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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, October 20, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Contador sees problems in possible Vinokourov return

Spain's Alberto Contador concerned about Vinokourov's return
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador, a winner of all three Grand Tours, envisions problems with the possible return of Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov. The Spaniard, 25, is worried about the addition of Vinokourov in a team that already includes himself and Lance Armstrong.

"It has the possibility of creating a lot of controversy, but for the moment it's early to tell. We must wait for the UCI's decision on the matter and obey its decision," said Contador in a press release.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) ejected Vinokourov from the 2007 Tour de France for blood doping. He ended a one-year suspension this summer. Vinokourov and Contador rode together in the Manolo Saiz-managed Astana team in 2006.

"We had a good relationship when we were in the same team. But, if there are not any objections [to his return], it could create organisational problems for the team."

Team Astana was reorganised at the end of 2007 and it is now under the management of Johan Bruyneel. Lance Armstrong decided to make his return with the team to be with his former manager in September. Contador and Armstrong will have different programmes for the start of 2009 with the latter focusing on the 2009 Giro d'Italia. Contador won the Italian Grand Tour this year.

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"I believe that Lance has made a good decision in riding the Giro," said Contador. "I had the luck to go there and it gave me the opportunity to enjoy the Italians' warmth and I believe that Lance will also enjoy it. Besides, he will have serious chance of winning. I do not know if he will be the number one favourite, but if there were wagers I would bet on him."

Vinokourov was part of the force behind the creation of Team Astana in 2006. He helped assure funds from Kazakhstan businesses for the team.

Basso to bring experience and wins to Liquigas

Italy's Basso to bring experience and wins to Team Liquigas
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso will attempt to give Team Liquigas wins in 2009, but also share his experience with its riders. The Italian from Varese, 30, will start riding with his new squad this Sunday at the Japan Cup.

"Liquigas, even without Basso, has a group of athletes with the capacity to win the big races without problems," said Basso Friday. "With my arrival the team is re-enforced. The team took me onboard to win races, but it is also important that I bring along my experiences to the existing athletes."

The Italian cycling federation (FCI) suspended Basso on June 15, 2007, for his links with Spanish Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, centre of 2006's Operación Puerto doping investigation. He admitted to investigating prosecutor Ettore Torri during that he gave blood to Fuentes. His suspension ends October 24.

Team Liquigas announced it signed Basso in April for two years. Friday's press conference was the official presentation of Basso and a smaller part of an annual Liquigas sales convention.

Basso joins strong stage racers Franco Pellizotti, Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger, sprinter Daniele Bennati and younger talents. He won the 2006 Giro d'Italia and a stage in the 2005 Tour de France, and he plans to share these and other experiences with his new teammates.

"I will provide a good advantage in the stage races. They will have an advantage of having someone that has won a Grand Tour and that has carried the leader's jersey in big races. It will be double duty – to win and to help my teammates win."

The Japan Cup will be Basso's only race in 2008. He will start his 2009 season at the Tour de San Luis, Argentina.

Gianetti to sign Rebellin in new ProTour team?

Italy's Davide Rebellin with Mauro Gianetti?
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Mauro Gianetti may have Classics specialist Davide Rebellin's signature for his newly formed ProTour team. He will make an official announcement today, according to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Gianetti could bring around 12 ex-Saunier Duval riders and Director Sportif Joxean Fernández Matxin with him to the new formation. His sponsor is based in Milano and produces electrical equipment.

"There have been advanced talks of Davide Rebellin's incorporation for a long time now, like that existed with Paolo Bettini," Matxin said to Cyclingnews.

Rebellin – winner of 2004 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and 2008 Paris-Nice – has been on the job hunt since Team Gerolsteiner announced it was leaving the sport. He would lead the team and Andrea Tonti, Davide Viganò and Oscar Gatto may also race at his side.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) recently granted Gianetti another ProTour licence. He will no longer licence the team under GM Bikes, holder of the ProTour licence for Scott-American Beef, formerly Saunier Duval-Scott. The team had riders Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli in its roaster for 2008, both of whom tested positive in the Tour de France for doping before the team fired them.

"We will harden the internal anti-doping controls, because we are not willing to tolerate surprises like, unfortunately, occurred at the Tour of France," Matxin confirmed. (AS)

Valverde tops Route des As criterium

Alejandro Valverde
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Spanish Champion Alejandro Valverde topped the end of the season with a win in the Route des As criterium, yesterday. It was the 15th edition of the race organised in Marquette-Lez-Lille, France.

"This race is very special and also difficult, but it is very popular in the northern part of Europe. I was very impressed by the large crowds," said Valverde in a press statement.

The non-ranked race involved 12 riders competing behind dernys in two heats. Valverde finished fifth in the first heat and won the second heat.

Valverde took 13 victories this year, which included stage one and two days in the leader's maillot jaune the Tour de France. The International Cycling Union (UCI) will award him tomorrow in Paris for the 2008 ProTour classification win.

The CPA insists on respect for clean riders

The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) insisted on respect for cyclists in light of doping problems in the sport. The recent doping affairs of Stefan Schumacher and Bernard Kohl in the last weeks have hit cycling hard.

In a press release issued today, the CPA stated, "victims of these individual and irresponsible acts are again the clean riders."

Riccardo Riccò, Leonardo Piepoli, Kohl and Schumacher tested positive for a third generation of EPO – CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator) – based on controls taken at the Tour de France, July 5 to 27. The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) tested blood samples from the race this month after urine samples were inconclusive during the race.

Many other riders were rumoured to be positive during the time of the blood testing. The CPA saw this as unjust and pointed to cycling's lead in doping controls.

"A thankless struggle was declared against the cheaters and even if it made some victims, we have to remember that the riders who will now start preparing the season 2009 deserve everybody's trust and respect. Indeed, in addition to the disappearance of some sponsors, the reduction of the number of riders per team and of famous races, a lack of recognition on behalf of certain interlocutors is also obvious.

"What else can those riders do to prove they are sincere? A biological passport was set up at the end of 2007 and led, for some riders, to more than ten out of competition unexpected controls. All the riders who belong to the teams which participate in the most important races of the world calendar make part of the ADAMS system. The controls which occur after the races and which sometimes concern more than ten riders, are rigorously organised.

"The CPA also regrets the fact that all the other sports do not follow the same policy in order of transparency and tolerance zero as regards the fight against doping."

The CPA stated its continued support of the International Cycling Union (UCI), the national federations, the organisers, the teams and the riders.

Clement says goodbye to Bouygues Telecom in style

Clement, 26, on top in the Chrono des Nations
Photo ©: Mathieu Istil
(Click for larger image)

By Jean-François Quénet in Les Herbiers

One week after Philippe Gilbert presented Française des Jeux with a superb parting gift by winning Paris-Tours before heading home to Belgian squad Silence-Lotto, Stef Clement did the same for Bouygues Telecom on home soil. Desperate to win a race before going back to Rabobank next year, he took the Chrono des Nations title.

"I've come second a couple of times but it's been a difficult year for me and for the team; it's much better to part ways on a high note," said the Dutchman, 26, after taking the crown.

Clement will now begin another phase of his career at Rabobank.

"At this stage I'd prefer to go and ride for a true leader, rather than stay with a team where everybody still has to fight for position," said Clement. "I'm going back to where everything started for me and I'll return home riding with colleagues that I know well. Rabobank has a plan for a backing a Dutch leader at the Tour de France and I'm excited to be part of this plan."

The win for Team Bouygues Telecom came just 20 kilometres away from their headquarters.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Antonio J. Salmerón.)

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