June 07, 2007

Tour organizers: Bjarne who?

BBC SPORT | Tour takes Riis off winners list

Tour de France organizers are telling the press that Bjarne Riis has been stricken from the Tour winners list after his admission last month that he used EPO for 6 seasons, including 1996, when he won the Tour.

Tour spokesman Philippe Sudres said: "We have removed him from the list because of the doping admission.

"We consider philosophically that he can no longer claim to have won."

Two issues: 1) A quick look at the official Tour website shows that Riis is right there were he's always been, atop the 1996 Tour.

2) Who, then, deserves the win? Jan Ullrich, who was 2nd in '96 riding alongside Riis at EPO-fueled Telekom? Richard Virenque in 3rd, riding for Festina, which gave us the most scandalous Tour since 1904?

The cynic in me wonders if this is a first step toward eventually declaring that the 2006 Tour had no winner. Some Tour officials have already said they don't consider Floyd Landis last year's winner, and now with Oscar Pereiro refusing to take a DNA test to clear up speculation that he's “Urko” in the Operación Puerto athlete files, organizers may prefer to have no winner to having an appointed and controversial winner.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 7, 2007 in Doping, Floyd Landis, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Pereiro, Richard Virenque | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2006

Virenque injured in amateur time trial

SLAM! Sports | Virenque hurt during cycling fall in Alps

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.


Yahoo! Sport France | Richard Virenque hospitalisé après une grave chute à vélo | Rough Google translation

Posted by Frank Steele on August 13, 2006 in Richard Virenque, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Virenque schedules Friday press conference, may retire

procycling.com | Virenque to announce retirement

Reigning Tour de France King of the Mountains Richard Virenque, 34, is expected to follow Laurent Dufaux's lead, and exit the sport Friday.

Virenque won the polka-dot jersey a record seven times during a 14 year pro career.

Posted by Frank Steele on September 22, 2004 in Richard Virenque | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 25, 2004

Stage 20: Boonen tops the sprinters, Armstrong wraps 6th Tour

Tom Boonen of Quick Step took his 2nd stage win of the 2004 Tour, beating the surviving sprinters over the line on the Champs-Elysees.

Boonen got a great lead-out from teammate Stefano Zanini after teammate Paolo Bettini spent several laps animating a 10-man breakaway that gained 40 seconds on the Champs-Elysees.

Lotto-Domo's Robbie McEwen will take the green jersey with a 4th place finish on the day.

Stage 20 Top 10:
1) Tom Boonen (QuickStep)
2) Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R)
3) Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner)
4) McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
5) Zabel (T-Mobile)
6) Casper (Cofidis)
7) Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
8) Baden Cooke (fdjeux.com)
9) Massimiliano Mori (Domina Vacanze)
10) De Groot (Rabobank)

In the GC, Lance Armstrong has closed out his unprecedented win number 6. His mother is on hand to see it in a beautiful yellow dress, Robin Williams and Sheryl Crow are there, and a big enthusiastic crowd is there to see it. Also on hand are Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Richard Virenque has also set an all-time record, with his 7th King of the Mountains title.

Awarded the overall combativity prize for the entire Tour is also Virenque, so Quick Step has quite a day going. Filippo Simeoni doesn't finish empty-handed, as he was named the most aggressive rider of the final stage.

The white jersey goes to Russia's 13th-placed Vladimir Karpets of Illes Balears-Banesto, who won this contest last year with Denis Menchov.

The overall Top 10:
1) Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) at 6:19
3) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 6:40
4) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 8:50
5) Jose Azevedo (US Postal) at 14:30
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 18:01
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 18:27
8) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 19:51
9) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 20:12
10) Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) 22:54

Complete overall standings are available over at RoadCycling.com.

T-Mobile goes home without a stage win, but did win the team standings, ahead of US Postal, then CSC.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 22, 2004

Virenque to set KoM record with 7th title

Eurosport | Virenque's lucky number seven

By going to the front early today, and leading the race over several climbs, Richard Virenque has ensured that, if he makes it to the Champs-Elysees, he'll win an all-time record 7th polka-dot jersey.

"That jersey means a lot to me. My first was in 1994 and it's ten years ago already. It's been ten years and I'm still around. I won a stage again, like I did last year and the year before."

"I rode in the [Miguel] Indurain era and now in the Armstrong era. When I saw Armstrong win the Tour the way he started winning it, I knew my chances of overall victory had gone."

"I reverted to that polka-dot jersey which is a great satisfaction and it suits me just fine."

"I don't know if I'll do this again next year. The more the years go by, the more difficult it gets. I'm getting old. We'll see."

Virenque's other 6 wins came in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2003.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2004 in Richard Virenque, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2004

Alpe d'Huez time trial underway

Robbie McEwen came in at 47:22, which is unlikely to get him disqualified. He popped a wheelie over the finish line.

Lance Armstrong's bike failed the weigh-in by 180 grams. The team had to add some ballast before he took off. Coming soon, I'm sure, to a Trek commercial near you.

Mikel Astarloza of AG2R was the early leader in 43:06, but now David Moncoutié drops the time to a 42:04. Santos Gonzalez of Phonak drops the time to 41:52, matched by Giuseppe Guerini of T-Mobile, about a half-second slower. Now José Azevedo sets a new mark with a 41:26! But then, here comes Ullrich in 40:42! Look above for more on Armstrong, who wins the day with a 39:41!

Armstrong has caught Basso, his 2-minute man, and ridden by him! His last time check is 56 seconds faster than Ullrich. Looks like Armstrong will take his 3rd individual stage win of the 2004 Tour today.

Andreas Klöden: 41:23
Vladimir Karpets: 41:56
Carlos Sastre: 42:08
Michael Rogers: 42:15
Georg Totschnig: 42:56
Christophe Moreau: 43:06
Richard Virenque: 44:11
Bobby Julich:  44:23
Stuart O'Grady: 45:12
Roberto Heras: 45:19 (!!!)
Viatcheslav Ekimov: 45:56
Christian Vande Velde: 46:12

Thomas Voeckler finished with a 46:something. Vladimir Karpets will take a big chunk out of the white jersey.

Azevedo has set the top time at the 2nd time check with a 24:40, but now Jan Ullrich comes through even faster, a 24:07; Basso rode a 24:43 to the checkpoint, and Armstrong demolishes all their times with a 23:28 to the checkpoint!

Sheryl Crow is in the US Postal pace car. Take that, Robin Williams!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Christian Vande Velde, Christophe Moreau, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Robbie McEwen, Sheryl Crow, Stuart O'Grady | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 20, 2004

Stage 15 underway: Jan attacks!

With nearly 40 miles to go, Jan Ullrich accelerated out of Lance Armstrong's group. He's caught and rode with Santos Gonzalez, who was on an attack, and former world champion Laurent Brochard of AG2R. Ullrich had more than a minute advantage at one point, but was captured with 27 kilometers/17 miles to ride.

Richard Virenque and Michael Rasmussen led for much of the stage. Ullrich's attack never quite bridged up to them, but as Armstrong closed in on Rasmussen/Virenque, Levi Leipheimer jumped across the gap, tried to join with Rasmussen and Virenque, but Rasmussen couldn't hang. Leipheimer and Virenque tried to make a move, but the higher tempo of Armstrong's group dropped some riders off the back, including Brochard and CSC's Jens Voigt and Postal's Floyd Landis and Jose-Luis Rubiera. Now Leipheimer and Virenque have been recaptured, and all the contenders are together: Armstrong with Azevedo, Ullrich and Kloden for T-Mobile, Basso and Sastre for CSC, Virenque of Quick Step, and Leipheimer of Rabobank.

On the day's last descent, Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank and CSC's Jens Voigt have rejoined the elite group. Sabaliuskas of Saeco has climbed back up to join the leaders, so there are 11 riders in the elite group.

Armstrong is "yellow jersey on the road," since he leads Voeckler by more than the 22 seconds between them: The gap to the main peloton is 7 minutes+.

Stuart O'Grady has picked up 6 green jersey points by taking the 2nd intermediate sprint of the day, ahead of Thor Hushovd and Laurent Brochard.

Virenque has picked up 20+ points in the polka-dot jersey competition.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Richard Virenque, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 19, 2004

Voeckler to ride for France at Athens Olympics

procycling | Olympic reward for Voeckler

Yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler's performance in the French national championships and in the 2004 Tour de France have earned him a place on France's squad for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Also on the squad will be Laurent Brochard, Sylvain Chavanel, Christophe Moreau, and Richard Virenque.

French technical director Patrick Cluzaud recognized Jérôme Pineau as the last man out in the selection process, edged by Chavanel, and named David Moncoutié and Sandy Casar as two others who "are going well."

Moreau and Brochard will race the time trial for France.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2004 in 2004 Olympics, Christophe Moreau, Richard Virenque, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2004

Armstrong: 'Lucky to make it through' Basque fans

VeloNews | Armstrong's biggest worry: Basque fans

Lance Armstrong said the huge Basque crowds on Plateau de Beille Saturday were exceptionally loud and agressive.

"We just passed a section of people, mostly Basque people that were pretty amazing, very loud and aggressive, though not all bad," said Armstrong.

"I understand they expected big things from Mayo. We looked at each other and said, 'Man, it's unbelievable that we went through that without being killed.' We were lucky to make it through that section."

Someone claimed on rec.bicycles.racing that fans at the mountaintop finish cheered when Armstrong was shown flatting on the descent before the day's final climb.

And, to forestall charges of anti-Americanism, I'll point out that France's Richard Virenque, the current King of the Mountains, expressed similar reservations.

"For the first time, I was frightened on a bike," joked Virenque, who is bidding for a record seventh polka-dot jersey on his 12th Tour. "I was afraid I might get kidnapped."

Above, a Casey B. Gibson photo proving that some gestures are nearly universal.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in About the Tour, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Stage 13 underway

After today's abandons, there are only 4 complete teams left in this Tour de France:

US Postal
Team CSC
Quick Step-Davitamon

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann has also abandoned today.

Leading the race over the first 4 climbs has been a break of 3, including Brioches la Boulangere's Sylvain Chavanel, Jens Voigt from Team CSC, and Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank. They've been up by about 5 minutes, but now Chavanel has been caught by Armstrong's group, and the gap to Voigt and Rasmussen has fallen under 2 minutes.

Iban Mayo is at least 10 minutes back on the stage, and clearly suffering on the Pyrenean climbs where he has made his reputation. He actually got off the bike (shades of Simoni), but was convinced to get back on, and continues. For now.

Thomas Voeckler continues to ride above his head in an incredible show of courage, and of the power the yellow jersey sometimes has to elevate a rider. He's again yo-yoed off the lead group on the climbs, but fought back, and is riding with Armstrong. He's reportedly had stomach problems, as well.

Jan Ullrich is still riding with Armstrong in the main field, but Heras is falling away from the leaders. He crashed earlier in the stage.

The elite group, once down under 20, has grown, as the riders get ready to start up Plateau de Beille, the first beyond-category climb of the race.

Richard Virenque's polka-dotted jersey has come under attack by Chavanel and Rasmussen, and Virenque has had to settle for 4th-place points over 5 climbs. Rasmussen now sits 2nd in the competition.

Onto the Plateau de Beille, 2 Posties immediately fell off the pace, Landis and Hincapie. Armstrong still has Rubiera and Azevedo, and Voeckler has finally fallen off the elite group.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Roberto Heras, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 14, 2004

Virenque climbs to Stage 10 victory

BBC SPORT | Virenque delights crowds
Here's one for the old-timers in this Tour of youngsters, as 34-year-old Richard Virenque took a dramatic breakaway win.

The Quick Step-Davitamon team leader maintained a fierce tempo as he closed in on a seventh Tour stage win received a raptorous reception when he rode into Saint-Flour after 6:00.24 in the saddle.

The victory was France's 14th on Bastille Day since the war and the first since Laurent Jalabert's 2001 win.

Quick Step's strategy in the King of the Mountains competition is now clear: They sent Bettini out in the race's early days to keep another rider from loading up on garbage KoM points, and used him today to keep anyone from limiting Virenque's gains by leading the field over the line.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what Christophe Moreau of Credit Agricole was up to in grabbing the crumbs of the lowest king of the mountain placing; any ideas?

You won't be reminded of it on OLN, but Virenque was the rider in the very center of the Festina affair that overshadowed the 1998 Tour.


BBC Sport | Tour de France stage 10 photos

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2004 in Paolo Bettini, Photo galleries, Richard Virenque, Stage results | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Virenque takes stage, polka-dots on Bastille Day

Richard Virenque pulled off a trademark long breakaway on the Tour's first truly mountainous stage, and took a stage win in Saint Flours.

It was Virenque's 7th career stage win, and by taking 1st place in each of the 9 king of the mountain contests today, he moves into the lead for the polka-dot jersey, which he's won 6 times. Like Lance Armstrong, Virenque is looking to set a new career record this year, by becoming the first 7-time King of the Mountains.

Virenque's 200-km breakaway, first in a group of 18, then with Axel Merckx, and finally alone, is one of the longest in Tour history. I'll be wearing my polka-dot jersey pin today -- that was a hell of a ride.

After 5:19, the peloton approached the finish. On the finish line, T-Mobile's Andreas Kloden led in Erik Zabel, who will score some green jersey points, then Francisco Mancebo, yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler, then Lance Armstrong, right among the leaders. Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, and Jan Ullrich were a few meters back, but in the same time. Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer were caught behind a gap on the finish, and lost 7 seconds in the overall, but that's no big deal.

Top 5:

1) Virenque (Quick Step)
2) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
3) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)
5) Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere)

Virenque moves into 4th overall, and some of the flatlanders are starting to move down the GC. About half the peloton came in 24:24 back of Virenque. Au revoir, Magnus!

Thomas Voeckler remains the race leader for at least another day, capping a terrific Bastille Day for French cycling. The GC:

1. Thomas Voeckler
2. Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) at 3:00
3. Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com) at 4:13
4. Richard Virenque at 6:52
5. Jakob Piil (CSC) at 7:31
6. Lance Armstrong at 9:35
7. Erik Zabel at 9:58
8. Jose Azevedo (US Postal) at 10:04
9. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) at 10:09
10. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 10:18

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2004 in Richard Virenque, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2003

Stage 7: Virenque powers to yellow

Five-time king of the mountains Richard Virenque of QuickStep (who was at the center of the Festina scandal in 1998) won today's stage to Morzine decisively, and will wear yellow tomorrow.

Virenque also won the stage to Morzine in 2000 (which was the stage where Armstrong bonked and lost time, though he retained the yellow jersey).

Rolf Aldag rode a brilliant stage, and finished second in the stage. At one point, he was dropped by Virenque and his teammate Paolo Bettini, but fought back up to Virenque, and later dropped him on a climb!

Sylvain Chavanel and Australia's Michael Rogers gapped the field to finish 3rd and 4th.

Several contenders rode themselves out of contention, including Gilberto Simoni and Santiago Botero.

Tyler Hamilton stayed with Armstrong's group, which will populate most of the leaderboard.

Today's results:
1) Richard Virenque (QuickStep) 6:06:03
2) Rolf Aldag (Telekom) at 2:29
3) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches) at 3:45
4) Michael Rogers (QuickStep) at 4:02
5) Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) at 4:06
6) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) same time
7) Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) s.t.
8) David Millar (Cofidis) s.t.
9) Georg Totsching (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
10) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) s.t.

Also at 4:06:
15) Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
18) Carlos Sastre (CSC)
19) Manuel Beltran (US Postal)
21) Jan Ullrich (Telekom)
24) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto)
25) Tyler Hamilton (CSC)
26) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel)
32) Joseba Beloki (ONCE)
33) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)
37) Jorg Jaksche (ONCE)

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2003 in Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Richard Virenque, Stage results, Sylvain Chavanel | Permalink | Comments (0)