« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

May 30, 2007

Simoni takes stage win, Di Luca holds jersey at Giro

Yahoo! eurosport | Simoni conquers the Zoncolan

Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni dominated the last mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia, but couldn't kill the Killer.

Simoni, who won atop Monte Zoncolan in 2003, repeated the success, finishing with teammate Leonardo Piepoli 7 seconds ahead of CSC's Andy Schleck. Race leader Danilo (Killer) Di Luca, dropped 6 kilometers from the finish, scratched his way to the line 31 seconds behind Simoni in 4th, leaving him a healthy 2:24 gap in the overall standings to Schleck in 2nd and 2:28 to Simoni in 3rd.

It was the first race up the climb's difficult western side, but Di Luca didn't crack, and it looks like the Saturday time trial will be decisive. It's unlikely but possible that Di Luca could lose 2:24 to Andy Schleck in a TT, but Simoni's grip on 3rd looks especially tenuous. And who is nipping at Simoni's heels? Former teammate and archrival Damiano Cunego, who sits 1:01 behind Simoni's final podium spot.

CSC's David Zabriskie, who was 5th in the 2004 TT world championships (run on Saturday's course), told CyclingNews:

“You know, I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence. I'm just a big hairy American winnin' machine.”

More seriously, Zabriskie said he's been working for Schleck, but hopes to do well in Saturday's TT. He was 4th in Stage 13's uphill time trial.

Also:

CyclingNews.com | Giro Stage 17 - Simoni: King of Zoncolan | Stage 17 photos

GrahamWatson.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 17 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2007 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2007, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0)

Astana, Agritubel, Barloworld get 2007 wildcards

Tour de France 2007 - Press releases of official website

Tour organizers announced this year's wildcard teams today, naming Agritubel, Astana, and Barloworld as the final three squads in the 2007 Tour. They join almost all of the ProTour squads, minus Unibet.com, to make a field of 189.

    The full rundown:

  • AG2R (France)
  • Agritubel (France)
  • Astana (Switzerland)
  • Barloworld (UK)
  • Bouyges Telecom (France)
  • Caisse d'Epargne (Spain)
  • Cofidis (France)
  • Credit Agricole (France)
  • Team CSC (Denmark)
  • Discovery Channel (USA)
  • Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain)
  • Française des Jeux (France)
  • Gerolsteiner (Germany)
  • Lampre-Fondital (Italy)
  • Liquigas (Italy)
  • Team Milram (Italy)
  • Predictor-Lotto (Belgium)
  • Quick Step-Innergetic (Belgium)
  • Rabobank (Netherlands)
  • Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spain)
  • T-Mobile Team (Germany)

Meanwhile, in the face of a German federal investigation into University of Freiburg doctors who reportedly supplied Telekom riders with EPO in the 1990s, Germany's two public TV networks, which share coverage of the race, have threatened to dump their contracts when they expire in 2008 unless they “are certain that doping has no chance at the Tour de France.” Although Bjarne Riis said last week his team supports his admission that he used EPO while winning the 1996 Tour, the race's organizers are less sanguine. Tour director Christian Prudhomme told AFP “it would be shocking to have [CSC director Bjarne] Riis included in the Tour de France” in any capacity, adding “It would be logical that Riis applies to himself the same treatment that he applied to Ivan Basso last year.” ASO President Patrice Clerc echoed the sentiment: “Why should it always be the riders who pay the price?”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2007 in Barloworld, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2007

Zabel to continue racing for Milram

CNN.com | Zabel allowed to ride on by Milram

Erik Zabel's Team Milram announced today that Zabel will continue to race for the team, despite admitting last week that he used EPO during the 1996 Tour de France, while racing for Telekom.

Zabel won't be sanctioned for his admission, since the doping happened more than 8 years ago. Zabel is a 6-time green jersey winner with 12 career Tour stage wins (two in 1996 -- Stage 3 and Stage 10).

“I am grateful that I can continue riding for Milram," said a relieved Zabel. "It was important for me to reveal my past. After I apologized to the public on Thursday, I wanted to apologize to the management and my colleagues, as well as to our main sponsor. I am grateful they appreciate my honesty and they have decided that I am allowed to continue to ride for the team.”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 29, 2007 in About the Tour, Doping, Erik Zabel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2007

McGee backs out of 2007 Tour

Fox Sports Australia | McGee out of Tour de France - Breaking News

Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee will miss this year's Tour, as he did last year, because of ongoing back problems.

In a post to his website entitled "Time to face reality", McGee said he has given up on the “band-aid treatment of my sciatica,” and will “now go ahead with a surgeon's skills and hopefully put an end to the rollercoaster.”

McGee says an unsuccessful surgery would end his career, but that a successful procedure should have him back on his bike for late-season races in 2007.

McGee's condition dates back at least to 2004, when he fought through pain before abandoning during Stage 5.

In 2003, McGee won the prologue of the Centenary Tour, and wore the yellow and green jerseys as a result.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2007 in Bradley McGee, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Karpets wins Tour of Catalonia

BBC Sport | Karpets secures Catalunya victory

Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Karpets of Russia took the overall in the Volta a Catalunya Sunday, edging out Michael Rogers and Denis Menchov.

Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez won Sunday's stage, 5 seconds ahead of Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov and 9 seconds ahead of a group featuring the GC contenders.

Karpets took the young rider's jersey in the 2004 Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2007 in Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2007

Riis confesses to 1996 doping

VeloNews | Riis confesses to having doped in winning Tour

The biggest wins of the mid-90s Telekom team were the back-to-back Tour de France wins by Bjarne Riis in 1996 and Jan Ullrich in 1997. With the admissions by much of that squad -- Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag, Udo Bolts, and others -- that they were using EPO and other banned substances throughout the period, it was harder and harder to believe the team leaders were riding clean.

Today, Bjarne Riis admitted he was doping when he won the 1996 Tour, and said he doesn't feel like a worthy Tour winner:
"My jersey is at home in a cardboard box," he said. "They are welcome to come and get it. I have my memories for myself."
Riis had long suffered the nickname “Mr. 60 Percent” on the internet, a reference to a hematocrit that reportedly once hit a superhuman 64 (source: Telekom soigneur Jef D'Hondt, on Panorama), where 50 is the current legal limit.

Riis said he was speaking out for his current team, CSC, where he is the team director, and where he said attention on his possible involvement in doping while racing was an ongoing distraction. The team, he claims, is completely behind him.

So, who's next?

Also:

Cyclocosm | I Have Doper Mind Control, Bruseghin wins Giro HTT

Endless Cycle | Riis admits to EPO use

Team CSC Press Release

Posted by Frank Steele on May 25, 2007 in About the Tour, Doping, Erik Zabel, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 10, 2007

Montreal-to-Boston stage race cancelled for 2007

Nashua Telegraph | Officials hit the brakes on bike race

BostonHerald.com | Region’s “Tour de France” cancelled

A planned stage race from Montreal, Quebec, to Boston, Massachusetts by way of Vermont and New Hampshire will have to wait at least another year.

Boston mayor Tom Menino announced the change in plans Wednesday, but said he's working to support the Montreal-Boston Tour in 2008. Organizers targeted early August for the race.

This year's Tour of Utah was cancelled, and the Tour of Georgia had funding problems, even as the Tour of California drew large crowds.

A fourth US tour, the Tour of Missouri, looks to be on track for September 11-16.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 10, 2007 in Tour de Georgia, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

Honchar out of Giro

Eurosport | T-Mobile lose Honchar

T-Mobile announced that Sergei Honchar will not start the Giro.

Honchar, who led the race briefly last year, and was 2nd overall in 2004, is recovering from a cold or tendinitis, depending on your source.

Honchar's illness opens the door for Michael Barry, who takes his spot on the start line. It also changes the team's focus to stage wins from TT specialists Marco Pinotti and Frantisek Rabon or from new sprint specialist Greg Henderson of New Zealand, starting his first Grand Tour. Also starting for T-Mobile is the USA's own Aaron Olson.

Also:

T-Mobile | T-Mobile Team to focus on stage wins

Posted by Frank Steele on May 9, 2007 in Giro d'Italia 2007, Sergei Honchar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2007

Basso's chimera: “Attempted doping”

CyclingNews.com | Basso: "It was only attempted doping"

Ivan Basso spoke to reporters today about his hearing with an Italian anti-doping official yesterday. He admitted that bags of blood found in the refrigerator of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and labeled “Birillo” were his, but he said he had never used a single bag to boost his performance, or used any other illegal substance or process.

Basso said the bags were banked for use in last year's Tour de France, and that he's therefore guilty only of “attempted doping.”

“I have never taken banned substances and I have never employed blood doping … I did admit having attempted to use doping for the (2006) Tour de France and I am ready to pay the penalty for that,” Basso said. “All my wins have been achieved in a proper and clean manner and I have every intention of returning to action and continuing with the job I love once I have paid the penalty.”

It will be interesting to see whether any of the documentation found in Madrid suggests any more: There were reports last year of pages that appeared to be riders' doping schedule, and other reports of billing information for the doctor's services.

Also:

La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian) | Basso: "È tentato doping. Mai usati prodotti illeciti"

La Gazzetta also has video from the press conference.

VeloNews | Basso admits only to 'attempted' doping

Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2007 in Doping, Giro d'Italia 2006, Ivan Basso | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 07, 2007

Giro 2007 rosters announced

Gazzetta.it: Giro d'Italia | Le squadre

Giro organizers unveiled rosters for the 2007 Giro d'Italia today.

Four former winners of the race -- Astana's Paolo Savoldelli, Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni, Lampre's Damiano Cunego, and Acqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli -- will feature in this year's edition, but a lot of media attention will be on the missing defending champion, Ivan Basso, who admitted today he was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes.

The shadow of Operación Puerto appears to have fallen on Tyler Hamilton of Tinkoff Credit Systems and Jorg Jaksche of Astana, as well. Neither is on their team's race roster, despite claims by Tinkoff that Hamilton is clear to race.

There are some other interesting plot points that actually involve racing: Robbie McEwen and Alessandro Petacchi are set to renew their rivalry, possibly challenged by a couple of transplants from US racing: Argentina's Juan José Haedo of CSC and New Zealand's Greg Henderson of T-Mobile. Paolo Bettini wears number 1 in Basso's absence. Danilo Di Luca continues to try to evolve into a Grand Tour contender.

Three US riders are set to make the start: Discovery Channel's George Hincapie, Saunier Duval's Aaron Olson, and CSC's Dave Zabriskie.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2007, Giro d’Italia, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Basso admits Puerto involvement in face of DNA test

Eurosport | Basso had crisis of conscience

Ivan Basso came clean today. At a hearing with an Italian anti-doping prosecutor, the defending Giro d'Italia champion admitted his involvement in blood doping.

Basso, 29, told Ettore Torri of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) he was in fact involved with Spanish Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, and said he would cooperate with the ongoing CONI investigations. Facing a likely DNA test to confirm or deny his involvement with the doping ring, Basso looks likely to be suspended from all racing for 2 years, and from ProTour teams for an additional 2 years.

Italian cycling federation head Renato Di Rocco:

The head of the Italian cycling federation Renato Di Rocco applauded Basso's decision to collaborate, telling the Gazzetta dello Sport, "Ivan has done exactly what everyone asked of Pantani, and Marco didn't do; now, we ask in the name of cycling to not leave Ivan Basso alone."

UCI president Pat McQuaid:

"Most of all I am very sad that a talented rider like Basso seems to have been involved in some illicit practices," he said. "On the other hand I'm trying to look at this news in a more positive light. Our constant efforts, with our other cycling partners, to put cyclists under pressure are paying off.

"Right now it's not easy to break the rules," he added.

Basso is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow to make a public statement.

AP Sports quotes Basso's lawyer that no further bombshells are expected: “ ‘This kind of activity was carried out individually,’ Martelli said in a telephone interview. ‘He never saw or heard of other riders.’ ”

Also:

Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian) | Basso confessa: "Tolto un peso dalla coscienza"

CyclingNews | Basso confesses his involvement in Operación Puerto

VeloNews | Basso admits involvement in Puerto scandal

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2007 in Doping, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d'Italia 2007, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (4)

May 01, 2007

Savoldelli takes Romandie prologue

Eurosport | Savoldelli wins second consecutive title

Astana's Paolo Savoldelli is the first leader of the Tour of Romandy/Tour de Romandie, after a 4:35.12 over a 3.5-kilometer time trial in Fribourg today.

Savoldelli was 5 seconds faster than Czech rider Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas and 7 seconds faster than Predictor-Lotto's Chris Horner, of the United States.

David Millar, fresh from a somewhat disappointing time trial at the Tour de Georgia, was 15 seconds back of Savoldelli, but he still is focused on the Tour de France prologue, where he hopes to take the yellow jersey in London.

Defending champion Cadel Evans was 16th on the day, 14 seconds behind Savoldelli. Robbie McEwen brought up the ceremonial rear, 166th at 1:30 back.

Other notable times:

13) David Zabriskie, USA, CSC, at :12
24) Thomas Dekker, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :16
27) Oscar Pereiro, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne, at :16
37) Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, at :17
29) Janez Brajkovic, Slovenia, Discovery Channel, at :17
59) Carlos Sastre, Spain, CSC, at :20

Posted by Frank Steele on May 1, 2007 in Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Tour de Romandie | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tinkoff's Hamilton, Jaksche may be excluded from Giro

Dave Zabriskie
Tyler Hamilton,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

cyclingnews.com | Giro participation of Hamilton & Jaksche in question

Tyler Hamilton and Tinkoff Credit Systems teammate Jorg Jaksche may be barred from riding in the Giro d'Italia, as Grand Tour organizers look to exclude any riders with a link to Operación Puerto.

Hamilton's case is particularly difficult, because he has just come off a 2 year suspension for blood doping, but UCI president Pat McQuaid has previously said he believes any involvement in Puerto, even if it dated from before the suspension, should be treated as a second infraction.

Grand Tour organizers agreed over the weekend to exclude riders associated with the Spanish investigation, and La Gazetta dello Sport reported on the full 6,000-page investigation file. They claim 49 additional riders (on top of 58 in the June 2006 report) are implicated by the full file.

There are some reports that Hamilton and Jaksche have been suspended, but the team denies this:

Tinkoff's Omar Piscina talked to the Associated Press today regarding Hamilton and Jaksche's alleged suspension. "We have no intention of suspending Hamilton or Jaksche. We haven't received any sort of notice from the authorities and nobody is investigating them as far as we know," said Piscina.

Piscina went farther with VeloNews:

“For me, Tyler and Jörg can start the Giro. Stories that they are suspended are not true,” Tinkoff general manager Omar Piscina told VeloNews on Monday. “Tinkoff has a list of 12 riders that can go to the Giro. Tyler is on that list and we expect him to race.”

Hamilton didn't ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege, an ASO-sponsored race he won in 2003, over the weekend.

VeloNews reporter Jason Sumner talked to Hamilton at the Tour de Georgia, and Hamilton denied any involvement:

“Take my hair if you want. Do whatever you want. For me it's all done. Nobody has ever called me about Operación Puerto. Nobody sent me any questions. People are welcome to call me. I don't know this guy - Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes,” Hamilton said. “I've never met this guy. If somebody has a question, please ask me. Sure they've sent my name out to the press and I've basically gotten railroaded. But they haven't asked for my hair. If you want my hair, take it.” Hamilton then plucked a hair from his head and offered to Sumner.

Also:

VeloNews | Will Hamilton start Giro? Tinkoff says yes

Posted by Frank Steele on May 1, 2007 in Doping, Giro d'Italia 2007, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

EU taking action to help Unibet against ASO

IHT.com | EU backs Unibet over Tour de France ban

Representatives of the European Union, already pursuing legal action against France for its gambling rules, said Monday the exclusion of Unibet.com from races in France or run by a French sponsor, is another violation of EU rules.

"The whole matter is violating the rules of the internal market," European Commission spokesman Oliver Drewes said Monday. "No team can be excluded from another country just because you don't like the sponsor."

ASO, which organizes the Tour de France and a number of other races, has refused to allow the Unibet.com team into its races, because French law prohibits advertising by foreign gambling companies. ASO welcomes the Lotto team, now Predictor-Lotto, which is co-sponsored by the Belgian national lottery; Française des Jeux, a French national lottery; and the Tour's green jersey competition is sponsored by PMU, the French horse-racing collective.

The EU was formed to eliminate friction across 27 European countries, including France, and the commissioners say French law in this case clearly establishes illegal barriers to trade.

Also:

FT.com / Europe | EU rides to the rescue of barred Tour cyclists

Posted by Frank Steele on May 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Basso leaves Discovery Channel, abandons season

Eurosport | Basso leaves Discovery

Defending Giro champion Ivan Basso has left the Discovery Channel team, in the wake of a new look at reports he may have been involved in Operacion Puerto.

The Italian, signed by Discovery in December, is scheduled to appear in Rome before his national anti-doping agency this Wednesday after an agreement over the weekend by the Grand Tour organizers to continue to exclude riders believed to be involved in Operación Puerto.

Basso released a statement, saying in part:

“(Sports director) Johan (Bruyneel), (general manager) Bill (Stapleton) and my team mates have always believed in me and shown me great respect. This decision is my way of showing them that same respect. The team is trying to find a new sponsor and win bike races, and my situation is a distraction to both of those goals. It is important that everyone knows this was 100 percent my decision. Nobody asked me to leave. I am grateful to all of the staff and riders and wish them the best of luck.”

Also:

La Gazzetta dello Sport | Discovery-Basso è divorzio (in Italian)

ProCycling | Basso asks to be released from contract

VeloNews | Basso leaving Discovery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 1, 2007 in Doping, Ivan Basso, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack