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First Edition Cycling News for May 22, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Greg Johnson

USADA takes lead on penultimate stage

By Philippa Bourke in Malibu, California

Floyd Landis testifies
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis showed up in black on the one day that it was to surface on the witness stand that his former manager allegedly tampered with witness Greg LeMond. Had he run out of buttercup ties ? Or more exactly, was he giving away the game last Thursday without so much as realizing?

"It was to be a terrible day," he told today's hearing in answering United States Anti-Doping Agency, his voice a little scratchy and high, about just why it was that he chose that day to wear black, when he knew about what his former manager Will Geoghegan had been up to the night before in the hotel they shared with their attorneys.

As if raised to pick out a tie for good days and bad since boyhood, Landis gave away the fact that he might have been hoping that the story of Geoghegan never came to light that day. Or waiting (and hoping).

However, Landis, peculiarly, seemed to be pleading an almost ominous, pre-fated resignation about the affair, while at the same time tuning in to the hearing that required him to say no, "I did not." Over and over.

As he had so many times before, Landis said, he did not know what to do.

It was one of those problems that needed him to consult with others and he had not been able at the time to do so with his attorneys.

Suh, once again employing "time" at his whim, later pointed out the night before the hearing on Thursday would not have been the time to "do discovery".

The fact that Landis let on his lawyers, or at least Suh, are staying in the same hotel down the road from Pepperdine did not surface at all today.

For the full news feature on day eight proceedings, click here.

Telekom doping scandal extends

By Susan Westemeyer

Christian Henn
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Revelations of systematic doping within Team Telekom (now T-Mobile) during the 1990s continued on Tuesday with a new confession and suspensions of the team doctors involved.

Christian Henn, a Telekom rider from 1995 to 1999 and now a directeur sportif with Gerolsteiner, echoed the confession of former team-mate Bert Dietz. "I was involved, too," he told Cologne newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. "That's how it was at the time, otherwise you just couldn't keep up."

Henn retired after testing positive for testosterone which he attributed to an Italian herbal remedy he was using to help increase his fertility. Following his retirement, Henn said it became clear that "if I ever get another job in cycling, then only without doping."

Despite the admission, Gerolsteiner team manger Hans-Michael Holczer said Henn would not lose his job with the team. "There are two possibilities: I can either keep Christian Henn on, or I can suspend or fire him," Holczer told netzeitung.de. "The latter would support the 'cartel of silence', as they say, and that is something that we don't want. We stand for a new era in cycling, for a new basis, and Christian Henn has done outstanding work towards that in the last years. I assume that he will stay with us."

Gerolsteiner's sponsorship contract runs through the 2008 season, but according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the firm is already considering either ending the contract early or not extending it, because of the ongoing doping problems associated with cycling.

T-Mobile and University Clinic end association

The T-Mobile Team has officially ended its working relationship with the Freiburg University Clinic following Bart Dietz's allegations on German TV that clinic doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich gave EPO shots to Telekom riders in the mid-1990s.

Christian Frommert, director of sports communications at T-Mobile, said Tuesday morning that the clinic would no longer be responsible for the team's medical care.

The clinic issued a press release Tuesday afternoon announcing it had suspended both doctors until the situation was explained. "The University of Freiburg also assumes that Telekom will also appoint an investigatory committee, so that the charges raised by Mr. Dietz against the Telekom cycling team can be cleared up as soon as possible," read the press release.

"As long as the charges against the cycling team and its environment have not been explained, there is no more basis for a trust-filled cooperation between the University Clinic and Telekom. Therefore the University Clinic is withdrawing its three remaining doctors from the team, effective immediately."

T-Mobile to reconsider sponsorship

Meanwhile, only days after telling Cyclingnews that T-Mobile was committed to its sponsorship of cycling until the end of 2010, Frommert told spiegel.de on Tuesday that "right now the question doesn't arise but we will address the question and can't give a guarantee for eternity." The firm will "come to a very clear decision" within the next few days as to whether to honour its sponsorship contract.

One thing that the sponsor and the team will have to consider is the position of directeur sportif Rolf Aldag, who rode for Telekom from 1993 to 2005 and has claimed to know nothing about doping within the team. "We will hold intensive talks with Rolf in the next few days," Frommert told Süddeutsche Zeitung, adding "Of course we know that Rolf Aldag is also involved."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that Aldag has been considering for several weeks whether he should make a complete confession about his past, and had allegedly considered whether his former room mate Erik Zabel should participate.

Reactions

Various names in the German cycling scene have commented on the Dietz confession and its implications for the individuals involved, T-Mobile, and German cycling in general. Jörg Jaksche, who rode for Team Telekom between 1999 and 2000 and is currently suspended from his Tinkoff team because of possible involvement in Operacion Puerto, said Dietz "sounded honest and made it clear, that we are the weakest link in the chain. Riders are being fired or suspended, while others continue to take their seat in the team cars."

IOC vice-president Thomas Bach of Germany called Dietz's words "a brave step that we hope will send a signal". Bach is also president of the German Olympic Committee (DOSB), and said that the DSOB would not work with the Freiburg Clinic again unless the charges are "quickly and thoroughly cleared up, and it was clear that the clinic had not been involved in the doping case".

Rudolf Scharping, head of the German cycling federation (BDR) said: "The BDR is sure that the sponsor of the cycling team, the prosecuting attorneys, and the investigation committee of the Freiburg Clinic will provide a consequent and quick explanation of the facts, without any reservations."

Andy Schleck flies to the white jersey

By Jean-François Quénet in Genova

Andy Schleck
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

When Fränk Schleck became a world class professional rider despite limited success in the French amateur ranks with UC Châteauroux, many experts like French cycling guru Cyrille Guimard warned that his younger brother Andy at VC Roubaix would eventually be an even greater champion.

And despite being five years younger, Andy Schleck could well be making Guimard's prediction come true after finishing third on the Stage 10 ascent to the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia.

"It's my first time up there with the best climbers," said Schleck. "I wanted to attack and I couldn't wait any longer. I was in very good shape and could see that Damiano Cunego for example was at his limit. Maybe I could have won the stage. This morning I told my directeur sportif: 'If I feel good, I'll try something on that hill.' I've kept to my word."

Schleck might very well have won the stage but also admitted: "Di Luca was the strongest. I've not given it everything. I still had some resources left but the 400 last metres were just too much for me. I'm happy anyway."

The Luxemburger, who doesn't turn 22 until a week after the Giro ends, wasn't a designated leader at CSC but is now the third placed rider overall - after Di Luca and Franco Pellizzotti - who hasn't gained time via a long breakaway.

After experiencing his first Grand Tour podium as the Giro's best young rider, Schleck intends to keep hold of the jersey that's been reintroduced to the race for the first time since it was won by Evgeni Berzin in 1994. "I'll take the Giro day by day but now my goal will be to defend the white jersey," he said.

However, the youngster will not be counting on support from Fabian Cancellara as the World Time Trial Champion has said he plans to quit the race after Stage 12. But now the David Zabriske is no longer in the GC picture after losing eight minutes on Stage 10, the younger of the Schleck brothers is CSC's best bet for overall honours.

Piepoli: 'Simoni is the number one favorite'

By Jean-François Quénet in Genova

Piepoli and Ricco
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Leonardo Piepoli winning a stage in the Giro, it looks like a remake of last year's race when he arrived first in La Thuile and Plan de Corones. "It's a little bit different though," he corrected. "Hills are hills, okay, but last year I won a stage at the bottom of a downhill and the other one was a shortened uphill. Both days, it was a bad weather and I prefer the heat like today. Hey, I'm from Puglia in the south of Italy!"

The Saunier Duval climber, who lives in Monaco now where his wife is expecting their first child in September, gave a peculiar answer when asked about Ivan Basso's domination of last year's Giro. 'Without any dominator this year, how do you see the coming mountain stages?' was the question.

Responded Piepoli: "This history with Basso has lasted for 12 months already and you only ask me about that now that I'm a stage winner in the Giro. Had you asked in December I would have given you an answer, but not today."

Bike riders should listen to the questions sometimes without thinking they are all about drugs in cycling.

Anyway, Piepoli also explained that it was his team captain Gilberto Simoni who instructed him to attack. "I keep thanking him," he commented. "Every time he does it, I win."

On the status of his leader, Piepoli believes Simoni is steadily improving as the crucial mountain stages draw near. "I hope Saunier Duval is the team to beat but I hope even more that 'Il Gibo' is the man to beat," he said. "I've seen his face looking better today than on the Montevergine one week ago. I'm convinced he's the number one favorite for this Giro. I place Di Luca and Cunego at a second rank. Then there is Schleck who has come out very strongly but for now Savoldelli seems behind this group."

Piepoli is 36 years old and on a day when 38 year-old Andrea Noè became the new maglia rosa, there's still space for the older riders. "I come from a very strong generation of cyclists," he pointed out. "Look at riders like Davide Rebellin and Jens Voigt who are still there and still winning. It means I've had to race all of my career against very good riders. The generation from 1974 to 1976 seems to have disappeared though but the ones born in 1980 and 1981 form a group of at least ten true champions."

Noè doesn't know the young riders

By Jean-François Quénet in Genova

Andrea Noe salutes the crowd
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The young riders of this year's Giro d'Italia are very polite, so much so that they even let the oldest rider take first position on general classification! Even though the 38 year-old is the most experienced of them all, having raced professionally for 15 years, Andrea Noè (Liquigas), was very emotional when he received the pink jersey. It's the second time Noè has donned the maglia rosa, after taking it for a single day in 1998, when he was riding for ASICS at the service of Michele Bartoli, who he delivered the precious jersey to just 24 hours later. "The pink jersey is something you aim at since the day you begin racing," Noè commented.

This time around he will be able to enjoy it as tomorrow's stage is a flat route to Pinerolo, which is unlikely to see a change in standings before riders hit the Alps. "My wife and my daughter will be at the start, it will be great," he said. "Unfortunately, as an old man I've suffered some gastric problems today and I haven't been able to do my normal job for Danilo Di Luca," he explained. "But Pellizotti has done my part and I only had to hang on, that's how I got the jersey. I didn't look for it. My team-mates actually wanted me to get it more than I wanted it!"

Despite enjoying his second time in the famed jersey Noè made it clear that he was still at the Giro with a specific task to perform, and that's not to win. "After tomorrow, you will see the pink jersey back at his normal job for Di Luca," he commented. "When I went in a breakaway, it was for covering him, not for becoming the leader myself. I do the Giro for Di Luca. He's in a great shape. I hope he'll keep it for another ten days."

"Last year I rode half of the Giro with two broken ribs and I didn't say anything to anyone," added Noè, who is nicknamed 'brontolo' (curmudgeon) because he always complains. "It's right I never smile, I'm never happy, but that's how I reach the perfection in my job, after my cycling career, I won't complain anymore."

There's a big gap between Noè and the new generation of cyclists, as he could be the father of the youngest rider in the Giro - Ivan Rovniy (Tinkoff) is only 19. When Mario Cipollini retired two years ago, also riding for the same team as Noè, he admitted that he didn't even know the names of his youngest team-mates. "In the bunch, I'd call them 'Liquigas'," Cipollini testified. At the time he realised it was time to call it a career. Noè said about the same thing after taking the maglia rosa: "I have to look on their helmet or on the frame of their bike to get to know their name," he said.

'Just another win' for Cavendish

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

One day after his 22nd birthday, T-Mobile sprinting sensation Mark Cavendish scored his first ProTour victory at the Volta a Catalunya, but described the stage two sprint as "just another win really" rather than a milestone in his already blossoming career as a professional.

Speaking to British Cycling, Cavendish hinted at surpassing Robbie McEwen's tally of eight European victories achieved by the Australian during his first professional season with Rabobank in 1996. "Robbie McEwen won eight European races in his first season," said Cavendish. "There's unfinished business there."

The young Manxman had been taken to Northern Spain by T-Mobile partly as a test of his performance in more mountainous stage races, but the three categorised climbs over 170km didn't appear to soften his legs for the sprint. "Mark was simply the strongest in the finale here today," said T-Mobile directeur sportif Jan Schaffrath.

"By taking a win like this at the start of such a tough stage-race gives us all confidence, which is extremely important to us. Mark was also one of the strongest in yesterday's team time trial. We are all delighted."

Colavita name Giro lineup

American women's team Colavita/Sutter Home has announced that its star rider, Tina Pic, will lead the squad's line up at the Giro d'Italia Donne - the women's Giro. Pic, who is ranked amongst the top US women riders, will be joined by United States representative Alison Powers, Andrea Dvorak, Stacey Spencer, Sarah Tillotson and Iona Wynter-Parks.

"We are honored that the Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team has been selected for the Giro d'Italia Donne," said team manager Tom Schuler. "With the Italian heritage of our title sponsors, this truly represents a homecoming for our team."

Colvita/Sutter Home riders Pic, Powers and Dotsie Bausch are currently representing the United States at the Pan American Championships in Venezuela, while Wynter-Parks is also representing her home country of Jamaica at the event.

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

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