Saturday, 22 December 2012

Saturday Shorts: No Classics For Ballan, Schleck: I'm Here To Win, Leipheimer: Leinders Was Doping Dr, 2005 Vuelta Fiasco

 
There is not long now until Christmas, which means that the 2013 season is edging closer. Unfortunately much of the recent news remains firmly focused on the past, and in the case of Alessandro Ballan the crux of his 2013 season looks to already be over...

Alessandro Ballan: No Spring Classics, New Kidney Required?

Alessandro Ballan was involved in an accident during his teams training camp last week: "Ballan was reaching down for his water bottle when the teammate immediately in font of him slowed down. Ballan was unable to stop, and still in the saddle, flew into the mountainside at a speed of 50-55 km/h. It is believed that the handlebars impacted with his spleen." In yet another display of cycling hardmen, Ballan actually managed to walk to the ambulance though he has since had his spleen removed and been told he's fractured his femur and three ribs. His kidney was also badly bruised and it has yet to be decided whether the kidney will need to be removed. Whether or not that happens, it looks highly likely that Ballan will miss out on the classics season, which is of course his favourite part of the year...

Andy Schleck: "Frank Or No Frank, I'm Here To Win."

Andy Schleck has done a number of interviews lately and in each he has stressed that he will continue racing even if brother Frank receives a ban for his positive test at the Tour. The possible loss of Frank could be a good thing for Andy, it means more focus on racing and less focus on looking out for his brother - something both Schlecks have come to be noted for in recent years. Andy says he will take to the start of all of his races in 2013 with one aim: to win. It's a shift in attitude that we have all been waiting for - often Andy has been disinterested especially last season which became a nightmare for him, he's also been accused of only riding for the Tour and ignoring the rest of the season. If you read here regularly you will know that I'm not the biggest fan of the Schleck Brothers, but if Andy's attitude has changed then it could make for some exciting racing next year as he is actually a really aggressive, attacking rider. He will be starting his season early this year and riding regularly throughout to refind his 2011 form, his first WorldTour race next year will be the Santos Tour Down Under on January 22nd, though he may take to the start of the Peoples Choice Classic two days prior to that...

Levi Leipheimer: "Sky Doctor Leinders Helped Riders To Dope".

It has emerged that Leipheimer told the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong that Dr Leinders was central to doping on the Rabobank team. Leiders worked for Sky in 2012 but when questions began to be asked about the Sky Doctors position on the British team, Dave Brailsford was forced to investigate the Doctors history and as a result Leinders contract at Sky wasn't extended into 2013. At the time talk of Leinders being 'shady' was just hearsay (though hearsay Brailsford claimed he had never heard of!) but Leipheimers revelation makes it almost a certainty now. There is no suggestion that Leinders 'helped' any riders at Sky...

2005 Vuelta: From One Doper To Another

In 2005 Roberto Heras won the Vuelta a Espana but was later found to have tested positive for EPO during the race. The Spanish cycling federation banned him for two years and stripped him of the title in 2006 which later ended up in the hands of Rabobank rider Denis Menchov (who has also fallen fowl to anti-doping regulations). Heras took his case to the Civil Courts which overturned the ruling of the SCF and when the SCF appealed to the Supreme Court, the Court ruled in favour of the Civil outcome. Heras once again finds himself winner of the 2005 Vuelta, much to his own delight: “I received the news with great joy. I was hopeful but did not have excessive illusions. It was a big decision for me and I am happy to again have the Vuelta 2005. I never stopped feeling like the winner of the Vuelta and I have great memories of that win." Heras was also the winner in 2000, 2003 and 2004. The main issue here isn't that Heras has won his case, it's that the Spanish Authorities, already under much scrutiny for their stance on 'anti-doping', have effectively handed back a Grand Tour title to an EPO user. Not the best message to be sending out in the current climate...

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