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First Edition Cycling News, July 19, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Ben Abrahams

Cavendish unstoppable in fourth stage victory

Equals feat of Cipollini, Petacchi

By Brecht Decaluwé in Nîmes

Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia)
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

23-year-old Mark Cavendish proved once again that he is the fastest sprinter of the peloton on Friday by taking his fourth Tour de France stage win in Nîmes. The Team Columbia rider now brought himself equal with great sprinters like Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi in the number of stage wins in a single Tour. In the past 20 years, only Lance Armstrong has won more stages (five, 2004).

Cavendish's feat is all the more remarkable given the small number of stages in this year's Tour which were suited for the sprinters. In fact, the only bunch sprint where the British rider lost was on stage two, when Thor Hushovd won, and Cavendish finished 27th. Even that finish in Saint Brieuc was more suited to his team-mate Kim Kirchen, who took second, thanks to a tough little uphill before the line.

It is clear that on a pure sprinters' stage, Cavendish is practically unstoppable. Cavendish explained after the finish line that the other sprinters feel as if he's taking the bread out of their mouths. "Today there was a joke going through the peloton about it. I received text messages from the other sports directors asking me why I'm doing this," Cavendish laughed.

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"It's unfortunate for the other guys that I have to do my job. But at the end of the day I've won four stages and I'm still not in the green jersey. It just shows that I'm winning while the other guys are being a bit more consistent than me," Cavendish said.

Continue to the full feature.

Riccó indicted, returned to Italy

Medical equipment found in his hotel

French Gendarmerie drag Riccardo Riccò
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After spending the night in the police station, Italian Riccardo Riccó was indicted on charges of "use of poisonous substances" in a court in Foix, France, Friday and then escorted to the Italian border where he was met by his mother and girlfriend. Riccó was removed from the Tour de France before stage 12 on Thursday after receiving news that he had tested positive for EPO in a control taken after stage four in Cholet.

Riccó has asked for the counter-analysis of his sample to be performed, and if the result is confirmed, he could face up to two years jail time and fines on top of possible sporting sanctions.

"I'm very bitter. I spent a night in the police station and it was like being in prison," Riccó told RAI television. "The magistrate listened to what I had to say. They searched my bags but only found some vitamins that we all use and so they decided to let me go home."

Disgraced cyclist Riccardo Riccò
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

In court, Riccó denied using EPO, but refused to answer the question for the Italian television reporter, saying that he would hire a lawyer and begin his defense in the coming days. He also dismissed his being fired by the team as a normal procedure. "It's the standard routine of the teams, that's what they have to do. I'm going to ask for the counter-analysis and then we'll see."

Riccó's statements were contrary to the prosecutor, Antoine Leroy's testimony that medical supplies including syringes and equipment for intrevenous drips were found, but were unused, in his hotel room. According to AFP, the prosecutor said in the first searches, "there were no doping substances as such" found.

The Italian's 'non-negative' doping test for the banned blood booster EPO resulted in him being fired from his Saunier Duval-Scott squad, and has threatened the future of that team.

"[It is] highly likely that we will withdraw our sponsorship after this affair," said Thierry Leroy, general director of Saunier Duval. "If indeed we are faced with a case of organised doping, it is clear that our company will ask those who have managed the team for damages."

Team manager Mauro Gianetti denied that there was any organised doping on the team, and said he was shocked and bitter about Riccó's failed test. He responded to the harsh criticism by Tour director Christian Prudhomme, saying he understood and felt cheated by riders he had trusted.

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) was still hoping
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Not only did Gianetti fire Riccó, but also stage ten winner Leonardo Piepoli. Gianetti confirmed to RAI that he had not yet received any news of further positive doping tests, not from Piepoli nor Cobo, but said he had spoken with Piepoli and "could not get any convincing answers, and I do not want to have more doubts or give confidence to people."

"I have personal doubts about Piepoli: after talking with him I felt that he could not be trusted. At the moment I have no doubts about Cobo," he added. "But what happened is absurd: we are at the mercy of decisions made by riders when they are away from us."

In the team's official statement, Gianetti said, "We have always paid close attention to what our riders are doing, and have always demanded an irreproachable attitude to their profession and to our code of ethics." He went on to insist that Riccó gave his guarantee that he had never used illegal substances.

"We are the victims of the deceitful behaviour of those who put our sponsors' investments and the jobs of so many honest people at risk with the loathsome purpose of improving their cycling performance."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

UCI must be part of new teams' system, says Holczer

By Gregor Brown in Nîmes

Following the news that all 18 member teams of the UCI's ProTour system will not renew their licenses next season, Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer has said that whatever new model is formed in place of the ProTour must have the UCI on board. After the teams made their announcement on the Tour de France's first rest day in Pau, there were suggestions that the new group would be an alliance between the teams and the three Grand Tour organisers, leaving the UCI out in the cold.

Tuesday's meeting in the Pyrenees was the fourth of its kind in the past two months, following three others in June before the Tour began. The teams initially met in Frankfurt on June 4, followed by two further meetings in Brussels on June 18 and June 30.

"I gave a presentation about the situation and tried to find a common position," said Holczer of the Frankfurt meeting. "I am not a chairman, I am not the one who is pushing it, I am just the one who brought the 18 [ProTour] teams together in Frankfurt.

"We found out that we could have a common position and we came up with a model for continuing the ProTour," he added. "We invited the ASO [Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation] and ProTour to a meeting on the 18th in Brussels. We wanted to have them both, but it did not work. However, we gave the UCI the same presentation on the 30th.

"We found an agreement with the organisers and we are working on finding a common position with the UCI, because all the teams are 100 percent convinced that the UCI has to be in the system and that we need a federation in the system - we need a federal element in the system. No one is leaving the UCI, but the only thing is that we did inform the UCI that the 18 teams are not applying for ProTour licenses next year."

The group attending the Pau meeting sent a letter to the UCI making clear its collective decision to abandon the ProTour. The UCI has replied to this letter, but its official response has not been made public.

A "working group" will likely meet in Cuneo, Italy, on the Tour's second rest day consiting of five members: Holczer, Eva Parera of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Carsten Jeppesen of CSC-Saxo Bank, Vincent Lavenu of AG2R La Mondiale and Geert Coeman of Silence-Lotto. "We are not representatives, we are just a 'working group'," said Holczer. "We will present this information to everyone else."

Holczer pointed out that time is critical for the working group and the teams. They need to know what their racing schedules will look like for 2009, whether or not they have automatic invites for Grand Tours, how many riders they can have in their teams and many other details.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Juan Jose Oroz: Emerging from anonymity

Oroz is trying to escape anonymity
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Underneath the well-known names of the Tour, a few taps of the 'page down' key on the results below the Schlecks, Evanses and Valverdes of the world, you'll find the heart of cycling's peloton. These workers, like taxi drivers or waiters, perform essential jobs for their teams all the while dreaming of their day on the big stage.

One such rider, Juan José Oroz, emerged briefly from obscurity when he launched a brave attack on stage 12. Cyclingnews' contributors Peter Hymas and Monika Prell learned more about this Basque rider.

You'll be excused if you've never heard the name of Euskaltel-Euskadi pro Juan José Oroz Ugalde. The third year professional does not have any victories in his palmarés, photographs of him outside the confines of Euskaltel-Euskadi's web site are downright J.D. Salinger-esque in their rarity, and unfortunately for Oroz the most attention he's received in 2008 ignominiously involves surrendering the mountain leader's maglia verde on the final day of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Even when Oroz launched an attack up the unclassified climb of the Col d'Extreme on stage 12 of this year's Tour in order to bolster a floundering two-man break on a sprinter's stage, the photographers failed to capture his 45 kilometres at the front of the world's biggest bike race. Even the television commentators could not come up with a single thing to say about the man in orange.

Unfortunately for 'Juanjo', any report on his feat was overshadowed by the news of Riccardo Riccó's positive. However, it's not as if Oroz hasn't made a concerted attempt to escape from obscurity.

Riding in his first Grand Tour, Oroz said that he found the first few stages to be stressful. "The pace was very high, and there were many attempts to break away until one group was finally able to escape," he said of the stage starts. "It's difficult on the body, so if you have been in a breakaway group during one stage, the next day you are only able to ride in the last part of the peloton. But slowly you are able to get accustomed to the rhythm, even if you notice the fatigue, and surely we will notice it even more in the next two weeks."

Continue to the full feature.

Lang talks polka-dots after Riccò dismissal

By Gregor Brown in Nîmes

Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) did a great ride
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

German Sebastian Lang hopes to keep the polka-dot jersey of best climber for at least two more stages after replacing Riccardo Riccò at the head of the competition. Following the Italian's dismissal on Thursday morning, the twelfth stage passed without any rider wearing the maillot blanc à pois rouges and so Lang enjoyed his first stage in the jersey on Friday.

"I got a jersey and I got the jersey because of the right system. I feel that it belongs to me," said Lang Friday morning in Narbonne.

Riccò was leading both the mountains and best young rider competitions before being forced to leave the Tour. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) was already dressed in the maillot blanc of best young rider, holding it for Riccò who had planned to race stage 12 in the polka dot jersey.

On Friday, Lang's first day in the polka dot jersey went well; he took third on two category four climbs, adding a further two points to his total. He leads the competition by three points over team-mate Bernhard Kohl.

"Two years ago, I had the mountains jersey in the German tour," he recalled. "I am not a time trial specialist. I am good for stages, stage races, and the Classics - but I am not a bad mountains rider either. Maybe I will show I can do more than just time trialling."

Lang escaped to take the majority of his points on the Col d'Aspin Sunday. Riccò had passed Lang just prior to the top, but Lang gathered 26 points for passing second.

Those points should see him keep the jersey until the end of stage 15 to Prato Nevoso. "I will not try for escapes," he said. "I think it is possible to keep the jersey over the two next days [stage 13 and stage 14]. It will be finished when the race arrives in the Alps."

Missouri adds women's race

The Tour of Missouri will add an invitational pro-am women's race in conjunction with its top-ranked men's event this September. The one day criterium will be held in Kansas City before the arrival of the men for the end of their first stage of this year's event on September 8.

The women will compete for a $7,500 cash purse on a 1-kilometer course with multiple turns and hills at the Country Club Plaza. The Women's Criterium will start at 1 p.m. and will cover 55 minutes plus five laps.

A combined awards ceremony will be held for the men's and women's races in the Country Club Plaza, following the finish of the men's race at approximately 4:30.

"It is a privilege to announce this addition to the 2008 Tour of Missouri," said Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. "The Tour is the single largest professional sporting event in the state, and the women's race will be an exceptional prelude to the excitement of the hard-charging finishing circuits of the men's race."

Your chance to win in the Cyclingnews-Felt TdF competition!

You can win this!
Photo ©: Felt
(Go to the competition page)

Here's your chance to win some great prizes while the 2008 Tour de France is underway, featuring a prize roster of kit that is being tested in the world's greatest bike race by some of the world's leading cyclists.

Our lead prize is the 2009 model Felt AR road frame, currently being ridden in the Tour de France by members of the Garmin-Chiplotle professional cycling team, as well as supplementary prizes from Craft - manufacturer of team clothing to CSC-Saxo - and eyewear from BBB, supplier to Team Barloworld.

The US-based Felt Bicycles is becoming one of the world's leading bicycle manufacturers, with its bikes now being raced by the USA's Garmin-Chipotle in the 2008 Tour de France. The team are riding the 2009 model Felt AR, which combines Felt's expertise in time trial and track bike technology, while maintaining the necessary ride and handling characteristics of premium road bikes.

But wait! There's more. All entrants in the Cyclingnews-Felt 2008 TdF competition will also go into the draw to win great supplementary prizes from our friends at Craft and BBB. Cyclingnews also has four 2008 model Team CSC jerseys, designed and made by Craft, one of the world's leading technical clothing manufacturers, as well as 10 sets of BBB's BSG-29 Attacker eyewear, the exact eyewear used by riders from Team Barloworld in this year's TdF.

Our thanks to our friends at Felt, Craft and BBB for providing such awesome prizes. Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. Good luck!

Stage video highlights and podcasts

Just can't get enough of the Tour? Well fear not because Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you video highlights of every stage plus daily podcasts courtesy of and Procycling magazine.

Our video comes directly from Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and will be online shortly after the finish of each stage. We've also got highlights from classic Tours of the past so click here to see the full archive.

Check out the podcasts page in our Tour de France section for a full round-up of news and views from the Tour.

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