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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, June 10, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Boonen's cocaine positive causing stir

Belgium's Tom Boonen, 27, in hot water following cocaine positive
Photo ©: Yoni Peeters
(Click for larger image)

Paris-Roubaix champion Tom Boonen, one of Belgium's biggest idols, is standing in hot water following the confirmation of a positive anti-doping control for cocaine on May 25. Though the control will likely not involve a suspension, it does not make it easy on the 27 year-old's Quick Step team, who are in the hunt for a new sponsor.

The test results, controlled by the Vlaamse Gemeeenschap (Flemish Community), were confirmed and will be sent to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI). Cocaine is forbidden within races, but as the control was taken three days before the start of the Tour of Belgium, where Boonen went on to win the final stage, he is likely to avoid a racing ban. Even though the Vlaamse Gemeeenschap will not issue a suspension, the UCI could impose a stop of up to two years.

It was reported that Boonen's parents' and girlfriend's homes were searched by police, and it is confirmed now that the authorities did not find any banned products.

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).

WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

Is Boonen – winner of two editions of the Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen, and the 2005 World Championship title – too much of a liability as Team Manager Patrick Lefevere hunts for a new financial supporter? The team and Boonen are meeting today in light of the recent news and more details are expected soon.

Team CSC to become Team Saxo Bank

By BikeRadar

Bjarne Riis' CSC team has a new title sponsor, Saxo Bank, the team confirmed on Tuesday.

The agreement is effective immediately, meaning that Team CSC will appear as Team CSC/Saxo Bank at the upcoming Tour De France, and as just Team Saxo Bank in 2009. The new contract will run for three years. CSC has been the team's main sponsor since 2001.

"With Saxo Bank, we have found the perfect partner for the future," said Riis in a statement. "We are extremely proud to become associated with such a strong brand and a company that has a great passion for our team and our values."

The bank's founders and joint CEOs, Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, said that they had been waiting for an opportunity like this for some time. "For a global bank like ours, this is the perfect match and when it became possible, we just could not let this chance pass by," they said in a joint statement. "Team CSC/Saxo Bank has the international reach and name recognition that means that we will be able to get our message out to most of our clients group around the globe. We love the sport, we trust Bjarne Riis, and believe that together we will be winners."

Slipstream unable to start Beauce

Friedman to USA track trials

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Saint-Georges, Québec

Slipstream's Michael Friedman races during the recent Commerce Bank Triple Crown
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

A few too many injured riders and other team goals led to the decision by Slipstream Chipotle - H30 team to not return to the Tour de Beauce in eastern Québec, Canada, this week. Chann McRae, who was directing the team at the Commerce Bank Triple Crown, told Cyclingnews that the team was going to try to start the race with a short-handed squad of five instead of the full eight riders, but two injured riders reduced that number to three. While the presence of USA Time Trial Champion David Zabriskie on the start list was surprising to see, given his serious back injury at the Giro d'Italia and the recent birth of his child, McRae said that Jason Donald injured himself too badly in the Allentown race on Tuesday to continue.

"[Dave] Zabriskie is still recovering from his injured back," said McRae. "And Jason cut his finger pretty bad in a crash Allentown; then it got infected."

Another Slipstream rider racing in Philly was Michael Friedman. However, Friedman is unavailable to replace Donald or Zabriskie as he is off to Los Angeles this week to contend for a spot on the USA Olympic track team. "We're going to be doing a three-kilometre flying time trial on two back-to-back days," he said. "It's going to be two [riders chosen] from four guys but we're all great friends. I am confident of going from racing 250 kilometres on the road and then going straight to track, but you just never know.

"What ever happens, happens; I'll be positive," he said regarding USA Cycling's ambiguous calculus-like criterion for picking the final team. "The fastest guy is automatic and the second is the coach's selection. All four contenders are good friends, but it will be heart-breaking when two of us don't make it."

Friedman said that he felt in top form at Sunday's Philadelphia race, despite the near 100-degree [F] heat. "Who knew I'd feel so good! It was all about who could stay the coolest and hydrated – as you'd expect. On any other day it could have been so different. I had the legs but I was in the wrong position in the last 500 metres in second wheel – so I just had nothing left with 100 metres too go."

He said his team is fully supportive of the training schedule change if he does make the Olympic team. "Part of my contract means the team will give me a break to train specifically for the Olympics."

Does Dauphiné success guarantee Tour de France victory?

By Susan Westemeyer

The 2006 race, led by Spain's Alejandro Valverde, tops the Galibier
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré has long been considered the preparation race for the Tour de France. If you do well in the Dauphiné, you will do well in the the Tour, is how the theory goes. From looking at the last nine years is this a golden rule or just a rash assumption?

If your name is Lance Armstrong, then yes, you did well in both races. However few other riders have replicated their form in both races. Andrei Kivilev finished fifth in the Dauphiné and fourth in the Tour in 2001. Iban Mayo finished second and sixth in 2003. In 2005, Alexander Vinokourov finished fifth in both races. And last year, Cadel Evans was the runner-up in both, while Alberto Contador was sixth in the Dauphiné and yet went on to win La Grande Boucle.

Some Dauphiné winners went on to either crash out of the Tour (Christophe Moreau in 2001 and Iban Mayo in 2004). Others simply bombed once they got to the Tour (Vinokourov 1999, Iñigo Landaluze 2006). And some were so focused on the Dauphiné that they simply peaked too soon. (Iban Mayo 2003, Levi Leipheimer 2006)

Here is a year-by-year look at the 1999 to 2007 editions.

1999

Rewind to 1999, and the cycling world watched in awe as a fresh-faced Kazakh by the name of Alexander Vinokourov became the surprise winner. A second year professional with the short-lived but highly entertaining Casino team, the 25 year-old turned out an exemplary performance in the mountains. Rather ironically, we labelled the Kazakh as 'part of a new generation of riders that provide a fresh image in the face of the doping scandals.' 'Vino' had already won a stage and the overall at the Volta a Valenciana, and two stages at the Midi Libre, all before his stage win and the overall at the Dauphiné.

Going into the Tour de France as a rank outsider, he finished a creditable 35th, but over an hour down. He fell back on the first time trial, when he lost over six minutes on the 56-kilometre course to Lance Armstrong. ...

Read the entire Dauphiné Libéré feature..

Bettini tips Cunego as future Italian team leader

Damiano Cunego, 26, likely to have an expanded role within the Italian national team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After a Spring Classics and Giro d'Italia campaign, World Champion Paolo Bettini had some time to relax with young fans as part of Paolo Bettini Day this last week, where, upon reflection of a rather tough early season for the 34 year-old, he indicated Damiano Cunego as successor to his captain's role of the Italian national team. 'Il Piccolo Principe' Cunego took top honours in this year's Amstel Gold Race and País Vasco stage five, adding to his palmarès that include the 2004 Giro d'Italia overall and two editions of the Giro di Lombardia.

"Amongst the young riders there is one that is a little older, Cunego," indicated Bettini to Agr while surrounded by young inspiring professionals. "He has already a lot of experience, including winning the Giro and some important Classics, and it will be him who pulls the strings of the gruppo azzurro a little in the future."

Bettini's leadership was capitalised on three times with two World Championship titles and one Olympic Gold, however, he is at the end of his career. A decision is expected soon as to whether or not he will race in 2009.

"To do another season alla Bettini, from February to October, will not be easy," confessed Bettini. "I would like to impose myself differently this next year by passing on my experience to the youngsters."

For more on Damiano Cunego read Amstel Gold winner gains confidence and Stepping back into the limelight.

Ciolek wins in Schwenningen

German riders took the top three Sparkassen Cup Monday evening. Gerald Ciolek of Team High Road beat CSC's Jens Voigt and Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss.

The race consisted of 60 loops of a city course for a total of 54 kilometres, in beautiful summer weather. After 35 loops, a nine-man strong group got away, and eventually the winning German trio escaped out of this group. High Road's young sprinter was able to beat his rivals.

Voigt, who won the race last year, noted, "The public and the atmosphere in Schwenningen were fantastic again and to lose a sprint to Gerald Ciolek is nothing to be ashamed of." (SW)

Versus to continue showing Tour de France through 2013

The Tour de France will continue to grace television screens in the USA for the next five years. The cable sports network Versus announced Monday that it has extended its contract with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) for exclusive USA rights through 2013. According to the Wall Street Journal, Versus has paid $27.5 million (€17.5 million).

"Signing a multi-year extension deal with the ASO demonstrates that the network's commitment to the Tour de France has never been stronger. We are proud to be home to one of the most intense competitions on earth and a sporting event that truly embodies the essence of the Versus brand," said Gavin Harvey, President of Versus. "With the field wide open this year, I'm confident we're going to see an unbelievable competition unfold on the race course right through to the very end. Add to that a strong presence of top American contenders and it's anyone's guess as to who will be wearing the yellow jersey on the Champs Élysées."

In an attempt to fight the sport's bad image, the network has started a new advertising campaign, titled "Take Back the Tour." The first message it has sent says, "Screw the dopers, politics and critics, the false allegations and the fair weather fans. They ripped the soul out of this race. But the Tour doesn't belong to them. We're the ones grinding every mile, pushing past the limits of pain and exhaustion. The most gruelling competition in the world – it belongs to us. We're masochists. We're believers. And it's our time. Take back the Tour." (SW)

Glomser to skip Tour de Suisse

Gerrit Glomser of Team Volksbank, who last year finished eighth overall in the Tour de Suisse, will not be riding the race this year, the team said in announcing its line-up. The 33 year-old Austrian will now turn his attention to the Tour of Austria next month. The Austrian Professional Continental team will now look to sprinters Olaf Pollack and André Korff to lead the team, along with Andreas Dietziker, who recently finished second overall in the Bayern Rundfahrt.

After consulting with Directeur Sportif Patrick Vetsch, Glomser decided not to contest the race. The DS showed understanding for his rider, saying, "He has been riding under his niveau for weeks, and is confused because he has trained well and can't explain his weak form." The search has now started for an explanation. "It can be something small that affects everything else. Maybe his teeth, he thinks. Once we have found out what the problem is, then his performance could directly improve."

Glomser was already at the dentist Monday afternoon for a full examination. He is counting on being back in form for the Austrian Tour, which he won in 2002 and 2003. "There are still four weeks to go. That should be enough time to find my form." Glomser added that he decided not to race in Switzerland because "in my present condition I wouldn't be able to help the team at all. I would be a hindrance and not a help. It's better now to find out what the problem is and continue training, than to destroy myself in Switzerland."

Volksbank for the Tour de Suisse: Andreas Dietziker, André Korff, Harald Morscher, Daniel Musiol, Olaf Pollack, Elias Schmäh, Florian Stalder, and René Weissinger. (SW)

Chipotle debuts "Le Burrito"

Team Slipstream Chipotle - H30 has added backing going into the Tour de France, July 5 to 27, as its sponsor has introduced a new burrito in honour of the USA team. Chipotle Mexican Grill in New York City unveiled "Le Burrito" in anticipation of the team's debut in the Tour de France, following on its first – and successful – Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia. The limited edition burrito is aimed at athletes and will be featured in all Chipotle restaurants throughout the French race.

Team riders, including Magnus Backstedt and Martyn Maaskant, joined Steve Ells, founder, chairman and CEO of Chipotle, at the event this week. The riders had the chance to make Le Burritos and meet with fans. Le Burrito is filled with chicken, black beans, lime rice, tomato salsa and guacamole.

"Professional cycling is incredibly gruelling, and riders need to fuel their bodies with good, whole foods that will sustain them through their hours on the bike," said Directeur Sportif Jonathan Vaughters in a press release.

Steven Cozza, seventh in Vuelta a Castilla y León stage one, agreed and added his own take on the power of Le Burrito. "Chipotle burritos builds strong legs and gives you the fuel to power through any race," he noted. "Plus, if you eat enough of them you'll grow a moustache like mine."

The Le Burrito is expected to be available only throughout the Tour de France.

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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