Cycle, crash, cycle, crash, cycle thread

Looking forward to this already. When you get a good stage in this event it rivals, if not betters any other sport for pure excitiment. Anybody have any knowledge of the riders form recently? Below are the odds for the race. Basso looks a little overpriced given his pedigree though I’m not aware of how he has been doing recently. If he was anything like the Basso of old surely he should win it easily though. I am waiting for therock67 to plunge on Vinokourov.
I Basso 12 - 5 A Kashechkin 28 - 1 H Zubeldia 66 - 1
A Vinokourov 5 - 2 M Fothen 33 - 1 T Valjavec 66 - 1
A Valverde 10 - 3 Y Popovych 40 - 1 B Kohl 66 - 1
A Kloden 8 - 1 I Mayo 40 - 1 D Millar 80 - 1
L Leipheimer 12 - 1 T Danielson 40 - 1 C Dessel 100 - 1
C Sastre 14 - 1 O Pereiro Sio 50 - 1 A Merckx 100 - 1
D Menchov 18 - 1 M Boogerd 50 - 1 J Voigt 100 - 1
C Evans 20 - 1 D Cunego 50 - 1 P Caucchioli 100 - 1
F Schleck 25 - 1 M Rasmussen 50 - 1 T Boonen 500 - 1
M Rogers 25 - 1 C Moreau 50 - 1 R Mcewen 500 - 1

Re: Tour De France 2007

Paris-Roubaix takes place on Sunday. Anyone know if it’s on Eurosport?

Watched the end of Paris-Nice the other week and it was a cracking finish. Rebellin in the yellow jersey was in a breakaway with a couple of his main rivals with no teammates. He chased down every breakaway on his own until on the last climb Contador got away and beat him by 30 seconds - gap was 11 seconds I think. Rebellin was trying to chase him all by himself but he had no support.

Hell of the North sums up the cycle of life and death

Harry Pearson
April 12, 2007 11:59 PM

A few years ago I travelled up to the Cairngorms to write an article about shinty. It was December and so cold even the air had turned blue. Shinty is a swashbuckling sport, the Errol Flynn version of hockey. The ball was blasted about and the curved sticks cleaved the heavy atmosphere like claymores. “Do a lot of people get injured playing this?” I said to the bundle of clothes standing next to me. “Not at all, not at all,” the man inside them replied in a Highland accent that wasn’t so much lilting as capering o’er hill and dale. "For yourself now, it would be dangerous, naturally. But these lads have played since they left the cradle. They can anticipate the flight of the ball and the movement of the sticks as surely . . . " At which point our conversation was interrupted by the dull thunk of wood on skull and cries of “Doctor, doctor!” from the pitch.

After the wounded player had been sent off to hospital in Inverness, the gash above his eye flapping like a second mouth, I said to the man, “So that doesn’t happen very often, then?” “Oh no,” he replied cheerily, “very rarely. Hardly ever more than once a game.”

Just as when the dentist tells you that “this won’t hurt a bit” you know to brace yourself, so it is with sport. The more violent and dangerous it is, the more people talk up its safety. The opposite holds true. Football, for instance, is constantly marred by horrific and shameful brawls, brutal fracas and mass fights from which, mysteriously, everyone emerges without a nick or a scratch. And whenever some fat bloke heaves himself over the advertising hoarding and waddles on to the pitch before being lead away by stewards like a lost toddler, we are reminded by commentators that “he could have had a knife”. (And so he could, of course. Though he might equally have had a Dundee cake, a box of fairtrade chocolates or a congratulatory telegram from Imelda Marcos.)

Generally, the more a sport struts and sneers and pronounces its machismo, the less masculine it really is. There are exceptions, however. One of them occurs on Sunday. The Paris-Roubaix bicycle race is nicknamed “the Hell of the North” and it lives up to its billing. The course runs through the killing grounds of Arras and the Somme, across sections of teeth-loosening cobbles and muddy tracks, traditionally through a lumpy squall of horizontal rain.

When the Belgian Johan Museeuw crashed a few years ago, he almost lost a leg to gangrene. Even the 1981 winner, Bernard Hinault, denounced Paris-Roubaix as sadistic. The Breton was a man of legendary belligerence who boasted that the only reason he attended school was because he was guaranteed a fist fight and who spent his spare time blowing up badger setts with dynamite.

My mate Steve and I used to go and watch European bike races regularly, but we only got to Paris-Roubaix once. Our method was a simple one. We picked an interesting section of the course and sat in a bar watching on TV until the race approached. We watched most of Paris-Roubaix in a bar on the outskirts of Lille. It was one of those northern French street-corner boozers with florid 70s wallpaper, a poster of Vanessa Paradis and a view through the back into the owner’s sitting room where, in obeisance to some ancient law, there always seemed to be a canary in a cage and an old lady dozing in an armchair. The customers had the kind of mashed up, booze-and-black tobacco mushes that made Serge Gainsbourg look like Cristiano Ronaldo.

We had watched races in bars in Belgium, Spain and Italy, accompanied by shouts and laughter. The Hell of the North was different. People regarded the screen mordantly, like alcoholics staring at the first drink of the day. The peloton entered the cobbled stretch of road known as the Arenberg Trench. Dust clouds filled the air, spectators lined the route so thickly the riders seemed in danger of being crushed. A cyclist broke away. Nobody asked who it was. Leading seemed immaterial. Survival alone was a victory.

As the race neared Hem we got up to go out and watch it pass. The man who had sat silently beside us for the previous three hours, drinking brandy, chain smoking and farting so diabolically that in the Middle Ages they’d have called the Inquisition, introduced himself as Pascal and offered us a lift in his 2CV. It was a memorable journey, during which I found it hard to decide whether we were more likely to die in a collision with a lamp post or a mephitic fireball of ignited methane.

Pascal abandoned the car on a bridge over the E15 motorway. While we waited he whipped a copy of L’Equipe out of his back-pocket, held it in front of his groin in respect for public decency, and urinated mightily into the gutter. As we watched the foaming yellow stream flow past, Steve remarked mildly, “You can say what you like about the French, but they certainly understand the art of life.” The Hell of the North: you can believe it.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Decent article. It is on Eurosport at half three on Sunday. Below are odds from paddypower for the race.Cancellara, F 7 - 4 Pozzato, F 14 - 1 Backstadt, M 25 - 1
Boonen, T 7 - 2 Wesemann, S 16 - 1 Hushovd, T 25 - 1
Hoste, L 9 - 1 Paolini, L 20 - 1 O’Grady, S 28 - 1
Ballan, A 10 - 1 Flecha J, A 20 - 1 Gilbert, P 28 - 1
Gussev, V 14 - 1 Devolder, S 25 - 1 Vaitkus, T 28 - 1
Burghardt, M 14 - 1 Bennati, D 25 - 1 Eisel, B 33 - 1
Van Petegem, P 14 - 1 Guesdon, F 25 - 1 Klier, A 33 - 1

Re: Tour De France 2007

Tom Boonen is my tip for the race. Can’t find odds on Paddy or Ladbrokes though because it’s started by now. Eurosport are only showing the end of the race. Should have figured that out from the 3:30 start I suppose.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Progress so far:

Burghardt punctures
Marcus Burghardt has punctured. After his crash earler in the race, it is a tough day for the Gent-Wevelgem winner.
Lars Michaelsen leads the bunch
Lars Michaelsen leads the peloton with his CSC team-mates and last years winner Fabian Cancellara. It is the Danes last race as he announced on Saturday he was putting an end to his career. Michaelsen, 38, won Gent-Wevelgem in 1995.
Peloton five minutes adrift
The peloton was five minutes off the pace in Denain at kilometre 152.
Grabsch only 10 kms from Arenberg
Ralf Grabsch leads by 1:15 with 10 kms left before the Arenberg “trench”.
Grabsch leads by 50 seconds
Ralf Grabsch leads by 50 seconds in cobbled sector 20.
35 seconds for Grabsch
Ralf Grabsch now leads his 29 former companions by 35 seconds as he enters cobbled portion number 20 (km 144.5)
Grabsch alone in sector 21
Ralf Grabsch leads his former breakaway companions by 10 seconds in cobbled sector 21 (km 142).
Ralf Grabsch attacks
German Ralf Grabsch (Milram) has attacked in cobbled sector 22.
Puncture for Pozzato
Het Volk winner Flilippo Pozzato (Liquigas) has punctured.
Average speed in third hour
The average speed in the third hour of the race was 41.5 kph. The overall average speed was 45 kph.
Latest gap 4:30
The lead of the 30 escapees at kilometre 135 was 4:30.
Beppu crashes
Japanese champion Fumiyuki Beppu is discovering Paris-Roubaix the hard way. He crashed after cobbled sector 23 but can still claim to have become the first Japanese rider to have ridden on the cobbles of the Hell of the North. He made it back on his bike after his crash.
Gap reaches 5:25
The lead of the 30 leaders - Breschel has made it back into the leaing group after a puncture - reached 5:25 at the end of cobbled sector 24.
The leading group comprises 29 riders
Into cobbled sector number 24, Breschel, Roberts, Portal, Bacquet and Klier having been dropped, the leading group included 29 riders: OGrady (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quck Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), Bert Grabsch, Hammond, (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor Lotto), Valentin (Cofidis), Ralf Grabsch (Milram), Lhotellerie, Goesinnen (Skil Shimano), Putsep (Bouygues Telecom), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Rojas (Caisse dEpargne), Kopp, Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean, Engoulevent (Credit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Irinondo (Eusklatel), Mikhailov (Astana), Wagner and Pollack (Team Wiesenhof).
Gap increases
The gap between what remains of the leading group and the main bunch reaches 5:05 at kilometre 116.
Gap reaches 4:45
The gap reaches 4:45 at kilometre 114.5.
Into cobbled section number 25
The gap reaches 4:30 at kilometre 111. The peloton are now entering cobbled sector 25 in St Python (km 112).
Hammond dropped from the leading group
Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) has been dropped from the leading group after a mechanical problem but he finally made it back.
The leaders in the longest cobbled section
The leading group are into the longest cobbled portion, the number 26 between Quievy and St Python, which is 3.7-kms long.
Gap stable at 4:10
The gap remained unchanged at 4:10 in the end of the second cobbled sector in Quievy.
Riders dropped from the leading group
Portal, Klier and Bacquet have been dropped from the leading group in the second cobbled sector between Viesly and Quievy (km 104.5)
Roberts punctures too
Luke Roberts has punctured too as the bunch are leaving the first cobbled portion.
The peloton four minutes adrift on the cobbles
The main pack reached the first cobbled sector in Troisvilles (km 98) four minutes behind the leading group.
Puncture for Klier
Andreas Klier (T-Mobile) was the first rider to suffer a puncture on a cobbled sector in this Paris-Roubaix.
In the first cobbled sector
The leading group are tackling the first of 28 cobbled sectors in the race, a 2-2-kms stretch in Troisvilles (km 98).
Average speed in second hour
The average speed in the second hour of the race was 46.1 kph for an overall speed of 46.7 kph.
Gap reaches Four minutes as cobbles loom
The lead of the 34 escapees reached four minutes as the first cobbled sector was in sight.
Gap reaches 3:25
The gap reached 3:25 at kilometre 85. Riders from Alessandro Ballans Lampre-Fondital team are leading the chase.
Gap reaches 3:15
The gap between the 34-man break and the peloton reached 3:15 at kilometre 79.
Hoffman: “Marcus is alright”
T-Mobile team chief Tristan Hoffman told that Marcus Burghardt was alright despite crashing earlier in the race: “He has bruises and had to spend a little bit of time near the car to receive treatment because he hurt his shoulder. But hes riding in the peloton and is alright.”
Hoffman added he had given instructions for his riders to join breaks if there were any: “We have three riders in this break so the situation is ideal for us. Roger Hammond (third two years ago) is in great shape too.”
Gap at 2:50
The gap between the 34 leaders and the main bunch remained stable at 2:50 at kilometre 66.5.
A 34th rider in the break
Kazakh Guennadi Mikhailov (Astana) joined the leading group. There are now 34 riders in the lead.
Gallopin: “Things are going well for CSC”
Team-CSC team chief Alain Gallopin refused to comment on his teams tactics but told he was very pleased with the race situation so far: “We have three men in the leading group (Breschel, OGrady, Roberts) so its rather favourable for us. Its good but all the leading teams have a man in the break. We shall wait and see.”
Burghardt crashes
Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) crashed but was quickly back on his bike.
Actually 33 riders in the lead
The leading group actually comprises 33 riders. Missing from the previous composition was Robert Wagner (Team Wiesenhof).
Average speed for first hour
The average speed in the first hour of the race was 47.4 kph.
Gap stable at three minutes
The gap between the Hammond/OGrady group and the peloton is stable at three minutes at kilometre 49.
The 31 escapees
Here is the reminder of the 31 escapees, who left at kilometre 31.
Breschel, OGrady, Roberts (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quck Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), Bert Grabsch, Hammond, Klier (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor Lotto), Valentin (Cofidis), Ralf Grabsch (Milram), Bacquet, Lhotellerie, Goesinnen (Skil Shimano), Putsep (Bouygues Telecom), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Portal, Rojas (Caisse dEpargne), Kopp, Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean, Engoulevent (Credit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Irinondo (Eusklatel), Pollack (Team Wiesenhof).
Lead reaches three minutes
The lead of the 31 escapees reaches three minutes at kilometre 43.
Ventoso gives up
Spains Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) has given up after being involved in a crash.
Composition of the leading group
Here is the composition of the leading group:
Breschel, OGrady, Roberts (CSC), Tosatto, Van Impe (Quck Step), Franzoi (Lampre), De Groot (Rabobank), Auger (FDJ), Bert Grabsch, Hammond, Klier (T-Mobile), Steels, Van Avermaet (Predictor Lotto), Valentin (Cofidis), Ralf Grabsch (Milram), Bacquet, Lhotellerie, Goesinen (Skil Shimano), Putsep (Bouygues Telecom), Bileka (Discovery), Petito, Willems (Liquigas), Portal, Rojas (Caisse dEpargne), Fothen, Kopp, Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Dean (Credit Agricole), Poulhies, Rousseau (AG2R), Irinondo (Eusklatel), Gajek, Pollack (Team Wiesenhof).
Some thirty riders in the lead
A group of about 30 riders have taken a 15-second lead over the main bunch at kilometre 31.
Race reaches kilometre 30
The peloton is packed as the race reaches kilometre 30.
New attempt
After the four were caught, a group of a dozen riders broke at the initiative of Frances Sebastien Chavanel (FDJ) and Eric Berthou (Caisse dEpargne), but the bucnh reacted and the break is over.
Four riders in the lead
Four riders are in the lead at kilometre 12: Tristan Valentin (Cofidis), Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano), Mathieu Claude (Bouygues Telecom) and Rene Mandri (Ag2R).
Many attacks
A few riders have attempted to break away, but all attempts were quashed. The riders invoolved were Mathieu Heijboer (Cofidis), Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues Telecom), Stephane Poulhies (AG2R), Hans Dekkers (Agritubel), Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano), Mathieu Claude (Bouygues Telecom).
Blood tests before the start
Five teams and 38 riders were blood tested before the start. The teams were Saunier Duval, Euskaltel, Gerolsteiner, Skil Shimano and Team Wiesenhof. All the riders were declared fit to start.
The two have been caught
Ravard and Gomez, gone at kilometre 2, have been caught three kilometres later.
First attack
The first riders on the move today are Anthony Ravard (Agritubel) and Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval)
Cobbled sectors
The race includes 28 cobbled sectors for a total length of 52.7 kms. The first sector will be reached at kilometre 98, at around 13:20.
Real start given at 11:00
The real start was given at 11:00 to 187 riders.
Five former winners in the race
Five former winners are in the race:
2006 Fabian Cancellara (Team-CSC)
2005 Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic)
2004 Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas)
2003 Peter van Petegem (Quick Step-Innergetic)
1997 Frederic Guesdon (Francaise des Jeux)

Re: Tour De France 2007

All the favourites in the main bunch except Ballan
After Arenberg, a chasing group of some 25 riders has taken shape including most favourites: Tom Boonen, Peter Van Petegem, Fabian Cancellara, Leif Hoste, Magnus Backstedt, Filippo Pozzato, Vladimir Gusev, Philippe Gilbert, Juan-Antonio Flecha, Stefen Wesemann or Nico Eeckhoudt.
Tour of Flanders Alessandro Ballan is missing.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Superb race won by Stuart O’Grady in the end. He was part of that initial large group of 25 and got away on his own with maybe 30kms to go? He rode very well as the second man for CSC. Bit annoying how Duffield always wants the English speakers to win but that’s not O’Grady’s fault.

Boonen got left behind in the peleton but put in a serious ride to try and bridge the gap. He was pursuing the lead group relentlessly which ended up dropping riders all over the place and finished with just 4. Boonen very nearly got across to these guys who were a minute behind O’Grady. He ended up in 6th I think just 10 yards behind them.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Were all the teams represented rock? If so how did discovery and phonax do? would you say anything can be read from today with le tour in mind? if so what.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Phonak disbanded after Landis tested positive in the last Tour. Phonak - the sponsors - had already decided to leave when Tyler Hamilton tested positive in 2004 but there were new sponsors in place - Barclays. Barclays withdrew when Landis tested positive and the owner decided that he didn’t want to try and continue the team because of all the doping in cycling. (Hamilton has signed for an Italian team called Tinkoff for 2007 by the way, having served his 2 year suspension).

Discovery are also losing their sponsors (Discovery Channel obviously) at the end of this season because the tv station president didn’t want them to sign Basso (because of drug allegations against Basso).

Discovery were in the race but not sure what sort of team they had out.

CSC looked very strong throughout but not sure what impact that has on the bigger tours.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Never knew that about Phonak or Discovery. Who will the knew sponsors of the latter be? Csc have been strong in the last couple of tour de frances so not a surprise to hear that they were strong throughout today.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Yeah CSC have been the top team for the past two seasons, counting all the events on the pro circuit.

I don’t know if there’s anyone lined up to replace Discovery yet.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Good news for Roche. Always good to have an Irish interest in the big events.

Roche selected to ride in Tour of Italy
Shane Stokes

CYCLING: Giro d’Italia A good run of results in recent French Cup races has led to Nicolas Roche being selected to line out in the 2007 Giro d’Italia, one of his big targets for the season.

Roche confirmed yesterday that the Crdit Agricole team have told him he will be riding the Italian Tour, 20 years after his father, Stephen, won the race.

Earlier this year, the 22-year-old named participation in the Giro as one of his goals, knowing that lining out there would help him become stronger and more experienced and pave the way for bigger results in the years ahead.

The news is significant for Irish cycling as he will be only the third Irishman to line out in a three-week Grand Tour in the years since his father retired in 1993.

Ciarn Power finished the Giro d’Italia in 2000, while Mark Scanlon completed the Tour de France four years later and then did the first 12 stages of the Giro last season.

Roche secured his place on the squad with a series of good results in the past week.

He placed ninth, sixth, 13th and ninth again in French Cup races and, despite missing some of the earlier rounds, is currently 12th in that series.

“I am very happy, very pleased,” he told The Irish Times yesterday.

“I have been waiting for two years now to do a Grand Tour, so I am really happy and focused.”

At 22, he is five or six years off the age when most cyclists come into their prime for such events. He has, therefore, set a realistic target for his first Giro.

“Finishing is definitely a goal, of course,” he stated. "Hopefully I would like to be up there (on the attack) on a few stages, not just be in there and struggling.

“I have no idea how my body will react to a three-week tour, so I will study the course on the internet, seeing which days I can plan to attack and which days are better for me to stay in the bunch.”

Roche played down any suggestion that he will be fired up to do well because his father won the race 20 years ago.

"To be honest, it won’t really be a big factor because I think I have sufficient motivation myself. I don’t think I need extra motivation.

"Of course, if I do well, I will be happy to do so on the 20th anniversary of my dad’s success.

“But then, on the other hand, I am not going to do well just because it is the 20th year.”

Although he is a talented rider in his own right, he showed that he has his feet firmly on the ground.

“There is not a Stephen Roche around every corner,” he said.

In 1987 Roche senior won the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Championships in the same season, a feat only accomplished by the great Eddy Merckx.

Interestingly, Merckx’s son Axel is also currently a professional cyclist.

It is rare for a father and son to have successful professional cycling careers.

The 2007 Giro d’Italia will begin in Sardinia on May 12th and runs until June 3rd.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Basso has been suspended by Discovery which puts his participation in the Giro d’Italia in doubt - he’s the defending champion. Separately the organisers of Le Tour and the management of the various teams have agreed that those implicated in Operacion Puerto won’t be allowed in the Tour de France this year - meaning Basso will miss out on that too unless he clears his name before then.

Discovery Suspend Basso

Ivan Basso was suspended by his Discovery Channel team after Italian investigators reopened a doping case against last year’s Tour of Italy winner.

“It has always been Team policy to hold our riders to the highest standards while respecting their rights and privacy. For these reasons we have requested that Ivan not race until we receive more information and this issue has been resolved,” said Disovery’s General Manager Bill Stapleton.

The Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping office said it had reopened a doping investigation into last year’s Giro d’Italia winner Basso earlier on Tuesday.

The committee said on its Web site ( that the rider had been summoned to appear before officials in Rome at 1500 local time (1300 GMT) on May 2 and had been notified personally of the summons.

It said Basso was accused of violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code concerning “use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method”.

“We continue to stand behind Ivan and intend to cooperate with all parties involved until there is closure,” said sporting director Johan Bruyneel.

“It is unfortunate that this is now occurring, however, I have spoke to Ivan and although frustrated he agrees and understands with the decision we have taken.”

Basso was not available for comment immediately after the announcement.

However, he was not expected to ride in the Fleche-Wallonne race on Wednesday after not travelling to Belgium as planned on Tuesday morning.

The 29-year-old Italian won the Giro but was forced to miss the 2006 Tour de France last July after being implicated in Operacion Puerto, a Spanish police probe into blood doping by a group of doctors in Madrid.

Basso has always maintained his innocence.

Italian anti-doping investigators suspended the probe last September but said at the time it could be reopened if new evidence emerged.

Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper reported on Tuesday that anti-doping investigators had discovered further evidence and had also obtained bags suspected to contain Basso’s blood from Spain and wanted to compare them with Basso’s DNA.

In a recent investigation carried out in Germany, DNA tests confirmed that bags of blood seized in Spain belonged to 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Basso Leaves Discovery

Ivan Basso has left the Discovery Channel team with immediate effect after the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping office reopened an investigation into the 29-year-old.

The Giro champion asked to leave for personal reasons after being suspended by the US outfit last week.

“This was a very difficult decision, for me and my family, but I think it is the right thing to do,” Basso said in a statement.

"(Sports director) Johan (Bruyneel), (general manager) Bill (Stapleton) and my team mates have always believed in me and shown me great respect.

"This decision is my way of showing them that same respect. The team is trying to find a new sponsor and win bike races, and my situation is a distraction to both of those goals.

“It is important that everyone knows this was 100 percent my decision. Nobody asked me to leave. I am grateful to all of the staff and riders and wish them the best of luck.”

Team manager Bruyneel said in the statement that he had tried to persuade Basso, who joined the team in December, to stay.

“Ivan’s request was unexpected and he was very emotional, but adamant, about his decision to be released,” Bruyneel said.

“We spoke with him at length before granting his request. Although he was only on our team for a short time he was a great leader and a very well respected and selfless team mate. I, along with the entire team, wish him the best.”

The Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping office said last week that Basso had been summoned to appear before officials in Rome on May 2.

He has been accused of violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code concerning “use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method”.

Basso has denied taking performance-enhancing substances.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Piper - what’s the betting for le Tour now?

I think Basso’s unlikely to race at this stage. Valverde was second in the Liege-Bastoigne-Liege at the weekend so looks in decent form. I’m tempted by Sastre. CSC look strong again this season while some of the other teams are in disarray and Phonak are gone. If he can hold it together in the time trials and attack in the mountains he could win.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Paddypower took their betting down a couple of weeks back and have yet to put it back up. I emailed them a couple of days ago and they assured me odds would be back up soon. I think CSC will do well also. I spent a fair while looking at cycling websites over last week. Fascinating stuff. Expect more info soon.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Cmon Basso! Love the tour de France! Miss Lance this year though.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Is Basso’s resignation almost an admission of guilt or for the benefit of the team?

Smacks of the first to me.

Re: Tour De France 2007

It certainly seems the former now. From
According to the Gazzetta dello Sport’s Valerio Piccioni, Ivan Basso has confessed his involvement in Operacin Puerto to the antidoping prosecutor Ettore Torri of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). Today in Rome, CONI issued communiqu saying “Ivan Basso has largely admitted his responsibility relative to Operacin Puerto and has provided the maximum collaboration to clarify the facts relative to his involvement.”

Basso and his lawyer Massimo Martelli met with Torri for two hours in a legal office in the centre of Rome, where the confession of the winner of the 2006 Giro d’Italia winner came of his own accord.

The head of the Italian cycling federation Renato Di Rocco applauded Basso’s decision to collaborate, telling the Gazzetta dello Sport, “Ivan has done exactly what everyone asked of Pantani, and Marco didn’t do; now, we ask in the name of cycling to not leave Ivan Basso alone.”

Although no further information has been released by Torri or the Italian Olympic Committee, there is speculation that Basso may receive a retroactive two-year suspension that could allow him to come back in time to ride the 2008 Giro d’Italia.

On Sunday, prior to today’s announcement, Cyclingnews spoke with UCI president Pat McQuaid concerning speculation that a deal might be done between Basso and CONI. “There is no provision for a reduced sentence,” he said then. "The WADA rules apply and the minimum sentence is two years, whether it is for admittance or non-admittance of an offence. The only time when you get less than two years is if you can prove it was mistaken or it was taken in foodstuffs, that kind of thing. But if you have been willingly involved in a doping activity, it is two years.

“I don’t want to speculate on it [prior to such a deal being agreed - ed.], but the option is there for either the UCI or WADA to appeal to CAS.”

Ivan Basso has not yet issued a statement, but a press conference is expected on Tuesday.

Re: Tour De France 2007

Piper - just downloaded a film called “Overcoming” which is the inside story of CSC in the Tour de France in 2004. Looks excellent so far. I’ll get you a copy.