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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, April 29, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Italian Olympic Committee summons Rebellin

By Gregor Brown

Davide Rebellin summonsed by CONI for Olympics positive
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has opened an investigation into Davide Rebellin as a result of a positive doping control at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It has immediately prohibited the Italian, 37, from competing and called him to Rome for a hearing on May 4 at 12:00.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) named the silver medallist cyclist as one of six athletes who tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA.

"According to the line against doping, we have temporarily suspended him," said Diquigiovanni team manager, Gianni Savio. "We are shocked and dismayed, we hope the counter-analysis proves he is innocent. We hope for this because since he joined our team at the beginning of the year he has shown his talents, but also his principles."

Rebellin joined Diquigiovanni for the 2009 season. He rode for Germany's team Gerolsteiner from 2002 to 2008.

The Italian Olympic Committee received a fax yesterday from the International Olympic Committee saying that one of its athletes tested positive in the re-testing of blood samples for blood booster Erythropoietin CERA. There are a total of six athletes identified as positive (the others are not Italian, and two of the six are cyclists).

La Gazzetta dello Sport reported yesterday that the Italian involved was Davide Rebellin. However Rebellin's wife and agent, Selina Martinello, denied the charges and indicated that they would ask for a counter-analysis.

"We are the only Olympic committee that has released a communiqué. We are the only ones who communicated all of this with transparency. Today the Corriere della Sera newspaper wrote that 'CONI lost a silver medal, but won the transparency battle,'" a spokesman for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) told Cyclingnews.

The Italian Olympic Committee has led the way in the anti-doping war since May 2006, when the Spanish Operación Puerto shook cycling. The country's star rider Ivan Basso had ties to the doctor at the centre of the investigation, Eufemiano Fuentes. Recently, the Italian Olympic Committee has dealt with the cases of Riccardo Riccò and Emanuele Sella.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged the Italian body's alertness and quick reactions.

Rebellin's former manager Holczer disappointed

By Gregor Brown

Hans-Michael Holczer worked with Davide Rebellin for seven years
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Hans-Michael Holczer continues to lose faith in cyclists following the news that his former rider Davide Rebellin is one of the positive athletes resulting from the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) re-testing of blood samples taken from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Rebellin rode for Holczer's Gerolsteiner team from 2002 until 2008 and the team felt the effects of the Erythropoietin-CERA doping cases of Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl last year.

"Since Bernard Kohl I don't believe in anything anymore. You can show me any results you want, but I don't believe them," Holczer said to Cyclingnews. "It is very hard [to trust the cyclists] and there is always disappointment. I had hopes that his [Rebellin's] results were credible and he was a great sportsman, but now it seems it was different."

Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport alleged that Rebellin was one of the six athletes who tested positive as a result of the Olympic Committee's re-testing (the others are not Italian athletes, and only two of the six are cyclists). The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has to wait until the B Sample (or if its athlete refuses the counter-analysis) to release the athlete's name.

Rebellin brought Holczer's team numerous results over the years, including wins in Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Paris-Nice. His last win came at Flèche Wallonne one week ago, but it was with new team Diquigiovanni.

"He was an utmost professional and a guy you could always rely on for results in races... but I am disappointed if all of this is true."

Holczer's disappointment started last summer when the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) announced that Schumacher had tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA during a Tour de France control. It hurt Holczer's chances of finding a new sponsor for the out-going Gerolsteiner. Kohl later tested positive for the same drug at the Tour de France. If the International Olympic Committee confirms the result of Rebellin it will be the third such case for one of Holczer's riders.

"I heard the second cyclist [from the Olympics] is Schumacher, but now I start to wonder why is it only the two or three Gerolsteiner riders. I don't want to make rumours, but it seems that the Tour, and in Beijing as well, that it was just our riders. You notice this and you wonder."

Holczer left the cycling world last fall after he could not find a new sponsor. Kohl is serving a two-year suspension for his case and Schumacher is appealing a two-year suspension issued by the French anti-doping agency.

Spiegel releases Freiburg investigation details

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden (Astana) allegedly linked to Freiburg investigation
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

How many of the T-Mobile Team went to Freiburg University Clinic for a blood transfusion during the Tour de France 2006? The German news magazine Spiegel reports that an independent commission investigating the case believes that three riders went to the clinic, but also uncovered further evidence that seven riders within the team may have had some sort of blood "manipulation".

The magazine states that the commission "assumes" that Andreas Klöden, Matthias Kessler and Patrik Sinkewitz travelled to the clinic for blood transfusions on the night of the first stage of the 2006 Tour de France. There is no mention of whether the remaining four non-German riders on the team participated in the trip.

The absence of the three German riders that evening was "widely noticed," the magazine quoted Luuc Eisenga as saying. Eisenga was, at the time, one of the team's press spokesmen. He recently told Cyclingnews that he had no comment on the story.

The magazine adds that there may have been indications that all of the 2006 Tour de France T-Mobile riders were involved in some sort of doping. The magazine says that Dr. Heinrich flew to the clinic during the eighth stage of the Tour with blood samples to be tested. Four of the seven samples had the riders' names, with the remaining three having "personal identification codes" of team staff members. "All of the samples contained extremely low levels of reticulocytes, which suggests a 'high probability of earlier manipulation.'"

The final report from the independent commission investigating the Freiburg University Clinic and organised doping at Team Telekom/T-Mobile is yet to be issued and due to appear mid-May. The magazine said that the investigation commission conducted 77 interviews, but that professional riders including Jan Ullrich, Kessler and Klöden did not respond to its requests.

Swiss look into Klöden story

By Susan Westemeyer

The Swiss national anti-doping agency is following reports of possible doping violations by Andreas Klöden. The agency is prepared to take action if necessary.

Media reports linked the Astana rider, who has lived in Switzerland for a number of years, with organized doping at his former Telekom/T-Mobile team.

The Swiss national anti-doping agency (NADA), Antidoping Schweiz, is following the media reports "with interest," deputy director Marco Steiner told Cyclingnews. "If and when we should receive relevant information, we would consider opening an investigation into violations of the anti-doping regulations."

Impey looking to the future

Darryl Impey finishes Presidential Tour of Turkey
Photo ©: Presidential Cycling Tour
(Click for larger image)

Daryl Impey remains positive despite a serious crash in the Presidential Tour of Turkey last week. Impey must stay in bed for six weeks to recover from serious injuries, but he is already looking to the future.

"I will be back to win races. I know I will," he said.

Impey crashed in the final stage of the Tour of Turkey after Rabobank rider Theo Bos grabbed his jersey within a few hundred meters of the finish line. The South African was able to finish the race and take the overall victory, before doctors took him to the hospital.

Impey was diagnosed with two fractured vertebra in his lower back, as well as facial fractures and injuries. Earlier this week he had jaw surgery, which will limit him to a liquid diet for six weeks.

"The fracture was more serious than they thought but it is stable on the L1 area and that gives me a lot of hope," he wrote in an e-mail to the team. "The doctors have told me I could have been paralysed. I hope that Bos gets the punishment he deserves."

The 24-year-old hopes to be back on his bike by the end of May. (SW)

Austrian teams support Tour of Austria

Thomas Rohregger (Elk Haus-Simplon) tops the 2008 Tour of Austria podium
Photo ©: Klaus Titzer
(Click for larger image)

The two Austrian Professional Continental Teams, Team Vorarlberg-Corratec and Elk Haus, are doing all they can to support the financially troubled Tour of Austria. They are even declining to accept travel expenses, according to race director Ursula Riha.

"In these times of difficulty, finding sponsors because of the economic crisis and the numerous negative headlines, the race is fighting for every cent," she said. "I am very happy that the teams are helping with this action and do what they can to demonstrate that Austrian cycling needs the Tour of Austria."

Thomas Kofler, manager of Vorarlberg-Corratec, called the team's contribution "the least that we can do." Elk Haus manager Bernhard Rassinger, said that, "the Tour is the only race for the home teams to present themselves to the general public. So it is only logical that we participate in this action."

There are still two remaining starting places for the race, July 5 to 12, which will go to two of the three Austrian Continental teams: RC ARBÖ Gourmetfein Wels, ARBÖ KTM Junkers Braunau and dem Tiroler Club Radland Tirol. The final decision will come after May 24. (SW)

Goldstein aims for repeat win at Gila

By Kirsten Robbins in Silver City, New Mexico

Leah Goldstein, Tour of the Gila's defending champion, has her eyes set on a repeat victory in the five-day stage race set to begin on April 29 in Silver City, New Mexico. The Canadian climber gave one good reason why she expects to be standing on the top podium place – a stronger team.

The Value Act Capital team will field an eight-woman roster to include Goldstein along with Sharon Allpress, Nicole Evans, Robin Farina, Chrissy Ruiter and Kristin Sanders. "Of course we expect to win," said Goldstein who arrived to Silver City three weeks ago to train and adapt to the altitude. "Not only do I have a stronger team but I'm coming stronger than last year. We've worked hard we've done our homework."

There is nearly 5000 feet of climbing in the three road stages combined with a rolling time trial and a hilly criterium it is well-suited for the climbing specialists. " I think the first stage will really be decisive," said the squad's directeur sportif Lisa Hunt. "The final climb will really shake up the GC and show who are the good climbers."

Goldstein will be up against former Tour of the Gila winner Kristin Armstrong (Cervélo Test Team) along with other strong mountain contenders like the Redlands Classic Queen of the Mountain winner Tiffany Cromwell and her teammate Catharine Cheatley (Colavita-Sutter Home), US National Time Trial Champion Alison Powers (Team Type 1), Anne Samplonius (Lip Smackers), Katheryn Mattis and Alexis Rhodes (Webcor) and Marisa Asplund (DRT p/b Treads),

"We have a different Armstrong to contend against," said Goldstein referring to seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong (Astana) who is contesting the Pro men's event. "She is very strong but every team has at least three or four riders who can win this race."

What's hot on the forum

One hot topic so far this week has been the news that Lance Armstrong's Astana team was not allowed to start in the Tour of the Gila . The UCI enforced a rule that excludes ProTour teams from racing smaller events. But who should be more protected against the top teams? The race or the smaller riders/teams?

Here's a sample of the forum entries:

  • Like the global economy, cycling is also in a recession. A week doesn't go by w/out some bad news. We're living (surviving) in extraordinary times and we NEED to stimulate cycling and the economy. Article 2 of the UCI constitution states their purpose as: b) to promote cycling in all the countries of the world and at all levels. d) to encourage FRIENDSHIP between all members of the cycling world.

    I hope the UCI reconsiders their decision. They've hurt cycling and our small community.

  • Gila is not a ProTour race and the continental teams need to have their share of the pie. Any Conti team left out for a ProTour team is a loss for the local Conti teams. The ruling is fair and just, the race almost went bust and then they're going to give it to a ProTour team to win against the Conti teams, to take the money and run so to speak?

    No they did the right thing.

  • Cycling is popular in the US because of Lance. This race almost didn't make it this year because of the downturn in the global economy. Luckily, SRAM stepped in and saved it, but the presence of Lance and company would have been enormous to the community of Silver City. Who doesn't want to see a seven-time Tour winner race his bike in their event. Look at the Tour Down Under and the increased press coverage for that event. The UCI blew it on this one!

  • Sure Astana has a great effect on the profile of the race and attracts spectators. These are definitely good things but what about the amateur team that keyed this race? What about the continental team that might just get enough recognition at the normal level of the race?

    Yes I am sure there are more than a few cat 1 riders that would think it is pretty cool to ride with Lance or Levi but they won't be taking home any cash if the pro tour guys race hard. As a guy who generally sucked as a rider I know the fun just disappears at any race there was even 1 cat 2 in our group. They just make the race that much harder. I think it is a good rule and I'd guess I might be in the minority.

Join the thread.

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(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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