Race news roundup: Contador, Arvesen, VDB and Ullrich

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Former Astana teammates Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong appear at the 2010 Tour de France route announcement in Paris on October 14, 2009.

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador finished the official cycling season as the top ranked rider in the International Cycling Union (UCI) world calendar released on Monday.


In an all-Spanish podium Contador, who rides for Astana, finished top on 527 points, ahead of second placed Alejandro Valverde (483) and Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez (357).

In the teams world ranking Astana ended the season on 1,100 points, with Valverde’s Caisse d’Epargne second on 1048 and American outfit Team Columbia third on 957.

Spain also topped the nations world ranking on 1,756 points with Italy (984) in second and Australia (960) third.

The Tour of Lombardy, won by Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert of Silence, brought the curtain down on the official 2009 cycling season on Saturday.

Arvesen to race next season with Team Sky

Former Tour de France stage winner Kurt-Asle Arvesen will race next season for new British cycling outfit Team Sky, his Saxo Bank team announced on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Norwegian champion has raced by the Danish team of Bjarne Riis since 2004.

Arvesen, who pulled out of this year’s Tour de France following a bad crash, won a stage of the world’s most prestigious cycling race in 2008.

Autopsy report: Vandenbroucke died of double pulmonary embolism

Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke died of a double pulmonary embolism combined with an existing heart problem, newspapers here reported his autopsy in Senegal as saying.

Vandenbroucke, 34, was found dead earlier this week in his hotel room in the Senegalese resort of Saly where he had been on holiday with cyclist friend Fabio Polazzi.

According to the Het Laatste Nieuws and Het Nieuwsblad papers, investigators concluded that Vandenbroucke died a natural death and his body had now been released for a return to Belgium.

The rider suffered a “double pulmonary embolism as well as having an existing heart problem”, Salobe Ngingie, the public prosecutor for the Thies region overseeing the probe, told Het Nieuwsblad.

“The autopsy showed that deceased had several injection marks on his left arm,” Ngingie said, adding that a syringe, alcohol and medicines were found in Vandenbroucke’s hotel room.

Vandenbroucke made his professional debut in 1994 and recorded 51 victories, including the 1999 Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, his career highlight.

In 2002, Vandenbroucke was twice stopped by police under the influence of alcohol at the wheel of a car. Later that year, a police search at his home uncovered a large quantity of doping substances.

Vandenbroucke had suffered from depression and two years ago tried to commit suicide after his wife said she was divorcing him.

In 2003, when he rode for the Quick Step team, Vandenbroucke appeared to be on the way back after a second-place finish in the prestigious Tour of Flanders classic, but he sank into depression the following year.

Ullrich made multiple visits to Fuentes: report

Germany’s retired former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich consulted Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish doctor at the centre of the Puerto drugs affair, 24 times between 2003-6, Der Spiegel said in a report to appear on Monday.

Der Spiegel’s report was based on a 2,219-page investigation into Ullrich by German police which concluded that the rider “used Dr Fuentes doping system to improve his performances”.

Ullrich visited Madrid on 24 occasions for consultations with Fuentes, it said.

German police uncovered a wealth of information on the hard disk of the home computer of Belgian Rudy Pevenage, former sporting director of the Telekom and then T-Mobile cycling teams.

The police established that Pevenage had himself visited Madrid 15 times between December 2003 and April 2006, very often just before training camps and staying only a few hours.

According to the report, Ullrich paid Fuentes 80,000 euros and stepped up his visits (eight between February 2005-May 2006) ahead of the 2006 Tour de France.

The German was however unable to take part in that edition of the Tour because his T-Mobile team were suspended on the eve of the race after links were established between it and Fuentes.

Pevenage acknowledged that Ullrich had consulted Fuentes “around four to six times a year between 2004 and 2006” but not, as far as he was aware, for blood transfusions.

“It was to receive treatment for carrying too much weight, to drop from 84 to 76 kilogrammes in four weeks,” explained Pevenage.

Ullrich won the 1997 Tour de France and was a multiple runner-up behind American seven-time winner Lance Armstrong before retiring from cycling after being sacked by his T-Mobile team in 2006.

According to Der Spiegel, the Rostock-born Ullrich earned 8.5 million euros between 2003-6.

The 35-year-old now lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children and takes part in charity cycling races and car racing, his new passion.

© 2009 AFP


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