Cardoso fights ban; Thomas comments on Wiggins; Chaves’ health: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

André Cardoso, who was handed a four-year ban last week by the UCI, has vowed to prove his innocence. Geraint Thomas didn’t mince words when commenting on Bradley Wiggins and Esteban Chaves is looking to 2019 after a sickness riddled season. Also, American multi-discipline phenom Christopher Blevins will focus on only one form of racing next season. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Cardoso to continue to fight ban

In a lengthy Facebook post, André Cardoso blasted the UCI for taking so long to come to a decision to ban him for four years stemming for a positive test that occurred in June of 2017 and said he intends to raise funds to fight the ban. Cardoso admitted in the post that the ban has effectively ended his career. He will be just a few months shy of his 37th birthday.

André Cardoso during Trek-Segafredo’s 2017 pre-season training camp in Tenerife. Photo: Kristof Ramo.

Cardoso’s case was a curious one considering the length of time it took the UCI to ban the Portuguese rider. His positive test for EPO was revealed just days before the 2017 Tour de France and stemmed from a June 18 out-of-competition doping control. Furthermore, while the A-sample showed EPO, the B-sample came back inconclusive. The UCI fought hard to ban Cardoso and after a year of legal bills piling up, Cardoso was ultimately banned. However, he has remained steadfast in his innocence.

The 34-year-old revealed new details surrounding the day the test occurred in an attempt to prove he was not doping. “I would also like to point out that the out-of-competition test in question was held outside of my designated schedule and that I opened the door knowing who was there,” Cardoso said. “If I was involved in something illegal, I could have simply stayed inside without fear of repercussions. I know this does not prove my innocence but I would like to think that it shows how open and involved I have always been in the fight against doping.”

Cardoso has also hired Douwe de Boer, a leading anti-doping expert who was the scientific director of the IOC and WADA accredited Portuguese Anti-Doping Laboratory in Lisbon from 1998-2004, to review his case.

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Thomas: ‘Brad’s got a book to sell’

Geraint Thomas (Sky) has found Bradley Wiggins’ publicity tour for his new book titled “Icons” unamusing. The current Tour de France champion didn’t mince words when speaking at the Shanghai criterium over the weekend.

“Brad’s got a book to sell,” Thomas told AFP. “He does not have to worry about anything, either. He does not have to race his bike and deal with journalists. He can just say what he wants and do any interview he wants so he can say something like that and get a load of publicity.”

Wiggins has made many controversial comments of late, the least of which was calling Lance Armstrong the “perfect” Tour champion. A chapter of Wiggins’ book is all about the Texan and Wiggins growing up watching him. He later raced against Armstrong at the 2009 Tour, battling against his childhood hero for the final spot on the podium. Wiggins finished fourth overall, while Armstrong took third.

Thomas and Wiggins after the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix. The duo finished seventh and ninth respectively. Photo: Kristof Ramon

Thomas is slated to return to training this week in preparation for the 2019 season. He has not yet publicly decided whether he will focus on the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France. Many suspect that Thomas will be forced to battle for the overall title at the Giro and be a domestique at the Tour for Chris Froome. Froome is going all-in for a fifth Tour title in 2019 after coming up short this year as he attempted the Giro/Tour double.

Chaves looks to 2019 after sickness filled season

The opening week of the Giro d’Italia started so well for Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott). He climbed to as high as third overall, saw a teammate wear the maglia rosa and won the stage atop Mount Etna. However, those would be the only highlights in a season that ended in Rome along with the Giro. Chaves suffered from mononucleosis throughout the next months, fighting to get back to normal health much less race fitness. With that now behind him, the Colombian is looking toward 2019 and another shot at the Giro.

“Now everything is fine, it was a very difficult moment, we found what it was [mononucleosis] and we are treating it but we must continue to control it,” Chaves told Ciclo21. “After this process, we have to believe and continue dreaming as always.”

Esteban Chaves’ smiling face should be back in 2019 now that he’s over the sickness that derailed this season. Photo: Cor Vos

Chaves’ 2019 program has yet to be decided, but the rumour is he will return to the Giro. He finished second there in 2016. He also told Ciclo21 he would love to race in his home country’s race, the six-day Tour Colombia (formerly Colombia Oro y Paz) in February. The race has yet to confirm all of the teams and whether Mitchelton-Scott will be participating.

Dutch dominance at ‘cross World Cup

Mathieu van der Poel (Correndon-Circus) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) were victorious at the fourth round of the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Tabor, Czech Republic this past weekend.

The Dutch dominated both the elite men’s and elite women’s races as van der Poel was joined on the podium by countryman Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea) in third. Belgian Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) finished second.

Brand’s fellow countrywoman Annemarie Worst (Steylaerts-777) took the runner-up spot to make it a Dutch one-two in the women’s race. Worst’s teammate Alice Arzuffi rounded out the podium.

Blevins going all-in on MTB

American sensation Christopher Blevins is committing 100-percent to mountain bike racing next season. The Specialized-sponsored rider finished runner-up at the world championships in the under-23 men’s cross-country race. After balancing elite road racing and world cup level mountain biking for the past few years, he decided to go all-in for the latter.

Blevins had spent the last two seasons with Hagens Berman Axeon team. This year, he won a stage of the 2.2-rated Tour of Gila and finished fifth on the opening stage of the Colorado Classic in August. He is also the current U.S. under-23 men’s national cyclocross champion and elite short-track mountain bike champion.

“I never forget how cool it is to come together with teammates from all over the world, and I’ll never take for granted the bonds that are built throughout this sport,” Blevins wrote. “It’s something that extends beyond just bike racing. The Axeon family faced a lot of tragedies and triumphs in the last two years, and I’m thankful to have had some amazing teammates by my side through it all.”

Moving Pictures

Shanghai Criterium highlights

’Gram of the day

In Memoriam …

Jacques Anquetil was the first rider to capture five victories at the Tour de France. The Frenchman was a force to be reckoned with during the 1950s and 1960s. He also has two Giro d’Italia titles on his resume. His nickname was Monsieur Chrono for his ability against the clock and how he demolished his rivals in the time trial.

Despite being a titan in cycling during his era of dominance, Anquetil struggled to catch the eye of the French public. Instead, his arch-rival Raymond Poulidor, who never wore the yellow jersey and finished second eight times at the Tour, captured the spotlight.

Anquetil retired in 1969 and while he stopped riding from that moment on, he continued to work in cycling. He managed a French team and worked for L’Équipe during the Tour.

He passed away on this date in 1987 at the age of 53 of stomach cancer.

Jacques Anquetil (right) and Bernard Hinault at the 1986 Coors Classic. Photo: Cor Vos

Feature Image: A packed Kupike velodrome during the Ghent Six track event this week.

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