Bio passport woes; viva Colombia; Hinault’s punch: Daily News Digest

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

The biological passport was hit by the legal system once again, Tour Colombia had us all pining for year-round attacking, Alexey Lutsenko has gone two-for-two, and there’s going to be more Lance Armstrong on TV. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Ibai Salas has biological passport ban overturned

In another blow for the potency of the biological passport program, Spanish rider Ibai Salas had a three-year, nine-month ban overturned by the Administrative Court for Sport (TAD) earlier this month, according to Europa Press.

The strength of the biological passport, which tracks key blood and urine markers over time to help detect various types of doping that are difficult to catch with a traditional test, has been under threat for years, dating back to Roman Kreuziger’s case half a decade ago. That case went all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The UCI and WADA dropped their appeal to the CAS case in June, 2015. Kreuziger was free to ride, and the passport was dealt its first defeat.

This all matters for the health of the sport. The implementation of the biological passport in cycling in 2008 is seen as a turning point for cycling, as much if not more important than USADA’s Reasoned Decision and its aftermath. The passport is commonly considered to have helped usher out the free-for-all era in cycling, forcing even riders determined to cheat to use far less effective methods. It was, and remains, imperfect. That doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Salas’ case adds to the precedent, on the back of Kreuziger’s and others’ defeat of the passport in court, that the passport cannot be used to sanction riders. This takes away the program’s teeth, downgrading it to merely a way to help target traditional testing.

According to the court, the biological passport “is not sufficient to prove the commission of an infringement.” If upheld, that makes the passport little more than a very expensive targeting tool.

Salas’ Burgos BH teammate, David Belda, was sanctioned for EPO use in 2017, and another teammate, Igor Merino, is currently provisionally suspended following a positive for growth hormone. Because three riders were hit with doping charges, the whole team was suspended from January 16 to February 5th of this year.

The UCI was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

Beauty of Cycling

Anybody who was lucky enough to catch the final two stages of the Tour Colombia knows they were something special. And, unfortunately, something out of the ordinary.

The impromptu near-trackstand competition with less than one kilometer to go was the icing on the cake. Superman Lopez and his arch-nemesis, Ivan “The Terrible” Sosa, stared each other down, weaving across the final climb to Alto de Palmas in a tiny-man match sprint played out at 8,500 feet.

Around the corner came Nairoman and he, too, joined in the games, briefly, before punching it up the left-hand side in the same moment Superman tacked right, cutting off Ivan The Terrible (I don’t think he has a nickname yet, so this is my suggestion) at a crucial moment. Nairoman flew, alone, over the crest of the climb with his arms in the air to chants of “NAIRO, NAIRO, NAIRO.”

Even with a fan-induced incident, the finale of the Tour Colombia sparkled in a way most European stage races don’t, these days. And not just because organizers handed bags of confetti to everyone in the final few hundred meters.

The racing was just better. In a column today, we wonder why.

Race Radio

Lutsenko fastest in Oman, again
Alexy Lutsenko won his second consecutive stage in Oman, taking the overall race lead after three stages. The win is Astana’s fifth victory in four days.

Lutsenko won the overall in Oman last year, and seems to have found the same vein of early form. The 192km third stage was blasted by wind and split into echelons, but the Astana rider stayed calm and was able to take a heavily reduced sprint win into Qurayyat.

Helen Wyman retires from cyclocross
British pro Helen Wyman, 36, is retiring from professional cyclocross, but promised to stick around and continue to promote women’s racing and grassroots cyclocross programs.

In an increasingly competitive sport you cannot achieve what you are capable of without huge desire. If I continued I feel I would not be doing myself justice; that’s not how I would ever want to be remembered,” Wyman wrote in her retirement announcement.

Our own Neal Rogers caught up with Wyman today. That interview will be in this week’s CyclingTips Podcast, which comes out tomorrow.

Lance Armstrong News

He’s going to be in a documentary series on ESPN, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tech News

Rally driver, Youtube star and all-round adrenaline junky, Ken Block, has a new Specialized Stumpjumper. We thought the glow-in-the-dark paint scheme was well worth sharing:

Moving pictures

You’ve seen the photo, but have you seen the video? This is film from Bernard Hinault’s famous protester punch.

Happy Birthday to …

Former world time trial champ Amber Neben (44).

In case you missed it …

Feature Image: Not the iconic image of Bernard Hinault throwing punches, but one that shows how he earned the nickname ‘the Badger’. Image by Cor Vos.

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