Shorts: Landis on French TV; Nys; Contracts

Floyd Landis is maintaining his innocence in his Tour de France testosterone doping affair. He talke

Floyd Landis is maintaining his innocence in his Tour de France testosterone doping affair. He talke
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

"I did not take testosterone.I hope that everybody will try to keep an open mind and look at all the evidence before they make a judgement." These were Floyd Landis' words to French television program Stade 2 on Sunday. The American was giving his first interview to French TV since he finished the Tour de France on July 23. In it, he maintained his innocence in the doping affair that brought one of the most fascinating Tours in years to an ignominious end.

Landis tested positive for a high testosterone:epitestosterone ratio following his victory in the 17th stage of the Tour. Both his A and B samples were positive, and his case is scheduled to be heard by the US Anti-Doping Agency next January. If found guilty, he faces a maximum ban of two years from the sport, as well as being prevented from riding for a ProTour team for an additional two years.

Floyd's stage 17 win was absolutely crucial to his overall victory. After having a disastrous day the previous day, losing many minutes to closest rival Oscar Pereiro, he rebounded on the road to Morzine. He attacked early in the stage and eventually finished 7'08 clear of Pereiro (7th in the stage). That put him within 30 seconds of the yellow jersey, which he easily made up in the final time trial. Landis' explanation for his remarkable turnaround after bonking on stage 16 was simple.

"It seemed more difficult to believe because the day before was a very bad day for me," he told Stade 2. "But it's not uncommon when you have a bad day, that the best day is the next day." When he discovered that he had tested positive, Landis said he "felt terrible. It was the beginning of a few very difficult weeks for me."

No explanation

Landis gave several press conferences at that time. He was roundly criticised for the ways in which he tried to explain his high testosterone. For example, that it could have come about from alcohol consumption the night before. Landis acknowledged that people might not have believed this. "I think if I put myself in their position, I would feel the same way," he said. "At the time, I was not trying to make a connection between alcohol or the drug test. I was trying to tell a story in detail of what happened the day before and hoping maybe someone had an explanation."

Landis is now being very careful about saying what could have happened. "I can't explain it. I'm just as surprised and just as confused as everybody watching. I have to rely on my lawyers and the scientists because, to be honest, I'm a bicycle racer and I like to race my bicycle and that's all I know, and the only thing that I'm good at. I need help from scientists and people who are educated that can analyse the test."

In recent months, it has been rumoured that Landis received a blood transfusion containing testosterone on the morning of his great ride. "I can't defend myself against that because I don't have any information and I don't know where this rumour came from," he told Stade 2. Landis admitted that he had injections of cortisone for his hip condition. "This was known by the UCI, known by the lab, and all the procedures were followed correctly for this to be allowed," he emphasised.

"They made some mistakes"

Landis' defence is relying heavily on what he feels were procedural errors committed by the anti-doping lab at Chtenay-Malabry, which was responsible for his samples. "Even the best people make mistakes," he said. "I can't say that the lab is always a bad lab. But I can say that in this case, they made some mistakes."

Cracked image

At the 2007 Tour presentation last month, organisers ASO finished with an image of Landis smashing into shards. His reaction was one of disappointment, ".but I also understand that ASO has to have this position. If I were just a fan of cycling, then I would be disappointed - and I am a fan of cycling and I think it deserves a better reputation than this."

Landis was also wary of levelling any criticism at fans - particularly French ones. "I want to tell them that I raced the Tour clean. And I want to tell them that my experiences in France and with the French people were some of the best memories I ever had in my life. It's a beautiful place and if I can go back and race the Tour again, it would be a dream of mine at this point."

Nys the best in World Cup #5

Belgian Sven Nys (Rabobank), won the fifth round of the cyclo-cross World Cup in Pijnacker, the Netherlands, on Sunday. Nys finished 30 seconds clear of Frenchman Francis Mourey (Franaise des Jeux), with Dutchman Gerben de Knegt (Rabobank) rounding out the podium. Nys had had a poor race in Niel on Saturday, which was plagued by bad luck. But he bounced back on Sunday - his son's birthday - with a typically dominating performance, riding away from the field on the third lap.

"Yesterday I told myself that I was the moral winner," he said. "Today I stood on the top step again. If you can do that on the day of your son's birthday, then it makes the victory even nicer. "My solo wasn't really planned beforehand. Profiting by being on someone's wheel doesn't really apply on this parcours. You're better off choosing your own way." The victory was Nys' third World Cup win of the season. He is now a long way ahead of his nearest rivals Erwin Vervecken (Fidea), Francis Mourey (FDJ) and Bart Wellens (Fidea) on the UCI rankings.

Results 1 Sven Nys (Rabobank, Bel) 1:06:55
2 Francis Mourey (Franaise Des Jeux, Fra) 0:0:30
3 Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank, Ned) 0:0:40
4 Richard Groenendaal (Rabobank, Ned) 0:0:43
5 Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team, Bel) 0:0:57
6 Klaas Vantornout (Fidea Cycling Team, Bel) 0:1:15
7 John Gadret (AG2R Prevoyance, Fra) 0:1:24
8 Bart Aernouts (Rabobank, Bel) 0:1:29
9 Sven Vanthourenhout (Rabobank, Bel) 0:1:54
10 Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team, Bel) 0:2:00

Contract news

Dutch rider Bas Giling will switch from T-Mobile to Wiesenhof next season. The 24 year-old's T-Mobile contract wasn't renewed, so he signed a one year deal with the German pro continental team. Belgian Mathieu Criquielion will likely ride for Jartazi in 2007. The 25 year-old , who has spent the last two years with Landbouwkrediet - Colnago, said that negotiations with Jartazi were "well advanced". He will probably end up with a one year contract. Criquielion, who is the son of Belgian star Claude, was also considering an offer from the new Storez-Mapei team. He started his cycling career with Team Storez VC Ath, and several of his friends will be part of the new continental outfit. "But I preferred the security, as Jartazi is a team that has already proved itself," he said.

Euskaltel-Euskadi has signed 26 year-old Ivan Velasco to its roster. Velasco is coming to Euskaltel from the Orbea continental team. He is the fourth rider to do so, following in the footsteps of Rubn Prez, Be¤at Albizuri and Al n Prez. Euskaltel has now completed its roster for next season. It has a full complement of 30 riders, with Samuel S nchez taking the role of team leader.
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