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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, October 1, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

Rumours surrounding Tour samples rampant

By Laura Weislo

The names are floating around, but the tests are yet to be complete
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Ever since French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) chief Pierre Bordry announced he had ordered additional testing on a number of riders' samples from the 2008 Tour de France which had been 'suspicious', the cycling media's rumour mill has been going into overdrive.

Bordry announced earlier this month that there were a number of urine samples which had been suspicious when tested for a new Erythropoietin (EPO) drug called Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA), but the test was not definitive enough to declare them positive. The AFLD ordered the riders' corresponding blood samples to be delivered from Lausanne, the laboratory which had performed the pre-Tour blood profiles, to the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory in order to be subjected to the newly-developed CERA blood test.

Prior to the Tour de France start in Brest, all Tour entrants were subjected to blood profiling. On July 11, it was reported that a number of samples had shown unusual haematocrit or haemoglobin values in that profiling, with the number of suspicious riders given between 10 and 20.

Bordry told the Associated Press on Friday, September 19 that the samples of the riders with these abnormal values had been received in France, that the testing had commenced on that Monday (September 15) and that it would take 10-15 days to analyse all of the samples. This could have meant that an announcement of any positive samples may have been made last week.

However, a week passed before Bordry revealed that the testing would commence this week after it was delayed in order "to surround the process with great scientific and legal security".

If the testing does indeed take 10-15 days and did not begin until this week, it is unlikely that any positive samples have been identified at this time. However, several European news agencies have said 14 riders could be found positive, and have given lists of teams and names of riders, presumably drawn from an earlier list of riders who had been found with abnormal pre-Tour values.

There has been no official announcement as to which riders' samples have been ordered from Lausanne. It must also be stressed that abnormal blood values can be found for a number of natural reasons, and is not necessarily an indication of doping.

However, during the Tour de France, three riders tested positive for EPO: Manuel Beltrán, Riccardo Riccò and Moisés Dueñas. Both Beltrán and Riccò had been subjected to targeted testing based upon abnormal pre-Tour values, while Dueñas was found positive after a random control.

Anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, who runs an independent testing system for the Team CSC-Saxo Bank and Astana teams, noted in July that he felt the EPO use in the peloton had not been adequately dealt with. After examining the data from several tests which had been declared negative by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) laboratories, he said the agency was "sitting on a mountain of EPO positives".

"It was very obvious that the gels were very un-natural or very different from natural distributions," Damsgaard told the BBC. "But I also saw that they were declared negative because they didn't fulfil the WADA criteria of a positive test; although they looked suspicious and had no natural bands at all, they were still declared negative."

There remains a chance that more riders will be declared positive for EPO from this year's Tour de France, and Cyclingnews will be sure to bring its readers all of the information as it becomes available from confirmed sources.

Klier, Pauwels to Cervélo

Andreas Klier and Serge Pauwels are the newest signings to Cervélo TestTeam, the team announced Tuesday.

Klier is a Spring Classics specialist who won Gent-Wevelgem in 2003 and a stage in the Vuelta a España in 2007. The 32 year-old turned professional in 1996 with Team Nürnberger and rode for TVM-Farm Frites from 1999 to 2000. In 2001 he joined T-Mobile Team, and has stayed with it through this year, when it changed its name to Team Columbia. He is German but has lived in Belgium for years.

Pauwels rode for the Rabobank Continental Team in 2004 and 2005. The 24 year-old turned professional in 2006 with Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen and has remained with the team since then. The Belgian won the mountain ranking in the 2007 Tour Down Under. Pauwels has a college degree in engineering and is working on his master's degree in applied economics.

Back to Belgium for Boonen

Tom Boonen is leaving Monaco and returning to Belgium, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. The Belgian has been living in the small independent state for three years, but will return to his home land to live with his girlfriend Lore.

Belgian counterpart Philippe Gilbert will replace Boonen in the Monaco tax haven, having recently decided to move there with his girlfriend Patricia. The move comes a year after Gilbert built a house in the Wallonie region, where he grew up.

Gilbert cited the mild climate of the Azur Coast and the mountains that lie just behind the Corniche for the reason for the move.

Xacobeo-Galicia secures Mosquera

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Ezequiel Mosquera Míguez will lead Xacobeo-Galicia through to 2010, the Spanish squad announced today. It's hoped the rider will continue his strong results at the squad's home Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España.

"We have asked our chief sponsor, the Galician regional government, for extra funding to retain Ezequiel Mosquera," said team manager and director Alvaro Pino.

The team's efforts to secure Mosquera come after the rider put in a brilliant performance at this year's Tour of Spain. Mosquera finished the event in fourth place, having claimed fifth the previous year.

Securing Mosquera will assist Xacobeo-Galicia with its candidacy for the Vuelta a España. Mosquera's signing was announced at a ceremony yesterday where Pino thanked the sponsors for their extra efforts to ensure the rider remained with his squad.

Mosquera wasn't the only new signing through to 2010 for Pino's squad yesterday. Sponsor Xacobeo also announced it will extend its joint title sponsorship until 2010.

Heulot names riders

Former French professional Stephane Heulot has named the first riders who have signed to his new Continental squad. The former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer has picked up Credit Agricole refugees Jimmy Engoulvent, Julien Simon and Jean-Marc Marino for next season.

The three will be joined by Benoit Sinner from Agritubel and neo-professional Cyril Bessy in 2009.

"With six out of 12 riders, we have already made up half the team," said the 37 year-old.

Heulot, a former French champion, announced he had a budget of between 1.2 and 1.5 million Euro for the squad's first season.

Lapthorne joins hunt for sister

Darren Lapthorne (Drapac Porsche) gives his all
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Former Australian Open Road Champion Darren Lapthorne has arrived in Croatia and joined the search for his missing sister Britt. The 21 year-old went missing after leaving Club Fuego in Dubrovnik on September 18, with the youngster never returning to the hostel where she had been staying.

Darren, who rides for the German Team Sparkasse, is the first of the Lapthorne family to arrive in the European nation. His father, Dale, is expected to join the search later this week, with the family currently in contact with Australian politician Senator Steve Fielding who is in the nation on business.

"It's taking a long time and it's time that Britt doesn't have," Darren told The Age. "She's paying for this time right now. We are desperate … it's not looking good."

The Lapthorne family had been frustrated with the efforts of local police and have now offered a €100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Britt, which will be funded by the sale of their family home. A member of the Australian Federal Police has also flow to Croatia to assist with the hunt.

"I'm prepared to post a very large reward," Dale told "I don't have the money, but I'm prepared to sell my house if I have to for our daughter.

"I can't say I'm confident," he added. "At the moment I'm feeling ... she will be found. I'd be naive and stupid if I said she was definitely alive. In a case like this it's generally for the worst, but I'm living on that glimmer of hope and until I know otherwise we're not going to give it up."

Darren won the Australian titles in 2007 while riding for Melbourne-based Drapac-Porsche and held the jersey until Silence-Lotto's Matt Lloyd won this year's event. He joined Team Sparkasse at the start of 2008 in order to race more in Europe.

McCaughey returns for Tassie Carnivals

Laura McCaughey
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Laura McCaughey will return from the United States to race at this year's Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, organisers of the event have announced. McCaughey is the current Australian Women's cycling 10 kilometre scratch race champion.

The Tasmanian cyclist, who took first place in the Bank of America Grand Prix, won her first National Championship this year, but narrowly missed Olympic Games selection. She also won the Australian National Star Cycling Award for the best female endurance cyclist in 2008.

West Australian Cycling Institute Head Coach Darryl Benson has also advised that he will be bringing a team of up to 20 cyclists to the carnivals. In the past WA cyclists have been very successful at the carnivals and Benson is hoping to continue the tradition at this year's event.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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