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VN news ticker: Rob Britton announces retirement, WADA report indicates British Cycling conducted private doping controls

Here's the news making headlines for Tuesday, October 19.

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Rob Britton announces retirement

Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) announced his retirement from professional cycling Tuesday.

“Welp…in the famous words of Bugs Bunny. That’s all folks! It is with tremendous pride and sincerity (and maybe a little sadness) that I’m FINALLY ready to announce that the 2021 season will be my last dance. Being a professional cyclist has been a dream come true for me. When I grew up riding around the roads of Regina, Saskatchewan no one had ever been a “pro roadie” before, and quite frankly, my aspirations to achieve this bordered on delusions of grandeur! I was SO bad! But I had belief…

“Over the past 12+ years, I’ve raced and ridden my bike in more places than I can remember, have made friends with so many incredible people along the way, and have enough memories to last a couple of lifetimes. With the exception of my wife cycling has been the love of my life and it always will be.

“Very few people ever get the opportunity to call themselves a professional athlete, but even fewer of those have the chance to call time on their own career. I love this sport dearly, it’s given me so much of what I have, but I’ve seen firsthand what happens to the guys that push it too long, and I never wanted to be there,” Britton said.

Among his palmares, Britton, 37, lists the overall win at the 2017 Tour of Utah. He also won the 2015 and 2018 Tour of the Gila. In 2019, Britton won the Canadian national time trial championship.

Britton raced on Team Bissel (2010-11), Team Raleight (2012), Team SmartStop (2013-2015), and then moved to Rally in 2016.

“There is so much I want to do in cycling and life is way too short not to take a few chances along the way. This isn’t the end of my story, it’s just time to write the next chapter,” Britton added. “To everyone who’s cheered for me along the way, believed I could do this (even when I didn’t) and especially those who thought I should give it up. THANK YOU ALL and I can’t wait to see where the next path leads me.“

WADA report indicates British Cycling conducted private doping controls

British Cycling is dealing with several scandals, including doping controls that fall outside of WADA rules.. (Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com)

British Cycling carried out its own doping controls at a private lab, in violation of international anti-doping rules, according to a WADA report.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said in a statement Tuesday that the United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) allowed British Cycling to screen athletes’ samples for banned substances at a private facility.

“British Cycling collected samples from elite riders and screened these samples for the androgen and anabolic steroid, nandrolone,” WADA said. “Contrary to the rules laid down by the World Anti-Doping Code, and the relevant International Standard, the samples were collected by British Cycling staff rather than doping control officers, analyzed by a non-WADA-accredited laboratory, and provided by the athletes on the basis that UKAD would never know the results.”

“Operation Echo” uncovered that the illicit testing took place in 2011 as part of a study into potential contamination of supplements.

“Operation Echo confirmed potential wrongdoing by individuals in both British Cycling and UKAD at that time,” said WADA’s independent intelligence and investigation director Gunter Younger.

WADA indicated that “at least one UKAD employee” was aware of the British Cycling practices, and that samples could be collected and analyzed at a non-WADA-accredited laboratory. WADA further indicated that UKAD had “no record of ever receiving the analysis results and emails that would have showed UKAD’s real-time knowledge of key events.”

WADA’s statement strongly indicated that “Operation Echo” did not contain “corrective recommendations” as the individuals involved in the 2011 events are no longer employed by UKAD, which had already put safeguards in place to prevent repeat occurrences.

WADA investigation findings were provided to the UCI as well as the WADA compliance, rules, and standards department for further consideration.

Will Barta leaves EF Education-Nippo

 Will Barta will not continue with EF Education-Nippo following the 2021 season. (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Will Barta is on the move this winter. The young American announced this week that he will be leaving EF Education-Nippo after just one season with the team.

“My time with EF Education-Nippo is coming to a close. I have a lot of nice memories from this last year and I made many good friends,” he wrote.

“A big thank you to everyone in the team who supported me in a tough year. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the road in 2022!”

Although the 25-year-old hinted that he had a contract in place for next season, no transfer details were given.

Barta has amassed relatively few race days this year after the start of his season was derailed by a broken leg. Meanwhile, EF Education-Nippo has been refreshing its roster for 2022, signing a swathe of riders including Esteban Chaves, Merhawi Kudus, Christian Odd Eiking and rising U.S. talent Sean Quinn.

Fellow young American Ian Garrison also confirmed this week that he is changing teams next year. Garrison will be leaving Deceuninck-Quick-Step to join an as-yet-unconfirmed new squad.

Stefan Bissegger re-ups with EF

Stefan Bissegger will stay with EF Education-Nippo after signing a contract extension, the team said Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Swiss TT specialist won three races in 2021, including a stage at the Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice, and the Benelux Tour.

“I’m most proud of the stage win at the Tour de Suisse. A win at home is always really special,” said Bissegger.

At this year’s Tour de France time trials, Stefan made headlines with his unbelievable save on the wet roads en route to Laval. Bissegger was able to avoid a serious crash, shake it off, and keep racing full speed ahead, finishing 18th on the stage.

“The more dangerous, the better for Stefan,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s a great bike handler and instinctively knows how to handle tricky sections at speed.

“He’s not only a time trial rider but he’s quite good in races like Paris-Roubaix, which call for positioning and raw power,” Vaughters added. “Eventually, I think he’ll be one of the top riders at that race, too.”

Victor Campenaerts returns to Lotto Soudal on three-year deal

Three years after leaving the squad, Victor Campenaerts is heading back to Lotto Soudal for 2022. The Belgian rider signed a three-year deal with the team through 2024.

Campenaerts has been racing with the Qhubeka-NextHash team for the last three seasons but the South African squad is in financial trouble as it looks for a new sponsor for next season. The 29-year-old is the current hour record holder but he has not taken a win since the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico time trial.

“Of course, I was charmed by the many interested teams but the interesting project and the clear ambitions of Lotto Soudal convinced me,” Campenaerts said. “I immediately noticed the confidence the team gave me and of course, it’s also nice that I still know several riders and a lot of staff members.”

Known predominantly as a time trialist, Campenaerts said he wanted to move away from the discipline and focus more on the classics.

“I realize that I won’t be able to compete for the win in let’s say the Ronde van Vlaanderen as I don’t have the distance in the legs just yet. That is why the main focus on training will be on improving my endurance. I want to evolve from a time trial effort of about an hour to a rider who can deal with the distance of the biggest Classics. Next season, I will thus mainly focus on the semi-Classics and short stage races.”