Cycling is in a good state at this point despite the doping scandals. It seems that there is now shortage of sponsors lining up to replace Saunier Duval after the Ricco/Piepoli debacle in the Tour. Saunier Duval is dropping sponsorship almost immediately. Scott bicycles decided to step in as title sponsor and a few secondary sponsors kicked in at the same time including American Beef. What better association would you have with drug filled bovines than drug taking athletes? Ouch.
Beef from the States has not had a great reputation in recent years and the association with cycling is interesting especially as the team is recovering from a doping scandal. American Beef has been banned from Europe and other countries because of the hormones used in the US.
Most U. S. beef cattle are implanted with synthetic hormones in feedlots prior to slaughter. On January 1, 1989 the European Economic Community (EEC) placed a ban on hormone-treated U. S. meat, preventing U. S. meat products from being sold in any European nations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has challenged the ban and accused the EEC of unfair trade practices, but the action of European governments raises some important questions about American meat.
– Prevent Cancer
So a product with a problem with drugs is sponsoring a sport with a perceived issue with drugs? Maybe they are drawn to the aspect of cycling that is cleaning up doping and they want to be associated with a “clean” sport? The choice is a bit tenuous, but Amgen sponsors the Tour of California, so no problem there.
In general, I applaud the new sponsor ready to take over a team. It shows that cycling has a far reach and is a relative deal in terms of cost compared to other sports. Now prepare with lots of puns based on beef, cows, “What’s for dinner” etc. Perhaps the team will excite the peloton as the sizzle sells the steak.
Ricco’s bike is put away on the SD Team Truck: PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images
Beyond words-or actual words would be only expletives-would describe my reaction to Riccardo Ricco’s positive test for EPO and a newish EPO like drug called CERA.
Like synthetic erythropoietin (rEPO), CERA was developed to as a treatment for the anemia that results from chronic kidney disease. Unlike single injections of rEPO, CERA interacts with erythropoietin receptors and has a longer-lasting effect.
Velonews: Riccardo Ricco tests positive; Saunier Duval team withdraws from Tour de France
It is incomprehensible that a rider would take such a chance in this current environment and dope to win a race. Ricco raised suspicions with his Pantani like performance causing many to immediately warn the young Ricco not to emulate Pantani in his methods of preparation for racing in addition to his racing style. Apparently those warnings were too late since Ricco thought that taking EPO and/or CERA was a smart thing to do and would help his career. Now Ricco sits in a police station in France and will most likely face a two year ban. His Saunier Duval team will have to pay a heafty fine. Ricco must also pay back his salary too. The fines are probably not devastating to Ricco especially since most Italian men will live at home until married, so financially he won’t be out on the street.
Ricco’s astounding performances in the Tour had many cheering for the brash Italian who talked as much as he attacked during the Tour. Ricco had few friends in the peloton since his brashness would be directed to other racers including Vincenzo Nibali and Fillippo Pozzato to name a few.
Last year Ricco was mentored by Gilberto Simoni on the Saunier Duval team. Simoni has often been critical of dopers such as Pantani and Ivan Basso in the past. Simoni who himself had a positive drug result for cocaine (blame Grandma’s gift from a South American trip) seemed to be the cross bearer for Itralian non–dopers. Simoni’s insinuation that Ivan Basso was an Extra-Terrestrial in the 2006 Giro was seen as sour grapes at first, but was later vilified when Basso was implicated as part of the Operation Puerto affair. Naturally as Ricco was brought on and mentored by Simoni you would think that a strong anti-doping ideal would be part of Ricco’s racing ethic. When you choose to be brash and speak out against others you must make sure you own house is in order so that one day you are not a hypocrite. Unfortunaly Ricco at the brash indestructible age of 24 thought that he had it all figured out. Going to the Tour and dominating the climbs would boost his career. All he needed was a little “helper” and you have some great performances to go down in Tour history. Now Ricco is joining the pantheon of racers such as Alexandre Vinokourov and Floyd Landis who brought instant shame to them selves in the biggest race of the year.
Now when anyone has an unusually spectacular performance such as an upset time trial win, or gaining back 8 minutes in a solo mountain break or dropping everyone Pantani style in the mountains will bring instant speculation. I was a little perturbed that Ricco’s performance brought more suspicion than praise, but rumors were already swirling at the Tour that Ricco’s numbers were a little shady.
Now let’s hope Ricco goes into his two year ban and goes to a trade school or something else. Just don’t come back to cycling please Mr. Ricco, you have done your damage now go away.
PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Image
The first major mountain stage of the Tour de France dealt Alejandro Valverde and Damiano Cunego a cold dose of Pyrennean reality. Jens Voight and the CSC power zombies crushed the field up the Col de Tourmalet climb. Voight is not a climber, just a power zombie bent on feeling pain. His twisting face was seen powering a select group of Tour contenders up the highest climb of the entire Tour de France while shatter riders lay behind on the switchbacks. CSC had declared a three pronged attack of Carlos Sastre, Frank and Andy Schleck. Sastre has been the eternal Tour contender who lacks the full all around ability of a winner. Sastre could not really capitalize on the work done by Voight to nail down a win or a solid punch to the rivals other than Cunego and Valverde. Sastre’s attacks were quickly pounced upon while Franck Schleck was able to take advantage of this and fly away with two Saunier Duval riders to get within a second of Yellow.
(AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)
Leonardo Piepoli and Juan Jose Cobo set a pace Schleck could not keep up. It was Piepoli’s turn to cross the finish in first on one of the toughest days of climbing so far in the Tour. Cobo seemed unable to keep up with Piepoli’s pace after the duo dropped Schleck, but Piepoli would shepard the Spaniard along so they could cross the finish one-two.
Meanwhile teammate Riccardo Ricco tended to the top Tour favorites. While Ricco launched a few attacks, Evans, Menchov, Vande Velde and Sastre did not give him much daylight. The top contenders were trading attacks with menchov usually coming to the front to keep the pace respectable so he does not blow, while others attacks. Vande Velde showed great form while setting the pace in the final few kilometers up the Hautcam Vande Velde kept in third place, but he looked very fresh compared to the others. Perhaps his form is coming in just in time for the tough parts of the Tour.
(AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)
Behind, Valverde may be on the backside of his peak or could be suffering from the effects of a crash two days ago. He could also be suffering from the first day in the mountains. Whatever the problem could be, his Tour is close to being over. His chances are not completely gone as he could recover enough with better performances later. But there are so many favorites that he may still be a marked man. Valverde and Cunego suffered badly on the Col de Tourmalet losing several minutes to the main favorites. The two riders now sit about six minutes back with some serious planning to do for getting back into top contention for the Tour.
Vincenzo Nibali is riding into a top placing. The Sicilian rider stayed mostly with the main group and now finds himself in 9th. Perhaps driven by his rivalry with Ricco, Nibali was seen launching attacks but also getting dropped a bit. So far the Pyrennes have been very friendly to Italian hopes with back to back wins by Saunier Duval Italian riders. Soon the Tour will pay a visit to Italy and stop in Cuneo.
Back to Schleck who must now be kicking himself for not grabbing an extra second. Or maybe not. He is one second away from Yellow, but does not have to do the extra work a Yellow Jersey wearer is required to do such as extensive interviews and such. Schleck can take it easy on the rest day while Evans will be interviewed like crazy. Look for CSC to try to get time bonuses or some other crazy moves with the CSC power zombies who live on pain. This Tour is far from over.
Active.com takes a quick look into the team buses. Team CSC looks clean and modern, Scandinavian style. Stuart O’Grady’s number is up as a homage to the hurt racer. Saunier Duval seems to have a mor eluxurious bus with a built in espresso machine, various sodas on tap and a swanky second level. By contrast the Predictor Lotto bus is utilitarian. The bathroom and shower areas look like someones utitlity basement. Maybe they glossed over the cool parts.
Ivan Basso may have sparked the latest trend in cycling of racing both the Giro and Tour de France. Basso was unable to ride the double last year due to some doping investigation, but with the Giro win in his pocket he was able to get some trophies from the adoring Italian press by the end of the year. Since then many other pros have looked at doing the double themselves. Paolo Salvodelli announced he is going for the Giro-Tour double as is Iban Mayo. Fresh into his new Sauunier Duval team kit the enigmatic Spanish cyclist is full of hope for 2007.
Gilberto Simoni is a happier man this year. He is on his own team with former team manager Pietro Algeri who guided his Lampre team when he won the Giro in 2001. Life is better than 2004 when Simoni felt up ended by the young upstart Damiano Cunego. Simoni was one of the few Italians that wasn’t cheering for the young prospect who won the hearts of Italian fans only a few months after the death of Marco Pantani. Gibo was so sore at Cunego’s win that he was seen shouting some less than professional remarks at “The kid” during a maglia rosa presentation.
Last year Gibo was able to reassert himself as leader of Lampre as Cunego was not on form due to a bout with Epstein Barr syndrome. Gibo placed second behind a scrappy performance by Paolo Salvodelli and ahead of a very dangerous Jose Rujano.
This year’s Giro has a tough last week that makes Simoni happy with his chances. With a more relaxed and supportive team atmosphere, Simoni will definately be a protagonist once again. His track record in the Giro is very good as he either wins or is close to the top just about every year. The double Giro champ has some stiff competition as always. But Gibo can relax since the Italian hype machine is not focusig on the Battaliga Italiana like it did last year when all eyes were on seeing part two of the intra-team rivalry between Simoni and Cunego.
AleJet Petacchi and Gibo Simoni are now free to model their new team kits for 2006.
The Team Milram look of Petacchi has a retro feel that almost brings to mind the? Motoroloa jerseys of the early to mid 90s. They keep the ratio of blue jerseys in the Pro Peloton very high. The Saunier-Duval kit used to be very classy and not blue. The yellow with black lines and white was understated and looked good while being very noticable. Unfortunately someone somewhere thought they needed to apply some “jazz hands” feeling to the kit.
Gibo doesn’t seem too excited about the artistic license that was taken with the SD team kit, while Emanuele Mori looks a little too happy for the new team kit. Teammate Leonardo Piepoli looks a little surprised at Mori’s over enthused reaction. Hopefully there will be plenty of tweeks to the SD team kit throughout the season.
bettiniphoto.net / the Eye of Cycling
Now that the ink has dried on the contract, David Millar is officially part of the Saunier Duval Cycling Team. Millar, the Scotsman who has been suspended for two years after he admitted using EPO. Millar is expected to return to competative bike racing in June when his suspension if over with any eye to entering the Tour de France.
Gilberto Simoni will be racing in California next February. This trip will also include a stop to the Scott USA headquarters and a visit to a wind tunnel to test out Simoni’s aerodynamic positioning.
BiciRace.com :: News :: November 2005