By Andrew Hood
Roberto Heras says he will appeal the two-year racing ban Spanish racing officials handed down Wednesday, saying he will fight to defend his name and honor against charges he used the banned blood booster EPO. Heras’s legal team are considering challenging the ruling both in the Court of Arbitration in Sport as well as Spanish civil court, claiming there were inconsistencies in the testing procedure that could have triggered a false positive. “It’s not difficult to imagine my discomfort with this federation resolution and the truly indefensible position that I am in,” Heras said in a statement. “I cannot accept that my name, my dignity and that all of my family will remain marked by an analysis that doesn’t offer any type of guarantees.” According to the latest ruling, Heras will be banned for two years, meaning he could return to racing in 2008. Under ProTour rules, however, he wouldn’t be able to return to the 20-team league for an additional two years. Officials from the Spanish cycling federation also stripped Heras of his two stage wins (at Valdelinares and Pajares) and overall victory in the 2005 Vuelta a Espana, which has been since awarded to Denis Menchov (Rabobank), with Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre moving into second and Francisco Mancebo to third. Liberty Seguros sacked him when he returned positive for EPO in the penultimate stage of the 2005 Vuelta, which he won for a record fourth time. Heras tried to remain upbeat despite the bad news. “I have participated in nine editions of the Vuelta. I won four and I was second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth and I had 36 days as race leader and I always did it with rigor and honesty,” he said. “And there are more than 50 blood and urine controls that I passed during those years to prove it.” London landmarks for 2007 prologue
The 2007 Tour de France will start by weaving its way past London’s best known landmarks, then travel to the historic city of Canterbury, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Organizers announced Thursday that after the opening ceremony July 6, the prologue will be held the next day and will feature commemorations to mark the second anniversary of the London bombings, where four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on three subway trains and a bus. “The 2007 tour will be a modern tale of two cities … and plans to cement the friendship between our two great capitals,” said Christian Prudhomme, the tour’s director of cycling. This will be the first time the Tour has started in England, and the third time it has passed through the country. The Tour had a stage in Plymouth in 1974. In 1994, the race had stages between Dover and Brighton and to and from Portsmouth. In 1994, the British stages provided the greatest number of spectators than any other stage on that year’s tour, Prudhomme said. Previously, the Tour’s “Grand Depart” has been launched from numerous cities and towns outside France, including Liege, Belgium, (2004), Luxembourg (2002, 1989), Dublin, Ireland, (1998), Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, (1996) and Berlin (1987). London bid unsuccessfully to host the opening of this year’s Tour, which will start in Strasbourg in eastern France. The 5-mile prologue will start at Trafalgar Square and pass the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. It will then go through Hyde Park before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall. The 130-mile first stage will include three bonus sprints and three king of the mountain hills. Starting on The Mall, it will travel past St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, go across Tower Bridge, through Greenwich then south through the county of Kent to Canterbury. London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the event would attract 2 million spectators and raise $122 million. He added that discussions had begun on the best way to remember the July 7, 2005, bombings. “Having the Grand Depart on July 7 will broadcast to the world that terrorism does not win, it does not change a city, it does not shake our faith,” Livingstone said. “There will be no better way of celebrating the unity of humanity than this great sporting event in this city on that day.”By The Associated Press CA wins TTT, Gutiérrez remains in lead
Credit Agricole won the team time trial at the Tour Mediterranean on Thursday afternoon, but Spanish rider José Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse D’Epargne-Illes Balears) remained in the overall lead. The French team was fastest in the 18km team time trial in La Garde in part of the split-stage. In the morning sector, Gutiérrez won atop Mont Faron ahead of Thomas Lovkvist and Rinaudo Nocentini. Bernabéu seals Mallorca crown
Spanish rider David Bernabéu (Comunidad Valenciana) sealed the unofficial overall at the five-day Mallorca Challenge after enduring an attack-laden final sector. David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) grabbed the final segment of the string of one-day races on the Spanish island. Four riders were away in a break, but only to be reeled in within the final 200 yards before the final charge to the line.