First Edition Cycling News, February 13, 2009
Edited by Laura Weislo
Chris Horner: Letting the legs do the talking
American pro cyclist Chris Horner will race side by side with his new teammate Lance Armstrong for the first time, a fact which is surprising since Horner has been openly critical of Armstrong in the past. Horner spoke with BikeRadar.com's Gary Boulanger about how the two senior members of the Astana team are getting on.
Chris Horner's star began rising after winning a stage during the 1996 Tour Du Pont, where another American, Motorola's Lance Armstrong, was winning his second consecutive race overall. The two racer's paths wouldn't cross again until 2004, when Horner, the defending champion, finished third to Armstrong at the Tour of Georgia.
While Armstrong rose to fame with seven consecutive Tour de France victories, Horner was forging his own sometimes rocky path through professional cycling's ranks. His move to the Astana team in 2008 was somewhat surprising because even after Horner had been critical of Armstrong after the demise of the Discovery Channel team, Johan Bruyneel opened the door for him.
Now that Armstrong has rejoined his long-time director at Astana, he and Horner are now the oldest and most experienced riders on the team, and have formed a brotherly bond going into the 2009 season. Armstrong even nicknamed Horner "redneck" at the team's Tenerife camp last December.
Continue to the full feature.
Sastre suffering before California
Spaniard Carlos Sastre is trying to recover from a bout of the flu just two days before he is scheduled to start the Tour of California, The Cervélo TestTeam leader has training in the US in preparation for the race, but fell ill last week and is now questioning his form.
"It has been nearly a week since I've ridden as I was hit hard by the flu and I'm still getting over it now", the 2008 Tour de France winner said in a statement. "Until now, my preparation was going well, but this setback will prevent me from performing as I would have liked in this American race."
Sastre still intends to race even though he admits that he is "going to suffer a lot". "The team has trained well and my team mates are ready to take on the race with motivation and enthusiasm."
Despite his illness, Sastre visited the San Diego wind tunnel on Tuesday where he worked on aerodynamics with his new bike.
Garmin's hopes lay on Genting
By Greg Johnson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Garmin-Slipstream is hoping to turn around its Tour de Langkawi fortunes on today's stage to Genting Highlands, after matters were only made tougher on yesterday's Stage four. Riders at the American squad were left disappointed after yesterday's stage didn't turn out to be as crucial as they believed it would.
"We were kinda hoping for an aggressive race that would have been a little more selective and broken up today, but now the whole thing is going to come back to whoever makes it up Genting the fastest," said Tim Duggan. "Obviously tomorrow I'll just arrive in Genting in a good position and let her rip. There's no hiding from there."
Duggan admitted he was disappointed the climbs on Stage four had little impact on the event's overall classification. After the race ended in yet another sprint, the stage's only legacy will be the impact it's taken on those who helped pull the race back together.
"That was a long one, long and hot," said Duggan. "It was kind of a weird day, I was reading the newspaper and hearing everyone talk about this day – I thought it was going to be a pretty decisive climbing day, our whole team did.
"We were waiting for the selection on the climb but you hardly shifted out of the big ring on those 'category 2, amazing climbs'," he added. "If we had known more what to expect, I think we would have changed our tactics and raced 100 percent for the sprint for CJ. Those climbs where just not selective at all."
Duggan, who is coming back from an accident at last year's Tour of Georgia, continues to be pleased with his rate of progress. He attacked the peloton on both of yesterday's climbs, but is hoping to have a bigger impact on the race today.
Ciolek pays off for Milram
Gerald Ciolek came good for his new Milram team by winning the final stage of the Mallorca Challenge in Palmanova on Thursday. The team's new hire out-sprinted his former teammates Edvald Boasson Hagen and Marcel Sieberg (Team Columbia-Highroad) after 147.6 kilometres of racing. It was the team's first win of 2009.
"The whole team supported me magnificently," said Ciolek. "Markus Fothen was with me up to one kilometer before the finish, then I found exactly the right way to the finish line. It worked perfectly."
"That was an important win so early in the season," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. "It gives us a big push for our coming races."
Spaniard Antonio Colom of Team Katusha kept the lead to win the final general classification. It was Colom's second overall victory at the Challenge Mallorca, having one once previously in 2004.
Beltrán facing two-year ban
AFLD rules on EPO case, UCI studying decision
By Shane Stokes
Contrary to earlier reports suggesting that he could get a licence this year, Spanish rider Manuel Beltrán has been banned for two years from French competition and looks set to suffer the same punishment on the world stage.
The former Liquigas rider claimed in recent days that the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Spanish federation have communicated to him that he would be allowed to race anywhere except the Tour de France. The UCI refuted this to Cyclingnews shortly afterwards, saying that it had never communicated this message to either the Spanish federation or Beltrán himself.
On Thursday the governing body then further clarified the situation. "UCI received the AFLD's decision on February 9th," said its spokesman Enrico Carpani. "This decision, which imposes a two-year suspension on the rider and, at first glance appears to conform to the WADA's international code (Beltrán did not appear at the hearing and therefore renounced his right to defend himself), is currently being examined by our services concerned.
"If the decision is confirmed – and therefore recognized by the UCI regulations – it would come into effect without any geographical limits."
It is expected that the UCI will follow suit and ban the rider, effectively ending his career.
Whether or not the Spanish federation had indeed confirmed to the rider that he could apply for a licence in the absence of a decision from the AFLD, the UCI reiterated that it was not involved in any such communication.
"As the responsibility for issuing a license to a rider is entirely the responsibility of the National Federation, the UCI has never been involved in this procedure. It estimates that any such possible intervention would be untimely in the current situation."
A decision is expected soon on the case of Stefan Schumacher, who won two time trials in the Tour but then tested positive for CERA.
Vaughters elected AIGCP president
By Laura Weislo
American Jonathan Vaughters was elected Thursday as president of the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Garmin-Slipstream manager was voted into the post by representatives of the sport's top teams, and succeeds Frenchman Eric Boyer.
Vaughters said he hopes to use his new role to help bridge some of the gaps which have formed between the teams, race organisers and the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI).
"My first goal is to try to patch up some of the deep wounds which have been inflicted over the past years, and to unify the teams so that we can have a common mission – to present cycling as a professional and unified sport," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
In the past, the AIGCP president has done everything from demanding riders are put up in decent hotels to fighting to save the season when the political war between Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and the UCI threatened to bring it to a halt.
Having raced for a French team and made his residence in Spain during his professional career, Vaughters not only speaks the languages of most professional teams, but also understands their culture – an ideal attribute for someone who's role will be to be an ambassador between the teams and outside organisations.
A noted advocate of clean cycling, Vaughters hopes to get everyone on the same page in the war against doping, and is suggesting to bring the World Anti-Doping Agency into the discussion. "I think everyone is focused on the same goals as far as anti-doping, but they all have different ideas of how to go about it – all valid, but different."
"My hope is to re-unify all of the sides so that cycling can present itself as a professional sport with a common voice."
Yates promises blood to keep climber's jersey
By Daniel Benson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Despite an ultimately unsuccessful breakaway on stage four of the Tour of Langkawi, New Zealand's Jeremy Yates walked away with the lead in the King of the Mountains competition of five points over Christoff Van Heerden (South Africa). He is currently ninth overall, 37 seconds behind Italian Mattia Gavazzi.
With tomorrow's crucial stage finishing at the peak of Genting Highlands, Yates, who finished fourth overall in 2007, knows that with the right tactics and another stellar ride he can compete with the best for both the overall and mountain titles.
"Today worked out well. Yeah, getting caught so close to the finish is a frustration but I climbed well and took maximum points on both climbs," said Yates with a shrug. "The group were working so well though and near the top of the last climb I just put my head down and gave it everything,"
Yates broke away with seven other riders after the first intermediate sprint and spent most of the remaining kilometres off the front. He took maximum points on the first climb up to Bukit Tangga and was later joined by breakaway companion Van Heerden (South Africa) and crested the last climb with a small lead.
With 30 kilometres to go an unlikely victory was still possible, but with the long exposed roads leading to the finish at Bandar Baru Bangi, the advantage was always with the peloton. "It was backs to wall stuff with me and the South African but we both knew we had to give it everything. We did what we could and I have to say he was great, too. I found him after the finish and we shook hands."
Despite Yates being gobbled up by the hungry bunch before the line, his teammate Samai went on to take the stage and arguably the biggest win of his and the team's history. "It gives us rock star status in Langkawi and I'm so stoked for him."
As for tomorrow, Yates remains optimistic: "Tomorrow is a tough stage but we have climbers like Ng Yong Li and I'll try and hang on to this jersey through blood sweat and tears."
Tomorrow will see the riders tackle a 102 kilometre stage from Petaling Jaya to Genting Highlands. The climb is set to decide the overall winner of this year's event after four relatively flat stages and two more to follow.
Crawford wants Genting podium
By Greg Johnson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Australia's Jai Crawford (Australian National Team) is hoping to finish the Tour of Langkawi's decisive stage to Genting Highlands in the top three today. Crawford took fifth place on the stage during its last inclusion in the race in 2007.
"I did well there a few years ago so I'd like to do better, I'd like to get on the podium," he told Cyclingnews. "It just suits me so well, obviously because it's a mountaintop finish and it's steep. It suits my power to weight ratio really well."
The rider has been training for the race-deciding climb in his home state of Tasmania. Despite moving from Trek Marco Polo to the Australian Savings and Loan squad this year, the 25-year-old is again focusing on results in Langkawi and his other favoured race, the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
"I feel really good, but I don't want to make any bold predictions because you never know what's going to happen," he said. "I've been training really well and I'm in the best condition I ever have been – I've been climbing really well down in Tassie."
Crawford has enjoyed much success while racing in Asia. In 2007 he won the Tour of Siam, and has taken top three placings on stages in the Tour de Taiwan, Tour of East Java, Tour of Japan and Tour of Thailand.
The rider has already enjoyed success this season by claiming victory at the Tour of Wellington's Stage 3 with his new trade squad.
Andreu settles with The Guardian
By Laura Weislo
Betsy Andreu has settled her case against the British newspaper The Guardian for a November article which insinuated she had lied in testimony against Lance Armstrong. The paper came to a cash settlement and published a letter earlier this week by Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former teammate Frankie Andreu in response to her objections.
"The Guardian implied I had lied when it said 'Other people, apparently, also lied about Armstrong. Betsy Andreu, whose husband Frankie raced with Armstrong, claims she heard the cyclist tell doctors treating him for cancer that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs,'" Andreu wrote about the article by Donald McRae.
The story referred to a civil suit between SCA Promotions and Armstrong, where the former company tried to deny a five-million USD bonus payment to Armstrong for his fifth Tour win until it could be proven he had not taken performance enhancing drugs.
"Mr. McRae never contacted me or my husband to check that statement; if he had we would have given him our response."
"In 1996, Frankie and I were present when Lance Armstrong answered a doctor's question whether or not he'd ever used performance enhancing drugs in his career," Andreu told Cyclingnews. "We never made this incident public until we were subpoenaed to testify in a court of law in 2005 in the state of Michigan.
"Under oath, both Frankie and I told the truth about this hospital incident. As a result, I have been singled out and have endured years of pushback from the Armstrong camp, the latest attempt being the Guardian article in question. With this action I hope to make one thing clear: I have always told the truth, and I will not tolerate being called a liar.
"I have asked that any cash settlement be paid not to me, but to charities of my choice: The Lennon Center a local charity whose mission is to provide non-judgmental counseling, material assistance and counseling before, during and after pregnancy; and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee."
Meitan Hompo gets its attack back
By Greg Johnson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
EQA-Meitan Hompo- Graphite Design found the attacking style it's traditionally known for at the Tour of Langkawi on Stage 4, after a quiet few days at the Malaysian race. Until yesterday's stage the squad had only attacked once in the opening three stages.
"This year for the opening stages we've tried to look after our sprinter," said Shinichi Fukushima. "He has tried every time but not been able to get there."
The reason behind the squad's quieter presence at this year's race comes down to the loss of Koji Fukushima, according to his brother. Koji retired from professional cycling at the end of last season, however Shinichi hinted earlier in the week he may return to racing next year.
"We don't have Koji – he was always on the attack," he said.
Fukushima lived up to his word on the fourth stage, becoming a key player in the day's main breakaway after several attempts to start a move. The Japanese rider is hoping to be more active on Saturday's Stage 6, despite being hampered by his condition.
"I think maybe there I have a chance, also on the last day," he said. "Normally I stay in Thailand for training over the [northern] winter so I come here with a little advantage for the hot days. This year I stayed in Japan, training in the wind and a little cold, so this year my condition is a little low."
Team Type 1 announces 'Signs For Sacramento' contest
Fans who turn out to show their support for Team Type 1 at Saturday's prologue time trial of the Tour of California can win free souvenirs as part of the team's "Signs for Sacramento" contest.
Representatives of Team Type 1 will be judging posters, banners and signs along the 2.4-mile (3.8 km) route that showcases the State Capitol, the Capitol Mall area and the well-known local Tower Bridge. The creators of the most original signs cheering on Team Type 1 will be awarded hats, T-shirts, socks and other official team memorabilia.
To be eligible to win, the sign, banner or poster must feature the words "Team Type 1." Judging will begin a half-hour before the first rider heads down the start ramp (1:30 PM) through the conclusion of the prologue (approximately 4 PM).
Team Type 1 is the only one of 17 teams in the race with riders who have Type 1 diabetes. Phil Southerland and Fabio Calabria will be joined in the nine-day race by Moises Aldape, Chris Jones, Valeriy Kobzarenko, Darren Lill, Ian MacGregor and Matt Wilson.
Fans are invited to meet-and-greet Team Type 1 at every start and finish venue along the more than 750-mile route. Riders and staff of Team Type 1 will be on hand one hour before each stage and immediately following each race.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)