First Edition Cycling News, March 7, 2009
Edited by Laura Weislo and Sue George
All teams paid up for biological passport
In a Paris press conference, UCI president Pat McQuaid gave the teams, Cofidis, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Silence-Lotto, Quick Step and Caisse d'Epargne, until close of business on Friday to submit the required first half of the €120,000 fee which is part of all ProTour teams' obligation to support the anti-doping effort. He informed those teams that they would be prevented from starting Paris-Nice if they did not pay, a statement which drew strong reactions.
Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere was frustrated with the UCI's demand, but ultimately his team and Cofidis were the first to submit the payments, with the other three teams quickly following suit.
The Quick Step team issued a statement defending its stand in the matter, clarifying that it had made a €30,000 payment on March 4, and said that this was part of a proposal by the ProTour teams' economic interest group, IPCT, to divide the payment into four installments. "The first was to be paid before the Paris-Nice, the second by April 1, the third by July 1 and the fourth installment had to be paid by October 1. In our opinion, the payments should have followed the progress of the biological passport programme over the course of the season."
Lefevere made it clear that his team supports the passport programme. "It is not our intention to doubt the usefulness or validity of the programme, which we have always supported, and which we have believed in since the beginning. We simply feel it would be more correct to spread the payment throughout the course of the season."
The UCI did not accept this argument, and Lefevere and his team decided to simply pay the remaining €90,000 "to avoid speculation about the team and to show once more that it wasn't a question of economics, but a point of principle, which evidently was not well received."
UCI and AFLD to work together
By Jean-François Quénet in Paris
The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) announced an agreement on Friday to work together on anti-doping efforts for the upcoming Paris-Nice and possibly extending the relationship to July's Tour de France. The AFLD took over the doping controls of last year's Tour de France after organiser Amaury Sport Organisation held the race outside the aegis of the UCI, and it netted eight positive riders with a combined strategy of traditional random and targeted controls.
The AFLD did not wish to step down and leave all the responsibilities of the testing to the international governing body this year when it resumed control of the race. The two parts have reached an agreement on Friday in Paris in which they will cooperate closely.
During Paris-Nice starting on Sunday, there will be two anti-doping inspectors working together, one from the UCI and one from the AFLD who will point out the riders they wish to target, much in the same way they did last July when they found Italian Riccardo Riccó positive for a new generation of EPO drugs after spotting suspicious values in pre-Tour blood tests.
"The AFLD did an excellent job in those controls," UCI president Pat McQuaid said in a press conference in Paris. "Some riders tested positive and that's a success. It's important that the cheats get caught."
McQuaid was satisfied with the agreement, and, looking forward to July, said it is, "the basis for a very significant collaboration with AFLD for other events such as the Tour de France. After Paris-Nice, we will have a look at the situation again, but there is every reason to believe that this collaboration will continue."
AFLD president Pierre Bordry acknowledged that doping controls for international races like the Tour de France and Paris-Nice are the responsibility of the UCI under the WADA code. However, he managed to keep them under his direction. "The AFLD will conduct the controls and analysis," he stated. "We'll send the results to the UCI without knowledge of the name of the players." He meant the riders, whose samples are tested via a code number.
"Priority will be given to targeted controls," Bordry added. "We'll use the information that we already have, including from the hair tests we have conducted previously, plus those transmitted to us by other national agencies." Asked about a potential scenario where the UCI might refuse to control some riders targeted by the AFLD, the Frenchman answered, "That would be interesting. But it would create difficulties in our relationship." McQuaid ruled that option out. "It's a very hypothetical situation," he said. "If there are cheats, we'll catch them."
Bordry warned that there would be at least as many tests conducted as there were last year at Paris-Nice – 98 in total. "We have an agreement for Paris-Nice, after that we'll draw conclusions for the Tour de France," he continued. "I'm very satisfied with this agreement. The UCI is fully committed against drugs. We have the same concern: we all want cycling to get rid of doping. There is a strong anti-doping culture in cycling and a large majority of cyclists aren't doped. We can only encourage all cyclists to be serious with their whereabouts for the dope tests."
McQuaid also emphasized the biological passport will be effective prior to the 2009 Tour de France. The UCI will take action against the riders found guilty via the biological passport as soon as the experts will be ready to state in court about evidence of drugs use. They will be helped during Paris-Nice by French data from hair testing that is not yet part of the control process.
Rebellin in for Amstel Gold
Along with the 18 ProTour teams, the Professional Continental squads Skil-Shimano, Vacansoleil, Topsport Vlaanderen, Cervélo TestTeam, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Diquigiovanni-Androni will make up the 24 teams which will tackle the Dutch Classic.
New leader, repeat winner in Mexico
Vitoria and Rodriguez finished 32 seconds clear of Mexican Carlos Lopez (Canel's Turbo) on a mountainous stage which included seven categorized climbs, beginning with the 1,500-meter Cacahumilpa climb 70 kilometers into the stage, and stair-stepping up over the next 110 kilometers to the top of the Zinacantepec volcano at over 3,500 meters over a 215-kilometer route.
Karl Menzies (OUCH Pro Cycling Team p/b Maxxis) resumed his lead in the sprint classification after he made the early breakaway and took three of the four intermediate sprints, all of which preceded the climbs. The break gained a maximum gap of nine minutes on the field, and stayed clear until the penultimate climb. "Karl did a great job of getting off the front and getting the sprint jersey back," said team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "Our goal the rest of the way will be to make sure he keeps it."
Roche motivated, but nervous
By Shane Stokes
Nicolas Roche is heading into Paris-Nice this weekend hoping for a strong overall performance, psyched to ride well but also unsure as to how things will go.
"I am a bit nervous about the race," the AG2R-La Mondiale rider told Cyclingnews on Friday. "I think I am in good form, but I'm still very worried about that long mountain top finish where I think I could find it hard."
Sunday's 9.3-kilometer time trial should help clear the Irishman's jitters. "I have trained hard and did some good racing to build up to this. Now I can't wait to jump on the TT bike and get going. Then I will think less."
Roche has shown promising early-season form this year, finishing 14th overall in the Tour Down Under, then returning to Europe where he was 20th in the Tour Méditerranéen and eighth on the second stage of the Tour du Haut Var. Last Saturday the 24-year-old placed 16th in the Gran Premio dell'Insubria. The results are solid rather than spectacular, but traditionally he doesn't hit form until much later in the season.
He's also been riding very aggressively, and has more in his legs than those placings suggest.
"My goal is to be high in the general classification, which is not an easy task. It's the big event of the start of season, and I want to perform well and be part of the action. I don't want to just struggle and watch the others fight for the positions."
Roche's first cousin Daniel Martin will also line out in the ASO event. The Garmin-Slipstream rider was third overall in the Tour Méditerranéen, taking the best young rider award.
Indisposed Ballan may be out of Eroica
World Champion Alessandro Ballan's participation in the Monte Paschi Eroica on Saturday is in doubt after he fell ill. Ballan complained of a stomach ache and curtailed his training to return early to his Lampre-NGC team's hotel in Asciano, Italy, on Friday.
Doctor Andreazzoli subsequently visited the Ballan and diagnosed him with a virus, which is also causing a fever.
Ballan, along with his managers and the team's medical staff, will decide on Saturday morning whether he will start the race.
Second arrest made in Zabriskie burglary
After arresting a man allegedly involved in the burglary of the home of Garmin-Slipstream's David Zabriskie, Salt Lake City, Utah, Police arrested a second suspect according to the Associated Press. Craig Carlisle, 43, was placed in jail in Salt Lake County on Thursday. He is under investigation for burglary, theft and receiving stolen property. Carlisle joins Leopold Jay Howard, 39, in jail on similar charges.
The burglary of Zabriskie's home occurred while he was away racing during the Tour of California. Electronic equipment, two vehicles, and sporting and comic memorabilia were among the items stolen.
Tour de PEI ready for third year
Stage one will commence in Summerside with cyclists following the same route as in previous years. An amateur race will be held on the Summerside circuit prior to the main event. On Monday, the stage two individual time trial will run from Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick across the longest bridge over ice-covered waters, Confederation Bridge.
The next day, racers will cover almost every hill and valley in central Prince Edward Island as they travel from Kensington to North Rustico. Wednesdays stage four will take them from Dalvay to Montague to Georgetown, a new finish.
Finally, stage five will be run on a new course in Charlottetown as the old course will be unavailable due to a construction project. The new course is still being finalized.
In addition to the elite women's event, Tour de PEI will also feature amateur, celebrity and children's races, as well as a finish line concert to kick start the Confederation Bridge summer Concert Series. A portion of the proceeds from these events will benefit the Queen Elizabeth and Prince County Hospital Foundations.
The race was awarded the Road Event Organizer of the Year in 2007 by the Canadian Cycling Association.
Visit www.tourdepei.com for more information about the race.
Sawtooth Cycle Challenge
The Sawtooth Cycle Challenge, from October 3, will feature four events to raise money for the Leukemia And Lymphoma Society Of Idaho: the 30-mile Galena Summit Challenge, the Metric Century to the top of Galena and Back, a century to Redfish and back and the 150-mile Extreme road challenge from Sun Valley to Idaho City.
On Friday night before the rides, special guest Olympic gold medal winner Kristin Armstrong will speak at a pre-event pasta party. An informal recovery ride will follow on Sunday.
For more information, visit sawtoothcyclechallenge.blogspot.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)