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First Edition Cycling News for June 22, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

CSC releases internal testing results

Hematocrit changes over time
Photo ©: Team CSC
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC took the unprecedented step of releasing internal medical controls for its 28 riders today. The team's antidoping programme is touted as a novel and transparent process with three goals: "To catch cheaters and detect doping, to set entirely new standards for the future fight against doping and to maintain the health and integrity of the riders," according to the physician in charge of administering the regime, Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard.

The programme was credited with saving the team's sponsorship by computer company CSC after director Bjarne Riis admitted to using banned substances during his career. "We want to play a big part in creating a healthy future for cycling and with the implementation of this program as well as the test results being made public today, we have taken a giant leap in the right direction," said Riis.

The team issued a press release containing graphs which summarise the results of the tests, but lack more detail. The graphs chart the riders' haematocrit, haemoglobin, and "OFF" scores from December until the end of May. According to the document, "The OFF-score is an equation containing haemoglobin and reticulocytes (the immature red blood cell). By combining the two variables it is possible to determine whether an athlete has used EPO or even performed (autologous) blood transfusion procedures."

Most of the charts appear to have values in the range of the normal population with a few outliers. One rider returned a haemoglobin and haematocrit value near the UCI limits in December, but those values quickly declined to normal levels once the season started.

"It is known that haematocrit and haemoglobin is higher at the beginning of the competition season and then declining in well-trained athletes," explains the document. "In addition, the extent of non-sport specific modalities such as illness, high altitude training, use of hypoxic chambers, overseas flights etc. influencing blood variables is not easy to establish. Thus, the variations in some elite athletes may express higher values than for normal, healthy people."

"OFF" scores for the CSC riders
Photo ©: Team CSC
(Click for larger image)

The chart of the OFF-scores show all riders being well below the UCI limit of 133, and also below the Team CSC cut-off of 125.6 - a value suggested by the developers of the test.

According to the statement, the collection of test samples were carried out unannounced, and mainly out-of-competition (85% of all tests), and performed under WADA guidelines and analysed in WADA-accredited laboratories. The results have also been made available to the UCI, providing additional incentives for the riders to stay away from doping.

"The UCI has access to all testing plans and outcomes," said UCI president Pat McQuaid. "Results are managed by the UCI in accordance with UCI rules."

"More importantly, Team CSC is making genuine efforts to change its team culture so that riders no longer feel the need or pressure to dope. The combination of CSC's strong antidoping programme with their equally strong culture of hard, clean riding is certainly an example for other pro teams to follow," said McQuaid.

Graphics

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Team CSC

Astana 'not hiding anything'

By Shane Stokes in Crans Montana

Following the news that the UCI are monitoring several riders on suspicion of possible doping, the Astana team has officially rejected media suggestions that their riders could be involved.

The Kazakh-sponsored, Swiss registered team issued a press release on Thursday responding to unspecified media reports which had alleged that its riders could be the 'Men in Black.' The name referred to riders who have been allegedly training without team colours in order to evade detection.

The Astana communiqué stated that while its riders sometimes train without team kit, there is a valid reason for this. Furthermore, the team says that its riders have no problem with out of competition testing.

"Since the UCI announced that it is following in particular six to seven riders, likely to have recourse to illicit products, certain media busied themselves with the sowing of doubt within the teams."

"The Astana Cycling Team does not wish to enter this game and wants to clarify the following: If during the present season, it was tolerated very occasionally that certain riders train in an anonymous way, this is so that the professionals of Astana are not continuously disturbed by the many cyclotourists - in particular on the Côte d'Azur – and not in wishing to hide something."

Indeed several other big name professionals have trained in non-team kit in the past for this reason.

"The last training camp of the Astana team in the Pyrenees was conducted in the colours of the Kazakh squad. The Astana Cycling Team shows that it is perfectly favourable to the surprise controls which can be carried out by the team itself, the UCI, national Federations or WADA. The riders from Astana do not avoid this in any sense."

A team official told Cyclingnews that the team is regularly asked to do out of competition testing, and that they are prepared to do this. According to them, Andreas Klöden was once tested five times in one week. "We don't have a problem with that," they said.

Armstrong bashes new Walsh book

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, now in his second year of retirement, continues to have to defend himself against allegations that he used doping products during his career. Just days before the start of this year's Tour, more allegations against Armstrong are due to come out on June 25th in the form of a follow-up to David Walsh's L.A. Confidentiel called From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France.

According to the book's description in online stores, "Walsh explores the many facets of the cyclist doping scandals in the United States and abroad. He examines how performance-enhancing drugs can infiltrate a premier sports event - and why athletes succumb to the pressure to use them."

The book quotes many of the same sources of the previous tome, including Armstrong's soigneur Emma O'Reilly, former U.S. Postal team doctor Prentice Steffen, Greg LeMond, and former Armstrong team-mates.

Armstrong issued a statement that contains harsh criticisms of the author, accusing Walsh of producing an "unobjective" book that is "a sensationalised attempt to cash in on my name and sully my reputation by people who have demonstrated a consistent failure to adhere to the most basic journalistic standards or ethics."

While Floyd Landis is also mentioned in the title of the book, he declined to issue a statement regarding the book's release. His spokesperson Michael Henson stated that Landis' own book Positively False "will provide an interesting and enlightening response to any of the allegations made in Mr. Walsh's forthcoming book."

Armstrong won a lawsuit against the insurance company SCA Promotions after a trial that included plenty of startling testimony, and refutes Walsh's allegations by stating that "I was awarded 7.5 Million dollars in actual and punitive damages by a professional panel of legal experts who received all the evidence and heard from all the 'eyewitnesses'."

David Walsh himself admitted that much of L.A. Confidentiel was based on circumstantial evidence. However, a lawsuit by Armstrong to require the publisher to include a rebuttal in editions of the book was denied by a French court.

Armstrong blasted the latest book, saying that it "recycled allegations from the first books and cherry-picked allegations and testimony from the losing side of a court case I won and attempts to portray them as facts."

Dekker pressured to break with Cecchini

Thomas Dekker in 2006
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Thomas Dekker, winner of yesterday's Tour de Suisse stage, is a client of the Italian doctor Luigi Cecchini. Now the UCI is putting pressure on the young Dutchman and his Rabobank team to sever the relationship, because of the doctor's past association with doping.

Dekker is considering what action to take. "A lot has been said about this controversial doctor," he told the NOS Sportjournal. "Perhaps I will have to face the consequences." He said that he has learned a lot from Cecchini, and added that he has often been tested by his team, with no unusual results.

Slipstream picks up Martin

Team Slipstream, which was recently announced as the latest professional team to be added to the inaugural Tour of Ireland start list, have an additional incentive to perform well on the island: its newest signing is Irishman Daniel Martin.

"We will be debuting Irish rider Daniel Martin as a stagiaire there," said Slipstream director Jonathan Vaughters. "He is a highly sought after U23 talent... We beat the ProTour teams to the punch in signing this hotshot."

Martin, the nephew of cycling legend Stephen Roche, and cousin to Credit Agricole's Nicolas Roche, was the winner of the mountains classification in the Ronde de l'Isard, so his climbing ability was an obvious reason for the Slipstream team to select him. In addition, Vaughters noted that "his talent and sense of humour will fit in perfectly with what we've got coming in 2008."

Vaughters will send a strong team to the Irish race, and said "I think we'll have a competitive team, as its the last race we do before the USPRO road championships."

Milram, Gerolsteiner for Team Time Trial

Sunday will bring the third edition of the Eindhoven Team Time Trial in the Netherlands. Gerolsteiner has been on the podium the first two years and will see if it can do it again this year.

Gerolsteiner: Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Oscar Gatto, Torsten Hiekmann, Sven Krauss, Tom Stamsnijder and Carlo Westphal.

Milram: Alessandro Cortinovis, Volodymyr Diudia, Andrey Grivko, Christian Knees, Brett Lancaster, Martin Mueller, Marcel Sieberg and Niki Terpstra

Course changes for Nature Valley GP

By Kirsten Robbins in St. Paul, Minnesota

Stage changes to the 2007 Nature Valley Grand Prix are being put to the test beginning with stage one's downtown criterium held in St. Paul, Minnesota. The opening stage was changed from the previous year's individual time trial prologue, which now takes place as stage three on the morning of another criterium in Minneapolis.

Race director, David LaPorte explained that the change was intended to mix the business of a bike race while appealing to the pleasure of the crowds surrounding St. Paul and Minneapolis. "First, we want to increase spectator appeal," LaPorte said. "Time trials are very important to the athletics, but are not crowd pleasers. The Nature Valley Grand Prix's goal is to be exciting and fan-friendly to draw new people into the sport. Criteriums do that in a way that time trials don't.

"New people who come to an opening criterium will likely be hooked and will attend more events during the week. People who come to time trials think that that's typical of bike racing and don't come back."

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is in its ninth season and growing each year. LaPorte was delighted when St. Paul offered to host stage one's criterium along with stage three's individual time trial. "The City of St. Paul begged us to put on a criterium like the one in Minneapolis," LaPorte said. "This came all the way from the top. When a major city asks for a bike race, you don't say no."

The time trial has changed location from Sheppard/Warner Road to Lilydale/Water St, a scenic road that runs along the other side of the Mississippi River. LaPorte said that traffic was the main concern and the reason for the course change. "The Shepard/Warner Road time trial shut down a major arterial," LaPorte said. "Since the Friday morning time trial is not intended as a spectator event, it made more sense to run it through the park on the other side of the river. But it will get good TV coverage."

Manchester track for sale

Many famous riders touched the boards with their tyres
Photo ©: Richard Robotham
Click for larger image

Track fans now have a chance to own a little bit of history. The Manchester Velodrome, which is currently being resurfaced in preparation for the 2008 UCI World Championships, is no longer in need of the boards that rumbled under the tyres of Chris Boardman when he broke the world hour record in September, 1996.

The track's surface was originally laid when the track opened in 1994, and is being replaced with a new layer of Siberian pine, which is scheduled to be ready for racing on August 1st.

"The old track simply wore out after 13 years," said Jarl Walsh, General Manager of Manchester Velodrome: "This is the busiest track in the world, remember. The bulk of the track is being chipped and turned into chipboard but we are selling bits of the track to those who have requested it."

One bit of wood will not be for sale, however. "Chris Boardman has already earmarked the location on the track where he broke the world record," said Walsh. Other parts are being used in creative ways. "We understand that the bits bought are being turned into lots of things like tables and sculptures. One cycle shop wants to use it to make its shop counter."

Prices for the track are: £10 for a 12 inch piece with no markings, £15 for a 12 inch piece with general marking lines on, £25 for a 12 inch piece with pursuit/200m line markings, £40 for a 12 inch piece with the finish line.

For more information, email admin@manchestervelodrome.com

USA Pro Tour heads to Rochester

The downtown streets of Rochester, New York will host the next round of the USA Cycling Professional Tour: the 4th Annual Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium, on Saturday, June 23. The one-mile loop through the downtown streets comprise a true American-style criterium course, with six turns each lap and a gradual rise through the start-finish line.

Teams from around North America will be chasing the UCI points (cat 1.2) on the line, and well as points toward the season-long USA Cycling Professional Tour.

The Navigators Insurance team will return with defending Rochester champion Hilton Clarke of Australia, but will face strong competition from the Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada team who will be racing within blocks of their title sponsor's headquarters, and the strong criterium teams of Colavita/Sutter Home and Toyota/United Pro.

Win Cervelo Soloist carbon bike

Play Le Tour fantasy game

Play the Fantasy Le Tour game
Giro d'Italia Fantasy Game

Play the 2007 Le Tour game and win a Cervelo Soloist Carbon bike. The full details of the specifications of this bike will be released shortly. It's free to play the first three stages - you could be our first winner of the great Daily Stage winner prizes from BBB. Registration has already begun.

Be a professional team manager for the 2007 Le Tour and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Tour. In what's set to be the most open Tour in decades, based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Update - Le Tour Fantasy Game Prize List

Descente Classic Chevron designer clothing
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Prize summary:From one Grand Prize and one First Runner-up to three each Second, Third, and Fourth Runner-up prize packages, there are eleven chances for you to win based on your overall performance in the 2007 Le Tour Fantasy Game. There are also 21 daily prizes for each stage's top performer. All prizes are as listed (substitution requests cannot be honored). The roster of prizes so far is as follows:

Grand Prize from Cervelo, Soloist Carbon bike

Daily Prize from BBB Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses designed for Tom Boonen.

Giro Atmos Helmet - x3 Giro Atmos Helmet
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)
Runner-up Prizes

  • Set of Shimano Dura Ace WH-7801-SL Wheels - three sets on offer
  • Maxxis Courchevel road tyres - 10 sets on offer
  • Descente Classic Chevron design clothing - four sets on offer
  • PRO Carbon Bottle Cage - x10 on offer
  • Giro Atmos Helmet - x3 Giro Atmos Helmet
  • BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses - one for each day of tour

More prizes will be announced in the coming days. To find out more visit the prizes page

Play for free in the Fantasy Le Tour 2007 game

BBB's BSG-23 Winner Team Quickstep glasses
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Remember you can play for free for the first three stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start list. Then each day pick nine riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters, and general classification riders.

For more details go to the rules section of the site. There's also some great tips and tricks in the downloads and winners sections of the site. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2007.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)

Giro d'Italia Fantasy Game

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