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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 16, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Di Luca banned for three months

Giro d'Italia winner and ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca has been handed a three month suspension by Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) for his involvement in the "Oil for Drugs" doping affair. Di Luca was accused of working with Italian doctor Carlos Santuccione, who has been under investigation for several years for allegedly supplying banned doping products to athletes in Italy. The Liquigas rider was removed from the World Championships because of his implication in the scandal.

The 31 year-old has always denied his involvement, and went into the hearing saying he was "calm". After the decision was handed down, his lawyer, Federico Cecconi, clarified that the suspension was not for anti-doping offenses, but for collusion with Santuccione, and also pointed out that during the period in question, Santuccione had been re-admitted into the ranks of the Italian federation as a sports doctor. Cecconi said that there is a possibility that they will launch an appeal to the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but will make that decision in the coming month.

Di Luca will now miss the Giro di Lombardia, the final ProTour event of the season, opening the door for Australian Cadel Evans to surpass him in the standings should he finish well. If Evans does not take the ProTour, the UCI will be in the awkward position of awarding the jersey to a suspended rider.

Lissavetzky very happy with Pereiro in yellow

By Antonio J. Salmerón

A clear trophy with a clear message: Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

The Spanish Secretary for Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, was part of the ceremonies to hand the yellow jersey to Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), some 15 months after the 2006 Tour de France concluded in Paris. The secretary said it was a "historical debt" that Pereiro was proclaimed the winner of last year's Tour de France.

Lissavetzky was accompanied by other authorities who had gathered to witness how Pereiro received the maillot jaune. Lissavetzky considered this "a great day for cycling and for the Spanish sport, and also for the whole sport in general."

Lissavetzky continued that "We are all here today in a historical meeting." He defined the act as "simple and laden with solemnity, because the main goal is to give a positive and optimistic message to all the people of cycling."

The head of the Spanish sport showcased Pereiro as an example of "fair play, overcoming and steadfastness. Oscar Pereiro has won this [2006] Tour on the road, because he is a champion and we must congratulate him for that. It is great news for everyone, and we must separate the cheaters from those playing by the rules", Lissavetzky concluded.

Lissavetzky reported that Pereiro will receive the Gold Medal of Sport Merit, and also referred to Carlos Sastre (CSC), who is now third in the 2006 Tour de France.

Gripper explains small number of controls

By Susan Westemeyer

At the launch of the UCI's 100% Against Doping initiative in Paris.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

As of August 1, the UCI had conducted only 20 of 500 planned out-of-competition blood controls. Now Anne Gripper, the UCI's Anti-Doping Services Manager, has told the Neue Züricher Zeitung the reason. "The cyclists are in competition practically the whole time from spring to fall. That's why we planned from the beginning to make most of the controls between the end of October and Christmas."

However, those that take place during the season have been carefully planned, she said. Gripper cited the positive control of Astana's Andrey Kashechkin as evidence.

Barbara Walther, who is responsible for doping controls at Swiss Cycling, the national federation, did not agree with the UCI's approach, and said, "We observe endurance athletes the whole year. There is no phase in which they are not controlled."

Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer was also surprised by the lack of testing. "I was taken aback when I saw how few controls were being made," he said.

Gerolsteiner is one of the teams belonging to the "Movement for a Credible Cycling" (MPCC), which Holczer says calls for every rider to be tested out-of-competition 15 times a year. Gripper, too, called for "substantially more" controls in the coming season.

Schmidt new directeur sportif at CSC

Torsten Schmidt
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Torsten Schmidt will be joining Team CSC as sports director. During the last two seasons the 35 year-old German has been with the German Pro Continental team, Wiesenhof-FELT and prior to that he was with Gerolsteiner for six years.

CSC announced the new signing today. Schmidt said that "After having ended my career as a rider I had no doubts whatsoever that I wanted to continue within the cycling sport, and this fantastic opportunity to work with Team CSC couldn't be more perfect for me. I'm very much honoured to get the chance to work for the best cycling team in the world and I look forward to being a part of the work, which makes this team so unique. I'm humbled by the task before me, but of course I'm hoping that I'll be able to contribute," commented Torsten Schmidt, who joins the team on the recommendation of Kim Andersen. Andersen was sports director for Schmidt on the Danish Team Chicky World.

The manager of the team, Bjarne Riis, explained that "In Torsten we'll get a new, young sports director, who'll be able to learn how we do things from the very beginning. Torsten has made a really good impression and it will be exciting to get a new member of the team, who will be able to continue our work and pass on our beliefs and principles into the future. I'm positive Torsten has the right qualities to become an excellent sports director,"

Jaksche: "Only the dumb ones get caught"

Jaksche (Astana-Würth) had to leave the Tour
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In an interview with the German news outlet WELT online, German Jörg Jaksche spoke out candidly again. The rider, who admitted to doping earlier this year, got suspended for one year. His shorter than usual punishment was due to his willingness to offer some detail on doping in professional cycling.

In the interview Jaksche emphasized that "I come from the generation of dopers. I was pulled into it young, and was a part of the system and see myself today as both a culprit and a victim in equal measure." But the German offered a glimmer of hope. "You can't just go in there and ban all riders of this generation. We have to be more honest and say, ok, it was that way earlier -- now it is different!"

Jaksche made clear that "I have never been offered anything [doping products] by another cyclist. We share our experiences, sure, but that someone was a dealer? No! Although one did offer to give me something one time. I have ridden in teams in which doping was systematically organized."

He also denied that all the "loopholes" have been closed, and that the testing now can catch anything. "There are still lots of possibilities to cheat, without anybody proving it. Transfusion with your own blood, growth hormones, artificial haemoglobin. Right now you have to say: Only the dumb ones get caught. Or the poor ones, who can't afford the expensive doping."

Veneberg's first day in court

By Susan Westemeyer

Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Thorwald Veneberg had his first day in court and had to hear some hard words as to why Rabobank did not offer him a contract for the coming season. "This rider has won only one unimportant race in seven years and last year he was nearly worthless for the team," claimed the team's lawyer, according to The Dutch rider claims that under Netherlands' law that, since he has had a contract with the team since January 1, 2001, he should be considered under contract for an indefinite period of time.

In yesterday's hearing, Veneberg asked the court to order Rabobank to continue to treat him as a full member of the team through at least the end of the calendar year, which according to him, includes participation in the photography session for the 2008 team photo and in the team-building exercises. He also wants to retain his bike and not turn it in in on October 27.

Veneberg called the case a matter of principle. "As a domestique, I always said yes. Now I am saying no, and they are scared of me. It is very well if they not longer want a rider, but it has to be done according to normal procedures."

He was notified in August that he would not be offered a contract for the coming season. His last race for the team was the 3-Länder Tour, where he finished in 64th place, out of 71 finishers.

Judge H. de Ruiter ruled that Veneberg did not have to turn his bike in. He added that if the next judge to hear the case "rules that you remain with the team, then it is up to Rabobank to ensure that you appear in the presentation booklet. It would be difficult for me to order them to include you in the photo." The next hearing is scheduled for October 22.

The case has some parallels to that of soccer player Jean-Marc Bosman, who basically ended the payment of transfer fees in professional football under EU law. At the time, Bosman's contract had expired and wanted to change teams from the Belgian to the French League, but the teams could not resolve their differences about how much the transfer sum would be. So Bosman went to the EU court stating that the law will let him freely move to different employers within the European Union.

WADA Code 3.0 is out

WADA has published its final draft 3.0 of the 2007 World Anti-Doping Code. The draft is a result of extensive consultation with stakeholders and completed a full revision of the existing World Anti-Doping Code, released in 2003. The publication terminated the third and final stakeholder consultation phase.

Adoption of the revised World Anti-Doping Code is scheduled to occur at the WADA Foundation Board Meeting. That meeting will happen in Madrid, Spain, 15-17 November 2007, as part of the World Conference on Doping in Sport.

Signatories of the Code include International Federations of Olympic sports, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, National Olympic Committees, National Paralympic Committees, National Anti-Doping Organizations, Major Games Organizers, and more than 570 sports organizations. They must ensure that their own rules and policies are in compliance with the Code.

WADA is also required to report formally on stakeholder compliance with the Code every two years. The first official report will be released in November 2008, a couple of months before the new Code is supposed to become effective.

The draft was created by getting input from anyone who wanted to let their voices be heard. All stakeholders were encouraged to send their suggestions. Comments received have included feedback from athletes, governments, international organizations, national anti-doping organizations, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, international sports federations, national Olympic committees, and many other organizations as well as individuals.

Some of the changes include tougher measures. The regular two-year suspension for first-time violators can be adjusted to four years in individual cases. But with hope that the crown witness rule will offer a success, the punishment can also be lowered to six months. Dealing with doping products will see a minimum of four years of suspension.

Another change would see education programs made mandatory for signatories.

WADA emphasized that the review of prohibited substances are not affected by that, as those are two different processes.

Riding with a pro

By Bjorn Haake

And a toast to all the winners
Photo ©: Yasmine Rosiers
(Click for larger image)

A little more than a week ago Nico Mattan hosted his good-bye race to bid farewell to the professional peloton. But he didn't want to merely have a regular crit, as is custom. Instead, the Belgian decided to organize a two-man team time trial, where a professional or ex-professional was paired up with a wielertoerist (cyclo-tourist). Many wanted to sign up, but because there was also a criterium afterwards on a tight, 1.5-kilometre loop, the event was restricted to 90 people, or 45 kopples - a team of two that did one lap on the circuit.

Dirk Rosiers was one of those managing to sign up. He was paired with Belgian Leif Hoste, twice runner-up in the Tour of Flanders. Rosiers, a travel agent for Europareizen in Roeselare, Belgium, does a lot of riding in other countries and continents, due to his job. He has pedaled in Africa, Asia and many places in Europe, but never did a race before. However, he met Mattan two years ago and they sometimes go out training together. This has helped Rosiers to get in shape for the event, and even though he hasn't done any competitive events, he previously rode the Marmotte (for the Lance Armstrong foundation) and the Ardéchoise and Les Trois Ballons, which are century-like events.

Rosiers loves long rides in the mountains with a mountain bike and declared "the feeling afterwards is great." The above centuries aren't of the short kind, so the long rides help Rosiers to get ready for those. No long rides were necessary, however, to get ready for the 1.5-kilometre time trial. Instead, acceleration is key and Rosiers, who said that "it was special for me to ride with the pros," admitted that "he [Hoste] was so explosive after a corner.WAW!!!"

Fortunately, overall "It was OK following Leif, because he looked out for me." Rosiers had never met Hoste before and a little pre-race chat was all the two had to get ready for the event. Rosiers evaluation came back positive. "He's OK outside the biking life as well." The duo Hoste and Rosiers could not match the winning couple of Mattan and Philippe Vandorpe, who clocked 1'49"11 and narrowly beat Frank Vandenbroucke and Kristof Dhaene (1'51"19), but still, their time of 2'01"86 put them in 14th place out of the 45 teams, ahead of illustrious names like Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel), Serge Baguet and Peter Farazijn.

In the crit things went even better for the duo, where they got fourth place. "Thanks to Leif," as Rosiers admitted, but nonetheless a top result. Mattan and Vandorpe were ahead again of VDB and Dhaene, with Peter Van Petegem and Patrick Vanhoorn racing to third. Rosiers and Hoste were just ahead of Serge Baguet and Bruno Mylle.

Rosiers was thrilled and said "the pros liked it also. And for Nico, it must be nice to see he has so many of friends in the peloton, who came to ride in the gentleman's race. The organisation was perfect."

The travel agent rides a a Pinarello Marvel with Shimano Ultegra. Besides the event with the pros, he rated the best ride of the year his adventure over the Franschoek pass, in South Africa. "Riding between baboons was TOP, TOP, TOP!"

The results of the race are here.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Yasmine Rosiers

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)