November 30, 2004
Tyler out of a job, Phonak out of ProTour
According to an AFP story this morning, Phonak fired Tyler Hamilton last week, in an attempt to gain a spot in next year's ProTour.
UCI officials told the French wire service AFP that Phonak chief Andy Rihs informed them of the decision to fire Hamilton as he unsuccessfully appealed last week to his team included in the 2005 Pro Tour championship.
Cycling's international governing body, the UCI, announced its final list of 19 teams for the ProTour, and removed Phonak, AG2R, and Mr.Bookmaker.com from its preliminary list.
UCI offered no reason for the exclusions, but in their original list, they cited Phonak's inability to organize the team to combat doping, a reference to the EPO suspension of Oscar Camenzind and blood doping positives for Hamilton and for Santiago Perez.
Update: TylerHamilton.com confirms that Tyler is no longer with Phonak.
Specifically, it would be impossible for Phonak to be accepted into the UCI Pro Tour with one of its riders facing charges of using prohibited performance enhancing methods.
We had hoped my facing the judicial process alone, apart from the team would pave the way for Phonak being included in the Pro Tour.
Hamilton still maintains his innocence: "I am more committed than ever to getting to the bottom of all this."
Phonak has said that the team might close down if if can't race in the new tour. The team still can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The full list:
- Bouygues Telecom
- Crédit Agricole
- Discovery Channel
- Domina Vacanze
- Fassa Bortolo
- Illes Balears
- Liberty Seguros
- Quick Step
- Saunier Duval-Prodir
November 28, 2004
Living Strong but fake
The New York Post takes on knock-off LiveStrong bracelets today, noting that some New Yorkers are paying up to $5 for counterfeits, presumably in preference to waiting the 3-4 weeks the Lance Armstrong Foundation's store is currently quoting.
The faux bracelets have even been found for sale on eBay, were they were offered in pink, red, blue and purple, with asking prices ranging from $1 to $5. Sometimes, sellers advertise the multicolored fakes as "rare."
Here's one way to spot the fakes: They're in colors other than yellow — and they sell for more than $1, the price set by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The fakes also have more elasticity, and the "Live Strong" imprint is shallower than on the real deal.
The fakes are numerous enough that Connecticut's top lawman vowed last week to find their source.
LAF originally intended to manufacture 5 million of the wristbands, but, as of October 26, had sold more than 20 million, all in yellow, all at $1.
Poking around the 'Net, it looks like more than a few people believe there are LiveStrong wristbands in multiple colors, which is false.
The only place I've seen the wristbands in stock was at Build-A-Bear Workshop, which had adult's and children's sizes on a recent trip.
November 26, 2004
Bartoli retires from racing
CSC's Michele Bartoli is calling it a career, fulfilling a prophecy Liggett made back in July, when Bartoli was less than thrilled to have to race cautiously in defense of Ivan Basso.
Bartoli didn't think he could be competitive in 2005:
After a recent vacation in Mexico with his wife Alexandra, the 34 year-old from Pisa returned home and began riding, but soon realized that with the ongoing pain in his left leg and lower back, he would no longer be competitive due to physical problems. "I don't know the source of these pains," explained Bartoli. "Perhaps from all the crashes I've had in the last years of my career."
Bartoli was the top-rated World Cup rider in 1997 and 1998, and had multiple stage wins in the Giro d'Italia, and twice took bronze at the World Championships.
Bartoli declared at his press conference that, "I just wasn't motivated to continue...I can't be a top level rider any more and that was a major influence on my decision, rather than my recent physical problems."
November 24, 2004
Landis speaks on Phonak problems
Cyclingnews.com offers up an interview with the world's fastest Mennonite, Floyd Landis, on the possibility that his new Phonak team will be shut out of the ProTour after Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez testing positive for blood doping, Oscar Camenzind getting suspended for EPO, and the team doctor exiting stage left.
Landis says he has an exit clause in his Phonak contract, but can't take advantage of it just yet:
"I have an exit clause in my contract but I can't leave until I know for sure whether Phonak is in the Pro Tour, so there is no point in looking yet," he says. "I really don't want to leave Phonak. I signed with this team for many reason and I'd like to stay. I think the other teams out there know that I would be free at that point if it comes to Phonak being excluded from the ProTour, but I believe the UCI will make it work."
Landis had a great 2004 season, leading the Vuelta for a couple of weeks and riding strong on the deciding stages of the Tour in support of Lance Armstrong at US Postal.
Wherever he rides, Landis is training toward the big tours for 2005:
"I'm hoping that there will be a couple of races where I can be the designated leader," he explains. "Whether it's the Vuelta, the Giro or even the Tour, I'm not sure yet. It all depends what happens with Tyler. One thing I'll do for sure is start a little slower. This year I was fit in February but if you want to be really ready for July the better plan is to take it a little slower."
November 23, 2004
Svorada, Astarloa to exit Lampre?
The Lampre team has inherited many of the riders from the dissolved Saeco team, including Damiano Cunego and best bud Gilberto Simoni. That leaves less room for some of the team's previous leaders, and today Jan Svorada announced that he'll move down to cycling's minor leagues, signing with eD'system ZVVZ (don't ask me how to pronounce THAT).
Procycling also reports that former world champion Igor Astarloa is on the prowl for a new team. Astarloa has hotfooted it from Saeco to Cofidis to Lamppre since his rainbow jersey in 2003. Bjarne Riis says he looked at signing Astarloa, but couldn't afford him on the team's current budget.
Procycling also quotes La Gazzetta dello Sport, interviewing Simoni, who says Cunego "betrayed" him at Bormio in last year's Giro, and that he will target the 2005 Giro, "but I don't trust anyone anymore."
Tyler fires back: "Olympic sample was deemed negative"
In a press release today, Tyler Hamilton has come out swinging against the IOC testing procedures that labeled him positive for blood doping in Athens.
Hamilton's statements focus on "things that have been said inaccurately in the media:"
...[M]y A sample from the Olympics, the one that first brought on this issue, was initially determined to be negative for blood doping. When it was re-analyzed -- and I am not sure why it was re-analyzed -- it was again deemed negative. It was not a clearly positive test as it has been characterized. Instead, the results of both negative tests were reviewed by a "panel of experts" and then apparently deemed positive.
...[M]y B sample from the Olympics was not accidentally frozen. I have no idea why an official would lie about this procedure but for the record, the protocol is for the B sample to be frozen when the A sample is negative. This was the case with me after my A Sample was deemed negative and is why the lab froze the B sample, as opposed to a lab "mistake."
Hamilton also says the results from Athens and from the Vuelta, where officials say he also tested positive, again for blood doping, "reveal serious inconsistencies, which could mean that 1) the test itself is invalid; 2) the test method was not followed; or 3) that one of the samples is not my blood." Hamilton says his requests to have the blood samples DNA tested, or to have an independent tester review the findings, have all been turned down.
November 22, 2004
Beloki out of work (again); Pound reelected
Joseba Beloki will not ride for Saunier-Duval in 2005, according to French reports.
Beloki, 31, finished 2nd in the 2002 Tour, but had a very disappointing 2004, riding for Brioches La Boulangere, then for Saunier-Duval.
In 2003, while riding for ONCE and in 2nd overall, Beloki suffered a horrific crash when he rolled a tubular on Stage 9. Lance Armstrong, following close behind, detoured through a field, cutting a switchback, then dropped right back into the field on the way to his 5th Tour title.
Eurosport reports Beloki will meet with Manolo Saiz today to discuss joining Liberty Seguros, and quotes L'Equipe (in French) that Beloki bought out his own contract.
Meanwhile, Dick Pound will continue to lead the World Anti-Doping Agency, after being reelected Sunday to a three-year term. Pound said he wants WADA to move beyond Olympic sports, and start also testing professionals.
November 16, 2004
Armstrong to ride Flanders in 2005?
IOL quotes a story in Het Volk (in Dutch) that Lance Armstrong is planning to ride the one-day Tour of Flanders April 3, 2005.
The rough online translation I get is much less committed:
Dirk Demol van US Postal wants confirm or denies that zesvoudig Tourwinnaar Lance Armstrong next takes part year in the round of Flanders. During an interview Armstrong would have let understand that he considers a participation. Lance Armstrong will leave during an interview have understood that he thinks next year of taking part in 98ste the round of Flanders.
November 15, 2004
Phonak vows to fight for ProTour spot
Tyler Hamilton's Phonak squad will make its case to the UCI next week, in hopes of reversing the body's decision to exclude Phonak from the new ProTour in 2005.
Although UCI gave no reason for its decision, Phonak said it was related to doping. Phonak added in a statement they would put their case to the licensing commission on November 22 and a final decision would be made on December 2.
"The reason for the licence not being granted in the first instance is the ongoing clarification relating to the internal medical checks for tightening measures against doping," Switzerland's only cycling team said on Monday.
Phonak management says the exclusion threatens the team's survival, and that its sponsor, a Swiss manufacturer of hearing aids, requires the team to participate in the year's “most important races.”
Julich signs two-year extension with CSC
Bobby Julich, who turns 34 this week, signed a 2-year extension with Bjarne Riis' CSC squad, which rejuvenated the American's career in 2004. Julich's high point was a bronze medal in the ITT at the Athens Olympics.
Julich said he hopes to finish his career with CSC.
"Now that I've regained confidence, I want to be steady for the entire season," he told French newspaper L'Equipe. "I'll help Ivan Basso on the Tour de France, but in other races like Paris-Nice I could play my own hand."
In other CSC news, Australia's Scott Sunderland (who rode for Alessio through 2004) joins the team, taking over from Sean Yates, who left CSC for the Discovery Channel team as assistant sporting director.
UK press reports 2007 Tour will come to London
Looks like London's bid for the 2007 Tour prologue is very likely to win out over bids from Holland, Switzerland, and Denmark.
If so, it would mark the Tour's first visit to London in 12 years.
Organisers are said to have been persuaded by the prospect of the route taking in landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
No announcement is likely until next autumn but sources close to the world's most famous cycling race say it would be a surprise if London did not figure.
A Tour de France source said: "The London bid is seen as a good one and the route is obviously attractive. Taking the race there would be good for us and for them."
November 14, 2004
The Times on Tyler
The New York Times offers an even-handed look at the Tyler Hamilton case.
This has been a tough one for me -- I really want to Believe Tyler, but it's awfully suspicious that, in a few hundred test results, there have been exactly three positives: Hamilton twice, and Santiago Perez, who just happen to be on the same team.
Whatever the case, Hamilton says he won't go down without a fight:
"After the Olympics, my life was really secure, my career was really on track because the gold medal can bring you a lot, you know?" Hamilton says. "Now my life is on hold."
Hamilton, a sliver of a man at 5 feet 8 inches and 130 pounds, makes eye contact as he says: "I would be happier without everything I have, with nothing, if I could just clear my name. If I had to, I'd give up everything, down to my last penny, to have my name back."
The Times talks to Michael Ashenden, head of the team who created the test, and to officials in anti-doping agencies.
The real hammer for the story are some quotes from Bobby Julich:
One American cyclist at the show, Bobby Julich, had other questions. Julich had roomed with Hamilton in Athens and won the bronze medal in the time trial. He said the suspicions about Hamilton "go against everything I've ever known from the guy." But, he added: "The rest of us at the Olympics passed the test. Why didn't he?"
Julich took a deep breath.
"I'm sick of people who cheat, sick of cleaning up their mess and trying to explain it," he said.
Then, a pause.
"There is heavy evidence against him," he said. "With that much evidence, I don't know how he's going to get out of it."
Hamilton says he's not leaving the sport, even if he gets a two-year suspension; that he'll come back at 35 and "show those people who doubted me that they were wrong":
"I would come back and win the Tour de France, for my sport, for me, for everyone who has believed in me."
ProTour excludes Hamilton's Phonak squad
Looks like Phonak is a little too hot to handle for the ProTour, as Tyler Hamilton's squad was the only team that had been provisionally approved not to move on to a "positive initial evaluation."
Eventually, the field will be whittled down to 15 teams, who are expected to ride a wide variety of races to earn points for overall ProTour individual and team leadership.
The three-man commission, comprising Judge Pierre Zappelli, Mr. Hans Höhener and Mr. André Hurter approved the following 18 teams.
Esperanza bvba / Quick Step (Belgium)
Omega Pharma / Davitamon-Lotto (Belgium)
Riis Cycling A/S / CSC (Denmark)
Abarca Sports S.L / Illes Balears-Banesto (2-year license) (Spain)
Active Bay S.L. / Liberty Seguros (Spain)
Fundacion Ciclista Euskadi / Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain)
GM Bikes SA / Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spain)
Cofidis Competition Eusrl / Cofidis (France)
SA Vendée Cyclisme / Bouygues Telecom (France)
Société de Gestion de L'Echappée / FDJeux.com (France)
Vélo Club de Paris / Crédit Agricole (France)
Biciclub Azzurro srl / Lampre-Caffitta (3-year license) (Italy)
Liquigas Sport Spa / Liquigas (Italy)
Silver Team Srl / Fassa Bortolo (3-ywar license) (Italy)
Professional Cycling Promotion B.V. / Rabobank (Netherlands)
H-S-M GmbH / Gerolsteiner (Germany)
Walter Godefroot GmbH / T-Mobile (2-year license)(Germany)
Tailwind Sports Corporation / Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA).
Some other ProTour changes: the Tour of Germany will now be in mid-August, and the Vuelta will start August 27th. World's will move up to September 25.
Organizers of the Giro and the Tour de France are still in negotiations with the UCI over including the grand tours on the ProTour schedule.
Lance to follow Lemond to open-wheel racing?
Reuters reports that Lance Armstrong rode along with Australian F1 driver Mark Webber, of the Williams BMW team, in his F1 car.
"He said he wanted to drive the car himself rather than be a passenger," Webber, who has his first test with Williams on November 24 after moving from Jaguar, told the BMW-powered team's website on Friday.
"I told him I wasn't sure if it was possible but I'd look into it."
Update: The Paceline.com is all over this one:
You've probably seen all over the web reports Lance asked Formula 1 driver Mark Webber about driving one of the very-fast vehicles. While Webber was doing some cross-training with LA recently Lance did indeed ask him about it, but don't expect him to be looking for a poll position any time soon. "I did tell him that I'd like to take a few laps with his car but it's not like I'm looking to run against him or Schumacher," he said when we recently spoke to him. "Although it is fun to dream sometimes." And we all know LA has an affinity for fast cars - and a definite need for speed...