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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 2, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Chris Froome cleared by UCI in doping case

Here's the story from the Agence France Presse:

Chris Froome was cleared Monday of wrongdoing in an anti-doping case which had cast a shadow over his participation in the Tour de France.

"I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me", the British rider said after the Union Cycliste Internationale, the sport's ruling body, said a probe into Froome had been dropped.

The 33-year-old Kenyan-born rider said he is now looking forward to attempting to win a fifth Tour de France which gets underway on Saturday.

"While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the Team, it's also an important moment for cycling," he said in a statement issued by Team Sky.

The UCI announced the decision to clear Froome a day after Tour de France organisers barred Froome from taking part in the 2018 edition of world cycling's biggest race over doping suspicions.

Chris Froome

It looks like Chris Froome will be on the start line Satruday to ride the 2018 Tour de France. Picture: Fotoreporter Sirotti

Froome's appeal against the decision to bar him will be heard by the French national Olympic committee in Paris on Tuesday.

Experts expect him to be cleared to race following the UCI's ruling to clear him.

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that the anti-doping proceedings involving Mr Christopher Froome have now been closed," the UCI said in a statement.

Team Sky's four-time Tour de France champion has been under a cloud since he was found to have twice the permissible amount of the legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his system during September's Vuelta a Espana, which he won.

Tour de France organisers on Sunday banned Froome from taking part to protect the integrity of the world's best-known cycling race.

Froome, 33, recorded an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for Salbutamol, meaning he exceeded the allowed dose of a permitted substance.

You can read the AFP's whole story here.

Here is the complete statement Team Sky sent me regarding the UCI's decision:

Monday 2nd July 2018: Team Sky welcome Chris Froome verdict

Team Sky have today welcomed the decision by the UCI to dismiss the case against Chris Froome.

Chris Froome said:

“I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me. While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the Team, it’s also an important moment for cycling. I understand the history of this great sport – good and bad. I have always taken my leadership position very seriously and I always do things the right way. I meant it when I said that I would never dishonour a winner’s jersey and that my results would stand the test of time.

“I have never doubted that this case would be dismissed for the simple reason that I have known throughout I did nothing wrong. I have suffered with asthma since childhood. I know exactly what the rules are regarding my asthma medication and I only ever use my puffer to manage my symptoms within the permissible limits

“Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta. Unfortunately, the details of the case did not remain confidential, as they should have done. And I appreciate more than anyone else the frustration at how long the case has taken to resolve and the uncertainty this has caused. I am glad it’s finally over.

“I am grateful for all the support I have had from the Team and from many fans across the world. Today’s ruling draws a line. It means we can all move on and focus on the Tour de France.”

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said:

“We have always had total confidence in Chris and his integrity. We knew that he had followed the right medical guidance in managing his asthma at the Vuelta and were sure that he would be exonerated in the end, which he has been. This is why we decided that it was right for Chris to continue racing, in line with UCI rules, while the process was ongoing. We are pleased that it has now been resolved.

“Chris’s elevated Salbutamol urine reading from Stage 18 of the Vuelta was treated as a ‘presumed’ Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) by the UCI and WADA, which triggered a requirement for us to provide further information. After a comprehensive review of that information, relevant data and scientific research, the UCI and WADA have concluded that there was, in fact, no AAF and that no rule has been broken.

“We said at the outset that there are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol. The same individual can exhibit significant variations in test results taken over multiple days while using exactly the same amount of Salbutamol. This means that the level of Salbutamol in a single urine sample, alone, is not a reliable indicator of the amount inhaled. A review of all Chris’s 21 test results from the Vuelta revealed that the Stage 18 result was within his expected range of variation and therefore consistent with him having taken a permitted dose of Salbutamol.

“Chris has proved he is a great champion – not only on the bike but also by how he has conducted himself during this period. It has not been easy, but his professionalism, integrity and good grace under pressure have been exemplary and a credit to the sport.

“The greatest bike race in the world starts in five days. We can’t wait to get racing again and help Chris win it for a record-equalling fifth time.”

-Ends -

Notes to Editors:

Chris Froome has had asthma since childhood and uses an inhaler to take a common medication, Salbutamol, to prevent and ease symptoms brought on by exercise.

Chris Froome won the 2017 Vuelta a España on September 10th 2017. During the final week of the Vuelta, Chris experienced acute asthma symptoms. On the advice of the Team Sky doctor, he used an increased dosage of Salbutamol - still within the permissible doses - in the run-up to the September 7th urine test. As race leader, Chris was tested after every stage through this period and he declared his use of the medication as part of the process.

On September 20th 2017, Chris Froome received an email from the UCI notifying him of a “presumed” Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for Salbutamol. The UCI informed Chris that a urine test conducted on September 7th 2017, following Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España, revealed a urine concentration of Salbutamol which exceeded a specific decision limit. This required him to provide further information. None of the 20 other urine tests taken by Chris during that race required any further explanation.

Salbutamol is a drug used to treat and alleviate the symptoms of asthma and is part of a group of drugs known as Beta-2 agonists. The drug opens the airways in the lungs to help breathing. It is usually administered via an oral inhaler.

An AAF is “presumed” when an anti-doping authority identifies a potential breach in anti-doping rules, in this case a specified threshold substance exceeding a specified limit by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF). CADF are responsible for doping control for the UCI.

Notification of a “presumed” AAF is not a positive test. The finding merely triggered information requests from the UCI to establish what caused the elevated concentration of Salbutamol. Chris’s reading was 19% over the decision limit once corrected for specific gravity (to take account of dehydration). It was not ‘twice the limit’ as has been incorrectly reported.

Despite the normal confidential process of cases like this, the information was leaked and on Wednesday 13th December 2017, both the UCI and Team Sky issued statements confirming that Chris Froome had returned a “presumed” AAF.

After a comprehensive review and detailed analysis of all the relevant data and scientific research the UCI and WADA now accept that the presumption of an AAF was incorrect and that no rule has been broken.

Chris Froome and Team Sky co-operated with the UCI and WADA throughout the process, which resulted in him being cleared on July 2nd 2018.

Ackermann and Pöstlberger take national road championships in Germany and Austria for Bora–hansgrohe

The team sent me this report:

After a successful first weekend at the national championships and a road title for Peter Sagan, this Sunday BORA – hansgrohe did even better. Pascal Ackermann took the German nationals in a bunch sprint, while Lukas Pöstlberger won the title in Austria after an impressive solo, with Felix Großschartner taking silver. Also Alex Saramotins took silver at the Latvian road race after already coming in third at the time trial on Friday.

“Everything went really well today. I did a lot of motor training in the last weeks and focused really well on this Sunday. My first WorldTour wins this season gave me confidence, but also strong mentally. Yesterday, Marcus (Burghardt) said he would love to hand over the jersey to me. But it still feels a little surreal now wearing it. We knew that it was key to go into the last corner already in front. My team did a great job to deliver me in a perfect position, I still had Rudi (Selig) in front of me coming on to the home straight, basically I just had to roll over the line then.”  – Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann (shown winning stage two of this year's Dauphiné) is the new German road champion.

“I already had good sensations at the time trial on Friday. Therefore, I knew today could be my day. To start my first Tour de France, now wearing the Austrian Champions’ jersey, is really something special and means a lot to me. Congrats to my team mates, we had the race always under control and Felix finished off a perfect team performance coming in second. Now I am looking forward to the Tour, this win gives me a lot of confidence ahead of my travel to France.” – Lukas Pöstlberger

“We expected a bunch sprint today, like basically everybody. We tried to make the race hard with Marcus and Christoph, but there was no chance to form a proper group. As a result I told Rudi, Christoph and Schilli to concentrate on the sprint with Pascal. Emanuel and Schwarzi worked to control the breaks and in the end everything worked out well. We were in front were we had to be, and Pascal finished off all the teams’ work like a real champion. I am also really happy for Lukas. He will race his first Tour de France the next weeks, and now he can represent Austria even more prominent. All in all, the nationals were a huge success for us, taking four titles and nine medals in total.” – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Liane Lippert wins women's German road race championships

Lippert's Sunweb team sent me this report:

Team Sunweb's Liane Lippert (GER) has won the German road race championships, after attacking and taking a select group to the line to win the sprint.

Lippert said: "I'm the new German road race champion and I can't believe it! At first it was a slow race with a group in front. I was chasing really hard with the other pro riders to bring the group back, then I just attacked because I know I'm not the best sprinter. I was in a smaller group and then gave everything in my sprint and then I won, I really can't believe it."

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert (GER) said: "This is a great win for Liane and our women's program's fourth gold during our nationals campaign. Liane rode really smart, she attacked from the bunch and closed the gap to the front. She was there with some of the riders from the original break and carried on working to stay away. She did an amazing job and sprinted the fastest, it's an incredible win for her and great for the team after Max Kanter took the gold in the German U23 road race." 

Elia Viviani is Italian road champion

Here's the report from Viviani's Quick-Step team:

Elia Viviani's superb season in the Quick-Step Floors jersey continued in Darfo Boario, where the Italian crowned himself National Champion for the first time in his career, after claiming his 14th victory of the year, one that came just one month from Elia's triumph in the maglia ciclamino classification at the Giro d'Italia.

"On the podium I cried because I was overcome with emotion once things started to sink in. I can't wait for my first race with this superb jersey", an over the moon Elia said after his brilliant performance, which netted the 45th UCI win of Quick-Step Floors in 2018.

Lining out at the start of the 233km-long event after a perfect outing at the newly-created Adriatica Ionica race, Viviani counted on three Quick-Step Floors teammates – Eros Capecchi, Davide Martinelli and Fabio Sabatini – who kept the five-man breakaway in check and protected him until the final two

As soon as the escapees got caught, eight riders emerged from the peloton and opened a dangerous gap on another group who eventually managed to rejoin them. Among the 16 men in the lead was also Elia Viviani, who didn't wait for the race to follow its natural pattern, but instead decided to shape it with a couple of probing attacks which caught many off guard and thinned out the group.

Inside the last 15 kilometers, Daniel Oss (Bora-hansgrohe) powered away, but the same aggressive Elia chased him down and kept the status quo, before launching a move of his own, which saw the Quick-Step Floors rider being joined only by Oss and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida). The trio put some daylight between them and the five chasers, who bridged across only for a short moment, as Pozzovivo accelerated on the 17% gradient of the final climb, taking only Elia and teammate Giovanni Visconti with him.

An imperious Elia gave absolutely no chance to his rivals in the reduced sprint, winning the race by a clear margin and roaring across the line in delight after one of his finest ever displays: "I never thought I could win a race like today, on such a hard route. We were only a four-man team but we did all the right moves and I have to thank my teammates for how they rode their hearts out for me today."

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani will be in red, white and green for a year.

"In the final, when I attacked with Oss and Pozzovivo it was the right moment to do that, and when Pozzovivo counterattacked on the hill, opening a short 10-second gap on Visconti, who closed us just at the top, I knew I was in a good position as I just had to take their wheels if they tried to jump. Usually, you don't have more than one or two shots when you reach the final of such a long and demanding race but today I really had the legs to do it. I am so excited for this victory", explained Elia after becoming the first Quick-Step Floors rider in 11 years to don the iconic tricolore.

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