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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for July 28, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson

Angry Wiggins sees hope in new generation

By Ben Atkins, United Kingdom Editor

A visually upset Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) confronts
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

At the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, England on Friday morning, World and Olympic Pursuit Champion Bradley Wiggins spoke to the British media two days after he was forced to leave the Tour de France after his Cofidis teammate, Cristian Moreni, tested non-negative for testosterone.

"I wouldn't say I'm bitter," He replied when asked. "I'm angered by it and it's made my determination to come through this whole thing and to prove that there can be clean winners in this sport."

He's not alone in his anger either, but sees the push towards a cleaner sport being spearheaded by the younger generation of riders who haven't grown up in the old school doping culture. "A lot of others I've spoken to in the last 24 hours - I've spoken to Geraint Thomas who's still out there on the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish - and they're all pretty pissed off as well. I still believe that there is a minority out there who are willing to push the boundaries - that minority all seem to be over 30 years of age - coming toward the end of their careers - I think that show's a generational thing.

"Ten years ago it was rife in the sport and there's a new generation coming through now and unfortunately it's the older guys who were there back in 1998 that are still willing to push the boundaries and see how far they can go without being caught," he continued. "Hopefully the new generation that are coming through - the guys you saw protesting on the line are the guys that are going to be the future of the sport and the Tour de France."

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Wiggins spoke out against the hero worship of some of the big stars, those who - like Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) - now have their entire careers looked upon with suspicion. "These guys are looked upon as heroes to some young guys - but for me they're not the heroes of the Tour de France - they never were for me," he declared.

Instead, he hailed the contribution to the sport made by the lesser lights, the domestiques and those struggling in the autobus [the group of riders banding together to avoid the time cut] everyday, particularly the youngest rider on the race - his British Cycling track teammate Thomas. "I spent a lot of time in the group finishing an hour down most days and that's where the heroes are for me," he said. "Guys like Geraint Thomas, 21 years old - for the last two weeks I've watched him drag himself through the Alps and the Pyrenees on nothing but bread and water. For me they are the real heroes of the Tour de France - not the guys on the million Euro contracts who are being done for blood transfusions and things like that."

To read the full interview with Bradley Wiggins, click here.

IOC chief: Olympic exclusion not the solution

Jacques Rogge has stepped in to counter the claims of a 'senior European IOC member' who claimed cycling was "serious danger of exiting the Olympics", after becoming a point of concern among International Olympic Committee members. IOC president Rogge has hit back at the claims, saying that the sport's exclusion from Olympic competition is not the answer to solving its doping problem.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices:

"To exclude the sport from the Olympic Games is not a solution," he told reporters during a visit to Belgrade which is currently hosting the Youth Olympics. "You have to put everything into perspective. What is happening now in the Tour de France is first of all a sign that the mentality of the athletes must change drastically, and rapidly."

Rogge's comments come a day after UCI president Pat McQuaid moved to squash speculation over cycling's Olympic future. McQuaid defended the recent spate of non-negative samples as a sign the sport is successfully catching drug cheats and dealing with them.

"At the end of the day, while these things such as Vinokourov and Moreni and Rasmussen are shocks to the sport, it shows that cycling is dealing with the issues," McQuaid told Cyclingnews. "It proves that the sport is prepared to face these issues head on, to tackle them and not hide things under the counter.

"There are many other sports that don't have as much testing as we do, but it is only when you actually have controls that you catch people. If there is even only a small percentage of athletes who are prepared to cheat, by doing loads of controls then you're going to catch that percentage.

"I believe it is a small percentage, but I do believe that that small percentage needs to completely disappear. It is only then that we will get the credibility back."

McQuaid feels that there is no overnight remedy and that it will take time to chance a long-standing culture of doping within the sport. WADA chairman Dick Pound and the UCI disagreed over this on Thursday , with the former implying that the tougher anti-doping measures introduced should already have eliminated the problem and the latter saying that such measures will, by their nature, lead to an increased number of positives in the short term.

'Spectacular' rider demonstration planned

By Susan Westemeyer

Rolf Aldag
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France riders are planning a demonstration on Sunday's final stage, to protest against those of their colleagues who continue to use dope. The demonstration comes after another doping tainted Tour, which saw Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) and their entire squads thrown out of the event following positive samples, while former yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen was dumped by his Rabobank team while leading the event for lying about his whereabouts.

"It is supposed to be something spectacular," said T-Mobile sport director Rolf Aldag, who confessed in May to using EPO during his own career as a professional rider. "The suggestion has been made to stop riding one metre before the finish line on the Champs Elysees. But I don't know if they will find enough riders to go through with it."

A meeting of team representatives is planned for Saturday after the Time Trial. The point must at least be made that the Tour and cycling can only be saved by functioning structures, Aldag said. "What is going on now between the UCI and the ASO, as Tour organiser, hurts everyone in the long run," he concluded.

Stage 18 reactions:

David Cañada (Saunier-Duval): "We knew that, for most riders, the Tour ended today, that it was the last chance to score a stage win. We tried to be part of breakaways, but everybody did the same thing. Taking stock of my Tour de France, I must say it didn´t live up to my expectations. My inclusion in this race was a last-minute decision because Gómez Marchante fell ill, and I´ve barely managed to finish. Today I couldn´t even try to escape. At this stage in the Tour, if your legs aren´t OK, there´s nothing you can do. I´ve come here to assist other riders, and I think I made my contribution to our teamwork. Individually, however, I couldn´t show what I can do."

Erik Dekker (Rabobank): "This is a boost for the morale. Boogie up front all day. Victory or no victory, it is very impressive that the team has managed to pick itself up. On the bus and at breakfast there was some talk about trying something. But you never know how it will turn out. The atmosphere in the team this morning was very different from yesterday; everyone was eager again. And it was Boogerd's last chance in this Tour."

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank): "I left a small gap, thought he was beat. It turned out he was not. He jumped while in the lead, no one could catch up with him. I knew that Casar was the quickest and I did not want to slug it out in the sprint. I was the strongest one uphill. But I do not weigh enough for a flat sprint, think I weigh barely 60 kilos. I just missed the power. Did not win. Too bad, but it was a good day for the morale. The appetite has returned a little bit."

Kim Andersen (Team CSC manager): "For once we didn't make the break so we took it a bit easy in stead. Making the break was hard for us, because Caisse d'Epargne and Discovery Channel were hot on our tail because of the Team's Competition. So it proved impossible. Fabian has made it through the mountains fine and has tried to take it as easy as possible during the last two stages, so he should be one hundred percent ready for a great result, so let's hope it works out for him."

Bob Stapleton (T-Mobile manager): "Axel was brilliant today. It would have been a great going-away present if he had won. He wants to try and do something special in the world's greatest race. This is the last major race of his career and he is super-motivated. He's not only a very professional rider but he's been a real asset for the team this year. His personal leadership has made a big difference especially to our young guys like Gerdemann, Burghardt and Cavendish. They all get a great boost of confidence whenever Axel is around."

Astana not welcome at Deutschland Tour

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Kai Rapp has said the Switzerland-registered Astana ProTour team "will have a problem" with his Deutschland Tour, as he doesn't want the team competing in his ProTour event. The Kazakhstan-backed squad was "invited to leave" the Tour de France at the beginning of this week after its star rider, Alexander Vinokourov, registered a non-negative sample after his Stage 13 time trial victory.

"Astana will have a problem with us - we don't see them at the start," said Rapp to Speigel Online. "We will have a co-worker, especially hired for this, [to] look at the vita of every rider registered to ride. He won't do anything else. If he finds problems, then the rider will have a problem."

By excluding Astana, the Tour will lose German star Andreas Klöden, but that doesn't bother Rapp, who noted that Klöden missed last year's race. "In 2006 he decided he would rather ride criteriums," he said. Rapp doubted that the German would be able to distance himself from the Astana team. "Alexander Vinokourov and Matthias Kessler are his friends, and they need friends like him now. We respect his loyalty. The problem is that his attempts to distance himself from these things just do not come across convincingly."

Despite the announcement during the Tour that T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz tested non-negative from a June 8 sample, and Cofidis' Cristian Moreni registering a non-negative sample during the Tour, Rapp has no problem with either of the teams. "We will carefully check out how the teams have reacted to the cases," he said. "Have they tried to cover up? What consequences have they taken? The voluntarily withdrawal of the team after the Cofidis rider Moreni's doping case persuaded me, for example."

He added that he hoped that the sponsor T-Mobile would not leave cycling. "The consequences would be tragic," he confessed. "T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner could accomplish a lot in the fight against doping, with the German market in the background. This market is very important for everyone involved in cycling. If they left, it would be a catastrophe." SW

Tinkov sees silver lining to new drug cloud

By Gregor Brown in Angoulême

Oleg Tinkov put his hat into the ring this year when he decided to create a Professional Continental Team, Tinkoff Credit Systems. The 39 year-old, self-made business man put four million euro into the team for 2007 and has made the same promise for 2008, however, the Russian said the "Old Guardia" must leave the sport.

"I really think it is unique opportunity to clean my favourite sport," said Tinkov to Cyclingnews early Friday morning in an exchange of text messages coming on the heels of the Vinokourov, Moreni and Rasmussen doping-related news from the Tour de France.

He had already indicated in an earlier interview with Cyclingnews that he was ready to make changes within his team, including getting rid of some of his own riders who had been linked to scandals. "I don't want to see Hamilton, Jaksche, [Danilo] Hondo, or any guys with doping issues mentioned next to my name," he said last month.

"We have to leave these days and riders behind, [the ones] who still remember how to pull out EPO out of the pocket during the race," he said on Friday. "[The] Old Guardia must leave now. I think all Operación Puerto riders must leave the sport, including [Alejandro] Valverde." The Spaniard who rides for Caisse d'Epargne has been linked with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes but the Spanish Federation has never opened an investigation into his case.

He applauded the reincarnation of T-Mobile. "New people like [Tinkoff General Manager] Stefano Feltrin, [T-Mobile General Manager] Bob Stapleton must run the teams, not ex-doped cyclists like [Bjarne] Riis and these Belgians. ... [We need] new riders and new managers to the new and clean cycling!"

Prudhomme held a press conference Thursday morning in Pau, when he officially announced the news of Rasmussen's departure from the Tour de France. Tinkov stand behind the advances that the Frenchman and UCI President Pat McQuaid have made. "I glad what UCI and ASO are doing, and I personally [stand] behind McQuaid and Prudhomme, nevertheless it is still mess between them."

Tinkov continues to watch his favourite sport on television and he might pop by the finish in Paris, where he has a home.

Suh, Jacobs hit Paris for Vino research

Attorney Maurice Suh
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

While 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis might not be riding into Paris this weekend, his legal defence team has landed in the French capital to investigate the non-negative A sample of Astana'a Alexander Vinokourov. Maurice Suh and Howard Jacobs reportedly touched down in Paris on Thursday, telling that they were there to do "preliminary research" on the Kazakh rider's case.

"I think at this point, we just want to encourage everyone to keep an open mind," Suh said. "We only have an A sample, and this is a relatively new test. LNDD only began doing it recently."

The American media outlet reported that Suh's Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm will "take the lead" on Vinokourov's case. The 33 year-old's non-negative A sample, taken after his Stage 13 Time Trial victory, was tested in the same Chatenay-Malabry laboratory where Landis' sample was tested. The lab and its testing procedures became the focal point of a United States Anti Doping Agency arbitration hearing earlier this year, the outcome of which Landis is still awaiting.

In addition to Landis, the Los Angeles-based law firm has Tyler Hamilton on its list of high-profile clients.

Vino's B-samples tested

The French national doping lab at Chatenay-Malabry has opened Alexander Vinokourov's B-samples and begun testing it, L'Equipe reported Friday afternoon. The Kazakh cyclist was not present at the time, and results are expected to be announced on Saturday.

Vinokourov's A sample tested non-negative for blood doping after his spectacular Time Trial victory on Stage 13. The Astana rider's hotel was raided by police within days and Tour organiser ASO requested the Switzerland-registered squad leave the event, a request honoured by the team's management. SW

Mara Abbott: Gracing the podium

Abbott and her podium flowers
Photo ©: PhotoSport International
Click for larger image

Known for her contagious smile from ear-to-ear, Webcor-Builder's Mara Abbott has accumulated some impressive results in her first year as a pro. Aside from podium finishes in the Redlands Classic, Montreal World Cup and the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the 21 year-old won the US Elite Women's Road Race championship as well as the U23 time trial championship and two collegiate titles, and is now one of the odds-on favourites at the Tour de 'Toona. Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins caught up with the Boulder, Colorado resident at her home.

In just her second full season at the elite level, and her first on a professional team, Mara Abbott's kicked off 2007 with a bang when she won the Redlands Classic's infamous Oak Glen stage and placed second overall to multiple time Tour du L'Aude winner, Amber Neben (Flex-Point) in the overall. Her success continued through the spring when she stormed off the front of a world-class peloton during the Montreal World Cup and the only rider to follow her was the Italian champion Fabiana Luperini (Menikini-Selle-Italia). She added to her short but incredibly stellar list of results when she placed second to world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton) in the recent Nature Valley Grand Prix.

"It's one of those things were it doesn't feel real," said the 21 year old neo-pro with regards to her season's success. "Not matter how many people told me I was talented, I wasn't going to believe the until I actually did it myself."

Abbott's leading team-mate, Christine Thorburn acknowledged her talents early on prompting her to seriously think about winning the climb up Oak Glen in the Redlands Classic. "It wasn't until I was in a position to win that stage that winning was something I considered I was able to do."

Without much experience at the elite level, Abbott came into the season without any tangible or concrete goals, but whatever she might have expected of herself has been far exceeded. "I don't know what my goals are because if I had set them at the beginning of the year, I would have already surpassed them," Abbott said. "So now I go into races leaving goals behind me and just enter with the mindset that I am about to race as hard as I can to see what happens."

To read the full interview with Mara Abbott, click here.

Hondo disappointed

Danilo Hondo, who is currently sidelined as he serves a doping suspension, has said he's disappointed in the events of the past week, which has seen both the Astana and Cofidis ProTour teams leave the Tour de France after a rider from each squad tested non-negative.

"I am personally very disappointed by the events at the Tour de France," said Hondo, on his website "But I am more disappointed by the accompanying decisions, speculations and challenges."

"If, for example, Alexander Vinokourov should be found guilty of doping, then the work and existence of the rest of the riders and the others working for the team should not be destroyed," he said. "Apparently it is our nature to doubt everything and to question everything, or to call people in such a situation a hero, simply because they are willing to make a statement and look so innocently in the camera."

Hondo also announced that a criterium which he was helping to organize, the Night of Ascona, had been cancelled. "The situation of the past days and weeks have negatively influenced our discussions with partners and sponsors," he said. SW

Kelly Benefit's Waite for surgery

Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) heads into surgery this week, following an injury in the final Stillwater stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix several weeks ago. Waite, who turned pro in 2002, is scheduled for surgery to treat Iliac Artery Endofibrosis in his left leg, a condition which doctors believe can exist in some athletes for years until intense performance causes the affected limb to give out.

"Essentially it looks like I've been riding with the brakes on my left leg my entire career," said Waite. "I'm looking forward to finally having this dealt with and coming back to race with the full use of my leg for the first time since I turned pro. Hopefully that's going to mean stronger, faster and both more ready and able to win."

The condition is more common among pro cyclists than any other athlete group and involves the aggravated rubbing of the iliac artery on a ligament, which runs from the pubic bone to the hip bone every time a cyclist makes a pedal stroke.

"Nick's absolutely doing the right thing at the right time," added team performance director Jonas Carney. "He's been a critical part of the team in the first half of our season when we raced a lot of stage races, but right now we're fielding criterium squads and that creates a window for him to have the surgery. We'll be excited to see him be able to race happy, health and to his full potential."

Waite's injury is the latest in a long list for the Kelly Benefit Stategies squad. It follows seasoned sprinter Dave McCook's broken wrist, Reid Mumford's broken Tibial Plateau, Mark Hinnen's tendonitis and Justin Spinelli's broken collarbone sustained 500 meters from the finish line in Philadelphia.

"We never take unnecessary chances but we do race to win every time," adds Carney. "There's no point racing if you're not really in the game. As a new team we've had a few set backs this first season but we look after our guys extremely well and they come back stronger than ever. Just look at McCook."

Caisse d'Epargne announce Getox lineup

Spanish ProTour squad Caisse d'Epargne has announced its lineup for Circuit of Getox on July 31. The squad for the July 31 event includes riders like Florent Brard José Joaquín Rojas and Constantino Zaballa and will be directed by Alfonso Galilea.

Caisse d'Epargne roster for Circuit of Getox: Florent Brard, Joan Horrach, Alberto Losada, Aitor Pérez, Mathieu Perget, Ruben Plaza, Sébastien Portal, Vicente Reynes, José Joaquín Rojas and Constantino Zaballa.

DeFeet cranks out maillot jaune tune

The USA-based cycling clothing company, DeFeet International, has launched a music venture: a band called the Triple Kranks. This Sunday, the Triple Kranks will debut its first single, Looking For the Maillot Jaune, on the website. The first 1,000 downloads will be free.

DeFeet founder and 'chief sockologist', Shane Cooper, co-wrote the song with band members Stuart Garmon and Jonathan Birchfield. Cooper has played in various bands with them since the early '80s. "When the Tour started this year, I just had a feeling and I felt a need to send a message," Cooper said. "The song was finished just as the race started. As the Tour progressed, it actually began to take on even more of the flavor of the song".

Cooper added, "The song expresses the sadness that we've all felt. It's not meant to strike out at racing, but rather to reflect on a part of the Tour de France that we've all had to bear." Looking For the Maillot Jaune launches Sunday, coinciding with the finish of the 2007 Tour de France. DeFeet and the Triple Kranks are currently looking for the right organization to share proceeds from sales of the single when it becomes available on a pay-per-download basis.

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