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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for July 28, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Shane Stokes

UCI investigating possible doping infraction

By Shane Stokes, with additional reporting from Jeff Jones

The UCI confirmed today that a sample taken at the end of the fifth stage of the Tour de France showed traces of the restricted substance norpseudoephedrine (also known as cathine). The anti-doping commission is currently investigating the matter, although a spokesman stressed today that there is a "strong" chance that it will not be considered a bona fide doping offence.

The sample in question was taken on Wednesday July 6, when a number of riders were tested at the finish of stage five into Montargis. Stage winner Robbie McEwen (Davitamon.Lotto) and race leader Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) would have been amongst those required to provide samples, but as such tests commonly include random selections, it is equally possible that another rider was concerned.

Following the usual protocol in such case, the UCI today declined to name the rider in question prior to the conclusion of the commission's investigation.

"Right now, the case is being studied by the anti-doping commission of the UCI," confirmed the spokesman to Cyclingnews this afternoon. "They will determine if there is a case to answer or not, as traces of this product, norpseudoephedrine, can come about because of the use of another legal product, pseudoephedrine. It is too early to say what the commission will rule. But it is very possible that they will decide that there is no doping case at all."

In terms of the timing of the positive test, today's confirmation appears to contradict a press release issued by the UCI on July 14. That statement read: "As in other Tours de France, the UCI Anti-doping Commission gives information on the progressive developments of anti-doping controls effectuated during the race.

"All urine and blood samples taken until and on July 9, 2005 have been analysed by the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory. No infringement to the UCI Anti-doping Regulations, neither on the 2005 prohibited list, have been noted by the UCI Anti-doping Commission." The fifth stage took place on July 6.

Norpseudoephedrine is closely related to pseudoephedrine, a stimulant that was formerly restricted but is now permitted by the UCI and WADA. Pseudoephedrine is found in a number of medications such as cold remedies. According to studies [Tseng et al (Forensic Sci Int. 2005 May 7), Delbeke et al (Biopharm Drug Dispos. 1991 Jan-Feb;12(1):37-48)], pseudoephedrine can be converted to norpseudoephedrine in the body at a rate of between 1 and 7 percent. The legal limit for norpseudoephedrine in a urine sample is 5 mcg/mL, which means that a positive test via this sort of conversion is an outside possibility.

Two riders have tested above this level in the past 12 months. Phil Zajicek was disqualified from his win in last year's Tour de Qinghai Lake when he returned a sample of 6 mcg/mL of norpseudoephedrine on July 22, 2004. He was given a warning by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), lost his race win and paid a fine of 666 Swiss francs. He claimed that he had taken pseudoephedrine in a cold medication during the race, and that norpseudoephedrine was also quite common in tea and food from Northern China.

More recently, Shimano memory Corp rider Stefan Schumacher returned a non-negative "A" sample for the same substance. The German, who was leading the UCI Europe Tour points classification after winning the Ster Elektrotoer plus three stages and the overall classification of the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, was also above the threshold. He too has pleaded his innocence, saying that his mother, who is a doctor, was not aware that that substance was restricted and had prescribed it to him in an anti-asthma medication. As yet, no judgment has been made on his case.

Frederic Donze of the World Anti-Doping Agency told Cyclingnews that WADA cannot comment at the moment. "We don't have full details of the case as the UCI are dealing with it. We were not involved in the test itself, as we only do out-of-competition testing to complement the other (race) testing which is in place."

Journalist dies on Vuelta a Colombia

There was some sad news during the third stage of the Vuelta a Colombia, when Alberto Martínez Prader, a journalist from Radio Colombiana RCN, lost his life in a car accident. The tragedy happened on the descent of La Lima, when the car carrying Martínez and his companions José Fernando López and Hector Urrego overturned. Martínez was killed, while the other two were seriously injured, but are expected to recover.

Colombia-Selle Italia team manager Gianni Savio commented, "Although it was a positive day for our team from a sporting point of view, I was not able to be happy because of the tragedy that struck not just three journalists, but three friends."

Ullrich and Zabel lead T-Mobile attack in Hamburg

One week after finishing third in the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich is to spearhead a strong T-Mobile team in the HEW Cyclassics ProTour race in Hamburg this Sunday. Ullrich and a fellow previous winner Erik Zabel will lead the magenta charge for the 250.5 kilometre event, with Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier, Steffen Wesemann, Eric Baumann, André Korff and Stephan Schreck all providing support.

"In Jan and Erik Zabel we will be starting the race with two riders that have already won in Hamburg," said team directeur sportif Olaf Ludwig, referring to their victories in 1997 and 2001. "They are our trump cards."

Ludwig expects the selection to go on the tough Waseberg climb, which will be covered four times during the race. "The narrow climb is short, but tough. If a leading group can form there, I see a strong chance that Jan can be among them. If it all boils down to a bunch sprint, then we have Erik Zabel in reserve. He has been training intensively for this for the last few weeks."

The other riders may go in an early break or, alternatively, may help to reel back other moves. T-Mobile will obviously be fired up to do well on home soil, but Ludwig says they will not be assuming responsibility. "This race will be hard to control. We will have to wait and see what happens."

A strong lineup is expected for the event. Last year's winner Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) is expected to be back, while current ProTour leader Danilo di Luca (Liquigas) has also got his eyes set on the win. 2003 HEW champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), runner-up Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and TDF green jersey Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) are also seen by Ludwig as big threats. Up to one million spectators are expected for the race, which will be renamed as the Vattenfall Cyclassics in 2006.

Liberty names 13 for Vuelta

The Liberty Seguros team has named 13 riders for its "long team" for the upcoming Vuelta a España, which starts on August 27. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who has been out of action for a couple of weeks after suffering a fractured coccyx, has resumed training again in order to keep his chances of riding the Vuelta alive. He forms part of the line up, along with René Andrle, Dariusz Baranowski, Joseba Beloki, Giampaolo Caruso, Koldo Gil, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Roberto Heras, Jan Hruska, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho, Michele Scarponi, Marcos Serrano and Ángel Vicioso.

Liberty has also named its rosters for the following races:

HEW Cyclassics (July 31) and Tour del Benelux (August 3-10): René Andrle, Carlos Barredo, Allan Davis, Koen de Kort, Jan Hruska, Aaron Kemps, Isidro Nozal and Sergio Paulinho.

GP Getxo (July 31): Giampaolo Caruso, Koldo Gil, Jesus Hernández, Daniel Navarro, Javier R. Abeja, Jose Antonio Redondo and Iván Santos.

Vuelta a Burgos: (August 7-11): Dariusz Baranowski, Giampaolo Caruso, David Etxebarria, Jesús Hernández, Javier R. Abeja, Jose Antonio Redondo, Iván Santos and Michele Scarponi.

Eneco Tour gets good entry list

A strong field has also been announced for this year's Eneco Tour of Benelux, formerly known as the Tour of the Netherlands. Starting next Wednesday, August 3, and running until Wednesday 10, the race will feature sprint rivals Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), both aiming to get back into winning form after missing the Tour de France. Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich (Team CSC) will try to get to the top of the podium, as will the Dutch Rabobank trio of Thomas Dekker, Michael Boogerd and last year's champion, Erik Dekker.

Italians Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre-Caffita) will make the trip aiming for success, as will the Belgian strongmen Tom Steels and Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon.Lotto). Their troubled compatriot Frank Vandenbroucke ( is also due to start, trying once again to get back to something approaching his former form.

The ProTour race begins with a 5.7 km time trial in Mechelen.

Question mark over Freire's World's

Oscar Freire's chance to take a record-breaking fourth Elite World Championship title on home soil this year may be in doubt due to the injury problems he suffered this season. The World's supremo had an operation to remove a cyst in mid-June and, according to Spanish sports daily AS, complications from that mean that he is highly unlikely to compete in the Vuelta a España, despite being named as part of Rabobank's line up. Freire has been unable to log up the sort of training hours needed to prepare for a Grand Tour. He is instead considering doing some of the Italian preparation races instead, but says he may not be in ideal shape.

Fans of the Rabobank rider can however take some consolation from his past. When troubled by a lingering back injury, Freire was nevertheless able to reach top form very quickly. They'll be hoping that he can do the same this time round.

More CSC contracts extended

Team CSC has prolonged the contracts of Nicki Sørensen, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Giovanni Lombardi and Luke Roberts for two years.

Three stagiaires announced for Lampre-Caffita

Bici Club Azzuro riders Matteo Bono, Francesco Gavazzi and Morris Possoni will ride as stagiaires with the Lampre-Caffita team from August 1 until December 31. Bono and Possoni will make their debuts in the GP Città di Camaiore on the 4th of August, while Gavazzi's big moment comes in the Tour of Portugal stage race from the August 5-15.

Matteo Bono was a recent winner of the GP Città di Brescia. Possoni was 3rd in the final classification in the Giro delle Valle d'Aosta in 2004, but broke his collarbone in the Pesche Nettarine earlier this season. He made his return to racing several weeks ago. Gavazzi won the 37th Bibano Circuit in Treviso this year and took stages in the Val d'Aosta and the Como-Ghisallo in 2003.

All three riders are directed by former pro Bruno Leali.

Tour of the Peak to go ahead

The race organisers of the Tour of the Peak have confirmed that the UK event will go ahead, 12 months after the cancellation of the 2004 event. Negotiations with local police and strong support from the cycling community have ensured that the 63 year old race will take place on the 11th of September.

"It would have been a tragedy to lose a race that is one of the flagship events of the sport in this country," said Mike Taylor, who is part of the North West Division Organising committed. "It's really helpful to have had the support and weight of the industry and governing body, particularly Dave Brailsford, in making sure the race goes ahead."

There have had to be considerable changes to the course, which this year is based on South Buxton. It will incorporate parts of the Junior Tour of the Peak; taking in the climbs of Hitters Hill and Axe Edge in a 23.5 mile lap to be covered four times.

Holding of the race this year has been possible due in part to the support of Dave Lochran of Planet X, who currently sponsors the reigning champion and six times winner of the Tour of the Peak, Mark Lovett. "You can't let a race like the Peak die, we've all raced it, watched it and been a part of it for years," he said. "Any help Planet X can give in making sure it happens this year is really important."

The organisers have stated that the support of riders is also vital to ensure the race's future it is now vital that it is supported by riders. Entry to the race costs £20.00 and should be submitted to Mike Taylor, 21 Market Place, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, SK23 0EN.

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