June 30, 2006
Julich's ESPN diary launches
CSC's Bobby Julich, who finished 3rd in the scandal-plagued 1998 Tour (not last year as his local paper suggested), is writing a diary for ESPN.com during this year's Tour.
Its first edition is up, and focuses, of course, on Basso's withdrawal and what impact that's going to have on the team.
He says CSC briefly considered pulling out of the race, in the emotion of the moment, but that Special Operations training kicked in: “...it's also a reality, as on the battlefield, that when your leader goes down, you have to still accomplish your objective, that the roles may change but you still have a goal to accomplish.”
Personally, Julich says he believes Basso is innocent, that he's been targeted because of his extraordinary Giro performance, but that he's assumed guilty because of the ProTour and ASO regulations, which allow riders to be suspended if they're even under investigation.
The worst thing for me will be if, three or four days from now, Ivan goes down, gives his DNA, does whatever he needs to do to clear his name, and is cleared, but the Tour has already started without him. That really is the hard part for me.
In my opinion, if there is absolutely indisputable evidence that he's involved, then I'm sorry, but we have to accept that, and that would be the most disappointing thing in my career, that I would have to accept that a guy like Ivan was cheating.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like ESPN is giving Julich a standard URL where you can watch for updates, or even, heavens, a standard weblog with an RSS feed.
Mancebo to retire, Ullrich and Basso to fight allegations
AG2R's Francisco Mancebo is apparently throwing up his hands, rather than either maintaining his innocence or admitting guilt in connection with the Operación Puerto investigation. He told procycling.com, “I consider myself innocent and I have never tested positive. I’m just going to see how this all evolves now. I’m sick of this world, I am going to hang to my bike up.”
Jan Ullrich continues to maintain his innocence, after being withdrawn from the Tour de France by his T-Mobile team.
“The only thing I can say so far is that I'm shocked, that I still have nothing to do with this, that I'm a victim now and that I'm prepared [for the Tour] in this year like never before,” Ullrich told reporters outside his hotel near Strasbourg, before leaving for home.
“This is the worst case of my career so far. I'll go on fighting at any rate. But at this moment, I'm desperate.”
The team says it will demand “evidence of Ullrich's innocence,” or may sever ties completely.
As for Basso, he's going to the lawyers:
"I have nothing to do with all this, but I will let my lawyers speak about this before me," Basso told Italian television.
"I'm totally relaxed. I'm waiting for someone to prove to me that I am guilty," said Basso.
Riis is distancing himself from his Giro winner:
Riis noted that Basso's contract forbids him from working with doctors from outside their CSC team.
"Ivan must prove with his lawyer that he is innocent. I believe in Ivan but I have been forced to take the necessary steps," Riis said.
Also, the updated official start list is up (check your favorite surviving rider's bib number - Julich gets 11, Klöden 21).
It's official: Vinokourov, Astaná-Wuerth out
Astaná-Würth is out of the Tour. Active Bay, which manages the team, announced the withdrawal this afternoon, when it became apparent they wouldn't have enough riders to take the start tomorrow morning in Strasbourg.
“This measure does not concern the team's riders of the Tour de France that are not included in the dossier: Alexander Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Barredo and Luis León Sanchez. Nevertheless, the withdrawal of the riders that appear in the above-mentioned dossier implies that the Tour of France team will not have the minimum number of riders demanded by the UCI rules, which means the team will not be able to take the start tomorrow morning in the Tour de France.”
Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Doping, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Manolo Saiz, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Photos from Tours gone by
There's an absolutely gorgeous slideshow of Tour images from the '30s to about 1990 available here. It's a collection of mostly black-and-white images from the Magnum photo gallery. There are a few shots of racers, but more of the fans, announcers, and setting of the race.
I can't make out head or tail of the commentary, but it appears to be provided by Danish director and Tour commentator Jorgen Leth.
I'm pleased and very honored that TdFblog gets a link at the end.
Coincidentally, the Magnum in Motion podcast series (RSS/XML subscription link | direct movie link) is currently featuring a similar presentation by Larry Towell on Mennonites, which may be of interest if you would like to learn more about the culture in which Floyd Landis grew up.
Armstrong wins another stage in court fight
Lance Armstrong's legal team won a preliminary hearing in London over UK publication of excerpts from L.A. Confidential, The Secrets of Lance Armstrong in 2004.
Lawyers for The Sunday Times maintained that the story didn't accuse Armstrong of taking performance-enhancing drugs, but only raised questions about his behavior.
The judge disagreed, saying a “reasonable reader would have understood [the article]... to mean that Mr Armstrong had taken drugs to enhance his performance in cycling competitions.”
The case should go to trial in November.ThePaceline.com reports the case has now been settled.
The Sunday Times apologized for any impression that Armstrong was guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, but otherwise, terms of the settlement were not released.
Images from Strasbourg
Sammarye “Velogal” Lewis is stuck stateside for the Tour this year, but she's got pictures so fresh they smell funny up at her weblog.
Landis has lost quite a few kgs since the Tour de Georgia; he looks as thin as I can remember seeing him.
Another shoe for Astaná: Contador, Davis, Paulinho
So the road for Astaná-Würth just gets steeper. The UCI reported today that in addition to Joseba Beloki, Jorg Jaksche, Isidro Nozal, and Aitor Osa, that Allan Davis, Alberto Contador, and Sergio Paulinho all appear in the Operación Puerto report. Osa is a reserve, and Paulinho isn't on the Tour list, but if the team voluntarily excludes riders listed, and no replacements are allowed, the team would be left with only its three Kazakhs (Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, and Assan Bazayev), plus Luis Sanchez. Unfortunately for Vinokourov, UCI rules require every team to start a grand tour with at least 6 riders. Here's the official UCI statement.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Web reaction to Black Friday banning
The genius behind the “Jan Ullrich myspace page” says the fun's over, and he's incredibly disappointed that Ullrich, who he loves for his class and humanity, has at the very least lied about his involvement with the Madrid clinic:
This is a disappointment on many levels for me, but it's a slap in the face to everyone who loves the sport, to every CAT racer out there grinding it out in Nowhereland for a place on a rickety plywood podium, and everyone who just gets out and rides.
If I'm going to cheer for anyone, I'm going to cheer for David Millar, who has been brutally honest about what he did, and is now trying to ride the Grand Boucle without anything in his bloodstream, unlike God-knows-how-many other riders in the peloton.
Thanks for reading, let's hope Jan and Ivan get themselves straightened out, and lets hope for the best Tour de France in 20 years.
it is this collection of rights : rights to a presumption of innocence ; right to fair and free access to justice ; right to contradict the organs of state - these rights are being dismembered. By the press, the state, the ASO and UCI.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY - by the members of the public *especially in this forum* who think they have the moral qualifications to intuit truth, form judgments, castigate others, all without having enough knowledge to tie their own shoelaces.
This is turning into an event of mobocracy, with all kinds of actors of all spheres.
My opinion - the dopers (whoever they are) have done less damage to cycling that have all the above. Yeah - I suppose lots of you plan to burn the witches.
Where the investigation stands
Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetsky is sending the Spanish Civil Guard's report on its Operación Puerto investigation to the Spanish Cycling Federation and the UCI for action.
Because sports doping is not a crime in Spain, riders won't likely face charges, but there may be sanctions by national federations or the UCI. They may yet be called to testify against the doctors and lab employees under investigation:
"The sportsmen cannot be held criminally responsible," he said. "I do not know whether or not the judge will ask the cyclists that figure in the Civil Guard report to appear before him."
I've seen a couple people wondering why riders weren't caught by doping tests. There are a couple of possible reasons.
First, the most innocuous possible reason is that these riders might not have been using banned substances, but only banking their own blood for later re-injection. This is what was originally called “blood doping” or “blood boosting.” Until we can see what evidence is in the 500 pages, we don't know.
Even blood doping leaves some physical evidence, but it's only visible in multiple tests over time, as riders' hematocrit level fluctuates with reinjections and training. In Tyler Hamilton's case, for instance, at his Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory, his hematocrit was barely under the legal limit, at 49.7, and his “off score” was also pegged at 132.9, with a limit of 133. These numbers don't constitute evidence of doping where the UCI is concerned, but they can get a rider put on a watch list.
Second, riders have a pretty good idea when they'll be tested. There's not a lot of out-of-competition testing, and not that many riders will be tested randomly at any given race. And there are still substances for which there's no reliable test.
I have little doubt that there will still be plenty of dopers in the Tour this year. They were smart enough or lucky enough not to use the services of this particular lab in Madrid.
Who's out: Which riders won't start?
There are only 10 riders from the provisional Tour start list on the list of names under investigation in Spain, including 1 reserve. All will be withdrawn from the Tour.
- Isidro Nozal
- Jorg Jaksche
- Joseba Beloki
- Reserve: Aitor Osa
- Added Friday: Alberto Contador
- Added Friday: Allan Davis
Update: Astaná-Würth withdrew from the Tour on Friday afternoon. That adds Vinokourov, Kashechkin, Bazayev, and Sanchez as riders from the provisional start list not on the final start list.
- Ivan Basso
- Francisco Mancebo
- Jan Ullrich
- Oscar Sevilla
Some mainstream press reports have “dozens of others being excluded from the Tour, but that's not the case. There are almost 40 riders named in the 500-page report, but only these 10 were on their team's provisional Tour roster, so only they can be excluded from the Tour.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Andrey Kashechkin, Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Black Friday: Basso, Mancebo, Ullrich all withdraw from Tour
The 1998 Tour has nothing on this year's edition, as both favorites and at least one other team leader have been withdrawn from the Tour by their teams.
Teams are scrambling to reshuffle after all 21 teams agreed to ban all riders named in the Operación Puerto report, including Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Francisco Mancebo. The named riders won't be replaced on their team's Tour roster.
Organizers are considering whether to try again to suspend Astaná-Würth, since 9 of its riders are among the 37 riders on the list. Team leader Alexandre Vinokourov is not among them. Tour director Christian Prudhomme told AFP:
"Astaná-Würth is a bit more complicated because there are so many names from that team being linked to the doping probe," added the Frenchman. "Some of those implicated are on the Tour, and some are not. To us, it looks like they have been operating a team doping policy."
Oddsmakers are working out the results, and currently have Alejandro Valverde as the favorite, at 6.4-1.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack
June 29, 2006
Vinokourov, Astaná-Würth in, for now
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that the Amaury Sport Organisation can't keep Astaná-Würth from taking Saturday's start in Strasbourg.
Guido de Croock (and there's a Dickensian name for you) issued the ruling that press reports don't constitute sufficient evidence of damage to the sport to keep the team out.
Given the release today of 500 pages of Operación Puerto evidence in Spain, naming current Astaná-Würth rider Joseba Beloki and former rider Roberto Heras, among others, there could yet be more to the story.
Also, check out the new Astaná jerseys in the picture above the linked story -- they've switched to a cornflower blue, like the Kazakh national champion's jersey, that may be hard to distinguish from Team Milram.
Astaná-Würth in tonight's team presentation
They can come to the reception, but we don't want them at the wedding. That's the message from Tour organizers, who are (for now at least) going to allow Astaná-Würth to participate in tonight's team presentation.
Alexandre Vinokourov and his teammates were also the first team to undergo the regular medical examinations, but the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which owns the Tour, still doesn't want them in the race.
Vinokourov, who I'll guarantee will pass his dope tests, railed against the trial-by-press:
“There is not a single proof against our team," Vinokourov said on Wednesday. "The press suspects people, but the press could also decide the general classification if it wanted!”
“Getting ready in these conditions is not very good. But the important thing is that we are here and if we are accepted at the start line, our morale will improve from day-to-day.”
Basso, Ullrich, Mancebo among riders in Puerto report
Spanish radio network Cadena Ser reports that both Tour de France favorites are named in the Operación Puerto evidence files, unsealed by a Spanish judge today.
Phonak riders José Enrique Gutierrez and Santiago Botero, withheld by the team from competition until the case was cleared up, and former Phonak rider Tyler Hamilton are also listed.
Roberto Heras, suspended from Liberty Seguros (now Astaná-Würth), and AG2R's Francisco Mancebo, have also been named, with about 50 other athletes (not all cyclists) likely to follow as the press gets the evidence files.
Tour organizers had pressed for the names of implicated riders to be released. Now they may be wishing they hadn't.
The story at El Pais (in Spanish) doesn't mention Basso, but adds T-Mobile's Oscar Sevilla, suspended Phonak rider Santago Perez, Astaná-Würth's Joseba Beloki, Angel Edo and Quiquie Gutierrez (?).
De Telegraaf claims that Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha and Denis Menchov (in Dutch) are also named in the 500 page report.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2006 in Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
June 28, 2006
Azevedo is Numero Uno
This just in: Discovery Channel has chosen José Azevedo to wear the coveted race number “1” in the Tour.
The number usually goes to the returning race champion, but with Lance Armstrong out of the picture, the team chose to assign it to Azevedo. Yaroslav Popovych was the most highly placed Discovery Channel rider other than Armstrong last year, in 12th. Azevedo finished 5th in the 2004 Tour.
In case another rider complains, they can fall back on the kindergarten defense: Azevedo is the first Discovery Channel rider alphabetically.
Basso the oddsmakers' pick
European oddsmakers have Ivan Basso a big favorite in the 2006 Tour, sitting at 5-to-4 odds right now.
T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich, the 1997 winner, is a 5-to-2 pick, followed by Alejandro Valverde at 10.9-to-1, Floyd Landis at 16-1, and Alexandre Vinokourov at 20-1 (and shortening: maybe somebody knows a guy who knows a guy at the CAS?).
For the mountains jersey, it's Michael Rasmussen 2-to-1 ahead of Christophe Moreau (8-1), and Oscar Pereiro (11-1).
For the green jersey, Tom Boonen is a major favorite at 6-5, followed by Robbie McEwen at 9-4 and Thor Hushovd a polite 5-1.
Proving that people will bet on anything, oddsmakers put T-Mobile and CSC even to win the team competition, each at 15-8, while Discovery Channel sits at 11-4.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rasmussen, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)
UCI: Self-incriminate, or risk expulsion
UCI president Pat McQuaid wants teams to provide written statments from each of their riders certifying that the rider is not involved in Operación Puerto.
That should go over well.
McQuaid says that, if a rider lied, “they would immediately leave the team and pay a large fine and those riders who refuse to give a statement would be replaced.” Take a breath, Pat.
This is not, on the face of it, a bad idea, and might have worked if the request had been made 3 weeks ago. Now, with almost all the Tour rosters announced, I can't see a team saying, “Oh, gosh, 5 of our guys have knockwurst poisoning, so here are 5 completely clean replacements.”
On the other hand, every team is also taking a chance that, should the case move out of the press and into the courts between now and the end of the Tour, they could lose any involved riders.
TdFblog GC preview
It's going to be an amazing Tour.
I am obligated, as a writer for a Tour-centric web site, to make some predictions. This year, it is incredibly hard. A lot of riders either have badly screwed up their preparation or haven't shown us what they can do this season (and another, Alexandre Vinokourov, hasn't and may not get the chance to), and we won't find out which it is for a week or 10 days.
Sitting here, three days from Strasbourg, I believe in the two favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. I believe in Francisco Mancebo. Alejandro Valverde may be the future of the sport (depending on what's in those damn bags), and he's at the point in his career to break out some surprises. These guys have all shown they're ready to rock and roll.
For some reason, I don't really believe in Levi Leipheimer. Gorgeous wife, great results, but I have to agree with his DS: Top 10 probably, Top 5 maybe. Floyd Landis and Alexandre Vinokourov both flummoxed me with sub-par Dauphiné results, but I want to believe.
Total wildcards: Denis Menchov, Iban Mayo, Cadel Evans. I think Evans will finish higest of these three, but Mayo could take a spotlight stage, like l'Alpe d'Huez.
I can't read Johan Bruyneel's mind any better than anyone else, but I suspect Popovych and Azevedo will be the two most highly-placed Discovery Channel riders. Savoldelli and Hincapie will be well-placed up to the mountains, then lose time to the better climbers.
Enough procrastination; here's my Top 5:
1) Ivan Basso, CSC
2) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak
4) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel
5) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne
I don't see Ullrich gaining 4 minutes on Basso in the TTs, and here's why: The Stage 7 TT profile. It's long enough, at 52 kilometers, but it's a fairly technical course. Even if it's dry, I could easily see Ullrich overcooking a couple of corners, getting out of his rhythm, and not going as fast as he's capable. If it rains, even worse.
I could also see Basso gaining some time on stages with downhill finishes, like Stage 17, where Basso could go over the top of the Col de Joux-Plane with time in hand and conserve all or most of that lead for the 12 kilometers into Morzine. Ullrich's bike-handling has always scared me.
I'm also discounting the Floyd Landis nay-sayers, who say he's got no team. I think with a race as open as this year's, the team strength matters less. Landis needs to identify the real team leaders fast, then cover moves only by the real GC threats. Remember Armstrong watching Vinokourov go up the road, and waiting for Ullrich and Klöden (T-Mobile's “official” GC threats) to bring him back? Same idea. There are plenty of other strong riders who will be chasing down the pretenders.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1)
Commesso confirmed for Tour
There had been some doubt that Salvatore Commesso could take the start Saturday, after a collar-bone fracture and dislocated shoulder in training. Team doctors say he's all right, so the team is as originally announced on the Tour's provisional start list.
- Lampre-Fondital 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Alessandro Ballan
- Daniele Bennati
- Marzio Bruseghin
- Damiano Cunego
- Daniele Righi
- Paolo Tiralongo
- Tadej Valjavec
- Patxi Vila Errandonea
Dave Zabriskie has a plan
It's ingenious and maybe a little evil, but Dave Zabriskie has a plan for controlling the peloton's Russian contingent.
His regular weblog has gone a little stale, but there's a promise of more at MissingSaddle.com.
June 27, 2006
Hamilton's Athens gold upheld
Tyler Hamilton can keep his 2004 Olympic gold medal, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled today that the Russian Olympic Committee and Viatcheslav Ekimov have “no standing to file an appeal with CAS” because Ekimov is not “the athlete who is the subject of the decision being appeled from” or the IOC, the UCI, or WADA.
Ekimov was 2nd in the Athens Olympic time trial.
CAS will rule on Astaná-Wurth by Friday
The general secretary of the Court of Arbitration for Sport will take up Astaná-Würth's case, deciding by Friday whether the team can start the Tour de France on Saturday, and whether Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov will spice up this year's Tour.
Tour organizers apparently are basing the “disinvitation” on a UCI rule allowing a team or rider “may be excluded from a race if he/it seriously blemishes the image of cycling or of the race.”
As for the UCI itself, spokesman Enrico Carpani expressed his frustration with the way that Operación Puerto is playing out in the Spanish press:
“We cannot start any disciplinary procedure against riders or teams on the basis of a newspaper report,” Carpani said. “If the secret of the investigation is lifted, we will be able to intervene, but not with the situation as it is now. We need concrete proof, and names, by the Spanish judicial authorities to have the legal basis for further action, including possible sanctions.”
L.A. Times profiles Floyd Landis
There's not a more likable guy in the Tour than Floyd. Landis has put in the domestique time, works as hard as anyone, and has a tremendous backstory. He's smart and talented, and has three stage-race victories to his credit this year.
I try not to go all raving fan-boy here, but I would love to see Landis on the top step in Paris. I've publicly said I would never doubt him again.
That said, there's a lot that Landis will have to overcome this year. The team's exclusion of José Enrique Gutierrez and Santiago Botero leaves Phonak weaker than expected, and Landis has never hit the podium in a grand tour.
Despite the wins in California and Georgia, and at Paris-Nice, I don't think we've seen Landis really pushed to the edge this season. If, as some have said, Landis has only showed 85 percent, and he can recover in the mountains, he'll have a shot.
June 26, 2006
ASO withdraws invitation to Astaná-Wurth
Two Spanish newspapers report that Tour de France organizers faxed Astaná-Würth co-manager Pablo Antón and the UCI that the team is not welcome at Saturday's start in Strasbourg.
Antón said he would appeal immediately to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. His team is participating in the Tour under the auspices of the UCI ProTour, and as recently as Thursday, the UCI maintained it doesn't have sufficient evidence to exclude the squad.
Apparently, Tour organizers decided to withdraw the invitation late Monday, after the story in El Pais that claimed 15 members of the team were involved in the blood doping operation of Eufemiano Fuentes in Madrid.
I can understand the Tour's reluctance to have a team under a cloud in the race, but I don't think it's right to exclude a team on the basis of a newspaper story, even a well-sourced and believable one. When this story first hit, there were reportedly 200 riders involved — that's already been whittled down to 58.
Spanish newspapers speculate Ullrich linked to doping scandal
El Pais claims Spanish officials seized records that refer to a client called “Jan” who may also be referred to as hijo Rudicio, or Rudy's son. Ullrich kept T-Mobile's director, Rudy Pevenage, as a private coach even when the team hired Mario Kummer as director. Pevenage has returned to the team this year as the Tour de France sporting director.
A log of the contents of a laboratory refrigerator notes three units of blood labeled “JAN” as of June 26,2004. When Jose Luis Merino Batres was arrested, he had what appeared to be a customer key in his possession, noting:
1 - Hijo Rudicio. 2 - Birillo. 4 - Nicolas. 5 - Sevillano. 6 - Sancti Petri. 12 - Guti. 13 - Serrano (alcalde). 14 - RH. 16 - Vicioso. 17 - Porras. 19 - Oso. 20 - Bella (Jörg). 24 - Clasicómano (Luigi). 25 - Amigo de Birillo. 26-Huerta. 32 - Zapatero. 33 - Clasicómano.
The story claimed a survey from last month, May 2006, showed 6 total bags labeled “1,” with one dated May 2005, two dated September 2005, one dated December 2005, and one dated February 2006. El Pais further claims the office desk planner has patient 1 receiving 3 units of blood and half a unit of red blood cells on May 1, 5 days before the start of the Giro. Patient 1 was scheduled for another transfusion last week, on June 20, 10 days before the Tour.
However Ullrich said in a team statement: "That has nothing to do with me," and his T-Mobile sporting director and mentor Rudy Pevenage added: "We have done nothing wrong."
Saluting Jeannie Longo
France's Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, the winningest female bicycle racer of all time, extended her legend over the weekend, taking both the French elite women's road championship and women's time trial championship, at 47!
They're her 50th and 51st national titles. Can't find any stories about it in English, but the French blogosphere took notice: La Flamme Rouge: Absolument incroyable. Le Blog de Sohra: ...au fait, bravo à Jeannie Longo qui a 47 ans a signé le doublé (course - contre la montre) au championnat de France de Cyclisme. Belle preuve de longévité!
Above is Longo taking time trial gold at the Atlanta Olympics, where she also took silver in the women's road race.
Hamilton among Operación Puerto names?
Velochimp translates and amplifies an article from Tuttobiciweb.com (in Italian), itself a translation of a story from El Pais (in Spanish), that claims to document Tyler Hamilton's 2003 doping schedule, with a bill for products and services (43,500 euros in all).
According to the El Pais article, Hamilton used EPO daily for a few days in late 2002, then every other day until January 9th. On the 14th, time for a blood donation, saved for later use, then anabolic steroids starting January 24th. In March, Tyler was to ramp up HMG use as he tapered the anabolic steroids.
Hamilton then went back on EPO and steroids for May, in preparation for his 2003 Tour de France, when he broke his collarbone and took an epic, if tarnished, Stage 16 victory.
National championships roundup
Riders in bold are provisional 2006 Tour de France starters.
ITT: Peter Luttenberger, CSC; Road: Bernhard Kohl, T-Mobile
Road: Niko Eeckhout
ITT: Brian Vandborg, CSC; Road: Allan Johansen, CSC
ITT: Jaan Kirsipuu, Credit Agricole; Road: Erki Pütsep, AG2R
ITT: Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis; Road: Florent Brard, Caisse d'Epargne
ITT: Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner; Road: Dirk Muller
Road: Hamish Haynes
ITT: Marzio Brusheghin, Lampre; Road: Paolo Bettini, QuickStep
ITT: Maxim Iglinskiy, Milram; Road: Andrey Kasechkin, Astaná-Würth
ITT: Benoit Joachim, Discovery Channel; Road: Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile
ITT: Stef Clement, Bouyges Telecom; Road: Michael Boogerd, Rabobank
ITT: Kurt Asle Arvesen, CSC; Road: Lars Petter Nordhaug, T-Mobile
ITT: Peter Mazur, Saunier Duval (at right); Road: Mariusz Witecki
ITT: Gustav Larsson; Road, Thomas Lövkvist, Française des Jeux
ITT: Fabian Cancellara, CSC; Road, Gregory Rast, Phonak
ITT: Andrey Grivko, Milram
Thomas Dekker out of Tour
Rising Dutch star Thomas Dekker will once again be held out of the Tour de France. Rabobank veteran Bram de Groot, a 5-time Tour rider, will take the place of the 21-year-old Dekker.
Boonen beaten in Belgium
Niko Eeckhout of Chocolade Jacques is the new Belgian national champion, after a last-kilometer attack that brought him home ahead of Française des Jeux's Philippe Gilbert and world champion Tom Boonen, the race favorite.
Discovery Channel's Leif Hoste, already signed to Davitamon-Lotto for next year, was 4th on the day.
The Belgian TT championship is in August.
June 25, 2006
Spanish riders nix national championship after doping story
Juan Manuel Garate will wear the Spanish national champion's jersey for another year, but he barely had to turn a pedal in anger.
The riders banded together and decided not to race, in reaction to the ongoing furor over Operación Puerto. Today, El Pais published a story (en Español) saying 58 riders are implicated in the investigation.
The new story provides more detail on the investigation, but still doesn't name any riders. It does claim that 15 of the riders were part of Liberty Seguros (now Astaná-Würth), and that others rode in last month's Giro d'Italia. El Pais quotes unreleased court documents that riders paid up to 40,000 euros a year for treatment.
Because doping in sport isn't a crime in Spain, prosecutors are apparently working toward charging those involved with “crimes against public health,” which might depend on how the doctors conserved the blood. Riders involved could, of course, also face sanctions from the Spanish cycling federation or the UCI.
The story also clarifies that Manolo Saiz was not carrying blood when he was arrested, but Synacthen.
The Spanish pros decided unanimously to skip the race, coming to a halt after less than 1 kilometer. CyclingNews quotes an unidentified cyclist that “we are not prepared to undergo this orchestrated harassment.”
Bettini adds Italian jersey to golden helmet
On a sweltering day in northeastern Italy, Paolo Bettini took the Italian road-racing championship, and will wear the Italian champion's jersey for the next year, along with his Olympic champion golden helmet.
Bettini won in typical fashion, launching a strong attack with 10 kilometers to ride. Ten other riders bridged, including Danilo Di Luca and Stefano Garzelli of Liquigas, Pietro Caucchioli of Credit Agricole, Mirko Celestino of Milram, and Luca Mazzanti of Ceramica Panaria.
The group of 11 stayed together to the line, and Bettini was the fastest, with Celestino barely behind, and Di Luca third.
Joining Bettini will be Marzio Bruseghin, who won Wednesday's Italian TT championship. It was the first win of Bruseghin's career, and he'll be flaunting the maglia tricolore at the Tour prologue.
June 23, 2006
That little blue performance enhancer
A current study suggests cyclists on Viagra could see their performance boosted by as much as 45 percent.
The study claims rider performance could improve on one section of road from a 1 hour ride to just 39 minutes.
Viagra, marketed as an erectile-dysfunction drug, was originally developed to treat pulmonary hypertension, and dilates the user's blood vessels, increasing blood flow.
The study was focused on the sapping effect of altitude on athletic performance on some riders. It found that Viagra enabled those most affected by altitude to perform more in line with those not affected. Riders who were more comfortable at altitude saw little or no improvement.
Viagra is not currently a banned substance, but could be added if evidence accumulates that it improves athletic performance.
Your money quote:
“The participants told us that while they were riding the bike they didn't know whether they were on the drug or not,” Dr Friedlander said.
“However, what they did say was that in the showers afterwards they pretty much knew which pill they had been given.”
Ullrich announces engagement to Steinhauser
T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich has announced his plans to marry Sara Steinhauser, his girlfriend since he split with Gaby Weiss, the mother of his daughter.
Steinhauser's brother, Tobias, rode for T-Mobile through 2005, and is still with the team, doing hospitality and occasional sports director work. He's also a partner in Ullrich's new line of bikes.
June 22, 2006
Astaná-Würth cleared for Tour start
Alexandre Vinokourov's Astaná-Würth team was officially cleared by the UCI to participate in the 2006 Tour de France, starting a week from Saturday in Strasbourg. The team is partially owned by Manolo Saiz, who was arrested for being a possible customer of a doping ring under investigation in Spain. Saiz turned over day-to-day management of the squad to 3 men (Neil Stephens, Marino Lejarreta, Herminio Diaz Zabala). The Tour organization has expressed some displeasure about the team's involvement, but can't exclude them because they're riding based on their ProTour license. The Tour would have to break its agreement with the ProTour, or the UCI would have to break its agreement with the team, to keep it from starting. Alexandre Vinokourov, who has played the crazy Kazakh in the last few Tours for T-Mobile, finally will get a chance to see what he can do riding for himself.
- Alexandre Vinokourov
- Andrey Kashechkin
- Luis Sanchez
- Jorg Jaksche
- Joseba Beloki
- Allan Davis
- Alberto Contador
- Assan Bazayev
- Isidro Nozal
Astaná-Würth 2006 Tour de France roster:
- Aitor Osa
- Carlos Barredo
- Dariusz Baranowski
Posted by Frank Steele on June 22, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Luis Sanchez, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
June 21, 2006
LeTour Goatse?Tour de France webpage, you're taken to a landing page where you can choose your language.
This year's edition bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the most famous Internet gross-out images of all time, Goatse.cx (Wikipedia link).
Tour starters: English-speaking countries roundup
Since most of my readership comes from English speaking countries, I thought I would post a quick roundup of which (and how many) citizens of the former colonies are scheduled to ride in this year's Tour.
- George Hincapie, Discovery
- Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto
- Bobby Julich, CSC
- Floyd Landis, Phonak
- Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner
- Fred Rodriguez, Davitamon-Lotto
- Christian Vande Velde, CSC
- Dave Zabriskie, CSC
- Reserve: AmerItalian Guido Trenti
United States (8 riders, 1 reserve)
Last year, all of these plus Lance Armstrong and Trenti, but minus Vande Velde.
- Allan Davis, Astaná-Würth
- Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto
- Simon Gerrans, AG2R
- Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto
- Stuart O'Grady, CSC
- Michael Rogers, T-Mobile
Australia (6 riders):
Last year, Australia had all these, plus Baden Cooke, Brad McGee, Luke Roberts, and Matthew White.
- David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir
- Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis
Great Britain (2 riders):
Great Britain was shut out last year.
- Robbie Hunter, Phonak
South Africa (1 rider):
As last year.
- Julian Dean, Credit Agricole
New Zealand (1 rider):
None last year, although Dean rode in 2004.
- Michael Barry, Discovery Channel
Canada (1 alternate):
Plus permission to root for David Canada. The last Canadian in the Tour was Gord Fraser in 1997, but Ryder Hesjedal or Barry should break that streak soon.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2006 in Baden Cooke, Bradley McGee, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Floyd Landis, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack
T-Mobile announce Tour squad
T-Mobile has officially announced their team, identical to that previously listed on the Tour's provisional start list.
It's a talented and experienced squad, and looks to have the horses to bring Jan Ullrich a 2nd Tour victory. Whether they do or not will be up to der Kaiser himself.
Where Phonak left Gutierrez and Botero off their squad after the Spanish press named them as part of the Operación Puerto investigation, T-Mobile will start Oscar Sevilla, also mentioned as a visitor to Dr. Fuentes' lab.
- T-Mobile 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Jan Ullrich
- Andreas Klöden
- Patrik Sinkewitz
- Serhiy Honchar
- Giuseppe Guerini
- Michael Rogers
- Eddy Mazzoleni
- Matthias Kessler
- Oscar Sevilla
T-Mobile also named Lorenzo Bernucci their first alternate.
18-year Tour director looking forward to being ordinary spectator
One veteran approaching his last Tour is Jean-Marie Leblanc, the Tour's director emeritus. Christian Prudhomme has taken over the primary duties of director, but Leblanc will assist this year with carrying special guests of the Tour in the 2nd official's car.
Samuel Abt talked to Leblanc about the high and low points of his 18 years as director and his advice for the riders and spectators. Leblanc is looking forward to one stage in particular next year:
“I don't know where exactly, perhaps in the mountains - I'll be with the race as a tourist, an ordinary spectator.
“I'll be at the side of the road with a picnic, a cooler, a hat, my grandchildren and dark glasses so nobody will recognize me. And I'll see the whole Tour - because I don't know it. The publicity caravan, the press cars, everything.
“For 18 years I've been at the front of the pack and I've never had a total vision of the race. That's what I want: to explain to my grandchildren, 'That's the publicity caravan, those are the journalists.'
“And those are, of course, the riders,” he can say. “I was one of them myself," he can explain. “In 1968, I finished 58th in the Tour de France and in 1970 I was 83rd. Then my life changed.”
June 20, 2006
Armstrong: "I'll watch it on TV"
Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong says he'll almost certainly miss the 2006 Tour because of a busy schedule in the U.S.
Armstrong says there's a “remote chance” he might be there for the final weekend (presumably if one of his Discovery Channel riders is in yellow), but that his preparations for the ESPN “Espy” broadcast airing July 16 will fill the Tour's middle week.
Roux: "I took all the basic things that were being used at that time"
Laurent Roux, a 10-year pro on 4 French and Belgian teams, is in court this week facing charges of drug trafficking for his part in a ring that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs.
Roux, his brother Fabien, former soigneur Freddy Sergeant, and 20 others are on trial in Bordeaux.
Roux's biggest bombshell was his claim that he first used 'pot belge', a mix of doping products including amphetamines, at “an event organised to honour French racing legend Laurent Jalabert.”
Roux also said he began dealing after a 2002 doping ban, and that illegal drug use was “generalised” in the peloton when he rode (1994-2003).
“Erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone, cortisone ... I took all the basic things that were being used at that time,” Roux, 33, testified. “Everyone took that at least.”
Cancellara disappointed to miss Tour
CSC's Paris-Roubaix winner, Fabian Cancellara, was a surprise omission from Bjarne Riis's Tour squad.
Cancellara says he had structured his season around a possible repeat of his 2004 prologue victory, and is dejected that he won't be among the team's riders looking to give Ivan Basso his first Tour de France title.
“Bjarne has made his decision, which I know was difficult for him. He selected riders who are stronger than me in the mountains. It's a tactical decision, and I have to respect it. What does that change? I can't say right now. It's going to take me a few days to recover from the disappointment.”
Andrew Hood at VeloNews talked to Bjarne Riis about the decision, and Riis said he decided at the last minute to take Tour of Luxembourg winner Christian Vande Velde in place of Cancellara. Riis also cited the lack of a team time trial in this year's Tour in his decision.
June 19, 2006
QuickStep welcomes Rujano, rests Bettini
QuickStep is looking to put reigning world champion Tom Boonen in green at Tour's end.
They've got 2006 Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato, 2006 Giro Stage 19 winner Juan Mañuel Garate, and QuickStep's latest addition, José Rujano.
Venezuela's Rujano owned the mountains at last year's Giro, but dropped out of this year's Giro early, just before his bizarre contract expired with Selle Italia, and his contract with QuickStep started. Rujano has since apologized for his season thus far, and for withdrawing from the Giro when he did (see Rujano says thanks and goodbye to Selle Italia, from CyclingNews.com).
Paolo Bettini will not race the Tour, likely looking toward September's World Championship in Salzburg.
- QuickStep-Innergetic 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Tom Boonen
- José Rujano
- Cedric Vasseur
- Wilfried Cretskens
- Steven De Jongh
- Juan Manuel Garate
- Filippo Pozzato
- Bram Tankink
- Mateo Tosatto
Full provisional rider list posted
Tour organizers have posted the provisional start list for all teams now. The only incomplete squad I see is the CSC squad, released yesterday (the Tour site doesn't note the alternates), and the Française des Jeux squad, which still lists Bradley McGee as riding.
Euskaltel-Euskadi announce Tour riders
Euskaltel-Euskadi named their final team for the 2006 Tour. They'll be looking for stage wins, especially sweet if they could take Stage 10 or 11 in the Pyrenees, which are likely to be bathed in the orange of their fans.
Iban Mayo won the 2003 Tour's climb to Alpe d'Huez, and Inigo Landaluze won the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré.
- Euskaltel-Euskadi 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Iban Mayo
- Haimar Zubeldia
- Inigo Landaluze
- Unai Etxebarria
- Iker Camano
- Aitor Hernandez
- Inaki Isasi
- David Lopez
- Gorka Verdugo
CSC names Tour nine; Cancellara left off
CSC named the nine men it hopes can lead Ivan Basso to his first Tour de France victory in July.
It's a deep squad, featuring both guys not named “Armstrong” to wear the yellow jersey last year (Zabriskie and Voigt), 1998 Tour podium finisher Bobby Julich, and lots of love from Luxembourg: National champion (for at least another week) and 2006 Amstel Gold winner Frank Schleck, and 2006 Tour of Luxembourg winner Christian Vande Velde.
Biggest surprise is probably the exclusion of Fabian Cancellara; he's probably a victim of the missing team time trial.
Team director Bjarne Riis:
“We are bringing a fantastic team to Tour de France this year. When you look at the names, you cannot help but notice, that this is a team to be reckoned with – a team which has the foundation to be one of the dominating ones in the 2006 edition of the Tour. We go to France this year with one ambition: To win with Ivan Basso. After his victory in the Giro, and with the training he has done in the period since then, I have no doubt he is ready for this next big challenge. He has the class, the willpower and also the team behind him to be one of the favorites,” adds Bjarne Riis.
- CSC 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Ivan Basso
- Carlos Sastre
- Fränk Schleck
- Jens Voigt
- Giovanni Lombardi
- Stuart O'Grady
- Bobby Julich
- David Zabriskie
- Christian Vande Velde
Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)
Ullrich takes Tour de Suisse with time trial win
Ullrich mastered the stage despite a heavy rain that started shortly before der Kaiser took to the streets. Nevertheless, Ullrich was 12 seconds up on race leader Koldo Gil at the first time check, and only got faster from there.
Ullrich's victory in his preferred Tour de France warmup showed he could stay close to the climbers on the climbing stages, and that he's still the man to beat in a time trial. On a Tour route widely considered to favor time trial specialists, he looks well-positioned to take a second career Tour win.
Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, active in the final stages of Saturday's Stage 8, was 2nd on the day, 22 seconds behind Ullrich. He was followed by Angel Vicioso of Astaná-Würth at 31 seconds, and Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic at 46 seconds and Ullrich's T-Mobile teammate Linus Gerdemann at 51 seconds. The best placed American was next: CSC's Christian Vande Velde, 6th at 52 seconds.
Koldo Gil, who came into the day leading the race, with a 50 second gap to Ullrich, was a respectable 9th on the day, at 1:14, to save 2nd overall. Jorg Jaksche likewise slipped one place with a 10th place finish on the day.
Brajkovic was able to move into the overall Top 5 with his excellent ride.
- Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, in 38:21:36
- Koldo Gil, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :24
- Jorg Jaksche, Astaná-Würth, at 1:03
- Angel Vicioso, Astaná-Würth, at 1:44
- Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, at 2:33
- Frank Schleck, CSC, at 2:56
- Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile Team, at 3:31
- Giampaolo Caruso, Astaná-Würth, at 4:20
- Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at 4:27
- Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 5:01
2006 Tour of Switzerland
Overall Top 10:
VeloNews quotes Ullrich:
“It's so close before the Tour de France, and it proves to me that I have the performance and I'm ready for the Tour,” he said. “It's the last little bit. It's really the last polishing...Now I already feel that I'm at 90 percent and I can work on the last 10 before the Tour de France.”
Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Linus Gerdemann, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
McGee definitely out of Tour
Française des Jeux's presumptive Tour de France leader, Australia's Bradley McGee, is definitely out of the 2006 Tour.
McGee, who finished last year's Tour, dropped out of the 2004 Tour with back and hip problems similar to those that forced him out of this week's Tour of Switzerland and the Giro d'Italia.
A herniated disc has left McGee unable to ride hard:
"Specialists in Paris confirmed Friday the cause of my sciatica is coming from a small hernia that, under the force of riding, is forcing itself on to the nerve and explaining the grief I have been dealing with these past months," McGee said.
"It seems likely I will undergo surgery in the near future with the hope to be able to return to racing before season's end.
"I feel relieved to have finally located and explained the cause of my difficulties."
June 18, 2006
Rabobank finalizes Tour team
It will be a double-Dekker squad at the Tour for Rabobank, which will introduce budding superstar Thomas Dekker to the Tour, riding alongside 12-time Tour rider Erik Dekker.
Denis Menchov is showing excellent form, taking the stage to the top of Mont Ventoux during this month's Dauphiné Libéré. He'll have help in the mountains from last year's King of the Mountains, Michael Rasmussen.
There are stage wins all over this team: Erik Dekker has 4, Freire, Boogerd, Rasmussen, Juan Antonio Flecha, Pieter Weening (nipped Klöden on Stage 8 last year); and that doesn't even mention Menchov's Vuelta championship (when Roberto Heras was DQ'ed) or his white jersey at the 2003 Tour.
- Rabobank 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Denis Menchov
- Michael Boogerd
- Erik Dekker
- Michael Rasmussen
- Thomas Dekker
- Oscar Freire
- Juan Antonio Flecha
- Pieter Weening
- Joost Posthuma
- Bram de Groot
- Pedro Horrillo
Phonak names final Tour squad
Phonak finalized its Tour squad Sunday, making good on the team's promise to exclude Santiago Botero and Juan Enrique Gutierrez until the Operación Puerto investigation shakes out.
Without Botero and Gutierrez, two riders who have gone Top 5 in a grand tour, Phonak has riders from 9 different countries focused on placing Floyd Landis of the United States as high as he can climb.
South Africa's Robbie Hunter is already back from a shoulder and hand injury suffered a month ago at the Volta a Catalunya, and reports that he's free of pain. Axel Merckx of Belgium is riding his 7th Tour in what may be his final season, and Nicolas Jalabert of France starts his 8th Tour.
- Phonak 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Floyd Landis
- Axel Merckx
- Nicolas Jalabert
- Robert Hunter
- Miguel Angel Perdiguero (Spain)
- Bert Grabsch (Germany)
- Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands)
- Alexandre Moos (Switzerland)
- Victor Hugo Peña (Colombia)