With the Tour not long finished, there’s been plenty happening amongst the pro ranks. Here’s a roundup of all that has happened recently.
The end for Discovery
Tailwind Sports, the owners of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team, have decided to call it a day. The end of the 2007 cycling season will mark the end of the most successful team in the last decade, with eight Tour de France victories to their name.
“Tailwind has had an amazing ten years of success with U.S. Postal and more recently Discovery Channel as its title sponsor. This is arguably the most successful sports franchise in the history of sport,” stated General Manager Bill Stapleton. “This was a difficult decision, not made any easier by our recent Tour de France success. We were in talks with a number of companies about the opportunity and were confident a new sponsor was imminent. We have chosen, however, to end those discussions.”
The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team will continue to race its full calendar of Pro Tour races including the final grand tour of the season, the Tour of Spain, as well as the upcoming Tour of Missouri.
T-Mobile to continue support for cycling
Following speculation that T-Mobile might pull out of the professional cycling scene following recent doping revelations, it’s been confirmed that the telecommunications company will stay in cycling.
“We want to prove a point through consistency and reliability, which this sport is in great need of”, said Hamid Akhavan, Chairman of the Board of T-Mobile International and Bord Member of Deutsche Telekom AG. “We want to continue to accompany cycling and support it in its effort to become a cleaner sport.”
Team Manager Bob Stapleton added: “As someone with a long history with the T-Mobile, I understand completely the concerns that exist. I am very pleased with the decision made by T-Mobile to continue its sponsorship of cycling but am aware of the big challenges that lie ahead. The challenge for us as a team is two-fold – to do the very best we can to be a clean and successful team; and to push for real and credible change within the sport in order to restore credibility to it.”
Astana’s Andrej Kashechkin tests positive
As if Alexandre Vinokourov’s doping revelation wasn’t bad enough, it’s been confirmed today that fellow-Kazakh and Astana team member Andrej Kashechkin has tested positive for a homologuous blood
transfusion. The unexpected test was carried out on 1 August. Kashechkin has been suspended from the team until the results of the B sample are made clear.
Cavendish on winning form in Denmark
Taking his 7th victory of the year, in his first season as a pro, Mark Cavendish won the last stage of the Tour of Denmark. Following a perfect leadout, Cavendish sprinted to his win ahead of Juan Jose Haedo.
“He just powered it.” said team manager Brian Holm. “It was a classic 400 metre final straight finish, and Mark had all the team help he needed to get up there and win.”
“Two laps from the finish, there wasn’t anybody from the team on the front, and I was getting annoyed,” said Cavendish after the stage. “But I said to myself ‘ok, just let it go – but if they mess things up, I’ll be giving them a real roasting tonight. Instead they sorted things out – Servais Knaven knows how to organise it all -and we won.”
David Millar wins British Championships
On the back of a strong Tour de France campaign, David Millar won the British National Road Race Championship, held in Abergavenny, Wales, last Sunday. Millar has also swapped teams, signing for the American team, Slipstream/Chipotle. He’ll be joined by Magnus Backstedt and David Zabriske.
“This win is massive for me. It means a huge amount,” said Millar. “I have wanted this jersey for the whole of my career. I’ve had close calls and I have spat the dummy out a couple of times in this race before. I think I have matured with age and managed to control my temper a bit better. I am pretty proud of being British. A week after the Tour I felt bad all day today. I was tired and my legs were bad. Your perception is weird. I was off the front and my legs were hurting but I was going damn fast. I can just keep doing it as well.”
David Millar and Bradley Wiggins to ride the Tour of Pendle
Wiggins and Millar will join the 120 riders signed up for the Tour of Pendle this Sunday. Millar and Wiggins are both delighted to be able to show their abilities to a home crowd. Millar will be wearing the distinctive British Champion’s white jersey with red, white and blue bands, having won the National Road Race Championship last weekend, whilst Olympic Gold Medallist Wiggins is a familiar sight on local roads, having finished a close second in the Colne Grand Prix race in 2004.
The 96 mile race starts from Nelson Town Hall at 9.30am, and passes through Brierfield (Glenway) and Fence (A6068), followed by three loops around Pendle Hill, racing through Barrowford (A682), Blacko, Gisburn, A59 Clitheroe By-Pass, Spring Wood near Whalley (A671), Read, Simonstone, Higham and the Fence by-pass. On completion of the third lap, riders turn into Carr Road, pass through Nelson and Brierfield again, climbing up Cuckstools Lane before returning to the Fence By-Pass and turning into Carr Road again to finish in Nelson Town Centre around 1.00pm. Schedule of timings below.
The event is part of the Pendle Bike Fest, which aims to promote tourism and inward investment by drawing attention to the area’s beautiful countryside, whilst encouraging local people to enjoy the health and environmental benefits of cycling.
Alberto Contador declares he won the Tour cleanly
Not long after stepping off the top step of the podium in Paris with the yellow jersey, Alberto Contador was giving a special press conference this week at the Superior Council of Deportes (sports council) in Madrid, Spain, to declare he won the race clean and fair.
Reading a statement, he said “I won the Tour with clean means. I do not understand the attacks against me from people that don’t even know me. I never doped and never participated in any doping scandal.” This follows allegations that he was involved in the Operation Puerto doping case.
Team Barloworld line-up next race
After a strong Tour de France which ended with two unexpected stage wins, the British registered team will be back in action at the Vuelta a Burgos race from 14-18 August. Both Robert Hunter and Maruricio Soler will be hoping to continue their good form from the TdF.