Australia's Cadel Evans has called on cycling's detractors to take a long hard look at what is being done in the sport to clean up its image.
For the second consecutive day the Tour de France was rocked by controversy following the news that Italian climber Riccardo Ricco had become the third rider to test positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).
Ricco won two climbing stages last week, becoming one of the most followed riders in the Pyrenees where he left many established climbers — including Evans — in his wake with his lightning fast accelerations.
Tour de France organizers ASO may be regretting the choice of music played after the peloton rolled out of Lavelanet at the start of stage 12 Thursday.
Only 45 minutes after the news of Ricardo Riccò’s positive test for red-blood cell booster CERA rocked the start village, the public address system blared Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” — fitting perhaps as the swansong for a defiant young rider who rocketed into the spotlight while simultaneously thumbing his nose at the sport’s establishment.
Weather: Cloudy at start, sunny at finish, strong westerly winds up to 45kph, highs in 80s
Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) had enough spring in his legs after making it over the Pyrénées last weekend to win his third stage of this year’s Tour, becoming the first British rider to win three stages in the Tour. Sébastian Chavanel (FDJeux) made a late charge that fell short while Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) made a long sprint to hang on to third. A three-man breakaway was caught with nine kilometers to go.
French anti-doping authorities and Saunier Duval team officials confirmed Thursday that Italian climbing sensation Ricardo Riccò (Saunier Duval) has tested positive for a new form of the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).
Informed of the positive just an hour before the start of Thursday’s 12th stage of the Tour de France, Riccò was taken by gendarmes to a local police station for questioning. Within minutes of Riccò’s departure, his entire team voluntarily withdrew from the Tour.
Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) won the 12th stage of the 95th edition of the Tour de France — his third stage of this year’s race — as Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) retained the leader’s yellow jersey.[nid:80277]
"I’m a bit tired now but I was still fastest across the line," said a weary Cavendish with a chuckle. "I’m glad I could do that for my teammates. It’s just so nice to get another one."
Evans also praised his team for its efforts on a hot, windy stage.
With the Pyrénées in the rearview mirror, the riders in the 95th Tour de France can now look forward to three less nervous stages across the South of France, where the main obstacle to overcome will be the heat. Temperatures will be in the upper-80s by the end of Thursday’s stage 12 in Narbonne, and somewhat warmer the following two days.
CSC’s Kurt Asle Arvesen emerged atop a successful 12-man break to take the 11th stage of the Tour de France Wednesday, outsprinting a group of four riders that gapped the group near the end of the 167.5km race from Lannemesan to Foix.
Following a rest day and a big GC battle on the slopes of Hautacam on Monday, the moderate stage in the foothills of the Pyrenees offered a good opportunity for a break to form and Arvesen managed to join the decisive move that formed at 20km into the stage.
Weather Warmer, with moderate northerly winds, highs in the upper 80s
Stage winner Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC-Saxo Bank) shot away with under 3km to go and stabbed his bike across the line to win in a photo-finish ahead of Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in a four-up sprint. After winning two Giro stages, it’s the first Tour victory for the Norwegian national champion.