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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, June 7, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

UCI ready to act on biological passport data

Some forms of blood doping can only be detected through the passports.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The International Cycling Union (UCI) is preparing to introduce new rules to act on the data being gathered as part of its biological passport programme. The UCI's' Management Committee will meet next week to discuss the introduction of a "no start" rule, which would keep riders from competition for 15 days if their blood test showed anomalous readings when compared with their profile.

Rules are already in place for disciplining riders for breaching anti-doping rules on the basis of the biological passport, but, a UCI statement indicated, since a sanction "requires a greater degree of certainty" they may use the "no start" clause for the first suspect value.

The passport system, which examines an athlete's blood values over time, is thought to be a more reliable way of detecting the use of performance enhancing drugs than looking for the drugs themselves. Just the introduction of the programme has had an effect, the UCI declared. "It is already clear that the biological passport is acting as a deterrent. Some teams have decided to take measures against riders showing abnormal blood results."

Indeed, the Milram team announced it had fired Igor Astarloa for returning suspect values, although it was not clear if those values were part of the UCI's tests or from internal examination, but Astarloa is contesting the decision.

In a press conference last month, the UCI indicated that it had seen abnormal values for some 23 riders, and that a "top rider" was already under suspicion. Whether or not that rider was Astarloa has not been confirmed, but it appears that the UCI is starting to hone its rules to deal with more cases of suspect results.

Coming up on

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 sport's governing body has said that "preparation of riders' blood and steroid profiles (central elements of the biological passport) is under way." By the end of May, "almost all" of the riders whose teams have agreed to be part of the programme had undergone at least two controls, with "many riders" having been tested more than twice.

It has also continued to target riders with potentially abnormal values, and monitor such athletes more closely and conducts additional tests.

All of the ProTour and Professional Continental teams with wild card designations agreed to the testing, and have contributed financially to it. The ProTour teams had, according to the statement, "undergone more tests than riders with UCI Professional Continental Teams with wild cards because the latter joined the programme at a later date."

Even with the lower number of controls, the UCI declared that it "is already in a position to draw conclusions from these riders' results."

In total, 3,185 controls were performed, with 1,001 in competition and 2,184 out of competition on some 800 riders.

More teams voice Dauphiné goals

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

With the Dauphiné Libéré providing a stage on which the Tour de France contenders will perform, the CSC team will rally behind its man Carlos Sastre, but will be hoping to take out a stage win. "We've got various cards to play – the only thing we don't have is a sprinter," said director sportif Scott Sunderland. "We're not doing this race just for the fun of it – we're going out there determined to win a stage. We've got lots of riders who're able to make breaks and try for a stage win.

"Carlos is going to try his best to be among the best in the mountains during the second half of the race and he'll have all the help he needs with several strong mountain riders around him." While the big climbs like the Mont Ventoux and Col de Galibier aren't featured in this year's edition, Sunderland says that hard climbs like the Col de Joux-Plane and Col de la Croix de Fer will still make the race hard.

"There's still plenty of tough mountains in the race so no doubt it'll still be exciting."

CSC: Carlos Sastre, Lars Bak, Iñigo Cuesta, Alexandr Kolobnev, Karsten Kroon, Marcus Ljungqvist, Chris Anker Sørensen and Nicki Sørensen.

While the Dauphiné Libéré will be the last French race before the Tour de France, the Lampre team will be without Damiano Cunego, who elected to train the roads of the Tour's Italian stage, and then use the Tour de Suisse as preparation for July's big event. Without its leader, the Lampre squad will be seeking stage wins.

Lampre: Emanuele Bindi, Paolo Fornaciari, Roberto Longo, Mirco Lorenzetto, Mauro Santambrogio, Sylvester Szmyd and Daniele Righi.

The AG2R La Mondiale team will head into the race without defending champion Christophe Moreau, whose contract was not extended. Without a outright favourite as team leader, the AG2R squad will be another group seeking stage wins and hoping to place a rider on the peloton. Manager Vincent Lavenu thinks the mountains stages will prove more difficult than they look on paper.

"There may be some surprises from the beginning of Annemasse with the Salève, a very steep climb," said Lavenu. "The next day Col de Joux-Plane, well known to the peloton, could do major damage. And then of course the stage Saturday will be crucial with the Col de la Croix de Fer and the finish at the summit Toussuire. But this year nothing will be decided until the end, because the stage to Grenoble is still very difficult and the leader can lose there. This Dauphiné looks nervous and very interesting."

AG2R La Mondiale: Cyril Dessel, Vladimir Efimkin, John Gadret, Stéphane Goubert, José Luis Arrieta, Hubert Dupont, Julien Loubet, Christophe Riblon.

Slipstream signs news sponsor

The Slipstream-Chipotle team has been spotted rolling up to U.S. races in recent days with the new Saab 9-3 SportCombi, and now it has become clear why. The team announced Thursday that it has signed on Saab as its official U.S. team vehicle. The turbo-charged Saab 9-3, according to team manager Jonathan Vaughters, has "proven itself to be a very apt race support vehicle."

The Lancaster and Reading courses have already tested the Saab's readiness for racing after the peloton following wheel changes and feeds, and the American audience can expect to see the team in the cars for the rest of the year. In the future, Vaughters hopes to expand the relationship to the European peloton.

"We hope to be driving Saab's during the Tour de France in 2009," Vaughters said.

Dry and dusty at the Fort

By Luke Webber in Fort William

The venue in Fort William
Photo ©: Luke Weber
(Click for larger image)

Rain and Scotland are synonymous with each other – if it's missing you'd feel short changed! But miracles can happen, and this weekend with a flawless forecast it looks as though Fort William – known for its wet and wild conditions – will instead by a dry and dusty race for all three disciplines with some riders even hoping for rain.

Such hopes however have nothing to do with dampening down the course, because in dry, warm weather on the open ranges of Ben Nevis, midges thrive. These small biting flies get everywhere and should the forecast be correct, expect a rush for mosquito nets (although we're not sure they'll be popular with the riders).

Cross Country

The XC loop is the same as that used in last year's World Championships. Starting with a long climb on smooth doubletrack, this is the place where the race will be won. Unfortunately, last years winner and current World Cup leader Julien Absalon will not be present, preferring instead to rest at home before the World Championships in just three weeks time.

This will produce another unpredictable race as seen in Andorra where an out-of-sorts Absalon meant those bold enough to attack would be rewarded with career-best results. One such rider was Burry Stander who will be hoping to hang on to the form of his life. Finishing second behind Christoph Sauser was no fluke, but it would take an incredible performance to beat the man who won in Andorra on another hilly lap.

For the women there is scheduled to be a return for all the top riders including Gunn Rita Dahle Flesja, Sabine Spitz and Irina Kalentieva who captured the World Champions' jersey here just nine months ago.

Continue to the rest of the preview.

England wants more people in sport

Play it again Sam: Chris Hoy (Great Britain)
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Sport England launched a new initiative Friday to get more of its citizens involved in sport, and to help those who can excel in their discipline get to the top. With the Olympic Games headed to London in 2012, Sport England is hoping to capitalize on the attention surrounding the games to inspire more people to take part.

It announced goals to get one million more people doing more sport, cut by one quarter the number of 16 year olds who drop out of five key sports, and improved talent development systems in at least 25 sports, among other benchmarks.

For British Cycling, the new initiative falls right in line with the approach it has taken over the past decade, and with multiple Track World Championship titles in the bag, the results appear to be successful.

British Cycling's CEO, Peter King, thinks the additional support of the government can help the sport grow even more. "National Governing Bodies have always been at the heart of sport and the bedrock of success will always be their clubs, coaches and members, who comprise competitive sport, regardless of the political context of funding for sport. The more support and resources that can be directed at that level through the NGB framework, working with Sport England at all levels, the more medals will be won and the more people will play sport."

While the program has specified that it would seek to improve access to facilities for swimming, King thinks that it should also widen this approach to encompass cycling to produce traffic-free facilities for cycle sport as well as resolve access issues for events on public roads. "I made it clear at the briefing at Number 10 that our Sport needs a home and as such we need investment from Government to develop new traffic free facilities for all our disciplines which will enable us to significantly accelerate our current growth in participation and sustain our position as the world's leading cycling nation."

Skyscraper Classic to feature messenger races

Harlem's 35th Annual Skyscraper Cycling Classic, presented by Rock Racing and Saab, will become the proving ground for the city's bicycle messengers with the addition of a four-rider "package pass" team relay on a specially modified course. The messengers will get the prime time slot at 3:30pm, just before the start of the professional men's race at 4:10.

Held on Sunday, June 15 at Marcus Garvey Park in New York City, the race will offer up a generous prize list of $1,000 as well as a track frame by Affinity Cycles. Squid, the iconic New York City messenger and owner of Cyclehawks Messengers stated, "This is a great opportunity for messengers to show their positive impact on the city and to get a chance to share the stage with the pros."

The race will also be shown live on WCSN television, as well as online at

The Skyscraper Harlem Cycling Classic boasts a rich and respected history. Founded in 1973 by David A. Walker, a former Community Affairs Officer for the New York City Police Department, the event has always mixed community service with high-level professional racing. Over the past 35-years, Mr. Walker has given away hundreds of bicycles to winners of the children's races that traditionally kick off the day's activities at 12:00 noon.

For more information on all of the day's activities, please go to

Brentwood town centre set to host top British Cycling races

The Essex town of Brentwood hosts three of British Cycling's race series' on Sunday 8th June. The race programme includes three BC rounds for the Elite Men's Criterium, Junior road race and Women's road races.

50 riders will blast their way around the tight town centre circuit to contest round three of the BC Men's Elite Criterium series. The race takes place just 24-miles and less than 24-hours from round two in the Smithfield Nocturne in central London on Saturday night.

Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor rides the London event in an attempt to hold on to the series lead after he beat Tony Gibb (Plowman Craven RT) in the bunch sprint at the Hillingdon GP last month. Briggs will be missing from the Sunday race as he is part of the seven-man Rapha Condor heading over to Canada for the Tour de Beauce.

Rapha man Dean Downing is listed for both criterium events and his team will have their work cut out on Sunday to halt the spirited racing efforts of Halfords-Bike Hut duo Rob Hayles and Tom Southam. Kiwi Warrick Spence (Cyclefit-Serrota) returns to the short circuit where he has shown he can open up gaps through tight corners and he will be amongst the favourites after he was second last year.

Artic - Premier Racing Team and Pearl Izumi - Planet X have teams of five but will still be out-numbered by Plowman Craven's eight which includes criterium specialist Simon Gaywood, Tom Barras, James Millard and Gibb. Pearl Izumi's Jon Mozley finished third at Hillingdon and surely be looking for another podium place. Last year's winner Russell Downing (Pinarello RT) is not on the rider roster this time

Team Halfords-Bike Hut have a commanding lead in the nine race British Cycling women's series with Sharon Laws, Jessica Allen, Emma Trott and Joanna Rowsell filling the first four places after the first three rounds. However all four miss the third round in Brentwood and team-mates Lizzie Armitstead and Katie Colclough will have to step in to win more honours for the team.

The field is only 25-strong and even Leanne Thompson (Lune RCC) will not be there to capitalise on her victory in the Wallacehill CC road race last month. Armitstead and Janet Birkmyre (XRT are the only two Elite riders on the entry sheet.

Luke Rowe (Rapha Condor will be a key rider in the Junior event unless he is saving himself for the senior race which he has also entered. The 18-year-old from Cardiff is also one the oldest in the 36-man field and lies in second spot in the Reynolds sponsored BC Junior series behind Erick Rowsell (Team Corridori) after four events.

Watch out for Andrew Fenn who won many races when he was much bigger than his competitors in his early days but has continued in winning fashion after his contemporaries growth eventually caught up. Alex King (GWR Team/Scott Wilson/Giant) has had good showings in the last three rounds and should be in contention for a podium place. The Ingear Development Squad field eight riders with the Glendene CC / Bike Trax outfit the next biggest with four riders.

Brentwood Town Centre Racing Schedule

9:45am National Series Junior 1 hour + 5 laps
11:30am Youth Race 14-16 years Cat A 45 min+ 5 laps
1:00pm National Series Ladies 1 hour + 5 laps
2.30pm National Series Men's Elite, 1st & 2nd Cat. Riders 1 hour + 5 laps

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