The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
In light of recent speculation emanating from his T-Mobile team, Jan Ullrich last week said he is indeed considering riding the Giro d?Italia as preparation for July?s Tour de France. "This year I would like to start with my training earlier and I would like to ride the Giro d'Italia as preparation ." <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
In the interview with the Austrian Kurier newspaper, he went on to add that, " I have the reputation of training less than the others. But that's not so. I want to increase the quality of my training; an increased quantity is not really possible ."
"I wouldn't trust myself to ride to win two Grand Tours in one year. My goal is quite plainly the Tour de France. I have put my entire focus on winning it next summer."
After months of speculation, Italian website Tuttobiciweb claim that Brit, David Millar, has signed for Saunier Duval. The website says Millar is aiming to return to racing at the Tour de France before challenging for the Vuelta a Espana and then the World Time Trial Championships ? a title he was stripped of following his admission of using EPO.
Another rider implicated in the now infamous ?Cofidis affair,? Italian Massimiliano Lelli, was last week awarded ?50,000 in compensation at a court in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Europe. Lelli was named in both the original scandal and was again singled out by Millar, two events which ultimately led to him being sacked from by his then employers. The court awarded Lelli damages after ruling that his contract was illegally terminated.
Over the weekend, the news that nobody wanted to hear was made public. Liberty Seguros-Wurth team leader and this year?s winner of the Vuelta, Roberto Heras, was confirmed to have taken EPO. The sample taken on the penultimate days racing tested positive for both the A and B samples.
Following the ruling, Heras is likely to face a two-year suspension from the sport and to be stripped of his record-breaking fourth title in the Spanish stage race.
A statement was released by his team within hours of the ruling. "After receiving confirmation of his [Heras'] positive test in the counter-analysis, we regret to inform that as a result of the commitments pledged through the ethical code endorsed by all UCI-ProTour Teams, we will proceed to terminate the contract of Roberto Heras as soon as we receive an official confirmation from the International Cycling Union, following which the rider will step down from the team."
The UCI have jumped on to the Heras case as a means of justification for their urine EPO tests which have, in recent months, come under considerable scrutiny.
"The UCI would like to express its full satisfaction as to the progress of the procedures related to this case, and reaffirms its unconditional confidence in the method used for the search of EPO"
"The regrettable context of suspicion and distrust created around this affair, which will once again have provoked very negative consequences for the image of the cycling,