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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

This is national championship week. Since some countries hold their championships earlier in the year, I've got the 2015 national championship page already going.

Then, on July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin.

Bjarne Riis knew about and ignored doping on his team, report says

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Former manager Bjarne Riis chose to ignore drug-taking by riders on the former Team CSC, a report by Denmark's anti-doping agency said on Tuesday.

Michael Ask, head of Anti-Doping Denmark, said Riis "failed to intervene," and "it is totally unacceptable."

"As team owner and leading sports director, Riis had a greater responsibility than the others as he as the top manager had authority to make the decisions about suspending doping users and reporting them to the anti-doping authorities," Morten Molholm Hansen, head of Denmark's Sports Confederation said. "He has silently accepted the use of doping."

Bjarne Riis

Bjarne Riis in 2014

Senior Team CSC members Johnny Weltz and Alex Pedersen also were aware of the practices, Molholm Hansen added.

"Doping with cortisone was widespread and well organized in cycling until the late 1990s because it could not be detected," he told a televised news conference. He said it was briefly replaced by blood doping.

"We are sure it is still going on. Maybe not at the same scale but it takes place," he added.

Molholm Hansen said Anti-Doping Denmark could have pressed charges against Riis, Weltz, and Pedersen, saying there was "enough to forward doping cases for anti-doping rule violations." However, it cannot be done because the 10-year limit on doping cases meant they were out of date.

The 97-page report, published on Tuesday, was based on 50 interviews with present and former riders, aides, and officials involved in cycling since 1998, conducted by telephone or email. All were voluntary, Ask said.

Riis revealed in 2007 that he used blood-boosting EPO to win the Tour de France in 1996. He later managed CSC, which eventually became Team Tinkoff-Saxo, until resigning three months ago.

The report said Riis gave the telephone number of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes to Tyler Hamilton, telling the American rider, "Fuentes is the best in the business, with blood doping he is the doctor to go to."

Anti-Doping Denmark said it did not interview Fuentes, who was convicted in 2013 of endangering public health in the Operation Puerto doping case but received a suspended sentence.

Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, who was sacked by his team while leading the 2007 Tour for lying about his whereabouts when he missed pre-race doping tests, admitted in 2013 he doped for more than a decade. Interviewed for two days in January 2013, Rasmussen said he "experienced a widespread use of banned cortisone" on CSC with the acceptance of its leaders and doctors. He said teammate Hamilton also received cortisone.

In an interview for the Anti-Doping Denmark report, Hamilton said CSC doctors gave riders cortisone although there "was no medical justification."

The report used open sources, except for one anonymous source that claimed Riis in 2008 urged Spanish rider Carlos Sastre to dope, adding "The others are using it. We know for sure that Discovery (is) using it." Sastre won the Tour de France in 2008 with CSC.

Another Danish rider, Nicki Sorensen, who has become Tinkoff-Saxo's sport director, admitted to doping, according to the report.

Nicki Sørensen Has Admitted to doping

Former Danish champion road cyclist and Tour de France rider Nicki Sørensen has admitted doping during the early part of his career. "I've doped, I've admitted that fully and wholly. I'm saddened by it and I wish I could go back and undo it,"

Tinkoff-Saxo sporting director Sørensen told the Danish daily BT on Monday. "It was in the early years of my career and it's more than 10 years behind me. It was my own decision to do it."

Sørensen had admitted to cheating at the beginning of his career.

Sørensen, four-times Danish national road race champion between 2003 and 2011, retired last year and remained with the Tinkoff-Saxo team. He denied that his former team boss Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour de France champion, was involved in encouraging him to dope in any way.

Nicki Sorensen

Nicki Sørensen descending the Poggio in the 2014 Milano-San Remo

Tinkoff-Saxo issued this statement:

Nicki Sørensen informed the management of Tinkoff-Saxo at the time he spoke to Anti Doping Danmark (ADD) in 2013. Sørensen advised Tinkoff-Saxo that the matters he talked about with ADD were related to before 2004 and he expressed his deep regret that they had occurred. Tinkoff-Saxo accepted that these were matters to be privately resolved between ADD and Sørensen. Tinkoff-Saxo has a deep-rooted anti-doping culture that is implemented throughout the entire team. Tinkoff-Saxo was convinced at the time and remains of the view that Sørensen has conducted himself fully in accordance with this culture over the past decade of working with the team. Additional information, if required, will be made public in due time.

Tinkoff-Saxo has supported the cooperation and collaboration by all its members with any entity involved in creating a better environment in professional cycling. The team believes that a full disclosure of negative past practices should be encouraged in order to identify and implement appropriate measures to prevent wrongdoing in the present and future sport.

LottoNL-Jumbo Plans For Tour de France

The team sent this note:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will take a group of nine motivated riders to the Tour de France. Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink are the team’s main guns, with Steven Kruijswijk and Laurens ten Dam as second options in the general classification.

“We selected a balanced composition of our Tour de France team,” sports director Nico Verhoeven explained.

“Facing the profile, we didn’t target the bunch sprints as much as before. This year, we’re starting with more climbers. Robert and Wilco are our front men, but also Laurens and Steven proved themselves in big tours already.

“It’s obvious that a lot can happen in the first ten days of the Tour de France. With this group of four, we have less of a risk of losing our general classifications ambitions completely after the first part. We’re able to spread out our chances. That means that we’re not focusing on just one team leader. The main part of the race is in the second half, so when that period starts, we still have to be in good position.”


LottoNL-Jumbo will be at the Tour

It will be Wilco Kelderman’s debut in the Tour de France this year. “I’m really looking forward to it,” the young cyclist said. “I’ve been preparing specifically for the Tour de France the last five weeks. I’ve had a training camp at altitude and rode the Criterium du Dauphiné as preparation.

“I’m looking forward to the start in Utrecht and to the stage to Alpe d’Huez the most. The next week and a half, I’m going to do some specific training on my time trial bike and rest so that I will be fresh at the start.”

“The fact that we’re going to start in the Netherlands is wonderful and I’m very happy to be there,” Gesink said. “I have some great memories from the last time that the Tour de France started here and I can’t wait until the departure in Utrecht. But I’m really looking forward to the moment we leave Holland, to challenge the mountains.

“For the moment, I have to make sure that I have time enough to rest from my effort in the Tour de Suisse. Besides that, I’m planning to preview the stage to Plateau de Beille from my home in Girona.”

“Everyone is ready,” Verhoeven continued. “Most of the riders prepared themselves at altitude for the Tour de France. It was the first time to do so for Sep Vanmarcke. He improved his form in the Tour de Suisse. Robert and Laurens chose to do their preparations in the United States and that went smoothly, as well. Besides that Robert and Wilco will not start in the Dutch national road race because of their preparation for the Tour. Together, we’re looking forward to a Tour de France which is even more special for us because of the start in our own country.”

Team line-up: Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Laurens ten Dam, Steven Kruijswijk, Sep Vanmarcke, Bram Tankink, Tom Leezer, Jos van Emden and Paul Martens.

Sports directors: Nico Verhoeven, Merijn Zeeman, Frans Maassen, and Louis Delahaije

Giant-Alpecin's National Championships News

This week sees the European national championships kick off in earnest, and the first major action comes with the time trials. Defending Dutch champion Tom Dumoulin heads into the Dutch time trial in excellent form after taking two time trial stage wins at the Tour de Suisse last week.

Also in action are Georg Preidler in Austria, Nikias Arndt in Germany and Tobias Ludvigsson in Sweden; the latter will be expecting a good result after riding a strong time trial in the Giro d’Italia, finishing ninth.

The women of Team Liv-Plantur have seven riders in action, with four racing in the Netherlands as well as a representative each at the German, British and Swedish national time trial championships.

RACE: Men's National Time Trial Championships

DATE: 24-26/06/2015


RACE: Women's National Time Trial Championships

DATE: 24-26/06/2015


This weekend’s national road race championships should prove an interesting battle, with Team Giant-Alpecin strongly represented in both Germany and the Netherlands.

Team Giant-Alpecin has five riders in the German championships. With John Degenkolb and Simon Geschke, the team will be looking for a strong result in the home championships. Degenkolb is one of the favorites for the team if the race comes down to a sprint.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb at the 2015 Tour of Flanders

Over at the Dutch nationals, the team has six representatives. Ramon Sinkeldam is the team’s sprint option, while Lars van der Haar may be an outsider for the race.

Elsewhere in Europe, Team Giant-Alpecin riders are racing in Austria with Georg Preidler, Belgium with Bert De Backer and Zico Waeytens, Sweden with the brothers Fredrik and Tobias Ludvigsson, France with Warren Barguil and Thierry Hupond, and Slovenia with Luka Mezgec.

The Team Liv-Plantur women are also in road race action at the weekend. The team is best represented at the Dutch nationals, with six riders starting, including Amy Pieters. The team is also sending riders to the championships of Germany, Great Britain and Sweden.

RACE: Men's National Road Race Championships

DATE: 28/06/2015


RACE: Women's National Road Race Championships

DATE: 27-28/06/2015


Cult Energy sent this national championship update:

This Thursday, the national time trial championships are due in a number of countries including Denmark where Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be represented by Rasmus Guldhammer, Mads Pedersen, Martin Mortensen and reigning champion and race favorite, Rasmus Quaade.

Rasmus Quaade

Rasmus Quaade

The latter took 6th place in the World championships in 2013 and only one thing counts this Thursday in Rønde, Denmark: “I want to be the national time trial champion again. Only victory matters to me. I’ve been feeling better and better in the last few weeks so I’m fairly optimistic. However, there will be fierce competition from both Christopher Jul-Jensen, Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo) and not least Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). From what I understand, the course is rather technical and that’s fine with me. Once I’m on the course by myself, I’m confident even though I prefer a long flat stretch where I can do some watts. But I don’t think the course really matters. It’s all about legs,” concludes Rasmus Quaade who will inspect the 39 kilometer long course with his teammates on Wednesday.

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