July 17, 2008
Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Ricco?
Current King of the Mountains and white jersey leader Riccardo Ricco of Saunier Duval is the latest to test positive for erythropoeitin (EPO) at the Tour. His Saunier Duval team, which had three stage wins so far, withdrew before today's Stage 12.
Ricco tested positive at the 4th stage, last week's time trial. Ricco won Stage 6 and Stage 9, and was sitting in 9th overall, with the Alps yet to come. He also was 2nd in this year's Giro d'Italia.
I've seen a couple of sites suggest EPO is a retro performance enhancer, but apparently Ricco was positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoeitin Receptor Activator), a 3rd generation version of the drug that's been called “Super EPO”.
"This is a decision of the team and is not dictated by (Tour organisers) ASO," Saunier Duval sports director Matxin Fernandez said.
"We suspend the activities of the team until we understand what has happened," Fernandez added.
Hope the headline reference isn't too obscure.
July 16, 2008
The Tour in high resolution
When I worked for CNN.com, we had an AP photo feed, which had a web interface into its OS/2 heart.
I used to love to browse the feed during cycling season, because it offered full-resolution versions of the photos you (rarely) see in your local newspaper. The Big Picture is a new weblog that gives web viewers a look at these images in medium resolution, but still much larger than you typically get on the web or in your daily fishwrap.
The Tour is their featured topic for Monday, with images ranging from Didi Senft to Riccardo Ricco to the rainy Stage 8 final sprint. Definitely worth a look.
April 16, 2008
Boonen: 'next big target is the green jersey'
Tommeke Boonen says he's focused on the first week of this year's Tour, which will be key to defending his victory in the Tour's green jersey competition. “If I can collect enough points then there will be a good chance,” Boonen told VeloNews.
Boonen, who Sunday won a 2nd Paris-Roubaix, hopes to build to a third peak later in the season, for the world championships at Varese in Italy this fall.
July 30, 2007
Vaughters confirms Millar, Zabriskie, Vande Velde to Slipstream
Jonathan Vaughters, looking to win a 2008 Tour de France wildcard invitation for Team Slipstream, has confirmed three major signings for the 2008 season: Saunier Duval's David Millar and CSC's Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde.
Vande Velde confirmed the signing during Sunday's VS. broadcast, while Millar apparently planned to announce the change during the rest day Saunier Duval press conference where Vinokourov's positive became public.
The doping circus around this year's Tour would seem to only help Slipstream's chances. The team performs extensive longitudinal testing of each rider throughout the year, including blood profiling to discourage EPO use or blood transfusions.
Very nice Flickr photo of Millar warming up in London by graspnext.
July 19, 2007
Vaughters on Slipstream's next goal: the Tour
Jonathan Vaughters manages the US Continental Slipstream-Chipotle team, which spent almost half its season racing in Europe this year, and hopes to become a ProTour (or ProTour level, if the UCI designation doesn't survive) team in 2009. To that end, they're aiming at a Tour wildcard next season. In this interview with CyclingNews (conducted after the Sinkewitz positive was made public Wednesday), Vaughters talks about the team's next steps:
“2008 is going to be a very transitionary year, we are going to have some very high-profile riders and we are going to gun specifically for the Tour de France,” said Vaughters. “We have been very careful in who we hired to make that happen and we are going to have to perform very well in a very French calendar in the early part of the season to actuate that as well.”
The CyclingNews.com article mentions speculation on the team's possible 2008 roster, but Vaughters refused to jump the gun, announcing rider signings before September 1. “I have signed a lot of high-level riders,” CN.com's Mark Zalewski quotes Vaughters.
Bart Hazen at Daily Peloton offered rumors of possible Team Slipstream signees in a Tour preview on Saunier Duval in early July, including David Millar (openly attached to Slipstream in the British press), David Zabriskie, Christophe Laurent, Thomas Voeckler, David Cañada, Marcus Burghardt, Martijn Maaskant, and Jerome Pineau.
Vaughters will continue the team's anti-doping program, one of the most extensive longitudinal programs in the sport.
The team will be in action in August at the Tour of Ireland.