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Cycling News Extra for July 18, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & John Kenny

Evans & McEwen confident

By John Trevorrow

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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The tough climbs of the third week begin today with stage 15's ride to l'Alpe d'Huez. Finally, some sort of order should be imposed on the general classification of the Tour de France. Cadel Evans believes he has the form to match it with the best on the climbs, whereas Robbie McEwen will concentrate on getting through the Alps unscathed to secure the green jersey in Paris.

Cadel Evans

A motivated Cadel Evans,
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

"Always, the third week of the Tour everything changes for everyone. I am sure this will be no different."

"So far so good, it is still going okay. I can't say a lot on how I am and how I am going to be because this Tour is so different to the last Tour - and it is only my second Tour - so I don't have a long history to base everything on, or plan on, or know what to expect. So the third week is where it comes down to the physique of the riders and riders who are not only well trained and well prepared for the race, but haven't stressed themselves earlier in the season and so on. For me it is the interesting end of the race … and a tiring one. [Sunday's performance] was a promising sign, but this Tour is so different to last year. And for me personally, its hard to compare the two. I don't really want to compare the two because they are contrasts.

"From the contenders [Landis] seems to be the one leading at the moment, his time trial is better than the rest of us. So maybe it is for him to lose.

"It's such a different Tour. [Formerly we would have had] Discovery making a selection and [there would be] a couple of riders who could stay with Armstrong for a while. But now we don't have such a strong team to make the early selection. That alone changes [the race a] lot, plus [there are the other] unpredictable factors in this sport and this race."

Q: When will be the decisive stage?

CE: "I don't know. I am waiting find out for myself. The time trial probably. I am not counting numbers or anything. Just ride a good Tour. Be there. Ride a good race. That always brings good results in a race like this. I don't like to look at the numbers. It doesn't synch with me. Put it this way, if say, I come fourth or I come fifth, everyone will write something bad about me."

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Robbie McEwen

"I am riding my race according to my tactics and not according to somebody else's wishes. For me the coming three days, not much should happen. Being mountain stages [means that] none of the sprinters will win those stages. Even the intermediate sprints are pretty hard to get to.

"I will just have to stay concentrated. It has been a hard competition this year. In the last five years I have always been in the green jersey competition. You can lose it so quickly. I know how close you can get. Maybe with a little luck I would have had four [green jerseys].

"Most of the battle hasn't been televised."

Rest Day wrap: Tour 2006 still wide open

Freire vs McEwen in stage 9
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It was billed as the most unpredictable Tour in years and so it has proved. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes looks back at an exciting week of racing, documenting how some contenders have fallen by the wayside while others have set up a possible bid for yellow in the final week.

Fourteen down, six to go: the 2006 Tour de France is over two thirds of the way through, but the race is still very much an open affair. The first seven riders are all within four minutes of the yellow jersey and with three tough mountain stages, two road stages and a long time trial still to come, a ding-dong battle looks set to be waged between here and Paris.

Click here for the full round up of the second phase of the 2006 Tour.

French paper hits back at Armstrong

"Welcome to France asshole" was the headline on Monday's edition of the newspaper France Soir, which carried an angry reaction to Lance Armstrong's comments about the French football team over the weekend.

At the ESPY awards, Armstrong joked that all the French team's players had "tested positive ... for being assholes."

Armstrong arrived in France yesterday to join his Discovery Channel team at the Tour de France and the paper accused him of a publicity stunt intended to distract attention from Discovery's performance at the Tour.

"Has Lance Armstrong lost the plot?" the paper asked in an editorial. "The guy who doesn't speak out in public before consulting his lawyers seven times? Apparently not.

"His outburst has been designed to bring publicity to his Discovery Channel team. They are 10th in the race's team standings, and have been hugely disappointing on the race."

Ullrich says he is "innocent until proven guilty"

By Susan Westemeyer

"Under our legal system, I am, like everyone else, considered innocent until proven guilty," Jan Ullrich said on Monday in his first -- and possibly last -- public statement on his implication in the Operation Puerto doping scandal. He denied that he has gone into hiding, and said that contrary to previous reports, his attorneys submitted a written position to his team within the time limit the team had set.

T-Mobile team manager Olaf Ludwig confirmed to the SID press agency that the repot had been received, however, it said only that it was not up to him to prove his innocence, and that there was no direct evidence to prove his guilt.

Christian Frommert, director of Sports Communications for T-Mobile, confirmed that the statement issued to the team by Ullrich's lawyer's did not meet the standard the team has demanded. T-Mobile had requested a written report proving Ullrich's innocence, which Ullrich had indicated two weeks ago he would submit. Frommert said that what was received was "a statement that no statement proving innocence would be submitted."

Ullrich's manager, Wolfgang Strohband, said that a further explanation "would be possible in the future," without setting a date. In his press release, Ullrich said that on the advice of his attorneys, he would not make any more public statements. Strohband also confirmed that the attorneys had advised Ullrich not to have a DNA test.

Voigt supports DNA bank

Jens Voigt has said he would support a UCI-wide DNA data bank which could be used for comparison purposes in future doping cases. "What might really help would be when we said: listen, on January 1, 2007, we're going to take a hair and blood sample from everyone. Every rider who has a license has to submit his genetic fingerprint. And these will be kept for 10 years -- and when there's a question, like with this Spanish affair, then a comparison will be made."

Voigt addressed the Operation Puerto doping scandal in an interview with the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. He noted that he is not immune from doping rumors. When he doesn't ride well or when he rides well, or even the fact that he rides the complete season -- everything creates rumors. "And all I do is train very hard, I know what I'm doing, and my wife Steffi would knock my head off if I did that kind of shit."

Is he angry at his colleagues? "Yes, sure, that makes me sick! My wife is worried every day when she brings the kids to school, that somebody is going to say something dumb to her. And it really irritates me: I, who have absolutely nothing to do with any of this and who is totally innocent, have to talk about it -- and those who have brought all this crap down on us, are hiding."

Voigt admits that the newest scandal caught him by surprise. "I really thought that things had gotten better since the 1998 scandal. I really thought that they had cut out the cancer. But now it's the same or even bigger: different teams, more nationalities and different sports."

Would he support bans forbidding riders from working with certain doctors? "Well, you'd have to write the [riders'] contracts more carefully. You could just say: If you work with him -- you're out! That kind of provision would make sense. But officially these sports doctors say that they only advise on training. How can you make something bad out of that?"

Nordic chill between Riis & Basso

Operacion Puerto dossier may Decide Basso's fate

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Since Ivan Basso was sent home shortly before the start of the Tour de France, his once close relationship with CSC boss Bjarne Riis has reportedly deteriorated to the point where the two are simply not talking. According to the Gazzetta Dello Sport, Riis and Basso are no longer speaking while other media are speculating that Basso is looking after a new team after losing faith with Riis.

But the stoic Danish Tour winner just poo-pooed the chatter, telling the media, "Basso's departure to Discovery is just one of those rumours goes around at the Tour de France. I don't have Ivan (Basso) on the phone every day, but we are still in regular contact." But before Basso is rehabilitated and comes back on the CSC roster, Riis explained, "I've got to sit down and go through everything with (Basso) before I make a decision. I'm just waiting for the end of the Tour so that I can meet him."

But Basso isn't sitting pat; the 28 year old Italian, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia is awaiting for the Italian translation of the Operacion Puerto dossier to mount his defense. Basso's attorney Avv. Massimo Martelli poured cold water on the possibility that Basso would go for a DNA test to compare his blood to the samples collected in the Operacion Puerto transfusion clinic. "A DNA test is traumatic, and not 100% reliable," Martelli said, but the Italian lawyer did criticise some of Operacion Puerto's doctor Eufemiano Fuentes' use of the code-name "Birillo" to allegedly refer to Basso in documents and wiretap conversations.

"Birillo is supposedly the name of Basso's dog. But yesterday, I heard his daughter Domitilla call the dog 'Tarello, so I don't think that at two years of age, a child could be wrong about the name of her dog." Perhaps true, but despite Avv. Tarello's spin, Basso is still far from clear of the serious implications fromcharges that may stem from Operacion Puerto. Once the UCI gets the documents, they will be passed to the Italian Cycling Federation, who will decide the future disposition of the case.

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

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