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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for September 12, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and David Collins, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Former US Postal riders admit EPO use

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In an interview with the New York Times, two former riders with Lance Armstrong's 1999 US Postal team admitted that they took drugs to help prepare for the Tour de France that year. Frankie Andreu and one other rider, who wished to remain anonymous "because he said he did not want to jeopardize his job in cycling" said that they wanted to come clean because doping and its denial are damaging the sport.

"There are two levels of guys," Andreu told the NYT. "You got the guys that cheat and guys that are just trying to survive." Andreu didn't specify when he took EPO, but said it was only for certain races. The anonymous rider said that he did not take EPO during the Tour. "The environment was certainly one of, to be accepted, you had to use doping products," he said. "There was very high pressure to be one of the cool kids." Both riders said that they never saw Armstrong using illegal performance enhancing substances.

Andreu said he was introduced to drugs in 1995 while he was riding for Motorola, where Lance Armstrong was also a rider. Another former Motorola rider, New Zealander Steven Swart, admitted in L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong to taking EPO while on that team. The team's doctor, Massimo Testa, told the NYT that he educated the riders that asked him about EPO but did not encourage them to use it. "If you want to use a gun, you had better use a manual, rather than to ask the guy on the street how to use it," he said. "I cannot rule out that someone did it."

In recent years, other higher profile riders who raced in Armstrong's team have been involved in drug scandals. Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras and Floyd Landis have all tested positive for banned substances, although none of them did so while on Armstrong's team.

Lance Armstrong has always denied using performance enhancing drugs, amidst numerous lawsuits and allegations. French newspaper L'Equipe alleged that in 1999, Armstrong took EPO during the Tour de France, on the basis of recent tests carried out on his frozen urine samples. However, an independent investigation started by the UCI into those allegations found that there wasn't enough sound evidence to convict Armstrong of drug use in 1999.

Armstrong and Tailwind Sports also won a lawsuit against insurance company SCA Promotions, which refused to pay him a $5 million bonus after his sixth Tour de France win in 2004, based on the allegations that he may have cheated. During the hearings, Andreu, his wife Betsy, and others testified that Armstrong told doctors that he had used drugs prior to getting cancer in 1996. However, that testimony was not considered strong enough by the case's arbitrators, who ordered SCA to pay Armstrong the $5 million, plus $181,000 in interest and an additional $2.5 million in damages.

Haselbacher out of the Vuelta

Gerolsteiner's Rene Haselbacher has ended the Vuelta a España, dropping out after the 15th stage with an inflamed tendon. He considers the Vuelta to be a success for him and takes some credit for teammate Robert Förster's stage win on Sunday. "My form is good. Robert didn't have to ride in the wind today in the finale. I brought him perfectly in position and he only had to keep going. The team's happiness was of course huge over this first stage win in the Vuelta. Now I'm heading back home. I'll take it easy the next few days in order to heal my injury thoroughly. Then I'll start my final preparations for the WM in Salzburg." (

Vuelta diary watch: A day at the beach

There are only three Gerolsteiner riders left in the Vuelta now, so their two directeurs sportifs and a physical therapist went with them on their training ride on their day off. A two-hour ride "is really more than enough on a rest day," decided stage winner Robert Förster, and the group settled into a beach-front cafe in Almeria. "The ocean looked so tempting that I decided to go jump in," and he was joined by teammates Heinrich Haussler and Torsten Hiekmann. After eating, tidying up the suitcase and taking care of such matters, he lay down and closed his eyes for a minute - only to oversleep for his massage. "It's crazy, how quickly a rest day goes by, even though you don't really do anything productive." (

Rabobank's Grischa Niermann resisted the temptation of the beach. He and his teammates settled for a Cafe con Leche at a cafe overlooking the water. The Dutch team "trained a bit more than on the last rest day, because tomorrow it should be really hard." Niermann also noted that Sunday afternoon the peloton flew down to Almeria, getting to the hotels at about 8 p.m. The staff members, who had come down in the team buses, "had been there half an hour already. The Vuelta organizers could have spared themselves all the trouble, because the transfers in the team buses would have taken the same amount of time and would have been a lot more comfortable." (

Dutch men's team announced for World's

The Dutch Cycling Federation has announced its eight members of its team for the upcoming 2006 UCI Road World Championships from September 19-24 in Salzburg. Riders confirmed are Michael Boogerd, Karsten Kroon, Gerben Löwik, Bram Tankink, Joost Posthuma, Jan Boven, Max van Heeswijk and Maarten Tjallingii. Young star Thomas Dekker will miss the world's, after a crash in the Tour of Poland that resulted in a broken bone in his left hand. This leaves one remaining spot to be filled in the team, which will be contested for by reserves Pieter Weening, Theo Eltink, Bram de Groot, Steven de Jongh and Servais Knaven. National coach Van Kessel will decide on the remaining rider on Wednesday, September 13. National time trial champion Stef Clement and Joost Posthuma will also ride the time trial.

Belgian men's teams announced

The men's Belgian team for Salzburg was also announced Monday, consisting of Tom Boonen (QuickStep-Innergetic), Nick Nuyens (QuickStep-Innergetic), Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon-Lotto), Kevin Hulsmans (QuickStep-Innergetic), Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel), Serge Baguet (QuickStep-Innergetic), Jurgen Van Goolen (Discovery Channel). National coach Carlo Bomans has stated that defending champion Tom Boonen will play a "trump card role" in this year's event as the undulating course will be more suited to the likes of Nick Nuyens and Philippe Gilbert.

The Belgian outfit will arrive in Salzburg on Thursday to familiarize themselves with the course. From there they will have a better idea on who will lead the team on Sunday's road race.

"I'm extremely happy with the Belgian team formation for the World Championship, the team is a very strong and balanced," said the reigning champ Tom Boonen. "Six of the selected are of the same generation, we have known each other since we were children. The others three, Baguet, Hoste and Hulsmans, are riders with a lot of experience. We've got athletes suited to all types of race styles, a great mix. This year's race route is more difficult than last year's, so it will be important to have team mates around during the final kilometres in order to take charge and control the situation if and when required.

"With regard to my team mates, Baguet, with his experience, could be the 'eyes' of our coach Carlo Bomans in the race. Hulsmans is riding the Vuelta extremely well and is improving daily. Nuyens is a rider that we all know, he's a first class athlete and I'm sure he'll be in the final."

McEwen predicts mass sprint unlikely for World's road race

Robbie McEwen has stated that it's unlikely the road race will end in a mass sprint on Sunday, however he still remains ambitious about his chances. "I've spoken to Boonen and we will assume that the climbers may be tired from the Vuelta, this is good for guys like us." McEwen also explained that has worked hard to remain sharp for Sunday's race by getting in some intensive training behind the motorbike, "I don't want to go to the world championships just for the sake of going, I want to be competitive," remarked McEwen.

Cancellara to focus on World's time trial

In his preparation for the World's time trial this weekend, Fabian Cancellara will not begin stage 16 of the Vuelta a España. After placing a close second to David Millar in last Saturday's time trial, Cancellara is confident in being successful at Salzburg. "It is better for me in the run-up to the world championships to get some training in on my time trial bike," he said.

Cancellara explained that it was difficult decision to make. "First of all there is a great atmosphere among the CSC team at the Vuelta, and secondly I really wanted to help Carlos [Sastre] as much as I possibly could for the remainder of the race. The problem is though that there is now so many mountains and I wouldn't be able to help much anyway."

Kopp injured, out of World's

Gerolsteiner's David Kopp was named on Monday to a starting place on Germany's World Championship team. Only hours later he had to cancel his participation, due to a broken arm caused by a training accident.

Kopp was only 200 meters away from his home when it happened. "I had just started my training ride, when my front wheel slipped away in the first curve and I went down," he said. An examination at the Eduardos Hospital in Köln showed a broken right underarm, and the doctors ordered a three-week rest. "I have to give up the World's and will probably have to end my season, too," the 27-year-old said.

Wiesenhof-Akud for 3-Länder Tour

Wiesenhof-Akud is gearing up for its "last stage race of the 2006 season," the five stage 3-Länder Tour starting Wednesday. Gerhard Trampusch and Tomas Konecny will be leading the team and looking for GC placement, while Gerald Ciolek will bet he team's man for sprint finishes.

Wiesenhof-Akud for the 3-Länder Tour: Gerald Ciolek, Artur Gajek, Tomas Konecny, Gerhard Trampusch, Lars Wackernagel and Gregor Willwohl.

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