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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for July 15, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones & Shane Stokes, with assistance from Sabine Sunderland

Boonen beating bunch boosts morale

Boonen-McEwen war of words continues

Boonen and McEwen
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen's finishing ahead of Robbie McEwen, among others, in the bunch sprint for fifth yesterday has restored some of the Belgian world champion's and his team's morale.

"It's a good sign that I won the peloton sprint today, 'cause yesterday evening I was sick as a dog; very, very strange," Boonen told Sporza radio after the stage.

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"I already had thoughts of going home," said Boonen. "This morning I got up and I still felt bad; I ate a bit of rice and light food. but I couldn't each much during the race. I had stitches in the stomach, I think my intestines were irritated or something like that, but I just drank lots of water and halfway through the stage it passed."

That improvement in his health is reflected in his form. Boonen said his legs felt good and he is improving as the Tour develops. Nevertheless, the scorching pace of the first couple of hours of yesterday's stage was a shock. "I thought it would have been nice and easy today. But the first 100km I got flashes from the past I tell you, the pace was so high," he said.

Boonen had some strong words about sprint rival Robbie McEwen, who joined Boonen in an early attack and, Boonen claimed, destroyed the break's chances. "I went into the attack because I thought it would go all day," said Boonen. "I went with it to win the stage; but Robbie was acting ridiculously the whole day, the entire peloton is really pissed at him."

"And then, in the chase for the four riders who attacked, Davitamon didn't ride anymore. It's his own big fault that Davitamon rode itself into mush for him. I wasn't sure of myself because of those stomach problems. It remained 4'20, it wasn't easy to take time off that lead, those weren't little men in that group hey! In our team the guys are starting to feel the little hick-ups a Tour brings on. We will only ride when we're sure of things."

McEwen expressed puzzlement at Boonen's reaction. "Boonen angry? Why would Boonen have to be angry about that?" he said from the team's hotel. "Look, I only have to watch my own rivals so I ride my race how I choose to. What others do or say or think about our team doesn't matter to us. The complete peloton angry at me? Well, I'm having dinner with my team mates so they're not angry."

Boonen's team manager Patrick Lefevere said that it was good for Boonen's morale to have won the bunch sprint in Carcassonne. Lefevere said that the stage was, "Bataille from the start. Tom went into the lead group, with McEwen on his wheel of course. But Tom said Robbie didn't want to ride with the others in the front and then Bennati went. Davitamon didn't calculate it well and then had to ride after it for 90km, with other teams or they wouldn't have closed the gap otherwise. Then Freire went later."

Lefevere mentioned that Boonen wasn't feeling great, and added, "We've done enough last week. So we left things as they were and Tom just won the sprint. There's a few more chances for a sprint to come, so we'll see, but today was good for his confidence. We could pull the peloton on a string in the finale, and it worked well, for what it's worth of course.

"It's my 26th year in this job, it my 24th Tour and I've learned not to panic," said Lefevere. "The public and fans might be impatient but I don't worry about that. The sponsors are happy, they are the ones that pay us and they're backing Tom completely. If we can get one stage win in before the finish in Paris our Tour is a success. We were aiming to have the leader's jersey for one day but we've held on to the yellow for four days and there's definitely teams that will go home with less. The weight of the yellow jersey proved to be a lot, it asked a lot of effort from the team to ride at the front like that during that first week. We didn't get much cooperation from the other teams, unlike last year."

Summing up the status of the team's rider, Lefevere said, "Vasseur crashed today but it's not bad. Cretskens has gone home and we really feel that. Bram Tankink's stomach wasn't good either today. With this speed and this heat today it was tough on all the riders. Let's hope they can recuperate by tomorrow. We'll see what comes."

T-Mobile doctor "astounded" by doping list

Dr. Lothar Heinrich, T-Mobile Team doctor, says he is "very astounded" at the list of illegal doping that Jan Ullrich is alleged to have used during the Tour de France 2005. The Suddeutsche Zeitung has published what it claims is Ullrich's doping schedule for the first week of the tour, prepared by Dr. Fuentes, and which includes testosterone, insulin and growth hormones, as well as a blood transfusion.

"You can't tell things like that by looking at a person," Dr. Heinrich said, and added that Ullrich never showed any conspicuous signs of such doping usage. "The changes in the hormone level caused by the use of testosterone should be noticeable in urine tests. But Ullrich never tested positive at a doping test at a race," he noted, but the complicated test for growth hormone "can be carried out in perhaps two or three labs in Europe."

Heinrich called for better equipment for increased controls by the National Anti-Doping Agency. There is a new blood volume test, which could show blood doping, and complete blood and hormone analyses could make it easier to see changes in those levels. "But all of these things cost money," he said.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Unibet lifts Garcia Quesada's suspension

Unibet.com has announced that it is lifting the temporary suspension of Spanish rider Carlos Garcia Quesada. The Unibet.com cyclist was named in a news article in the ‘Operation Puerto’ doping case, and was suspended by his team.

"There isn't any official authority that can confirm the involvement of Carlos Garcia Quesada in the case ‘Operation Puerto’," said team manager Koen Terryn. "The UCI announced that only the Spanish federation can give us the exact information, but that could take a few weeks. Until that time, there’s no reason why we can't let Carlos Garcia Quesada compete again."

It’s not decided yet what race Carlos Garcia Quesada will make his return to racing.

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

Scanlon aiming to ride Tour of Spain, welcomes cleaner Tour

By Shane Stokes

Two years ago the 1998 world junior champion Mark Scanlon was part of AG2R's team at the Tour de France, riding well in a leadout role and in covering breaks, and thus being part of the stage winning success of Jaan Kirsipuu and Jean-Patrick Nazon. He hasn't reached the same form since and so missed out this July. However he told Cyclingnews on Friday that he is hoping to get into good condition for next month's Tour of Spain.

"The Vuelta is my goal, that is the race I want to do," the 25 year-old said. "I wasn't really aiming to do the Tour anyway. I've been training hard recently and felt like I was coming around a bit towards the end of the Tour of Austria. Hopefully I can get some decent form. Next up for me is the Tour de la Région Wallonne, and then I will travel to Hamburg to do the ProTour race there [the Hew Cyclassic Cup – ed.]. After that I will do the Tour of Germany and then, if my form is good, the Vuelta.

So far in the Tour de France, Scanlon's AG2R Prévoyance team-mates have won a stage, finished second in another and held both the yellow and polka dot jerseys. They were also brief leaders in the team's classification. The Sligoman said the success is important for the French ProTour squad. "It is great to see them doing well, even after Mancebo went out. It is very good for the sponsor to have that kind of success in the Tour, to be in yellow and get a stage. It is a very important race for them."

Some commentators have pointed out that the French have been more aggressive in this Tour and also it has taken a very different pattern than in the past, leading to the name the Tour of Anarchy. There has been some speculation that Operación Puerto has been at least partly responsible for this, something which Scanlon agrees with.

"Yes, I think it is probably related…this Tour has been very different and there have been some very big names who have been a long way back," he stated. "There have also been some guys who were up there in the Dauphiné [Libéré] and yet they are nowhere to be seen now.

"It is motivating all right, if things are cleaner. It is just one doctor, though, it doesn't mean the whole thing has been cleaned up yet. But it is a step in the right direction."

Gunn-Rita on the road

World and Olympic mountain bike champion Gunn-Rita Dahle is making a rare foray onto the road, racing in the women's Tour de Bretagne this week according to Cyclismag.com. "This is the only race I will do on the road this year," he said. "It allows me to find rhythm."

Racing for the Japan Businessman team, she placed fourth in stage 1.

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