Saturday shorts

Saturday, 4 February 2012

A few short items with Armstrong, the Contador verdict, sprinters in Qatar and a possible new big stage race in Colombia

Impossible not to mention Lance Armstrong today, if only because my twitter timeline is bursting with comment. In case you’ve missed it, the US authorities have dropped the investigation into doping and potential federal crimes relating to the use of sponsorship monies.

I find it almost impossible to write about Armstrong and that’s largely why this is going in the “shorts” piece. Indeed despite all the words on the subject today, there’s actually little that is new. The story that the file is closed doesn’t change anything, the cycling and legal world is the same today as it was yesterday.

However, if the federal authorities have closed the file, the saga is not over. Within minutes of the news from the US Attorney we got a brief press release from the US Anti-Doping Agency saying it intends to review the evidence gathered by Jeff Novitky. So the story will run. I sense that no matter what happens the subject will rage on and polarise fans for a long time to come.

Contador’s body language
Students of body language will be observing Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will announce it its decision on the Contador case next Monday. We’re so close to the verdict that they’ve even given a time of day, midday in Switzerland.

But the usual procedure involves the trio of arbitrators reaching their decision. This is then given to the president of the CAS for review so he can check it against both precedent and principle. Then the decision is passed on to those involved, this time Contador and his entourage, the Spanish Federation, the UCI and WADA. So it’s most likely they’ve got the decision already and it’ll be interesting to watch for body language. Either that or the Spanish media gets a tip off.

Go, go, go
If the legal wrangling grabs the headlines, luckily we have some sport to compensate. In fact there’s pro racing on four fronts. This weekend sees the racing season start in both Italy and Spain with the GP Costa degli Etruschi and the Majorca Trophy respectively. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) is leading the Etoile de Bessèges stage race in France. And the men’s Tour of Qatar starts on Sunday.

Qatar seems to have best selection of riders, at least when it comes to the sprinters. Mark Cavendish is due to start but the latest is that he’s coming down with an illness and skipped training today. But scanning the start list, how’s this for sprinters: Thor Hushovd, Adam Blythe, Andrea Guardini, Arnaud Demare, Robbie Hunter, Murilo Fischer, Tyler Farrar, Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke, Denis Galimzyanov, Greg Henderson, Francesco Chicchi, Tom Boonen, Roger Kluge, John Degenkolb, Mark Renshaw, Graeme Brown, Giacomo Nizzolo and Bernard Eisel?

Colombian stage race?
Spanish website Biciclismo relays news that Colombia could get a World Tour race for 2013. The city of Medellin had been interested in bidding for the world championships but apparently UCI President Pat McQuaid has advised them that a stage race would be better. I’d love to see racing return to Colombia given the local passion for the sport and the amazing roads.

But we need to be vigilant here. The UCI is now dabbling as a commercial events promotion business and when I read of McQuaid suggesting a stage race, I wonder if he’s giving neutral advice or whether he’s flashing his Global Cycling Promotions business card. The prospect of a race being fast-tracked onto the top calendar of races is one thing and it’ll be interesting to see if this is done locally or if the UCI is awarding itself another event given we know it is hunting for new events in order to make money.

Calendar reminder
The 2012 race calendar has changed since it was published and I’ve updated the dates of certain races like the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste and the Presidential Tour of Turkey.

If you’ve been using it already the Google calendar should sync itself automatically with some accounts but you can manually update. This is up to you and your computer or mobile device settings and not me but to be sure you can download the latest version of the calendar for your electronic diary:

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In addition you can download a full calendar of men’s and women’s pro races to import into your organiser, phone, computer and other devices : inrngRaceCalendar.ics. Save the ics / iCal / iCalendar file and you can import it into your electronic diary. One or two clicks and it’s on your iPhone / Outlook etc calendar.

ali February 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Farmstrong, Frank Andreau, Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras, Floyd Landis are all innocent.
now lets sell some yellow bracelets.

CAT4Fodder February 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

While I am sure this has been brought up before, I do wonder how much of the UCI Global Cycling Promotions is not just about pure profit (although – there is always that), but about building enough of a race calendar to reduce the risk of the ASO breaking off (even with most of the crown jewels).

As for L.A., what is interesting is the timing of the announcement…Friday afternoon of Super Bowl weekend. Guess how much time ESPN (Our great sports overlords here) or the news networks might spend on this story in the States.

Also – this looked quite predictable once Barry Bonds investigation yielded essentially little in the way of any true punishment. I think the Justice Department after that verdict last year kind of saw where the Lance trial would end, at best, and then you look for some out clause.

Secondly,

Ospina February 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Interestingly, Colombia has 2 traditional stage races already. Both were sanctioned for not having enough foreign team invites and were threaten and temporarily removed from the UCI calendar. Lemond, Fignon, Hinault had participated. Now, a new one in Medellin being created? Fishy

Oliver February 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm

In re. to the Federal government abandoning charge against Lance Armstrong. This both expected and shocking.
There is a justice after all! A class justice. The abandoning of the charges against Armstrong — clearly the worst kind of cheater there is — is the symbolic confirmation (for those who needed one) that jdicial systems exist today for the twin purpose of protecting the rich, corporations (wink wink Goldman Sachs et al!) and of prosecuting the poor and the disenfranchised. With this symbolic gesture cynicism will soon become synonymous with lucidity. And impunity is to be added to the long list of perks the rich and powerful can count on, no matter how egregious and self-evident their crimes may be.

daniel February 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I don’t like it when races jump straight to the WorldTour but it’s nice to see that Colombia might get a race.
It’d probably be better at ProConti level though, as teams from Colombia would have to upgrade to even get a chance at a wildcard.

gilbert February 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm
Bundle February 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Ospina – you nailed it.

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