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Tour de France Cycling News for July 1, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

An interview with Robbie McEwen

A reflection of human nature

A prologue is not usually Robbie McEwen's thing, but as usual, the Australian speedster is focusing on tomorrow's second stage, where he can use his talents. But as he tells Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow, it's been difficult to get into the swing of things with the drama leading up to the race.

CN: Well, Robbie, the first question has to obviously be, what's your view of what happened yesterday.

McEwen salutes the crowd in the Tour de Suisse
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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RM: Well, if they have got hard evidence of doing the wrong thing, they get kicked out because they have done the wrong thing. It has brought the sport into the spotlight for the wrong reasons. I suppose as far as the rest of the world is concerned, it's cycling which is involved again it is bad for us, it reflects badly on the sport of course. They should be naming the other sports and athletes too. They have got to do it otherwise, if you were there and you did it, get out.

CN: Just touching on that, because a lot of people don't know, but in the same Spanish inquisition there were 150 athletes from other sports named or insinuated against

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As a rider, I know only what I read in the paper on the internet or what I hear, so we have got to be careful and not judge people too quickly but in the beginning they said there were a couple of hundred names and from a number of different sports but they are only crucifying cycling. Those names and sports are being held back and if that is because cycling is really pushed to name names quickly before the Tour started, but they were already leaking names of cyclists from the beginning but not from any other sport. It's not fair on cycling as a sport in general, but even so if those guys have done what these reports say, they can't expect any mercy.

Click here for the full interview

Fuentes' code names athlete's dogs

Valverde named, but not implicated heavily

In the ongoing doping network investigation in Spain, several clues have been used to link the now suspended riders like Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo to the accused doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. In the case of Basso, for example, investigators found the codename "Birillo" on the lists of the haematologist, accompanied by abbreviations and symbols signifying various doping practices. "Birillo" is reportedly the name of Basso's dog. Further to this, Basso was named in several telephone calls.

El País today noted that the Guardia Civil has also identified existing ties between the doctor and a person referred to as "Piti", which date back to 2004. This codename is believed to refer to Alejandro Valverde, who was riding for Kelme at the time, whose team doctor was Fuentes. But the involvement of Valverde could not be verified by other means such as notes, training plans, films of the various observation cameras, phone calls, etc. "These are insufficient elements to include them in the official report," said a Guardia Civil source.

Cycling Australia to question Davis

Cycling Australia has issued a statement regarding the Operacion Puerto affair, which named Allan Davis (part of the Astana-Würth team) as one of those involved. The federation issued a statement to the effect that the UCI has recommended Davis should be questioned in relation to the investigation. "However the UCI states it has not been established that Davis has committed any anti-doping violation.

"We are confident Allan will cooperate fully with the investigation," said Cycling Australia Chief Executive Officer, Graham Fredericks. "We will also be monitoring the situation to ensure he is afforded his rights.

"The investigation has uncovered some distressing allegations but we hope a fair and thorough judicial process will be conducted in Spain and if anyone is found guilty of doping offences they will be penalised.

"There is no room in cycling for cheats and Cycling Australia supports any actions that will rid the sport of drugs and allow our members to compete fairly and safely," said Mr Fredericks.

Gerolsteiner reactions: Scholz and Totschnig "shocked"

"How was that for a day?," asks Gerolsteiner's Ronny Scholz, who returned from a two-hour team training ride to hear the news of the day Friday. "I was shocked at the extent to which the apparent deceit is organized. So I find that the steps taken by the Tour management and the team leaders to be right. Obviously they have proof which supports their actions. The affair has to be fully resolved, the riders have to be held responsible. I have no understanding for this kind of practice. And if the suspicions should prove to be true, I really don't know, how I would react if I met one of these riders - after all, this has to do with my profession, which is being discredited by a few."

"But despite all the turbulence from yesterday," he continued on his website, www.ronnyscholz.de, "I'm looking forward to the Tour. And I hope that the sporting aspect doesn't disappear into the background, because after the ousting of Ullrich, Basso & co., the Tour will be more interesting than ever."

Writing at www.nachrichten.at, his teammate Georg Totschnig says that "nothing worse could have happened to cycling than what happened yesterday. The news of Jan Ullrich's suspension put all of my colleagues in a state of shock."

He has personal reasons to feel that way: "With Jan, it has affected one of my best friends in the scene. You could sit down to dinner with him and talk not just about cycling, but about everything. When I sat together with my wife Michi, him and and his girlfriend Sara, we talked about how his daughter Sarah was doing in kindergarten, when he would hold his next party at his house in Switzerland, and whether singer Udo Lindenberg would drop by. Lance Armstrong was different. He spoke the whole evening only about training, his saddle and the position of his handlebars. For him there was only cycling, and that's probably exactly why he won the Tour seven times."

"Maybe we needed this scandal in order to save the sport," said Gerolsteiner's Peter Wrolich. "Millions of people line the streets to watch the cyclists - we can't just sweep it under the table. But according to the reports out of Spain, there were 200 bags of blood, and 150 of them came from other sports. It will be interesting to see whether the other affected athletes will be named, or whether cycling will be the sacrificial lamb."

Also commenting at www.nachrichten.at, his countryman Bernhard Eisel of FdJeux.com, said, "It is sad that this sort of thing has become normal. I support an exhaustive explanation."

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

Perdiguero as mountain support for Landis

Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero will be taking part in his first Tour de France, the 33 year-old Spaniard being selected on the basis of his strong performances at such classics and tours such as the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Tour de Romandie. For the last couple of years, Perdiguero enjoyed several days of holidays while his teammates battled it out in the tour. Although he had never watched the season highlight live and in person, as a young boy he tried to emulate Pedro Delgado, the Spanish rider who won the Tour de France in 1988.

This year, Perdiguero himself is part of the Tour retinue. "That means that the team management and Floyd Landis are satisfied with me. That's a great feeling," he said.

Perdiguero's goal is to repay Landis's trust by supporting him as best as possible. "We have to take Floyd Landis over the mountains," he said.

Join le Tour Fantasy Game - play for FREE!

Giant TCR Advanced
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Santini clothing
Photo ©: Santini
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BBB's BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses
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Speedplay Zero pedals
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Deda Alanera handlebars
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fi'zi:k saddles
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DedaTre RS Corsa clincher tyres
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Reynolds SV KOM carbon wheels
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With the Tour now under way, you can register your teams and win some amazing prizes! With all the drama of the last 24 hours surrounding the suspended riders it looks set to be a very interesting game indeed this year. With many of the expensive highly seeded riders like Basso and Ullrich removed from the line up, this year's players of the game will have to use their knowledge and insight to cherry pick the best of the lesser known riders to score highly in the game. There could be some easy points to score in the Prologue today. You could be the first to win the daily stage prize of a pair of BSG-23 Winner Quickstep World Champion glasses from BBB.

The Fantasy game is a great way to get to know the Tour in more detail, as you take on the role of being a team manager during each day of the Tour, making the best of your team selections as the Tour unfolds stage by stage. Depending on how the riders finish each stage in real life you will score points for your Fantasy team to win some great prizes. You'll get a much more intimate knowledge of the lesser seeded riders as you watch their progress in your own teams and in other Fantasy manager's teams each day. You'll also get a much more in depth insight into how the riders perform over the coming weeks through the sprints and the mountains.

You can join until stage 6 begins and there is plenty time to learn how the game works. There is no disadvantage in joining the game once the Tour has started so try the game out for FREE until stage 6 begins. Experiment with different team selections and see how they fare everyday live here at Cyclingnews.

Remember you can change your 15 riders right up until stage 6 begins so there is no need to worry about the recent changes to the start list. There is plenty time to get your team right before the game closes to registrations.

The full Le Tour Fantasy Game Prize List

Grand Prize from Giant TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team bike.

Daily Prize from BBB Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen.

Runner-up Prizes - Set of wheels from Reynolds. - Cirro SV KOM carbon wheels

Runner-up Prizes - Ten pairs of tyres from DedaTre.

Runner-up Prizes - Handlebars from Deda Elementi.

Runner-up Prizes - Three Giro Atmos helmets.

Runner-up Prizes - Three sets of Speedplay's Zero pedals.

Runner-up Prizes - Three fi'zi:k saddles.

Play for FREE in the Fantasy Le Tour 2006 game

Remember you can play for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start list. Then each day pick 9 riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders.

For more details go to the rules section of the site. There's also some great tips and tricks in the downloads and winners sections of the site. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2006.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team


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