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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 18, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by posterity because he was the last to discover America. - James Joyce


Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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UCI statement concerning Nairo Quintana Rojas

17 AUG 2022: The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the Colombian rider Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas has been sanctioned for an infringement of the in-competition ban on using tramadol as set out in the UCI Medical Rules with the aim of protecting the safety and health of riders in light of the side-effects of this substance.

Nairo Quintana on Alpe d'Huez in the 2022 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

The analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites.

In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, the rider is disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France. This decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days.

During the 2022 Tour de France, a total of 120 dried blood samples were collected as part of the tramadol programme.

Infringements of the in-competition ban on using tramadol are offences under the UCI Medical Rules. They do not constitute Anti-doping Rule Violations. As this is a first offence, Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas is not declared ineligible and can therefore participate in competitions.

The UCI will not comment further on the matter.

About the ban on tramadol:
Since 1st March 2019, the UCI has banned the use of tramadol in competition across all disciplines and categories in order to protect the riders’ health and safety in light of the side-effects of this substance.

Samples are collected by the International Testing Agency (ITA) using the Dried Blood Spots (DBS) reference method. Developed by the Swiss company DBS Systems, sampling kits are used to conduct this minimally invasive test, which involves collecting a small amount of blood from the rider's fingertip.

The analysis of the samples is conducted independently at the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Geneva University, using a peer review method to determine the presence or absence and amount of tramadol and its two main metabolites. The results are then submitted to the University of Lausanne’s Centre of Research and Expertise in Anti-Doping Sciences (REDs) for a final independent review.

The results are finally submitted to the UCI Medical Director, who conducts the results management in accordance with the UCI Medical Rules.

The regulation concerning the ban on tramadol can be consulted here.

Editor's note. We'll know Thursday if Quintana's Arkea-Samsic team will enter him in the Vuelta.

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EF Education-EasyPost releases its Vuelta a España start list

The team sent me this news release:

Esteban Chaves, Hugh Carthy, and Rigoberto Urán lead EF Education-EasyPost into the Vuelta

Esteban Chaves, Hugh Carthy, and Rigoberto Urán will lead EF Education-EasyPost in the race for the red jersey at the Vuelta a España.

Rigoberto Uran climbing the Tourmalet in the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo.

From the flatlands of the Netherlands, where the Vuelta is set to start, over Spain’s explosive climbs, to the finish three weeks later in Madrid, Esteban, Hugh, and Rigo will count on strong teammates in their general-classification hunt. James Shaw and Julius van den Berg will keep them at the front of the peloton and out of the wind, while climbers Jonathan Caicedo, Mark Padun, and Merhawi Kudus will lead them to the cruxes of the Vuelta’s steepest mountains—and seize opportunities to go for stage victories themselves.

“With Esteban, Rigo, and Hugh in the team, we have three riders who have been on the podium in big tours,” says EF Education-EasyPost sports director Juanma Gárate. “We want to do a good GC with them.”

Esteban is looking forward to his first grand tour in his EF Education-EasyPost shirt.

“It’s been some time since I have ridden a Grand Tour, and this one is a special one,” Esteban says. “I’m excited to start La Vuelta. It has always treated me right, and we have a very good team this year. It will be my first grand tour with EF Education-Easypost. This makes me a little nervous, but on the other hand, it also gives me a lot of motivation, and it encourages me to ride the best I can. We have Rigo, Hugh, and me for the GC, and we will never discard a chance for a stage win, not only with us three, but also the rest of the team.”

Juanma thinks that Esteban might surprise a lot of fans.

“I really want to see what Esteban can do,” Juanma says. “This year is a big change for him. He has changed teams, changed trainers, changed bikes. He has had to work hard to get back to his level. He is in a good way. I think he is going to be good.”

Rigoberto Urán will start the Vuelta just a few weeks after finishing the Tour de France. He is hungry to show that he is still one of the best bike racers in the world.

“Let’s see with Rigo,” Juanma says. “He didn’t have a good Tour de France, and now he wants to do a good GC at the Vuelta. It is hard to do two tours in a year, but he is professional.”


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Rigo is ready.

“I wasn’t in my best shape at the Tour and at the beginning of the season with some bad days and crashes, so I need some luck,” Rigo says. “Now, I feel good, motivated. Not only that, I’m excited to start La Vuelta because I know there won’t be a lot more opportunities for me at my age. The Vuelta is the only grand tour where I haven’t won a stage or been on the podium. After the Tour, I felt strong, and have been training a lot at home, so I’m in good shape. Hugh’s good, Chaves too. When I go to a Grand Tour, it’s because I feel good, and because I want to give my best for the team.”

For Hugh, a good ride at the Vuelta will mean a lot.

“Hugh had a confirmation during the Giro that he is back for GC,” Juanma says. “He finished the Giro with an impressive ride on the last day on the Marmolada. His morale is high. During our last races in Spain, I saw that his level is getting better and better. He is going to be ready for the Vuelta. He is on a good track.”

The Spanish grand tour is close to Hugh’s heart.

“For me, personally, the Vuelta is a special race, because my career began in Spain, and my first grand tour was the Vuelta back in 2016,” he says. “My ambition is to try and do a good GC. Above all, I want to have a good performance and do my best as always. I like this year’s course. It has a wide variety of stages and a unique feel, starting in the Netherlands. It should be an exciting three weeks.”

It sure should. The Vuelta kicks off Friday in Utrecht with a team time trial. After two more stages in the Netherlands, our team will head south to Spain to race over some of the hardest climbs the sport of cycling has ever seen, under the full heat of the Spanish sun. It’s the final grand tour of the year, but might be the most difficult. Esteban Chaves, Hugh Carthy, and Rigoberto Urán are riding for GC. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be conservative. At this Vuelta, we’re going to attack.


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Luka Mezgec signs on for two more years with Team BikeExchange-Jayco

The team sent me this update:

Slovenian lead-out man Luka Mezgec has agreed to a new two-year contract with Team BikeExchange-Jayco, which will see the 34-year-old bring his time with the Australian outfit to nine years.

Luka Mezgec on the podium of the 2019 Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

The rider from Kranj has proven himself, time and time again, as one of the most reliable lead-out riders in the WorldTour peloton, and as GreenEDGE Cycling looks to the future to continue developing the depth of its sprint group, Mezgec will continue to play a crucial role in this area, bringing his wealth of experience and skills.

With young up and coming sprint talents added to the roster for 2023, plus sprint team leader Dylan Groenewegen, the Australian squad is excited for what the future holds, with many more opportunities to challenge in sprint finishes across the calendar and is pleased to see Mezgec continue to be a part of this.

Brent Copeland – General Manager:
“Luka is one of the most reliable riders we have on the team, and we are very happy to see that he will continue with us for two more seasons and that he is very motivated and a big part of our future vision, as we develop our sprint team.

"With the knowledge and experience Luka has, from riding with our team for the past seven years and from his previous experience and success, he will continue to be a key and valued member and a rider that the younger generation can learn from, and be guided by.”

Luka Mezgec:
“With Dylan joining our team this season, I found myself in a much clearer role. Helping one of the best sprinters in the world is both a joy and a big responsibility - which I love.

"Working with the full sprint train this season has been very different to previous years and also a big challenge for me as a rider who often makes plans for the sprints, because the plans are much more complex now than before. But I love this challenge, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to stay here.

"Obviously after already seven years with the GreenEDGE family, it feels like home and it’s amazing to see all the positive energy and dedication of every single person working with the team.”

Luka Mezgec:
Date of Birth: 27th June 1988 (34)
Nationality: Slovenia
Joined GreenEDGE Cycling: 2016
New Contract: 2023 & 2024

Top Results:
1st Giro d’Italia Stage (2014)
1st 3x Volta Catalunya Stage  (2014)
2x 1st Tour of Slovenia Stage (2017 & 19)
2x 1st Tour of Poland Stage (2019)
2x 2nd Tour de France Stage (2020)
2nd Bretagne Classic Ouest-France
4th Tour de France Stage (2021)

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