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Latest Cycling News for June 27, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Hands tied at UCI

By Hedwig Kröner

The International Cycling Union (UCI) is waiting for "concrete proof" in the Spanish Operación Puerto affair to be able to engage disciplinary procedures. UCI spokesperson Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews that the governing body of cycling will not take a stand on the matter now opposing new-founded ProTour team Astana-Würth and Tour de France organiser ASO unless it has official information on the current investigation.

"We cannot start any disciplinary procedure against riders or teams on the basis of a newspaper report," Carpani said. "If the secret of the investigation is lifted, we will be able to intervene, but not with the situation as it is now. We need concrete proof, and names, by the Spanish judicial authorities to have the legal basis for further action, including possible sanctions."

UCI president Pat McQuaid, who is in constant contact with Spanish authorities, regretted the current situation. "It is very frustrating for us in particular who want to do something, who want to sanction riders once they need sanctioning, and want to get rid of riders like this out of the sport, that at this moment in time our hands are tied behind our backs," McQuaid told news agency AP at a conference in Paris on doping.

CAS to rule Astana-Würth case before Tour start

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) intends to rule on the case opposing Spanish ProTour team Astana-Würth and Tour de France organiser ASO before the start of the Tour de France on Saturday, July 1. After the organisers of the Grand Tour have asked the team formerly directed by Manolo Saiz not to participate in their event - on the grounds of a UCI reglement according to which "a licence holder or a team may be excluded from a race if he/it seriously blemishes the image of cycling or of the race" (UCI regulations article 2.6.036) - the team's management has asked the highest legal instance of sport to decide upon its fate.

According to UCI rules, "the exclusion shall be imposed by joint decision of the president of the commissaires panel and the organiser. In case of disagreement between the president of the commissaires panel and the organiser, the decision shall be taken by the president of the UCI ProTour council [...]. The licence holder or the team must be heard."

"I'm expecting a letter from the Astana-Wuerth team shortly," CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb told Reuters on Tuesday morning. "We will then set up a quick procedure to rule on the case by Friday the latest."

Spanish sport council denies McQuaid's declarations

The Spanish Sport Superior Council (CSD) has assured that it maintains "a total collaboration with UCI as well as with the World Anti-Doping Agency", after UCI president Pat McQuaid's declarations made from Paris, where an international convention on the fight against doping is taking place. McQuaid questioned the collaboration of the Spanish authorities regarding doping matters, despite of his recent meeting with the CSD. In an official statement, the CSD claims that it has "disclosed all available information on Operación Puerto to the UCI" and that "representatives of the Spanish Civil Guard attended the mentioned meeting that took place at the CSD in order to pass on the most possible data."

The Spanish statement continued by explaining that, "the CSD is the first one interested in knowing the results the investigation that is being carrying out, but, like in any state of right, this will only be possible when the secret of investigation will be lifted." In this sense, the CSD concluded that it was "surprised that the president of a private sport organization pretends that the authorities violate the procedure of a State."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

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

AG2R, Française des Jeux, Bouygues & Crédit Agricole for Tour

The manager of French team AG2R Prévoyance, Vincent Lavenu, has announced his team's Tour de France line-up. The last remaining slot went to Sylvain Calzati, who already rode the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d’Italia. Sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon will not participate in the Tour this year.

The squad will therefore include: Spaniards José Luis Arrieta, Mikel Astarloza and Francisco Mancebo, French Sylvain Calzati, Cyril Dessel, Samuel Dumoulin, Stéphane Goubert and Christophe Moreau, as well as Australian Simon Gerrans.

Another French team, La Française des Jeux, has published its list of riders for the upcoming Grand Tour. Sandy Casar, Carlos Da Cruz, Sebastien Joly, Christophe Mengin, Benoit Vaugrenard, Bernhard Eisel, Philippe Gilbert, Gustav Larsson and Thomas Lövkvist will be at the start of the Tour in Strasbourg in Saturday.

Bouygues Telecom has also announced the last two places on its team roster for the three-week event: Laurent Lefèvre and Matthieu Sprick. "We have decided to take the same team as last year," explained Jean-René Bernaudeau. "They are nine very self-confident fighters; everyone knows what he has to do. We will not aim at the General Classification, as all nine riders are equal in their capacity to join breakaways and to give us a chance to win on every stage. I expect my riders to be very cunning. They can win on every ground."

The nine riders selected are: Walter Bénéteau, Laurent Brochard, Pierrick Fédrigo, Anthony Geslin, Laurent Lefèvre, Jérôme Pineau, Didier Rous, Matthieu Sprick and Thomas Voeckler.

Finally, Crédit Agricole has also lifted the secret of who will be at the start for the green team: Thor Hushovd, Alexandre Botcharov, Pietro Caucchioli, Anthony Charteau, Jimmy Engoulvent, Patrice Halgand, Sébastien Hinault, Christophe Le Mevel and Julian Dean.

Valverde: "I'm better than in 2005"

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins 'La Doyenne'
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde of team Caisse d'Epargne has held an official reception in his home region prior to the Tour de France. The 26 year-old, who will be starting at the French Grand Tour wearing the white jersey of best ProTour rider, considered that this "will be one extra motivation" to do well.

Valverde admitted that, "I am one of the favourites and hope to finish within the six or seven first riders on general Classification, as well as getting at least one stage victory." The winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne this spring came back to competition in the Dauphiné Libéré, which added to his overall tranquility when facing the next challenge.

"I will need to complete the whole Tour, something that I hope to do this time, because I'm a little better that in 2005," he said, adding that, "the Italian Ivan Basso is the main candidate to win the Tour, but there are others like Ullrich, Mancebo, Vinokourov, Popovych and myself..."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

Grabsch honoured by Tour selection

German Phonak rider Bert Grabsch feels very proud of being part of his team's Tour de France roster this year. "Never before on the Phonak Cycling Team has it been so difficult to qualify for the Tour de France as it was this year," he explained. "For that reason, being able to participate means even more to me than it did in previous years. I'm happy and proud to be able to take part."

Grabsch is especially looking forward to the 15th stage, from Gap up to the L'Alpe d'Huez, in spite of the fact that he isn't really a climber and knows already that he's going to struggle a lot. "There are more difficult mountains than L'Alpe d'Huez, but its legendary status and the huge crowds give it a great atmosphere," Grabsch continued. "Once again, it's going to be a big spectacle."

Grabsch is hoping for solid teamwork at the Tour de France, "and that everyone on the team is prepared to fight and do their utmost for Floyd Landis." The German rider who now lives on the Swiss side of Lake Constance will be doing exactly that.

Van den Broeck to Davitamon

Belgian rider Jurgen van den Broeck has signed a contract with Davitamon-Lotto, valid as of next year. The 23 year-old is currently racing for Discovery Channel, but will be leaving the American squad for Davitamon, just like Leif Hoste. Van den Broeck's new commitment will last two years. His best result yet is the junior world's title in 2001.

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