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First Edition Cycling News for June 29, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Vinokourov: "It's not normal"

Alexandre Vinokourov earlier this season
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

Alexandre Vinokourov, team leader of the new ProTour squad Astana-Würth, has criticised the Tour de France organiser's decision of not wanting his team to participate in the race. "It's not normal," the Kazakhstan said. "There is no proof against the team." Spanish newspaper El País had published information allegedly taken from the current Operación Puerto investigation, according to which 15 riders of the said team had ties to a large scale blood and drug doping network.

Vinokourov, who is one of the favourites for the general classification at the Tour de France, continued by saying that the newspaper only reported that there were "suspicions" of doping against these riders, not proof. "The press might as well decide on general classification," he added. "Lance Armstrong has also been named [in relation to doping - ed.] in the press in the past, and this has never prevented him from riding the Tour de France."

Whether or not Astana-Würth will start the "Grande Boucle" on Saturday will now by decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The hearing is reported to take place on Thursday afternoon, with a final ruling expected on Friday morning. "I hope that the CAS will take the right decision and that we will be at the start on Saturday," said Vinokourov, who, along with his teammates, will undergo the usual medical check-up on Friday if they are allowed to start. "It's not very good to prepare yourself under these circumstances, but the most important thing is that we are here now. If we can take the start, our morale will get better from day to day."

CAS ruling: A question of image

In the hearing in front of the CAS on Thursday, ASO representative Jacques Nataf will, according to L'Equipe, insist on two points to get the approval of the highest instance for sports matters. Firstly, the attorney will reiterate that the Tour de France is a major event and secondly, that there is a high risk of deterioration of the event's image if the former team Liberty Seguros is allowed to start, since there have been repeated revelations about the team this last month.

Nataf will base its argumentation on Article 28 of the Tour de France rules, which states, "An organiser has the right to refuse a team or a member of a team whose presence is susceptible of blemishing the image of cycling, of the organiser or of the race." This regulation is slightly different to the UCI article 2.6.036, 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", in that persons even susceptible of tainting the image of the event may be refused.

But the UCI will not take part in the legal procedure opposing ASO and Active Bay in any case. "The event organiser is the only one concerned," Professional Cycling Manager Alain Rumpf said. "We are not a party in this case in the sense that the Tour de France does not have a ProTour licence and that we have organised a procedure that stands on both of our regulations."

The lawyer of the managing company of Astana-Würth - still 51 percent owned by former team manager Manolo Saiz - is meanwhile expected to base his defense on the presumption of innocence of the team.

UCI asks riders for written statement

The ongoing investigation in doping matters by Spanish authorities has led the president of the International Cycling Union, Pat McQuaid, to "strongly recommend" the ProTour teams to ask the riders taking part in the Tour de France, "to sign a written statement certifying that they are not involved in this case (with a clause that if their statement proves to be incorrect, they would immediately leave the team and pay a substantial indemnity)."

The UCI made this recommendation known to the press via an official communiqué on Wednesday afternoon. "Riders who would refuse to provide such statement, must be replaced," the press release continued. "Should convincing official information be provided to the UCI during the Tour it will request the immediate withdrawal of any rider implicated and that he remain inactive until the disciplinary process is completed."

However, the ProTour has been set up under European laws, and the legality of this demand is not yet clear.

Furthermore, the UCI Licence Commission has made known its stand in the ongoing discussion about team Astana-Würth and its participation at the Tour de France. The Commission has met on Wednesday, June 28, and "took note of the latest developments in the case in relation to supposedly generalised doping practices. None of the information communicated to this day to the Licence Commission concerning these practices, has come from official sources.

"However, should facts related by certain media be confirmed, and the Commission receives a request for a withdrawal of licence, the proceedings prescribed by the regulations will be started."

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

Astana-Würth's nine not definite

Not only does the Spanish-Kazakhstani team Astana-Würth not know whether or not it will be allowed to start at this year's Tour de France, but the team directors have not yet confirmed a definite line-up for the squad. Twelve riders arrived in Strasbourg on Wednesday, waiting for a decision: Alexandre Vinokourov, Assan Bazayev, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Barredo, Joseba Beloki, Alberto Contador, Isidro Nozal, Aitor Osa, Luis Leon Sanchez, Allan Davis, Jörg Jaksche and Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho.

German Jörg Jaksche, initially thought to have a sport on the roster, is rumoured not to get selected after all, with Spaniard Joseba Beloki taking his spot. Asked which nine of those twelve riders present will start in Saturday's prologue, Jaksche said, "Nothing has been decided yet. I'll train again on Thursday and then we'll decide."

Armstrong lawyers clarify

After the recent publications by French newspapers of declarations made by Frankie and Betsy Andreu, as well as former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and his wife Kathy, in a court case opposing Lance Armstrong and insurance company SCA, the lawyers of Lance Armstrong have issued another statement to clarify the accusations made against him. Both Frankie and Betsy Andreu had testified that they heard Armstrong confess past use of performance-enhancing drugs in a hospital where he was treated for cancer in 1996. Greg and Kathy Lemond also claimed that Armstrong used EPO, which was repudiated by Belgian team mechanic Julian DeVriese, according to Armstrong.

"Lance Armstrong last week confirmed that he would no longer dignify accusations made against him, principally in French newspapers, which were comprehensively considered in the trial, concluded six months ago, in which he was once again vindicated and awarded $2,500,000 in punitive/extra-contractual damages in addition to the $5,000,000 he was owed," the statement by Armstrong's lawyers, Tim Herman and Sean Breen read. "As he also stated, he has asked his legal representatives to clarify, where appropriate, misleading or incorrect information leaked to the press in violation of the explicit orders issued by the Arbitration Tribunal.

"L'Equipe and LeMonde, both French publications, included in their weekend editions selected portions of depositions and testimony from the trial. These materials were acquired in violation of the arbitrators' order of strict confidentiality. The papers also published recent quotes received from Greg Lemond. Conspicuously absent from the French accounts were confirmations by other witnesses that both Greg Lemond and his wife repeatedly lied under oath and that statements attributed to others by Lemond had been categorically repudiated. There is simply no credibility to Lemond's statements regarding Armstrong."

To read the full statement, click here.

T-Mobile for Tour of Austria

With his confidence sky-high after his strong performances in recent weeks, T-Mobile's Bernhard Kohl will lead his squad at the Tour of Austria, from July 3-9, the team announced. After excellent performances at the Dauphiné Libéré, where he finished third in GC, the 24 year-old just won his national elite men's road race in Salzburg on Sunday and will now start his home tour in the red and white jersey of the Austrian Champion.

"I think I have shown on a few occasions this season what I am capable of," said Kohl. "A stage win at my home tour would be fantastic. I think I can mix it with the best of them."

Directeur sportif Frans van Looy is convinced his rider could not be better at the moment. "Bernhard is in the form of his life and he is well capable of challenging for the GC," he said. Joining Kohl on the 1,042 km-race through the Alpine nation will be a mixed crew of all-rounders, classics specialists and sprinters: Sergey Ivanov, Daniele Nardello, Frantisek Rabon, André Korff, Olaf Pollack, Stephan Schreck and Thomas Ziegler.

After two relatively flat opening stages, the first GC shake-up is expected on stage three, when the race hits the high mountains, concluding with a summit finish atop the 1,670 metre Kitzbüheler Horn - one of the toughest climbs in central Europe.

Solid field for 2006 Brixia Tour

The 2006 Brixia Tour taking place in Italy from July 20-23 will line up some "big names" of the international peloton. The organisers of the event have announced that Igor Astarloa, Giuliano Figueras, Davide Rebellin, Emanuele Sella and Peter Van will be part of the 160 riders participating in the UCI-rated 2.1 stage race, which will coincide with the last days of the Tour de France this year.

The parcours of the Brixia Tour will be well-balanced as in previous years, with two summit finishes, the Passo Maniva and the Saviore dell’Adamello suited for climbers. The first stage on Thursday, July 20 will start in Concesio and conclude at the shores of Lake Garda, Toscolano Maderno, but the next day will see the riders take on the 1800 metres-high Passo Maniva. On Saturday, there will be tow half-stages before the race ends on Sunday in Palazzolo sull’Oglio.

Five ProTour teams have been announced to participate (Davitamon-Lotto, Gerolsteiner, Lampre-Fondital, Liquigas and Milram); 11 Professional teams (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, Barloworld, Unibet.com, Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo, Ceramica Flaminia, Miche, Naturino-Sapore di Mare, Team 3C Casalinghi Jet Androni Giocattoli, Team L.P.R., Team Tenax Salmilano and Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni) and four continental teams.

The stages

Stage 1 - Thursday, July 20: Concesio - Toscolano Maderno, 177.8 km
Stage 1 - Friday, July 21: Centro Sportivo Rigamonti Buffalora - Passo Maniva, 169.2 km
Stage 3a - Saturday, July 22: Pisogne - Darfo Boario Terme, 101.8 km
Stage 3b - Saturday, July 22: Piancamuno (Planet Kart) - Saviore dell’Adamello, 62.3 km
Stage 1 - Sunday, July 23: Bassano Bresciano – Palazzolo sull’Oglio, 177.9 km

Landis to race at Tour of Elk Grove

Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis, who finished in the top 10 in the overall classification in 2005, and in 2006 has already won the Tour of California, French Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia, will be racing in the streets of Elk Grove Village at the Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove to be held in Illinois, USA, on August 12-13.

This inaugural, weekend-long "criterium" cycling event will feature a total of $153,000 as prize money. At the Tour of Elk Grove, Landis will be competing for the biggest single-event cash prize of $25,000 for the first-place winner of the men's international pro race, a 100k criterium race presented by USA Cycling. This race will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 12. In addition, Landis will also be signing autographs at the event from 11:00-11:45 a.m. that morning.

The 14 races in total, held as part of the Village's 50th anniversary celebration in 2006, will take place from 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. each day. Start location is Ridge and Elk Grove Boulevard (at the south end of Audubon Park).

For more information, visit www.tourofelkgrove.com.

Haywood Yaletown GP closes early registration

With just days to go, the preparations are nearly complete for this year’s third edition of the Yaletown Grand Prix in Vancouver, Canada, scheduled for this Saturday, July 1, 2006. Despite the conflict with the Canadian National Championships being held in Québec this weekend, the pro fields are starting to fill up with top racers like Alison Sydor, Kirk O’Bee, Scott Goguen and Max Plaxton.

The organisers have announced that the on-line registration deadline is Thursday, June 29 at 5pm and that this will be the last chance to get the early-bird sign-up discount. There will be in-person registration available Friday night and Saturday at the Yaletown Brewing Company.

Just like last year, one the racing is done, the Yaletown Brewing Company will throw open its doors to host the best post-race party around, as racers, race crew and friends are invited to come celebrate the day.

This year the Yaletown Grand Prix will raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver who deliver a wide range of health, educational and recreational services to over 6000 local children annually.

For more event information visit www.yaletowngrandprix.com.

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