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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, August 12, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

The clock is ticking

Stefan Schumacher is eyeing the time trial after he abandoned the road race with a headache
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Before the Olympics heads to the boards, there are two more gold medals - and two silvers and two bronzes, of course - up for grabs on the road. Ellis Bacon previews Wednesday's men's and women's time trials.

Off the back of the time trials at the Tour de France, the men's Olympic time trial is guaranteed to be an interesting and exciting affair.

Surprise winner of both time trials in July, Germany's Stefan Schumacher has elevated himself into the position of one of the strong favourites, but suffered in the humidity during Saturday's road race and failed to finish.

Conversely, a strong ride from Fabian Cancellara to take bronze behind Samuel Sanchez and Davide Rebellin demonstrates that the Swiss time trial ace, and reigning TT world champion, is clearly up for the task in hand, but even without that performance, he would surely have started on Wednesday as the favourite.

But he'll have to deal with Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg who rides well against the clock, and who put Cancellara in his place by beating him in the first time trial at the Tour de France, before finishing just a place behind him in third in the second and final TT. Kirchen was clearly in the form of his life at the Tour, and may be the dark horse who can do the job over the hilly 47-kilometre course, made up of two laps of the circuit on which the road race finished.

Possibly spoiling the Tour boys' party are Australia's Michael Rogers and American Levi Leipheimer, neither of whom rode in July, but who are both specialists against the clock. Leipheimer, as part of Alberto Contador's Astana squad, was not invited to the Tour, while Rogers is only just back from glandular fever.

Read the full preview on the time trial

Cancellara totally focused on TT Gold

By Brecht Decaluwé

Fabian Cancellara, 27, powers towards Olympic TT Gold
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Swiss Fabian Cancellara is entirely focussed on taking gold in the Olympic time trial tomorrow. The two-time time trial World Champion has had a busy few weeks - first helping team-mate Carlos Sastre win the Tour de France and now preparing for his latest objective in Beijing.

"I was working for the team at the Tour, but didn't have to push it. I could stay cool and concentrate on Beijing," Cancellara said to Cyclingnews.

On the penultimate stage – Cérilly - Saint Amand Montrond – Cancellara was beaten for the second time by the surprisingly strong Stefan Schumacher by no less than 21 seconds. "The last time trial in the Tour de France was a final test for Beijing, but I figured it was nothing more: training for Beijing."

He was unsure whether to stay in the Tour de France until the final day, as he did not want to disturb his preparations for the Olympics. Cancellara stayed in France and was one of the riders who ran to congratulate Sastre when he crossed the finish line after the final time trial on the penultimate stage of the Tour de France.

"I didn't want to miss out, so I didn't leave the group. The negative side of that choice was that I had less time for my family because on Sunday evening we had some sponsor obligations in Paris. I left for Beijing on Monday morning at 7:00 – via Zurich, where I had a little bit of time together with my family," Cancellara said.

Fabian Cancellara takes bronze in the Olympic road race
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

"By leaving so early it is possible for me to prepare myself in a relaxed way with my staff around me, and to deal with the jet-lag. I joined a Swiss marathon runner, who told me to leave as early as possible if I want to be 100 percent. The time difference to Beijing is six hours. This means that you need six days to accommodate, as you need a day for each hour difference," Cancellara continued.

Cancellara's pre-race tactics turned out to be invaluable since he managed to grab an unexpected bronze medal in the road race. The time trial world champion powered down the final descent, joined by Michael Rogers and Alexandre Kolobnev, and the three of them they joined the three leaders in the final kilometre.

Samuel Sánchez and Davide Rebellin had a better acceleration in their legs during the uphill sprint, but Cancellara did manage to keep off the other three riders for a bronze medal. "This is a big day for me after riding a magnificent race," said Cancellara. "Wednesday's time trial? First I need to recover, but with a medal in my bag I'm surely more relaxed and the motivation will only get bigger."

Vasseur: Tour payments, Casper's case and team size

By Gregor Brown

Cédric Vasseur was at the Tour to hear riders' concerns
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Cédric Vasseur, President of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), keeps busy only two weeks following an "exciting" Tour de France with concerns of prize payments and the size of teams for 2009.

The Frenchman, a professional cyclist up until the end of last year, followed the Grand Tour to keep in contact with the riders and their concerns. "We polled the riders on their opinions – I had help from Dario Cioni, who speaks English, French and Italian. I think most riders were happy – it was an exciting tour. There were different yellow jerseys, different stage winners," said Vasseur to Cyclingnews.

Heading into the race, prize money payments from the 2007 Tour de France kept him occupied. The race organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), kept the winnings locked up due to doping cases. Vasseur confirmed the money was paid and that 2008 payments will arrive on time.

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"First the payments were delayed because of [the doping cases of] Iban Mayo, Michael Rasmussen, et cetera," he explained. "The ASO did not know if they had to put the riders of the classification or not, so they blocked the payments. The money for those guys is still blocked, but all the other money finally has been freed.

"For this year it will be the same. For all the riders that were positive – Dueñas, Fofonov, Riccò and Beltrán – the money will be blocked. Normally, the rider's bank account is paid 90 days after the Tour ends. By December, the rider's accounts should be funded, except for those four."

L'Equipe announced that Frenchman Jimmy Casper tested positive for glucocorticoids last week. Vasseur and Casper spoke and the CPA president wants to help.

"I had Casper on the phone the other day and he still had not official news of his positive, not from the AFLD [French anti-doping agency] or the FFC [French Cycling Federation]. That is a mistake, it should not happen like this – the riders should not learn by reading the paper.

"He had been using the mouth spray for the last four years for his asthma – it can't be injected. For me it is not a doping case, just an administration issue. We are in talks with Casper. His problem is that he has not had an official notification. The lawyer of the CPA will contact the AFLD."

Vasseur sited an old Therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) as the root of Casper's problem. He is upset with how Casper was informed and stated he is not 'the Tour's fifth doping case.'

"Casper will explain his problem. He had authorisation to sue the product, he had it up until the end of May. He was not using the product for doping, just for his health, but he should have had a new one-year authorisation. It is a paperwork problem and a bit of a mistake on Casper's part.

"For everyone he is 'the fifth positive of the Tour,' but it is not a doping case. He had the right to use this product for the last four years. In the Tour he was terrible, out of the time on the Alpe d'Huez, it was not helping him."

Besides Casper, Vasseur is concerned about team sizes for 2009. The ProTour appears to be ending at the end of this year, a system that declared its teams had to have 25 riders. The fact that two top-tier teams have no sponsors for 2009 – Gerolsteiner and Crédit Agricole – makes matters worse for riders looking for a job.

"In the middle of September we will have a meeting with the national representatives of the CPA council. It looks like the ProTour is dead and many of teams are hiring less than 25 riders. Now the number is going down to near 19, similar to that of Pro Continental teams. I don't see how the teams can make all the races with only 20 riders. Even if you don't do all three Grand Tours, you still are racing and you need the riders.

"We have to be concerned about the jobs of riders for next year. The main point of view of the CPA is to save the job of the riders who are out of contract and looking for a team. We have to give assurance to the riders, not the guys like Tom Boonen or Paolo Bettini, but the 24th or 25th guy who are now on the ProTour teams."

Vasseur expects to hold the meeting in Brussels. He is waiting for the responses regarding representatives' availability.

CAS suspends Mayo for two years

Spaniard Iban Mayo during the 2007 Tour de France
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended Iban Mayo for two years, backdated to July 31, 2007. The CAS ruled in confirmation Tuesday morning that the Spanish rider tested positive for EPO during the 2007 Tour de France.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) appealed the decision by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to drop the charges against Mayo.

Mayo underwent a doping control on July 24, 2007, during the Tour. The A-sample – tested in France's Châtenay-Malabry lab (LNDD) – showed EPO. A lab in Gent, Belgium, tested the B-sample as the LNDD was closed for vacation. The Gent lab requested the opinion of the lab in Sydney, Australia, which found the sample to be "inconclusive."

At that point, the RFEC ruled that the test was negative and dropped its proceedings against Mayo. However, the UCI then asked the LNDD to test the B-sample, to which Mayo protested. The LNDD announced on December 6, 2007, that the B-sample was also positive for EPO.

The CAS ruled that the UCI's decision to seek a new analysis of the B-Sample "was in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the UCI Anti-Doping Regulations and of the international standard for laboratories. Furthermore, the panel stated that the two analyses performed by the LNDD had brought clear evidence of the presence of recombinant EPO (Erythropoietin) in the urine of Mayo."

Mayo, 30, has not ridden since his team fired him on July 31, 2007. He rode for Saunier Duval, which again came into doping problems this summer, when Riccardo Riccò tested positive for EPO during the 2008 Tour (SW).

Decanio answers Leogrande lawsuit

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

USA's Matt Decanio, defendant in the lawsuit brought by Rock Racing's Kayle Leogrande
Photo ©: Bill McCarrcik
(Click for larger image)

The other defendant in the lawsuit brought by Rock Racing's Kayle Leogrande for slander, Matt Decanio, has responded to the lawsuit with answers to the complaint as well as his own motion to strike. This follows the other defendant's, Suzanne Sonye, motion to strike.

Leogrande's lawsuit seeks damages from Sonye and Decanio for a phone conversation posted on the internet by Decanio in which Sonye alleges Leogrande admitted to doping practices while racing. Sonye's statements are also central to an open investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Decanio responded to Cyclingnews' request for comment with the two legal motions as well as a written statement under his organisation's name and well-known abrasive style. "First and foremost, Stolen Underground would like to commend Suzanne Sonye. Her efforts and bravery in the war against doping in cycling has caused us some conflict. We are both on the same side, but Stolen Underground's efforts to Shut'em Down by all means necessary have caused problems with Sonye.

"Nevertheless, truth is never out of style. Regarding the topic of wiretapping crimes, my lawyer tells me that Sonye was present in Colorado – a one party consent state – and that this complex legal issue has not been conclusively determined and involves judicial determination of conflicts of different states' law.

"Fortunately, Leogrande's attorney filed in California, which has some really great law regarding free speech and against lawsuits which seek to chill free speech. I cited the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law and Barrett v. Rosenthal in my motion to strike, which states that websites are absolutely immune from liability in defamation suits. Leogrande's lawsuit is frivolous and I expect the court to dismiss Leogrande's complaint in total against me."

The Barree v. Rosenthal precedent is essentially a freedom of speech argument specific to online rhetoric and is combined with general free speech claims riding the anti-SLAPP argument. Decanio as his own counsel appears to have drafted both montions.

Decanio continued his anti-doping stance through his writing. "The only damages that Leogrande has suffered results from his bad tattoos and the fallout from the USADA investigation, as well as the larger media coverage. The lawsuit against Stolen Underground and the Jane Doe [sic] lawsuit against USADA begs the question 'What is he trying to hide?' Maybe Leogrande's diminished performance since the investigation began tells the real story?"

Vos ready for time trial

Marianne Vos of The Netherlands was upset not to have done better in the Olympic women's road race on Saturday, where she finished sixth. However, after evaluating the race with her coach, she rode out her frustrations on the rollers and now is ready for Wednesday's time trial.

"Marianne was in good shape for the circumstances which we expected. But because of the heat it was not possible to show what she had," said coach Thijs Rondhuis. "There is nothing you can do with your form or preparations for that."

Vos, 21, "considers the competition on Wednesday as a major step," Rondhuis told the ANP. "A year ago she did not belong to the world's best in time trialling, nor was she even close. She has made great strides, but her goal here is different than in the road race. She is looking for a place in the top ten, and is not looking for the podium. Marianne will ride as hard as she can and we will see where she finishes." (SW)

Kohl looking to next season

Bernhard Kohl takes a big step forward for Austria cycling
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Will Tour de France King of the Mountains Bernhard Kohl ride for a Belgian team next year? The 26 year-old Austrian, who finished third overall in the Tour is looking for a new employer, as his Gerolsteiner Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer has so far been unable to find a new sponsor for 2009.

According to, Kohl's manager talked with both Quick-Step and Silence-Lotto. He met last week with both Patrick Lefevere of Quick-Step and Marc Sergeant of Silence-Lotto.

Kohl noted that he really could not say anything about his professional future at this point. "Last week, I had concrete talks with several teams, but the decision must be well thought out. And I still haven't entirely given up hope that that Hans Holczer will still be able to find a sponsor and that the successful concept of our team can continue," he wrote on his website.

"It is a dream come true. My success is not just for me, but also something special for Austria. No Austrian has stood on the podium in Paris for years, and an Austrian has never before won the mountain jersey. What makes me particularly proud is the fact that there is now a new enthusiasm for cycling in Austria. I hope that young and old will develop a passion for this sport. Then I will really have accomplished something great." (SW)

Wrolich in stitches

Peter Wrolich of Team Gerolsteiner hoped to defend his sixth place overall in the second stage of the Tour de L'Ain, but a crash sent him first to the hospital and then home to Austria.

Heavy rain dominated Monday's stage from Trévoux to Hauteville Lompnès. The Austrian sprinter was in the leading group, when Christophe Moreau of Agritubel brought him down at a traffic circle. "I had no chance to avoid him. Moreau blasted full into me. Both of us landed on the street and we were both taken to the hospital. My knee now has six stitches."

Wrolich plans to fly home this morning and hopes to resume training on Friday. (SW)

Gilbert wins Belgian derny criterium

Philippe Gilbert of Team Française des Jeux won a derny criterium in Wilrijk, Belgium, on Monday. He beat Belgian Champion Jurgen Roelandts of Silence-Lotto and Sven Renders of Topsport-Vlaanderen in the motor-paced race.

Gilbert, 26, turned pro with Française des Jeux in 2003. He has been successful this season, starting out with the King of the Mountains title in the Tour Down Under and the overall win in the Vuelta a Mallorca, where he won two stages. The Belgian then went on to win Omloop Het Volk and Le Samyn.

It was announced in June that he would change teams and ride for Silence-Lotto in 2009. He plans to concentrate on the Spring Classics and the Giro d'Italia, and skip the Tour de France in 2009. (SW)

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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