September 18, 2006
Vinokourov has 1st Grand Tour with Vuelta win
Eurosport | Vinokourov wins Vuelta Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov salvaged his season, and the Liberty Seguros/Würth/Astaná team's as well, with a win in the Vuelta a España. Vinokourov and Astaná were barred from the Tour de France because several of the team's riders were implicated by Spanish officials in the Operación Puerto investigation. Vinokourov was not implicated, but Astaná found themselves with only 4 riders, not enough to start the race. Vinokourov railed at the time that organizers had deprived him of his last chance to win the Tour, but Sunday, buoyed by his impending victories, he sang another tune. Vinokourov told Eurosport the Vuelta win is “what I needed to be competitive in the 2007 Tour de France.” Vinokourov took 3 stages of the race, including the Saturday time trial on his 33rd birthday. Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, the pre-race favorite, was 2nd overall, 1:12 back, with Vinokourov's teammate Andrey Kashechkin third, at 3:12. Milram's antique sprinter, Erik Zabel, showed he's still got some gas with a win in the Vuelta's final stage on Sunday. Also: CyclingNews.com | First Grand Tour for Vinokourov; another stage win for Zabel | Results | Overall Standings | Photo Gallery GrahamWatson.com | Vuelta a España Stage 21
Posted by Frank Steele on September 18, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Erik Zabel, Top Stories, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Landis makes his case at Vuelta
Landis told journalists he is confident he will be exonerated after a high testosterone-epitestosterone ratio turned up in his drug test after an epic Stage 17 ride at the Tour de France.
“The Tour's doping tests are full of irregularities,” said Landis. “I'm innocent and I think my lawyers are going to be able to prove it, though they've had lots of difficulties gathering information.”
“I've come to talk with my lawyers and to also say goodbye to my teammates at Phonak because after the Tour I just didn't have time to do so,” he said.
September 14, 2006
Danielson wins Vuelta stage, Vinokourov takes race lead
It's nice to have a little racing news, as Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel took Wednesday's Stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, leading Alexandre Vinokourov across the line. Vinokourov took a 9-second lead on Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde.
Valverde doesn't want to see things go down to the final time trial on Saturday, so he told Eurosport he'll be all-out in today's final mountain stage, up the Pandera:
“Nothing is lost. Things will happen on the Pandera. You can't forget that I won here two years ago and have lots of affection for this climb.”
Danielson, who came to the Vuelta as Discovery's GC contender, couldn't hang during the early stages of the Vuelta, but rebounded to take the day after dropping 5 breakaway mates on the day's second 1st-Category climb.
Vinokourov, who has never worn a Grand Tour leader's jersey until now, was able to ride away from Valverde and Sastre on the day's last major climb after teammate Andrey Kashechkin and Jose Angel Gomez Marchante of Saunier Duval cranked up the pace to make a wicked selection. Valverde fought back onto Vino's wheel early in the descent, but the Astana leader slowly pulled away until, with 9 kilometers to ride, he had 32 seconds on Valverde, and sat 13 seconds behind Danielson.
When Vino caught Danielson, the two worked together to maximize the break, while Valverde had to do almost all the work in his small group alone, shadowed by Kashechkin. Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez attacked out of this group to take 3rd on the day.
1) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA
2) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, same time
3) Samuel Sanchez, Euskeltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 1:10
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 1:39
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, same time
6) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, France, s.t.
7) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, s.t.
8) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, s.t.
9) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, s.t.
10) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval, s.t.
1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, 67:29:41
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :09
3) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:51
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 2:14
5) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, at 4:32
6) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA, at 6:07
7) Manuel Beltran, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 6:33
8) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 7:25
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at 7:49
10) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, at 9:04
CyclingNews | Vinokourov and Danielson combine to unseat Valverde | Results | Photo Gallery
GrahamWatson.com | Vuelta a España Stage 17 photo gallery
Posted by Frank Steele on September 14, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Investigators search Ullrich's home
Jan Ullrich is going to have a hell of a mess to clean up when he gets back from his honeymoon with new wife Sara.
A German investigative team searched his house in Switzerland, that of his manager in Hamburg, and 8 other houses.
The investigators went because “former athlete Barbara Bannenberg” (I'm thinking Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons) complained that Ullrich, former teammate Oscar Sevilla, and coach Rudy Pevenage were guilty of “betrayal of their employees.”
Here in America, that will usually get you a corner office.
Ullrich won a libel case against Dr. Werner Franke, who said Ullrich had paid 35,000 euro a year to Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The ruling forbids Franke from repeating the claim, which themselves repeated speculation by the Spanish Civil Guard as to the identity of athletes identified only by codenames or numbers in the documentation of Dr. Fuentes.
Armstrong responds to Andreu story
So the Lance Armstrong media machine might have thought it was permanently parked once he retired. On Tuesday, it roared out of the garage and back up to top speed. The mission? A story in the New York Times which didn't even claim Armstrong had ever used anything illegal, but quoted Frankie Andreu and another former Armstrong Tour teammate that both had used EPO while racing as pros.
Armstrong called the story “distorted sensationalism.”
“My cycling victories are untainted; I didn't take performance enhancing drugs, I didn't ask anyone else to take them and I didn't condone or encourage anyone else to take them,” he said. “I won clean.”
Armstrong also claims that a court has considered Andreu's allegations and rejected them, when Armstrong won his case against the insurance underwriters back in 2005. Obviously, that doesn't cover Andreu's claim that he used EPO; presumably Armstrong isn't denying that Andreu's admission is for real.
<Eurosport | Bruyneel: Andreu 'pitiful'
September 12, 2006
Two former Armstrong teammates admit doping
Andreu was already off the Armstrong Christmas card list after his wife testified last year that Armstrong told his cancer doctors he had used performance enhancers.
- Here's the US Postal Tour squad for 1999:
- ARMSTRONG Lance, USA
- ANDREU Frankie, USA
- DERAME Pascal, FRA
- HAMILTON Tyler, USA
- HINCAPIE George, USA
- LIVINGSTON Kevin, USA
- MEINERT-NIELSEN Peter, Denmark
- VANDEVELDE Christian, USA
- VAUGHTERS Jonathan, USA
If you put a gun to my head, I would speculate about Source No. 2, who “did not want to jeopardize his job in cycling” -- I don't think it's Tyler Hamilton or George Hincapie.
Both riders said they never saw Armstrong take anything illegal, but Andreu saw him sorting white pills before a race, which Armstrong said were caffeine.
Armstrong refused comment, but one of his attorneys pointed out that Armstrong won the SCA case, where an underwriter sought to deny him a bonus for his 5th consecutive Tour because they claimed he had doped to win them. Betsy Andreu testified in that case about Armstrong allegedly admitting drug use during his cancer treatment, and Sean Breen, the attorney, says “Like her testimony, I think her motives are completely unexplainable.”
To me, on the other hand, the story makes Betsy Andreu's apparent enmity toward Armstrong more, rather than less, understandable, if it's true.
“I remember Frankie saying: ‘You don’t understand. This is the only way I can even finish the Tour,’ ” she said. “ ‘After this, I promise you, I’ll never do it again.’ ”
Betsy Andreu said she grudgingly watched her husband help Armstrong traverse the mountains at the Tour that year. Later, she said, she was angry when her husband said he had once allowed a team doctor to inject him with an unidentified substance.
To this day, she blames Armstrong for what she said was pressure on teammates to use drugs. Her husband, she said, “didn’t use EPO for himself, because as a domestique, he was never going to win that race.”
“It was for Lance,” she said.
Stephen Swart, an Armstrong teammate in the Motorola days (pre-1999), also testified in the case, and said he and other Motorola riders discussed EPO in 1995, and that Armstrong thought there was “only one road to take” to compete at the sport's highest level.
Swart said one clear sign of the drug use in 1994 and 1995 was the omnipresent rider thermoses, filled with vials of EPO, and riders “every night at the hotel...running around trying to find some ice to fill up their thermos.”
Sidebar on Andreu specifically, including his recent dismissal from managing the Toyota-United team.
Andreu points out that he used EPO before it was banned, and explains why he's speaking out now:
If anything I hope that my words help other riders, especially young riders, to not get caught up in doping. We need to make some steps to make things better. If DNA sampling and testing is required then that is the way we should move. I understand the invasion of privacy and no other sport requires this, but if you put the truth out on the table then perhaps something good will come from it.
September 11, 2006
US world championship squad announced
Six ProTour riders and 3 domestic pros will make up the US squad for the world championships in Salzburg, Austria from September 19-24th.
- 2006 US worlds road-race team:
- Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto
- Freddy Rodriguez, Davitamon-Lotto
- Christian Vande Velde, CSC
- Tyler Farrar, Cofidis
- Patrick McCarty, Phonak
- Guido Trenti, QuickStep
- Jackson Stewart, Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada
- Danny Pate, TIAA-CREF
- Chris Baldwin, Toyota-United
- Time trial:
- Dave Zabriskie, CSC
- Chris Baldwin, Toyota-United
I'm having trouble parsing this paragraph:
All UCI ProTour riders were automatic selections to the team by virtue of their spots on UCI ProTour teams. Stewart was an automatic selection as the highest-ranked American in the UCI America Tour standings. Baldwin was the sole discretionary selection for both the road race and time trial.
I assume that Hincapie or Leipheimer would have bumped any of the other ProTour riders, based on their placings at the pro championships last weekend, and would have bumped the domestic riders “by virtue of their spots on UCI ProTour teams.”
As usual, one of the team's riders hasn't been to the US since childhood: QuickStep's AmerItalian, Guido Trenti.
Vinokourov and Kasheckin miss doping appointment
Eurosport | Vino and Kashechkin miss tests Bookending the stage that ended with Petacchi ending his season unexpectedly, Astana's two Vuelta leaders missed a doping check on Sunday morning. Apparently, the vampires showed up unannounced at the team hotel after Andrey Kasheckin and Alexandre Vinokourov had already left for the 10 a.m. start in the team bus. They asked the bus to come back, but team officials refused, fearing the riders couldn't make the roundtrip in time for the race start. Their 6 teammates and the 9 riders of AG2R were all tested and allowed to start. It doesn't appear any action will be taken against Vinokourov or Kasheckin.
Next round for Landis apparently to kick off today
We should get to see some details on the defense of Floyd Landis later today. Landis, who showed up at a criterium near his boyhood home on Saturday, posted on his weblog Friday that his legal team will ask USADA to dismiss doping allegations against the 2006 Tour winner.
Landis says his team has discovered “inconsistencies in the testing protoocol and methodology” that should lead to his case being thrown out.
I'm sure whatever breaks will be covered quickly at Trust But Verify.
Petacchi out with self-inflicted injury
So the Gentleman Sprinter wasn't too happy with how the sprint worked out in Sunday's stage at the Vuelta. Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster took the sprint, head of Stuart O'Grady, Danilo Napolitano, and Thor Hushovd. Milram's Alessandro Petacchi found himself boxed out by a late left-hander and didn't factor. After leaving the Giro early with a knee injury and missing the entire Tour de France, it was just too much to take.
Frustrated, Petacchi took a punch at the team bus. Unsurprisingly, the bus won. As a result, Petacchi is out of the Vuelta, and will miss the world championships in Salzburg in 2 weeks.
"I was very angry," explained Petacchi. "After being injured so many months, I had the concrete possibility to finally return to success. I wanted to give my season a sense at all cost, after I had to abandon the Giro d'Italia early because of my accident.
"In any case, I admit it was a stupid gesture. I'm sorry and I ask my teammates and the team management to forgive me. But the anger was so intense that I couldn't control myself. I condemn my gesture very severely, but I am just a man, not a machine, and sometimes men make mistakes. Today I made a mistake, no doubt."
Petacchi joins a number of (typically headcase) athletes who have missed action for outburst-related injuries, including the NBA's Latrell Sprewell in 2002. Might even break into this baseball-only version of the stupidest sports injuries ever, alongside Jason Isringhausen, who similarly broke his hand in a frustrated punch.
September 08, 2006
Tour drug test results: 13 positives, 12 had medical exemptions
Final doping results are in form this year's Tour, and 13 riders actually tested positive for one banned substance or another during 19 tests.
Twelve of those riders won't be disciplined because they had “Therapeutic Use Exemptions,” representing medical permission to use a substance that would otherwise be on the banned list. Phonak's Floyd Landis, who won the Tour, faces suspension and loss of his title as the 13th rider.
The results point up how many riders have exemptions (Landis also had one during this year's Tour, for cortisone, used to treat his decaying hip), and the possibility that at least some of them are not strictly necessary. Out of 105 riders tested at some point during the Tour, 60 percent had a medical exemption for at least one banned substance.
Speaking of Landis, Trust but Verify is keeping up with almost all the news about his case, and doing a great job of it. You'll also pick up facts like “Billiards is the dirtiest of all sports” from it.
September 07, 2006
Freire to skip worlds
Three-time world road champion Oscar Freire won't become the first four-time world champion in Salzburg this month.
Freire pulled out of the Tour of Poland yesterday, complaining of a continuing neck injury. He's ending his season immediately.
Basso hearing September 29IHT.com | Basso hearing in doping case postponed to Sept. 29 Ivan Basso's hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee, originally scheduled for this Tuesday, has been postponed until Sept. 29th.
"I feel like an imprisoned man waiting for justice, but the wait is becoming increasingly exhausting every day," Basso said.Basso was one of 9 riders held out of the Tour because Spanish officials suspected him of involvement in the doping ring discovered in the Operación Puerto investigation.
September 04, 2006
"Greenville doesn't deserve the US pro championship"
A post from “MagillaGorilla,” a regular on RBR, links to a number of pictures from the rural section of the pro road race championships on Sunday, none of which show spectators, to suggest the move from Philadelphia is a disaster. Since it's the internet, he couldn't resist a “...they need to put this race in a city that has more college graduates than people convicted of incest.”
For those coming in late, the US Pro championship has traditionally been decided as part of a June race in Philadelphia. That race, which continued this year as the Commerce Bank International Cycling Championship, was open to amateurs and riders from other countries, which often led to a US champion who hadn't even won the race. Folks who live in Philadelphia, or love the Philly race, aren't happy to see the event format changed and moved out of town.
I'm in the unenviable position of having actually attended the race, so I'm at a disadvantage to random angry internet posters. Greenville's downtown was bustling for 3-5 blocks on either side of the start/finish, and up and down the exhibit mall organizers set up on Main Street. News reports (which are generally optimistic) put the crowd at 45,000, against as many as 10 times that (again, generally optimistic) in Philadelphia.
My take: That's a pretty good crowd for a new event in a city whose population is around 50,000.
Greenville's downtown itself is pleasant, with parks, pubs, coffeeshops and restaurants, and I have to imagine the logistics of closing roads, arranging police escorts, and getting the necessary permits is a lot simpler in Greenville than in Philadelphia. The racing was good, even if I wish Leipheimer had been riding for himself. I will definitely come back for another round, and would consider spending the whole weekend in Greenville, instead of trekking back and forth from Atlanta.
In short, Greenville did a great job.
A suggestion for organizers: Why not run the time trial, whose attendance was genuinely minuscule, on Saturday, then run the road race on Labor Day?
Even the Tour de France runs stretches in front of nobody. Unless the USPRO course in Philly was both short and totally in-town, it did as well. The Greenville route takes advantage of nearby Paris Mountain, and provides the convenience of a downtown circuit (places to eat and drink between laps, parking) as well. Even out on Paris Mountain, there were areas with throngs of fans.
So, would there have been more spectators in Philly? Absolutely. Would there have been as good a race, one that could include (at least a few) American ProTour riders? Probably not. Would fans have the fabulous access to the course and riders at a Philadelphia race? No way. Once the date and format change was decided, I think the location change was pretty much assured. If it had survived, the San Francisco Grand Prix might have been a perfect combination as the championship race host: Labor Day scheduling, established race, and big city crowds.
Leipheimer and Hincapie: too friendly too soon?
Conversely, Gruber's not happy that Leipheimer would work so clearly for Hincapie. The two tag-teamed Bajadali late, and finally beat him down after repeated attacks.
Leipheimer, with no other Americans on the Gerolsteiner squad and thus no teammates, cozied up to his team for 2007, Discovery Channel. He got his feeds out of the Discovery car, and carried bottles up to Hincapie. I have to agree that it looked like Leipheimer was the strongest guy on Sunday. He spent more time in front of the pack than some drum majors. I think he's opening his Discovery Channel account a little early, a pretty common thing for the pros. This way, Discovery gets a US champ, and Leipheimer has earned some loyalty in return from Hincapie next season.
Hincapie takes US title
WIth a new course that covered roads near his house on Paris Mountain, and a new format that excluded amateurs and non-U.S. riders, Hincapie had only Jason McCartney as official team support, but Dave Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer (about to join Discovery Channel) acted as de facto teammates.
McCartney and Zabriskie pushed the pace hard on the day's first trip up Paris Mountain, and -- boom! -- 40 riders were dropped. Next trip up the mountain, another 30 were shed. On the day, only 31 riders would complete the race.
He bridged up to Hincapie and did most of the work on the last lap, before Hincapie attacked in the last kilometer, taking a 10-second lead that would hold up to the finish.
I've got a Flickr photoset up with about 60 pictures from the day, including Hincapie kissing podium girl Melanie Hincapie, the Hincapie family celebrating at the start/finish, the Hincapies with their daughter, action shots of Zabriskie, Leipheimer , and Hincapie.
There's also a USA Cycling Pro Championships pool.
CyclingNews | USA Cycling Pro championships | results | photo gallery
VeloNews | Hincapie wins U.S. pro road crown
September 01, 2006
Zabriskie takes US time trial title
The race, in Greenville, SC, was missing George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, both on hand but sitting out the TT, and Floyd Landis, awaiting the results of his doping case.
Baldwin was reportedly leading by 8-11 seconds going into the last turn of the course, but missed the turn and rode into a ditch. By the time he got on his replacement bike and covered the last 400 meters up to the line, he had lost the better part of a minute, finishing 32 seconds behind Zabriskie.
Zabriskie won the open title in 2004, when elite amateurs and pros raced head-to-head.
Zabriskie told VeloNews:
"I'm not one to make excuses, but I kind of wanted to throw up a lot when I was warming up," Zabriskie said. "Something weird happened to the head. I think I was nervous for the first time in my life today. Everyone was saying ‘Zabriskie is going to win' all week, and I think it got to me a little bit."Zabriskie was clearly nervous before the start, circling like a shark near the start house and riding quick hill sprints to prepare for the race.
Discovery Channel's Jason McCartney was 3rd on the day.
Zabriskie plans to compete in the world TT championship in Salzburg in 3 weeks.
2006 USA Cycling Pro TT championship photoset at Flickr has all the best shots, and bonus shots of George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, who rode up soon after the race finished. Also of Mrs. Hincapie, who was serving as presenter at the awards ceremony.
Also racing today was the “Race to Replace” winner, A.J. Smith, riding in Discovery Channel colors. His time, 47:42, was better than 5 of the competitors.