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Tour de France – 2009 July 26, 2009

Posted by dperry1ma in Uncategorized.
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The 2009 coverage at TdF09.wordpress.com

2009 Tour de France

2009 Tour de France


Tailwind Calls it Quits – A fitting end to TDF 2007 August 13, 2007

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Lance Armstrong’s team ends its run as the most successful cycling team ever. Team decides to end pursuit of a new sponsor to replace Discovery Channel, despite being 90% with an un-named sponsor. The once US Postal, then Discovery Channel team won 8 of the last 9 Tour de France GC title’s and 2 of the 3 podium spots this year, but ends its run after this Fall’s races.

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Mayo Tests Positive for EPO July 30, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Tour de France.
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Saunier Duval-Prodir today announced that Iban Mayo, who finished the Tour yesterday in 16th place,  had been suspended for failing a doping test for EPO taken during last week’s rest day in the middle of the mountainous Pyrenees stages. Mayo will be fired by the team if his B sample comes back positive.

Mayo had finished the brutal Stage 8 in the Alpes in second place just behind Michael Rasmussen, putting him briefly in contention for the Yellow Jersey (3rd place overall for 5 stages) until a terrible time trial in Albi put him out of reach. He also finished in 16th place in Stage 16 in the Pyrenees the day following the failed test, and 17th in Stage 7 in the Alpes.

The 29 year old Spaniard had already been under suspicion earlier this year following a “non-negative” result for testosterone at the Giro d’Italia in May, but had been cleared by the UCI.

…Because Nobody Can Win Anything in Sports Anymore Without Being Acused of Cheating July 30, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Doping, Dr. Eufemiano Fuente, Dr. Werner Franke.
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Werner Franke, a German described as an expert in anti-doping efforts, accused Alberto Contador of being “the greatest swindle in sporting history.” Franke claims to have possession of documents from Operation Puerto with Alberto Contador’s name on them, and claims to have records of banned products used by Contador.

Appearing on German ZDF television, Franke proclaimed “The name of this Mr Contador appears on several occasions on the court and police documents….All of this has been simply concealed and hidden under the carpet whilst the name Contador was erased from the list of suspicious riders.”

In discussing a summary of the evidence that spanish police amassed against riders caught in the Operation Puerto investigation last year, VeloNews Correspondent Andrew Hood wrote last week;

After a thorough review of the document, VeloNews found only two mentions of Contador. Neither of those two references could be linked to illicit doping products or doping practices, officials later decided.

The first reference to Contador is mentioned on a list of then-Liberty Seguros teammates (spelling mistakes remain as is) that appear on a document later to identified as a list of training schedules for members of the team:

En el documento 3 se observan marcados de distinta forma los nombres de los corredores: Dariuz BARANOWSKY; Josefa BELOKI; Ginpaolo CARUSO; Alberto CONTADOR; Allan DAVIS; David ETXEBARRÍA; Igor GONZÁLEZ DE GALDEANO; Roberto HERAS; Jorg JAKSCHE; Isidro NOZAL; Sergio PAULINHO; Nuno RIBEIRO; Luis León SÁNCHEZ; Michele SCARPONI; Marcos SERRANO y Ángel VICIOSO.

The second reference includes initials of riders’ name that appeared on another training document:

En el reverso del documento 31 se localizan unas anotaciones manuscritas con el título “INDIVIDUALIZACIÓN” en el que se identifican a distintos corredores del equipo LIBERTY-SEGUROS WÜRTH por sus iniciales: R. H. (Roberto HERAS), M. S. (Marcos SERRANO), J. B. (Joseba BELOKI), I. G. (Igor GONZÁLEZ), A. V. (Ángel VICIOSO), J. J. (Jorg JAKSCHE), A. D. (Alan DAVIS), L. (sin identificar), A. C. (Alberto CONTADOR) .

Contador’s name was also heard in taped phone conversations of Fuentes, but authorities said his name appears only in reference to conversations about race results.

So, we have confirmation that Contador’s name appeared, along with his Liberty-Seguros-Wurth teammates, in two of Fuentes’ documents, but police, judges and UCI officials reviewing the documents last year concluded the same thing; that there was no indication that Contador was doping. Hood goes on to write, “Even the elusive Fuentes, speaking last year on Spanish radio, said he never worked with Contador.”

Prof. Franke alleges that this has all been swept under the rug, by which he must be referring to the public dismissal of charges against Contador and four other riders who had been included in initial lists of riders whose names appeared in Fuentes documents, and were therefore under suspicion. Again, from VeloNews July 26, 2006;

“Five Astaná riders who were forced out of the 2006 Tour de France because of alleged links to a blood doping investigation have been formally cleared by Spanish courts.”

“Joseba Beloki, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho, Allan Davis and Alberto Contador have all received a written document officially clearing them of any links to the ongoing “Operación Puerto,” the Spanish newspaper El Diario Vasco reported Wednesday.”

“The five riders received a legal document signed by Manuel Sánchez Martín, secretary for the Spanish court heading up the “Operación Puerto” investigation, stating, “there are not any type of charges against them nor have there been adopted any type of legal action against them.””

If Prof. Franke does have evidence that actually links Contador to doping it would be awfully good of him to share that with the authorities, UCI, WADA, and the press so it can be examined. It’s possible…given everything that has transpired in the sport in the past year, but it is also possible that we have switched from cleaning up the sport to mounting a press sponsored witch hunt. Personally, I want to see the documents before I rush to judgement on Contador. A lot of people who have been fighting bitterly to clean up the sport must have decided to look the other way in Contador’s case, or maybe just maybe he really is clean.

UPDATE: Some further information on Werner Franke. Professor Franke is 67, and former President of the European Cell Biology Organization. Professor Franke taught at the University of Freiberg and was head of a department at the German Cancer Research Center. Professor Franke and his wife have researched and written extensively on the subject of athletes doping, and abusing drugs. They are perhaps most noted for exposing research conducted in the former East Germany which lead to programs of illegal treatments of young athletes. He is an ardent critic of drug abuse in sports. Professor Franke is also a member of the American Society of Cell Biology, which has a brief biography of him on its website.

Discovery wins the 2007 Tour de France Team Competition July 29, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Egoi Martinez, George Hincapie, Johan Bruyneel, Levi Leipheimer, Tour de France, Vladimir Gusev, Yaroslav Popovych.
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It was an unusual year in the Tour de France, but one aspect that was largely overlooked in the shadow of the scandals and the great individual performances was the rare event of the top team performance being put in by a team that put a teammate on top of the podium in the Yellow Jersey at the end of the race.  Typically, teams providing support for a GC contender get crushed protecting the Yellow Jersey rider, but the strength of Levi Leipheimer, himself a contender, Gerorge Hincapie(24th in the GC), Yaroslav Popovych(8th),  and Vladimir Gusev(38th) meant that support did not exhaust the team. Much credit has to go to Johan Bruyneel and the staff at Team Discovery Channel for assembling and maintaining an outstanding team, and managing the tactics of the race beautifully.

In the end Discovery Channel won by over 19 minutes, and placed two men on the podium.  Amazing.

Final Standings 2007 Tour de France July 29, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Tour de France.
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The top finsihers in the Sprint points competition for the Green Jersey:

2. HUNTER Robert 216 BARLOWORLD 234 pts
3. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 232 pts
5. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 181 pts
The top finishers in the King of the Mountain Polka Dot Jersey competition:

1. SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio 219 BARLOWORLD 206 pts
4. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 92 pts
5. LEFEVRE Laurent 125 BOUYGUES TELECOM 85 pts

The White Jersey was awarded to Alberto Contador, the top finishers in that competition;

1. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 91h 00′ 26″
2. SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio 219 BARLOWORLD 91h 17′ 17″ + 16′ 51″
3. TXURRUKA Amets 78 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 91h 50′ 00″ + 49′ 34″
4. KOHL Bernhard 95 GEROLSTEINER 92h 13′ 53″ + 1h 13′ 27″
5. SIUTSOU Kanstantsin 218 BARLOWORLD 92h 15′ 42″ + 1h 15′ 16″

And of course, the podium in Paris featured Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer. The top finishers in the GC competition:
1. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 91h 00′ 26″
2. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 91h 00′ 49″ + 00′ 23″
3. LEIPHEIMER Levi 111 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 91h 00′ 57″ + 00′ 31″
4. SASTRE Carlos 31 TEAM CSC 91h 07′ 34″ + 07′ 08″
5. ZUBELDIA Haimar 71 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 91h 08′ 43″ + 08′ 17″
6. VALVERDE Alejandro 18 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 91h 12′ 03″ + 11′ 37″
7. KIRCHEN Kim 27 T-MOBILE TEAM 91h 12′ 44″ + 12′ 18″
8. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 91h 12′ 51″ + 12′ 25″
9. ASTARLOZA Mikel 73 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 91h 14′ 40″ + 14′ 14″
10. PEREIRO SIO Oscar 11 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 91h 14′ 51″ + 14′ 25″

Daniele Bennati Wins Final Stage, Contador the GC Champion July 29, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Uncategorized.
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No changes in the standings for the GC after an uneventful 20th Stage, taken by Daniele Bennati in a final sprint, following up on his win in Stage 17. The final laps in Paris were tense as everyone was waiting to see if Cadel would attempt to win back the 21 seconds he needed to take the Yellow Jersey , or if Robbie Hunter could challenge Tom Boonen, in the end Cadel and Contador stayed together. And while Robbie Hunter finished slightly ahead of Tom Boonen, third place wan’t enough to change the result of the Green Jersey competition.

Today’s Top Finishers:

1. BENNATI Daniele 82 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 3h 51′ 03″
2. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 3h 51′ 03″
3. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 3h 51′ 03″
4. HUNTER Robert 216 BARLOWORLD 3h 51′ 03″
5. BOONEN Tom 171 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 3h 51′ 03″
6. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 3h 51′ 03″
7. CANCELLARA Fabian 33 TEAM CSC 3h 51′ 03″
8. MILLAR David 201 SAUNIER DUVAL – PRODIR 3h 51′ 03″
9. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 3h 51′ 03″
10. QUINZIATO Manuel 157 LIQUIGAS 3h 51′ 03″
11. ELMIGER Martin 65 AG2R PREVOYANCE 3h 51′ 03″
12. BICHOT Freddy 132 AGRITUBEL 3h 51′ 03″
13. TANKINK Bram 177 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 3h 51′ 03″
14. ISASI Inaki 75 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 3h 51′ 03″
15. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 3h 51′ 03″

Leipheimer Wins Stage 19 July 28, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Discovery Channel, Levi Leipheimer, Predictor-Lotto, Stage 19, Tour de France.
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Well it would be tough to have a finish any closer than this year’s Tour as we head into the final stage to Paris tomorrow. Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) still in the Yellow Jersey gave up 1’27” seconds to Cadel Evans and 2’18” to teammate Levi Leipheimer today, leaving gaps of only 23″ and 31″ respectively after 19 stages of racing.

Today’s Top Finishers:

2. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 1h 03′ 35″ + 00′ 51″
3. KARPETS Vladimir 15 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 1h 04′ 40″ + 01′ 56″
4. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 1h 04′ 45″ + 02′ 01″
5. CONTADOR Alberto 112 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 1h 05′ 02″ + 02′ 18″
6. GUTIERREZ José Ivan 14 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 1h 05′ 11″ + 02′ 27″
7. HINCAPIE George 114 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 1h 05′ 17″ + 02′ 33″
8. PEREIRO SIO Oscar 11 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 1h 05′ 20″ + 02′ 36″
9. HOSTE Leif 45 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 1h 05′ 32″ + 02′ 48″
10. ASTARLOZA Mikel 73 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 1h 05′ 34″ + 02′ 50″
11. DEKKER Thomas 54 RABOBANK 1h 05′ 39″ + 02′ 55″
12. CANCELLARA Fabian 33 TEAM CSC 1h 05′ 39″ + 02′ 55″
13. KIRCHEN Kim 27 T-MOBILE TEAM 1h 05′ 44″ + 03′ 00″
14. GERDEMANN Linus 25 T-MOBILE TEAM 1h 06′ 01″ + 03′ 17″
15. SCHUMACHER Stefan 91 GEROLSTEINER 1h 06′ 01″ + 03′ 17″

Sandy Casar Wins Stage 18 July 27, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Axel Merckx, Barloworld, Bernhard Eisel, Bouygues Telecom, Cadel Evans, Claudio Corioni, Crédit Agricole, Discovery Channel, Erik Zabel, Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, Lampre-Fondital, Laurent Lefevre, Mauricio Soler, Michael Boogerd, Milram, Predictor-Lotto, Quickstep, Rabobank, Robbie Hunter, Robert Forster, Sandy Casar, Sebastien Chavanel, Sebastien Hinault, Stage 18, T-Mobile, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych.
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Sandy Casar Wins Stage 18

It was another long flat stage and another long breakaway. The only thing missing was Jens Voight who has been a fixture on the long breakaway this Tour.

A group of four broke away early, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Frederik Willems (Liquigas) and Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux). Willems was lost to another canine collision, but was quickly replaced by Axel Merckx (T-Mobile) who had been chasing. [Willems was later seen in the peloton, so no serious injuries to riders, no word on the dog]. No one in the peloton bothered to chase as Boogerd was the only GC threat at 16, and the remaining group of four finished in a nice sprint Casar followed by Merckz then Boogerd. Both Boogerd and Merckx have announced that they are retiring following this Tour, so many were rooting for one of them to take the stage.

Teh peloton came in 8:35 behind the breakaway, which had lead by as much as 17:30 at one point, and the finish was a near copy of Stage 17 with Boonen taking the second sprint, followed by Hunter, Zabel and Chavanel. The GC contenders were all in the pack, so no real change in the top of the GC standings, except for a jump for Michael Boogerd from 16th to 13th. The Euskaltel-Euskadi riders lead a late charge by the peloton that prevented Boogerd from jumping into the top 10, perhaps because their rider Mikel Astarloza is in the 10th spot….

Contador retains the Yellow Jersey, Boonen the Green and Soler the Polka Dot.

Today’s Top Finishers:

1. CASAR Sandy 161 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 5h 13′ 31″
2. MERCKX Axel 28 T-MOBILE TEAM 5h 13′ 32″ + 00′ 01″
3. LEFEVRE Laurent 125 BOUYGUES TELECOM 5h 13′ 32″ + 00′ 01″
4. BOOGERD Michael 52 RABOBANK 5h 13′ 32″ + 00′ 01″
5. BOONEN Tom 171 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
6. HUNTER Robert 216 BARLOWORLD 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
7. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
8. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
9. EISEL Bernhard 24 T-MOBILE TEAM 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
10. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
11. CORIONI Claudio 85 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
12. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
13. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
14. EVANS Cadel 41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″
15. HINAULT Sébastien 108 CREDIT AGRICOLE 5h 22′ 05″ + 08′ 34″

Perspective July 27, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Christian Van de Velde, Tour de France.
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Christian Van de Velde’s VeloNews Diary in case you hadn’t seen it….

Daniele Bennati Wins Stage 17 July 26, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Ag2r, CSC, Daniele Bennati, Daniele Righi, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, Gert Steegmans, Jens Voight, Lampre, Liquigas, Manuel Quinziato, Markus Fothen, Martin Elmiger, Matteo Tosatto, Quick Step, Quickstep, Robbie Hunter, Robert Forster, Saunier Duval, Sebastien Chavanel, Stage 17, Sven Krauss, Tom Boonen, Tour de France.
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Daniele Bennati Winning Stage 17A long flat ride through the plains offered little excitement, which was a welcome state after one of the most tumultuous days in the history of the Tour yesterday.

Jens Voight (CSC) led a breakaway starting at 9km that built an 8 min. lead for the group of 8 by the 170km mark. The peloton and GC contenders decided early not to chase, so it was very quiet day indeed at the top of the standings. In addition to Voight, the group included Martin Elmiger (Ag2r), Daniele Bennati (Lampre), Daniele Righi (Lampre), David Millar (Saunier Duval), Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step). On the final hill in the stage (a Cat 4 bump) he attacked the group and broke it up leading a group of 4 (Voight, Bennati, Elmiger and Fothen) into a high speed chase to the finish.

The success of the break created two sprints; the four man break played cat-and-mouse until 100m when Daniele Bennati took a very short sprint. Bennati’s win is the second stage win by an Italian rider in this year’s Tour, and the first by a Lampre rider this year. The scattered remaining elements of the original 8 man breakaway straggled in, leaving the teams’ sprint specialists to battle for the 9th spot points.

The second sprint materialized in the same final 100m with Boonen’s Quickstep escort setting him up perfectly. Boonen took the points for 9th, Sebastien Chavanel trailing him by a full bike length and Robbie Hunter took 11th, maintaining his hold on 2nd place in the Green Jersey standings.

Contador donned the Yellow Jersey following the stage, Tom Boonen retained the Green Jersey, and Mauricio Soler has captured this year’s KOM Polka Dot Jersey. The Yellow Jersey and the Green Jersey are still up for grabs, with Contador, Evans and Leipheimer all in a position to win or lose the Yellow Jersey in Cognac Saturday, and Boonen, Hunter and Zabel still able to win or lose the Green Jersey over the next 3 days.

Today’s Top Finishers:

1. BENNATI Daniele 82 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 4h 14′ 04″
2. FOTHEN Markus 93 GEROLSTEINER 4h 14′ 04″
3. ELMIGER Martin 65 AG2R PREVOYANCE 4h 14′ 04″
4. VOIGT Jens 38 TEAM CSC 4h 14′ 04″
5. MILLAR David 201 SAUNIER DUVAL – PRODIR 4h 16′ 45″ + 02′ 41″
6. TOSATTO Matteo 178 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 4h 16′ 47″ + 02′ 43″
7. QUINZIATO Manuel 157 LIQUIGAS 4h 17′ 24″ + 03′ 20″
8. RIGHI Daniele 87 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 4h 17′ 24″ + 03′ 20″
9. BOONEN Tom 171 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 4h 23′ 41″ + 09′ 37″
10. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 4h 23′ 41″ + 09′ 37″
11. HUNTER Robert 216 BARLOWORLD 4h 23′ 41″ + 09′ 37″
12. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 4h 23′ 41″ + 09′ 37″
13. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 4h 23′ 41″ + 09′ 37″
14. STEEGMANS Gert 176 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 4h 23′ 43″ + 09′ 39″
15. KRAUSS Sven 96 GEROLSTEINER 4h 23′ 43″ + 09′ 39″

Menchov Out July 26, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Dennis Menchov, Rabobank, Tour de France.
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The emotional strain on the Rabobank riders has taken its toll. After killing themselves through the Pyrenees to protect Michael Rasmussen’s now disgraced Yellow Jersey, many Rabobank riders expressed despair and frustration this morning before setting off on Stage 17.

But Denny Menchov, Rabobank’s team leader until Rasmussen pulled on the Yellow Jersey, has dropped out of thestage at the feed zone 80km into the stage. You have to feel for Menchov and the rest of the Rabobank team. There is no evidence whatsoever that any other member of Rabobank trained with Rasmussen or had anything to do with doping.

Stage 17 Starts with 142 Riders July 26, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Stage 17, Tour de France.
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Despite comments from some members of the press that there are still 143 riders in the field, in fact there are only 143 riders starting the stage today. The 143 count was correct after the departure of Team Cofidis, but before the sacking of Michael Rasmussen.

No Yellow Today July 26, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Tour de France.
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The organizers of the Tour de France have announced that no rider will wear the Yellow Jersey today, in the wake of the dismissal of Michael Rasmussen last night. Rasmussen had worn the Jersey during the prior 8 stages.

Alberto Contador, in second place at the finish of yesterday’s Stage 16, will wear the White Jersey signifying his status as the best young rider.

Doping Doctors July 26, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Doping, Dr Michele Ferrari, Dr. Eufemiano Fuente, Michael Rasmussen, Michele Ferrari, Operation Puerto, Rabobank, Tour de France.

I don’t know anything about who the Italian doctor is behind the Michael Rasmussen scandal, but there is one who springs to mind. I’m sure l’Equipe will have the complete story by morning press time….

Dr. Michele Ferrari

Dr. Michele Ferrari’s Training center

More about Dr. Michele Ferrari

And no dicussion of doping doctors would be complete without mentioning Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish doctor at the heart of the Operation Puerto scandal. There is no way that Dr. Fuentes could be involved with current doping events, but who knows about his associates.

New Overall Standings After 16 Stages July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Barloworld, Cadel Evans, Caisse d'Epargne, Carlos Sastre, Christopher Horner, CSC, David Arroyo, Discovery Channel, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Haimar Zubeldia, Iban Mayo, Juan Mauricio Soler, Kim Kirchen, Levi Leipheimer, Mikel Astarloza, Oscar Pereiro, Predictor-Lotto, Saunier Duval-Prodir, T-Mobile, Yaroslav Popovych.
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There are new standings and new time gaps as a result of this evening’s withdrawal and firing of Michael Rasmussen by his team. We’re running out of riders, but we’re also running out of stages, and barring a serious crash in stages 17, 18 or (god forbid) 20 there are really only 3 riders in contention (some would say 5). Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto) will start stage 17 less than 2 minutes behind new race leader Alberto Contador (Discovery) and teammate Levi Leipheimer will start 2 minutes 49 seconds behind him.

The two flat stages (17 & 18) through the plains are not likely to give any rider opportunity to  make up time. However, there is one stage that could make a difference, and that is the individual time trial in Cognac Saturday. Contador is not known as a great time trialer, but performed impressively in Stage 13’s TT coming in 7th behind 4 riders who are now gone (Vinokourov, Kloden, Kashechkin and Wiggins), Cadel Evans (by 1′ 04″) and teammate Yaroslav Popovych.

The top 15 contenders remaining tonight with their time gaps to the Yellow Jersey:

2. EVANS Cadel #41 PREDICTOR – LOTTO + 01′ 53″
4. SASTRE Carlos #31 TEAM CSC + 06′ 02″
5. ZUBELDIA Haimar #71 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI + 06′ 29″
6. VALVERDE Alejandro #18 CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 10′ 18″
7. KIRCHEN Kim #27 T-MOBILE TEAM + 11′ 36″
8. POPOVYCH Yaroslav #118 DISCOVERY CHANNEL + 12′ 50″
9. SOLER HERNANDEZ Juan Mauricio #219 BARLOWORLD + 13′ 31″
10. ASTARLOZA Mikel #73 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI + 13′ 42″
11. PEREIRO SIO Oscar #11 CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 14′ 07″
12. ARROYO David #12 CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 17′ 58″
13. MAYO Iban #207 SAUNIER DUVAL – PRODIR + 22′ 14″
14. HORNER Christopher #44 PREDICTOR – LOTTO + 23′ 12″
15. KARPETS Vladimir #15 CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 24′ 27″

The Tour in Torment July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Andreas Kloden, Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Christian Moreni, Dennis Menchov, Doping, Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, Patrik Sinkewitz, Rabobank, T-Mobile, Theo DeRooy, Tour de France.
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In an unbelievable and dizzying turn of events, 17 riders across three teams have been withdrawn from the Tour in the past 30 hours. 9 riders of Astana, (including 5th place Andreas Kloden and 8th place Andrey Kashechkin), 7 riders of Team Cofidis (all of whom had participated in a sit down protest against riders doping at the start of the stage today), and the Yellow Jersey wearing Rabobank rider, Michael Rasmussen, who had all but guaranteed himself a spot on the podium in Paris with a win in today’s stage.

It is not clear whether any or all of the remaining riders in Rabobank will continue with the Tour when it resumes tomorrow so 7 more riders may withdraw voluntarily by morning, including 17th place Michael Boogerd and 23rd place Dennis Menchov.

Only three riders have failed doping tests during the Tour, Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) who was already withdrawn by the time the results were announced, Alexander Vinokourouv, who had just won 2 out of the last 3 stages when his results were announced and Christian Moreni, who was dramatically arrested by French officials at the finish of today’s stage. However, the zero tolerance environment that is evolving within the sports’ official bodies (the UCI and national federations), within the event organizations and within the ranks of sponsors, has resulted in the decimation of the tour’s competitors and a PR bloodbath that may change the face of professional racing for decades to come.

It should be noted that Rasmussen has been tested repeatedly before and during this year’s Tour (he claims 14 tests) and has not failed any tests to date. However, in the face of the drastic and dramatic moves by organizers, teams and their sponsors in the Sinkewitz, Vinokourov and Moreni incidents, many were calling for Rabobank, or the Tour, to act and remove Rasmussen from the race before his behavior did any more damage to the reputation of the Tour or the heralded Maillot Jaune. Apparently the revelation that Rasmussen was training in Italy in June when he missed out of competition doping tests, not Mexico as he claimed, was all that Rabobank and its team manager Theo DeRooy could take. DeRooy has said that he will give the other Rabobank riders the option of continuing on with the race tomorrow when Stage 17 begins.

Regardless of what the Rabobank riders decide to do, this Tour de France has become one of the craziest sporting events in recent memory. Great riders who are clean have lost the chance to compete and win, good riders who are trying to win their way onto teams for next year are sitting at home, and sponsors who have honored and polished the sport for years are packing their bags. Hopefully, the damage that is done will set the stage for a rebirth of professional cycling, and a new era in the Grand Tours, but for the innocent riders who are hurt because of this there is no way to recover the time and opportunity lost.

Rasmussen Out!!! July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Christian Prudhomme, Davide Cassani, Doping, Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, RAI, Tour de France, UCI.
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Hours after he won Stage 16 of the race and nearly guaranteed himself a spot on the podium in Paris on Sunday, Rabobank has pulled Yellow Jersey Michael Rasmussen from the Tour de France, allegedly because he lied to the team about his whereabouts when he was to have been tested for out of competition doping.

UPDATE: AFP is reporting that “Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme – who at one point had phoned UCI president Pat McQuaid to berate him over not informing organizers over Rasmussen’s missed tests – said that there was not much more he and his co-directors of the race could have done.

“We did all we could do to get rid of him,” Prudhomme told AFP.”One cannot mock the Tour de France impunitively like those riders,” he added, referring to Rasmussen, Cristian Moreni – who also exited on Wednesday after failing a drugs test – and Alexandre Vinokourov who was thrown out on Tuesday. ”

UPDATE 2: It is now being reported that not only did Rasmussen misinform his team as to his true location during the months leading up to the Tour de France, but apparently Rabobank was informed today that Rasmussen was training in Italy with an “as yet un-named doctor”, suggesting that Rabobank may know more about what he has been doing during the period in question than we yet know.

UPDATE 3: Cyclingnews reports “According to hln.be, former professional Davide Cassani, now a commentator for Italian TV station RAI, made a statement to Danish TV on Wednesday in which he claimed to have seen the Rabobank leader training in the Italian Dolomites on June 13 and 14. Rasmussen had previously declared that he was in Mexico from June 4 – 26. “When Rasmussen was confronted with this information he confirmed to [team manager] Theo de Rooy he was at that moment in Italy,” said Rabobank press officer Jacob Bergsma. “That was the reason De Rooy decided to get him out of the Tour and the team.””

Bouygues Loses Sprick to Crash in Stage 16 July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Bouygues Telecom, Matthieu Sprick.
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Lost in the Astana/Cofidis noise today, Bouygues Telecom lost their young French rider, Matthieu Sprick. Sprick crashed early in the stage today and could not continue.

Bouygues Telecom had already lost Stef Clement in Stage 12 and is down to 7 riders.

143 Left…. July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Cofidis, Doping, Stage 16, Tour de France.
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The withdrawal of Team Cofidis, following the announcement that Christian Moreni failed a doping test taken following Stage 11, reduces the field to 143 riders. While the departure of the Cofidis riders does not change the standing of any of the GC contenders, the tail end of the peloton has moved up 15 spots in the past 24 hours…all for the wrong reasons.

The remaining riders and their standing in the GC are listed here.