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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The UCI finally brought a doping case to a close, 16 months after the initial test came back positive. The case highlights dysfunction at cycling’s governing body. Also, Contador tipped a young sensation as a favourite for the Tour and Van Aert looks set to ride for LottoNL-Jumbo in 2019 after the UCI cleared him to negotiate with teams. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Curious case of Cardoso
André Cardoso’s doping case is finally closed after a year and a half. The UCI handed the Portuguese rider a four-year ban over a year after his positive test for EPO was initially announced. Cardoso was provisionally suspended just days before the start of the 2017 Tour de France where he was slated to be part of Alberto Contador’s bid for one final Grand Boucle title. Trek-Segafredo gained much publicity prior to that Tour, just for all the wrong reasons
Cardoso’s case grew controversial when the UCI announced his B-sample was inconclusive, whereas the A-sample was positive for EPO. Despite this, the UCI still went after a ban and, thus, a lengthy lawyer infused battle ensued. Ultimately, it appears that Cardoso had to give up his fight for innocence due to mounting legal fees.
“I don’t think this is about doping anymore, it now feels like it is about politics,” Cardoso told VeloNews in July. “The UCI knows that I’m not a star, I’m not a millionaire. I don’t have the big money to fight. They do not want to say, ‘Maybe the lab made a mistake,’ because it is easier to just put me out of the sport.”
At the time Cardoso’s agent Joao Correia also wrote on Twitter, ”The saddest day in my professional career as an agent was sitting through the 3 day B sample procedure with a rider I love & respect. To witness the process over the last year has left me dumbfounded by the lack of transparency and accountability by authorities. Silence no more.”
The lengthy Cardoso case and Chris Froome’s Salbutamol saga is not a good look for the UCI. The two cases show evidence of a dysfunctional governing body. This isn’t to say the two decisions by the UCI were or weren’t correct, but merely highlighting the fact these cases took so long to be sorted. Currently, there are 25 riders on the UCI’s provisional banned list dating back to August of 2017.
In a statement, the UCI did not provide full details other than announcing Cardoso had received a four-year ban. But, further explanation is most definitely warranted. Five years on from Lance Armstrong’s confession, the sport of cycling is still trying to work its way out the darkness. However, the UCI is making it difficult by taking a considerable amount of time to make decisions that in the end leave many unsatisfied.
’Gram of the day
Next level car park trick:
Contador tips Bernal at Tour favourite
In an interview with Spanish publication Marca, Contador was asked about Geraint Thomas’ Tour victory, which he called “striking,” but transitioned to tipping Bernal as a Tour favourite. “It was clear that Sky were the favourites and the Welshman was impeccable. He did not make any mistakes and that allowed him to take the win. In any case, I think that in 2019 he will choose the Giro even if he is qualified to win the Tour again. I say it because if Bernal goes to the Tour in full conditions … keep an eye on him. [He] would be my favourite.”
Contador also did not mince words when it came to power meters. The conversation surrounding banning power meters in races has gained traction in recent weeks since Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme called for them to be banned during the presentation of the 2019 Tour route. “I have been one of the most critical in this sense because they eliminate the show,” Contador said. “…It is a very useful apparatus in training because it is key to level up, but in competition, it would be necessary to do without it.”
Watch your socks
The UCI’s sock height regulations are back. This time, the governing body has provided some actual detail as to how sock height should be measured. Will we see UCI commissaires bust out the tape measures next year?
UCI clears Van Aert to find team for 2019
Three-time world cyclocross champion Wout van Aert is able to talk and negotiate with teams for the 2019 road season. The UCI was examining whether Van Aert was able to negotiate with other teams despite his ongoing legal battle. He abruptly broke his contract with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan in September and founded his own program. Veranda’s Willems-Crelan is seeking financial compensation for Van Aert’s sudden departure.
“Today we received the official message from the UCI legal unit that Wout van Aert can negotiate freely with a new employer, provided that the transfer is completed before 31 December 2018,” Van Aert’s lawyer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, said according to Sporza.
“That means that from now on Wout can start negotiations with a new team so that he can get to the start of the upcoming cycling season on the road. Wout is very relieved after a difficult period with a lot of unrest about his person.”
LottoNL-Jumbo, becoming Team Jumbo in 2019, seems to be the most likely landing spot for Van Aert. He already had a contract in place with the team for the 2020 season. It remains to be seen how Veranda’s Willems-Crelan will react to the UCI’s decision and how legal matters between the team and van Aert will proceed. It is understood that should Belgian courts rule in favour of Veranda’s Willems-Crelan that Van Aert unlawfully broke his contract, the UCI could take further action against the rider.
For much of the peloton, the offseason is officially over and training for the 2019 season has begun. Although, ASO’s Shanghai Criterium this upcoming weekend will see many stars, including Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), race along the city’s streets.
A select few will not make the trip to China due to injury. Tanel Kangert, who will move from Astana to EF Education-Drapac in 2019, withdrew last week due to an arm injury. Katusha-Alpecin’s Rick Zabel suffered a broken collarbone this week and Sagan’s brother, Juraj, also reportedly is out with a broken foot.
In case you missed it …
A day in the life: When it comes to being a globe-trotting sports reporter, lost luggage, delayed flights and emergency landings are just part of the job. But Eurosport international sports journalist Aaron S. Lee wouldn’t have it any other way.
Contador’s career in pictures: In preparation of El Pistolero’s appearance at the Giro della Donna, we take a look back at his career from the early days to his final triumph at the Vuelta a Espana.
Gallery: Part four from the Philly Bike Expo. Featured in this instalment is Fat Chance’s Slim Chance TIG-welded steel road bike, Breadwinner Cycles’ gorgeous steel 29er hardtail, Bianchi’s interpretation of the steel adventure bike, and more.
Feature Image: A throwback to EF Education First-Drapac reconning the Koppenberg ahead of this year’s Tour of Flanders.