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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
For the second day in-a-row a doping ban dominates cycling’s headlines. Also, Operación Puerto looks set to close without the full list of names of those involved being revealed. LottoNL-Jumbo is reluctant to sign Wout van Aert due to his ongoing legal battle. And, newly retired racer Simon Gerrans is heading into the investment field. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Ruffoni’s ban from Giro positive upheld by CAS
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected Italian Nicola Ruffoni’s appeal of a four-year ban and upheld that he did commit an anti-doping violation. Ruffoni tested positive for growth hormone in an out-of-competition on April 25, 2017. The positive was announced on the eve of the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia, a race he was slated to participate in for Bardiani-CSF. The UCI then sanctioned Ruffoni for four years in December of last year.
Ruffoni’s positive sample coupled with his teammate Stefano Pirazzi’s positive sample for growth hormone as well sent the cycling world into a frenzy on the eve of the first grand tour of the season. Pirazzi’s positive stemmed from an out-of-competition test taken a day after Ruffoni. Both riders attended the Giro 100’s team presentation before later that evening the positive tests were announced. Bardiani-CSF was forced to start the race with seven riders.
After B-samples were also positive for both riders, Ruffoni and Pirazzi were fired by Bardiani-CSF. The Italian Pro Continental team was also suspended from racing for 30 days in June of 2017 in accordance with UCI rules that says a team with two positives in the span of 12 months is eligible for suspension for 15-45 days.
Pirazzi was also given a four-year suspension for his positive.
The Beauty of Cycling
Sending it into the weekend:
Disclaimer: CyclingTips does not recommend attempting this at home on an open road with the risks associated with vehicles present.
Riders involved in Operación Puerto may never be revealed
Spanish Courts rejected an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to receive the blood bags seized in the Operación Puerto raid of 2006, according to Spanish newspaper AS. Last month, the names of athletes involved in one of sports more damaging doping rings looked set to be revealed as the Spanish Courts approved the release of the blood bags to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). CONI is responsible for tying world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to one of the blood bags. However, CONI declined to accept the bags, which prompted WADA to seek to get the evidence.
WADA has long sought to identify the 26 male and three female athletes who participated in doping practices headed by Spanish doctor Euramiano Fuentes. The agency has fought the Spanish Courts for many years over publicly identifying the names of the blood bags. In June of last year, WADA was blocked from naming those involved because the 10-year limit on taking action for sanctions had passed.
WADA’s lawyers and data experts are expected to fight this latest ruling and a final court decision on the matter is expected in May. Don’t get your hopes up though, it appears that one of sports most damning doping cases will be closed without knowing everyone who participated.
Tour champ Thomas behind in training due to media obligations
Reigning Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) has been enjoying his offseason as winner of the Grand Boucle, but there is a downside to winning cycling’s biggest race. The Welshman has had an increase in media and sponsor obligations this autumn and has not yet started preparing for next season.
“Normally I resume training on November 1, now I am three weeks behind. I’m not worried about that, there’s plenty of time, but do not expect me to [have] a sensational start,” Thomas told Belgian news agency Belga prior to ASO’s Shanghai Criterium. He is in Asia for Saturday’s promotional race and will begin preparations for 2019 once he returns to Europe.
Thomas’ offseason has not been without controversy as his Tour de France winner’s trophy was stolen from the Cycle Show at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, United Kingdom in October. The trophy has yet to recovered.
LottoNL hesitant to sign van Aert
WorldTour outfit LottoNL-Jumbo has pumped the brakes on signing cyclocross star Wout van Aert to its 2019 squad. The multi-time world champion was granted permission by the UCI a day ago to seek a ride on the road for next year. Van Aert was slated to joing the Dutch-based program in 2020, but he broke his contract with Verandas Willems-Crelan in September opening the door to race in the WorldTour next season. However, both sides are currently entangled in a legal battle over the matter.
“It is too early to say anything sensible about this,” LottoNL-Jumbo team manager Richard Plugge told WielerFlits. “I have heard the news, but that does not change the situation for us for the time being. There must also be more clarity about liability.”
Van Aert could be sanctioned by the UCI is Belgian courts find that he left Verandas Willems-Crelan unlawfully.
Alaphilippe to start Strade Bianche and Tirreno in 2019
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) tipped his cards on the first half of his 2019 season, which will again centre around the Ardennes classics where he will be the defending champion at Fleche Wallonne. He season will start in South America at the Vuelta a San Juan followed by the six-day Colombia Oro y Paz. Alaphilippe will also race Strade Bianche, where he is sure to be a favourite, and also race Tirreno-Adriatico prior to Milano-Sanremo. He finished third at La Primavera in 2017.
The Frenchman, who is being honoured in his hometown of Saint-Amand-Montrond today, was victorious on 12 occasions in 2018. Alaphilippe’s season was quite remarkable considering he had only won six times during his first four years racing in cycling’s top tier. Wins included two stages at the Tour de France, as well as the King of the Mountains competition, and also the tough one-day Clasica San Sebastian.
Alaphilippe was coy went it came to the 2019 Tour de France and his goals for the Grand Boucle. “Frankly it’s still very early. I do not think about it at all,” Alaphilippe told Le Berry Républicain. “Yes, of course, the route looks pretty difficult. There should be nice opportunities [for myself]. But let’s not go too fast, we still have time to study all that.”
Tweet of the day
Multi-time Australian national road champion Simon Gerrans has found a landing spot for his post-racing career at Goldman Sachs. Gerrans, a two-time Monument winner (Milano-Sanremo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege), announced via Twitter he will work out of the investment bank’s London office. His title will be that of intern in the Securities Division. In 2016, Goldman Sachs launched an athlete internship programme for individuals that had achieved success in their sport.
Advanced Sports International, owner of Fuji Bikes and Performance Bicycle, to file for Chapter 11
A letter from Advanced Sports International’s (ASI) CEO Patrick Cunnane has been sent to retailers warning the company will be filing for Chapter 11 reorganization. The letter states that ASI’s wholesale business, including brands of Fuji Bikes, Breezer Bikes, Oval Components, Kestrel USA and SE Bikes continues to beat market expectations. However, it’s the retail front, including owned Performance Bicycle retail chain and BikeNashbar.com, that’s proven a challenge since acquiring the businesses some two years ago.
The letter states “Performance and Bike Nashbar will also continue to operate although we will be closing or selling some Performance Bicycle locations as part of the Chapter 11 process. We will learn as we go through this process which stores and which locations will be shutting down.” The company expects it to be business as usual for customers and consumers.
Happy Birthday to …
Stefan Küng (25), the Swiss time trial specialist is a two-time national champion against the clock. After spending his first four years in the WorldTour with BMC Racing, he is jumping to the French squad Groupama-FDJ in 2019 on a two-year contract.
Featured Image: By Ashley and Jered Gruber, a snowy dirt road somewhere in Sweden.