And on, and on, and on…

Back in April Cyclo (rather optimistically) reported that it looked like an end could be in sight with regards to the on-going  Alberto Contador doping controversy when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that it would be reviewing the case and that: “…written proceedings in this matter are likely to be concluded at the end of May and the CAS envisages to hold a hearing in June 2011, which would allow the settlement of the dispute before the end of June 2011.” This would of course have meant that everything would be neatly wrapped up before the start of this year’s Tour de France (July 2) at which the Saxo Bank-SunGard star will be defending his title. Well, no such luck…


CAS has now announced that the case involving the taking/accidental ingestion of clenbuterol levelled against the Spaniard will be heard after the Tour; a ridiculous state of affairs that does nothing for the ever-declining image of pro racing. Assuming Contador were to bag another win at the Tour this year (and he looks strong enough to) he could, if the Lausanne-based court finds against him, be stripped of his success, plus his 2010 title and even his recent standing at the Giro d’Italia. In other words a cloud of doubt will hang over more than a year’s worth of results whilst CAS edge painfully slowly towards making any kind of ruling.


Contador remains adamant that the traces of clenbuterol – which is similar to the asthma drug salbutamol and gives advantageous  aerobic capacity – found its way into his system via contaminated meat. He was initially cleared by The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) before that decision was challenged by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Cyclo would be bored of this story if it didn’t have such wide-reaching ramifications and weren’t doing quite so much to damage the sport we love.



Tour de Yorkshire?

Cyclo is delighted to hear that “advanced talks” have apparently taken place between the organisers of the Tour de France and the regional tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire about the possibility of holding the 2016 Grand Depart (the opening 2 days/stages) in the county. Traditionally the opening stages are held outside France every two years but haven’t landed on UK shores since 2007 when the Classic got underway in Kent, a move that proved massively popular with many thousands turning out to watch.


It is understood that the proposed Yorkshire stages would include Hull, Sheffield, Scarborough, the Dales, Leeds and York although the Tour organisers have yet to visit and review the possible course suggestions. Further dialogue is expected during June between all parties and before any commitment to view exactly what Yorkshire has to offer is made. Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, confirms “…in-depth discussions are ongoing but I can reveal Yorkshire’s bid has been positively received by the organising committee at this stage.”


With the potential of millions of tourist pounds at stake, the blessing of the Tour de France running a route through the English countryside is naturally attractive; but more than this it’s clear that a UK visit always does wonders to boost the sport’s domestic profile. Cyclo will keep our fingers crossed (and you posted…)



Tour de France: Sneaky-Peak

Tour de FranceOkay so the Giro d’Italia isn’t quite over yet and is still serving up the expected thrills and we have plenty of other two wheeled action on the horizon (including the Tour of Luxembourg June 1-5) but here at Cyclo we can never contain our excitement about the Tour de France. So, without apology, and ahead of next month’s main feature on the event, here is a little taster of what to expect. From Saturday July 2 the 98th Tour runs over 21 stages with just two rest days – July 11 and 18 – covering approximately 3,470k of action but, this year, including only two Team Time Trial sections (totaling just 64k) made up of Stage 2 (23k) on July 3 at Les Essarts and Stage 23 (41km) at Grenoble. There are also three Medium and six High Mountain stages to be tackled before glory at the classic Champs-Élysées finish.


The full stages break down like this:


Stage 1 (July 2) Passage du Gois-Mont des Alouettes – 191km
Stage 2 (July 3)  Les Essarts-Les Essarts, TTT – 23km
Stage 3 (July 4)  Olonne-sur-Mer-Redon – 198km
Stage 4 (July 5)  Lorient-Mûr-de-Bretagne – 172km
Stage 5 (July 6) Carhaix-Cap Fréhel – 158km
Stage 6 (July 7)  Dinan-Lisieux – 226km
Stage 7 (July 8 ) Le Mans-Châteauroux – 215km
Stage 8 (July 9)  Aigurande-Super Besse Sancy – 190km
Stage 9 (July 10): Issoire-St-Flour – 208km
Rest Day (July 11)
Stage 10 (July 12)  Aurillac-Carmaux – 161km
Stage 11 (July 13)  Blaye-les-Mines-Lavaur – 168km
Stage 12 (July 14): Cugnaux-Luz Ardiden – 209km
Stage 13 (July 15): Pau-Lourdes – 156km
Stage 14: (July 16) Saint-Gaudens-Plateau de Beille – 168km
Stage 15 (July 17)  Limous-Montpellier – 187km
Rest Day (July 18)
Stage 16 (July 19): Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux-Gap – 163km
Stage 17 (July 20): Gap-Pinerolo – 179km
Stage 18 (July 21)  Pinerolo-Galibier/Serre-Chevalier – 189km
Stage 19 (July 22)  Modane-Alpe d’Huez – 109km
Stage 20 (July 24)  Grenoble-Grenoble, ITT – 41km
Stage 21 (July 25)  Créteil-Paris/Champs-Elysées – 160km


See the 2011 Tour route video below – we really can’t wait…




The Final Word?

Yes, yes another news story about Alberto Contador, but as the controversy rumbles on for the troubled Spanish rider it seems an end, of sorts, could be in sight. Since testing positive for the banned drug clenbuterol, just days before his victory at the 2010 Tour de France, the Saxo Bank-SunGard star was cleared by The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) before that decision was challenged by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Clearly there are many, many acronyms involved…


CAS have now issued a brief missive stating that the case will be investigated by a panel of three –  Israel’s Efraim Barak, Switzerland’s Quentin Byrne-Sutton Germany’s Ulrich Haas. In terms of the time-scale for the hearings, the CAS statement concludes: “The written proceedings in this matter are likely to be concluded at the end of May and the CAS envisages to hold a hearing in June 2011, which would allow the settlement of the dispute before the end of June 2011. The hearing date will be published once it has been fixed.”


Whilst we are heartened to hear that a conclusion to the case may (or may not) be imminent, Cyclo can’t help feeling that such protracted procrastinations do little for the sport’s image and with the CAS announcement set to be so close to the start of the 2011 Tour de France (July 2) it can do nothing – assuming his innocence – for the preparedness of the defending champion.



An F1 Approach to Cycling?

A major revamp and rebranding of international cycling has, somewhat controversially, been proposed to the BBC by Jonathan Vaughters the former pro racing cyclist and current directeur sportif of the Garmin-Cervélo Team. Vaughters, who is president of the Association of Pro Tour and Pro Continental teams believes that, given cycling’s demographic, the sport should enjoy far greater exposure and success than its current form allows, suggesting it should be brought more in line with Premier Football or Formula One.


Vaughters’ ten-point plan revealed to the BBC includes the introduction of more high-level events outside of Europe, a more consistent and easily understood format for races and leader-boards, an increased number of team time trials, open radio communications for fans to follow (similar to that introduced in F1), GPS tracking and increased use of other technical innovations such as helmet-mounted cameras.


But central to Vaughters’ argument is a call for an all-round cleanup of the sport’s image with regards to the seemingly ever-present doping scandals, which he calls cycling’s “Achilles heel”. Amongst his proposals to finally lay these ghosts to rest is the idea of team donations to set up an anti-drugs fund in exchange for longer-term guarantees of Tour de France entry. Vaughters points out that he first put many of these ideas forward to the UCI back in 2009 but has yet to receive a response. Cyclo waits with bated breath…



Triple for Cavendish?

Speaking at the Giro d’Italia press conference in London, HTC-Highroad sprinter Mark Cavendish has confirmed that he intends to start all three Grand Tours (Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta a España) this season.


Having missed the 2010 Giro in favour of taking to the saddle at the Tour of Californian,

Cavendish returns to the event this year with hopes of repeating his 2009 opening stage success when he proudly became the first Briton to don the leader’s jersey. He made a successfully debut at the Vuelta last year and to date has made starts in seven Grand Tours with finishes in four of them. If Cavendish makes good on his intention to line up at Giro, Tour and Vuelta he stands a good chance of being the first rider to win stages at the trinity in a single year since Italian Alessandro Petacchi back in 2003.


Giro d’Italia: May 7 – 29

Tour de France: July 2 – 24
Vuelta a España: August 20 – September 11