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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In an unbelievable and dizzying turn of events, 17 riders across three teams have been withdrawn from the Tour in the past 30 hours. 9 riders of Astana, (including 5th place Andreas Kloden and 8th place Andrey Kashechkin), 7 riders of Team Cofidis (all of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Only three riders have failed doping tests during the Tour, Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) who was already withdrawn by the time the results were announced, Alexander Vinokourouv, who had just won 2 out of the last 3 stages when his results were announced and Christian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.

Like a Sieve… July 25, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Christian Moreni, Cofidis, Doping, L'Equipe, UCI.
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Franch daily L’Equipe has reported another leaked report from the labs employed by the UCI to perform blood tests on samples supplied by the riders before and during the Tour de France. The report claims that a blood test taken at the end of Stage 11 in Montpelier resulted in a positive result indicating blood doping. Tests were taken that day from Robert Hunter who won the stage, Michael Rasmussen, Maxim Iglinskiy, Erik Zabel, Lilian Jegou, Cristian Moreni, Kim Kirchen, and Patxi Vila. [Update: It has subsequently been announced that the rider who failed the doping test was Christian Moreni, and his team has withdrawn from the Tour de France].

Amazing how every one of these results ends up in L’Equipe before being released.

UPDATE: UCI is reporting that Christian Moreni of Cofidis is the rider who tested positive for blood doping after Stage 11. He had finished 102nd that day and was in 53rd place in the GC at the time.

Boonen wins Stage 12 July 20, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Amets Txurruka, Andrey Kashechkin, Anthony Geslin, Bernard Eisel, Christian Moreni, Daniele Bennati, Erik Zabel, Freddy Bichot, Inaki Isasi, Martin Elmiger, Nicholas Jalabert, Pierrick Fedrigo, Robbie Hunter, Robert Forster, Sebastien Chavanel, Stage 12, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France.
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Two men, Euskaltel’s Amets Txurruka and Bouygues Telecom’s Pierrick Fedrigo broke away from the peloton 55km into the race and were allowed to get over 10 minutes ahead before being reeled back on the long descent into Castres, only to be caught in the final kilometer.

A neat orderly sprint in the final meters was set up perfectly by Quickstep putting Tom Boonen in position to win, and Boonen did not disappoint. Zabel and Hunter stayed right in line with their Green Jersey standings and finished 2-3.

Today’s Top Finishers:

1. BOONEN Tom 171 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 4h 25′ 32″
2. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 4h 25′ 32″
3. HUNTER Robert 216 BARLOWORLD 4h 25′ 32″
4. BENNATI Daniele 82 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 4h 25′ 32″
5. HUSHOVD Thor 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 4h 25′ 32″
6. EISEL Bernhard 24 T-MOBILE TEAM 4h 25′ 32″
7. CHAVANEL Sébastien 162 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 4h 25′ 32″
8. JALABERT Nicolas 137 AGRITUBEL 4h 25′ 32″
9. FÖRSTER Robert 92 GEROLSTEINER 4h 25′ 32″
10. KASHECHKIN Andrey 195 ASTANA 4h 25′ 32″
11. BICHOT Freddy 132 AGRITUBEL 4h 25′ 32″
12. ELMIGER Martin 65 AG2R PREVOYANCE 4h 25′ 32″
13. MORENI Cristian 144 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 4h 25′ 32″
14. ISASI Inaki 75 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 4h 25′ 32″
15. GESLIN Anthony 124 BOUYGUES TELECOM 4h 25′ 32″

Stage 5 Goes to Pozzato July 12, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Bouygues Telecom, Bram Tankink, Christian Moreni, Cofidis, Daniele Bennati, Discovery Channel, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, George Hincapie, Jérôme Pineau, Kim Kerchen, Lampre-Fondital, Liquigas, Milram, Oscar Freire, Quickstep, Quickstep-Innergetic, Rabobank, Stage 5, Stefan Schumacher, Sylvain Chavanel, Team Bouygues Telecom, Team Cofidis, Team Discovery Channel, Team Gerolsteiner, Team Lampre-Fondital, Team Liquigas, Team Milram, Team Quickstep, Team Rabobank, Team T-Mobile.
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Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas won a long and winding sprint to take Stage 5. Fabian Cancellara stayed with the peloton despite some challenging climbs, finished 12th, and holds on to the Jersey for another day (2 actually). Sylvain Chavanel’s persistence in long breakaways brough him the Polka Dot Jersey as his won 30 of the days 34 available 1st place points by taking the first 6 of 7 climbs as part of the breakaway.

Tom Boonen lost the peloton in the hils, and finished the day 1:20 behind the Pozzato, which opened the door for Erik Zabel to take the Green Jersey with his 16 point 5th place finish.

Complete results here:

Top Finishers:

1. POZZATO Filippo 151 LIQUIGAS 04:39:01
2. FREIRE Oscar 56 RABOBANK 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
3. BENNATI Daniele 82 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
4. KIRCHEN Kim 27 T-MOBILE TEAM 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
5. ZABEL Erik 181 TEAM MILRAM 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
6. HINCAPIE George 114 DISCOVERY CHANNEL TEAM 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
7. MORENI Cristian 144 COFIDIS CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
8. SCHUMACHER Stefan 91 GEROLSTEINER 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
9. TANKINK Bram 177 QUICK STEP – INNERGETIC 04:39:01 + 00:00:00
10. PINEAU Jérôme 126 BOUYGUES TELECOM 04:39:01 + 00:00:00