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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News Extra for July 9, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer and Sabine Sunderland

Is Ullrich "the third person"?; Pevenage fired

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Germany's Der Spiegel magazine has alleged that the Spanish investigators have uncovered not only a new code name for Jan Ullrich, but also further evidence that he and his mentor Rudy Pevenage were involved with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, as well as further implicating former Liberty rider Jörg Jaksche.

In a transcript of a tapped telephone conversation, Pevenage reportedly thanked the Spanish doctor, saying, "The 'third person' won." The conversation took place on May 18, the date on which Ullrich won the time trial in the Giro d'Italia. In another transcript, Pevenage allegedly asked "for more".

Der Spiegel also claimed that the police records show TV coverage of Jaksche visiting Fuentes on May 14, and having blood taken. Jaksche has denied any connection to the doctor.

DPA reported that as a result of these latest allegations, team manager Olaf Ludwig has fired Rudy Pevenage. "He has been given notice," said Ludwig. Pevenage therefore stands to lose almost half of his annual wage of around €300,000. Ullrich's continued status in the team is unclear. He remains suspended until more details of the Spanish case are revealed.

José Luis Martínez denies relationship with Dr. Fuentes

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Comunidad Valenciana rider José Luis Martinez has issued a statement denying any involvement with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. Martinez was one of many riders who appeared on 'the list' that was put together by the Spanish Civil Guard and leaked to the press.

"For the past three years in the Comunidad Valenciana cycling team, I have not any relationship with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes," said Martinez. "I have not infringed any professional standard during my professional career, as is shown in my medical file."

In addition, José Luis Martínez said he was at the disposal of the judicial and sports authorities "to clarify any questions" while lamenting "the personal and professional damage suffered as a result of being implicated in Operacion Puerto...I am prepared to undertake legal action in order to explain my appearance in the documents seized from Dr. Fuentes.

"I have nothing to hide, and, in this sense, I am prepared to supply to the media any of the tests considered necessary to demonstrate that my name has been used in this case unjustly," finished José Luis Martinez.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Julich's loss a "major setback" for CSC

"Losing Bobby is a major set-back for us, because he was ready for a big Tour de France," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis on the team's website, a day after Bobby Julich crashed out of the Tour in the time trial. "His experience and strength in the mountains will be sorely missed. Bobby will be very hard to do without, but we have to keep on fighting with the remaining riders. And luckily I can feel, that they all still have the motivation to work hard towards gaining some results.

"I'm really impressed with Carlos delivering the best result today. There's no doubt he's the one we'll be fighting for in the overall standings. He's gotten through the first week nice and easy and now we'll do all we can to protect him, before we hit the mountains. I think, Carlos can go far in this Tour de France."

After Julich had X-rays taken at the hospital in Rennes on Saturday afternoon, team doctor Joost De Maeseneer commented, "First off the X-rays show no fractures, but he has a big open wound on his right wrist. When they've cleaned it up properly, they'll be able to examine it further during surgery here in Rennes. Bobby will be staying in hospital over night and later on a scan will show whether he has any fractures."

The old Boonen is back

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The now ex-wearer of the maillot jaune Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) told Sporza radio after the TT that he is extremely happy with the team's first part of the Tour. "It's really impressive to start the first TT as leader in GC! I sort of underestimated the effect of riding the TT in the yellow jersey a bit, it had a lot more impact than what I anticipated," he said "I can TT a bit, I don't have to dig deep to ride a good TT, didn't have to go 100% á bloc to do what I did today. I started well and quickly caught up to Robbie and he 'stayed in my wheel' for a while I think, he came up and glanced now and again. But I kept my pace going and I didn't go into the red once."

In contrast to his mood in previous days, Boonen was more positive about his first week in the Tour. "I'm very happy with the first part of this Tour. To win a stage in the TdF is one thing, but to wear the yellow! "I've accomplished so much this week. To ride in the yellow jersey for four days is simply fantastic. I've felt really good and I'm still very confident. I don't have to force myself at all (laughs) maybe I'll even have to change my ambitions in the future! Everyone who knows cycling could see that I have improved in all areas; and to ride this TT as leader in GC is really something!

"My team deserves some rest now. Not one team could do the work we did this week. We have been riding well since the start, and also launched the sprint every time. Look at how I went in the break yesterday; it was big alarm in the peloton. They had to chase, not because they wanted to, but they had to. We did so much work as a team in this first week. There's few teams who can close gaps and then still pull the sprint in the Tour; we did both. I'm extremely proud and satisfied with how the boys rode.

"I have experienced wearing the green jersey before. It brings a lot of obligations along with it. So I knew how it could be if wearing the yellow. Yellow or green, they're different coloured jerseys, but the obligations are similar. It takes you two hours longer to get to the hotel after the stage and by the time you get to the diner table it's 9.30pm, it could get a bit much sometimes.

"Quick.Step is a team which always makes the races they ride. The tour hasn't been different so far. I mean, yellow is no green, and we couldn't afford not to ride like other teams could. We had to defend the yellow and we did our job well. It has cost extra energy, but we didn't have to force ourselves doing it; we have what we came for so far. We reached our goal."

Tom Boonen (Quickstep)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Boonen also commented on his failed stage 6 sprint, where he finished third behind McEwen and Bennati. "Indeed, I was disappointed yesterday because the stupidest thing which could happen did happen. It's not that we couldn't get it organised or something. What happened is a bit thanks to the pressure of the Belgian press on the team for me to win a sprint. There's so much hype around the Tour, while the racing is no different to other races. The first sprints have been a big mess, too chaotic to control.

Our preparation for the sprint yesterday was perfect but Steven wanted to do too good of a job, and that's why he waited too long. It's not that he couldn't do it; and there definitely were no bad intentions there. He was so afraid of doing something wrong, too nervous because of that hype created by the Belgian press around the sprint finish. If the sprints here would have gone as they normally do, no-one would come past us, but it simply hasn't gone that way. It's normal though I cursed after the finish I think. It's not because this is the Tour that the racing is different, the big fuss which is made about it is different."

"I think that if I have to lose faith in the team, there's a lot of people here who should lose faith in their team. Look at the images of the stages, I rode better than ever. I'm confident enough; it's just those sprints hey. But no worries. To win tomorrow would be ok, but hey, if we lose it wouldn't hurt either."

Coucke happy with his squad

Dream team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Marc Coucke (manager Omega Pharma, sponsor of Davitamon-Lotto) is very happy with his team's performances, which have netted three stage wins and the green jersey, courtesy of sprinter Robbie McEwen. "I've watched it all on TV, haven't missed too many seconds of it so far," he told Sporza radio on Saturday. "It was fantastic of course. The tension fell away after the first win; you know when it doesn't come quickly it gets annoying. Then you start to concentrate on the yellow and green jersey. It's a luxury situation to be in. "The wins have been impressive. In the sprints Robbie looked like sitting too far, but then you saw that TGV coming; I thought it looked like a new Olympic discipline in cycling, rarely seen! The broad shoulders of Steegmans and then Robbie sitting in his wheel. This is exceptional.

"Robbie was one of the very first riders whose contract we prolonged 'till 2008, for the maximum we could give. If we have enough money, then we'll keep Steegmans. I think he'd like to stay with us, but it's going to be tough, as we made a few extra efforts financially already. We gave Cadel a contract till 2008 also - he's important too in the mountains - so we have to calculate things and make priorities.

"What Gert has done they can't take away anymore, so that's good. It is fantastic for the team, but it will raise his price too. And we have to admit that Robbie by himself is almost a team. Of course it was impressive what Gert has shown. If he could live with working for Robbie and do his own thing in the smaller races it would be great. We might have someone to follow in Robbie's footsteps later if he stays. We need a new sprinter for 2009, as Robbie won't ride forever. But the budget gives the problem. Before the tour we said, we'll have to let Gert go, and during this Tour his value has increased even. But that is also the case for us; look, Gert has the right mentality, riding like he did without certainty about his job for next year still, he's giving it all. We'll have to get together with the National Lottery and Brustor and talk about it. To continue with him would be nice.

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"We expect more and more from Cadel as days pass. With the big names getting eliminated out of the Tour, things are exciting. There's 7 to 8 riders who can win the Tour this year and Cadel is one of them. Just that thought makes us nervous. It's a big thing for our team.

"You can dream when you're in sports, you have to go for it; we're going for green and yellow. Of course it will be hard to accomplish. But when you're in the winning mood, anything is possible. This is a Tour which could give DVL the biggest result ever so we have to go all out for it. Cadel has a realistic chance of finishing top 5. We have the right to dream and on the podium in Paris we can have two people; a top 3 spot for Cadel and green for Robbie.

"The press and public in Belgium has been spoiled this year. There's too much fuss about Boonen winning a sprint. I you look at it, with Tom Boonen in the yellow in the first week, the Belgian public is still not satisfied, while Voeckler is still a hero in France for wearing it years ago!

DVL don't have to make up for a weaker spring season, but for our team, in the Tour, we are riding a long way above our financial value. What happened in the spring with Boonen for Belgian cycling was exceptional, and it is that way for our team in the Tour. It's exceptional what is happening right now.

What these wins mean for the sponsors is great, economically that is. I mean, a win in Gent-Wevelgem isn't mentioned on CNN, the wins in the Tour are; so publicity-wise these results in the tour are fantastic. Davitamon is known in the whole of Europe now; we'll have over €25 million turn-over with Davitamon alone! The impact of it on the company Omega-Pharma is simply amazing. You only get that kind of positive reaction with, for example, a win in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and a Paris-Roubaix. Hopefully we'll keep having great results till Paris."

A "surprising" time trial, says Wegmann

Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann says he expected more from his roommate Marcus Fothen, who finished 7th in Saturday's Tour time trial. "They say he's supposed to be an up-and-coming Tour talent," says Wegmann on his website, www.fabianwegmann.de. "I don't want to say that was disappointing, because it's not sooooo bad, but personally I expected a little more from him."

"But seriously," he continued, "it was a very surprising time trial for our team, both good and bad. Our Captain Levi lost a lot of time," while Fothen and Sebastian Lang both rode exceptionally well.

And how does he rate his own performance? "Anyone who knows me and the kind of rider I am, will also know that I can be satisfied with my 60th place."

Wegmann and Fothen knew the best way to relax after the "short but intensive" workday: in front of the TV, like millions of other Germans, watching their national team win third place in the World Cup.

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