First Edition Cycling News, October 25, 2008
Edited by Laura Weislo
Sportsmanship triumphs over ambitions in Croc Trophy
By John Flynn in Chillagoe
The fourth stage of the Crocodile Trophy in Australia was made more remarkable than usual by a sporting gesture on the part of the Czech rider Martin Horak, who sacrificed a chance to take the overall classification by stopping to help a competitor.
On the epic 143 kilometre stage from Gunnawarra to the Australian outback town of Chillagoe, Horak was off the front with Belgian Kristof Hertsens, who is racing in the M1 category, separate from Horak's elite group.
Horak, in the most sporting of gestures, rendered assistance when Hertsens crashed and was left bloodied and suffered a deep cut to his elbow after hitting the deck on a technical off-road section.
Horak assisted Hertsens with repairing his damaged bike and checked on the Belgian's injuries before riding alongside him to the finish line. The story of Hertsens and Horak is, in time, sure to take its place in Crocodile Trophy history as one of the great moments of the race.
After being the lead conspirator in a breakaway move that went virtually from the gun, Hertsens (Team Lingier) was happy to settle for second place against the clearly superior Czech – a man for whom he now has the utmost respect.
"I crashed really, really bad and he was coming back and he fixed my bike," Hertsens said. "He then rode in the front and he stayed with me. "He was really strong and when he attacked I could not go with him, but he stayed with me, so I am very happy to finish second."
Horak's selfless act cost him valuable minutes, but he still moved up to second place, just 39 seconds behind teammate Ondrej Fojtik in the general classification.
Also see the full results, report and photos from Friday's Crocodile Trophy stage.
Gripper urges patience with passport program
Reporting by Bruce Hildenbrand
International Cycling Union (UCI) anti-doping head Anne Gripper called for patience with the new biological passport program in an interview with Cyclingnews this week. Questions about the effectiveness of the program were raised when French anti-doping chief Pierre Bordry fought for control of the 2009 Tour de France doping controls. The president of the AFLD wondered his agency had caught six riders using two different types of the blood boosting drug EPO, the use of which should have been detected by the UCI's passport.
Gripper has overseen the implementation of the passport program, which was only approved one year ago today. The Australian said that getting such a complex system off the ground and running has been a large task.
Establishing which teams would be involved, organising a system to track riders' whereabouts for testing, and collecting all the samples was the first hurdle to overcome. "We have collected a lot of samples this year. As of the end of September it was 6500 samples," she said.
The second step was to assemble the data and put it through analysis by the UCI's panel of experts. "What we have been able to do is to produce at least a blood profile on all the riders that are in the program, and those profiles have now been sent to our group, we also set up a group of scientific experts from a range of different disciplines, and those nine experts will provide recommendations to the UCI based on what they see in the profiles."
Gripper said that the experts have reviewed all of the profiles and are ready to follow up on the data. "We are now at the point where we are following up to get what we call full documentation packages on some of those profiles. That further information will be sent to the experts and they will then make a recommendation to the UCI as to whether we should open cases against those riders based on their profiles."
If this all seems bogged down in administrative detail, that is because the system is so new that the UCI must take every precaution to ensure that the actions they take will stand up to scrutiny. "These will be the first ever cases opened based on an indirect detection method. Indirect in that we don't get a nice piece of paper from the lab saying they found EPO or they found steroids. It is actually using their profile and interpreting that to say 'yes, we are more than 99.9% percent confident that this rider is doping'."
For such a new program, Gripper indicated, the scale of the task is unprecedented. "It is not the normal small program you run as a pilot. We've actually dived into it in a pretty major way.
"We are really pushing our way through, discovering all the hurdles, discovering all the issues that will hopefully make it easier for other endurance sports to tap into in future years."
Above all, Gripper hoped that critics would be patient while her agency works through all the details. "I know it is a little bit frustrating that we have gotten to this point and haven't actually opened any cases. But it is a new ground-breaking program. We want these first cases to stand up in court so we are prepared to take just a little bit extra time to ensure that we have got the level of evidence we need rather than rushing in and having cases that don't stand up and therefore potentially undermine the whole program."
Stay tuned for the full interview to be published next week. See also a two part interview with Gripper from 2007.
World Cup battle expands in Tabor
By Laura Weislo
The second round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup in the Czech Republic will see a couple firsts: the race will add three categories to its previously elite men only format: juniors, U23 men and women, and for the first time in years the leader in the series, rather than the UCI rankings leader, will be recognized with a special jersey now that the UCI has reinstituted the separate series leader board. And who better to take the #1 spot in the elite men's ranks than Sven Nys?
Nys assumed his normal position at the top of the ladder, but looked a bit more vulnerable in the opening round at Kalmthout than normal, perhaps due to the fact that he bashed his face in a crash the day before. Yet Nys, ever the fierce competitor, glued himself to the wheel of Niels Albert, who is making his elite category debut, and came around him on the line to take the win and the white World Cup jersey.
Albert will be looking for revenge in Tabor, but will have to keep an eye not only on the defending champion, Nys, but also on the local hero, Radomir Simunek Jr. who won this race two years ago. They all could fear the oncoming form of world champion Lars Boom (Rabobank), who for the first year is on a separate team from Nys, who now rides for Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner. The fast course could well suit the Dutch rider, who is coming into the 'cross season late after a successful road season.
Caisse d'Epargne signs two
The Caisse d'Epargne announced Friday that it is acquiring two new professionals for the 2009 season. It signed under-23 rider Angel Madrazo, who was the best Spanish espoir rider of the season and won a stage of the Circuito Montañés.
The team directed by Eusebio Unzúe also signed 22-year-old Portuguese rider Rui Costa.
Eltink to Skil-Shimano
Theo Eltink will ride for Team Skil-Shimano next year, leaving Team Rabobank.
Eltink, 26, first joined Rabobank in 1997 as a junior. He joined the ProTour team in 2005. That year he finished 29th overall in the Giro d'Italia, and the next season he was 24th overall in the Vuelta a España.
Since then, the climber has ridden a total of six Grand Tours, three each of the Giro and the Vuelta. He has no victories to his credit, but always was a helper for the team captains.
Eltink hopes to change that at Skil-Shimano, a Dutch Professional Continental team. "Skil-Shimano has a good schedule, so I can develop as a rider," he said. "My goal for next season is to win races and I want to focus on a few attractive one-day races and stage races that involve climbs." (SW)
Vos breaks with coach
Olympic gold medallist and World Champion Marianne Vos has announced that she will no longer work with her coach, Thijs Rondhuis. The 21-year-old said that she wanted to "go another way", and that their aims were different.
Vos told Sportwereld.nl that she had been with Rondhuis since 2006 and had reached her major successes with him. "The results were always very good. But then you think: will they continue this way?" She indicated one problem by saying, "everything was always strictly organised. I want to be treated with more space for my feelings. A treatment with a less intense training scheme. One in which I listen more to myself," she said.
Vos denied any conflict with Rondhuis. "I look back on our work together with a very good feeling. Naturally we had differences of opinion, but that is normal in top sport."
In looking for her next coach, she will seek something less intense. "I am looking for someone who will look on from the outside and from time to time give me feedback," she said. "Provisionally I will train myself. (SW)
Mumford aggressive in France
Reid Mumford of the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team scored the most aggressive rider prize and a top ten finish in last week's Criterium de Levallois outside of Paris in France, his team announced Friday. Mumford, 31, was one of four KBS/M riders in the race, along with Jake Keogh, Jonny Sundt and David Veilleux.
"It's been an all out aggressive ride all season long," says Ken Mills, the team's performance manager. "So this is really a fitting way to close out the '09 season. Our guys have put it all out on the road and it shows when we're able to hold our own as a young, growing program against top European teams."
Mumford made an 11-man break and won a series of primes before the break lapped the main field.
"Our team was clearly active in all of the major moves of the day and although we didn't win, taking the most aggressive rider award and finishing top ten in a tough European field is a pretty nice way to go out," adds Mills. "Europe is definitely in our sights for 2009, and we'll be working hard in the off season and during training camp to be ready."
Sanchez and Contador ride for charity
The Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez and the last winner of the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of Spain, Alberto Contador, will guest star at the sixth edition of the "Fiesta de al Bicicleta" this Sunday. The event is organized by the Fundación Ciclista Euskadi, and aimed primarily at children. The two champions along with members of the Euskaltel-Euskadi and Orbea Oreka SDA teams will accompany the youths along a seven kilometre course beginning at 10:00 in front of the Antiguo Seminario de Derio (Bizkaia), next to the headquarters of the Foundation.
Registration will begin at 8:45 the morning of the event, or can be done by calling 94 454 51 27. Longer rides for adults will be held as well. For more information, visit www.fundacioneuskadi.com.
(Additional editorial assistance by Susan Westemeyer)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)