Latest Cycling News for October 30, 2007
Edited by Bjorn Haake
Vaughters' "phasy" idea
By Hedwig Kröner
The fight against doping cannot be won without the unconditional support of the professional teams, their team managers and riders. Team Slipstream Sports/Chipotle has been known for its seriousness in the matter, as the squad has been using a blood profiling programme this year similar to what the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will put into place for the 2008 season. Cyclingnews talked to the team's manager, Jonathan Vaughters at the Tour de France presentation last Thursday in Paris, who offered to give these instances some advice in developing the new 'biological passport'.
"I'm excited about it," Vaughters said about the new anti-doping programme which was decided on at the international summit in Paris earlier last week. "If we want to protect cycling, its great historic events, and have the ProTour progress into a truly global series – which is what I hope – we need to fully re-establish credibility into the sport. I want to see the details of the blood passport, because I think that, having done our programme this year, I know where the mistakes and traps are. The concept is great, and it's wonderful that WADA, the UCI and [Tour de France organiser] ASO are working together on this. Maybe they would like to listen to the experiences of Team CSC, T-Mobile and ourselves, as we might be able to help them."
The three teams have indeed worked with independent anti-doping controllers such as Rasmus Damsgaard in the case of CSC, and Paul Scott for Slipstream. "We also made mistakes in our programmes, so we can tell them about our experiences and hopefully speed up the process a little bit. The more the scientists are allowed to have their way on this, the better," the former pro explained, adding that he came up with some pretty 'phasy' ideas at the summit.
"Even with the blood profile, it's difficult to detect autologous blood transfusions. I know this sounds crazy – I'm fully aware of it – but one idea is to take the concept of a trading desk of a financial services firm. They have what is known as a compliance officer, who can look over your shoulder at any given moment: basically, a chaperone. A similar concept could be applied during a three-week race like the Tour de France, where we could have certain officials with full access to the teams, at any given moment. These persons could rotate and just pop into a room at a one-minute notice to check on the riders," Vaughters continued, even if he knew that the idea would completely undermine any of the scarce privacy left at a Grand Tour.
Still, he was confident that at least Slipstream riders would be supportive of such a drastic measure. "I mean, the people who trade hundreds of millions of dollars have a big responsibility, and it is a great honour for them to do this. So, if you are going to be the hero of millions of people worldwide, to have children look up to you and want to do what you're doing - that's also a privilege and a big responsibility. So you would just be trading that fame for a little more invasion in your life. My riders probably wouldn't like it, but they would be prepared to do it. The important part is: if they win a race and they have the blood passports and the chaperones, the skepticism over their victory would be so much less. My riders just want to know that everyone is going to believe them that if they win something, they won it clean."
It remains to be seen if all of the international peloton would be ready to let their privacy be invaded in such a way, if the institutions governing the sport pick up on the idea. At the Deutschland Tour this year, the race organisers had appointed chaperones to escort riders from the finish line to the anti-doping facility after each stage. But Andrey Kashechkin, who tested positive for blood transfusion in early August this year, has built his legal defence line on the claim that the anti-doping testing methods in cycling violate human rights.
Van Bon retires as one of the "contaminated generation"
By Susan Westemeyer
Leon Van Bon of Team Rabobank is retiring – involuntarily. "I would like to have ridden for another year, but my contract with Rabobank has not been extended." The 35 year-old has a simple explanation for it. "I belong to the contaminated generation," he told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.
Van Bon turned pro in 1994 with Team WordPerfect and rode for Novell before joining Rabobank in 1996. In 2001 he went to Mercury, and in 2002 joined Domo-Farm Frites. He returned to Rabobank this season. He has won two national road titles, two stages in the Tour de France, and one in the Vuelta, as well as several other races and one-day races.
He plans to stay involved with cycling, working as a sports photographer.
Meniki concludes good season with win in Japan Cup
On Saturday Menikini-Selle Italia-Gysko celebrated another triumph to conclude a successful 2007 season. Miho Oki won the Japan Cup, held on the same roads where the World Championships took place in 1990. Back then Frenchwoman Catherine Marsal won the road race. In addition to this Oki is the reigning Japanese champion in both time trial and road race.
Fabiana Luperini and Australian Rochelle Gilmore, also a Cyclingnews diarist, were the most successful riders on the team, with four wins each. Luperini won the World Cup race in Montreal, two stages of the Tour de l'Ardeche and a stage in the Tour de l'Aude.
Dorthe Rasmussen won as many races as Oki, namely three. Rasmussen took the GP Papŕ Cervi Gattatico and two stages in the Route de France. The results were completed with one win from Sigrid Corneo, who won a stage in the Tour du Limousin.
Marina Romoli also won four races, with some of the victories coming in the U23/juniors category, including the Gare di Cittiglio, Osimo and a stage in Tirreno – Adriatico. Her fourth success was in the elite race of Roncolevŕ.
In addition to success on the road there were also a couple of track victories to celebrate, with Gilmore taking the scratch race in the Giro Italia Piste San Francesco, in Italy. Eneritz Iturriaga became Spanish champion in the points race
Pucinskaite still not happy about Worlds incident
Lithuanian Edita Pucinskaite was one of those riders affected in the World Championships in Stuttgart, when a barrier on the left hand side of the road literally shattered the women's field, taking out several of the race favourites, who had to scramble to get back on. But the chase cost energy, leaving some of the pre-race favourites without chances, like Pucinskaite, who finished 60th, ten minutes down. Other riders affected in the crash were Judith Arndt (21st), Priska Doppmann (26th), Maribel Moreno Allue (14th) and Regina Bruins, who did not finish the race.
Some riders were able to get up and going again quicker than others. Pucinskaite sent a letter to UCI president Pat McQuaid on October 3 to voice her concerns. She stated that she was waiting a few days with the letter, to see if "my anger mixed with disappointment would disappear," but concluded "It has not." The Lithuanian had trouble to "understand why the accident that happened to me during the women's race could not have been prevented." Pucinskaite added that these incidents don't usually happen at local races.
Pucinskaite received notification after the competition that the barriers had fallen due to the winds and was asking if "a mere blowing of wind (on the 29th September 2007 there was no storm or typhoon in Stuttgart) is a sufficient excuse for a serious disruption of the World Championship?" Her conclusion was that it was negligence that led to the incident and her opinion was that the sports events organizers are responsible for smooth running of competitions.
The fallen favourite went on to explain that the accident was "not due to good or bad luck, which happens when falling down, puncturing or getting ill unexpectedly and which we athletes accept.... It was in fact the barriers covered with advertisement banners and without wind holes creating "sea sail" effect," the Lithuanian continued to explain her point of view. She added that "I personally found myself with a broken bicycle, out of use, helmet broken in two pieces and bruises and injuries all over the body, but it could have been even worse."
Pat McQuaid for his part regretted the incident, especially to "one of the best athletes in the world." McQuaid explained that "each year the UCI delegates the technical and logistical organisation of the World Championships to a local Organising Committee. In particular, the Organising Committee is responsible for preparing the circuit and ensuring its safety."
The UCI president considered the installation of the barriers one of the most important procedures to ensure the safety of the athletes and added that "In Stuttgart, over 37 kilometres of barriers were put in place." The problem according to him was that the day of the women's race "strong gusts of wind were localised – 85 km/h or 8/9 on the Beaufort scale according to the meteorological services."
He maintained that the accident "was completely unforeseeable by the race organisation. The measures taken by the Organising Committee to ensure safety cannot be faulted in this respect."
Despite the answer from the UCI Pucinskaite remained "convinced that the incident would have been eluded and the safety of the riders ensured if the adequate technical and logistical measures were taken in view to ensure smooth running of the World Championship." She elaborated that "There were two different kinds of barriers installed to fence the circuit of the Elite Women's Road World Championship in Stuttgart.... The gust of wind has overturned only the lines of barriers, which were heavily covered with advertisement banners (without cut) and with small feet. Other barriers stayed up."
While nothing can be done now, the accident will hopefully ensure that in the future the organizers will prepare for the worst case scenario. It is not the first time that flying barriers have caused havoc in Germany. In the 1999 Deutschland Tour Emmanuel Magnien tore ligaments in his knee when a flying barrier took him out during a storm in the time trial.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Edita Pucinskaite
Jaksche talks doping
By Susan Westemeyer
Jörg Jaksche was 19 years old and not performing at all well in his first pro year, when he got a suggestion as to how to save his career. "The team manager came into my room and said: Listen; in cycling you take drugs like this, and either you accept or you leave the sport," Jaksche told the anti-doping conference "Play the Game" in Iceland.
"At the beginning I was a little bit sad entering the game of doping," he said, according to thepulse2007.org. "But in time I got used to it, especially because everything got all positive around me. I went fast, everyone liked me, because I was successful – it was all positive, so I didn't have a bad conscience."
The doping continued throughout his entire career. During this week's conference, UCI president Pat McQuaid said that he thought that there is no more organized doping in cycling, a statement Jaksche disagreed with. "Maybe I have just been unlucky, because I have been on six teams, and on all six there has been organized doping," he said. However, in another televised interview on the pulse site, Jaksche changed his statement and said "five or six teams, except for my last team, where I was only riding for two months, I always had the offer to dope...." His last team was Team Tinkoff.
The doping continued throughout his entire career, and he didn't always know what he was being given or what effect it might have. "I wanted to know, but they didn't tell me – they said it was a corporation. You have to accept what they give you. I felt strange having to accept it, but at the time I didn't care." He added, "The only thing I was afraid of was getting tested positive. That was the main fear, because I had good doctors, who were reasonable. I knew they had children, so I thought they wouldn't give us something dangerous, at least I hoped."
Jaksche indicated that he has the support of many of his colleagues, even if they aren't willing to speak out publicly. "Most of the riders are suffering under the system. They quietly say, that what I did was good, but they only say it to me, because you don't talk in public about what happens on the teams. I have a big problem with the fact that only the cyclists are criminalized. That will destroy the sport. So I just want to be honest and tell the truth. Of course I hope that more riders will do it, but most of all we are all egoistic who try to get the best out of the situation for ourselves."
Riis counters attack from Jaksche
By Katharina Schulz
In a statement to the Danish cycling page feltet.dk, Bjarne Riis, team manger of CSC, countered accusations by Jörg Jaksche. "I think it's inappropriate if Jaksche claims that I'm supposed to have warned him about coming out with his doping confessions. That's totally incorrect. On the contrary, I encouraged him to come forward and live up to his responsibility regarding the mistakes he himself has made."
"Furthermore, that this is supposed to have been a threat is definitely insulting and tells me that Jaksche either has a very bad sense of memory or deliberately chooses to twist the truth. It is correct that I told him about how difficult it would be to come back, and I was speaking from experience here, since I had been through the same only a short time before. That Jaksche still blames all sorts of other people for the mistakes he made himself is just so trivial. It is necessary that the problems in cycling are taken care of, and that's what I stand for."
What Riis refers to as his own experience is the fact that he himself confessed his doping tainted career in May and subsequently was struck from the result list of the 1996 Tour de France. His relations with the organisers haven't been very good since he told them they could come and pick up his yellow jersey from back then. The fact that he didn't attend the tour presentation last week was also attributed to this troubled relationship. CSC press officer Brian Nygaard has meanwhile disclaimed this interpretation.
"Riis Cycling got two invitations to the Tour presentation in Paris, and we could have sent whomever we wanted. Including Bjarne. It was his own decision not to be there, and had nothing to do with the fact that he wasn't invited," Nygaard told feltet.dk.
Colombia Es Pasión hammers in Guatemala
Rafael Montiel of the team Colombia Es Pasión-Coldeportes came up short with his plan to take the lead in yesterday's stage 10 of the Vuelta a Guatemala, but the "red train" continues to lead the teams classification.
On the 135-kilometre leg between San Pedro and Huehuetenango Montiel attacked the front group of nine riders in the last kilometres, but he was brought back shortly before the finish. The stage was won by Byron Guama. Mexican Carlos Lopez consolidated his lead, with Montiel still now less than three minutes behind in second place.
There are three more stages to come.
Upsolut denies buy-out
Upsolut Sports of Hamburg, Germany, has denied that the Legardere Group, a French conglomerate, has bought it. Upsolut is a sports marketing company which organizes the Deutschland Tour and the Hamburg Cyclassics. Among its other interests, Legardere owns one-fourth of Amaury Sport Organisation (AS),which organizes a multitude of cycling races.
Spiegel magazine this week issued an article titled, "Lagardere buys Upsolut Sports AG. "That headline does not reflect the current facts. If that should change in the near future, then we will publicly announce that in our usual manner," Upsolut spokesman Michael Hinz told radsport-aktiv.de.
Hinz added that newspaper reports that his company was in financial difficulties were not true. "The Upsolut Sports AG had no financial problems in either 2007 or the years before that. The cycling events, which are the backbone of our business, did not lead to reduced income in 2007, but instead brought in more than in 2006 and 2005."
Cyclist seriously injured by auto passenger
A 59 year-old cyclist in Bromley, Kent, England, was seriously injured when a rider in a passing car reached out and pushed him off his bike, cyclingweekly.co.uk reported. Tony Barrett suffered serious neck and back injuries and at first was thought to be paralyzed.
Barrett was able to tell police that a car went by him and that he felt two hands push him. He lost consciousness when he hit his head in falling. He was out riding with a friend, Bob Barrington, who had ridden ahead and then stopped to wait. "A lady in a car stopped and asked me if I was waiting for another cyclist," Barrington told Cycling Weekly. "When I said yes, she said there had been an accident with a car. I hurried back and found Tony by the side of the road."
Detective Sergeant James Herron of the Bromley police said "This is a very serious incident and if we catch the person who did this they are facing a charge of GBH [Grievous Bodily Harm -ed.]" He added that the section of road where the incident occurred was notorious for fast-moving vehicles. Similar incidents have also been reported.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)