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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, July 22, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Lance Armstrong: Following the Tour from afar

Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) winning his final Tour de France in 2005
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

As the Tour de France enters the Alps for what are arguably the two most critical stages, and an unprecedented six riders are within touching distance of yellow, Cyclingnews' Daniel Benson spoke to seven-time winner Lance Armstrong to find out his feelings on the racing thus far and who he's tipping for yellow in Paris.

Cyclingnews: Have you been following the Tour closely?

Lance Armstrong: I'm in Chicago right now, but I've been watching the race when I can, and so far I've seen some of the main stages, like the one [to Prato Nevoso] on Sunday and the stage to Hautacam. When I've not been watching the TV coverage, I've been looking at the results. [On Cyclingnews, we'd imagine! - ed.]. It's been exciting, and I've been enjoying it.

Cyclingnews: It's been an incredibly tight race with plenty of excitement. What's stuck out for you?

LA: There's haven't been too many major shocks so far. I mean, you have Cadel Evans, and he's still as the favourite in my opinion. The guys from Team CSC have been doing what you'd expect and, of course, there's been [Denis] Menchov and Christian Vande Velde. To be honest I have been surprised by [Bernhard] Kohl though. I've simply never heard of that guy before the race. Who is he?

[Hint: Armstrong might have been focused on other riders instead of Kohl in this photo from the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré. -ed.]

Cyclingnews: You mentioned Christian Vande Velde. He a former team-mate from your US Postal days. Have you been following him closely?

LA: Some people may not have expected to see Christian do so well, but I know first-hand that he's a very strong guy and that he gets better and better as the race unfolds. He might be 39 seconds down on yellow, but to me, from when I was racing, if the gap to yellow was that small, it's pretty much the same time and you're on a level playing field.

Read the full interview here.

CONI surprises Schleck with doping control

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) performed unannounced doping tests of riders in the Tour de France, including the new yellow jersey holder, Frank Schleck. CONI made a pre-race agreement with the Tour organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation, to perform the doping controls at the finish of stage 15, which ended inside Italy at the ski resort of Prato Nevoso.

Riders were housed in nearby Cuneo, the start of Tueday's stage, for the Tour's second rest day. As the riders were still in Italy, CONI tested as many as six riders.

The riders' samples will be sent to Rome for testing, and should any test positive for banned substances, the rider could be prosecuted under Italy's doping laws.

Pereiro on his way to Spain for surgery

Pereiro's crash
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Oscar Pereiro travelled Monday from a hospital in Italy, to Spain where he is scheduled for surgery Tuesday to repair the broken arm he suffered on stage 15. Pereiro crashed on the descent of the Col Agnel, 80 kilometres into the stage, when South African Robert Hunter fell and Pereiro was unable to avoid hitting the fallen rider.

Pereiro was launched up and over a guard rail by the impact, falling some 10 metres down a rocky embankment to the road below. He sustained a broken left humerus (the upper arm) in the fall, but knew his injuries could have been much worse considering the violent nature of the fall.

Caisse d'Epargne team doctor Jesús Hoyos said that Pereiro is in good spirits after having a quiet night. "He slept very little because he suffered from the various contusions and injuries, apart from the fracture of the humerus." The team later confirmed that Pereiro would travel to Vigo to undergo surgery to repair his broken arm.

Pereiro was recently named to Spain's team for the Olympic Games in Beijing, and was hoping to target the Vuelta a España, but will now be out of competition for up to two months.

Saunier Duval riders defend team

Saunier rider discuss the events
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The riders of the Saunier Duval-Scott team issued a statement on Monday responding to the negative press created by the doping positive of Riccardo Riccó, the firing of Riccó and stage ten winner Leonardo Piepoli, and the withdrawal of the team from the Tour de France. The remaining riders and staff said, "we [...] have always believed in clean and credible cycling, and this has been the guiding principle in all team meetings."

Team manager Mauro Gianetti was quick to fire Ricco following his 'non-negative' control for EPO and subsequent arrest by French authorities. He also fired Piepoli "because of a violation of the team's ethics code". Riccó denied in court that he had used EPO, and has vowed to fight the accusations and return to the sport.

Following reports that Peipoli had confessed to doping, team directeur Fernando Matxin clarified to El Pais that the Italian was fired because he was the roommate of Riccó and because he could not give "convincing answers" to the questions Gianetti posed.

The riders stood behind Gianetti, saying that he "encouraged us to get involved in humanitarian projects (fighting desertification in Mali, defending human rights, protecting the environment), teaching the importance of the human and ethical aspects associated with cycling beyond sports results".

"We do not accept, and we strongly condemn, the choice made by riders seeking victory through deception." the statement continued. "Therefore, we would not like this incident to stain the team's impeccable reputation, or ours, or the management's.

"We are not ready to pay the price for the mistakes made by others, so he hope we can still rely on the trust society has always had in us, stemming from our serious, honest image."

"We cannot and do not want to ignore the facts: cheaters need to be punished. But we also believe that those who have always fought honestly to defend the honour of the team should be protected."

The statement was signed by: Raúl Alarcón, Raivis Belohvosciks, Alberto Benítez, Rubens Bertogliati, Iker Camaño, David Cañada, Eros Capecchi, Ermanno Capelli, Juan José Cobo, David de la Fuente, Jesús del Nero, Arkaitz Durán, Alberto Fernández de la Puebla, Denis Flahaut, Ángel Gómez, José Ángel Gómez Marchante, Héctor González, Beñat Intxausti, Josep Jufré, Rubén Lobato, Javier Megías, Manuele Mori, Luciano Pagliarini and Aurélien Passeron.

Devolder explains Tour abandon

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) has packed his bags
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Belgian Stijn Devolder went into the Tour de France as his Quick Step team's hope for a high finish in the overall classification. But just 52 kilometres into stage 15, he was dropped and abandoned the race. Devolder explained that an illness in the first week hurt his chances to do well early in the race. "In Brest I got sick and spent three days with a fever. I really wanted to do well in the first week of the race."

Once the Tour hit the mountains, he said, "things didn't go as well as I had hoped, and I lost a lot of time." Devolder lost 14'38" on the stage to Hautacam. "From that day forward I lost the feeling. I tried setting goals for myself, I tried to motivate and get back in the race mentally, but to no avail. "

Despite being admittedly unmotivated, Devolder entered the breakaway on stage 14 and took one of the intermediate sprints, but when the race headed back into the mountains the following day, the effort had worn him down.

"Yesterday on the Col De l'Agnel I was completely empty and I chose to stop," he said on Monday. "I'm really sorry, especially for the other guys on the team who created a great first week for me. I thank them all, as well as all the team staff and the people who supported me during the stage in the Pyrenees and the Alps. To all of them and to my fans I say I will return to the Tour again. Negative experiences are good opportunities to grow; they help you improve and come back stronger".

The Belgian reflected on his preparations for the Tour, and said that he had raced too hard leading up to July. "Before the Tour maybe I gave it too much, that is to say, I competed in a lot of races with the objective of winning, but to my way of thinking regarding cycling, it's difficult to think of racing without riding to try to win.

"When I feel well I love racing to win. In the future I will probably have to change my mind set and concentrate more on specific goals. We'll see. In the next few weeks I'll have time to talk things over with the team's technical staff and make a well considered decision."

Gerrans rags to riches tale

By John Trevorrow

Simon Gerrans (Crédit Agricole) produced a masterful ride
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Australian Simon Gerrans, the winner of stage 15, is one of the great rags to riches stories in sport. Gerrans hails from the remote Victorian town of Mansfield, 200 kilometres north east of Melbourne at the foothills of the Alpine snowfields. As a youngster he was an elite skier and an A Grade Motorcross motorcyclist. It was only after a serious accident on the motorbike, which almost saw him lose full use of one leg, that he turned to cycling for rehabilitation.

His father borrowed a bike from a neighbour, who turned out to be none other than Australian cycling great Phil Anderson, the first non-European to wear the Tour de France's maillot jaune. At the time Gerrans only knew Phil as the friend of dad's who had a property down the road.

As the cycling continued Simon fell in love with the bike, and as his knee improved so did his ability in the sport. Phil Anderson could see something special in this youngster. "He has a wonderful fighting spirit," Phil said.

Australian cycling coach Dave Sanders once said that he believed that Gerrans was virtually indestructible. "If there is ever a nuclear war and all of mankind is wiped out. The first living thing that will crawl out of the cracks will probably be the cockroaches, but they will be followed closely by Simon Gerrans."

That indomitable spirit shone on the climb to Prato Nevoso, where Gerrans struggled to get back on terms with his breakaway companions and then handily beat them in the sprint for the line.

As an amateur, Gerrans was always looked on as battler with a bit of ability. But since turning professional his fortunes have risen sharply. With two victories in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour as well as a win in the Tour Down Wnder, Gerrans is well established one of Australia's best road men, but his Tour de France stage victory has now launched him into the top echelon of European cyclists.

Demol denies Astana move

Quick Step directeur sportif Dirk Demol responded Monday to reports that he would be rejoining his former boss Johan Bruyneel at the Astana team next year. According to a team press release, Demol said that the "news reporting that I will be returning to Astana at the end of the year is unfounded".

Demol, who served as directeur sportif under the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams moved over to Quick Step after the dissolution of the Discovery Channel organisation last year. He was also rumoured at that time to be moving over to Astana with Bruyneel, but opted to go with Quick Step instead. "Last year I declined an offer from Astana because I wanted to take on a new challenge with Quick-Step," he told

"But I sometimes speak with Johan Bruyneel and he always tells me that the door is open," he continued. "But we will see after the Tour."

CrossVegas adds industry events

Promoters of the Las Vegas cyclo-cross race, 'CrossVegas' have added an industry insider's event to the September 24th race which coincides with the trade show Interbike.

The 30-minute "Wheelers and Dealers Race" will kick off the event, with elite men and women racing later in the evening. Awards will be given for the Top Male, Top Female, Media, Manufacturer, Retailer, and Distributor.

"We've laid out full details of the Wheelers and Dealers race on the site so the floodgates will probably open when Online Registration begins on August 1st." said CrossVegas partner Brook Watts.

CrossVegas will take place for the second year in a row under the lights at Desert Breeze Soccer Complex, a short distance from the Vegas Strip and Interbike. In 2007 Canadian Lyne Bessette won the women's event while then U.S. national champion, Ryan Trebon, took the men's title in front of thousands of spectators.

Watts added that some European manufacturers are talking about bringing sponsored athletes over. "Euro riders are talking about making it part of their 2008 schedule, so I hope we have news to share in the next few weeks. It certainly makes sense for sponsors to take advantage of their riders to showcase your product in front of U.S. retailers and the world's largest cross market."

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!

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