Froome welcomes doping crackdown

Tour de France champion Chris Froome has welcomed the introduction of tougher penalties for doping, and admitted that he had been personally “hit hard” by accusations he had cheated.

Speaking at the end of a private visit to Kenya, the country of his birth and where he first fell in love with the sport, Froome said cycling was now a much cleaner sport than it was during the notorious Lance Armstrong era.

Tour de France 2013 stage-15

“It is great that WADA plans to extend the ban from two to four years, and that cycling is being taken as leading the way in the fight in anti-doping,” he told reporters.

Last week a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conference concluded with the adoption of a tougher code featuring longer bans for those who intentionally use performance-enhancing drugs.

“When first-time offenders are given a four-year ban, that’s quite serious for a sport when the window is very short. You can only be a professional for 15 years. It is a harsh penalty and that’s what we need to see in cycling,” Froome said.

Froome said the fall-out from the Armstrong era, when doping in the peloton was rife, meant that cycling was now probably “the cleanest endurance sport there is” because of the sheer amount of out-of-competition tests being carried out.

He admitted he had been “hit hard” when faced with accusations that he was doping, even though he understood such questions were inevitable.

“It was a very difficult time in the Tour De France. Everybody was asking me… and people were saying to me you could be doping,” he recounted. “It definitely added stress during the tour.”

“That hit me quite hard, but it was something I expected, because post-Lance Armstrong everyone was asking questions about it and I came to accept it, because I knew it came from the past and everyone putting on the yellow jersey could be asked about doping.”

Froome, meanwhile, said he was expecting a tough Tour title defence.

“It will be extremely difficult to defend the title, especially after winning it once, a lot of people are looking at me as the favourite and the man to beat and it is going to be really hard,” Froome said.

“My main rivals include the Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali, who won the Giro D’Italia this year. He is someone I didn’t race a lot this year because he stayed at home to concentrate in his cycling in Italy. He will be coming to challenge in Tour de France next year and he will be a big rival.”

“There is also a lot of young talent coming to cycling which is good for the sport. Riders such as Nairo Quintana, the Colombian who came second this year. I believe he will also be really good next year.
“I am confident that if I have the same lead-up to the Tour that I had this year, then I can be confident going into the tour,” he said.

“For us in cycling, the Tour de France is the biggest goal. It is the most sought-after victory of our all cycling events. That for me is something I would like to continue doing in the future if I can prepare myself as best as possible to try and challenge year after year for as long as I can.”

text via AFP

Kenny van Hummel linked to Androni

kennyAccording to Dutch media Kenny van Hummel is about to announce his move to Gianni Savio’s Androni Giocattoli squad. The 31 year old Dutch sprinter has been looking for a new team after it was confirmed that Vacansoleil would end their WorldTour sponsorship at the end of 2013.

Savio has already signed Van Hummel’s Vaconsoleil teammate and the Dutch national road champion Johnny Hoogerland in the transfer market but de telegraaf report that Van Hummel will be linking up with the Androni team as well.

Read more (original article in Dutch).

Rohan Dennis sets out 2014 goals

It’s no exaggeration to say that Rohan Dennis’ first professional season has been a success; Wearing the leader’s jersey at the Dauphine, his first start in the Tour de France, and the overall win at the Tour of Alberta is a pretty good start to his promising career.

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Cyclingnews has a good chat with Dennis to reflect on his 2013 season and finds out what’s in store for him in 2014.

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Verbruggen releases ‘facts’ regarding Armstrong 1999 positives

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen refuted Lance Armstrong’s claims that the sport’s governing body helped him cover up a positive test for corticosteroids during the 1999 Tour de France, offering an explanation of sorts, which came down to this: the UCI didn’t know the now infamous prescription was backdated.

“It must be very hard to cover up a positive case that was not a positive case,” Verbruggen wrote. “[Until] 2006 it was the French Ministry that was responsible for anti-doping in France with the UCI as kind of an observer. It was the Ministry that decided that [Armstrong] was not positive since they accepted his explanation (ointment). Conclusion: [the] story about cover-up is nonsense.”

A statement sent to VeloNews by Verbruggen on Tuesday examines the situation further, indicating what Verbruggen believes shows the UCI followed the proper protocol at the time.

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Mapei boss claims Verbruggen threatened to disqualify team

Giorgio Squinzi, former team Mapei boss, claims to Italian media that former UCI president Hein Verbruggen threatened with the permanent disqualification of his team after he spoke out in 1999 about doping problems. Mapei was one of the powerhouse teams of the 1990s, with riders such as Tony Rominger, Johan Museeuw, Franco Ballerini, Andrea Tafi and Paolo Bettini, who were particularly dominant in the Cobbled Classics.

“Sure it happened,” Squinzi said, according to tuttobici.it. “I told him [Verbruggen] as early as 1999, when I said that you couldn’t get into the top five places of a Grand Tour without doping.

“When I said those things, Verbruggen threatened to have my Mapei cycling team permanently disqualified.”

Although Mapei did have it’s own doping issues, Squinzi was always outspoken about the issue, and cited the sport’s drug problem as the reason for his withdrawal from backing the team in 2002.

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George Bennett signs with Cannondale

George Bennett has signed a one year deal with Cannondale after not having his contract renewed with Trek. The 23-year-old Kiwi will ride with the Italian team in 2014 after spending the first two years of his professional career at RadioShack-Leopard.

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“Joining Cannondale is a huge opportunity for me, I have always admired the way they race and the way they win,” said Bennett in a press release. “I am really excited to be a part of that next year. I think there is a wealth of experience in the staff and riders that I can tap into and keep making big steps forward, it is a road less traveled by other riders from my side of the world, but that’s the road I have taken since I started racing as an amateur.”

Bennett said his goals for 2014 are “to be part of a successful grand tour.”

“We are excited to have George join our team, he is a very good young talent who we look forward to working with and helping him to continue his development as a pro bike rider,” said Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio. “As a good climber, he can continue to develop here and show himself well in some of the hillier races.”

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Nariyuki Masuda stars in “The Cannondale Kid”

After struggling to find his true calling in life Nariyuki Masuda encountered his epiphany moment when he came across the Tour de France while watching television.

With the metabolism of a Hummingbird a possible career in Sumo never seemed likely and despite an obvious talent for engineering and aeronautics it was his dedication to overcome all obstacles and love for the bike that took him from TV watcher to World Tour racer, earning him a place in green on Cannonade Pro Cycling.

Movember update

As you might know we’ve fully committed to the Movember cause this year and after twenty days the CyclingTips network has already raised over $45,000. Teams such as the Mobart Mo Bros have done a fantastic job at raising over $23,000 with their efforts and riding around Tasmania. Individuals who have raised over $1000 are Alexandra Ball, Mal Sawford, Will Bignell and Kevin Kolmer with many others on the cusp.

Well done everybody. I can’t tell you how proud we are.

Check out our Movember page here and don’t be afraid to make a donation! Can we get to $75,000?