January 26, 2006
Bode Miller: Armstrong, Bonds 'knowingly cheating'
Downhill bad boy Bode Miller doesn't buy Lance Armstrong's drug denials. He told Rolling Stone the drug testing and enforcement rules just don't work:
"The drug-regulation system is a weird, bad system, and all I'm asking is that we talk about it," he says. "Right now, if you want to cheat, you can: Barry Bonds and those guys are just knowingly cheating, but there's all sorts of loopholes. If you say it has to be knowingly, you do what Lance [Armstrong] and all those guys do, where every morning their doctor gives them a box of pills and they don't ask anything, they just take the pills. Yeah, they're not knowingly taking any substance, they don't fucking ask what it is, but they are sure as shit taking it." [Both Bonds and Armstrong have denied such allegations.]
Miller says he is himself clean, and that some of what appears to be standoffishness is self-preservation, as he fears someone might frame him for performance-enhancing drugs.
The last thing Miller said that got him in trouble was that he has competed while hammered. We'll see where this one goes.
January 24, 2006
It's official: London start for 2007 Tour
London mayor Ken Livingstone announced today that the 2007 Tour will, as expected, start in London. It will mark the 3rd time the Tour has visited England, and the first ever visit to the capital.
One interesting aspect to London's bid is the city's attempt to link the Grand Depart to increased cycle transport. Said Livingstone:
"I want London to become a world-class cycling city and Transport for London has increased investment in cycling from £5.5 million in 2000 to £24 million this year."
The route is to be announced February 9.
January 23, 2006
Robbie McEwen, voice of reason
Time's a-wasting for the UCI and organizers of the three Grand Tours to come up with a plan for this year's race calendar, and legendary cool head Robbie McEwen says it's time for the two sides to reach a compromise.
"To be honest, I think myself and the rest of the riders dont care what they call the calendar. If they call it the Pro Tour, or if they call it the monkey Tour, it (the races) remains the Tour of Flanders, it remains Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Milan-San Remo," [McEwen] told AFP. "They're the biggest, most prestigious races. Who cares what they call it or what umbrella they put it under? Those races remain the ones the guys want to win and have on their palmares."
McEwen just finished up the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia.
Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid says no changes can be made to any ProTour regulations until after 2008, because existing regulations are governed by agreements with sponsors and teams.
It's starting to look like we could wind up with a CART/Indy Racing League situation.
Other TDU stories:
Simon Gerrans of AG2R Prevoyance took the overall win, leading from start to finish.
T-Mobile picks first 5 for Tour squad
In its bid to bring Jan Ullrich a second overall victory in the Tour de France, T-Mobile named the first five riders who, barring injuries, will take the start line July 1st in Strasbourg.
- Jan Ullrich (German link)
- Serhiy Honchar (from Ukraine, rode last year for Domina Vacanze)
- Eddy Mazzoleni (ITA, transfer from Lampre neé Saeco)
- Andreas Klöden (German link)
- Michael Rogers (AUS, World TT champion from QuickStep)
Should be a strong squad, and I think free of the last few years' tension about who's REALLY the team leader.
January 18, 2006
Discovery in training camp; Ekimov healthy and strong
Discovery Channel's team leaders are already in camp in Solvang, with the balance expected tonight.
Hincapie, Danielson, Savoldelli, Ekimov, Popovych and others did some velodrome laps to improve their TT form.
Bruyneel says Ekimov has no residual problems from the bad back injury that kept him out of last year's Tour, and didn't really need the time on the velodrome:
Bruyneel also noted that even though last year was Eki’s first time in the wind tunnel ever, the Olympic TT champion was close to dead-on just through his own personal set up. And today bore that out once again; Eki did his first test with his old set up, then after trying a couple of tweaks here and there the numbers said it all – his best run was with his original set up and leave it alone.
Sammarye "Velogal" Lewis is on the scene, and trying an interesting experiment: She's audioblogging from Solvang. As usual, she's also got a training camp photo gallery up at SmugMug, including some shots of Michael and Dede Demet Barry's son, Liam.
Tour of California route, teams announced
So I'm going to miss the Tour of California next month, but it's looking to be a big race. The final team roster is out, and it's mostly the same as last year's Tour de Georgia, but with Davitamon-Lotto and T-Mobile added to the Euro squads.
The Tour of California looks like it should be TV and spectator friendly, highlighted by a 3-km Sunday prologue in San Francisco, from the Ferry Building to Coit Tower, and weekend stages around LA, including a beachfront finish on Friday, Feb. 24, and a finishing circuit race over a 12.2-km circuit in Redondo Beach.
Covering 600 miles in all, the race has a UCI 2.1 rating.
Three of the teams are having training camps in Solvang.
Ullrich going all Johnny Whitaker
I missed the AP picture at left, of Ullrich at T-Mobile's team intro Saturday, but I wanted to take the opportunity to publicly beg Jan Ullrich to shave his head; I'm flashing back to the kiddie TV programming of my youth.
I can't decide whether he's more Johnny Whitaker (I'm thinking "Family Affair" rather than "Sigmund and the Sea-Monsters") or Butch Patrick in "Lidsville."
January 17, 2006
McEwen draws season's first blood at Tour Down Under
Robbie McEwen looks to be coming out of the blocks fast at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, just like last year.
McEwen took the final sprint ahead of Liquigas-Bianchi's Daniele Colli and Milram's Simone Cadamuro.
The only really A-level sprinter also in the race is Thor Hushovd, who was working a leadout for Aussie teammate Mark Renshaw, but timed it badly. and Renshaw was 6th on the day. Allan Davis of Liberty Seguros was 5th.
Thanks to a rules change, McEwen's win won't count toward the overall lead at the TDU, but it does count as his record 11th victory in the Australian tour.
French defamation case against Armstrong thrown out
One more judicial stage is done on Lance Armstrong's Tour de Jurisprudence.
Monday, a French court ruled the statute of limitations had expired in Filippo Simeoni's defamation case against Armstrong. Armstrong called Simeoni a liar in Le Monde after Simeoni testified against Michele Ferrari at his trial for sporting fraud.
This case isn't over yet, as Armstrong still faces a March trial in Italy.
January 11, 2006
London Tour start announcement likely within the month
Press conferences have been scheduled for January 24th in Paris and February 10th in London to make announcements on the British capital's Tour bid. Officials won't confirm that London has the nod, but there's no reason to hold a press conference in London to announce a Tour start in Rotterdam, Utrecht, or Lugano, the other candidates.
The Tour has visited England twice, most recently in 1994, but has never included London. The proposal, initially hatched in 2003 for the 2006 Tour, was for a 2007 Tour start, with a prologue around London landmarks, a Stage 1 from Greenwich to central London, and Stage 2 out to the coast, before a transfer across the Channel.
Any bad blood over the 2012 Olympics, awarded to London over Paris, has apparently been set aside.
November 15, 2004 | UK press reports 2007 Tour will come to London
July 5, 2004 | 2007 London Tour start moves forward
April 27, 2004 | London start in 2007?
September 12, 2003 | London bids for Tour stages
January 10, 2006
UCI, WADA prevail: Hondo's suspension extended
Danilo Hondo was given an unusual suspension in June 2005, after testing positive for carphedon. Rather than a straight two-year ban, Swiss Olympic, his national governing body, gave him a 1-year ban and 1 year on probation, which would have put him back in the peloton this spring.
The UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, arguing that Hondo's suspension was too light. On Tuesday, the CAS agreed, extending Hondo's race ban until April 1, 2007.
Petacchi in for Giro and Tour
At the Milram team presentation in Bremen Tuesday, Alessandro Petacchi said he intends to ride both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 2006.
Petacchi, who has owned the Giro the last three years, winning 19 stages, had complained that the 2006 Giro route wasn't to his liking.
Petacchi has been highly critical of a Giro route that, he says, only offers him five or six potential stage-winning opportunities ... Petacchi also revealed that his first objectives this season would be “Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders”.
Awaiting the jury: Hamilton makes his caseESPN.com | Tyler Hamilton appeals to CAS to overturn doping ban
Tyler Hamilton's appeal hearing proceeded as expected today, at the Brown Palace hotel in Denver.
Outside the hearing, Hamilton refused comment, except to maintain his innocence of the blood doping charge that led to his 2-year suspension.
Looking for a summary? The New York Times did a pretty good overview of the test and its possible issues back in May 2005. In short, Hamilton was found to have someone else's blood in his bloodstream, a result confirmed by his 'B' sample and made doubly suspicious in light of the only other positive test so far: Hamilton's teammate Santiago Perez.
Hamilton's defense has suggested that Hamilton might have had a chimeric twin in utero, and that some small amount of the twin's blood might continue to show up on blood test even today.
Doping enforcers point out that the test has been used for many years in obstetrics, and that even Hamilton's defense team doesn't deny the presence of someone else's blood cells.
By the way, "Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France" is making the rounds. Before Hamilton's suspension, the movie, tentatively called "Brainpower", was to follow Hamilton through the 2003 Tour, and teach about the human body and brain while doing it. After the fall, filmmakers changed course, and Baden Cooke and Jimmy Casper get most of the screen time.
Crow says wedding plans underway; meanwhile, rumors of a split
Sheryl Crow told People magazine that she and Lance Armstrong still are planning to get married "next spring", and that the family-only ceremony won't be in Missouri or Texas.
Crow gives a little credence to stories that she and Armstrong are undergoing fertility treatments, saying "there's always a little bit of truth" in tabloid stories.
If I were going to a fertility clinic, I'm sure that I wouldn't be talking with you guys about it.
At the same time, Ted Casablanca's The Awful Truth reports that Armstrong and Crow are splitsville:
"He was a cad," remarked one of Lance's relatives, regarding the seven-time Tour de France winner's reported dumping of glitzy rocker-babe Crow. "And Lance's family is trying to get him to change his mind; that's why [the news] hasn't gotten out yet."
Update 1/10/06 8:30 p.m.:
"Also, I am under very strict direction from management that there can be no questions regarding Lance whatsoever. This must be about her and her music."
Huh? Isn't this album about him? How can I not ask any questions about him? In this case, he is the music. So I said thanks, but no thanks.
There's something about the timing of all of this. For the last two years she's been going on and on about Lance. Yesterday, Ted Casablanca says they're secretly done. Today, she suddenly won't talk about him.
Update 1/10/06 9:50 p.m.:
And, over at the Austin American-Statesman, Suzanne Halliburton says Armstrong has Blackberry'ed the paper a denial of the split:
In an e-mail to the American-Statesman on Tuesday, Armstrong said: "No truth to it at all. Sorry to ruin the story."
January 09, 2006
Moment of truth for Hamilton
Tuesday is D-Day for Tyler Hamilton.
His appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport will be heard in Denver, giving Hamilton a final chance to come up with something more convincing than the chimeric twin defense.
A big part of me really wants to be convinced that he's innocent.
So far, all his team has shown me is that the test is pretty imprecise, and that it would probably be fairer to establish some minimum baseline below which riders would not be banned from competition.