Monthly Archives: November 2005

Everyone Loves The Giro

At a recent get-together to honor Ivan Basso, Yaroslav Popovych and Paolo Salvodelli, the issue of riding the Giro was discussed. In seems that the “will he or won’t he” question is not yet put to bed on whether Ivan Basso will ride the Giro.
Upon looking at the course which seems more tailor made for his team and skills than the Tour De France, Basso cannot let the idea of riding into Milan wearing the Maglia Rosa go. This is probably from the time-off during the off-season where Bjarne isn’t shooting the idea down for good. Next week, after the CSC Boot Camp, Basso may not be waxing about riding the Giro and speaking about each competitor he will face in the Tour and how they shoudl be the favorites and not him.

Yaroslav Popovych is a Ukrainian turned Italian and even he had to inquire with Johan Bruyneel about the possibilities of riding the Giro. He was quickly only to be rebuffed logically since Discovery has the defending champion on the team. Paolo Salvodelli pointed out that this year he will enjoy getting the varsity squad to support him, instead of the jv’s.

This year at the Giro I will have a senior squad which includes Rubiera, Padrnos, Beltran and Danielson a rider who is tougher than he even knows.

Seems like Discovery will be trying hard to defend the Giro title.

Tuttobici Web

Cycling Cars

Team support cars are what separates the big teams from the not so big teams. You know you made it when you are on a team with a huge bus. While other teams simply get by with a few brightly colored cars.

If you every wonders what Jelly-Belly’s team car looks like or what does the Euskatel-Euskadi’s Bus looks like, wonder no more, documents all of the team cars that they can snap a picture of in the Pro Peloton.

Acceuil gallery photo

Tour de Georgia 2006

The Tour de Georgia’s route was unveiled yesterday.

Stage 1: Tuesday, April 18 – Augusta, Ga. to Macon, Ga. • Augusta: Third year to host the Tour, with a Stage Start venue in 2003 and Overall Start in 2005 • Macon: Fourth consecutive year as a host city, having participated as a Stage Finish and Stage Start in 2003, a one-day Stage Circuit in 2004, and a Stage Finish in 2005

Stage 2: Wednesday, April 19 – Fayetteville, Ga. to Rome, Ga. • Fayetteville: Returns to the Tour for a second consecutive year as a Stage Start • Rome: Fourth consecutive year as a host city, having participated as a Stage Finish in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and having hosted the Individual Time Trial in 2004 and 2005

Stage 3: Thursday, April 20 – Individual Time Trial from Chickamauga/Walker Co., Ga. to Chattanooga,Tenn. • Chickamauga/Walker Co.: Hosts a Tour stage for the first time, with the start of the ITT • Chattanooga: First city outside the state of Georgia to host the Tour, with the finish of the ITT

Stage 4: Friday, April 21 – Dalton, Ga. to Dahlonega, Ga. • Dalton: Fourth consecutive year as a Stage Start and home to professional cyclist Saul Raisin • Dahlonega: Third consecutive year as a Stage Finish, and bringing its renowned Bear in the Square festival to Tour fans

Stage 5: Saturday, April 22 – Blairsville/Union Co., Ga. to Brasstown Bald Mountain/Towns Co., Ga. • Blairsville/Union County: Returns for second consecutive year as a Stage Start • Brasstown Bald Mountain/Towns County: A third consecutive stint as a Stage Finish, with its epic finish on The Bald, the highest peak in Georgia, and compared to the Alpe d’Huez of the Tour de France

Stage 6: Sunday, April 23 – Cumming/Forsyth Co., Ga. to Alpharetta, Ga. • Cumming/Forsyth County: Inaugural Stage host for the Tour, with a Stage Start on the final day, in conjunction with the Taste of Forsyth; was a Sprint line host community in 2004 and 2005 • Alpharetta: A third year as the Overall Finish host city, with its signature four-mile finishing circuit
North American News: Georgia details unveiled; Osipow Discovers Bears; Colorado troubles?

Liquigas: Still No Astarloa

Not a huge story, but more news wires are picking up that Igor Astarloa signed for Liquigas for 2006. This is false as the Yahoo! News story below has a profile of Liquigas for 2006 and the roster does not include the former World Champ. I emailed Liquigas to see what the bottom line is, but no response yet. The Liquigas Team site does not have any news about signing Astarloa either.

Liquigas: Amadio `Un organico competitivo` – Yahoo! Sport – Yahoo! Sport

Dick Pound Says 1/3 of NHL is Doping

Dick Pound is on a rampage again, but not about cycling. He is hitting out at the NHL where he caims that 1/3 of the entire NHL is doping. This remark was made after Pund met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who made is clear to Pound that player taking performance enhancing drugs was not an issue in the NHL.
Calgary Flames Defenseman Andrew Ference says what basically the entire cycling world has said about Pounds blanket observations:

“You’d think somebody in that position, if they’re going to make such a strong statement, that they’d have examples or inside information or tests or whatnot,”

The NHL doesn’t have a doping problem because there is no testing. The provisions of a doping policy state:

NHL players are subject to a minimum of two drug tests a year without warning. A first-time offender would receive a 20-game suspension, a repeat offender would be suspended for 60 games and a permanent ban would follow a third offence.

This type of punishment is a joke when compared to the instant 2 year ban from all cycling competition and the additional 2 year ban from racing in the ProTour. If Roberto Heras dealt with NHL type rules, he would be back without missing the spring classics. But that is why Cycling gets a bad rap on doping while leagues such as Major League Baseball and the NHL get by as “clean”.

NHL players reject Pound’s suggestion one-third use performance enhancers – Yahoo! News

AG2R Gets 20th Spot: ProTour Set To Fail

The ProTour is under pressure with the precarious relationship with the Organizers of the Grand Tours. RCS, the organizers of the Giro have decided to keep the split-stage format citing the fact that the Giro (along with the Tour de France and Vuelta Espana) will not be part of the ProTour, and so will not be bound by the rulings of the ProTour or the UCI. News today of the inclusion of AG2R as the 20th team to get a Four-Year as a top 20 squad can only degrade the standing of the Pro Tour as a serious top shelf cycling league.

AG2R made it to the top 20 not by performance, but by some serious sponsor money. The sponsor money was not enough to actually get top-shelf talent as they only signed Christophe Moreau and Francisco Mancebo. These are quality riders that mostly chase Tour de France and Vuelta Espana glory. These are two of three events that will NOT be included in the ProTour as it stands today. So where does that leave AG2R? Lots of money but not a huge amount of talent to support their entry to many of the top races on the calendar.

The inclusion of AG2R adds an unnatural balance to the nationality of teams in the ProTour. True, teams today offer a large mix of nationalities. CSC is not so much a Danish team as their Director Sportif. Discovery is not so American as it used to be. AG2R now will be the Fifth(!) French team to be included as a Top 20 ProTour Team. This is compared to Four Spanish Teams, one of which is slowly turning French (Illes Baleares going to Caisse D’Eparne) and Three Italian Teams. This is a drastic comparison to the performance standings that show Italy, Spain and the USA as the top nations getting results.
As mentioned before on Velochimp, the best option is to cut down the number of Teams in the ProTour to 16 or 18 and include wild-card teams that have more of a local interest. This would help to animate the races by including more competition that is not simply riding along or forced to perform. news and analysis

Astarloa Not Going To Liquigas

This came off of the news at TuttoBici this morning saying that reports saying that Igor Astarloa has signed for Liquigas are not true. Last heard around Velochimp offices was that Astarloa was mulling over a contract offer from Lampre, but that wasn’t sweet enough. Todociclismo has the story about Astarloa and buddy Peio Arreitunandia signing for Liquigas. TuttoBici says has a quote from Liquigas Team Manager Roberto Amadio saying:

We have had contact with Igor Astarloa, but there was no offer since we already have 28 riders which we feel is enough to tackle the intense new cycling season that awaits us.

Astarloa y Arreitunandia fichan por el Liquigas

Tuttobici Web

Heras Second Sample Positive

Roberto Heras’ second sample came up positive for EPO. Does this mean that the test is flawed? or that doping controls to catch cheats are working? Either way, we will not be seeing Roberto Heras racing next year as he will soon be fired by his team. Heras will appeal this finding, but as the Yahoo News report says, this will take at least 8 to 9 months. So here are some puzzling thoughts:
1) Why would Heras risk taking EPO when he knew he would be tested and it would probably show up in his test? Did he not have access to sophisticated masking methods or why did he not try a more advanced doping technic?

2) The downside of getting caught for doping seems much worse than simply coming in second, especially for Heras who was a three time winner already.

3) He already gets paid handsomely for his services to Liberty Seguros and seemed like a rider who wasn’t really pressured to get results.

4) If he is indeed doping, does this mean that he was getting lazy and sloppy in his methods? It seems that taking EPO would be a very dumb and desparate move since the testing methods are improving. Not being a Pro Cyclist myself, I do not see where a rider like Heras would be that desparate to resort to taking EPO at the time that he did.

5) This is the second former Postal Service Team member to be caught for a doping offence. Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras are two racers from Postal that decided to go on their own. Did they partake in doping methods while at Postal, or does the fact they they are caught show that they only tried doping after the fact?

It is easy to be cynical about Heras finally getting caught, but to me the facts just do not add up. Getting caught for EPO use seems like an odd result for an experienced rider such as Heras. If he has been doping all along then he should at least be on the “latest” doping methods that would allow him to avoid detection. Or he would at least timed his dosage to avoid detection. In the phase of the Vuelta where Heras was caught doping, he already had a sizable lead and winning seemed all but assured. It would be unnecessary for Heras to dope at that time. So, is the testing flawed where there are false positves? or are riders not as sophisticated as originally thought and still using EPO out of desparation for winning?

Heras shows doping methods work, says Vuelta director – Cycling – Yahoo! Sports

Velonews: Radio reports Heras’s B sample positive

Todociclismo – Ciclismo, ciclismo y sólo ciclismo

Corti to Barloworld

Claudio Corti was left without a team after Lampre and Caffita sponsors went their separate ways. The longtime team manager of Saeco may be the new team manager for Barloworld, the Italian/South African Team. With this move, he may bring in Caffita as a co-sponsor and of course Cannondale bikes with which Corti has a very long relationship. This move will help the small team which has not been much of a presence on the Continental cirucuit despite having Igor Astarloa in their ranks. :: News :: November 2005