez of Cuba produced a super-fast time of 33.994 to win the last round in Beijing in December.
"There are three of us going for the GB two spots. I wasn't far off Victoria's best time and I hold the UK record for the one lap (250m) so we will see. I am scheduled to ride in the Copenhagen World Cup in February. I will do the 500m time trial there and the team sprint as well."
Reade hails from nearby Crewe and she is expecting some keen support from the home fans.
"My BMX club and all my family are going to get tickets for the World Championships in Manchester. The came to the World Cup event there last year it was mad seeing everyone I knew and it was my first time out on a track bike. It will be great to have their support again this year."
Armstrong to run Boston Marathon
Lance Armstrong will continue his post-retirement marathon career by competing in the Boston Marathon on April 21, the race organisers announced Thursday. Armstrong qualified after finishing the New York City Marathon in 2007, bettering his previous year's effort with a finishing time of two hours 46 minutes and 43 seconds. The seven time Tour de France champion was well under the Boston Marathon's qualifying time for his 35-to-39 age group of three hours 15 minutes.
As he has for the past two marathons, Armstrong will race Boston to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Tour of Utah seeking a few good teams
Tour of Utah Race Director Terry McGinnis called for applications for men's professional and category one teams to compete in the 2008 edition of the race from August 13 to17. The five-day, 342-mile (550 km) stage race will feature 30,000 feet of climbing and competition for a US$75,000 purse, including a new car. Seventeen seven-man teams will be chosen to compete in the invitation-only event by the Tour of Utah review committee.
The Tour of Utah falls one week after USA Cycling Road Nationals and two weeks after the Cascade Classic in Oregon. Five tough days of racing at altitude could make for perfect training for professionals preparing for the USA Cycling Professional Road Championships in Greenville later in August.
"We're expecting more than 120 cyclists from the best teams in North America," said McGinnis.
Race promoters postponed last year's Tour of Utah due to financial constraints. This year, however, the promoters have restructured financial operations, downsized the race to five stages from a proposed seven, and focused on attracting domestic teams by virtue of the NRC status.
Tour of Utah for 2008
For more information or to register, visit www.tourofutah.com/register.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)