UCI president McQuaid attacks over continued corruption claims

UCI President Pat McQuaid went into defence mode overnight with fresh corruption claims leaked against him and the governing body. He called them politically driven but critics say they should be “immediately and thoroughly investigated” by independent authorities.

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“This is a scurrilous and libellous attack on my character,” McQuaid said in a statement. It has “a political agenda that is both nakedly transparent and totally contemptible – and unfortunately one that is completely in character with the tactics of my opponents.”

A dossier that sparked a heated debate at the UCI Management Committee in June made its way to the internet. Velonews published a summary of the corruption allegations and you can read the original document that was leaded here (pdf). McQuaid shot it down; saying the UCI itself could have investigated the claims had it had the documents.

The Irishman, who stands for a third term at the September 27 elections, said the dossier is politically motivated.

“This is not democracy. This is gangster politics,” he said. “My opponents have employed lies, bribery, attempted extortion, attempted vote-buying…”

Critics question why the UCI did not get its house in order when fresh allegations surfaced because of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. McQuaid’s sole candidate and British Cycling president, Brian Cookson wants to change the UCI’s image and wants to see claims investigated.

“These allegations are clearly very serious,” Cookson wrote on his website. “For the good of the UCI and cycling, they should be immediately and thoroughly investigated.”

 

Nibali losing power and seconds in Vuelta

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) only has five days left to defend his leader’s red jersey in the Vuelta a España, but he falling behind. Not only did the Sicilian lose time to rival Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) on Monday, but he also is weaker than he was just four months ago.

stage-15 of the Vuelta a EspaÒa 2013

“It’s true,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. “I lack about 15 to 20 average watts.”

His team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli said that at the Giro d’Italia in similar circumstances, Nibali was producing 20 watts more or 360 watts. Nibali took a two-month break from racing after winning the Giro and blamed the loss on his rushed training. He added that the stress of winning two Grand Tours is hard to deal with.

“Maybe it’s even more difficult mentally to prepare [to win] two Grand Tours,” added Nibali yesterday. “It’s an enormous effort.”

Read more.

Milano-Sanremo organiser adds new Pompeiana climb

Milano-Sanremo organisers yesterday added in a new climb to Pompeiana and cut Le Mànie for the 2014 edition on March 23. The five-kilometre climb sits between the Cipressa and the Poggio and makes the final more complicated.

A press release read, “RCS Sport and La Gazzetta dello Sport are making the Classicissima route more and more spectacular and unpredictable by removing the Le Mànie and [adding] the Pompeiana climb.”

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The riders will barely have time to catch their breath off the Cipressa’s descent before starting the Pompeiana. It rises at an average of five per cent and reaches 14 per cent. At the top, a 500-metre long section shoots back and forth, darting up between 10 and 14 per cent. All that remains after a “twisty technical descent” are 4.4 kilometres and the Poggio.

Read more here and here.

2014 Giro d’Italia takes shape

Organisers will announce the official route on October 7, but the Giro d’Italia, May 10 to June 1, reportedly will include climbs to Panarotta and Zoncolan, and finish in Trieste.

If it goes through, it would be the Giro’s first visit to the Panarotta ski resort in Trentino. The climb to 1780 metres covers 16.2 kilometres and averages eight per cent. The stage, rumoured for May 29, would cover the San Pellegrino (1,918m) and Redebus (1,455m) passes en route.

Local organisers reportedly considered featuring the Monte Zoncolan twice in one day similar to what the Tour de France did this year with Alpe d’Huez. The Giro organiser shot down the idea but agreed to use the famous climb, perhaps coming from the never before used eastern side. According to the local news reports, it will then finish the race in Trieste the next day on June 1.

Organiser RCS Sport already announced the Grand Tour will start in Belfast and travel to Dublin in its first three days. Afterwards, the riders will fly to Italy and continue racing the next day, reportedly with a team time trial near Bari.

Read more here.

British Worlds team builds around Froome

British Cycling is building its team to support Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky) and its hope of a World Championship title in Florence on September 29. Yesterday, the federation named its long list to be whittled down to eight men.

Tour de France 2013 stage-10

Performance Manager Shane Sutton said, “We’ve got Olympic medallists, Tour de France winners and former World Champions all in the mix.”

Along with Froome, the federation named 2012 Tour winner, Brad Wiggins and 2011 champion, Mark Cavendish. Others include, Steve Cummings, Alex Dowsett, Josh Edmondson, Andy Fenn, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Jon Tiernan Locke.

Read more here.

WADA to introduce a steroid passport this year

World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey has announced the introduction of a “steroid passport” by the end of the year as the latest weapon aimed at drug cheats.

The new passport for all athletes will be similar to the biological passport that monitors an athlete’s blood and identifies changes indicating possible doping.
Fahey made the announcement at the 125th session of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Fahey, whose six-year term as WADA chief is drawing to a close, said: “The biological passport is a key component against doping and has been recognised by the courts as evidence.”

During his time at the helm WADA had developed better detection methods and was working very closely with the pharmaceutical industry in the fight against doping in sport, he said.

“The industry is now supplying WADA with the make-up of new drugs before they go on the market so they can easily be detected.”

WADA is certain to double the ban for drug cheats from two to four years for first offenders at its congress in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November. Fahey told the IOC members: “The athletes have demanded a tougher approach to cheats and, instead of the current two-year ban, the penalty will be doubled for first offenders.”

Saxo’s Backstage Pass

In case you haven’t seen the videos, Saxo-Tinkoff has been doing a “backstage pass” series throughout the Vuelta. For an excellent insight into what goes on into the planning of team tactics on before each stage (stage 15 in this example), have a look at this:

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:

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