August 26, 2006
Sastre Vuelta's first leader
CSC showed it's still the fastest time-trialing team in the business, as they won the unusual team time trial kickoff at the 2006 Vuelta a España. The 7.3-kilometer effort kicked off from inside the stadium in Málaga, and Magnus Backstedt told VeloNews, "It was almost like riding a team pursuit on the track. I loved it.”
The TTT added another dimension to the race, as teams had to rotate their leader to the head of their paceline for the finish line to set placings. Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi must loom large in the mirrors for Sastre, as Milram turned in an impressive 3rd, 8 seconds back, and either or both could spend time in the Maillot Oro this week.
1) CSC, in 7:36
2) Caisse d'Epargne, at :07
3) Team Milram, at :08
4) Discovery Channel, at :09
5) T-Mobile, at :11
6) Astana, at :12
7) Saunier Duval-Proder, at :13
8) Credit Agricole, same time
9) Liquigas, s.t.
10) QuickStep, at :15
11) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at :18
12) Rabobank, same time
13) Gerolsteiner, at :19
14) Lampre-Fondital, at :21
15) Bouyges Telecom, at :24
16) Davitamon-Lotto, at :25
17) Phonak, at :27
18) AG2R Prevoyance, same time
19) Française des Jeux, at :28
20) Cofidis, at :30
21) Relax, at :37
CSC's 9 riders have the top 9 spots in the overall, with José Garcia Acosta of Caisse d'Epargne 10th at 7 seconds.
Klöden signs with Astana
T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden has signed with Astana, where he'll rejoin former teammate Alexandre Vinokourov and former director Walter Godefroot. Astana has also signed T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler, who animated the Tour's first week with a swashbuckling but ultimately doomed late break on Stage 2, then followed it up immediately with a savage and successful attack over the Cauberg to take Stage 3.
Klöden, of course, was 2nd in the 2004 Tour and 3rd this year (with a chance to move up if Floyd Landis is stripped of his win).
Other additions for Astana are Gerolsteiner's Rene Haselbacher and Phonak's Gregory Rast.
“At Astana, Klöden will have no chance of being the team leader while Alexandre Vinokourov is there. He is the team leader.”
Klöden had named the 2007 Tour as a season goal for next year (hence Godefroot's surprise), but Vinokourov has also said that, at almost 33, he thinks 2006 was his last chance at a Tour victory.
It's Vuelta time
It's time to kick off the year's 3rd grand tour, and it feels more like the 15th round of a prizefight.
Even though all riders passed their pre-Vuelta blood screens, one rider will miss the start over doping concerns. Saunier Duval-Prodir has dropped their Vuelta leader Koldo Gil on a belief that he's implicated in Operación Puerto. It apparently results from his days with Manolo Saiz and Liberty Seguros, but Saunier Duval's Joxean Fernandez told AS (in Spanish) “we don't want to take any risks over a potential problem that has nothing to do with us.” Gil rode strongly at the Tour of Switzerland, coming second to Jan Ullrich.
Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, back from a broken collarbone at the Tour de France, is the race favorite, with Tour winner-in-waiting Oscar Pereiro as his superdomestique.
CSC's Carlos Sastre has never met a grand tour he didn't like, as he takes the start of his 5th consecutive GT, last missing the 2005 Giro.
Conversely, Alexandre Vinokourov wasn't allowed to start the Tour in July, but Astana (who has signed to use BMC's funky Swiss carbon-fiber frames now that Phonak is leaving the sport) will have a full squad backing Vinokourov in the Vuelta, while wrangling continues over the future of the team's ProTour license and management.
Best hope for the United States is Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, riding his first GT as the undisputed team leader. Danielson, 28, talked with Andrew Hood of VeloNews about his Vuelta hopes.
Milram's Alessandro Petacchi is back to racing, but poormouthing his Vuelta chances, tapping teammate Erik Zabel for the sprinter's jersey. Robbie McEwen looks to join Petacchi as the 4th rider to win multiple stages of all 3 GTs in a single year -- Petacchi in 2003 as well as Miguel Poblet in 1956 and Pierino Baffi in 1958 are the others.
Reigning Vuelta champ Denis Menchov, who won the race when Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO and was stripped of the title, says the Vuelta was his “secondary objective” behind the Tour, and he doesn't “feel as sharp and this affects you physically as well.” Menchov's Rabobank squad won't be distracted trying to set Oscar Freire up for wins, as Freire pulled out earlier this week, citing a neck injury.
The TV coverage is debuting a “seatpost camera,” that will mimic the rear-facing cameras used in NASCAR, and rotate among riders daily. Also new will be in-car cameras for interviews with team directors. On the other hand, the Vuelta will dispense with publishing heart rate monitor data, since most teams wouldn't allow their key riders' data to be published. In the US, to see the coverage, you'll have to subscribe to Cycling.TV's web streaming feed.
Posted by Frank Steele on August 26, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)
August 23, 2006
USPRO rider list appearing
George Hincapie, who looks likely to be coming off a win at the Tour of Benelux, depending on today's stage, is confirmed for Discovery Channel, and he'll be riding with Viatcheslav Ekimov as his sporting director. Also racing for the Discos will be Jason McCartney. Tom Danielson will be chasing a Vuelta title in Spain.
David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde will fly the flag for CSC, but Bobby Julich, who dropped out of the Tour of Benelux this week complaining of fatigue, will not race. Zabriskie has to be a favorite in the Friday time trial championship.
Levi Leipheimer will also race, as he winds down his tenure with Gerolsteiner before joining Discovery Channel next season.
Freddie Rodriguez and Chris Horner will both be in Europe. Other US pros to watch include defending road champion Chris Wherry of Toyota-United, and double TT champion Chris Baldwin (also of Toyota-United).
It's a home game for Hincapie and for TIAA-CREF's Craig Lewis, the reigning under-23 road race and criterium champion. Both live and train in Greenville.
I'll be there for one or both days, and hope to get lots of pictures.
August 22, 2006
Kopp takes Benelux Stage 6
Gerolsteiner's David Kopp took Stage 6 at the Eneco Tour of Benelux today. He got his first-ever ProTour win on a day when the pure sprinters couldn't hang, and beat Unibet's Marco Zanotti and FdJ's Phillippe Gilbert to the line.
With one stage to race, Discovery Channel's George Hincapie leads Kopp's Gerolsteiner teammate Stefan Schumacher by 3 seconds and Vincenzo Nibali by 11 seconds.
After the race, Hincapie said the team had protected him all day, riding strongly near the front. “It's a close race, it's probably going to be right down to the wire ... Tomorrow will be a little more difficult to ride near the front like today ... There's a lot of guys that are close, so you never know.”
Hincapie named his marked men: Schumacher, Quinziato, Gilbert, Flecha, “probably a couple of others.”
The final stage of the tour tomorrow shares much of its course with Liège-Bastogne-Liège -- it's hard.
Benelux Stage 6
1) David Kopp, Germany, Gerolsteiner
2) Marco Zanotti, Italy, Unibet.com
3) Phillippe Gilbert, Belgium, Française des Jeux
4) Wouter Weylandt, Belgium, QuickStep
5) Aart Vierhouten, Netherlands, Skil-Shimano
August 21, 2006
Boonen takes Benelux Stage 5 at home
Thunderstorms and greasy conditions played havoc with the Cycling.TV live coverage, but they were able to show the finish seconds after Boonen outkicked Credit Agricole's Julian Dean and Milram's Simone Cadamuro. It was Boonen's 3rd sprint win of the race, and 20th of the season. He's got to be looking forward to the upcoming world championships, where he'll be a strong favorite to repeat.
1) Tom Boonen, Belgium, QuickStep, in 3:52:20
2) Julian Dean, New Zealand, Credit Agricole, same time
3) Simone Cadamuro, Italy, Milram, s.t.
4) Alexei Markov, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
5) Alessandro Ballan, Italy, Lampre, s.t.
6) Yuriy Krivtsov, Ukraine, AG2R, s.t.
7) Enrico Gasparotto, Italy, Liquigas, s.t.
8) David Kopp, Germany, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
9) Olaf Pollack, Germany, T-Mobile, s.t.
10) Lloyd Mondory, France, AG2R, s.t.
The stage had minimal effect on the overall classification, where George Hincapie continues to lead Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher by 3 slim seconds.
1) George Hincapie, USA, Discovery Channel, 17:24:44
2) Stefan Schumacher, Germany, Gerolsteiner, at :03
3) Vincenzo Nibali, Italy, Liquigas, at :11
4) José Ivan Gutierrez, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne, at :15
5) Manuel Quinziato, Italy, Liquigas, at :31
6) Philippe Gilbert, Belgium, Française des Jeux, at :32
7) Joost Posthuma, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :34
8) Alexei Markov, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne, at :50
9) Juan Antonio Flecha, Spain, Rabobank, at :51
10) Alessandro Ballan, Italy, Lampre, at :52
Tour de Georgia seeking 2007 title sponsor
My local stage race, the Tour de Georgia, lost its title sponsor when the local Ford dealers' advertising cooperative backed out. They're pounding the pavement now, looking for a replacement.
Expected dates for the 2007 edition are April 17-22. In 2006, Discovery Channel, CSC, Phonak, QuickStep, Davitamon-Lotto, and Prodir-Saunier Duval (in Europe, vice versa) all fielded squads, with 2006 Tour de France stage winners Floyd Landis, Matteo Tosatto, and Yaroslav Popovych all in the field.
Tour 2006 mashup video on YouTube
YouTube user "monoloque" has posted a mashup video featuring OLN video from the Tour, historic Tour video, still images from the race and news coverage, and music by Kraftwerk into a 6.5-minute video about the 2006 Tour.
I think it's fair to say he's got an opinion on the Landis case. Whether you believe Landis or not, this is a nice collection.
Hincapie TTs to Benelux lead
Discovery Channel's George Hincapie broke his string of 2nd-place time trial finishes with a big win in Landgraaf.
Over a short but technical 16.1-kilometer course, Hincapie was .21 seconds faster than 21-year-old Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas, and almost 7 seconds faster than Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher.
Hincapie takes over the Tour of Benelux lead from world champion Tom Boonen, who won the Tour's 1st and 3rd stages but finished 63rd on Sunday, 1:27 behind Hincapie. Schumacher moves into 2nd, at :03, and Nibali sits 3rd at :11.
Fast Freddie Rodriguez didn't take the day's start, joining defending champion Bobby Julich, who dropped out before Saturday's start, because he's “completely worn out both physically and mentally.”
August 19, 2006
Hamilton wins Mount Washington Hillclimb
Tyler Hamilton again took the 7.6-mile race up New Hampshire's Mount Washington today, finishing in 52:21. Inaugural mountain bike world champion Ned Overend, now 51, was 2nd in 54:41. Hamilton repeats the victory that's the only entry on his website's palmares page for 2005.
The fastest woman was Michigan's Aimee Vasse, whose 1:08:31 placed her 22nd out of 600 competitors. She was trailed by only 6 seconds by Ottawa's Sue Schlatter.
Late Late Show host calls Landis "positive for chickensh*t"
I was just watching Craig Ferguson's opening monologue on the CBS Late Late Show.
Ferguson mentioned that Floyd Landis had been scheduled to appear, and gave a rudimentary overview of the current doping case against Landis. “Hmmm,” he continued, “looks like someone tested positive for chickensh*t,” which I asterisk-ize because it was bleeped by the network, so maybe he said chickenshot, who knows.
Ferguson pretended to be scooping something up with his fingertip, giving it a smell, holding it up to the light. “Yep, that's chickensh*t.”
The audience ate it up. If Landis had backed out at the last minute, solely because he doesn't want to face the press, I might have considered that a fair shot, but not under the circumstances.
The guy's father-in-law killed himself just Tuesday afternoon. There's probably a lot more important things he needs to take care of right now than the light-night talk shows.
Update: Okay, mea culpa. It was indeed a rerun; I was thrown because a) I hadn't seen it, and b) they led it off with a teaser about coming back after the golf highlights that I thought meant Ferguson was in the studio. Apparently, this was an episode from July 31, and Landis did indeed leave the show high and dry.
August 17, 2006
Boonen takes Benelux Stage 1
World Champion Tom Boonen took the 1st stage at the Eneco Tour of Benelux today, outkicking Milram's Simone Cadamuro and Enrico Gaspartotto of Luquigas at the finish in Hoogeveen in the Netherlands.
With a time bonus, Boonen takes over the red race leader's jersey from prologue winner Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner.
1) Tom Boonen, Belgium, QuickStep, in 4:12:52
2) Simone Cadamuro, Italy, Team Milram, same time
3) Enrico Gasparotto, Italy, Liquigas, s.t.
4) Julian Dean, New Zealand, Credit Agricole, s.t.
5) Marco Zanotti, Italy, Unibet.com
6) Alexei Markov, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
7) Fabio Sabatini, Italy, Team Milram, s.t.
8) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
9) Alessandro Ballan, Italy, Lampre, s.t.
10) Aurelien Clerc, Switzerland, Phonak
General Classification (corrected, sorry):
1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep
2) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, at :04
3) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :07
4) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, at :08
5) Alexei Markov, Russia, Caisse d'Epargner, at :11
August 16, 2006
Landis's father-in-law dead of apparent suicide
Tour de France winner Floyd Landis's father-in-law was found dead in his car Tuesday afternoon, an apparent suicide.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that medical examiners are still investigating the cause of death, but initial police reports called it a suicide.
David Witt, 57, who owned a restaurant in San Diego with his wife, was Landis's roommate soon after Landis moved to San Diego. Witt, who shared a coach with Landis, was dating his wife Rose at the time, and introduced Landis to her daughter from a previous marriage, Amber Basile.
Witt and Landis served as best men at each other's weddings.
Update: Coroner's office officials have reported Witt died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Witt's suicide was probably not a direct result of the doping case against Landis, according to family friend Dwight Van Slyke:
“It could have been a few percentages of the whole maybe, or just another negative thing that he was depressed over,” said van Slyke, adding Witt had also been struggling under the strain of opening a new restaurant earlier this year.
Teams ask UCI to dump Phonak, Astana immediately
Phonak and Astana continue to compete, although Phonak's owner announced yesterday that he'll shutter the team at the end of the year. Astana is being managed by 3 men appointed by Manolo Saiz, whose Active Bay Cycling still owns the team's license, despite efforts by Alexandre Vinokourov and the team's new Kazakh sponsors to buy Saiz out.
With Phonak's Floyd Landis returning a too-high T/E ratio at the Tour, and facing possible revocation of his Tour title, team managers met in Brussels on Wednesday and asked the UCI's License committee to suspend both Phonak and Astana immmediately, with a ruling by Monday.
Of the ProTour's 20 teams, 17 had representatives at the meeting -- all but Phonak, Astana, and AG2R, whose Francisco Mancebo was among the riders held out of this year's Tour.
VeloNews reports that the AIGCP, the International Association of Professional Cycling Groups, also demanded that the UCI reveal all the names implicated in Operación Puerto by next Tuesday.
Schumacher takes Benelux prologue
Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher took the prologue of the 2nd Annual Eneco Tour of Benelux today.
Schumacher, who won an exciting stage of the Giro and wore its leader's jersey back in May, edged George “I can finish 2nd in any prologue, anywhere” Hincapie with a 7:00.78 time on the 5.8-kilometer course. Rabobank's Joost Posthuma was 3rd on the day. Hincapie also finished 2nd in prologues at the Tour de France and the Dauphiné Libéré this season.
Schumacher, who notched the 5th win of his first ProTour season, told the BBC he's chasing the overall win:
“It's great to beat several time-trial specialists, but I'm not surprised - I'm in good form and will do my best to win overall.”
CSC's Bobby Julich is the defending champ, and he finished 15th on the day, 11.42 seconds back. Other Americans were Jason McCartney, 11th at 8.82, Saunier Duval's Aaron Olson, 45th at 17.59, and Freddie Rodriguez, back in action in 85th at 23.91.
Is it just me, or does the photo with this story at Eurosport make Schumacher look like a Star Trek alien?
August 15, 2006
Landis responds to Phonak shutdown
Floyd Landis has responded to the end of the Phonak team with an open letter on his website.
Landis thanks his team and praises team owner Andy Rihs for his commitment to the squad “despite the struggles you've faced in the past.”
While the recent allegations against me hurt us all, I respect the fact that the Phonak team must follow its own rules and charter under these circumstances. I just wish that all the parties involved would do the same. Despite this, I will not relent on my pursuit of the truth. I will not shy away from this fight.
Most of all, I understand that this situation impacts families and friends other than my own. It affects the businesses and sponsors that support cycling as well as the sport itself. It is for this reason that I am determined to show that I followed the rules and won fairly and cleanly. There is a greater integrity at stake here than just my own.
The signature? “Floyd Landis, 2006 Tour de France Champion.”
“The Flying Scotsman” premieres in Edinburgh
In 1972, the greatest bike racer of all time, Eddy Merckx, improved the record for the most distance covered in an hour on a bicycle to 49.431 kilometers, or almost 30.72 miles, on a velodrome in Mexico City. His hour record stood until 1984, when Francisco Moser, using an early set of aero wheels, pushed the record over 50 kilometers, to 51.151 kms, or about 31.78 miles.
There the record slumbered for nearly 10 years, until a controversial Scotsman stepped forward to push the limits of human performance. Graeme Obree was a strong track and time trial rider, and looked around for ways to streamline the rider position on the bike. Using a position variously called the “egg” or “crouch” position, with the rider's torso nearly horizontal and his arms tucked tight to his chest, Obree thought he could set a new hour mark, and in July 1993, he rode 52.27 kilometers in an hour in Norway.
Obree's efforts ignited an interest in the hour record unmatched since the 1930's. Between July 1993 and September of 1996, the record was extended 5 times. Outdistanced by Britain's Chris Boardman less than a week after setting the record, Obree came back and did 52.71 kilometers in his improved "Superman" position, with the rider's arms stretched out to cut the wind on a plane with his body.
Obree's autobiography, The Flying Scotsman, was well-reviewed, but a film version has had tremendous trouble getting made. Last night, it it finally premiered in Edinburgh.
Early reviews are a little rough.
Naturally, there's a doping angle to the story, as, when he turned pro, Obree says he was sacked by the Le Groupement squad almost immediately for refusing to dope.
With the hour record so hotly contested, Boardman, Miguel Indurain, and Tony Rominger engaged Obree, with Rominger's 55.291 standing for almost 2 years before Boardman, in the Superman position on a custom Eddy Merckx, did an amazing 56.375 kilometers in Manchester, UK, on September 7, 1996.
The UCI wasn't happy to see the record ratcheted up by what it considered to be improved equipment -- the aero frames, wheels, and positions -- rather than stronger riders. So in 2000, they ruled that Boardman's record, and those of Obree, Indurain, and Rominger, were no longer Hour Records, but the “Best Human Effort,” and that Eddy Merckx had ridden the last “pure” hour, and therefore reinstated Merckx's 49.431 as the “Athlete's Hour Record.”
Boardman, confused about the rules, scheduled a session at the Manchester velodrome believing he would automatically set a new hour record by riding a standard frame without aero wheels to any distance, but was informed he had to beat Merckx's distance, which he did, by just 10 meters, at 49.441 kilometers, in October 2000. His record was only beaten last July, by Ondrej Sosenka in Moscow, at 49.700 kilometers.
Obree also took the 1993 and 1995 world title in the pursuit.
Phonak management quits the sport
Phonak owner Andy Rihs announced today that the Phonak team, dogged by doping case after doping case, will close down at the end of the season.
Rihs, who had brought in John Lelangue and instituted internal testing above and beyond the UCI's standards, said he couldn't find any sponsor willing to support the team, even at a single Swiss franc, or about 80 cents.
Phonak had already announced that it would end its sponsorship at the end of the season, but Rihs had lined up the iShares group of Barclays Bank to take over. Now, with Phonak's Tour winner Floyd Landis facing revocation of his title, iShares has withdrawn from the agreement.
“As a passionate cyclist, I am bitterly disappointed that the sport of cycling apparently has become a synonym for doping.”
Rihs has notified the team's riders that they will not have contracts next year, and riders are scrambling to find new teams. Axel Merckx, who had just extended for one final year with Phonak, told ProCycling, “I want to stick with that decision. If there is a chance I can extend my career I would still like to do one more year.”
Joe Baratto, a coach, a Category 1 bike racer, and fellow teammate, emailed the team about "Doping...Cycling...Pro Cycling...Media...Stupidity," and I'll quote it here
For what's it worth I'll give you my two cents. First and foremost, Floyd did NOT, and I'll put that up again DID NOT test high for Testosterone like the whole fricken world is being lead to believe. His Ratio was high... and seemingly the media has forgotten simple math which states that there could actually be TWO things that make a ratio go up or down. Now Floyd's T/E ratio is high so that means either T (Testosterone) is high relative to E (Epitestosterone) OR the E is LOW relative to the T. Floyd's case is the latter. His testosterone level was completely normal.
Now what about the isotope thingy? That shows exogenous (from the outside) testosterone. Good question, wish SOMEONE had the correct answer. It is seemly pretty good test but I'm also wondering to what degree are they seeing this? There are NO limits, just the presence of at least ONE Carbon isotope. Out of curiosity, it would be interesting to see the results if they tested ALL the TDF samples with that test. Then we'd see how many others showed this anomaly. The sad thing is people actually doping usually don't get caught since they know if you supplement with Testosterone you also need add some epitestosterone and WATCH your ratio. Most get caught by being careless or stupid.
Now, do I like this, not really, but honestly if anyone believes that's why these guys are pro's (because they dope) they really need a huge reality check. They are pro's because they are GREAT athletes. Period. They work very hard, and are very gifted. A couple years ago some dillweed wrote a stupid article in "Outside" magazine about how he took "the whole deal" EPO, HCG, HGH, Steroids, was medically monitored, given a good training program, and supervision. He made HUGE gains.... Compared to WHAT? He felt incredible, compared to WHAT? He said he could climb better.. compared to WHAT? No times, wattages, or anything concrete was given on his performance gains other then "I felt like superman." Gee isn't that scientific proof at its best. Do drugs work - depends on what is your limiting factors and what drugs you're using. HGH does nothing for anyone under 40, and then it works on those who are NOT physically active since physically activity causes HGH to be secreted (it's a bit more complicated but for 99% of pro's this does nothing). EPO - well again if your limiting factor is oxygen to the muscles then yes, but for most, the limiting factor is the oxidative capacity of their muscles.
The simple truth is that the highest hematocrit doesn't win the tour, the highest VO2 Max doesn't win the tour, nor does the biggest lung volume or lowest resting heart rate. No ONE factor makes you great. So when friends and family ask about this...cycling is no better OR worse then any other pro sport. Great athletes are great because they are great, NOT BECAUSE OF DRUGS. Weak, pathetic, lazy, people like to think they are tojustify why they aren't Pro's. Bottom line, work fricken hard and you'll get better. How much better... keep working hard and you'll see.
Joe makes some good points and considering "one carbon isotope," I was shocked by Pound's screed yesterday. What governing body speaks like that and is accountable to no one? It's that's stupidity of Pound that I hope Floyd fights. Same thing with all of the unproven allegations in Operation Puerto. Careers are ruined, sponsors abandon, years of hard work destroyed all on allegations. If anything is the "year of excrement," as Pound says, it's WADA and irresponsible leadership.
August 14, 2006
Bob Roll interview with Utah NPR
Roll talks about OLN's ratings, doping and testing in cycling, and the Floyd Landis case.
Roll says “there's not enough testosterone in the world to triple your testosterone levels in a 24-hour period...I believe Floyd in that.”
He also calls cycling “the cleanest professional sport in the world.”
Note that there are two "listen" widgets on the page -- the first is just a preview; the second is the full 20 minutes of (a pretty subdued, actually) Bobke.
August 13, 2006
Phonak owner Rihs schedules Tuesday press conference
Andy Rihs, who owns the ProTour license for the Phonak team, will address the team's future at a press conference on Tuesday.
Secondary 2006 sponsor iShares had announced plans to take over the team's primary sponsorship, and the entire Tour squad was signed to contract extensions, but that was all before team leader Floyd Landis had a drug test come back with a high testosterone/epitestosterone ratio.
Phonak has fired Landis, but he looks likely to join a long list of Phonak riders who have been sanctioned for doping, a list that includes Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Perez, Oscar Camenzind, and six others in the last 3 years.
QuickStep DS Patrick Lefevere, who is also president of the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams, has advocated suing Landis and kicking Phonak out of the ProTour. Meanwhile, Skoda withdrew from its contract as the primary auto sponsor of the Tour, and it's possible that iShares has informed Rihs that they intend to do likewise.
Race to Replace run as planned, Earth still on its axis
A.J. Smith, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, won the right to race at the US Pro championships September 1, by leading the 25-34 age group at Discovery Channel's “Race to Replace” Lance Armstrong at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Smith did 10 laps of the Brickyard in 52:42.4, an average of nearly 28.5 MPH. Smith and 364 other riders rode in the competitive half of the day, while perhaps 1,000 riders took the opportunity to do a “Lap with Lance.” Crowds were somewhat smaller than expected at the home of the Indy 500, where Armstrong drove the pace car in May.
The event raised money for the Indiana University Cancer Center and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Some commentators had suggested the mass-start Race to Replace would lead to total carnage, or that a rider selected through such a race might be dangerous at the US Pro Championships in Greenville, SC, next month, but there were no incidents reported on Saturday.
Florencio takes San Sebastian
procyling | Florencio creates upset at San Sebastian Unheralded Bouyges Telecom pro Xavier Florencio took his first win since 2002 on Saturday, winning a 50-man sprint at the Clasico San Sebastian. Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde was a favorite, as he returned from the broken collarbone he suffered July 4th in Stage 3 of the 2006 Tour. A strong breakaway, including Iban Mayo, Carlos Sastre, and Denis Menchov, was reeled in 4 kilometers from the finish, and Caisse d'Epargne chased a few last-minute attacks, looking to get Valverde back in the winner's circle. Instead, Florencio launched an attack from more than 200 meters, but got a direct line for the extra effort, and Kashechkin couldn't get off Florencio's wheel. Stefano Garzelli of Liquigas was able to nip ahead of Kashechkin but not Florencio at the line. Discovery Channel's George Hincapie finished Top-10 in yet another classic, in 9th just behind Valverde. Top 10: 1) Xavier Florencio, Spain, Bouygues Telecom, in 5:32:44 2) Stefano Garzelli, Italy, Liquigas, same time 3) Andrey Kashechkin, Kazakhstan, Astana, s.t. 4) Alexandre Botcharov, Russia, Credit Agricole, s.t. 5) Cristian Moreni, Italy, Cofidis, s.t. 6) Mirko Celestino, Italy, Team Milram, s.t. 7) Ricardo Serrano, Spain, Kaiku, s.t. 8) Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, s.t. 9) George Hincapie, USA, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, s.t. 10) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas, s.t. Also: VeloNews | Surprise winner at San Sebastián cyclingnews.com | 26th Clasica San Sebastian | Photo Gallery
Virenque injured in amateur time trial
French housewives everywhere are in shock as 7-time Tour de France King of the Mountains Richard Virenque awaits surgery for injuries suffered in an amateur time trial Saturday.
Virenque's fork broke, dropping the French rider on his face, at the start of a 4-kilometer TT scheduled as part of an event called l'Alpes Open Tour.
Virenque broke his nose, and required 32 stitches in his head. He is expected to have plastic surgery on his face on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Virenque was involved in the Festina affair in 1998, but came back to win the Tour's polka-dot jersey as recently as 2004.
August 11, 2006
Your Friday Landis update
The Wall Street Journal's “Numbers Guy,” Carl Bialik, looks at some of the technical issues around the Landis positive: the low epitestosterone level, Landis's other Tour samples, the rate of metabolism for synthetic testosterone, and the chance of a lab error.
As Bialik says, “the numbers don't bode well for Mr. Landis.”
Also, just like Saul Raisin here in Atlanta, Landis will be traveling to Chicago this weekend to make a public appearance and sign autographs, as reportedly is Christian Vande Velde, at the opening of a new “multi-sport training facility” called Vision Quest, associated with Landis coach Robbie Ventura. Not scheduled to appear is Matthew Modine.
August 10, 2006
Raisin returns to roads
Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, badly injured in an April crash at the Circuit de la Sarthe, did a 90-minute ride with his father in his hometown of Dalton, GA on Tuesday.
Raisin fell into a coma for six days after the accident, and doctors thought that brain damage might end his career. Instead, Raisin has hammered through his rehabilitation, improving his balance to the point that it's about average for an uninjured person, and continuing to work on the left-side weakness that results from his injuries. He told CyclingNews he thinks he's got a year or more of recovery ahead, but that he'll be back with Credit Agricole.
He's also promoting a wristband whose proceeds benefit the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the rehabilitation center that has guided his recovery. Teammate Thor Hushovd wore the band as he won the prologue and final stage, and wore the yellow jersey, at this year's Tour.
Raisin will attend Sunday's Sandy Springs Classic, a criterium just north of Atlanta, and sign autographs.
August 08, 2006
Extensive NPR piece on testosterone
NPR's “On Point” (for Windows Media or Real Player) spends more than 45 minutes on testosterone, the Tour, and testing.
Austin Murphy, the Sports Illustrated reporter who was first to talk to Floyd Landis after the rumors of a positive A-sample, explains that the Landis doping case is pushing him away from the sport -- he's not sure he wants to be involved any more.
Tom Ashbrook, the show's host, also talked to John Hoberman, who wrote Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodisia, Doping, and with endocrinologist Dr. John Amory.
They also take listener calls, including a Rhode Island listener who had himself experimented with testosterone.
August 07, 2006
Good news, bad news from Cycling.TV on Vuelta
So there's a bit of good news from Cycling.TV. In an e-mail to its premium subscribers, the web-only streaming network confirms that it has web rights to the Vuelta a España,, running August 26th through September 17th and will broadcast it live outside of Europe and Japan.
The accompanying bad news: It's an additional 19.99 euros on top of their annual 19.99 subscription.
Landis regroups, hits US media
Reigning (but for how long) Tour winner Floyd Landis did the media circuit this morning, appearing from Los Angeles with Robin Roberts at ABC's Good Morning America, as well as the Today Show, CNN, ESPN, and CBS.
The first shot of his campaign was an interview with Sal Ruibal, linked above, where Landis claimed the UCI and WADA have been very slow to provide him with information on his positive tests.
“I just got the information on the 'A' sample a day and half ago,” he said. “I had to find out about the 'B' from reading it in the media.”
Landis emphasized to Ruibal and Roberts that he regrets talking to the media immediately, speculating on possible reasons for a test whose actual results he hadn't yet seen:
“I've been catching a lot of grief in the press: ‘Floyd has a new excuse, a new reason for what happened.’ This is a situation where I'm forced to defend myself in the media. It would never have happened if UCI and WADA had followed their own rules,” Landis said.
“There's some kind of agenda there,” he said wearily. “I just don't know what it is.”
Landis has scheduled his hip surgery for about 2 weeks from now, and looks likely to combine recuperation, preparation, and adjudication, as he will face a USADA hearing in the next month or so.
Murrieta mayor Kelly Seyarto says “We are not in a position to make a judgment one way or the other,” and that the city plans to honor Landis “more officially.”
August 06, 2006
Foam Board Signs for Floyd
(AP Photo/Francis Specker)The AP reports that the locals believe Floyd and have rallied support for him. Reading this backgrounder on Floyd, you can see why.
"If they are lucky enough to be on their bikes when he comes along, they might end up riding a few miles with the man himself. "He'll tie in with anybody," says Matt Barringer of I.E. Bikes in Murrieta, Landis' hometown bike shop. "You'll be going along at a comfortable pace, talking, but then when he gets to a hill, he'll say goodbye and tell you he's got to hit the hill hard." Floyd's a pro that rides with the locals and expect that support to continue through this long struggle.
August 05, 2006
Landis B-sample positive: Fired by Phonak, likely to lose Tour title
Presumptive 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis was fired by Phonak today after the test of his B-sample came back positive for a high testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio.
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour, said “It goes without saying that for us Floyd Landis is no longer the winner of the 2006 Tour de France.” ASO cannot unilaterally strip Landis of the title, but must wait for the UCI to name Oscar Pereiro the Tour champion, as Denis Menchov inherited the 2005 Vuelta a España title.
Landis repeated his assertions that he is innocent, and that he'll contest the results in any way available:
“I will fight these charges with the same determination and intensity that I bring to my training and racing. It is now my goal to clear my name and restore what I worked so hard to achieve.”
Phonak offered a short statement outlining the dismissal, and saying Landis's defense is now “his personal affair.” The team promises a press conference “in the next couple of days.”
August 04, 2006
From the Top to the Bottom
August 03, 2006
The AP reports on the concerns about leaks and criticism of the UCI from Floyd's attorney and notes "the provisional suspension earlier this year of a high-ranking UCI official for leaking documents and-or information to" the French newspaper LEquipe. The article continues with the dispute of whether or not a CIR (to detect not natural elements) test was performed and what the results are. In this turn of the story, it's good to see Floyd's team on the offensive and Cyclingnews has more on his counter claims and the impending battle.
August 01, 2006
Gusev takes Tour of Germany prologue
With a little help from the weather, Discovery Channel's Vladimir Gusev took the prologue at the 2006 Tour of Germany. Gusev was 9 one-hundredths faster than T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann, and 1 second faster than German TT champion Sebastian Lang of Gerolsteiner.
Defending Deutschland Tour champion Levi Leipheimer was 111th on the day, 42 seconds behind Gusev.
1) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, in 6:42
2) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany, same time
3) Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, Germany, at :01
4) Laszlo Bodrogi, Crédit Agricole, Hungary, at :03
5) Alexei Markov, Caisse d’Epargne, Russia, at :08
6) Frédéric Finot, Française des Jeux, France, same time
7) Sébastien Rosseler, QuickStep, Belgium, s.t.
8) Iñigo Cuesta, CSC, Spain, s.t.
9) Tomas Vaitkus, AG2R, Lithuania, at :09
10) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, same time