Roman Kreuziger’s highs and lows
MILAN (VN) — Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) is free to race. He begins in February with the Tour of Oman, but he is unable to plan too far ahead with a court expected to rule on his biological passport case. Attempting to prove that he did not dope, the Czech announced this weekend that he passed a lie detector test. But for many, that only served to highlight the many highs and lows of his nine-year cycling career.
– Tour de Suisse: The 2004 junior world champion joined Italy’s team Liquigas in 2006 and with Vincenzo Nibali, led the team in the smaller stage races. In 2008, he won a stage and the Tour de Suisse overall ahead of Andreas Klöden and Igor Anton. In the same year, he placed second in the Tour de Romandie and 12th in his debut Tour de France. “The Tour,” said the 22-year-old, “could become my aim in the coming years.”
– Giro d’Italia: His seasons with Astana, 2011 and 2012, were stepping stones between teams Liquigas and Tinkoff-Saxo, but he came away with some important results in the Giro d’Italia. In 2011, he won the white jersey of best young rider, and in 2012, after dropping out of contention for the race overall, he won the Alpe di Pampeago stage. The Astana marriage was heading for divorce, though. Giuseppe Martinelli explained, “He hasn’t lived up to what we’d hoped for.”
– Amstel Gold Race: Kreuziger’s one-day palmarès includes a win in the Clásica San Sebastián and fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but the 2013 Amstel Gold Race ranks at the top. In his Saxo Bank colors, he escaped solo with seven kilometers remaining and held off the big guns like Philippe Gilbert and Simon Gerrans. He said afterward, “There are not many that can make moves like that after six hours.” Three months later, he helped Contador to fourth overall and placed fifth at the Tour.
– Michele Ferrari: During Lance Armstrong-related investigations, Leonardo Bertagnolli testified that his former teammate Kreuziger went to banned doctor and trainer, Michele Ferrari. After the testimony gained public attention, Kreuziger said that he worked with Ferrari but that he visited Armstrong’s preferred doctor just for training. He explained to Cycling Weekly, “I was 20 years old. I was in my first year as a professional, and at the time, I believed he was one of the best coaches in the world.”
– Biological passport readings: The UCI’s Anti-doping Commission notified Kreuziger and stopped him from racing ahead of the 2014 Tour de France for suspicious biological passport blood readings during his years with Astana, in 2011 and 2012. The passport helps catch cheaters without a positive test and has resulted in bans for many other cyclists, including Leif Hoste, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, and Franco Pellizotti.
The Czech Olympic Committee cleared Kreuziger, but the UCI appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Kreuziger said the UCI’s medics mishandled his samples and that he had an under-active thyroid gland that could have skewed the readings. He will have to explain that to the high court, who ruled in favor of the passport in other hearings.
– Lie detector test: Kreuziger said Saturday that he took and passed a polygraph test to prove he did not dope, use EPO or blood transfusions. “I don’t have anything to hide, and I am doing everything in my power to clear my name,” he said.
Experts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, said that it is not clear if polygraph tests are reliable. Tyler Hamilton said that he cheated and beat the test. The results may be accurate in Kreuziger’s case, but some see it as a desperate move in the final hours before his court hearing.
The CAS told VeloNews Tuesday that it has yet to schedule a hearing date for Kreuziger’s biological passport case. If the Swiss court rules against him, he could face a two- to four-year doping ban.