Latest: Crake, Luis Leon, Rojas, Aitor, Landaluze

Crake flown back to Australia for Christmas, Caisse d'Epargne two young Spanish prospects, mixed new

Crake flown back to Australia for Christmas, Caisse d'Epargne two young Spanish prospects, mixed new

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Australian pro Paul Crake, 29, was flown back to Australia on Wednesday to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney where he will continue his recovery from spinal surgery. "It's good to be back in Australia and I am really looking forward to spending Christmas with my family after what has been a pretty traumatic couple of months for all of us," said Crake. "I also want to wish a sincere Merry Christmas to all everyone who has supported me since the accident and the many people, both friends and strangers, who have been thinking of me and have sent me messages of support and encouragement."

Crake was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust as during the eighth stage of the Powernet Tour of Southland, north of Invercargill on Saturday November 11th. He sustained minor fractures to the C1 and C2 cervical vertebrae, a fracture to the T5 thoracic vertebrae and dislocations from T5 down to T7. New Zealand surgeons operated to insert a surgical rod and screws into his thoracic spine and grafted bone from his hip into the spinal area to stabilise and realign his spine.

- The Caisse d'Epargne team have signed two younger members of what was the Liberty Seguros team. Luis Leon Sanchez, 23, is widely believed to be the best stage racing prospect west of the Pyrenees. The Spanish team have also signed Jos Joaqu¡n Rojas on a two-year contract. The 21-year-old from Murcia turned pro with Liberty Seguros and is the younger brother of former ONCE pro Mariano Rojas, who died in a car accident in 1996 and is regarded as one of the biggest talents in Spanish cycling.

- Mixed news for riders who tested positive in 2005 when riding for Euskaltel. 2002 Vuelta winner Aitor Gonzalez has been handed a two-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after testing positive for a steroid during the 2005 Vuelta. The decision came following an appeal to the CAS by the UCI after the Spanish federation had cleared Gonzalez of wrongdoing, ruling that he had been the unwitting victim of a tainted supplement.

The two-year ban imposed runs retroactively from September 28, 2005, effectively allowing Gonzalez to compete at the end of the coming season if he had not already taken the decision to retire. The CAS believed Gonzalez's defence but ruled he had acted "with negligence by consuming a dubious product prescribed by a doctor he saw only occasionally and bought in a gym".

Meanwhile, the French Anti-Doping Agency have closed the case on the positive test for testosterone recorded by Euskaltel's I¤igo Landaluze on his way to victory in the 2005 Dauphin Libr after ruling that the analysis on the rider's samples had been carried out incorrectly by the Chatenay Malabry near Paris. According to the agency, the same person had carried out the analysis on both the A and B tests, which breaks anti-doping regulations.
Floyd Landis has responded favourably to this news, commenting in the US press that it shows the incompetence of the French lab which delivered his positive test for testosterone in the wake of his Tour de France victory.

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