Prudhomme: Cycling has changed
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Prudhomme: Cycling has changed

by Ben Atkins at 1:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 

"For the first time since I rejoined ASO (organiser of the Tour de France) in 2004, I had a quiet month of July and no bad news intervened between the 10th and 20th of August," explained Christian Prudhomme with an air of irony in an interview with English press agency Reuters. “In contrast to recent years after the Tour, the race of 2009 did not give us any bad surprises.

“Pierre Bordry (the president of the French anti-doping agency, AFLD) recently confirmed to me that there were no suspicious cases (concerning the 2009 Tour). That means that the fight against doping has made progress,” insisted Prudhomme. “I am conscious that it is a difficult task that one must carry out step by step but it is evident that cycling has changed. One can to realize some, even if it is necessary to remain vigilant."

Since Prudhomme joined the upper echelons of the Tour de France organisation, the race – and its immediate aftermath – has been dogged by major doping scandals; in 2005 French sports paper l’Equipe announced that several of Lance Armstrong’s urine samples showed traces of EPO; in 2006 Floyd Landis was stripped of his Tour title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone; in 2007 Michael Rasmussen was withdrawn from the race and fired by his Rabobank team for deliberately providing anti-doping authorities with incorrect information regarding his whereabouts in the months before the race; and in 2008 a number of riders including Stefan Schumacher – the winner of two time trials and wearer of the yellow jersey – and Bernard Kohl – the winner of the polka-dot mountains jersey – tested positive for the new EPO variant CERA. Despite multiple rumours and a number of re-tests, this year has produced no positive results.

The Tour director also welcomes the decision taken by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to phase out the use of race radios between team directors and riders. "I was very disappointed by the team attitude during the last Tour de France concerning earpieces,” he explained, citing the virtual go-slow organised by some teams on stage 10 between Limoges and Issoudun, which forced the abandonment of a second radio-free stage. “But I welcome with enthusiasm the decision of the UCI to forbid them from 2012."

Despite the 2009 race not quite living up to its billing, particularly the lack of the anticipated fireworks on the penultimate stage to Mont Ventoux, Prudhomme is proud of the route chosen and remains "convinced that the course was excellent, exciting, and favourable to a big race.” The 2010 route will be presented on Wednesday 14th October at the Palais de Congrès in Paris, where Lance Armstrong is expected to be in attendance, where – Prudhomme says – we can expect surprises.

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