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Tour de France Cycling News, July 17, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Domestique Arvesen clinches CSC's first stage win

By Brecht Decaluwé in Foix, France

A big smile for Arvesen as he steps onto the podium
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

33-year-old Kurt-Asle Arvesen took his first Tour de France stage win on Wednesday, giving his CSC-Saxo Bank team its first victory of this year's race. Arvesen said he felt he had gotten "revenge" for a similar stage in the 2005 Tour, when he was narrowly beaten by Paolo Savoldelli in the same region as today's stage finish in Foix. This time it was the Norwegian who raised his hands – almost too early – as he held off Swiss rider Martin Elmiger by the narrowest of margins.

"I was afraid that I would finish second again," Arvesen said. "I had really good legs today, but I made a mistake by being leading the group in the last corners. I didn't go 100% though and when the others started their sprint I was able to shift up two more cogs," Arvesen said.

"I expected someone to come over me on the line, but that didn't happen," he said, although Elmiger came close with a late surge and lost only by two centimetres.

By winning the stage Arvesen – the Norwegian road race champion who resides in Luxembourg - made sure that the CSC team could look back on the last week with a more than satisfied feeling. After having a difficult start in the first week where its three leaders lost quite a lot of time in the time trial, and world champion Fabian Cancellara didn't live up to the expectations that he'd win in Cholet, the team now has two riders in the top six of the general classification and an unexpected stage win in its pocket.

"This is the biggest win in my career," Arvesen exclaimed. "Before that I considered my two wins in the Giro d'Italia and the title in the U23 world championships [in 1997]."

Earlier this year in the E3-prijs Harelbeke, Arvesen managed to take the win in a similar way. He was in an early breakaway that stayed away until the finale, and kept attacking in the last kilometres. "Winning in the Tour while wearing the Norwegian champion's jersey is really big," Arvesen said.

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When asked about what a victory like this means for Norwegian cycling Arvesen pointed out that it would continue to grow. "It's live on the Norwegian TV2 with good coverage. Then I noticed that there are a lot of Norwegian press people on site as well. It's not only me because there's also the Viking, Thor Hushovd, who has also won a stage in this Tour de France," Arvesen talked about his compatriot in this Tour. "I'm sure that the popularity of the sport will not be less in the future."

Arvesen didn't know that his team-mates had been pulling on the front of the peloton during the latter stages of the category one Col de Portel. "I didn't know that Pereiro had attacked, but that's not a big surprise. Anyway, the gap was big enough for us to fight for the stage win. CSC needed a stage win and now we've got it; we're relaxed now. We have a very strong team as you could see on Monday. We're waiting for the Alps to show that again," Arvesen said.

"As for me it means that I have to get back to work tomorrow," Arvesen laughed. "It's been a really hard Tour for me so far as I'm riding in the wind for Carlos and Fränk quite a lot. Now I should head for the team bus to grab a protein drink and recover because the coming days will be hard enough for me." And off went the Norwegian champion who will convert himself back into a domestique, after enjoying the most glorious day of his career near the Pyrenees, in Foix.

Forbidden substances found in Dueñas' room

Abandon of Cárdenas and Borghini unrelated to news

By Brecht Decaluwé in Lannemezan, France

Claudio Corti (Barloworld manager)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

On Wednesday morning Spanish climber Moises Dueñas received the news that he had tested positive on EPO during a doping test on the A-sample he had delivered after the stage four time trial in Cholet. The Barloworld rider was the second rider to fail an anti-doping control after Spaniard Manuel Beltran of Liquigas. Both riders have withdrawn from the Tour de France, and have requested a counter-analysis of the B-sample. Until the result can be confirmed, both are officially considered 'non-negative' and have been suspended from their teams.

Police searched both riders' hotel rooms, and in the case of Dueñas, found forbidden substances in his hotel room in Tarbes. The French law states that the possession of doping products is forbidden, and his trouble is now compounded by possible criminal proceedings.

Just before the start of the eleventh stage in Lannemezan, the Barloworld team made an official statement regarding the news of Dueñas' non-negative result. The team said it will continue with the seven riders it has left, while waiting for the results of the B-sample from their Spanish rider.

"The team is very shocked by the situation, but it's not involved in the affair with Moises Dueñas. This morning we received a message from the Tour about a positive test from Moises Dueñas after the time trial in Cholet. At the same time the police arrived and investigated Dueñas' room.

"Afterwards they took him to the police office where he will be joined later by the team manager and the team doctor. Obviously the rider is out of the Tour de France and we'll have to wait for the results of the second test before we can undertake any further steps. When asked whether Dueñas had given a reaction, the team representative said, "The police didn't allow anybody near him, it was impossible to talk with the rider. We are all shocked by the situation. We just lost Mauricio Soler and now this incident. The team will go on with their seven riders but clearly it's not a lucky Tour for team Barloworld."

After the finish in Foix the representative added to Cyclingnews that the police had found damaging material in Dueñas' room. "The police has found forbidden products substances in the room. The doctor of the team is not involved as the substances weren't given by the doctor.

And if the Barloworld team felt they were having an unlucky day things got even worse during the race. Dueñas' room-mate Félix Cárdenas and Paolo Longo Borghini withdrew from the race during the stage after being involved in a crash after 57 kilometres. "Longo Borghini broke his collarbone and was brought over to the hospital while Cárdenas had a big hematoma on his left knee, forcing the latter to abandon as well. And no, there's no link between the Dueñas doping problems and the drop-out from Cárdenas," he said.

UCI unhappy with ProTour rejection

Pat McQuaid might think he's in the driver's seat
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

UCI president Pat McQuaid saw the ProTour project face near-certain ruin on Tuesday when the teams and Grand Tour organisers joined together in calling for a new system, saying that they will work together to move the sport forward. McQuaid gave his reaction to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes and, from the sound of things, the governing body has no intentions of backing down.

Tuesday's announcement that seventeen teams on the Tour de France would not seek a renewal of their ProTour licences came as a big blow to the UCI. It effectively threatens the death of the ProTour series in the fourth year of its existence, and also sees the teams siding with ASO in the matter.

These teams announced afterwards that they had reached an agreement with Tour organiser ASO, plus RCS Sport and Unipublic [the organisers of the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España] and would work together to develop a new calendar of cycling. They have requested that the UCI is also involved.

As might be expected, UCI president Pat McQuaid was less than happy with the situation. "The teams and ASO have worked out a calendar between themselves," he told Cyclingnews late on Tuesday evening. "The teams were presented with certain ultimatums within that calendar. For instance, they were told that the 18 teams [sic] that were in the room have a right to ride the Tour de France next year, but if one or two of them don't renew their sponsorship - and there are one or two of them looking for sponsors - then there would only be 17 or 16 who have a right to ride the Tour de France.

"In other words, if one or two of them [ProTour level teams] don't get new sponsors and the UCI replace them with others - and I am thinking for instance of the Russian team that was announced today - they don't get an automatic right into the Tour de France. So, effectively ASO is making rules to suit themselves. This is part of the calendar that they are trying to impose upon the UCI, but the UCI won't accept that. The UCI makes the rules, and both the teams and the other organisers need to understand that."

McQuaid has argued this point for several months, that the UCI is the governing body in the sport and that the others involved need to be aware of that. However Tuesday's announcement by the teams essentially sees them turn their backs on that, acting together with ASO in what the UCI says is an act of defiance.

Continue to the full feature.

Sunderland talks tactics in eleventh stage

By Brecht Decaluwé in Foix, France

Arvesen leads the break of 13
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The CSC-Saxo Bank team continued its aggressive team tactics, placing eventual stage winner Kurt-Asle Arvesen in the break which kept a nearly 15 minute advantage on the peloton at the finish line. While most teams would use the presence of a rider in the lead group as a reason to be absolved from chasing, all that changed on the category one climb of the Col du Portel the Danish team took over the work from Silence-Lotto in the peloton.

CSC-Saxo Bank directeur sportif Scott Sunderland explained why his team suddenly came to the front and stepped up the pace of the peloton. "Our acceleration in the peloton on the climb was a tactical decision. [Oscar] Pereiro had jumped away already and we didn't want to let him go. Another important reason was that it was a very narrow road on the climb and the descent was dangerous as there was a lot of gravel on the road. Bjarne decided to ride because it was better to ride up front and because we could decide the tempo ourselves," Sunderland said.

Sunderland assured that the team was behind Arvesen, and said he was happy with the win. "He's a great guy in a great team," Sunderland said. "Kurt offered up his chances for Cancellara during Tirrenno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo, but in Harelbeke he wins himself and now again," Sunderland said.

"It was a weird day as whole day long we were just rolling on in the team car behind the leaders, and then in the last five kilometres it was all hectic," Sunderland said to Cyclingnews.

During the rest day Cyclingnews had a chat with Sunderland about the targeted controls from the AFLD which were said to have been applied to a number of riders who displayed abnormal blood values prior to the Tour. Their rider Fabian Cancellara had been called to anti-doping controls a number of times during the first stages.

Cancellara explained that the favourites for every stage were often picked out. "I had to go almost every day during the first four days, but now it's over."

Liquigas caught by surprise with Beltran news

Courtesy Mikkel Condé, cycling123

The Liquigas team was caught by surprise with the news of its rider Manuel Beltran's non-negative test for EPO. Despite the AFLD's announcement that all of the riders would be informed of irregular values in a communiqué last weekend, Liquigas press agent Paolo Barbieri said that the team received no such notification.

"Believe me, was a big, big shock when we found the police at the hotel door. And after, when they asked for Triki, the shock was double. As you know he has great career and in the cycling world he is well know as a professional rider. We really hope that the contra-analysis will be negative," Barbieri said.

"For us it was important to save the image of our other riders - they're clean and want to win without any jokes. I also think that in the last couple of days the guys have already shown their reaction, working in front of the peloton and with Nibali and Kreuziger going for the victory. You'll see a great Liquigas team in next days."

A domestique's view on the day of Silence-Lotto

By Brecht Decaluwé in Foix, France

The Silence-Lotto team from yellow jersey Cadel Evans hit the road with the responsibility to control the race for the first time in the Tour. Domestique Mario Aerts – the Tour de France room-mate of Evans – talked with Cyclingnews about the Belgian team's day out on the roads between Lannemezan and Foix on stage eleven.

"Cadel didn't have a hard day. He was riding attentive in the front of the peloton and I don't think that first category climb was a problem for him," Aerts said. "For us that was quite different as it rained attacks during the first hour. Eventually there was a breakaway that was allowed the distance and they managed to take a large margin. We thought to give them the maximum, twenty minutes," said Aerts. "I felt it was hard with the heat and the annoying roads here; it's never possible to roll along with that sort of sticky asphalt."

After two thirds in the race the Col de Portel turned out to be a tough, but non-selective climb although there was an attack from Oscar Pereiro, winner of the Tour de France 2006. "We wanted to make it over the climb with the whole team and then Pereiro attacked. We wanted to block the road until the top and then we would be working with five or six guys, so that Pereiro would go nowhere. But clearly CSC had a different tactic and they decided to accelerate on the climb.

"That was good for us, too, and when they stopped we took it over for that last bit," Aerts explained. "I was a little bit surprised by the move from CSC. They were really quick with their reaction on Pereiro's attack."

Cadel Evans had a good word for team-mate and compatriot Robbie McEwen who's regularly converting from a sprinter into a domestique in this Tour de France. "I'm glad we have Robbie on the road as some sort of quick thinking lieutenant. We're coming to the same solutions, but he arrives there much quicker than me," Evans said, explaining that there is a lot to think about during the stages. "As you know I had a bit of an accident on Sunday and in stages like this it's not only about the battle for yellow, but also the competition for the points classification, the mountains competition and so on."

Four injured in team car/spectator collision

Two adults and two children were injured at the finish of the eleventh Tour de France stage when one of the AG2R La Mondiale team cars lost control at the 800 metres to go mark in Foix and ran into the barricades which line the course.

According to AFP, three of the four injured were transferred to hospital of Val d'Ariege in Foix, while the fourth, child, suffered only from contusions and stayed with its family. A man was left with a suspected broken leg, while a 37-year-old woman suffered from facial trauma and a suspected fractured jaw. Her child, a 10-year-old boy broke his thumb.

AG2R team directeur sportif Julien Jurdie was driving the car behind the race where his Swiss rider Martin Elmiger was narrowly defeated by Kurt-Asle Arvesen of Team CSC-Saxo Bank. His blood alcohol was found to be negative, but he will be relegated to the passenger seat on Thursday's 12th stage as a precaution, the organisers decided.

Stage video highlights and podcasts

Just can't get enough of the Tour? Well fear not because Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you video highlights of every stage plus daily podcasts courtesy of Bikeradar.com and Procycling magazine.

Our video comes directly from Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and will be online shortly after the finish of each stage. We've also got highlights from classic Tours of the past so click here to see the full archive.

Check out the podcasts page in our Tour de France section for a full round-up of news and views from the Tour.

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