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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, October 23, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Garmin: Work is a four-letter word - part two

Team Manager Jonathan Vaughters
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Garmin-Chipotle's very existence relies on hard work. Its bosses, directors and riders epitomise an ethos focusing on grafting their place in a peloton fighting for credibility. Thanks to great performances in 2008, the team has become a model for a more credible sport where the words 'clean' and 'win' are mixed more easily, as Cyclingnews' Les Clarke discovers.

In this second part Cyclingnews finds out how the team's work is gradually counter-attacking the damage done by the scourge of doping. (Read part one for more.)

"Some of these guys just don't believe that they can perform at that level clean, and maybe they can't," said Garmin's Team Manager Jon Vaughters when asked how the team reacts to positive doping results such as those of Riccardo Riccò or Stefan Schumacher. For a squad which has immersed itself in the clean message so thoroughly, surely this is a slap in the face?

"I think that some of these guys believe that's what they need to perform; I don't think they believe the culture of anti-doping. They hear our team saying, 'we're clean, we're doing internal controls, etc' they say, 'Sure you are, whatever...' They just don't believe it, and they're just cynical about it," said Vaughters.

"They think everyone else is still doing it, and since they think everyone is still doing it they just do it themselves. I just think that it's false - I think those doing it are in the minority right now."

Read the full feature.

2009 Tour anti-doping test policy yet to be settled

Pierre Bordry, president of the AFLD, would like to have his say in the Tour de France testing process
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

UCI President Pat McQuaid and his counterpart at the French anti-doping agency AFLD, Pierre Bordry, have yet to clear their differences regarding the anti-doping policies in next year's Tour de France testing programme.

The AFLD was in charge of this year's testing, targeting specific riders who showed unusual blood values, and revealed that a total of seven riders had doped during the 2008 Tour. Next year, with the new-found agreement between the UCI and the race organiser ASO, the world governing body will be heading the testing again as it had in 2007 and previous Tours.

But Bordry is opposed to this, saying his organisation should be responsible for the testing policies, too, and not only work at an executive level for the UCI. "McQuaid says that in the next Tour de France he will decide the policy for testing, and if the AFLD does anything it will just be taking samples and testing," Bordry said to the AP on Wednesday from his office in Paris, criticising the UCI's testing methods compared to the AFLD's.

"It won't be the same policy for testing," Bordry continued. "Our technique is to target those who we think have abnormal blood levels, for example. On the last Tour de France we did 50 percent more tests than the UCI did the year before."

Moreover, he questioned the UCI's biological passport programme. "I would also like to understand how the riders that we tested positive during the Tour were undetected by the blood passport programme established by the UCI," Bordry added.

The Frenchman chose not to attend the Tour de France presentation because of this disagreement. McQuaid, on the other hand, was present as the 2009 route was revealed, and said his organisation would oversee the testing properly. "We are the international body responsible for anti-doping in cycling worldwide, not just in France and we will do a job and do it correctly," McQuaid told reporters. "[Bordry] wants to do [the testing] himself and have the UCI as just a sanctioning body. That is not possible. That is unacceptable to the UCI."

McQuaid wants to meet with Bordry to resolve any possible differences ahead of next July. "I have a very good personal relationship with him. A couple of weeks ago he rang me when I was on my holidays to inform me about the [CERA] positives," McQuaid said. "I am sure we can work something out."

Bordry agreed to this, saying he hoped a meeting could take place within the "coming weeks," preferably before December when riders traditionally begin their training programmes for next season.

Prudhomme: No extra treatment for Armstrong

Tour director Christian Prudhomme did not mention Armstrong's return in his speech
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

The possible return of Lance Armstrong to the 2009 Tour de France did not have a big impact on the race organiser's chief executives at the presentation of the route on Wednesday. "It is neither a good, nor a bad thing," said race director Christian Prudhomme as reporters asked him for comment. "He is an outstanding personality, but all the riders on the start line are treated in the same way."

The seven-times Tour de France winner, who may - or may not - add the Grande Boucle to his racing programme after the Giro d'Italia next year, would of course be allowed to race in next year's Tour. But because of the tense relationship between the American, the Tour organiser, the French media as well as the French public in the past, Armstrong's team manager Johan Bruyneel has indicated that he was waiting for the organisers to approach him at this point.

"I'd like to have a discussion with the new president of the Tour de France," Bruyneel said to Cyclingnews. He referred to 32 year-old Jean-Etienne Amaury who succeeded Patrice Clerc, and who said earlier this month that Armstrong had "embarrassed" the race in the past. "In normal life, I always attend a party if I'm invited and welcome. If I don't feel that I'm welcome, even if I'm invited, I don't go. Here it'll be the same."

But Tour director Christian Prudhomme remained neutral to his presence, making no reference to Armstrong in his introductory speech before revealing the parcours. "It's up to the invited teams to determine their riders," he said. "[Armstrong] indicated that his main objective would be the Giro d'Italia, which will celebrate its 100th birthday next year. It's for him to see if he can do the Tour afterwards."

But more parameters are apparently being taken into consideration, as Armstrong has said that the primary reason for his comeback is raising awareness and funds for cancer research. Italy's national tour will greatly gain from Armstrong's presence, and the Texan champion has himself indicated that the benefit would be mutual. One month ago, prior announcing his decision to ride the Giro, Armstrong said to sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, "If I'm able to involve your prime minister [Silvio] Berlusconi in the fight against cancer and some other things line up, who knows, it could be the right year to come your way."

Armstrong's participation in the Tour could therefore also depend on French top level politics. Still, Bruyneel maintained it was just a question of the 37 year-old being competitive enough as an athlete to confront the hardest bike race on earth. "The decision on Lance's participation in the Tour de France 2009 is for later," said the Belgian. "For the moment it is 50-50 whether he will ride the Tour. After the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California, we will know more."

Armstrong himself, for now, summed up his next year's commitment by saying he would enjoy it either way. "Whether it's promoting the Livestrong global cancer campaign or making the biggest bike race in the world the gem that it deserves to be, I look forward to next year," he stated in a press release.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback

Sergeant: "Contador can be beaten"

Marc Sergeant is hopeful Evans can win the 2009 Tour
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

After the 2009 Tour de France presentation on Thursday in Paris' Palais des Congrès, Silence-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant was hopeful that his Grand Tour leader Cadel Evans was going to be in contention to fight for the top podium spot in July next year.

Sergeant's first impression of the mountainous parcours made him tip Astana's Alberto Contador for the overall honours. "Alberto Contador is really strong and he will be the favourite," said Sergeant. "But I still believe that he can be beaten. I understood from Cadel Evans that he saw a variety of positive things in the parcours."

Evans, who finished runner-up twice in the event, agreed that the route seemed tailor-made for Astana's climbers, but knew from experience that anything could happen, especially with the last of three mountaintop finishes taking place on the penultimate day.

"It's really going to draw out the general classification riders pretty early on so I'm going to have to be very attentive throughout the race," he told Cyclingnews. "Just like this year, though, it could come down to the wire on Ventoux."

His team manager Sergeant's analysis was similar. "With that long time trial [in Monaco-ed.] the favourites will have to show themselves early," he continued. "That goes also for the team time trial," for which the Silence-Lotto manager is well-prepared. "We made good moves taking on Thomas Dekker and Sebastian Lang."

Concerning that final, all-decisive stage up the Mont Ventoux, Sergeant had "mixed feeling. I think the difference [in general classification - ed.] will be made by then. Nevertheless, anyone can still lose the Tour that day, as you can lose several minutes on the Ventoux."

World champ in Firenze-Pistoia

Newly-crowned World Champion Alessandro Ballan will be participating in the 22nd edition of the Firenze-Pistoia race in Tuscany, Italy, on Saturday. The event, a race against the clock of 30 kilometres, will see 25 riders on the start line in Lamporecchio.

Other competitors include Giovanni Visconti (Quickstep) as well as Filippo Pozzato and Vincenzo Nibali (both Liquigas). Since 2005, the race has been organised as a 1.1 event on the UCI Europe Tour, although it has was not held in 2006 due to organisation problems.

Cyclingnews' rider transfer list 2008-2009

Even though the 2008 season has barely ended, Cyclingnews is already preparing for next year. What will the race calendar look like? Which teams will go to which races, and which riders will be in which teams? In order to shed some light into these questions, Cyclingnews editors have put together a non-exhaustive list of rider transfers for next season.

The list details confirmed transfers, and will be updated on a regular basis. If you have a transfer, or even a rumour, then please contact us.

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