By Andrew Hood
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) revealed some chinks in his pre-Tour armor in Friday’s difficult climbing stage and lost control of the race leader’s jersey at the 68th Tour de Suisse.
Ullrich lost contact with the climbing specialists on the very steep 13km summit finish to Malbun, on an average grade of 8.7 percent, and surrendered the lead he’s held since the prologue to Fabian Jeker (Saunier Duval).
Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) reeled in fading leaders Erwin Thijs and Ben Day (both Mr. Bookmakers.com) as he jumped out of a 10-man chasing group. The Austrian started the day just 25 seconds behind Ullrich, but the big German couldn’t match the pace on the steep climb.
T-Mobile’s Giuseppe Guerini, key to Ullrich’s performance in Thursday’s climbing stage, was once again by his leader’s side, but they could only watch as Jeker also made a late run for the line.
Totschnig grabbed the win and Jeker came through second to slip into the overall lead while Ullrich finished sixth, 39 seconds later, slipping to third at 32 seconds back
Saturday’s 191km eighth stage between Buchs and Bellinzone will have riders tackle one mountain pass before the nine-stage race ends on Sunday with a time trial around Lugano. The 25.6km test against the clock favors Ullrich, who can still snatch a final-day victory.
Team CSC’s Bobby Julich finished 25th at 3:37 back and slipped to 16th overall. Julich came to the Swiss tour with hopes of a strong result, but faded out of contention after two hard days in the mountains.
Fellow American Tom Danielson (Fassa Bortolo) had his strongest ride of the Swiss tour, finishing 15th at 1:22 back.
68th Tour de Suisse (SWI 2.HC), Stage 7, Linthal to Malbun, 133 kilometers
1. Georg Totschnig (Aut), Gerolsteiner, 3:33:45
2. Fabian Jeker (Swi), Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 0:07
3. Frank Schleck (Lux), Team CSC, at 0:14
4. Jose Maria Del Olmo (Spa), Milaneza Maia, at 0:17
5. Dario Cioni (Ita), Fassa Bortolo, at 0:28
15. Tom Danielson (USA), Fassa Bortolo, at 1:22
25. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, at 3:37
Overall (after seven stages)
1. Fabian Jeker (Swi), Saunier Duval-Prodir, 29:13:24
2. Georg Totschnig (Aut), Gerolsteiner, at 0:08
3. Jan Ullrich (Ger), T-Mobile, at 0:32
4. Jose Maria Del Olmo (Spa), Milaneza Maia, at 0:35
5. Dario Cioni (Ita), Fassa Bortolo, at 0:46
16. Bobby Julich (USA), Team CSC, at 6:18
59. Tom Danielson (USA), Fassa Bortolo, at 45:15
Galvez relegated in Cataluyna
Spanish sprinter Isaac Galvez (Illes Balears) was relegated in Friday’s fifth stage of the 84th Volta a Cataluyna, and the race jury gave the victory to Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) instead.
It was an odd decision because Galvez only touched a rider’s back as he was getting barged into the fences by a Fassa Bortolo rider with about 400 meters to go. The Fassa rider eased to his right to let Galvez through and the Spanish rider held a long sprint for victory.
There was a crash back in the bunch, but it didn’t seem to be caused by Galvez’s maneuver, but it was enough to cost the Spanish rider the win.
Saunier Duval management told race leader Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero not to risk the sprint as the main bunch came in after reeling in some early moves in the hilly run down to the Catalan coast. Martin Perdiguero has won three straight stages to take control of the race.
“It was very fast today, especially the final section, and in order to risk falling it was better to race defensively because a fall now can be the end to everything we have so far,” Martin Perdiguero told Spanish television after the stage. “There are still two stages to go and I feel pretty good. I want to finish on the highest place on the podium.”
The race continues Saturday with the 148km sixth stage from Blanes to Vallirana and hits three Category 3 climbs along the way before a short climbing finish.
84th Volta a Cataluyna (SPA 2.HC), Stage 5, Llivia to Blanes, 180.6km
1. Danilo Hondo (Ger), Gerolsteiner, 4:14:43
2. 2. René Haselbacher (Aut), Gerolsteiner
3. Crescenzo D’amore (Ita), Acqua & Sapone
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme
5. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita), De Nardi
21. Michael Barry (Can), USPS
27. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Liberty Seguros, all same time
Overall (after five stages)
1. Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval, 14:35:55
2. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Illes Balears-Banesto, at 0:24
3. Roberto Laiseka (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:37
4. David Latasa (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, at 0:56
5. Eladio Jimenez (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, at 1:15
27. Michael Barry (Can), USPS, at 6:40
47. Christan Vande Velde (USA), Liberty Seguros, at 11:36
Van Heck wins in Holland
Preben Van Hecke (Relax-Bodysol) won Friday’s 199km second stage of the Ster Elketrotoer (NED 2.3), but a massive pileup in the bunch sprint marred the day’s action.
Van Hecke edged breakaway companions Servais Knaven (Quick Step) and Jakob Piil (CSC) to win the course in the hills near Valkenburg. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) retained the overall lead in early results.
Court to decide Monday on Armstrong ruling
Lance Armstrong wants the publisher of a new book filled with doping allegations against him to include his denial, and a Paris court will rule on the request next week, The Associated Press reported Friday.
The five-time Tour de France winner has strongly denied claims made by a former assistant in the book, “L.A. Confidential, the Secrets of Lance Armstrong.” The assistant says Armstrong once asked her to dispose of used syringes and to give him makeup to conceal needle marks on his arms.
Armstrong wants a notice denying the allegations inserted into the French-language book, published here by La Martiniere.
On Friday, Armstrong lawyer Christian Charriere-Bournazel accused the book’s authors of “dumping a load of garbage … onto an immense champion” just weeks before the start of the Tour de France.
Thibault de Montbrial, a lawyer for the authors and publisher, argued that inserting a notice into the book would signal “the end of investigative journalism” in France.
The court said it will issue its decision on Monday.
The book, which went on sale in France on Tuesday, was written by David Walsh and Pierre Ballester and relies heavily on allegations by former assistant Emma O’Reilly.
Armstrong’s lawyers have said they were starting libel proceedings in France and Britain against the authors and their publisher. Armstrong hopes to win a record sixth victory in this year’s Tour, which begins July 3. – By The Associated Press
Soigneur reaffirms doping claims
Emma O’Reilly — a former masseuse with five-time Tour de France winnerLance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team and the key source in a book which allegesthe American used EPO (erythropoietin) — appeared on French televisionto reassert her claims.
O’Reilly worked with Armstrong for three and a half years from 1998and was in almost constant contact with his close-knit team. In the soon-to-be-releasedbook, “LA Confidential – The Secrets of Lance Armstrong,” O’Reilly claimsthat she was asked to carry out a number of dubious tasks by the U.S. Postalteam.
Despite admitting that she knew her revelations would cause “controversy”the Irishwoman said she felt it was time to speak out.
“I’ve got a nice quiet life here and I know what I’ve said is goingto cause a lot of controversy, but I just felt that with the way the sporthad become, it was time to speak out,” she told France 3.
O’Reilly was filmed at her home in England, but footage was also shownof her while she worked with the American team after Armstrong had returnedto racing in 1998 following his successful battle with cancer. O’Reillywas also filmed flicking through the diary which she kept while she workedwith U.S. Postal. – By AFP
Hamburger gets Olympics shot
Denmark’s 1997 world road race silver medalist Bo Hamburger has won his bid to be considered for Olympic selection following news 10 days ago that he could not represent Denmark, the AFP reported.
The Danish cycling federation (DCU) wanted him expelled because they suspect the 34-year-old of taking the banned substance EPO (erythropoietin) after a test at last year’s world championships in Canada revealed an abnormal level of haemotacrit in his blood. That can imply the athlete has taken a banned blood booster, such as EPO, although it is not incontrovertible proof.
On Friday, Denmark’s National Sports Federation (DIF) told Hamburger he would be part of the team for the Athens Games.
DIF spokesman Morten Moelholm Hansen told AFP: “There is nothing to justify eliminating Bo Hamburger from selection, above all on the basis of suspicion. He fulfills all of the selection criteria, and his test from Canada was negative. There is no ‘Hamburger affair,’ because he hasn’t been sanctioned for doping.” It is not the first time that Hamburger has fallen foul of the authorities, however. The Acqua and Sapone rider was once barred from representing Denmark for life by the DCU after testing positive for EPO at the Flèche Wallonne race in 2001. Citing anomalies in the testing procedure, he took his case to the DIF.
After a hearing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Hamburger was eventually cleared of any doping offences and reintegrated into the national team. – By AFP
UCI will sign anti-doping code
Cycling’s ruling body will reluctantly sign the World Anti Doping Agency’sinternational code, but only near the conclusion of the Tour de France.
The UCI is the only international sports federation not to have signedthe code, which all governing bodies must sign by July 23 if they wantto see their events take part in the Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
WADA president Dick Pound said the UCI has agreed to sign the code despitereservations from UCI president Hein Verbruggen. The UCI has indicatedit doesn’t agree with the WADA’s code of the length of sanctions and automaticsuspensions in some instances.
“All the international sport federations except the UCI have acceptedto adopt the code. The UCI have indicated it will accept later in July,and I think the target date is July 25,” Pound said Thursday. “It is quitelate but it is nevertheless ahead of the Athens Olympics.”
Australian parliamentarian levels doping charge
A group of Australian cyclists, including two potential Athens gold medalists, injected banned substances at the government-funded Australian Institute of Sport’s (AIS) cycling center in Adelaide, a senator told parliament Friday.
Opposition Labor Party senator John Faulkner said a group of up to six unnamed cyclists regularly locked themselves in disgraced former junior track champion Mark French’s room in the Adelaide centre to inject drugs.
Speaking under parliamentary privilege, Faulkner said a senior cyclist encouraged French — banned for two years for taking a banned substance earlier this month — to buy steroids and share them around.
“(French’s room) was used as an injecting room, indeed as a shooting gallery, by up to six cyclists locking themselves in several nights a week undetected for months on end,” he said, adding that two of the group were considered gold medal prospects. Opposition sport spokeswoman Kate Lundy said the allegations were contained in submissions to a recent case heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
She said Faulkner tried to make the document public in parliament Friday but was blocked by Sports Minister Rod Kemp.
“We’d like the minister to explain what’s going on,” she told Sky News. “What we’d like is a complete and independent inquiry into this matter.”
Late last month, a federal parliamentary senate estimates hearing was told syringes and vials containing an equine growth hormone, a banned substance, were found in French’s room.
Kemp said he would look closely at Faulkner’s allegations and make a statement early next week. Cycling Australia Executive Director Graham Fredricks urged Faulkner to pass on any information he had to back up the allegations.
“We’d like to have it so we can take firm and swift action on it,” Fredricks told Channel Nine.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Friday it had written to Cycling Australia seeking guarantees that all Athens-bound athletes were clean.
“If it means we have to sacrifice a gold medal or two, the AOC will not hesitate to do that,” AOC President John Coates said. “We do not want drug cheats on our team.” AIS spokesman Peter Logue said he was unable to comment on the specific allegations raised by Faulkner.
“The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) is aware of certain specific allegations that have been made in the Court of Arbitration in Sport about other cyclists and the AIS cycling program and is seeking the agreement of all parties to the hearing to use this information for the purposes of further investigation,” Logue said.
French, 19, won two titles at the 2001 world junior track championships and another two in Melbourne at the 2002 championships. He is planning to appeal his two-year ban.
Mayo inspects Pyrenees stages
After giving a press conference this week and begging the Spanish press“to give him air to breathe,” Iban Mayo is training in the Pyrenees andinspecting key stages of the Tour de France.
The Euskaltel-Euskadi captain is riding on the La Mongie section ofthe Tourmalet as well as the Col d’Aspin, Plateau de Beille as well asother climbs in the Pyrenees.
Petacchi previews Olympic course; Fassa Tour team set
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will scout out the Olympics roadcourse this weekend along with national coach Franco Ballerini. Accordingto reports in the Italian media, Petacchi will ride the course Sunday morningto avoid traffic.
Petacchi’s Fassa Bortolo team released its line-up for the Tour. JoiningPetacchi will be Marzio Bruseghin, Fabian Cancellara, Juan Antonio Flecha,Aitor Gonzalez, Kim Kirchen, Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto and MarcoVelo. Reserves include Dario Cioni, Volodimir Gustov and Alberto Ongarato.Preferred lead-out man Guidi Trenti is still recovering from injuries thatkept him out of the Giro d’Italia while American Tom Danielson will racethe Vuelta a España in September.
No Tour for Gonzalez
Alvaro González de Galdeano, older brother of Tour favoriteIgor, will miss the Tour de France after suffering injuries in a recentfall. Officials from Liberty Seguros said the 34-year-old will sidelinedfor at least two weeks, assuring his absence from the French race.