By Andrew Hood
ONCE’s sport director Manolo Saiz says Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will race at this summer’s Tour de France despite a six-month racing ban in France handed down Wednesday by a French anti-doping agency.
“I am tranquil and I am convinced that Igor will be present at the start line of the Tour de France,” Saiz told the Efe news agency Wednesday. “Neither the racer nor we have had any communication, so there’s not a lot to say or worry about right now. From the first day, the UCI has said this is not a question of doping, but of health.”
On Wednesday, Gonzalez de Galdeano — the ONCE rider who wore the leader’s yellow jersey in last year’s Tour de France – was handed a six-month suspension from racing in France by its national anti-doping body CPLD.
“This is an organization we do not recognize,” Saiz said. “This is a question best taken up by the UCI.”
The Basque rider, who finished fifth in last year’s Tour and spent seven days in the yellow jersey, showed traces of salbutamol in a urine test taken after the sixth stage of last year’s race. While Gonzalez de Galdeano claims while he had permission to use the drug to treat asthma, tests showed levels more than 1000 ng/mL, a level considered a positive test by WADA and the French agency, but not by the UCI.
Hincapie on the mend
U.S. Postal’s George Hincapie is on the mend, though a fixed date for his return to racing is still not know, that’s according to a release Tuesday from his Sotox Sports management company.
Hincapie was forced to stop racing in March after having difficulty with breathing and recovery and missed out on the spring classics. Back at his home in South Carolina, Hincapie diagnosed his health problems as parasitic and respiratory infections that have bothered him since the beginning of the season. incapie has since been treated by a diverse team headed by William B. Pettis, including a macrobiotic chef, a hematologist, pathologist and a cardiologist.
”George is experiencing a remarkable recovery following the diagnosis of a respiratory infection compounded by a co-existing parasitic infection,” said Pettis, medical director for Sotox Sports Management. “He currently is being aggressively treated using a balanced combination of methods from Eastern and Western medicine. His condition has dramatically improved, while undergoing moderate training, since the recent initiation of these treatments. I expect him to soon enjoy a full and rapid recovery.”
Hincapie said he still doesn’t know when he’ll return to racing, but ruled out starting the Four Days of Dunkirk early next month.
“It has been a real tough time for me,” Hincapie said. “But in the last week I have noticed improvement. I am optimistic that I can return to the peloton within a month or so — ready to race.”
Millar to return this week
Cofidis rider David Millar will return to racing in Thursday’s GP Villers Cotterets, his first race back since he was hit by a race organizer’s motorcycle while racing in Criterium International in March.
“This crash upset me because I worked harder than ever in the off-season,” Millar told L’Equipe. “I learned about how to suffer and I wanted to attain a new level and assume new responsibilities.”
Millar had a strong start to the season, finishing a solid fourth-place at the Tour of Valencia in February. He pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico sick and then was hit by the motorcycle at Criterium International. Millar’s no stranger to run-ins with vehicles as he was run over by a BigMat car in last year’s horrible stage to Angliru in the Vuelta a Espana.
Millar is also expected to start Sunday’s Trophee des Grimpuers and then the Four Days of Dunkirk in May.
Giro adds Formaggi Pinzolo
The Giro d’Italia announced it has offered a late invitation to the Fomaggi Pinzolo team to start May 10 in Lecce. The team had been originally left out of the 18 team lineup after rider Massimiliano Mori allegedly tried to avoid a doping test during Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
The Division II Fomaggi Pinzolo team was added after an appeal from the team, now extending the Giro field to 19 teams with 191 riders.
Teams (All teams are Italian, unless otherwise indicated)
CCC Polstat (Poland)
Colombia Selle Italia (Colombia)