November 26, 2006
Caisse d'Epargne's Isaac Galvez dies after 6-day crash
Caisse d'Epargne sprint specialist Isaac Galvez, who won the first stage at 2005's Criterium International and took 2nd in the 4th stage of the 2006 Tour de France, died Saturday in Ghent.
Galvez was racing in the Six Days of Ghent when he hit the railing after some contact with Dimitri De Fauw. The 31-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.
Galvez was world champion in the Madison, the event he was racing. The last day of racing has been cancelled.
Event director Patrick Sercu said the accident was of the sort that occurred often in cycling.
“It was the kind of crash that could happen any time in track cycling; two riders come into contact riding next to each other,” Sercu said, “but this time it was fatal.”
November 24, 2006
Hamilton confirms Tinkoff contract
Tyler Hamilton has confirmed his contract with Tinkoff Credit Systems.
The reigning Olympic time trial champion, banned for 2 years on suspicion of blood boosting, finished his suspension in September. His name was linked to Operación Puerto when Spanish media reported investigators found a doping log for Hamilton in the offices of Eufemiano Fuentes, but as with most other names implicated in the investigation, it appears Hamilton will face no further sanctions.
The most notable exception appears to be Jan Ullrich. Swiss anti-doping officials say they'll bring disciplinary action against Ullrich in early January.
Among Hamilton's new teammates will be Salvatore Commesso, Daniele Contrini, Danilo Hondo, and Evgeni Petrov. Hamilton told La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian) he is considering moving from Girona, Spain, to Calendasco, in northern Italy, where Tinkoff is headquartered.
November 21, 2006
Tour de Georgia '07 cities named
I've got a rundown over at the Tour de Georgia blog of the host cities for 2007.
In a nutshell: The race leaves Augusta, starting instead in the hometown of organizers Medalist Sports, Atlanta suburb Peachtree City. The time trial up Lookout Mountain returns, but finishes on the slopes, instead of in Chattanooga. Brasstown Bald still finishes Stage 5, and organizers recall the early-'90s First Union Grand Prix with an Atlanta circuit stage starting and finishing at Centennial Olympic Park.
November 17, 2006
Haedo joins CSC
Bjarne Riis announced the signing of Argentina's Juan José Haedo, who had won stages in America's biggest races while racing for Toyota-United.
Haedo joins CSC, giving them the finishing kick they seemingly have lacked the last few seasons.
"I'm the first ever Argentinean rider to be given a chance at this level and the fact that Team CSC has chosen me gives me a tremendous confidence boost," added Haedo.
Haedo took 2 wins at the 2006 Tour of California, and the final stage of the 2006 Tour of Georgia.
November 15, 2006
Landis lab admits "administrative" errorLe Monde, in French) that its report on Landis's B-sample includes the wrong number for the sample tested.
Landis and his team have pointed out that the sample Landis provided was labeled 995474. In the report, the lab referred to the tested B sample as number 994474. The Landis team suggests this "has to make you wonder about the accuracy of the work."
The lab, for its part, says the sample tested was Floyd's.
"The error, of an administrative nature, does not mean the positive B sample was not that of the American," Le Monde said. "But it is being used today by his lawyers ... to contest his positive doping results."
Meanwhile, Landis spokesman Michael Henson says no one working for Landis was involved in the hacking of the lab's computers and clumsily forged e-mails questioning the lab's abilities.
"We don't know who would perpetrate this ... We certainly don't know what the source of this incident is.
"We're following the news, but we haven't been contacted by any authorities," Henson continued. "We're not challenging the report, but we need to see details of the investigation."
Fat Cyclist take on Basso signing
“Ivan Basso’s a huge talent, you know, and I’m very happy to have him on the team,” said Leipheimer. “I can hardly wait to fetch water bottles for him as he tries to get a double grand tour win.”
Worth reading in its entirety.
Leipheimer is probably about as pleased as Jens Voigt over Basso's signing. Voigt told Reuters:
“I can definitely see that it is not good for our image,” Voigt told ARD.
“To the public out there, it looks like nothing has changed.”
L'Equipe says Landis implicated in lab hack
Sunday, Floyd Landis did his first interview since the Tour with French media, appearing on the weekly sports program Stade 2. No real news there — he made the case he's been making in the U.S., but to the French people, and indirectly to the ASO, which will decide whether to strip his 2006 Tour title.
Then, less than 48 hours later, a story appears in L'Equipe (in French) (English story linked above) claiming computer systems at the Chatenay-Malabry lab that tested Tour de France samples this year have been hacked. On top of that, L'Equipe claims investigators are focusing on “an associate” of Landis in the investigation.
The incursion apparently occurred back in September, with e-mails "in poor French" being sent alongside lab documents chosen to make the facility look bad. Lab officials say the documents “were taken out of context,” which means they're not actually false. The head of the French anti-doping agency took the opportunity to lobby for more tax dollars to better hack-proof the lab's computers.
I suspect there's less story here than initially reported. I can't believe that anyone actually involved in the case would first hack into the system, then send badly forged e-mails that included files garnered by the hacking.
TBV offers as much detail as anyone could want on the continuing Floyd farce.
November 14, 2006
Mancebo to join Hamilton, Ullrich at Tinkoff?
At this point, maybe it should just name itself the Operación Puerto squad, but the new Tinkoff Credit Systems team looks likely to sign a top crop of riders, many of whom were named in the Spanish doping investigation.
Tinkoff has apparently already signed (but not announced the signing of) Tyler Hamilton. Now they have a 1.2 million euro offer on the table to AG2R's Francisco Mancebo, who said he would hang up his bike after being implicated in the investigation and withdrawn on the eve of the 2006 Tour. Mancebo now has a fallback position if AG2R follows through on Vincent Lavenu's statement that the team will drop him.
Tinkoff is also reportedly pursuing 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich, also named in the investigation.
November 12, 2006
Reader "Joe" points out that this is a Graham Watson photo uploaded to Flickr, so I've unlinked the version previously posted and linked to Watson's site. Watson also has a “Graham's View” feature on the signing, which he calls “one of the most exciting developments to hit the headlines since many a year,” while admitting the move appears to contradict the ethics code agreed to by the teams in Paris in October.
November 10, 2006
T-Mobile angry at Basso signing
T-Mobile, who dumped Jan Ullrich, his personal coach, and most of their team management in the wake of the Operación Puerto investigation, says Discovery Channel is violating an agreement between teams by signing 2006 Giro winner Ivan Basso, formerly of CSC.
“We are astonished at the move of Ivan Basso to Discovery,” the German outfit announced in a statement. “We find it inconceivable that they have agreed to sign him, as he must first prove his total innocence against the allegations made against him, just like Jan Ullrich, and only then should he be able to look for a team.”
Discovery Channel director Johan Bruyneel says the team and Basso consulted 4 “specialist lawyers -- a Swiss, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, and an Italian -- and they informed us there was nothing to stop us signing Basso.”
November 09, 2006
David Millar escapes jail time
Scotland's David Millar, currently with Saunier Duval, escaped a possible jail term for his part in the Cofidis doping ring.
A French prosecutor recommended that Millar and former Cofidis director Boguslaw Madejak not be jailed for their part in the team's doping between 2000 and 2003.
Seven other defendants, including Philippe Gaumont, Massimiliano Lelli, and Robert Sassone still may face imprisonment for their role in the case.
Prosecutor Jacques Hossaert recommended that the pharmacist accused of supplying the riders with EPO serve six months to a year in prison and a 3,000-euro fine.
New Discovery Channel team leader Ivan Basso told La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian) his new team has promised to let him pursue the Giro-Tour double, as he intended to in 2006.
“I'm incredibly happy. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it's a new life for me - I feel reborn," Basso said. "The squad are committed to supporting me in the double challenge of the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France.
“It's a project that fills me with enthusiasm. The team and I have the same ambitions. Now I am thinking about taking a week's holiday, somewhere hot, and near the sea. Then I will think about 2007.”
Apparently, a number of other managers believed the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams had a gentleman's agreement (read was colluding) to keep Operación Puerto associated riders from signing new contracts unless they undergo a DNA test.
Bjarne Riis, translated by CyclingNews:
“In his events I have lost too. I am left without the best in the world, but I also risked my team disappearing,” said the Dane to La Gazzetta dello Sport Wednesday afternoon. “Only a few days ago, the ProTour teams had expressed their intentions to no longer engage the riders entangled with Operación Puerto in addition to requiring a DNA test. In reality, in the end, the interests of individuals prevail while the initiatives go disregarded.”
Disco Camp starts December 3rd in Austin.
Cycling gets a urine-testing team sponsor
Robbie McEwen is set to race in pink next season, but he's not changing teams.
The primary sponsor of Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto team is Omega Pharma. Satisfied with the boost their Davitamon supplement brand has gotten from the company's sponsorship, they're moving along to another company product, the Predictor early pregnancy test (and other home health tests).
The new jerseys aren't available yet, but the team will be called "Predictor-Lotto." If only they could help me predict the lotto...
Petacchi back on pedals
Italy's finest sprinter is back in training, and looking forward to 2007.
Alessandro Petacchi, who missed the 2006 Tour while recovering from a knee injury sustained in the Giro d'Italia, then broke his hand during the Vuelta a España when he punched the team bus.
Where many riders might consider that sequence and decide to stay away from the Grand Tours for a while, Petacchi says his 2007 goal is stage wins in each GT (a feat he accomplished in 2003) and a repeat of his 2005 win at Milan-San Remo.
November 08, 2006
Basso to join Discovery Channel
Ivan Basso is set to join Discovery Channel for 2007, after being cleared to ride October 27th by the Italian cycling federation.
Basso, who won the Giro d'Italia this year, only to have his victory tarnished by unproven allegations that he was involved with Operación Puerto doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, gives Discovery Channel the undisputed GT leader it lacked in 2006.
Discovery team co-owner Lance Armstrong confirmed the signing to La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian), and CyclingNews reports an official announcement is expected this afternoon in Austin, Texas.
One possible fly in the ointment: Basso is likely to be asked to submit to DNA testing, which he and his lawyers have resisted until now.
November 05, 2006
Armstrong hits marathon target
Seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong finished his first race since retirement today, pulling on (Nike) running shoes instead of cleats at the New York City Marathon.
Armstrong, who said he was looking to finish in less than 3 hours, met the goal, turning in a 2:59:36 while running alongside 3-time NYC Marathon champion Alberto Salazar and Joan Benoit Samuelson.
Interest in Armstrong's first marathon led to the inclusion of a LanceCam, a dedicated camera on a press vehicle that led Armstrong along much of the course. Viewers could watch the LanceCam for $4.99 on the web.
Samuelson said the hardest thing about running with Armstrong was the constant throng of people who wanted to run alongside:
“I have never used my elbows like I had today in road racing, but there were a lot of groupies out there, a lot of roadwishers,” Samuelson said. Samuelson said the ex[h]aust from the press vehicle carrying the LanceCam also caused some problems.
“It was very difficult,” she said.
Armstrong finished 869th (824th among men) of around 37,000 participants. Latvia's Jelena Prokopcuka repeated as the women's champion (in 2:25:05), while Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil took his first overall NYC win in 2:09:58.