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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. - Washington Irving

Contract extension for De Buyst, who is on his way to the track World Cup in Hong Kong

This news came from Lotto-Soudal:

Jasper De Buyst has left for Hong Kong, where the last track World Cup of the season takes place next weekend, he’ll ride the omnium. That is the event in which he aims for a medal at the Olympics in August later this year. Last week Jasper prepared the World Cup at the track in Ghent (Vlaams Wielercentrum Eddy Merckx).

Deguys and Vergaerde

Jasper De Buyst and Otto Vergaerde at the 2015 Ghent 6-Day

Jasper De Buyst: “Just before a big race we have a training camp with the Belgian cycling federation. Before the World Championships in March we’ll go to Portugal for a few days, now we trained in Ghent. Only Jolien D’hoore and I were there so there was lots of time for intensive trainings. When you train with a larger group you have to wait longer before it’s your turn again, now that went more smoothly of course. During such a preparation it’s important to focus on the things you need to improve. Racing on the road has boosted my endurance, but I have lost some speed and it’s important to gain that back for the track. That’s why last week, I focused on speed and short sprints. After the Worlds in March I’ll ride the Flemish spring races, but I will keep training on the track in the meantime.”

“Next weekend I will ride the omnium at the World Cup in Hong Kong. It’s the third and last World Cup of the season, but the first I take part in. In the past I contested all World Cups and the European and World Championships. That means you have to perform from October till the end of February, or the beginning of March in this case. In between the World Cups there isn’t enough time to take some rest, so by the end of the season you are really tired. It’s too much to then be top for the Olympics in August as well.”

In Hong Kong and the World Championships in London (2 – 6 March) there are still points to gain for the Olympic qualification; maximum 150 at the World Cup and 300 at the Worlds. A county only gets to select one rider for the omnium at the Olympics and has to be in the top eighteen of the Olympic ranking; besides that there are only eight European countries that can take part. At the moment Belgium is eighth overall, as fifth European country.

Jasper De Buyst: “It’s certain that we will be one of the first eighteen countries in the ranking, in theory it’s still possible that we don’t end up in the top eight of Europe, but I don’t worry about that. In the past we were higher in the ranking, that’s true, now we’re the fifth European country. The third European and eighth European country are close. Between Belgium and Russia, the ninth European nation in the ranking, there is a difference of 114 points. With a good result in Hong Kong we’ll set another important step towards Rio and then we still have the World Championships, so we’ll be alright.”

“In first instance, I go to the World Cup to set a strong performance in the race itself, I don’t think too much about the points. If we were the eighth European country that would be different, but now there is enough lead. When I start in a race I always want to do well. I aim for the best possible result I can get in Hong Kong and the podium would be nice for the morale. Since the Ghent Six-Day in November I didn’t often train on the track, but I feel good and the data on the SRM Powermeter confirm it.”

2016 has to be the peak in his track career, afterwards Jasper want to focus on the road. And also next season that will be in Lotto Soudal outfit. His two-year contract has been extended till the end of 2017.

Jasper De Buyst: “The contract I signed two years ago offered me nice perspectives. I got the opportunity to chase my Olympic dream and I could combine this with racing on the road; that went really well. After my track adventure I want to build a career on the road, there’s no question about that. The Flemish spring races seem to best suit my physical capacities.”

“It’s reassuring that I already have a contract for the year after the Olympics. It’s great that the team shows it wants to give me the opportunity to prove myself on the road as well. Lotto Soudal lets young riders discover all types of races and allows us to learn from our mistakes. You get the chance to contest races just to help your development. Last year’s Vuelta was pretty hard, but it made me set a step forward.”

Operation Puerto still has life: Verdict coming

The Telegraph posted this explanation:

Somewhere deep in the recesses of the enormous, wood-encased ­facility, though, in a freezer in the anti-doping lab of the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdique, the clock was ticking on what some believe may be one of the biggest suppressed doping scandals of all time.

In the coming days – it is unclear when exactly but this month – Madrid’s Provincial Court is to release its verdict on the appeals lodged by, among others, the World Anti-Doping Association and the International Cycling Union (UCI) against the destruction of the almost 200 blood bags which have been stored here as part of the Operación Puerto anti-doping probe.

To say that the verdict is eagerly anticipated is perhaps over-egging it. Puerto has been going on so long that many people have forgotten all about it. It has been almost 10 years since a series of police raids uncovered, among other paraphernalia, hundreds of bags of blood and plasma in the offices of former cycling doctor Eufemiano Fuentes (or “Dr. Blood” as Tyler Hamilton, one of his former clients, called him), and almost three since Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria issued her order to destroy them, handing down a one-year suspended sentence to Fuentes for endangering public health and inviting accusations of a cover-up. In the meantime, the IAAF scandal has assumed prominence, with the second part of ­Wada’s explosive independent report due out this week.

But the potential for Puerto to blow up into something far bigger, pulling other sports and athletes and administrators into its web, still remains. Just.

One man has dedicated most of the past decade of his life trying to ensure that happens. Enrique Gomez Bastida does not look very tough but appearances can be deceptive. A bespectacled Galician of just under 40, Gomez Bastida led the Guardia Civil’s operation in 2006 and, as well as his work in trafficking, has also worked in homicides and kidnappings, and spent six months in Afghanistan. “It was nothing special,” he says. “Standard police work.”

For the past two years Gomez Bastida has been director of AEPSAD, Spain’s anti-doping agency, in which capacity he is now waiting like the rest of us for the court’s decision. Sitting in his Madrid office in Plaza de Valparaiso, just around the corner from the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, a blue plaque from his time at the Guardia Civil on a shelf behind him, he sighs. “It’s going to be complicated either way,” he predicts of the ruling.

If the appeals are rejected – theoretically anyway – that would be the end of it. After 10 years and millions of euros, wire taps, police raids and feverish speculation, Puerto’s secrets could be destroyed along with the bags.

Click here for the rest of this excellent piece of reporting.

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary