By Andrew Hood
Spain’s Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne) received the yellow jersey from the 2006 Tour de France at a ceremony in Madrid, officially replacing U.S. rider Floyd Landis, who has been stripped of his title for doping.
“This is an emotional moment, a day that I will never forget,” said Pereiro after Tour director Christian Prudhomme awarded him the jersey.
“Finally! It has been long, too long, you are a late winner but a real winner,” said Prudhomme. “You have the right to your place among the winners of the Tour, it was on the road that you won.”
Pereiro finished 57 seconds behind Landis in the final standings. But the UCI formally declared Pereiro the winner on September 21 after Landis was found to be using synthetic testosterone during the Tour.
It was the first time in the history of the race that a winner has been stripped of the title for doping. Landis has appealed to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, which is expected to issue a final ruling in February.
“I feel very sorry for him. I can’t celebrate what happened but in sports there are rules that must be respected,” added Pereiro.
Landis attorney Maurice Suh told VeloNews on Monday that the stripping of Landis’s Tour title is the product of a flawed system of testing and of justice.
“If you’re going to have a lab system that doesn’t meet the standards of a forensic lab — and it’s clear we showed that — then you need a justice system that roots out the problems of the testing system,” Suh said. “You can’t have a lack of rigor on both sides and expect a fair outcome.
“Admittedly, there is a substantial doping problem in cycling. It’s terrible, but to strip someone of a title based on a flawed system of testing and a flawed system of justice produces the same result. In reality you end up with the same outcome as if a doping violation had occurred; the result is to give the title to someone who didn’t actually win it.”
Pereiro becomes the sixth Spanish rider to win the Tour, after Federico Bahamontes (1959), Luis Ocaña (1973), Pedro Delgado (1988), Miguel Indurain (1991-95) and Alberto Contador (2007).
He finished 10th at this year’s Tour, which was won by fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) after a row over missed drug tests saw Rabobank’s Michael Rasmussen kicked out of the race while wearing the yellow jersey. —Agence France Presse and VeloNews.com editor Charles Pelkey contributed to this story.
Demol joins Quick Step
Veteran Belgian sport director Dirk Demol has penned a deal to join Quick Step-Innergetic for the 2008 season.
Demol balked at joining ex-Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel at the new-look Astana and instead decided to sign on with the Belgian powerhouse team. Demol will help the team reshape its stage race options.
“For 2008, the team has decided to invest in athletes for stage races such as Stijn Devolder, Alexander Efimkin and Matteo Carrara who will be riding alongside existing team riders such as Juan Manuel Garate and Carlos Barredo and young up-coming athletes like Kevin Seeldraeyers,” said Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere in a team release. “Our team has always had a long tradition dedicated to one-day races, but already this year we decided also to invest in the creation of a competitive group for the stage races. We are sure that Demol’s experience will be an important piece in the construction of this new group.”
Contract News: Rebellin, Van Goolen
Italian veteran Davide Rebellin has signed a deal that will keep him in a Gerolsteiner jersey through the 2008 season. The 36-year-old joined the German outfit in 2002 and his best season came when he swept the Ardennes Classics in 2004.
“David told me he wanted to end his career with us,” said Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer in a team release. “I feel very good that he will continue to race with us.”
In other transfer news, Jurgen Van Goolen has just signed a two-year contract with Team CSC. The all-round Belgian rider rode since 2006 with Discovery Channel.
“In Van Goolen we are getting a young and very interesting new addition to our team,” said Team CSC manager Bjarne Riis. “I’ve been following him for some time now and I’m sure he’ll be able to get a lot more out of his considerable talent. He’s an all-round rider, who’ll strengthen the team in different types of races and I think we’ll see his potential unfold in the near future.”
CSC wraps, Di Luca carries ProTour lead to Lombardia
Team CSC wrapped up its third consecutive ProTour team title while Danilo Di Luca carries his individual ranking into this weekend’s season finale at Giro di Lombardia.
In the team competition, Team CSC secured the overall title for the third consecutive year in Sunday’s penultimate ProTour race at Paris-Tours. Its closest rivals couldn’t close the gap and the Danish-American team will make the hat-trick official this weekend.
Di Luca, meanwhile, didn’t race Sunday but will defend a 15-point lead to Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) in Saturday’s Lombardia finale. It remains to be seen Di Luca’s scheduled appearance before CONI this week and could be handed a four-month ban for alleged links to the “Oils for Drugs” doping investigation.
ProTour standings after Paris-Tour
1. Danilo di Luca (Ita), Liquigas 242 points
2. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor Lotto 227
3. Alberto Contador (Spa), Discovery Channel 191
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Caisse d’Epargne 190
5. Oscar Freire (Spa), Rabobank 182
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita), Gerolsteiner 172
7. Denis Menchov (Rus),Rabobank 172
8. Kim Kirchen (Lux), T Mobile 165
9. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Caisse d’Epargne 145
10. Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Lampre 135