The third positive this year for an Astana rider is the just the latest chapter in the team’s shadowy history.
Said without judgement.
2006. The team spawns out of the remnants of the Liberty Seguros-Wurth team. That squad, and its manager Manolo Saiz are deeply implicated in Operacion Puerto, an investigation conducted by the Guardia Civil which uncovers systematic doping within the team. Alexandre Vinokourov becomes de facto captain, and is an arm’s length from management. Despite the team’s history, the UCI awards it a new four year WorldTour license.
If the MPCC wants to retain any relevance to the anti-doping movement going forward, it needs to eject Astana from its membership immediately, writes Al Hinds.
Last Thursday, my Cycling Central colleague Philip Gomes opined in an article, ‘Time for Vino to man up’ that "Astana needs to be punted from racing for the rest of the season and Vino probably needs to be suspended from being anywhere near a bicycle race for at least a year."
He was responding to a bind Astana had found itself in after the second EPO positive this year recorded within the team, this time, a high-profile scalp in the way of former Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion, Maxim Iglinskiy.
Seven kilometres from the Ponferrada finish, Michal Kwiatkowski, dared to dream.
Breaking clear on the back-end of the descent before the Mirador, the Pole closed the gap to the remaining escapees, then pressed on alone for the win. This was where the race was won, but its foundations were built far earlier.
The course, 14 laps of an 18.2km loop around Ponferrada, was an enigmatic one. In the weeks leading into the world championships, in the recon done by the teams in the days leading to roll-out, opinions differed in the scenarios likely to unfold, and the riders who would be vying for the win.
It's the end of the line for the Tour of Beijing, and none too soon, writes Al Hinds.
In contrast to its contentious introduction to the WorldTour calendar back in 2011, the Tour of Beijing, has disappeared quietly, with the tiniest of whimpers.
A footnote on a UCI Press Release overnight, in the second from last par, delivered the race's epitaph. A mark of gratitude to the organisers of the event, and the efforts of those to develop it in the years since its inception from Brian Cookson as part of the 2015 calendar announcement. No other explanation, but gone all the same.
Earlier this week we published a review of the film, Slaying the Badger, a documentary that follows Greg LeMond’s journey to become the first non-European to win the Tour de France, in 1986. But the story itself is nothing without Bernard Hinault, the elder French champion, who continually rattles LeMond’s nerve throughout, keeping the American on his toes until the finish.
If you’ve not seen the film, read Richard Moore’s book first, which gives a far more detailed and insightful account of the context of the LeMond-Hinault relationship, and the intriguing rivalry the played out between both riders in 1985 and 1986.
As the Vuelta rages on, it’s a timely reminder of what makes sport great. The protagonists. The characters. The rivalries. Merckx-Ocaña. Lewis-Johnson. Armstrong-Ullrich. Contador-Schleck. Federer-Nadal. And the ongoing, and unfinished Contador-Froome.