First Edition Cycling News, October 22, 2008
Edited by Les Clarke
Re-testing not the priority for McQuaid
After declaring his support for four-year bans for riders found guilty of doping infractions last week, UCI president Pat McQuaid has stated that he opposes re-testing further samples to check for CERA.
In the wake of the scandals surrounding Stefan Schumacher, Leonardo Piepoli, Riccardo Ricco and Bernard Kohl, it was proposed that samples from last year's Tour de France could be re-tested for the presence of this new-generation of the famed blood booster, EPO.
The Irishman told AP that "From the UCI's point of view, we prefer to look forward rather than look backward. To randomly say 'OK, let's take all the samples from 2007 from the Tour de France and put them all through testing processes'... it's futile, it's expensive and it's not going to serve the purpose in the anti-doping fight of today."
All testing at the 2007 Tour de France was conducted by the UCI, and after the events surrounding the feud between that organisation and Tour organisers ASO, the French anti-doping authority (AFLD) was responsible for controls throughout the '08 Tour.
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The AFLD has said it is willing to re-test samples from the 2007 Tour and this year's Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, although McQuaid said that could pose more problems than it solves.
"If we're going to start rejigging the podium of every major international race over the past two or three years, by finding new tests for new products, and going back to the organiser and saying 'you've got to rejig your podium'... it makes a complete mockery of sport. You need very good information in order to do that in the first place.
"I couldn't give you an answer as to where the 2007 samples are, nor whether they are adequate for the testing," added McQuaid. "The Giro was over four or five months [ago]. I don't know whether the samples are still [valid], whether they've degraded to an extent."
McQuaid also explained that, "It's very difficult to detect CERA in urine samples. I don't know about the blood samples, what the situation is there. As I say, I prefer that we move forward, rather than move backward."
Horizons broadened on shifting sands
There's a breed of rider that builds their career on the service of others. This has been the case thus far for Australian Mark Renshaw. But as the disappointment of one of cycling's oldest teams ceasing to exist has begun to sink in for the peloton, it has provided him with an outstanding opportunity and the chance to display the extent of his talents, as Cyclingnews' Les Clarke finds out.
George Hincapie is an enduring American favourite thanks to his support of Lance Armstrong throughout the Texan's seven Tour de France titles, while Milram's Marco Velo has seen 12 years of service as a professional workhorse for sprinters such as Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi. He's often credited by the latter for delivering his man to the line and as such is in demand come contract negotiation time.
Velo has been national time trial champion in the past, as has Hincapie, and both have enjoyed the odd win here and there. It's their ability to work tirelessly and effectively for a star however, that has made them such popular riders. In Australia, Mark Renshaw has enjoyed similar popularity due to his work ethic and tenacious sprinting, both of which were formed as a junior track rider from Bathurst, on the central tablelands of New South Wales, and honed in the Grand Tours of Europe.
At this year's Tour de France Renshaw was lead-out man for Thor Hushovd, a role inherited from Julian Dean, the New Zealander who has found his home at Garmin Chipotle. Just like Dean, several aspects of riding for a French team didn't suit this antipodean and he finds himself settling into a new squad in 2009 – Team Columbia.
"Once Crédit announced they didn't have a sponsor, I had to start looking around because [Roger] Legeay had basically over a year to find one; if he hadn't found one in a year I doubt he was going to find one in a month," said Renshaw. "I started looking around, made a few calls... I know Allan Peiper pretty well from the last few years racing, so I gave him a quick call and those guys were confident Ciolek was leaving.
"Allan's seen me race a lot over the years, so we set up some meetings and it was one of the more preferable teams to go to. It's just the way they've dominated this year... they've got over 80 victories so far. To go to a team with that environment is really going to rub off on me; thus far I'm a guy who can win a few races a year, and if I go to a team like that I can't see why I can't win 10 races a year."
Read the full interview here.
Bettini edges closer to hanging up the bike
Having ridden his last race on the road at the world championships nin Varese, Paolo Bettini still has a little business on the bike to attend to – the Amsterdam Six.
Partnering with Juan Llaneras in the Netherlands capital, the Italian explained to De Telegraaf that, "I could have also ridden in Grenoble, but I have chosen Amsterdam because I always like to ride in the Netherlands. We're not favourites [for this event] but I want to show my best side."
Bettini's final farewell as a racer will come at the Milan Six-Day, although the 34-year-old says he would have preferred to ride another year. Budgetary issues at Quick Step meant that his contract wasn't extended, hence his decision to retire. "I had offers from other teams, but I just wanted to finish my career with Quick Step. I have been a professional for 12 years, and I've spent 10 of those with my current team. I had no reason to pursue new avenues."
Bettini doesn't feel malice for effectively being forced into that decision, although he believes that manager Patrick Lefevere could have timed his announcement surrounding funding for '09 a little better. "I understand very well that there is less money available," said Bettini, "But he said all the time that it would come. Lefevere just had need to tell us immediately what [the situation] was. Then I had the chance to make a choice at an earlier stage."
Bettini's retirement comes at a time when those in the sport who cheat are being caught with greater regularity, on which the Italian stated that, "What has happened in the Tour is very negative for cycling. I do not understand that there are still riders who think they are going to slip through the controls. In cycling it is as in society as a whole; the good guys suffer from the bad."
And so what next for Il Grillo? "I'll see what comes to me," he explained. "I have no reason to spend hours on the bike seat. So yes, I've certainly thought about running a marathon. The New York [Marathon] appeals to me a bit."
Locals kick off Six-day season with promise
Last week Cyclingnews reported on the return to competition of Danny Stam and Robert Slippens as a pairing on the six-day circuit following a horror crash for the latter. This successful duo showed no signs of the time spent not riding together with a commanding performance on the first night of the Amsterdam Six.
The Dutchmen finished night one with a one-point advantage over the formidale Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, with Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko finishing the evening in third. Click here for full results from day one.
'Nothing to prove' for Cooke
This was the season Nicole Cooke has worked most of her life to achieve. She became the first rider to earn Olympic and world titles in one incredible year, an accomplishment not likely to be seen for some time, if ever.
"I've achieved something that will live in the history of the sport forever," Cooke told Reuters. "I can't go any higher and I feel so happy because I know what it took to get there."
The 2004 Olympic Games didn't quite go as planned, despite another strong showing in the months leading up to that event. Cooke realised that this year's Olympics would be her best chance to secure that elusive gold medal. "I was distraught after Athens but I later realised that I hadn't handled the expectation well," she explained.
"The winners in 2004 and 2000 had both geared their entire seasons around the Games whereas I tried to race all season, so I decided to take that lesson to Beijing." The 25-year-old Welshwoman decided that this should be her approach coming into Beijing, although that was almost derailed.
A knee injury last year dragged on throughout the rest of the season, which was cause for concern. "The Olympic dream seemed to be getting further and further away and I wondered how I could possibly catch up," she said, adding that, "Having gone through that helped me remember that cycling is part of who I am but not everything.
"So by the time the Olympics came round I might not have been as prepared as I wanted to be but I was as prepared as I could be and I was happy with that."
This culmination of this arduous process came with the sheer ecstasy of winning her first Olympic gold medal, and she made no secret of how much it meant to her. "It was every emotion coming out," she said. "My whole cycling career flashed before my eyes; all the hard times, the injuries, having had the dream for so long and all the people who had done so much for me."
With her season's objective achieved, it was time to put the icing on the cake in Varese, and possibly take a world title in style. "Psychologically, it was a nice place to be," she explained. "I had nothing to prove, I had done it in Beijing so I looked at it as chance to just go and enjoy it."
This was reflected in the way she raced the women's event - she had nothing to lose and was relaxed coming into the finale. "I've been in races where I've made too much running but you don't get a medal for how many breaks you make, just for crossing the line first," she said of the race.
"So even though everyone in that group was a world or Olympic medallist, I tried to keep calm and on top of the situation. I never thought I would ever even see an Olympic medal but to be top of that podium and get the gold was amazing and then to get the rainbow jersey is very special.
"It's one of the icons of the sport, it's so recognisable, you can't hide in a race and I'm looking forward to wearing it next season."
And the possibility of this not being her last gold medal is realistic, given that she'll only be 29 at her home Olympics. "The 2012 Olympics is the focus for the next four years but the feeling that I've got nothing to prove is very reassuring."
Wiggins heads to Manchester
After last week announcing another stellar field for the track world cup in Manchester, British Cycling has confirmed the attendance of double Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins at the event from 31 October to 2 November at the Manchester Velodrome.
For more information about the event, please visit www.trackworldcup.co.uk
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)