Contador receives one year ban – stripped of 2010 Tour title

Cycling News is reporting that the Spanish Cycling Federation has suspended three-time, now two-time, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador for one year.

Contador will be stripped of his 2010 Tour victory which will make Andy Schleck the new champion.

The Spaniard has ten days to appeal the decision before the final ruling is issued on February 9th. Given that most drug bans are two years it’s likely that Contador will accept the terms of the suspension.

No word on how this affects Alberto’s contract status with his new team Saxo Bank but given his status in the peloton, expect Bjarne Riis to stand by Contador and wait a year to see if his investment pays dividends.

Advertisements
Posted in Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, cycling, Saxo Bank, Tour de France | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

What does Trek have in store for Fabian Cancellara?

Can this bike survive the pave' and carry Fabian Cancellara to victory in the Spring Classics? - Image: Trek Bikes

Last week, Cycling News had an excellent article highlighting the specifications of Andy Schleck’s Trek Madone 6.9. Trek hopes that they are able to provide Schleck with the equipment and technical support that will propel him to the top of the podium in Paris this July. Schleck is making wholesale changes in his equipment which is unusual for a cyclist. Perhaps he thought that he needed to make wholesale changes not only in his team dynamic but his equipment as well to take the next step at the Tour de France.

We all know that Trek can provide the equipment to power a General Classification contender to victory. After all, they were an innovative force behind Lance Armstrong’s record seven Tour de France victories as well as Alberto Contador’s victories in all three Grand Tours. What we don’t know is whether Trek can provide a bike that can not only survive the brutal pave’ of Northern France and Belgium but one that can give Fabian Cancellara an edge when he takes the starting line in the Spring Classics.

All do respect to Andy Schleck but Fabian Cancellara is a two time winner of Paris Roubaix, the defending champion at the Tour of Flanders and is a four-time World Time Trial Champion. With credentials like that, Cancellara should be just as big a cog in the Leopard Trek machine as Schleck (if not bigger) and I wanted to know how the move was going to affect him?

So I decided to contact Trek to see if they were rolling out anything special for Fabian Cancellara. Eric Bjorling from Trek’s Media Relations Department was kind enough to grant me an interview. I asked him if Trek was planning anything special for Fabian Cancellara? “As far as making special bikes for riders, it’s just not something we do” Bjorling said. “We’ve never made custom frame designs or sizing for Lance or any other rider we’ve worked with.”

So you’re telling me that anyone can ride the same bike the top pros ride? “It may sound like a stretch but the fact is that you could walk into a Trek retailer today and purchase the exact same bike with the exact same spec that Cancellara, the Schlecks, or Lance are riding.”

I pointed out that George Hincapie has had more than his fair share of equipment problems in the classics and Lance’s Tour was effectively ended on the cobbles last year. If I were Fabian, I would have some concerns about Trek’s ability to build a bike to win on the cobbles.

“As far as making a bike that can withstand the cobbles, our bikes have competed on cobbles for years without problems. It’s too early to say whether we’ll unveil anything new for the classics but I know we’re all looking forward to watching Cancellara light it up this year.”

How about the time trial, anything special there? “

With the TT, every company brings a different philosophy to their time trial/triathlon bike designs” Bjorling said. “The best thing we can do is work with the rider to dial in the most aerodynamic position that accommodates the bike’s design and performance. A lot of this work is done in the pre-season in the field and in the wind tunnel which we use extensively.”

With only about two and a half months until Flanders, I’m sure Cancellara will be testing his setup to make sure his bike can withstand the hell that will be unleashed on the brutal roads that Roubaix and Flanders are ridden on. I asked Eric if Trek is doing anything special to help the team. He said that as a title sponsor and official equipment supplier, Trek is fully integrated into the team and is advising the riders on a daily basis.

As far as equipment for Flanders and Roubaix, Bjorling told me “as of right now, he’ll [Cancellara] be on the Trek Madone 6.9 SSL. There may be a few modifications but we’re not ready to announce anything just yet.” So for now, we’ll have to wait and see what Trek and Fabian Cancellara have in store to combat the pave’.

 

April 3rd will be here before we know it…

 

A special thanks to Eric Bjorling from Trek Bicycles for his time and insight.


Posted in cycling, Fabian Cancellara, Team Leopard Trek | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bring on the classics

Fabian Cancellara & the Schleck Brothers at the Team Leopard presentation - Photo: Cycling News/Bettini

Team Leopard’s Madone – Courtesy: Trek Bikes

On Thursday, the Luxembourg based Team Leopard finally revealed their highly anticipated kit design as well as their team issue bikes.

The kits are elegant in their simplicity especially when compared to some of the clownish designs such as Liquigas and Lampre. The simple black and white design with a subtle blue stripe across the chest should be quite easy to pick out of the crowded peloton.

Trek Bikes will be supplying the powerful Leopard team with bikes for the 2011 race season and are one of the title sponsors. A company as innovative as Trek must be chomping at the bit to work with world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara.

I’m ready to watch Spartacus decimate the field on the cobbles of Northern France and Belgium but unfortunately, we still have a few months before we see any races of note.

The UCI is telling us it will be February before any decision is made on the Alberto Contador case. Dead Spin has postulated the best theory I have seen regarding Contador and if it’s true, Contador is likely facing a lengthy suspension, and will probably be stripped of his Tour de France title.

The theory is that Contador didn’t use Clenbuterol during the Tour but that he received a blood transfusion. The reason for this speculation is that Contador’s sample reportedly contains high levels of plastic residue which is normal for someone who has had a transfusion.

Contador’s mistake was using a blood sample that was taken while he was using Clenbuterol to get down to race weight.

It should be interesting to see how the UCI rules in this case because cycling certainly doesn’t need another black eye. I think most people outside of our sport already assume that doping is rampant and unfortunately, I’m beginning to agree.

Bring on the Classics.

Fabian Cancellara & the Schleck Brothers at the Team Leopard presentation - Photo: Cycling News/Bettini

Posted in Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, cycling, Frank Schleck, Spring Classics, Tour de France | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Contador using the Landis defense?

The more I think about the absurdity of three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador’s defense, the more laughable it becomes. Does he really expect us to believe that he just happened to eat beef, that was brought in special by his own handlers, and it just happened to contain performance enhancing drugs?

That’s as absurd as Landis telling us that the whiskey he drank the night before his epic stage win mixed with his body chemistry to cause a false positive.

As we know now, Landis was lying through his teeth and went to great lengths and expense to sell his lie.

In the movie Contact, they talk about a theory called Occam’s razor which states “the simplest explanation is more likely the correct one.” Therefore, the more likely scenario in the Contador case is that he took performance enhancing drugs and got caught.

There’s no denying Contador’s talent, however, facing the challenge of Andy Schleck and vastly improved Lance Armstrong may have been enough to create doubts in the Spaniard’s mind and cause him to take the easy road – dope.

Like the Floyd Landis case, I hope I’m wrong because I’m tired of all the doping in my favorite sport. But looking back to the Dauphine, Contador couldn’t even shake Janez Brajkovič which, in my mind, casts even more doubt about his form heading into Le Tour.

The simplest explanation is that Contador doped and cycling has another blemish on its already tarnished image.

Posted in Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, cycling, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Team Schleck signs three more riders

Team Schleck signed three more riders: Anders Lund, Martin Mortensen, and Tom Stamsnijder further solidifying their roster and bringing their rider count to 24 which leaves room for one more. Nearly everyone in the cycling world expects this to be Spartacus himself, Fabian Cancellara.

With the addition of Cancellara, the Luxembourg based team certainly appears to be one of the strongest teams in the pro peloton. With a stable of riders that includes:

  • Andy Schleck
  • Frank Schleck
  • Fabian Cancellara (maybe)
  • Jens Voigt
  • Stuart O’Grady
  • Linus Gerdemann
  • Fabian Wegmann
  • Maxime Monfort
  • Daniele Bennati

Andy Schleck will obviously be the team leader in the Tour de France next year which will leave either the Giro or Tour of California for his brother Frank.

The team should also be quite formidable in the classics as well. The way Cancellara rode the other favorites off his wheel last year was nothing short of super-human. The speculation that he had a motor in his bike was laughable but that didn’t stop the commissars from x-raying his bike at Le Tour.

I know we’re eight months away from the world’s biggest race but the early favorite is Andy Schleck.

Posted in Andy Schleck, cycling, Frank Schleck, Tour de France | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancellara to join the Schlecks?

Cycling News is speculating that time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara will join the Schleck brothers on their new Luxembourg based cycling team.

Both BMC and Team Sky were also rumored to be in the mix to sign Spartacus but according to BMC’s Andy Rihs, Cancellara has not signed the substantial offer they made. BMC also had offered to create a line of bikes around Cancellara, however, that wasn’t enough to sway the Swiss strongman.

I don’t think that it comes as much of a surprise to most cycling fans that Cancellara would choose to ride with the Schlecks. They have taken a significant portion of the Saxo Bank squad with them to join their still un-named team.

Fabian Cancellara

Reports are that Cancellara is set to join Team Schleck

Posted in Andy Schleck, cycling, Frank Schleck, Saxo Bank | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Riis & Saxo Bank sign Contador

Bjarne Riis made two big announcements today:

  1. Saxo Bank has agreed to stay on with Sungard as a sponsor with Specialized bikes remaining as bike sponsor.
  2. He also confirmed speculation that he has inked three-time Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador to a two-year contract.

Certainly this is a step up in team for Contador. Although his Astana team performed well above expectations in the Tour, there is no denying that Saxo Bank is a far superior team even with the loss of the Schleck brothers.

It remains to be seen if Fabian Cancellara will complete the final year of his contract. One would speculate that he will but as often is the case, riders frequently have other teams buy out the final year of their contract so they can join a new team. Will this be the case with Cancellara?

Frank and Andy Schleck still have not announced any details of their new team and if they have secured any title sponsor(s). It still won’t surprise me and I think it would be in their best interest if they join Johan Bruyneel and Team Radio Shack.

I know I stated this a few times during the Tour but given how young the two brothers are, I think they would greatly benefit riding for Bruyneel. He and Riis are the two preeminent director sportifs in the business and the Schleck’s don’t have the experience required to successfully operate a team on their own. Couple this with the fact that Radio Shack does not have a marquis name to ride for them next year and you have all the necessary ingredients for a successful marriage.

It will be interesting to see how it turns out…

Cheers,

Todd

Posted in Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, cycling, Frank Schleck, Ironman, Lance Armstrong, Saxo Bank, Tour de France, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment