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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for September 12, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan & Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta Stage 15 wrap-up

Heras back on top

Roberto Heras en route to victory
Photo ©: AFP
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On the queen stage of this year's Vuelta a España, Liberty Seguros' Roberto Heras took control of the race and smashed Denis Menchov's lead to pieces. In the last true mountain stage, the three-time Vuelta winner led a surprise attack on the penultimate climb of the Cat. 1 Alto de la Colladiella, before consolidating his advantage on the road to Valgrande Pajares, catching all of his rivals off-guard, including Menchov.

Heras attacked some 55 kilometres from the finish line; then, in one frightening downhill run, he bridged up to his teammates in the breakaway, who helped him amass a substantial lead over the Russian, left to struggle alone. The Spaniard then finished off proceedings on the final climb to Pajares, where Menchov's forces just weren't sufficient to limit his losses.

"The Colladiella is a very difficult mountain and we knew it," said stage winner and golden jersey wearer Heras in the finish. "In strategic terms the stage went perfectly. I was conscious about the fact that I took great risks when I went downhill. But the point is that if you want something, you have to take your chances."

The 31 year-old now looks set for a fourth Vuelta victory. In the end, Menchov finished 5'17 adrift, and is now 4.30 behind on the overall classification - too much of a gap to bridge in the last time trial next Saturday, which is only 38.9 kilometres long. Team CSC's Carlos Sastre retained his third overall placing, but now sits just 20 seconds behind second-placed Menchov.

Also see:

Stage 15 full results & report
Live report
Stages & results
Start List

Roberto Heras: A calm leader

Number 4 in the bag?
Photo ©: AFP
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Despite a heavy crash three days ago that required 15 stitches on his left leg, despite having just one last chance to reclaim the maillot oro, and until today, despite Russian Denis Menchov showing no sign of weakness, Roberto Heras displayed his usual calm. Well, that's how it was before he saw his moment to attack, writes Hernan Alvarez Macias.

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros-Würth) seems to be a person with a steady way of being. During bad moments, he doesn't look so bad, and in good times, he doesn't show too high a mood. Heras had a really harsh time last Thursday when he crashed and hurt his left knee badly. The big question was: would this problem affect him? Would it mean his defeat?

Today, the Spaniard answered all questions in a very straightforward way, reclaiming the golden jersey from Denis Menchov (Rabobank) on a crucial stage in the southern part of the mountainous Asturias region. But at the press conference in the finish, Heras didn't seem to be overly excited - maybe that is one of the secrets of an 'old warrior' very used to the big battles on the tarmac.

"I did the last kilometre and a half in the Colladiella at my very best and [Carlos] Sastre, [Denis] Menchov and I reached the summit together," explained the current Vuelta leader. "They came with me, but it was in the descent that I could get an advantage."

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Saiz: "An extraordinary victory"

"Now asks for conservative tactics"

Not surprisingly, Liberty Seguros-Würth team manager was a happy man by the end of the fifteenth stage of the Vuelta a España, pronouncing the achievement as "a team's extraordinary victory".

"We knew that we have some opportunities in the Vuelta and we looked for it day by day. Today it went well maybe because of the [element of] surprise, because they [the other teams] thought we will attack only in Pajares. Roberto attacked four times on the climb to Colladiella and in the descent he gave it continuity," he said.

Saiz continued by saying that the most important thing is to feel proud of his riders, adding that the Vuelta is still not over, even though a big step forward took place. "Tomorrow it can be different; it is necessary to have patience, anything can still happen," he said.

"We have done two extraordinary weeks, but there still remains the third one. Roberto has been super every day, but he was opposite an extraordinary rider [Menchov]. Today we have been lucky; I was surprised that Menchov was failing, but the Vuelta is a lot of everything; Menchov had done a extraordinary Vuelta till now and is going to continue doing it. Now asks for conservative tactics, to fight and nothing more, but I do not want to think about anything, for we have a rest day tomorrow. Now I only want to enjoy the victory with my riders."

Can Sastre take second?

Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
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Although Team CSC's Carlos Sastre wasn't on his best day, finishing 3'47 down on Roberto Heras in ninth place, he still rode a minute and a half better than overnight leader Denis Menchov, who came into Valgrande Pajares a massive 5'17 behind. As a consequence, Sastre retained his third spot overall, but is now just 20 second behind the second place of Menchov.

"It was a shame Carlos didn't make it when Heras attacked," said team manager Bjarne Riis on "He did put up a good fight on the steep climb towards the finish, but lost momentum slightly at the end. It was a tough stage which turned out to be a decisive one. I think there's a realistic chance of Carlos taking second place now. We've still got a couple of difficult stages ahead of us, and there's no doubt he's very motivated to advance even further," he said.

Perez fans demand his comeback

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Pajares

Although Spain's Santi Perez is from Asturias, the region where the Vuelta a España finished today, the rider was not unable to take part in his hometown race as a consequence of testing positive for homologous blood transfusion just over a week after finished second at the 2004 Vuelta. But today, on the final climb to Pajares climb, his fans had painted the road, asking for 'Santi's' comeback.

"He's from Asturias, from a little town near here and we want him to come back racing," a female fan told Cyclingnews. The paintings on the road say "Santi Perez inocente [innocent]" and "Exijimos ver correr a Santi otra vez" [We demand to see Santi riding again]. Some of them wore white T-shirts with an image of the rider which said "Santi Perez justicia [justice for Santi Perez]". Perez was greatly missed by the public in this year's Vuelta, together with two other Spanish superstars: Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

Three more names published from 1999 Tour

French newspaper Journal du Dimanche (JDD) has now done what L'Equipe dared not to do, publishing the names of the three other riders that tested 'positive' to EPO at the prologue of the 1999 Tour de France, and linked their names to the three other positive samples allegedly taken after the prologue.

Until now, sports newspaper L'Equipe has not revealed these names because it lacked sufficient evidence to verify that the samples tested by the doping laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry were indeed those of the three riders named by Le Journal du Dimanche. [Also see: Interview with L'Equipe's Damien Ressiot] According to the paper, the three other riders that tested positive after the prologue in Puy-du-Fou on July 3, 1999, are: Manuel Beltran (currently Discovery Channel), José Joachim Castelblanco (formerly Kelme, now suspended for two years under another doping charge) and Bo Hamburger (currently Acqua & Sapone), the latter rider also testing positive for cortisone that day, but later proving he was allowed to take the drug according to his medical certificate.

Manuel Beltran has already issued a statement denying the allegations, saying that "neither the laboratory of Châtenay-Malabry, nor the French state (through its Council for fight against doping and its prevention), nor WADA, nor the UCI should allow this situation to happen. It is very regrettable that some people and institutions betray all the legal and ethical principles that should govern their actions, while at the same time they ask me for an irreproachable behaviour - which I have shown in the hundreds of controls that I've passed without problems."

Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.

Kuyckx to appeal positives

The Belgian rider Jan Kuyckx (Davitamon-Lotto) tested positive for ephedrine and norpseudoephedrine during the Ster Elektrotoer, held between June 15-18 this year. Both his A and B samples revealed excessive concentrations of both restricted substances.

26 year-old Kuyckx was informed of the findings by his team early last month and hasn't been included on any race rosters since then. Davitamon-Lotto issued a statement on Saturday, saying that the rider probably didn't have bad intentions, as he was taking pseudoephedrine to counter the effects of an allergy that was prescribed to him by a doctor. Norpseudoephedrine (also known as cathine) is closely related to pseudoephedrine, a stimulant that was formerly restricted but is now permitted by the UCI and WADA, which can be converted to norpseudoephedrine in the body.

Davitamon-Lotto has stated they will not take any further measures against the rider, with Kuyckx himself saying he will appeal the findings. Earlier this year in May, Shimano memory Corp rider Stefan Schumacher also tested positive for norpseudoephedrine at the Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt, where won three of the five stages as well as the general classification, and was leading the UCI Europe Tour points classification at the time.

Jaksche to lead Liberty in Poland

Liberty Seguros-Würth has named German Jörg Jaksche as their leader for the Tour de Pologne ProTour stage race, which begins tomorrow in Gdansk on the Baltic Sea coast and concludes on Sunday, September 18 in Karpacz. Supporting Jaksche will be René Andrle, Carlos Barredo, David Etxebarria, Jesus Hernández, Jan Hruska, Dani Navarro and Jesus R. Abeja. Herminio Díaz Zabala will be the sports director.

Liberty negotiating with Etxeondo

Sports clothing manufacturer Etxeondo is currently in negotiations to be the official supplier of team clothing for Liberty Seguros-Würth in 2006. Team manager Manolo Saiz has previously relied on the brand during his time at ONCE, and says he considers Etxeondo to be of the best brands in the market, while also remarking on the quality of current clothing supplier Giordana.

Colavita donates winnings to Katrina relief

When the Colavita Olive Oil Texas Regional Cycling Team created a 'Racing For Children' fund in early 2005 by pooling race winnings, they had no idea where they would donate the winnings. But those details could be worked out later as Colavita Texas began earning top placings, victories and money for the fund. With every penny of the team's winnings destined to help children in need, the team raced just as hard for $1 as it did for $100 - and their efforts paid off: by September, the fund had grown to $2,187.

"As a small amateur road racing team, it gave us a clear goal and sense of purpose," said Colavita Texas general manager John Woodson. "Every rider on the team used not only their cycling abilities but more importantly their heart and soul to build that fund. Now it can be put to good use."

With the growing need to help the 20,000+ hurricane Katrina survivors residing in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, the team is donating the $2,187 to the North Texas Food Bank to provide aid and support for children and their families affected by the disaster.

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