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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'. - John Lennon

Latest completed racing:

Chris Froome failed drug test at Vuelta

Here's the news report from CNN:

Chris Froome: Tour de France champion failed a drug test

Four-time Tour de France winner Froome, who rides for Team Sky, was found to have double the allowed level of the legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his urine on a test taken on September 7 during the Vuelta a España, which the 32-year-old went on to win.

In a statement, the sport's governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), said the British rider was informed of an "Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF)" on September 20 and that an analysis of the B sample had confirmed the results of the rider's A sample.

Froome, Britain's most successful road cyclist, who won his fourth Tour de France in July, said: "It is well known that I have asthma and I know exactly what the rules are. I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms (always within the permissible limits) and I know for sure that I will be tested every day I wear the race leader's jersey. My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor's advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage. As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose.

"I take my leadership position in my sport very seriously. The UCI is absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires."

Thanking his fans for their messages of support, Froome later tweeted: "I am confident that we will get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately I can't share any more information than I already have until the enquiry is complete."

Chris Froome

Chris Froome rides the final stage of the 2017 Vuelta

The UCI said Froome was not suspended, but wanted more details from Team Sky and was investigating the case under the organization's anti-doping rules.

Under World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) rules, Salbutamol is a permitted drug without the need of a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), but only at certain doses.

The levels of the drug in Froome's urine test were at 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) -- double WADA's 1,000 ng/ml threshold. The test was conducted following Stage 18 of the three-week Vuelta.

Froome was the first Briton to win the Spanish event and his success also made him the first cyclist since 1978 to complete the Tour de France and Vuelta double in the same year.

Along with the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta is one of cycling's Grand Tours.

The Kenyan-born rider is the first to win back-to-back Grand Tours since Marco Pantani won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 1998.

Froome's team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said in a statement: "There are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol. We're committed to establishing the facts and understanding exactly what happened on this occasion.

"I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for Salbutamol. Of course, we will do whatever we can to help address these questions."

Riders have in the past received bans for excessive Salbutamol levels. In 2014, Italian rider Diego Ulissi received a nine-month ban, while Alessandro Petacchi got a 12-month ban in 2007 and was stripped of his five stage victories in the Giro d'Italia, but riders have also been able to successfully explain AAFs. Leonardo Piepoli tested positive on the same day as Petacchi but escaped sanction.

In 2016, British cyclist Simon Yates was banned for four months after testing positive for Terbutaline, another drug used to manage asthma.

In an interview with Cycling Weekly in September 2016, Dr John Dickinson, head of the respiratory clinic at the University of Kent, said athletes were more susceptible to asthma than the general population.

Dickinson's tests on Team Sky's cyclists found that a third had the condition. He said cyclists were more likely to have symptoms because inhalation of dry air and pollution had been identified as triggers.

Team Sky declined to say how many of its cyclists suffer from asthma.

Froome, who last January signed a record contract reportedly worth $5.3 million a year with Team Sky -- making him the highest earner in his sport -- was named in leaked medical record by the Russian hackers Fancy Bears as one of the athletes to use TUEs during competition.

The documents, stolen from WADA, claimed he was given the exemption for the asthma drug prednisolone in May 2013 and April 2014.

His former Team Sky teammate Sir Bradley Wiggins also came under the TUE spotlight for receiving treatment for asthma and allergies.

TUEs allow athletes to take prohibited substances if there is a medical need and there was no suggestion that Team Sky had broken any rules.

You can read the entire CNN report here.

Ramūnas Navardauskas is training after operation for cardiac arrhythmia

Here's the team's press release:

Hvar, Tuesday, 12th December 2017 – Ramūnas Navardauskas is back in full training with the rest of the BAHRAIN MERIDA Team after recovering from an operation to treat his cardiac arrhythmia. His condition is getting better every day and he is already on the schedule for next season.

Dr. Carlo Guardascione, a medical doctor of BAHRAIN MERIDA Team, explained Navardauskas’ condition: “After the ablation treatment done in Munich last September, Ramūnas Navardauskas obtained the physical fitness for complete training and racing in Turin on 2nd December. During the cardiology tests in Turin, no arrhythmia or heart problem occurred, so there will be no special therapy. He is 100 % capable of training with his teammates.”

Ramūnas Navardauskas confirmed that he has gone through many medical checks since the surgery and that finally, after the last one, his doctors confirmed that he is 100 % ready for regular training. He already joined his teammates on the training camp in Hvar, Croatia, Team’s last training camp before the new season. He said that after a period of low intense training and slow riding, he is most excited to be able to train again with full power and most of all to train together with the other riders. The recovery period was, of course, stressful for him but he is happy now that things turned out good: “I am thankful for the support from my team and the medical staff because without it, the situation would have been very different. I’m back on the bike now and I’m happy with where I am. I just need to wait for the first race, to see how my form is and how my legs are turning. It’s hard to predict how it’s going to be in the future, but maybe now I’ve had a long break, I can use this rest period cleverly, and I’ll come back even more competitive.”

Ramunas Navardauskas

Ramunas Navardauskas at the Tour of San Juan earlier this year

Gorazd Štangelj, Head of Sports Directors at BAHRAIN MERIDA Team, added: “Since the doctors confirmed that he has no health problems and that he is 100 % capable of all physical work, he is training like all the rest of the riders and he is also a candidate for the first WorldTour Race in 2018, The Tour Down Under.”

Everyone at BAHRAIN MERIDA Team is happy that Ramūnas is back on the roads and they will offer him full support also in the future.

Team Quick-Step Floors to start training camp in Spain

Here's the team's report:

Calpe – venue of several Vuelta a España stages in the past – will see the entire team reunite before the start of the new season.

The riders and staff of Quick-Step Floors will be heading to the Costa Blanca next week for the first training camp ahead of the 2018 season. After spending the past two Decembers in Denia, our team has now opted for Calpe, where between the 11th and 21st, the 27 riders making up the roster for next year will convene.

"Calpe usually provides perfect weather conditions for December training camps, and that's why so many teams are coming here. The training camp in December is an important step in the preparation for next season. Since November, the riders have gradually built up the training rides to 4-5 hours and now have reached a point where they have to put in more workload", said Koen Pelgrim, Quick-Step Floors' trainer.

"We have one group with riders who'll kick off the season early at the Tour Down Under, in January, another one for the classics riders, and the last one consisting of the climbers or GC guys. For the group starting at Down Under we do a bit more specific training with more intensity. Generally, the training is not too specific and intensity is not too high but we do train some sprints and lead-outs for the riders who are important for that. The group of climbers will of course do uphill training, but still low medium intensity, while some riders will focus also on time trial training."

Team Quick Step

Team Quick Step time-trialing at this year's Vuelta

The Calpe training camp will serve also as an excellent occasion for all the riders to spend some time together and bond ahead of next year, creating a strong group cohesion and working towards a new season they all wish to be successful.

Koen Pelgrim explained: "For 2018, we have several new and young riders in the group as well, however, we know them quite well and already did some testing earlier this year at the Bakala Academy. But the camp is a nice way for the new riders to become part of the group and socialize. The first days are usually quite busy with events off the bike, but we will do two blocks of three days, summing up to around 25-27 hours of training in the saddle. Should be a good foundation ahead of the start of the season."

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