June 14, 2007

Petacchi, Piepoli, Mayo "non-negative" at Giro

IHT.com | Petacchi, Piepoli and Mayo are three cyclists named in doping reports from Giro d'Italia

Giro organizers reported earlier this week that 2 Italians and a Spaniard had “non-negative” dope tests at the Italian grand tour last month. Today, Gazzetta dello Sport reports the riders are Alessandro Petacchi, Leonardo Piepoli, and Iban Mayo.

All three won stages, with Petacchi winning 5. Milram's Petacchi and Saunier Duval's Piepoli reportedly tested above the allowed threshold for asthma medication salbutamol, while Mayo, also riding for Saunier Duval, reportedly tested above the limit for testosterone.

Petacchi and Piepoli both carry medical clearances to use salbutamol, and Mayo reportedly has a high natural testosterone level. Officials must consider possible clearances and exemptions, and the rider's “B” sample, before calling the test results a positive and beginning any possible disciplinary measures.

Update: VeloNews offers a translation of Piepoli's comments:

"It's true that I take Salbutamol to treat my allergy.

"Mauro (Gianetti) asked me how much I had taken. But I don't know how many puffs I took. I take it each time I need it. It depends on the seasons."

Update 2: Mayo has been cleared: The UCI says an IRMS test ruled out “any possibility of testosterone administration.”

If the reports are true, they bring to mind the case of Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. He showed a high salbutamol level in the 2002 Tour, but wasn't punished. CyclingForums.com had a good discussion of the threshold values for salbutamol in 2003. In the Gonzalez de Galdeano case, the UCI ruled that they had no upper limit on salbutamol concentration, while representatives of the (then-new) World Anti-Doping Agency maintained that 1000 nanograms/milliliter was the maximum permissible level. Petacchi reportedly showed salbutamol levels of 1200 and 1400 nanograms per milliliter.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Doping, Giro d'Italia 2007, Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 04, 2007

Giro champ Di Luca will skip Tour de France

Yahoo! eurosport | Di Luca will skip TdF

After locking up his first Giro d'Italia victory yesterday, Danilo Di Luca announced he will skip the Tour de France and try to peak again for late season races, including the World Championships in Germany.

“I won the season-long ProTour in 2005 and now it's an objective again this year. This is my first Giro victory but I want to continue winning to make 2007 the best season of my career,” he said.

The plan looks to leave Liquigas without a GC contender for the Tour: Manuel Beltran is their rider with the highest Tour placing, when he was 13th back in 2003, riding for Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel. Triki also has 2 top 10s at the Vuelta, including last year, when he was 9th.

Look for Liquigas to instead seek out opportunistic breaks for Filippo Pozzato, Luca Paolini, Magnus Backstedt, and Franco Pellizotti, depending on who winds up on their Tour squad.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 4, 2007 in Danilo Di Luca, Filippo Pozzato, Giro d'Italia 2007, Magnus Backstedt, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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.


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)

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.


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 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.’ ”


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

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.


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

February 12, 2007

Giro organizers move further from UCI with '07 team selections

CyclingNews.com | RCS Sport holds firm - Unibet.com snubbed for Tirreno, Sanremo and Giro

I guess the Grand Tour organizers really mean it; RCS today announced the Giro's team lineup, and they've left out ProTour team 19, Unibet.com.

RCS also initiated a new system, where three ProTour teams (Caisse d'Epargne, Gerolsteiner, and Rabobank) have the option to race or not race in the Giro and Milan-San Remo.

All 18 pre-Unibet.com ProTour teams are invited. If all three option teams choose not to race, then RCS will choose 7 wild-card teams from these eight teams on February 16:

Acqua & Sapone
Ceramica Flaminia
Ceramica Panaria
Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia expialidocious

If the three option teams choose to race, the RCS will name only 4 wild-card teams to the final race field.

For Milan-San Remo, the same rules apply, but RCS will select six to nine wild-cards (depending on ProTour commitments) from the above list plus Ireland's Tenax-Salmilano, for 24 total teams.

The Grand Tour organizers and the UCI have been feuding over the ProTour, which required all teams to race in every event, and required race organizers to set aside 18, and now 19, places for ProTour teams. RCS, ASO, and Unipublic prefer more wild cards.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 12, 2007 in Giro d'Italia 2007, Giro d’Italia | Permalink | Comments (0)

DP handicaps Giro wild cards

Daily Peloton | Giro d'Italia - The Chase for Wild Cards

Later today, Giro d'Italia organizers should announce the four wildcard teams for this year's race.

DailyPeloton.com offers their analysis of the 7 squads vying for those 4 spots: Astaña, Tinkoff, Serramenti PVC, Panaria Navigare, Acqua & Sapone, Unibet.com, and Barloworld. That's the order the DP staff puts the teams' chances.

I'm going to go out on a limb, and pick Unibet.com to make the Giro alongside three favorites Astaña, Tinkoff, and Serramenti. That would be a gesture of goodwill by the GT organizers and could kickstart discussions between the UCI and the tour promoters. Then again, I thought American voters would see through the Bush administration in '04, so what do I know?

Posted by Frank Steele on February 12, 2007 in Giro d'Italia 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack