Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poll results: Rate Iban's season up until the positive test

Kind of a lame poll, I admit it. The results were just as I expected, with the majority, 43 % percent to be precise, going for "Good". "Could have been brilliant", which I voted for myself, came a close second, while "Brilliant; best ever" took the remaining "podium spot" on offer. 1 person voted "Below expectations", while two went for the "Annus horribilis" option.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Samu 3rd in criterium; Iñaki 7th in 'cross

Two Euskaltel riders have still not taken a couple of weeks off this year, with both Samu and Iñaki competing in different races this weekend. Samu took to the line in the annual Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales championship in Boadilla del Monte, a race he won last year. Samu had to make do a mend with 3rd this time round, but, anyway, it's a great, though totally unimportant, result. Aupa Samu! Iñaki also had reason to be happy, as he grabbed an impressive 7th in the Premio Erribera Goitia cyclo-cross race this Saturday. I've never seen Iñaki doing 'cross before, but perhaps he has in the past. I hope he'll do more cyclo-cross races this winter, as it's a good way of keeping in shape for the upcoming road-season.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Loosing the Grip

The witchhunt has started, and we're in for another long wait. UCI's decision to take Iban's case to CAS and test in once again in the disgraced Paris lab, has been met with disbelief and laughter in the cycling community. Many are calling for the people at Chatenay-Malabry lab to take an extended holiday, and never return, while some are calling for McQuaid and UCI's anti-doping coordinator Anne Gripper to leave their jobs with immediate effect. Especially miss Gripper's comments about the results in the Gent lab and their testing procedures have got people asking what the UCI's motive behind all this really is. Gripper was quoted as saying that "to ensure that the rider could have the B-sample done more quickly, we transferred the sample, but the Gent laboratory just couldn't get the sample to confirm the Paris result". What, they couldn't get the sample to confirm the positive A-sample no matter how much they tried? What is this nonsense? If a UCI-accredited lab comes up with a different result than the first one, it's simple. It's case closed, finito. The rider will be pronounced innocent. But Gripper's comments just keep getting better and better. "In Gent, they use a slightly different technique (than in the Paris lab)", she said. That's an hilarious statement from an anti-doping coordinator. She's practically saying that Gent's techniques aren't reliable, and that the lab in Paris, which has been found over and over again to use sloppy procedures and to leak confidential info to the press, is the only lab doing things the right way. Makes me wonder what methods they're using in Paris, as two other labs came up with a completely different result. The UCI needs to restore it's credibility, and another false positive will not do the governing body any favours in that respect. And it would be unbelievably embarrassing for McQuaid to admit he was wrong to judge and condemn Iban publicly as a doper without any proof to back it up whatsoever. They UCI really HAVE to find Iban guilty of something, 'cause if not, they'll be made into an even bigger laughing stock than they already are. The UCI will probably test the sample over and over again until they get the result they want; a positive. Legally, they'll never succeed in getting Iban banned for doping, but they'll no doubt succeed in dragging Iban's name through the mud and totally destroy his reputation. At least that's something...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Matxin: "We have to get an official response from the UCI"

Speaking to the press at the unveiling of next year's Tour de France route in Paris on Thursday, Joxean "Matxin" Fernández couldn't give a clear answer to Iban's situation. "There is news that the test results came back negative and there is news that the labs want to do another analysis, and the UCI has talked about taking the case to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport)", he said. "We have only heard from the Spanish Federation, which communicated the two negatives from the Gent laboratories, and from the journalists. We have to obtain an official response from the UCI before we can allow him to race again. Once we know something we can make a decision, keeping in mind that he still has a year of contract remaining with Saunier Duval". Good to hear that he's still very much in the team's plans, but I'm afraid that "obtaining an official response from the UCI" might be another few weeks away.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Euskaltel update

I thought I'd better update you all on what's been going on with Euskaltel the last few days. Most of the attention has been on Iban the last days, but I guess that's not really strange. Not much has happened to be honest, it's been a quiet off-season so far, but not all riders are on vacation just yet. Igor, Rubén, Mikel, Sports Director Gorka Gerrikagoitia and Fundación Euskadi head Miguel Madariaga were all present at the unveiling of the 2008 Tour de France parcours in Paris yesterday. All three riders started the race this year, and will likely do so again next year I think. In other news, Euskaltel have got their first ever amateur side. Naturgas Energia is the name of the new-born team. The formation, which will be up and running as from the new year, will be made up of riders aged 23 or less. The team wil be headed by Alexander Díaz, and will do Elite-sub 23 races all over Spain. The outfit will be a stepping-stone for young, talented Basque riders, who may take the step up to Orbea, before hopefully getting a contract with Euskaltel. Approximately 80 % of the spots on the team will be taken by riders from the Basque region of Álava. The rest will go to Basque riders from other regions. Álavan pro cyclists have gone missing the last few years, but this initiative will hopefully see more riders from the region make it pro.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"I'm calm"

In an interview with Basque daily DEIA today, Iban said he's calm and not at all surprised by the actions taken by the UCI. This is what Iban had to say: "How many counter-analysis are they going to do? This is absolutely illegal. And I don't think it's practically possible to do another analysis now. I'm not surprised at all that the UCI have decided to do this. I knew they weren't going to just sit down and accept it. They have to do something to try to cover-up the failure and to hide the fact that their methods don't work. Though, I'm surprised they didn't go directly to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) and instead requested another analysis of the sample. We all know this is totally illegal." Though, Iban was also keen to look at the positives:"I received the notification from the Spanish Cycling Federation today, where they say they've shelved my case. Because of that, I'm calm." Time to give it up, UCI? You're fighting a loosing battle...

Iban is innocent, says anti-doping expert

Iban seems to have a good chance of getting cleared if he decides to take the on-going B-sample dispute to the court. An anonymous anti-doping expert, who've been one of the people in charge of Iban's defense, claimed that the UCI has violated their own rules by testing Iban's B-sample more than once. A B-sample can only be tested once if the original sample is positive, which it was in Iban's case. As the result of the test in Gent returned "inconlusive", which equals "negative" in doping cases, the UCI had no right to send the test to Sydney whatsoever. That alone should be more than enough to clear Iban of all charges, and it doesn't do his case any harm that the test in Australia returned nagative. Moreover, the expert DEIA interviewed, observed several flaws in the testing process at the disgraced Chantenay-Malabry, where the original test was carried out. I find it hard to translate all the details from Spanish to English, but the guys in Paris obviously messed it up. In short, it's about keeping the tinkles for the A-sample and for the B-sample in two different boxes or containers. They kept them in the same place, something which can affect the outcome of a test. That as well should be more than enough to clear Iban. The UCI has nonetheless decided to try their case in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sports, but the anonymous expert doesn't seem too woried. "They (the UCI) will do it it seems, but it doesn't really matter", he said, "I've never seen a more clear case than this one. Iban Mayo is innocent".

Rodríguez: "It's not possible to do another analysis"

José Rodríguez, Iban's lawyer, has stated that doing another counter-analysis is will not be possible as the case against Iban is closed. "It's not possible to do another analysis", he said to El Correo. "The procedure is closed, Iban is acquitted. Whatever the UCI decides to do from now on is only to make damage to his reputation". The rules are that when a national federation receives information that a test has returned negative and decides to shelve the case, the only thing the UCI can do is to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That's the rules, but the UCI don't seem willing to follow their own rules I'm afraid. Rodríguez further said that the test done in Gent was "clearly negative", and that the UCI are not entitled to do another test. And, just for the record, the newspaper confirms what I've said the last days; the test done in Sydney was indeed negative.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here we go again

Just to make this all more ridiculous, Anne Gripper, UCI's anti-doping coordinator, has said that it will be another "five or six" weeks before the result of Iban's B-sample will be revealed. Even though the sample has returned negative twice before, they want to test it again, and we're in for another long wait it seems. That's great UCI, way to go! Surely testing a sample 3 or 4 times is standard procedure now, won't you say? Not to mention that testing a sample, which earlier took 7 to 10 days, now takes 4 months. This is just making more and more sense... And, it gets even better. Even if the B-sample, once again I'd like to add, returns negative, Gripper has stated that the UCI might take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports. How they're supposed to win that case, or even come up with a defense, is way beyond me, but it seems they'll do anything now to get Iban convicted for one thing or the other.

Iban's B-sample to be re-tested

In a strange turn of events, Iban's B-sample will be tested yet again in what is obviously the badest anti-doping laboratory in the world, the Chatenay-Malabry lab in Paris. UCI's president, Pat McQuaid, was quoted today as saying "The second sample is not negative. The analysis of it has not yet finished", before adding that when it was tested in Gent, the result was inconclusive. Come on McQuaid, give us a break! I'm so fed up with your shit. Not finished?! You must be joking. It's been three months! That is surely the most ridiculous statement I've heard from a UCI member, and that should say it all. It returned negative in Australia, in a UCI approved lab that the UCI sent the sample to. Negative equals innocent. I guess Iban-critics will say "What's the big deal? If you think he's innocent, then why are you so afraid of the sample being tested once again?". Well, I'll tell you all what the problem is. They totally screwed up his first sample, and the reason it returned "inconclusive", whatever that means, is probably because they fucked it up so bad down in Paris. And, as the UCI clearly hold an agenda towards Iban, I'm afraid of what they're going to do his test. Stop fooling around McQuaid! You caught the wrong guy, you embarassed yourself with your lazy comments and you should shut up now if you have any dignity. Leave him alone; he's not your guy. I don't know what the UCI hold against Iban, but this is just way to childish. Please Iban, take legal steps.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Iban's reaction

After the news of Iban's positive B-sample, and the subsequent shelving of the case by the National Spanish Cycling Federation, broke, a short interview with Iban can now be found in most Spanish newspapers. He's quoted as saying "Everything turned out the way I hoped it would. It was really difficult (the news of the positive and the delay of the B-sample result), and I've had a hard time, since I didn't understand it. I didn't stop to train though, even if I suffered mentally. Thankfully many people supported me." He further said that "I've got one year left on my contract, and I expect to be able to fulfill that." Certainly that must be the case, as he signed a two-year deal in January, and he can't be fired for no reason. More on Iban's job hunting later...

Iban negative!

Yes, it's official. Iban's B-sample was indeed negative. The National Spanish Cycling Federation informed Iban today about the negative outcome, and he later revealed it on Basque television network ETB. I'm lost for words really; so happy. MANY stories on Iban and his B-sample will appear here later tonight and the next days. Just felt I should put up a small notice, just to remove any doubt. Aupa Iban!

Iban cleared?

According to his own website, he is. A notice on the front page of the site, posted 11:03 AM this morning, reads, "Iban Mayo Inocente!!! Ya es oficial... En cuanto tenga algunas noticias más, las pongo!!! aupa Iban!!!" In English, it's something like "Iban innocent!!! It's already official... I'll post more info once I get hold of any!!! Go Iban!!!. Certainly, the ones writing on Iban's homepage have always been serious, so I don't think they're fooling around. More info to follow...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Samu 2nd and Igor 4th in Montjuïc

Samu and Igor both performed admirably well in the Escalada a Montjuïc today. Given their amazing performance in yesterday's Giro di Lombardia, to claim 2nd and 4th respectively was a great end to their's and Euskaltel's season. Samu placed third in the road race, while Igor was 4th. In the ITT Samu was again second to Daniel Moreno, with Igor thim time grabbing 5th. It was really close in the end, with Samu losing out on what would be his third win in the event by a mere 2 seconds. But, anyway, great stuff from two of Euskaltel's brightest stars.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Samu's 3rd place caps of great team performance

Samu stormed to a brilliant 3rd in the season-closer that is the Giro di Lombardia today. Samu was in awe-inspiring form as he closed his, and Euskaltel's, season on a high.

Alán Pérez did an awesome job today by bridging up to the break of the day to join the day's escapees. The break consisted of 7 riders, but as the going got tougher and tougher, the seven were reduced to four. Alán stood his ground and was one of four riders at the head of he race for a long time. The break was naturally reeled in not long after, but Alán had by then did more than enough for the team. A big lead-group formed, among them Samu and Igor. Out of this group Cunego and Ricco' broke clear, and the two would, barely, hang on to fight it out for the win. Samu led the chasers home only 9 seconds back to claim a very good 3rd. Igor impressed with his 12th place, while Alán claimed 38th; not bad for a breakaway member. Dioni came in 47th, while Juanjo and Iñaki grabbed 92nd and 96th respectively. This strong all-round performance saw the team finish 4th in the team rankings, and thereby finishing a much-better-than-expected 11th overall. The team rankings is not really important, but it's still a competition. Euskaltel finished ahead of strong teams like Astana, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner, so the team has no doubt taken a step this year when it comes to team performances. In the individual rankings Samu advanced to a, once again, brilliant 9th overall. He's had an amazing year; perhaps even better than 2006. Other Euskaltels who've scored Pro Tour points are Mikel, who ended up 40th, Haimar finished 44th, Igor 48th, Iñigo 113th and Koldo finished 147th. Overall, I'm really pleased with today's performance, not to mention the year as a whole. Euskaltel have enjoyed ups-and-downs, as usual, but luckily the ups are what stand out to me. Season reviews of each rider and the team will appear on the blog shortly...

Changes to the blog

The 2007 season is just about to be finished, so some changes will be made to the blog of course. A 2007 season review on Iban's campaign will of course appear on the blog, but only after the result of the B-sample is unveiled naturally. His biography will also be updated when that time comes. I'll do profiles on all three Euskaltel recruits, and remove those no longer part of the team, and some links, like the Saunier Duval links, will disappear as the new cycling season approaches. But I'm writing this to find out if there's something else you want me to change, be it the title, polls, features or just some links. Anything. I'm hoping for a lot of feedback on this one, and I'm open to every suggestion. Well, almost that is. I'm not shutting it down or anything...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lombardia line-up revealed

According to, this is Euskaltel's 8 men for the last Pro Tour race of the season: Samu Sánchez, Igor Antón, Dioni Galparsoro, Juanjo Oroz, Unai Uribarri, Iñaki Isasi, Alán Pérez and Aitor Hernández. Samu will start out as one of the top favourites, and will hope to better his 2nd place from last year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Samu and Igor ready for Montjuïc

Two former winners of the Escalada a Montjuïc will take to the start in the traditional season-ender to the Spanish cycling calendar. Samu and Igor will both be on the start line, as the only two Euskaltel representatives. Samu won the race in 2004 as well as in 2005, while Igor claimed the overall win last year. The race will see the relatively small peloton tackle, first, a 24,4 kilometre long road race on a small circuit and, then, a 10 kilometre individual effort against the clock. The race also includes a downhill race, so I guess Samu is already assured of at least one win. Exactly how a downhill race is done I don't know, but it sounds like a lot of fun. Both Igor and Samu are, considering their form, hot candidates for the overall win, but they will face some stiff competition. 2006 runner-up Alberto Losada will probably give it his all to go one better this time round, while strong-men Carlos Sastre, José Ángel Gómez Marchante, Spanish champ Joaquím Rodriguez, Classics specialist Flecha and the retiring local Ángel Edo, all of whom have enjoyed stellar 2007 campaigns, will look to claim top honours in this presitigious season-closer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Poll results: Will Iban ever return to pro cycling?

We're entitled to hope, and it seems a lot of you are. An amazing 61 % voted "yes", something which has everything to do with the confusion surrounding the testing of Iban's B-sample. It's encouraging to see so many of you still have the belief. Keep it up!

Watch Iban's last race to date now

Iban's own cicloturista race, the Martxa Zikloturista Iban Mayo, which was held on the 12th of September over 111 challenging kilometres from and to Iban's hometown Igorre, can now be viewed on his fan club's homepage. Click to watch most of the action in a 45-minute long video. Riders like Julen Zubero, Gorka Amuriza, Unai Etxebarria and, of course, the man himself, participated, so see if you can spot some of them. The four of them are all in the pic several times, so it should be no hard task. It's a fun vid, so I recommend it to all you Iban-hungry fans out there.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Euskaltel gone missing in Paris-Tours

It was a poor showing from Euskaltel in Paris-Tours today. The team were all but protagonists, being invisible in the pack all day long, and got a 29th place as the best result. It was disappointing given the strong line-up and, the two biggest hopes for success, Samu and Koldo, both pulled out. Iñaki was 29th, while Alán was 39th and Igor grabbed 41st, all in with the main pack. This ensured Euskaltel got 11th in the team ranks, and is still ranked 13th overall with one race left to go. The only other Euskaltel representative to finish the race was Juanjo, who came in 97th, 48 seconds down. The race saw two big breaks go clear early on, but Euskaltel were nowhere to be seen in either of them. The whole team kept a surprisingly low profile, perhaps keeping something in reserver for the season-ending Giro di Lombardia next week.

83 days

As I predicted before I left for Prague two weeks ago, there's no news on Iban's B-sample. Not a sound from the man himself, not a notice from the UCI, not ONE interview, nothing on Saunier's homepage, nothing on Iban's. Nothing, absolutely nothing. Don't know what to make of it, and I find it strange that Iban hasn't issued a press-release or something of that kind since the news broke. I've been checking every Spanish newspaper for ages now, but with no result. Though, I'll keep looking out for news and, if I find any, I'll give them to you straigth away.

Amets playing the waiting game

Amest would not be rushed into signing an extension to his contract with the team and has put the negations over an extension off until his current deal expires next year. Amets really caught the eye in the Tour, and has no doubt attracted some interest from other Pro Tour teams in the aftermath of winning the most aggressive rider prize in July. Amets is, just like Rubén, Igor and Koldo who've all extended their contracts, vital for a successful future for Euskaltel, so I'm crossing my fingers that, come the end of next year, he's put pen to paper on a new deal.

Rubén signs on

Rubén has decided to prolong his stay with Euskaltel 'till 2010. Rubén got to show what he's made of in the Tour this year, and will now form the backbone of the team for at least another two years. Great to see Madariaga, Galdeano and the rest signing up the young, promising riders for the future. The first win in the pro ranks is still eluding Rubén, but with the way he's improving and riding these days, it's a question of when, rather than if, he's on the top step of the podium. Aupa Rubén!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Update from Spain; finally

Man, those internet cafés here in San Sebastián are hard to track down. It`s been a while since my last post, 11 days to be precise, but it seems I haven`t missed all that much. Iban`s B-sample is still in some lab I hope, though, I`m at a loss to find out where. It´s been two and a half months and we still don´t know a thing. How that´s possible is beyond my understanding, but there´s nothing left to say on the matter so I´m going to leave it at that. The only news worth writing about is the arrival of Josu Agirre from Orbea. Josu, not to be confused with former Euskaltel sprinter Josu Aguirre, will be taking a step up next year, and I´m glad he will. He´s been good this year, and looks to be a good all-rounder with a fast finish. 26 riders will make up the roster, so everything looks set for next campaign. I´m going to post regularly again from Sunday on, and before then I will have climbed the Jaizkibel. See you then.


web site counter
ISP Internet Providers