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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for July 21, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Stage 18 wrap up

Tosatto triumphs as another break goes all the way

Matteo Tosatto (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: AFP
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After the abandons of Tom Boonen and Jose Rujano, Quick.Step has rescued its Tour de France with a deserved win by lead out specialist Matteo Tosatto in Mâcon. The experienced 32 year-old Italian beat compatriot Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) to the finish, with Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) taking third. The trio had split off from a larger break of 15 with 17 km to go, and were never threatened. The peloton chose to have an easier day before tomorrow's time trial, and came in 8'00 behind with no real changes to the general classification. That means Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) will have to defend a 12 second lead on Carlos Sastre (CSC) and 30 seconds on Floyd Landis (Phonak) in tomorrow's tough 57 km time trial.

After an early move by Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) and David Millar (Saunier Duval) was brought back after the first sprint at km 29.5, the main break of the day formed at 45 km. The break contained Levi Leipheimer and Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), David Zabriskie (Team CSC), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R-Prevoyance), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Matteo Tosatto (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française Des Jeux), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom). Saunier Duval and Lampre led the chase for a while, but couldn't bring it back closer than three minutes, and eventually sat up and let Caisse d'Epargne lead the peloton to the finish.

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Up front, Leipheimer and Isasi tried to get clear with 50 km to go, but a determined chase brought them back with just 20 km left. Leipheimer's teammate Scholz then started the winning move, and was joined by Tosatto and Moreni, and they went all the way to the finish. Despite Scholz looking the strongest, he pulled the break all the way inside the final kilometre and had no answer when Tosatto went around to claim a comfortable victory over Moreni.

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An interview with Matteo Tosatto

Plenty of reasons to smile

An opportunity to win rather than lead out someone else, the first Italian stage victory at this year's Tour de France and the best win of his career, Matteo Tosatto had plenty of reasons to be happy today. Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan found out what it meant to him at the post-race press conference.

Matteo Tosatto (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Q: Finally, a victory for Quick.Step...

MT: Well, I think it's been a good Tour for Quick.Step, because don't forget that Tom Boonen spent four days in the yellow jersey. The team did a great job, and I don't think with the crazy Tour we've had, that any other rider held the yellow jersey for as many days as Tom did. But of course, today is nice because it is the first Italian victory and the first for Quick.Step.

Q: Can you explain what happened yesterday - were you sick or something?

MT: Yesterday was a really hard day for me in the mountains. The problem was the altitude, where I had to stop for ten minutes before I was okay. I ended up finishing with the gruppetto. I think everybody in the Tour is tired, but today I had the opportunity to go with the break and to win a stage.

Click here for the full interview

An interview with Oscar Pereiro

"It's not impossible to win"

Brecht Decaluwé was in Mâcon to find out how the maillot jaune was feeling before one of the biggest challenges of his life.

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Q: Can you tell us something about what happened yesterday?

OP: It's really a pity what happened because, as well as for Sastre as for me, it was a golden opportunity to win the Tour de France. Now we are at the eve of the time trial and Floyd Landis has joined us. He's one of the best time triallists in the world, he's probably ready to win the race. Still, I'm happy with what my team and myself did yesterday. We did all that was possible for us to do.

Q: What do you think about the long time trial? Do you think you can do well?

OP: Normally, a good time trial would mean that I don't lose more than two minutes on the winner. Tomorrow is another challenge though, as I'm only allowed to lose 29 seconds on Landis. It will be a very difficult day for me but you never know what can happen.

Q: We saw that you went to Carlos Sastre and you spoke with him. Can you give us some information on the content of that conversation?

OP: I don't have to give any explanation to anybody... but I was angry. I did my job yesterday so I'm happy with what I did myself. But of course, I didn't understand the way they acted yesterday, that's for sure.

Click here for the full interview

Epic Landis "could not be held back"

By Hedwig Kröner in Mâcon

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: AFP
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Opinions diverged in the press room on the unfolding of Thursday's last Tour de France mountain stage: with Floyd Landis attacking in the first climb of the day, able to turn such an impressive gear, didn't the rest of the GC teams commit a fatal error in letting him take the lead? Searching for an answer, Cyclingnews asked around within the peloton on the next morning in Morzine.

Polkadot jersey wearer Michael Rasmussen nodded. "It wasn't really up to us to chase Landis, as we're not the ones who have the Tour favourite," he said. "But there are definitely some other teams that made a huge tactical error yesterday - those who had their riders placed second and third on GC [T-Mobile and Team CSC - ed.]."

Then again, could Landis' attack have been just a tad too fast to follow? Cadel Evans, an excellent climber for his part, seemed to think so. "When Floyd went, I just thought 'what the hell is he doing?'," the Davitamon-Lotto racer said. "It tactically didn't seem like a sensible thing to do, but I didn't know he had the legs like that... nobody did! He went so fast from the start, he rode the whole peloton off his wheels! Nobody could follow."

Just one rider actually did: T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz, ordered on the Phonak rider's wheel like a shackle. What did he think during all these kilometres, before getting dropped mercilessly at the foot of the final mountain, the Col de Joux-Plane? "I just thought that he must have had a motor hidden somewhere!" the 2004 Deutschland Tour winner said. "Usually, when you're on somebody's wheel, you can spare some energy - but I just couldn't yesterday. I was constantly in the red. The other riders couldn't follow him, either. He was just extremely fast."

What about the peloton, shouldn't it not have let him go? "Well, that's not what happened," he continued. "The teams behind didn't go soft, either - they knew of the danger Landis represented, and rode hard. But he was just a class stronger yesterday, nobody could hold him back!"

Even if T-Mobile and CSC had started to really chase earlier, wouldn't Landis have been caught? "Maybe they would have raced the first climb faster, but then there wouldn't have been any riders left to hold that pace afterwards," explained Sinkewitz. "That wouldn't have made a difference."

Evans' teammate Chris Horner, himself a climber and race tactics specialist, agreed. "It was epic!," he summed it up. "It was just legendary. Everybody was chasing yesterday. People have said 'T-Mobile should have worked sooner' - but no one could have worked any sooner! We were going as fast as we possibly could! And if we would have been any faster on the climb, there would have been no T-Mobile guys left!

"The only place T-Mobile could have done any work is when they did: through the valley, when they made up some time on Floyd. That was the only place you could go fast. The T-Mobile guys were stuffed just like anyone else. The pace the Caisse d'Epargnes set up in the climb was the fastest we could go."

Horner did evoke one last eventuality to counter Landis' move, but discarded it right away: "One possibility would have been for the Top 10 GC guys to all work together at a 100 percent, and that's it," he said. "But that has never happened in the Tour, and it's never happened in any other race I've done before - and it never will. It was an epic scenario, which I've never seen in my entire career!"

T-Mobile explains firing of Ullrich and Sevilla

Team T-Mobile, through the Olaf Ludwig Cycling GmbH, confirmed today that it has terminated its contracts with Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla, effective immediately. In addition, sponsor T-Mobile International AG has taken steps to cancel a contract with Ullrich concerning his association with the firm after his career end.

"In late June Spanish investigators submitted a document that provided clear evidence that Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla had tried to boost their performance through the use of banned substances," states the text of a T-Mobile press release issued on Friday. "Directly after their subsequent suspension, Ullrich and Sevilla declared their intent to prove their innocence. However, right up until the time their contracts were terminated by T-Mobile and the OLC, neither had brought forward any information to exonerate themselves."

Team manager Olaf Ludwig said that this left them will little choice. "Since Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla didn't make any moves to prove their innocence, terminating their contracts was the logical and necessary follow-up to their suspension," he said.

"We have received no new information. Our lawyers, who have been involved with this case since the beginning, have taken this step," said Ludwig, whose only additional comment was, "The lawyers will take care of it all."

"We respect Jan Ullrich's statement that the assumption of innocent until proven guilty applies not just to him, but to all. However sport, especially cycling, has its developed its own ethical and moral rules, which are written into the riders' contracts." The riders' active cooperation in proving their innocence "was expected for this reason," according to Ludwig.

"We are all very disappointed that it had to come to this step," added Christian Frommert, T-Mobile International's director of sports communication. "But the information that we have received doesn't let us make any other decision....The lawyers have checked everything out and are acting now in order to meet deadlines. We would have to had to lift the suspension sometime, or terminate the contracts, as has now happened. Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla had a deadline to prove their innocence. But we don't have any information as to positive doping tests."

T-Mobile also announced that it was distancing itself from a post-career agreement it had made with Jan Ullrich back in early 2004.

The release ended by indicating what evidence existed to suggest that Ullrich, Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage (Ullrich's mentor and former T-Mobile sporting director, already sacked by OLC in early July) were involved in the activities investigated during the Operación Puerto matter.

"Spanish investigators uncovered in May a Madrid-based doping network, which led to the arrest of sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes among others. Evidence uncovered in house raids, intercepted telephone calls and SMS records have clearly pointed towards the involvement of Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage in the doping scandal," the release concluded.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Alberto Leon and Ignacio Labarta questioned

By Hernan Alvarez

Former Comunidad Valenciana assistant director Ignacio Labarta and former mountain bike rider Alberto Leon were questioned today court number 31 in Plaza de Castilla in Madrid, relating to the "Operacion Puerto" doping affair.

Their lawyer Julian Perez Templado said that neither made any new declarations, and that they had only answered the questions of the judge and the defence, but not those of the plaintiffs, namely the Spanish Cycling Federation and former professional cyclist Jesus Manzano.

They both insisted they are innocent in this case. Alberto Leon, accused of transporting the doping products, stated to the press that he is a humble worker who had a very good image before this affair and said that he was involved in a "mess". He also criticized the way the press treated him. "They even mentioned my home address," said Leon, according to Todociclismo.com. "They don't even do that with the ETA prisoners." He, like Labarta, was questioned for only half an hour.

Labarta didn't make any comments to the press. He said simply that he hoped that the matter ends as soon as possible.

"Now we are to the delay of which the judge decides if there is to go in opinion or the case is filed. In order to know what is going to happen it is necessary to finish analysing the content of the blood bags and to see if the accusation or the defence is going to present/display tests", assured Tempering.

Their lawyer Julian Perez Templado said that "now there is a delay while the judge decides if this will go to trial or if he will file the case. In order to know what is going to happen it is necessary to finish analysing the content of the blood bags and to see if the prosecution or the defence is going to present questions."

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

The Tour de France of give-aways and competitions

Don't miss out at Tour time!

Resident freebies expert, Rufus Staffordshire, sniffs out some competitions where over $600,000 in prizes are on offer as manufacturers clamber for your eyeballs. Woof!

Scratch - but don't sniff
Photo ©: Trek
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The Tour de France is not only a reasonably popular bike race, ahem, it's also a great opportunity to win an incredible range of prizes and competitions on offer from manufacturers, publishers and distributors.

Many of our sponsors are offering Cyclingnews readers a schwag-fest of give-aways during the lap-around-France. The prizes on offer range from pedals and laptops through to trips to Paris for the 2007 TdF, as well as actual kit being ridden by top pros in the Tour - including top bikes from Trek, Blue, and Avanti.

So that you don't have to go hunting around the Internet for all these goodies, we've assembled the Cyclingnews complete guide to Tour freebies and competitions.

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