Vuelta a España : Jean Francois Bernard doubts Cobo’s authenticity
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Vuelta a España : Jean Francois Bernard doubts Cobo’s authenticity

by VeloNation Press at 4:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Former pro believes Spaniard is more than likely going to win

Juan Jose CoboL’Equipe analyst and former French pro Jean Francois Bernard has expressed doubts about the return to form of Juan Jose Cobo, who dominated yesterday’s stage to the Angliru and now holds a 20 second advantage in the Vuelta a España.

Bernard was responding to reader questions in l’Equipe about the race and made it clear that he had questions about the Spanish rider. “This demonstration makes me neither hot nor cold. It even leaves me completely perplexed,” he wrote. “I do not believe at all in his sincerity. We do not know where it comes from, and especially from where he has returned. Apart from the Tour of Burgos (in early August) where he finished third overall, he did not exist until then! In Angliru nobody could follow him… [well] Pantani could have. Or a Contador in top shape. No, really, it's a little too much.”

Fairly or not, yesterday’s performance was greeted by some with raised eyebrows. This most likely is because of the events in the 2008 Tour de France when he finished second on a stage behind Leonardo Piepoli. Piepoli subsequently tested positive for CERA and was disqualified, and so too another team-mate, Riccardo Riccò. The events cast a shadow over the Saunier Duval team.

Cobo did however have success before and since then, including two stage wins and overall victory in the 2007 Vuelta al País Vasco plus a stage win in the 2009 Vuelta plus in the Vuelta a Castilla y León of the same year. Last year was a completely forgettable one, with his highest placing being 35th in the Brixia Tour.

Despite his reservations, Bernard believes that Cobo will most likely win the race. “If this form is there on the last week, surely. We no longer see those who we saw at the beginning of the Vuelta, so I expect he will take it. Even if the Basque Country stages are undulating and it will be every day, it will not be really hard. Above all, there is only one summit finish on Wednesday. If Cobo keeps his jersey there, atop the Pena Cabarga, he will have at least a 75% chance to win in Madrid. Especially since it has a very big team around him. Menchov, Sastre, De la Fuente: everyone will work!”

He suggests the only chance that he could be defeated is if Sky Procycling really works well in putting him on the back foot. “If they want to distance Cobo, they must first isolate him,” he said. “Then they attack in turn.”


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