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 16, 2008

The Tour in high resolution

The Big Picture - Boston.com | 2008 Tour de France

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2008 in Photo galleries, Tour de France 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 16, 2008

Boonen: 'next big target is the green jersey'

VeloNews | Boonen to focus on green jersey defense

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 16, 2008 in Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2007

Vaughters confirms Millar, Zabriskie, Vande Velde to Slipstream

CyclingNews.com | Vaughters confirms Millar, Vande Velde, and Zabriskie

David Millar to Slipstream for '08Jonathan 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.


quickrelease.tv | Millar switches tacos

VeloNews.com | Vande Velde's View: The dust settles

Posted by Frank Steele on July 30, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Top Stories, Tour de France 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 19, 2007

Vaughters on Slipstream's next goal: the Tour

CyclingNews | Slipstreaming with Le Tour in sight

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2007 in Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Thomas Voeckler, Tour de France 2008, Tour de France 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack