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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for July 23, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Lawyer versus doping fighter

By Bjorn Haake

Team T-Mobile
Photo ©: Sabine & Rolf Jost
(Click for larger image)

As reported yesterday, the German weekly sports show, das aktuelle Sportstudio, featured Wolfgang Lehner, the lawyer generally used by high profile sports stars, and Helmut Pabst, head of the anti-doping lab PWC that carries out most of the tests for NADA, the German anti-doping agency.

Pabst was shedding some light on the randomness of the controls. "We got informed on June 4 that we were supposed to carry out those tests." This included for his team to get ready and travel to Southern France for a surprise visit in the T-Mobile camp. Papbst did not accompany his experts, "who are very experienced." The tests were carried out June 8. Pabst said that the biggest problem was to get to the riders directly. "We had information that they would return at 5pm, and right on time someone in a T-Mobile kit arrived, but it turned out to be a soigneur," the anti-doping expert commented on the fact that the riders were likely warned while they were still out training. "On the bright side, every rider showed up for the test, so it looks the team management made sure everyone would be available."

Pabst sees some difficulty of doing truly random training controls in reality. "We are not identifying ourselves, but even at the junior track and world championships in Holland recently, where I didn't think anybody would know me, I was greeted in the hotel with 'Hello Dr. Pabst'."

Michael Lehner is more concerned with the rights of the athletes and that the tests are all carried out according to procedure, including the correct cooling of the samples. Lehner did not say there isn't a doping problem, but feels that right now there is a tendency to only after the riders, which are only a small part of the system. He'd prefer a general amnestie for those who come out, such as Jör Jaksche recently.

The German lawyer said that there needs to be a radical shift in the whole system. Right now it seems to him that the old guys, who grew up on doping, are now in charge of things. He specifically mentioned Bernard Hinault, and while he wasn't a 100 percent certain thought that "I think he had been tested positive before."

Helmut Pabst for his part contended that there just wasn't enough money to be as effective as possible. He did emphasize that they have a good system in place, "with a head controller to guide the team," in order to make sure that the sports person will be accompanied at all times from the finish of the race to the providing of the sample. We learned that from the skiing events, which have difficult logistics."

He did acknowledge that in Klöden's case the Tour de France organisers made a mistake. After Saturday's time trial, Andreas Klöden was able to get into a team's van after the race, instead of being accompanied by an anti-doping expert, as should be the case under the Chaperon ('companion') system implemented for cycling races in 2006.

This was similar to Sinkewitz. The anti-doping crew was awaiting the riders after their training ride at the hotel. Australian's Mick Rogers asked if he could take a shower before, which was denied, but Patrik Sinkewitz did manage to get into his room first. The anti-doping team came within minutes to accompany him to the testing area, which "is certainly not set up like at the Olympics, but was better than we find in many other out-of-training controls," Pabst emphasized and rejected criticism from the T-Mobile riders, who had called it the "most chaotic training control they ever endured."

All riders had left notes on the report about their dissatisfaction, with one rider, who was not Sinkewitz, adding comments "that filled the whole flip side of the report," according to Lehner.

Both agreed that because the Danish federation had suspended Rasmussen, there was nothing the Tour de France organisers could do, as an athlete cannot be punished twice.

Asked if he watched spots on TV as a fan or as an anti-doping expert, Pabst acknowledged that he doesn't have much time to watch TV, but occasionally tunes into basketball, "and then I get so much into it that I probably don't think about doping."

Brother versus Brother update

By Susan Westemeyer

The "race within the race" has opened up some, with Sylvain Chavanel far outdistancing younger brother Sébastien, and Bert Grabsch maintaining a narrow lead over older brother Ralf.

All four finished in the main pack Friday, getting the same time as winner Tom Boonen, so there was no change in the fraternal standings. In Saturday's time trial, Bert Grabsch crashed but still finished over a minute ahead of his brother, so that they were finally separated in the GC, with Bert in 118th and Ralf at position 122. The difference was more dramatic for the French brothers, with Sylvain finishing some six and a half minutes faster than Sébastian.

Sunday was Sylvain's day again, as he finished 45th on the first Pyrenean stage, 12'38" down. The other three came in with the gruppetto at 34'52". In the Chavanel family GC, Sylvain is now 28th, with Sébastian at 152. For the Grabsches, Bert is 118th and Ralf 123.

So just imagine a two-main breakaway, with rival teams Milram and T-Mobile being represented in the forms of the two brothers. What would happen? Well, brotherly love goes only so far.

"There are no compromises, each of us would grab any chance of winning," Bert said on "We can be brothers again when the race is over." And according to Ralf, "We would first first want to stop any rivals latching on to our rear wheels but would then ride against each other fairly. I believe neither of us has an advantage. An escape attempt just before the finishing line would be ideal, but Bert's not stupid..."

A sprinter's nightmare

Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Robert Förster, the designated sprinter for Gerolsteiner, who has won stages in the Giro d'Italia, including the final stage into Milano last year, gave some details on his diary at about how a sprinter sees a Tour de France mountain stage. And it doesn't look too good. Förster said that it went uphill at kilometre 0, which is why he came to the start 10 minutes early, so he could be in row 1, and not already have to start at the back.

"It was the calm before the storm, as the orange jerseys [from Euskaltel] were all around me." "Frösi" started to get nervous when even Thor Hushovd passed him. He did get help from team-mate Stefan Schumacher, who had crashed while in a break and was in the process of moving back into the peloton.

Förster isn't too impressed with the streets in the mountains between France and Spain , stating that "in the Alps at least the bike rolls along, even uphill, but here on those bad streets in the Pyrénées I have got the feeling I am not even going forward."

The valley before the final climb wasn't much to his taste, either. "Spaniards up front and Spaniards making the pace behind. And the road goes up three percent." At least he did make it into the gruppetto, even though "I came from behind; it is better to get into it from the front." And the calculations worked out. "We thought we would be about 37 minutes behind, but it ended up being 34 minutes in the end."

. Förster acknowledged that usually it is fun to have the fans along side the road, "and that was the most we had so far in the Tour," but also said when he's suffering like this the fans can't provide much relief. "All I wanted was to die peacefully."

Christophe Moreau moves on

Christophe Moreau was humble
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Christophe Moreau, who's chances for overall victory were already reduced following a crash and subsequently losing time in one of the flattest stages of the Tour, is now fully out of contention, after having a bad time trial on Saturday and arriving at the finish with the gruppettoyesterday. Talking to the Frenchman showed however, that he has moved n already and remembers when things were even worse.

"In 2002, I crashed three or four times in the opening week. This time I didn't and made it ok through the Alps as well. It was the crash that diminished me. A little grain of sand in the machinery."

Moreau continued that his handicap was more physical than mental, with his bruised ribs causing some breathing trouble and his team gave him a lot of strength, "they were always around me." The Ag2r captain didn't like being in the gruppetto, "it's not something to be proud of, but I didn't have a choice," conceded Moreau, who received treatment from an osteopath.

The Frenchman, who's overall ambitions have vanished over the weekend, is now thinking of getting into a break in the upcoming two mountain stages. He thinks that the overall will be made tonight.

Moreau is enjoying his time in the French Champion jersey, a title he finally won this year after trying his whole amateur and professional career. "The people seek me out, even in the gruppetto."

Moreau, who had praise for his team-mate John Gadret, never thought about abandoning over the course of a tough weekend. "I haven't hit rock bottom yet. I have the will, the maillot tricolore and the support of my wife Emilie. I have seen that I can stay with the gruppetto, even though that is not where I'd like to race. I want to get to Paris."

European Espoir Championships

Daniel Martin
Photo ©: Pierre Carrey/VC La Pomme Marseille
(Click for larger image)

Russian Andrey Klyuev won the road race of the European Championships for Espoirs ahead of Ignas Konovalovas from Lithuania. The competition was held Sunday in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ignas Konovalovas (VC La Pomme Marseille), who had already taken fourth place in the time trial, joined the sole leader, Klyuev, with a counter attack on the last climb of the race. The duo never did get a lead above 20 seconds but it was enough for them to reach the finish line 13 seconds ahead of the charging field for a two-up sprint, with the Russian prevailing.

The field sprint was won by Latvian Normunds Lasis (Latvia) to get the bronze medal. Daniel Martin, also riding for VC La Pomme Marseille and turning professional with Slipstream next year, has had health problems since the 'Ronde de l'Oise' and abandoned 30 kilometre from the finish, after being present in a breakaway. He is now trying to recover for his August program.

Konovalovas, not particularly known for emotional outbursts, was visibly happy after getting the silver medal, declaring "I am really satisfied," accompanied with a huge, unusual grin on his face. The Lithuanian also took 5th place in the European Championships on the track in Cottbus, Germany, the week before. All in all a very successful week for the young rider.

The 21 year-old's successes this year, including a second place at the Lithuanian National Championships and the win of the time trial at the 'Ronde de l'Isard' have netted him a contract as a stagiaire for Crédit Agricole this summer.

Vuelta Ciclista a Madrid

Sergio Henao Montoya, riding for the Colombia es Pasión Team, won the U23 classification of the Vuelta Ciclista a Madrid, a five-day stage race that concluded yesterday with a circuit race in Madrid. The Colombian won with an advantage of over 13 minutes compared to second place Bury Slawomir of Poland.

Henao finished 15th overall, 2'43" behind Spaniard Manuel Lloret Zaragoza of the Fuerteventura - Canarias team. The Colombian held the orange jersey for the U23 leader form start to finish, giving hopes that he may well be the next Colombian star for the future.

Belgian teams in Roach Hotel

Teams in the Tour de France never know what hotel they might be assigned to. It might be a luxury hotel, it might be a nice middle-class place or it might be -- the Roach Motel.

The latter is what the two Belgian teams Predictor-Lotto and Quick Step found in Saix-Castres, where they had to stay for two long days. "I have seldom, if ever, experienced something like that," Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant told "We sprayed everywhere with insecticide before we moved into our rooms."

"And let's not even talk about the food," sighed Lotto soigneur David Bombeke.

Equipe Nürnberger for Thüringen

Giro d'Italia winner Edita Pucinskaite and World's runner-up Trixi Worrack will lead the Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung in the women's Thüringen Rundfahrt, starting Tuesday. Worrack finished third overall in the race last year.

"After our success in the Giro, we are starting confidently in this race," said Team Director Jens Zemke. "In light of the strong competition, our goals are a stage win and a high place in the overall ranking, hopefully in the top five."

The team also features time trial specialist Charlotte Becker and the former world champion, sprinter Regina Schleicher.

The riders for Equipe Nürnberger in Thüringen are Edita Pucinskaite, Trixi Worrack, Charlotte Becker, Regina Schleicher, Andrea Graus and Claudia Stumpf.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)