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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
July 12, 2014

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Denis Menchov Stripped of Tour de France Places

For years Russian racer Denis Menchov rode under a cloud of suspicion that he was doping. In 2009 he had to talk to investigators regarding his involvement with the Viennese "Human Plasma" blood clinic. Like Lance Armstrong, Menchov was always able to bat away reporters' questions, especially during the 2009 Giro d'Italia. He always denied any use of banned substances or modalities.

Last year Menchov retired, claiming a bum knee.

Denis menchov

Denis Menchov in pink during the 2009 Giro d'Italia. Photo ©Sirotti

Now it turns out the the UCI had quietly suspended the two-time Vuelta and 2009 Giro winner in April of 2013 for abnormalities with his biological passport. Why the UCI chose to keep this a secret has so far remained unexplained. Also, why the UCI chose to strip Menchov of only his 2009, 2010 (when he was second) and 2012 Tour de France places is a mystery as well.

The UCI released this statement today:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that it has imposed a 2-year ban on Russian rider Denis Menchov as a result of anti-doping rule violations based on his Athlete Biological Passport. The rider is declared ineligible until 9 April 2015 and is disqualified from the Tour de France 2009, 2010 and 2012, competitions during which abnormalities were clearly identified. The proceedings were initiated in 2013. The rider has exercised his procedural rights and accepted a proposal of sanction in accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. WADA and RUSADA have been duly informed and the sanction published on the UCI list of doping sanctions.

Tour de France Stage Eight Notes

After Tinkoff-Saxo blasted over the first two climbs at the end of today's stage, dropping lots of riders along the way, Alberto Contador used his famous ability to accelerate on a steep climb (I think the Italians would call him a scatttista) to try to drop Vincenzo Nibali on the final climb to Gérardmer La Mauselaine. Nibali grimly hung on and Contador wasn't able to gain any distance on the tenacious Italian until there were only a few meters left. Nibali has to concede a few seconds. Contador's director sportif Philppe Maduit astonishingly said Contador had not gone deep today, "Alberto didn’t go 100% but tested his rivals and Nibali who seems like the strongest. We gained a few seconds on Nibali but there's more to come. We’re looking forward to Alps and Pyrenees but don’t underestimate tomorrow’s and Monday’s stages either.”

World Champion Rui Costa had chain trouble as the final climb began when he dropped from the 53 down to the 36 and hit a dip in the road at the same time. Costa finished the stage 12th, at 3min 1sec.

Richie Porte, Team Sky's new GC man for the Tour came through his first test in the mountains with an improved position. Though he lost a few seconds to Nibali and Contador, he finished fourth in the stage, just four seconds behind Nibali. He's now sitting in third place, 1 minute 58 seconds down. Porte said, “I’m happy with how that went. It’s not really my bread and butter that short, sharp (climbing). It puts me in quite a good position. I’m a little bit behind those guys on that type of terrain but maybe on the longer climbs I’ll be a bit better.”

Richie Porte

Richie Porte on stage eight's final climb. Photo ©Sirotti

Team Astana says two of their top domestiques, Tanel Kangert and Jakob Fuglsang have been suffering form intestinal distress for two days, but expects them to be ready for Sunday's six categorized climbs.