Christophe Moreau, Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie
(in yellow), Oscar Pereiro and Alberto Contador lead the peloton out
of Aix-les-Bains at the start of stage 1 of the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré
Despite appearances, we have not gone into hibernation. The
"special report" we mentioned last month was put on the backburner for
a couple of weeks and then the scope of the report grew. It's coming,
and things will heat up.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Note: If you have been unable to access Daniel Baal's
inflammatory Le Figaro article, it indeed appears that it was rather quickly
removed from Le Figaro's web site.
On the subject of Roberto Heras's "non-negative" EPO "A" sample
from the Vuelta, we will wait until the results of the November 21 counter-analysis
In the meantime, within a few days we expect to wrap up work
on a "special report" you may find of interest.
Thanks for checking in.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Playing with fire
ASO accuses Armstrong,
Baal targets Hincapie and entire Discovery Channel Tour team
We could sense it coming. With the media and world of
cycling gathered on Thursday in Paris for the annual presentation
of the next edition of the Tour de France, race organizer A.S.O. (Amaury
Sport Organization) announced in its mission statement that "On the
24th of July we turned the page on a long, very long chapter in the
history of the Tour de France. And one month later, current events
made it clear to us that it was just as well that this was so."
The comments, simultaneously reproduced on the
"U.S." version of its 2006 Tour de France web page, clearly referred
to Lance Armstrong and French sports daily L'Equipe's August 23 allegations
A.S.O. president Patrice Clerc lectured the audience on the
need to do more to fight doping.
Tour de France director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, in comments to
the AP, said "(Armstrong) was not irreproachable in '99. EPO is a
doping product. So this tempers and dilutes his performances and his
credibility as a champion."
A.S.O. thus announced to the world that it accepts without
hesitation the allegations, based on unconfirmable analysis of urine
samples dating back to 1999, even as a UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale)-appointed
former anti-doping official has only begun investigating them.
By Thursday evening, and with the damage already done, ASO's
Leblanc and future race director Christian Prudhomme were back in a
"We're just organizers, not doping experts" mode on L'Equipe TV. So
when they had the world watching earlier in the day, and when they apparently
felt it necessary to play politics in their ongoing dispute with the
UCI over the direction of the ProTour, ASO was giving lessons on the anti-doping
fight, with the recently-elected UCI president Pat McQuaid and Discovery
Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel sitting in the audience feeling they'd
been targeted. Then, when their audience was limited to French viewers
of L'Equipe TV, they're "just organizers."
Basing your mission statement on allegations made by a hostile
sports daily is dubious at best. The relationship between ASO
and L'Equipe, a sports event organizer and a monopolistic sports news
daily in the same corporate family, raises questions to begin with. Though
historically the Tour de France owes much to that relationship, to the
years long ago that L'Equipe lost money while organizing the race itself,
ASO is playing with fire by yielding to L'Equipe's ongoing pressure to
Daniel Baal, former president of the FFC (French cycling federation)
and until 2003 expected to replace Leblanc as Tour director, in an
inflammatory article in Le Figaro on Friday wrote, "Today, what do we
know of the 2005 Tour and the six (at least!) previous editions? That
they were won by a cheater. Thus they have no value." Baal
has taken it upon himself to extend the questionable 1999 allegations through
2005. He also had to be referring to Armstrong's teammate George
Hincapie when he said "A rider (once) known as a sprinter, well taken care
of medically, can thus win a queen stage of the Pyrenees, before being particularly
strong in a time trial." He further seemed to accuse the entire Discovery
Channel Tour team when he wrote "A team in difficulty on a minor climb
in the Vosges, on a stage not considered important, thus without optimization
of the 'preparation,' then finds itself ruling several days later escorting
its leader in a major Alpine stage." Baal somehow now considers an
off day by a team as irrefutable evidence of doping.
If you're not so good today after a tough first week, including a
brutal all-out effort to win the team time trial, then you have a strong
day after the rest day , then you must be doping? (Note:
Baal is without question very knowledgeable with regard to race organization
and work at the federation level but we were unable to find any evidence
of his having ever competed in a pro stage race himself.)
Not naming names does not automatically protect you from a
libel suit. It is obvious who Baal is talking about.
Such barely veiled accusations without proof and without respect
for due process, from current and former French cycling officials who
further focus exclusively on Lance Armstrong and his team, are troubling.
They also reflect, perhaps not coincidentally, L'Equipe's
On L'Equipe TV, future Tour director Christian Prudhomme said,
"For me, again the fundamental problem is one of image. We must
get rid of suspicion, that's the most important thing." The comment
perhaps betrays his background in television and perhaps in part ASO's
motives to the extent that suspicion hurts profits, but we certainly
hope he doesn't really feel that image is the most important thing
Leblanc, Prudhomme and Baal are without question passionate
about cycling. Clerc, who ran the Roland Garros (French Open)
tennis tournament for many years before replacing Jean-Claude Killy
at ASO in 2000, has a long, successful career in sports events management.
They are leaders and should speak about doping because it is an
important topic in sports today. They should especially speak of solutions
to the problem. What they should stop doing is lobbing inflammatory
comments, based on L'Equipe's questionable journalism, about Lance
Armstrong and Discovery Channel, a new sponsor in this sport. Leaders
don't play with fire, they put out fires.
When you play with fire, there is no telling who might get
Click map for 2006 Tour route
Leblanc: "We're just organizers, not doping experts."
Prudhomme, on L'Equipe TV: "For me, again the fundamental
problem is one of image. We must get rid of suspicion, that's
the most important thing."
Daniel Baal, former Director of Cycling at ASO and former
president of the FFC
(photo P. Geyer)
Daniel Baal's Le Figaro article
Leblanc said on L'Equipe TV that he looks to young riders
such as Alejandro Valverde (pictured) and Damiano Cunego to show what
they can do in the next Tour.
UCI president Pat McQuaid on L'Equipe TV, interviewed at Thursday's
Tour presentation. On Friday, McQuaid suspended ProTour talks
with ASO, deeming such talks pointless at this time given ASO's attitude
the day before.
© 2005 Pete Geyer
Thursday, October 27, 2005
L'Equipe TV is reporting, before this morning's
2006 Tour route presentation in Paris, that there will be no Team
Time Trial in the 2006 Tour de France. If confirmed,
this would be good news for the little climbers in the peloton. More
after the official presentation...
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
The Tour du Faso begins today. The 11-stage event,
West Africa's primary bike race, runs through November 6.
Teams competing come from Burkina Faso, Angola, Benin-Togo,
Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, France, Belgium,
Japan and Switzerland.
The Tour du Faso is organized by Amaury Sport Organization
(A.S.O.) alongside the Burkina Cycling Federation.
Inside the Tour de France
Tomorrow is the 2006 Tour de France Route Presentation
in Paris. What can we expect? Who's going to be at the
presentation? Did someone spill the beans about the 2006 route?
Anything novel about the route?
click here for the story
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Deal brings UCI cycling broadcasts
to the U.S.
Good news for cycling fans in the U.S. The UCI
(Union Cycliste Internationale) yesterday announced an agreement
with the World Championship Sports Network (WCSN) for the U.S. broadcast
of UCI cycling events. The 3-year deal involves offering these
broadcasts on demand, pay-per-view, on American cable networks and
the internet with live streaming audio and video coverage.
It should be pointed out, however, that the deal only
includes events that the UCI itself controls, such as the cycling
road and track world championships and mountain bike and cyclo-cross
UCI World Cups. It has nothing to do with races organized by ASO
(Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, etc.), RCS (Giro d'Italia, Tour of
Lombardy) or Unipublic (Vuelta).
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
At Paris-Tours, Discovery Channel's Stijn Devolder
signs autographs for
two Livestrong band-sporting French girls; the girls
with Discovery Channel caps and rider cards.
Team mechanic Chris Van Roosbroeck (right) looks
directeur sportif Dirk Demol (rear) does an interview.
While French girls seek autographs from their favorite
pro cyclists, L'Equipe and its advertisers seek to sell to the
feminine market; L'Equipe Féminine magazine was launched
on Saturday as a supplement to L'Equipe. The price of the
day's newspaper was increased by $1. (which coincidentally is
what the yellow Livestrong bands sell for to raise money for cancer
research.) So it wasn't a free supplement. If you wanted
L'Equipe's pre-Tour of Lombardy (or rugby or soccer) coverage, you
had to also pay for L'Equipe Féminine. L'Equipe probably
hauled in an extra few hundred thousand dollars on Saturday from newspaper
sales alone. Monopolies (L'Equipe is the only sports daily in
France) can get away with this. As for how serious L'Equipe is about
the feminine sports market, the next issue of L'Equipe Féminine
won't be out until Spring, 2006....
Enjoy that big end-of-year party, L'Equipe. It's
on us, the readers.
Meanwhile, because there was no mention at all in
L'Equipe of French cyclist Dimitri Champion's record-setting ride
in Sunday's Chrono des Herbiers, "Espoirs" category, we'll repeat
it here (we mentioned it in our live ticker Sunday). Great ride,
Dimitri, don't take the L'Equipe snub personally.
Hour Record holder Ondrej Sosenka won the elite men's
event, France's Edwige Pitel won the elite women's event and France's
Sébastien Ivars won the junior's event.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Note: No one else seems to have a live ticker
for today's race, so we are going to try and do our own. (Key
word being "try"!) We pick up the action mid-course of the
men's elite race. See below.
Guide to live race coverage on the internet/web
Bert Roesems won in 2004
(photo from 2003 GP des Nations)
The Chrono des Herbiers will become the Chrono des
Nations in 2006 as Tour de France organizer A.S.O. becomes a partner
in this event. (The Grand Prix des Nations, longtime a reference
in big time trials but attracting fewer and fewer big names in recent
years as riders ended their seasons early, has been discontinued.)
Three-time World Time Trial Champion Michael Rogers
(Quick Step) is competing today, as are Fabian Cancellara, Hour
Record holder Ondrej Sosenka and future Discovery Channel rider
Vladimir Gusev. For a full start list, click the link at above
photo © 2005 Pete Geyer
des Herbiers 2005
France, Individual Time Trial
48km (elite men's distance)
October 16, 2005
Profile and map
Live web radio coverage
(French, featuring Daniel Mangeas, voice
of the Tour de France!)
(This broadcast is expected to run all afternoon,
Europe time, until 17:00 or 18:00 CET (until 11am or 12pm U.S.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Live coverage breaking news:
Looks like there will be live web radio
(in French only) for tomorrow's Chrono des Herbiers
time trial in France.
There are juniors, espoirs, women's and elite
men's categories. Among the men competing: Three-time
World Time Trial Champion Michael Rogers , Fabian
Cancellara, Hour Record holder Ondrej Sosenka ,
future Discovery Channel rider Vladimir Gusev
, and Ben Day. With the loss of the Grand Prix des
Nations this year, the Chrono des Herbiers is one of the
few big time trial-only events left. In 2006 the race will
become the Chrono des Nations with ASO (organizer
of the Tour de France and the defunct GP des Nations) partnering
in the organization of the event.
We'll post more information and links for the
Chrono des Herbiers tomorrow.
Below is a guide to live
coverage of Tour of Lombardy 2005.
Note: The pro cycling season may be ending but
we'll be putting up a lot of new content here soon.
Guide to live race coverage on the internet/web
The Tour of Lombardy marks the end of the pro
road race season in Europe.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) of Italy is defending
champion. Other big names today include: Gilberto Simoni,
Paolo Bettini, Cadel Evans, Mirko Celestino, Kim Kirchen, Alejandro
Valverde, Francisco Mancebo, Davide Rebellin, Danilo Di Luca. It
should be a good one.
Americans racing: Saul Raisin, Chris
Horner, Christian Vandevelde
photo © 2003 Pete Geyer
| 2005 Tour
of Lombardy, Italy, 246km
October 15, ProTour
(Giro di Lombardia)
(Tour de Lombardie)
"Race of the falling leaves"
Live video coverage:
Live audio coverage:
(24-hour audio feed streaming)
(9:45am U.S. EST))
(requires Windows Media Player or equivalent)
(may not work with Firefox browser)
(Google-translated from Italian)
Briefly: In an editorial yesterday, L'Equipe
editors Claude Droussent and Michel Dalloni confirmed
that the L'Equipe journalists placed under investigation are
Dominique Issartel and Damien Ressiot (see Thursday's entry below
for more info). The Le Point journalists
are Jean-Michel Decugis, Christophe Labbe, and Olivia Recassens.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
photo © 2005 www.cyclingfans.com
Two journalists from French sports daily
L'Equipe were formally placed under investigation
yesterday by a judge looking for a source of leaks related to
the case of alleged dope trafficking by members of the Cofidis team
and staff. (Ed.: Some Cofidis personnel were dismissed from
the team not long after the scandal came to light in 2004.) Three
journalists from French news weekly Le Point
were also placed under investigation today. (source: FFC
(French). See Links at left.)
The names of the journalists were not communicated.
However, we know that a magistrate accompanied by police
on the same case seized documents belonging to L'Equipe's Dominique
Issartel and Damien Ressiot in early 2005. (Ressiot is
also L'Equipe's investigative reporter behind the newspaper's
August 23 allegations of doping against Lance Armstrong. Armstrong
has denied the allegations and cycling's governing body, the UCI,
has appointed a former anti-doping official in the Netherlands
to investigate the matter, including who leaked confidential information.)
Being placed under investigation does not necessarily
suggest wrongdoing on the part of the journalists. More
likely in this case, the judge wants to pressure them to reveal
who was behind the leaks.
As yet, there has been no reaction from L'Equipe,
though L'Equipe TV today has acknowledged that
two of its journalists were placed under investigation.
Scotland's David Millar on Mont Ventoux, 2004
Millar would soon be sacked by Cofidis after
admitting to doping.
He was suspended from the sport for two years.
photo © 2004 Pete Geyer