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Must reads: Armstrong signs up for NZ tri, Pereiro takes up soccer, Armstrong-Contador duel helps Tour sales, Sastre urges patience

Het Nieuwsblad: Ricco’s manager says UCI was mum

A story in the print edition of l’Equipe reports that UCI president Pat McQuaid called Vacansoleil team managers “naive” for hiring Riccardo Ricco for their 2011 squad. But the Belgian paper Het Nieuwsblad checked with Vancansoleil’s director Daan Luijkx, who says UCI officials have never said anything about Ricco to the team: “We have visited with the UCI in relation to the application for our license many times. The name Ricco did not come up once,” said Luijkx.

Autoweek.com: Armstrong gets jiggy with Nissan 370

From Nissan’s proving grounds in Arizona: “You don’t win seven Tour de France events without being a little competitive, and Armstrong is absolutely glued to the back of a GT-R driven by Team RadioShack general manager Bart Knaggs. Despite more car, Knaggs just can’t pull away from the Texas superstar, even though he has no experience.”

BBC.co.uk: Cav’ nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year:

For the second consecutive years, Mark Cavendish (HTC-HighRoad) is one of the ten nominees for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year honor. Other nominees are jockey AP McCoy, golfers Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell, “darts legend” Phil Taylor and diver Tom Daley. “The nominees will be put to a public vote on the night of the live show, which will be broadcast from the LG Arena in Birmingham at 1900 GMT, Sunday 19 December on BBC One.” And, Het Nieuwsblad reports: Cavendish may well bring his new girlfriend, British model Peta Todd: In terms of popularity Peta Todd should not be inferior to the fast man of the Isle of Man. Todd has appeared on her eighteenth on page three of The Sun.”

ChristinaDesignLondon.com: Rasmussen to lead Continental team:

Left off any ProTeam squad, Michael Rasmussen will lead the Danish Continental squad formerly known as Team Stenca Trading. The team is being renamed Christina Watches for its new owner Christina Design London. The company is introducing the Michael Rasmussen Cycling Watch. All owners of the 200-euro watch “will every year be invited to the team’s annual Christmas Party for a symbolic price of 40 euro.”

Marca.com: Sastre waiting for judgment on doping scandal:

2008 Tour champion Carlos Sastre says cyclists are victims of a rush to judgment in doping scandals, including the recent arrest of Dr. Fuentes. “There’s always people interested in getting revenue from these situations, when you need to wait for the courts to pass sentence and then the guilty pay.” La Marca also reports that Spanish cycling federation Carlos Castaño says he’s had enough of Fuentes: “(If the charges are proven) this will be the second error this gentleman will have committed,  and he will pay for it.”

AS.com: Oscar Pereiro takes up soccer:

2006 Tour de France champion Oscar Pereiro, retired from cycling at the end of the 2010 season, has joined a third division Spanish soccer team: “Playing in a football team was one of my dreams since I started in the sports world, so this new step is a very nice challenge and I am very excited. I’ll play in the reserves but will train with the first team a few times a week. Every day I try to learn something new from my peers.”

Bloomberg: Armstrong-Contador worth millions to ASO coffers:

Tour de France owner Amaury Sports Organisation reports that the specter of a Lance Armstrong-Alberto Contador duel at the 2009 Tour encouraged increased sponsorship of the race: “Sales from ASO’s sports events rose 20 percent to 145.2 million euros ($195.4 million) and the Tour’s global television audience increased 10 percent. Net income fell 1.2 percent to 31.8 million euros.”

Geelongadvertiser.com.au: O’Grady to miss Jayco series with broken ribs:

Officials with the Jan. 2-5 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic have confirmed that Australian Stuart O’Grady has pulled out of the event due to broken ribs suffered in a skiing accident. “Event director John Trevorrow confirmed that O’Grady had suffered his injuries in a skiing accident in the Swiss Alps earlier this week and was recovering at his home in Monaco. O’Grady was meant to headline a stellar line-up of Australian and overseas stars in the strongest field in the event’s 22-year history. It’s the second year O’Grady has been forced to withdraw from the popular criterium series.”

Rats.org.nz: Armstrong tries tri in New Zealand:

Armstrong has confirmed that his first major triathlon in many years will be the Eves Blue Lake Multisport Festival which is set for January in Rotorua, New Zealand. “Rumours started flying on Friday when Juan Pelota, Armstrong’s alias tweeted that his first race would be at these co-ordinates 38°12′S 176°20′E which points to Lake Tikitapu – The Blue Lake. The rumours were not confirmed until this morning when organisers from the Rotorua Association of Triathletes (RATS) received an email from Armstrong’s media advisor. Armstrong will be coming over to New Zealand at the conclusion of the Tour Down Under in Australia.”

New York Times: Spain’s “Golden Year” of sport tarnished by year’s end:

The year featured Alberto Contador ‘s third Tour victory, Rafael Nadal’s Wimbledon’s win and Spains win in the soccer World Cup. But then things went sideways: “That was not because Fernando Alonso faltered down the stretch after leading the Formula One standings or because Spain failed again to win the right to stage a global sporting event — this time the 2018 World Cup, which went to Russia. The more troubling failure came with the drug test that could force Contador to surrender his Tour title, even if he continues to insist that he ingested the banned steroid clenbuterol through contaminated meat.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Contador’s fate could determine Porte’s:

If Contador is barred from the the 2011 Tour, young Richie Porte could be Saxo Bank’s GC leader, putting him in direct competition with his former teammates now on the Luxembourg Project team, including his compatriot and training partner Stuart O’Grady. “He’s going to have a massive amount of pressure on him. There is no flying under the radar any more. We talk about this when we go out training, ” O’Grady tells the Herald’s Rupert Guinness. “It’s going to make it really difficult for him and he realises that. There will be no more getting half-an-hour breakaways given to him, that’s for sure. People will realise and understand that he has a massive engine.”

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