First Edition Cycling News, October 3, 2008
Edited by Laura Weislo
Boonen back on the good foot
Tom Boonen recovered from a disappointing world championships by netting another season victory in the Circuit Franco-Belge. The European stage race season closer began in Maubeuge, France for a quick 187.9 kilometre long stage which was contested at a whopping 46 kilometres per hour. Boonen got the better of American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Chipotle) and Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts in the bunch sprint.
"I am really pleased, as today's result confirms that after the World Championships I am still on great form and I'll be making the most of this," Boonen said. "There was a lot of action and nervousness during the race today and the group was also split-up into smaller sub-groups due to the strong winds. There were a few breakaway attempts during the final with our team doing a fantastic job during the final two kilometres.
"Steven [de Jongh], Wouter [Weylandt] and Kevin [Hulsmans] set the up the sprint in an exemplary way, putting me in the ideal position to win. I'm amazed and very pleased at the power and sprint I have in my legs, proving I'm in great form something that I'll be making the most of it at the Paris-Tours [on October 12]. "It has become my main objective for the final part of the season."
The start of the first stage of the Franco Belge was spared rain despite an overcast sky for the 187.9 km route between Maubeuge in Mons in Pévèle. After an aggressive start, where several groups escaped only to be reabsorbed, strong winds broke the peloton into three groups. Quick work by the teams brought the field back together in time to reach the four long finishing circuits.
A group of eight went clear on the circuit: Jean Zen (Groupe Gobert.com), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Stuart O'Grady (CSC), Fumiyuki Beppu and Sebastian Siedler (Skil-Shimano), Wilfried Cretskens and Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) and Sven Nevens (Mitsubishi-Jartazi). The Silence Lotto team of Belgian champion Jurgen Roelandts kept the leader's advantage below two minutes.
Rosseler took the three mountain primes as well as the second intermediate sprint before the breakaway began to disintegrate. Seeing that the break was doomed to failure, two men tried to sneak away. Preben Van Hecke and Sébastien Rosseler stayed clear until the last intermediate sprint, won by Rosseler to secure the lead in the sprint classification on top of his lead in the mountains classification.
The sprint was won easily by Boonen, ahead of best young rider Farrar and Roelandts.
Phinney takes kilo title
The 2008 USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships opened at the ADT Event Center velodrome at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday as three national champions were crowned on the first day of competition. Following a meteoric rise in the individual pursuit event since last year's championships, 18-year-old Taylor Phinney (Garmin-Chipotle) scored an elite title in the men's kilometer time trial.
Phinney clocked a winning time of 1:03.208 to best silver medalist Jimmy Watkins (Momentum Cycling) by more than two seconds, while Stephen Hill (East Point Track Club) finished third. In the U23 classification of the kilometer time trial, sixth-place overall finisher David Espinoza (Herbalife) was awarded the national title with a mark of 1:07.370.
Although only 18, Phinney was ineligible for a U23 championship since he is still considered a Junior.
Riccò may appeal two-year ban
Italian Riccardo Riccò was upset after being handed a two-year suspension for using EPO on Thursday. The 25-year-old had hoped to receive a lighter sentence for admitting to using the drug and cooperating with the anti-doping authorities. ''I'm very disappointed,'' he said according to ANSA. ''I was expecting more sympathy''.
''I made a mistake and it's only right that I should pay, but I can't talk now, I prefer to leave the matter to my lawyers''.
Riccò was given 18 months for taking EPO and six additional months for his association with Carlos Santuccione, who had been banned for life for working with athletes by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI). Riccò's suspension will last until July 30, 2010.
He will decide with his lawyers within a month's time if he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a reduced sanction.
French anti-doping chief regrets Armstrong's decision
The head of the French Anti-doping Agency Pierre Bordry was disappointed in Lance Armstrong's decision to refuse the re-analysis of his 1999 Tour de France urine samples for EPO on Thursday. Speaking with the BBC, Bordry said that had the tests been done and come back clean, "it would have been very good for him."
"But he doesn't want to do it and that's his problem," Bordry said.
Earlier this week, Bordry offered the seven-time Tour champion a chance to refute that allegations by the French newspaper L'Equipe which claimed to that a laboratory had found traces of the banned blood booster in retrospective tests from his 1999 Tour samples. Bordry offered to open six 'B' samples from the 1999 Tour and perform the EPO test "For the sake of objectivity and justice, and to enable the cyclist Lance Armstrong dispel any unfounded rumors."
In 2005, L'Equipe reported that retrospective tests done by the French National Anti-doping Laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry (LNDD) had found EPO in several of Armstrong's 1999 samples. Armstrong responded to Bordry's offer this week by citing the "Vrijman report," an independent investigation by Dutch attorney Emile Vrijman which concluded that the testing done by the LNDD did not produce "any factual basis" that there had been an anti-doping violation, and that no action had been taken against him by the UCI.
The report found issue with the way the lab had performed the testing, saying that it had used "a non-disclosed and non-validated" procedure, and which departed from the normal World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) procedure for declaring a rider positive for doping.
"If Mr. Bordry would now like to re-examine the past," Armstrong stated on Wednesday, "he must start with presenting the issues of the misconduct of the French laboratory, the French Ministry, and WADA before a proper tribunal."
Armstrong also argued that the report also found that the samples were not stored or handled properly during the nearly six years of storage prior to the 2005 tests. "The conclusions were the samples have not been maintained properly, have been compromised in many ways, and even three years ago could not be tested to provide any meaningful results," said Armstrong.
The Vrijman report stated, "There is no internal chain of custody. The identity and integrity of the samples is not guaranteed." However, Bordry disagreed. "Scientifically there is no problem to analyse these samples," he said. "They have been kept in good condition and we have enough quantity to do (the tests). Everything is correct."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback
January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
Eltink out of Rabobank in 2009
Theo Eltink has not received a new contract from Team Rabobank for the coming season, he announced on his web site, theoeltink.nl.
The 26-year-old Dutch rider came up from the Rabobank Continental team, turning pro in 2005. That year he finished 29th overall in the Giro d'Italia and showed promise of climbing talent, but was unable to develop any further. He has not had any wins in his professional career.
Eltink's plans for the coming year are not yet known. (SW)
Johansson signs with new women's UCI team
By Ben Atkins
Swedish Olympic silver medallist Emma Johansson has signed for the expanding RedSun Cycling Team. Registering as a UCI Trade Team for the first time in 2009, the team is sponsored by the Dutch RedSun garden products company as well as EBH-Elshof lawyers and Van Doorn Infra bv.
The team's expansion fills the gap in the Dutch women's elite peloton left by the withdrawal the AA-Drink team, where Johansson has been riding this season.
When we spoke to her before last weekend's World Championships – where she came fourth in the road race behind Great Britain's Nicole Cooke – Johansson hinted that she has been speaking to a number of teams. The Swede rode as a guest rider with RedSun in September's Tour Cycliste Féminin International Ardèche, alongside AA-Drink teammates Inge Van Den Broeck and Maxime Groenewegen, and has now decided to make the move permanently.
The RedSun team has until now been mostly taking part in races in the Netherlands and Belgium, but also took part in stage races in France and the Czech Republic. With its increased status, stronger roster and bigger budget for 2009, the team is expecting to race a full international calendar. Team manager Jan Van Doorn has also managed to attract former Belgian champion Heidi Van De Vijver as team director; Van De Vijver also comes from the disbanding AA-Drink team where she has been a director for two years. More signings are expected to be announced in the near future.
Bennati returns at Memorial Cimurri
Italian Daniele Bennati will prove that it's never too late in the season to make a comeback by racing the 4th Memorial Cimurri this weekend. The Liquigas rider has been suffering from tendonitis for much of the season and was forced to abandon the Vuelta a España after the ninth stage.
"The form is growing," said Bennati, "and now I feel better. I'm training regularly, but I know a victory will be hard. I hope that the Cimurri and the [Coppa] Sabatini [on October 9 - ed.] will perfect my form in sight of the Paris-Tours, a race that I've been longing very much to win."
Last year's winner Leonardo Bertagnolli will also be on the Liquigas roster for the race, as will Franco Pellizotti, who is coming off a third place in the Tour de Pologne. Also joining the team will be Maciej Bodnar, Francesco Chicchi, Claudio Corioni, Enrico Franzoi and Alessandro Vanotti.
On Sunday, a different portion of the Liquigas team will contest the Giro del Lazio. Vincenzo Nibali, Filippo Pozzato, who the was winner in 2005, Kjell Carlström, Vladimir Miholjevic and Gorazd Stangelj will take on the 198 kilometre race along with Valerio Agnoli, Andrea Noè, Charles Wegelius, Aleksandr Kuschynski and Matej Mugerli.
Hell of the south
The Volta a Portugal may be one of Europe's oldest stage races, but with eight of this year's starting line-up linked to Operación Puerto, its recent reputation has been murky. Procycling's Daniel Friebe reports on Portuguese cycling's fight to clean up its act.
Take a Tube train anywhere in London this summer and, at some point on your journey, you're almost bound to see a vast white and blue poster advertising Portugal as a tourist destination. The concept, to be honest, isn't the most captivating or original: one version features a giant portrait of the former Chelsea football manager and de facto Portuguese ambassador José Mourinho above a contrived-sounding quote about the country's wine; another uses the same format, only this time it's Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo raving about Portuguese golf courses; fado singer Mariza pouts from another. And so on and so on.
It's fair to say that a similar campaign based on Portuguese cycling would make less flattering, though perhaps more interesting, reading. You wouldn't even have to make up the quotes. In the place of Mourinho, you could, for instance, go with ex-pro Carlos Da Cruz and his 2007 admission – "Let's say the future of cycling isn't in Portugal" – complemented with suitably knowing smile. Or how about ditching Ronaldo for Gilberto Simoni, and the puff about greens and fairways, for the Italian's comments in 2005 about the Tour of Portugal – "Going to that race is the worst thing that a rider can do"? Or, failing that, Pat McQuaid and any of his numerous outbursts on the continental divide between northern and southern Europe and their attitude to doping?
It wasn't always like this, of course. Cycling in Portugal once thrived. The Volta a Portugal was first staged in 1927, predating the Vuelta a España by eight years. Between the 1940s and early 1980s, the race even stretched to three weeks. Even now, spanning 12 days in the middle of August, it is the fourth longest race on the European calendar behind the Vuelta, the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.
According to race director and three-time former winner Joaquím Gomes, three million people out of Portugal's total population of 10.6 will have seen this year's race by the time it concludes with a 31km uphill time trial to Felgueiras on the last Sunday of August. Gomes tells us this on the fourth evening of the race, in a typically well-appointed press room in Viseu, no more than a kilometre from the town's ancient cathedral. Like his race, Gomes seems to exude good health. He's now well into his forties, but his eyes sparkle and his skin glistens. Think Christian Prudhomme after three weeks in Cannes.
When Gomes tells us that "Portuguese cycling suffers from the same problem as cycling in general, in other words a strong connotation with doping", he's right, but only to a point. Because while almost no nation has been spared the devastation reaped by countless doping scandals over the past decade, few have ended that decade with quite as many stains on their reputation as Portugal. Or with quite as many tarnished riders populating their teams. It would be both a cliché and an gross exaggeration to say that the startlist of this year's Tour of Portugal resembled Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes's client list circa May 2006, but it would also be naive to suggest that thought didn't cross a few minds.
Francisco Mancebo, Santiago Pérez, Eladio Jiménez, David Blanco, Isidro Nozal, Rubén Plaza, Koldo Gil, David Bernabeu... all figured in the Operación Puerto police files, and all lined up in Portimão for the Volta's 6.4km prologue on August 13. It just so happened that one of the infamous eight – Rubén Plaza – also went on to win.
Gasparotto takes UCI Europe Tour lead
Italy's Enrico Gasparotto (Team Barloworld) has retaken the lead in the UCI Europe Tour from Italian rival Stefano Garzelli as the season-long competition heads into the final weeks of racing.
Gasparotto leads the UCI Europe Tour with a total of 602 points thanks to a hugely successful month of racing in September. He won the Giro di Romagna one-day race on September 7 in Italy, the day after finishing second in the Coppa Placci. More recently, he finished fourth in two stages of the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne, in France.
Garzelli was leading the UCI Europe Tour standings at the end of August and wore the white leader's jersey in September. He scored 90 points thanks to a win in the GP Wallonie race in Belgium on September 17 and now has a total of 544.2 points, but it was not enough to stop Gasparotto taking the overall lead.
The two Italians will now fight for the final overall title as best rider in the UCI Europe Tour in the final three weeks of the 2008 season. They are likely to go head to head in the series of one-day races in Italy that traditionally mark the end of the season, starting with the Memorial Cimurri race on Saturday October 4 and then the Giro del Lazio, near Rome on Sunday October 5.
Races such as the Coppa Sabatini in Tuscany on Thursday October 9, the Giro dell' Emilia on October 11 and the GP Beghelli on October 12 all offer precious points. The final race on the 2008 UCI Europe Tour calendar is the Giro del Piemonte in Italy on October 16.
The UCI Europe Tour now looks like a two-way race because third placed Dutchman Stefan Van Dijk of the Mitsubishi team is more than a hundred points behind Garzelli with a total of 437. Spain's Hector Garcia Guerra is fourth with 421 points and Italian neo-pro Francesco Ginanni is fifth with 407.4 points after a successful run of results in September.
Reistad, Frischkorn elected to USPRO board of trustees
Following a special election to determine the two athlete representatives on the USPRO Board of Trustees, USA Cycling announced today that Nicholas Reistad and Will Frischkorn have won the two open seats. Reistad was also elected to the USA Cycling Board of Directors as the Athlete Director representing USPRO.
Forty-four athletes voted in the election, which represents more than 50% of the athletes eligible to vote.
In the election for Athlete Director to the USA Cycling Board of Trustees and USPRO Trustee, Reistad received 21 votes, followed by Frischkorn (16) and Dylan Casey, who received 6.
In the second polling, for solely a USPRO Trustee, Frischkorn received the most votes with 17, followed by Casey (10) and Reistad (8).
Both Reistad and Frischkorn will each serve four-year terms on the respective Boards.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)