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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for July 31, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Sinkewitz forfeits B-sample, gets fired

Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

German rider Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile has declined to get his B-sample analysed. His A-sample was tested positive for testosterone.

The B-sample was supposed to be opened today, but Patrik Sinkewitz, after initially requesting the B-sample, has now declined to ask its opening. This effectively makes him testing positive in the June 8th incident.

AFP reports that Michael Lehner, the lawyer for Sinkewitz, has sent in a fax stating that his client waived the rights to get a counter analysis done. The German rider will now likely be suspended for two years, although there is some speculation that he will become a key witness, like Jörg Jaksche. Depending on how much he tells this could mean a reduced sentence under UCI rules.

Lehner has publicly stated that he always tells his clients to come out in the open if they have to say something. It could be interesting to see if Sinkewitz will detail more about any other doping activity going on at T-Mobile, or if he was indeed an isolated case.

The contract with T-Mobile had been ended immediately, as Christian Frommert, the director of sponsoring communication at Deutsche Telekom AG, already indicated. "The fact that [Patrik] Sinkewitz declined his B-sample to be analysed means he doesn't contest the finding of the A-sample result and we have a case of doping."

Rolf Aldag, the general manager of the team, said Tuesday morning that "we made this decision [to cancel the contract] following the announcement [of not requesting a B-sample analysis]." Aldag, who admitted to doping in his career himself, continued that he hoped there would be "collaboration between Patrik, the German federation and T-Mobile. Patrik needs to sit with us on the table and explain himself so that nothing stays uncovered."

The 26 year-old was the hope of presenting the new German generation of younger riders in the fight against doping. He has signed the UCI agreement before the Tour and faces to pay one year of salary towards the anti-doping fight.

Contador is thankful

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Contador celebrates with friends and mayor
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who lives in the 40,000 people city of Pinto, 20 kilometres south of Madrid, arrived on Monday afternoon in the Spanish capital. He was received by the President of the Comunidad de Madrid, Espernza Aguirre, who thanked the Pinto-born Contador to his great sport feat reached "in the name of all the Spanish people". Aguirre emphasized "his [Contador's] dedication and his personal values".

Contador dedicated words of gratefulness to those who gathered in the central plaza of the Puerta del Sol, in Madrid, and at the same time he recognized the importance of his triumph. "Now I am realizing the effects of the Tour of France win and the desire to enjoy it and to celebrate it", the Discovery Channel leader said. "People were thankful to me for the spectacle [in France] and they have animated me to give [even] more. They have also want to make me train harder in order to obtain more successes", the Spaniard commented.

Contador has joined the select club of Spanish cyclists who have won the Tour de France. The first one was Federico Martín Bahamontes in 1959, followed by Luis Ocaña in 1973 and Pedro Delgado in 1988. And the last Spanish winner, Miguel Induráin, was the first one to win the Tour five consecutive times, reigning from 1991 to 1995. Last year's winner is still not officially decided, so another Spaniard, Óscar Pereiro, still has a chance. He finished tenth this year.

"I am proud that people admire me", Contador commented. He did not forget Òscar Pereiro, who, after the potential disqualification for doping of American Floyd Landis, could become the winner of edition 2006. "He is a great champion and they would have to give the Tour to him", Contador added. After the great effort done for winning the Tour, Contador will not dispute the Vuelta a España. "This year I will not do many more competitions and next year the high-priority objective will be the Tour of France," he admitted.

Contador glues Spanish to TV while Germans don't care

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The 2007 Tour de France has set new records in television ratings in Spain. With an average quota of 10 percent it had about double the average viewership of La 2, the second public TV channel, during the month of July. The 'golden minute' of the 2007 Tour de France was on Wednesday, July 25, when more than three million people watched live as Alberto Contador attacked on the Col d'Aubisque.

According to Sofres, in 2006 the Tour stage to L' Alpe d' Huez was watched by more than one million spectators (11.5 percent of average quota) whereas the 'queen' stage 17 of the 2007 Tour between Orthez and Gourette-Col d' Aubisque, was watched by more than two million, 2.676.000 viewers, to be exact. This equals an average quota of 24.1 percent.

At 17:00, when the riders were close to the finish, the highest number of spectators was reached with 3.138.000 (29 percent of average quota). The last weekend of competition of Tour 2007, with a long time trial stage between Cognac and Angoulême and the arrival to Paris also reached high numbers. As Contador crossed the line on Saturday, at 17:25, 2.949.000 spectators watched the time trial live. The next day at 17:52, 2.570.000 spectators or an average quota of 26.2% saw the 2007 Tour winner cross the line on the Champs Elysées.

On the other hand SAT 1, the German cable channel that took over after the public channels decided to quit the live coverage of the Tour de France, was not happy with its viewership and has decided to not broadcast cycling in the future. ARD and ZDF had averaged 13.1 percent in the first nine days. When SAT 1 took over they didn't manage more than 4.9 percent the first day, while Eurosport's viewership jumped from under two to almost nine percent.

Some 900,000 people or an average quota of 5.5 percent were following Sunday's final and while the channel maintained that they actually made money as they had gotten the rights very cheaply, it is unlikely that they will broadcast cycling in the future.

Before the string of doping cases had been announced most Germans said they would continue to watch the Tour despite negative news of positive test cases.

Petacchi starts in Graz

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Following his acquittal of doping charges by the Italian national federation, Alessandro Petacchi is planning his comeback today in the criterium of Graz, Austria. The organisers of the 50-lap race on the 1.2-kilometre course in the old tow of Graz had announced Monday that the Milram print star will participate in their race.

Petacchi will compete against Robbie McEwen, the Predictor-Lotto captain who had to quit the Tour de France after not making the time cut in stage eight, suffering from crash injuries sustained in stage two.

CONI has appealed the acquittal, so the end of the case is not in sight just yet.

Post-Tour crits taken by Boogerd, Di Luca and Ciolek

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

The post-Tour criteriums are an integral part of 'winding' down after an intense three weeks of Tour de France racing. The series allows spectators to see their heroes up close and the Tour de France riders a chance to make some money as the prize money won in the Tour is usually divided up among the team, including staff. A lot of the races are in Holland and Belgium and traditionally the events start in Boxmeer, Netherlands, one day after the Tour is over.

Yesterday's race in Boxmeer had King of the mountain, Mauricio Soler of Barloworld, and his teammate, South African sprinter Robert Hunter, in the line-up. But it was Dutch darling Michael Boogerd of Rabobank who took the win in his last season as a professional, in front of Soler. Steven de Jongh (Quick.Step Innergetic) got third.

In Aalst, Belgium, things were slightly less traditional as Danilo Di Luca took the win. He had not been racing in the Tour de France and no doubt had fresher legs. He edged out Belgians Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) and Gert Steegmans (Quickstep-Innergetic).

And in Ratingen, Germany, it was Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile who gave his country a win in front of 18,000 people. The 64 laps on the 1.2-kilometre long, spectator friendly course added up to a total of 80 kilometres of racing and in the end it was Ciolek who held off Christian Knees of Milram and Fränk Schleck of CSC. Jens Voigt finished in sixth place, while Erik Zabel ended the race in the main field.

Milram stress

After the Tour stress was over for the Milram team, it continued on the freeway, with a complete closure of the interstate south of Compiègne. The subsequent detours made the riders drive right past the finish line of stage three, where Erik Zabel got second.

As Milram reports on its website,, the schedule got fairly tight for Ralf Grabsch, Marcel Sieberg, Enrico Poitschke und Erik Zabel, who were supposed to be in Ratingen for the criterium at 17:00. "No chance under those circumstances," declared Marcel Sieberg. Christian Knees was also unlucky, who left with his wife and daughter and hour earlier, but also spent a lot of time in traffic jams. His wife Nathalie revealed that "As we got home, he [Christian] left immediately to go to Ratingen." The good news is that Knees finished second, so the travel didn't affect him too much.

Rabobank announces squads for upcoming August races

The Dutch outfit Rabobank has announced its rosters for several races in August, starting with the Tour of Denmark, which runs from tomorrow, August 1st, to August 5th.

The eight-man team will consist of Jan Boven, Rick Flens, Graeme Brown, Léon van Bon, Mathew Hayman, Max van Heeswijk, Gerben Löwik and Dmitriy Kozontchuk, with directeur sportif Adri van Houwelingen.

On Saturday, August 4, the next classic is on the program, the Clasica San Sebastian in Northern Spain. The 225-kilometre long race starts at 11:20 and Robert Gesink, Theo Eltink, Thorwald Veneberg, William Walker, Marc de Maar, Pedro Horrillo and Joost Posthuma will try to help Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha get a home country win. Koos Moerenhout is the reserve rider who will jump in in case of injury, while Frans Maassen will guide the rest from the Rabobank team car and hand out bottles to the thirsty riders.

Next up on the schedule for the Dutch is the race in neighbouring Germany, the Deutschlandtour, which is scheduled to take place from August 10 through the 18th. The team includes Robert Gesink, Theo Eltink, Koos Moerenhout, Grischa Niermann, Joost Posthuma, Marc de Maar, Mauricio Ardila and Sébastian Langeveld, with the reserves of William Walker and Pedro Horrillo. This equipe will again have Frans Maassen as the directeur sportif.

Rabobank also announced its riders for the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg on the 18th of August. The team has a few options with Oscar Freire looking for a sprint win while Juan Antonio Flecha is hoping for a late surge in a small group staying away at the end. The two Spaniards are supported by William Walker, Gerben Löwik, Pedro Horrillo, Max van Heeswijk, Léon van Bon, Mathew Hayman, with Thorwald Veneberg and Jan Boven as the reserves. Adri van Houwelingen will be the master of tactics in the team car.

Dutch national time trial championships

Unlike many other European nations, who have their time trial championships in the same week as the road races, which are traditionally the last weekend before the Tour, the Dutch time trial championships will take place on August 15, in Zaltbommel, about 55 kilometres north of Eindhoven and 70km east of Rotterdam.

The parcours for the elite men and women is 22.28 kilometres long, but the men have to go around twice for the full distance of 44.56 kilometres.

The women's race starts at 17:00, while the men hit the course at 17:45. Among the men's contenders are Thomas Dekker and Rick Flens of Rabobank.

Alexander Vinokourov's image untainted in Kazakhstan

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

Alexander Vinokourov, troubled by the doping accusations against him, has been sacked by his team following the confirmation of a positive test case after the B-sample analysis, but this has not affected his popularity in his home country of Kazakhstan. The political party "Nur Otan" (Glooming fatherland) has used his picture on its flyers for the upcoming election.

The doping case is not discussed very much in Kazakhstan, according to Instead Vino is the national hero who has brought attention to the country, and even had made people realize what the capital is. The team was named after the city of Astana for that very reason.

Elections are on August 18th.

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