July 17, 2008

Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Ricco?

BBC SPORT | Ricco the latest to fail EPO test

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.


cyclingnews.com | Riccò positive - Saunier Duval taken out of Tour

Eurosport | Ricco EPO positive stuns Le Tour

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2008 in 2008 Stage 6, 2008 Stage 9, 2008 Tour de France, Doping, Riccardo Ricco, Top Stories, Tour de France 2008 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 13, 2008

Ricco shows his strength

Riccardo Ricco of Saunier Duval took a dominant stage win as the Tour finally reached the high mountains on Stage 9.

On the steepest part of the Col d'Aspin, Ricco launched from the field through a chase group, then right past Sebastian Lang, who had been in a lead group all day long.

Ricco managed to hold off the entire field on a 28-kilometer descent to the finish, for his 2nd win of the Tour. Ricco is seen by Italian fans as a successor to Marco Pantani, the great Italian climber.

Ricco's teammate David de la Fuente holds onto the King of the Mountains jersey, but it looks like that's Ricco's jersey to lose between now and Paris at this point. Next year, he's got to be a Tour favorite.

Stage 9 Results:
1) Riccardo Ricco, Saunier Duval 5:39:28
2) Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R @ 1:04
3) Cyril Dessel, AG2R @1:17
4) Dmitri Fofonov, Credit Agricole, same time
5) Christian Knees, Milram, s.t.
6) Maxime Monfort, Cofidis, s.t.
7) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
8) Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, s.t.
9) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t.
10) Yaroslav Popovych, Silence-Lotto, s.t.

In the GC, Stefan Schumacher lost time to the overall leaders, as did David Millar and Thomas Lövkvist. That moves Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde up into 3rd overall, 44 seconds behind Columbia's Kim Kirchen.

General Classification after Stage 9:
1) Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, 38:07:19
2) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, @ :06
3) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, @ :44
4) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, @ :56
5) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, @ 1:03
6) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, @ 1:12 7) Stijn Devolder, Quick Step, @ 1:21 8) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, @ 1:21 9) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, @ 1:27 10) Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, @ 1:34

Kim Kirchen keeps the yellow jersey and retakes the lead in the green jersey competition. Lövkvist loses the white jersey to Andy Schleck.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2008 in 2008 Stage 9, 2008 Tour de France, Riccardo Ricco, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 9 on the road

You can follow these updates (and more) in near-real-time at Twitter.

Three riders went out with about 20 kilometers ridden, and have led since: Nicolas Jalabert of AG2R, Sebastian Lang of Gerolsteiner, and Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas. They've collected the day's early premiums.

Sprint 1
1) Kuschynski +6 pts
2) Jalabert +4 pts
3) Lang +2 pts

Climb 1, 4th Category
1) Lang +3 pts
2) Kuschynski +2 pts
3) Nicolas Jalabert +1 pt

Climb 2, 4th Category
1) Lang +3 pts
2) Jalabert +2 pts
3) Kuschynski +1 pt

The gap went out to 14:20, but Euskaltel-Euskadi moved to the front of the peloton and have been slowly closing it down.

Climb 3, 4th Category Cote de Mane
1) Lang +3 pts
2) Jalabert, +2 pts
3) Kuschynski +1 pts

Sprint 2
1) Jalabert +6 pts
2) Kuschynski +4 pts
3) Lang +2 pts

Climb 4, 4th Category
1) Lang +3 pts
2) Kuschynski, +2 pts
3) Jalabert +1 pt

Cadel Evans was mixed up in a fall with Gorko Verdugo with around 111 km to ride. His jersey and shorts were torn, and his left elbow bleeding, but his team quickly gathered to shepherd him back to the field.

Climbing up to the Col des Ares, a 3rd Category climb, the gap is about 11 minutes to the 3 leaders.

Col des Ares, 3rd Category
1) Lang +4 pts
2) Kuschynski +3 pts
3) Jalabert +2 pts
4) Samuel Dumoulin, Cofidis, +1 pt

Dumoulin attacked from the field to deny David de la Fuente the opportunity to extend his lead in the polka-dot jersey competition over Dumoulin's teammate Sylvain Chavanel.

On the Col de la Peyresourde, the field was whittled down to around 40 riders, inclduing all the big contenders, while Lang, Kushcynski and Jalabert separated. Felix Cardenas of Barloworld tried an attack, but was quicly reeled back in. On the upper few kilometers, Maxime Monfort of Cofidis attacked, matched by current KoM David de la Fuente, who took 4th over the top of the Peyresourde to hold the jersey, pending results on the Col d'Aspin.

Col de Peyresourde, 1st Category
1) Lang +15 pts
2) Kuschynski +13 pts @ :40
3) Jalabert +11 pts @ 3:40
4) de la Fuente +9 pts @4:50
5) Monfort +8 pts same time
6) Luis Sanchez +7 pts @5:25
7) Mikel Astarloza +6 pts same time
8) Matteo Carrerra +5 pts s.t.

On the Col d'Aspin, a number of testing attacks went off, but nothing stuck until Saunier Duval's Riccardo Ricco turboed off the field, streaking past the chase groups, then Lang like he was in reverse.

Ricco is first to the top of the Col d'Aspin, collecting double points. Lang survives to take 2nd at the top, but the field is close behind.

Col d'Aspin, 1st Category 1) Riccardo Ricco +30
2) Sebastian Lang +26 @:35
3) Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner +22 @1:15
4) David de la Fuente +18 5) Vincenzo Nibali +16
6) Oscar Pereiro +14
7) Denis Menchov +12
8) Luis Sanchez +10

David de la Fuente saves his polka-dot jersey lead for at least one more night.

Ricco bombs the downhill. The peloton hasn't made a dent in his lead. A couple of attempted breaks from the chase failed, until AG2R's Vladimir Efimkin attacked through one, and slowly built a gap.

Ricco takes his 2nd stage, ahead of Efimkin.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2008 in 2008 Stage 9, Cadel Evans, Riccardo Ricco | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

Valverde makes a statement in Stage 1

Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde showed tremendous power in closing down late attacks by Kim Kirchen and Stefan Schumacher and smoking to the first stage victory and overall leadership.

Stage 1 Results and Overall Classification (updated)
1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne
2) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, @ :01
3) Jerome Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
4) Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, s.t.
5) Riccardo Ricco, Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.
6) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, s.t.
7) Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, s.t.
8) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, s.t.
9) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.

It's the first day in yellow for Valverde, in his 4th Tour. He also leads the green jersey competition, which Philippe Gilbert will wear tomorrow. Valverde made time on all the contenders, from 1 second on Evans, 7 on Sastre and Menchov, up to 3:04 on Mauricio Soler, who crashed late in the stage.

Thomas Voeckler takes the first King of the Mountains jersey, by finishing ahead of Bjorn Schroeder, with whom he's tied on points.

Riccardo Ricco is the first leader of the white jersey competition.

Lillian Jegou was awarded the red most combative race numbers for tomorrow.

First lanterne rouge is Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas, 4:56 back.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Oscar Freire, Oscar Pereiro, Riccardo Ricco, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Versus ditches Trautwig

It's Christmas in July for U.S. Tour fans, as the Versus network has revamped its broadcast team.

Gone is Al Trautwig, who combined bombast and ignorance in staggering proportions. Replacing him is Craig Hummer, a former competitive swimmer and professional lifeguard who also has anchored bull riding and sailing coverage for Versus.

Hummer kicked off the network's broadcasters' jersey competition by picking outstanding climber Riccardo Ricco to win today's stage which finishes with a “sprinter's hill” over the last 2 kilometers.

Update: Ricco was 5th, so that was a pretty good pick after all.

I can't tell if Trautwig's absence is just because of all the pre-Olympics events on NBC, but best wishes to Hummer.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in Riccardo Ricco, Television, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (75) | TrackBack

June 26, 2007

If it's June, we must be awaiting the other shoe

Just like last year, cycling fans sit less than two weeks before the Tour, with doubts about many of the sport's biggest names.

Alessandro Petacchi and Leonardo Piepoli are still waiting on results from “B” samples taken during the Giro. One or more of the 2007-dominating Astana team has tested non-negative in out of competition tests while training in plain jerseys, leading the UCI to refer to them as “men in black.” “B” samples to come.

Meanwhile, four Giro racers will face interviews from Italian officials over suspiciously low levels of hormones. Giro champion Danilo Di Luca, Eddy Mazzoleni, Riccardo Ricco, and Gilberto Simoni all showed hormone levels that resembled preadolescents, which might result from the use of masking agents intended to hide doping.

The UCI is pushing a new Rider's Pledge as a stick to force riders to provide DNA samples. Back in April, I said “Six riders reportedly refused to join in [by providing DNA samples], but should suffer no consequences. For now, at least.” The Pledge is the UCI introducing consequences.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 26, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Danilo Di Luca, Doping, Gilberto Simoni, Riccardo Ricco | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack