Lobato and LottoNL part ways over sleep medication

After one year with the team, Juan José Lobato has split up with LottoNL-Jumbo due to a team rules violation that was confirmed December 13. He was found to have contraband sleep medication at a team camp in Girona, Spain.

While the medication was described as “non-doping-related” in a team statement, it was against team rules. Lobato, as well as two other riders, Antwan Tolhoek and Pascal Eenkhoorn, were immediately suspended. They were kicked out of the team camp that Wednesday.

On Monday, the team confirmed that Lobato, 28, was off the team. Tolhoek, 23, and Eenkhoorn, 20, were suspended for two months.

The team statement read:

“The team takes responsibility for the health of the riders, and experiments that endanger their health are not accepted. In the context of the talent development policy that Team LottoNL-Jumbo advocates, the team has reached out to Tolhoek and Eenkhoorn to provide them a continuing opportunity to develop into an exemplary professional cyclist.

“In the case of Juan José Lobato, it was decided to end the sporting cooperation in the interest of both the rider and the team. Lobato has had an emotionally eventful year and will have to concentrate on his recovery.”

Prior to his year with LottoNL, Lobato raced for three years with Movistar.

The Spaniard has won a few stages in one-week stage races. In 2015, he won stage 2 at Tour Down Under and stages 2 and 5 at Ruta del Sol. In 2017, he was second in stage 4 of the Vuelta a España.

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MPCC pressures Sky to suspend Froome

MPCC — the voluntary advocacy group promoting cycling ethics — is pressuring Team Sky to suspend Chris Froome until his asthma case plays out.

Team Sky is not among seven WorldTour teams that are part of the group, but that didn’t stop the MPCC board from pressing its case that the best thing for cycling is for Froome to temporarily step aside.

“[The] MPCC and its Board of Directors, without making any assumption towards the final decision, asks Team Sky to suspend its rider on a voluntary basis, until the end of the procedure,” an MPCC press release stated Monday. “This measure would allow the rider and its team to focus on their defense with serenity, but also to avoid tension among many managers and riders.”

The fact that Froome is still able to race — though it is worth pointing out there are no major races until next month — has rankled some within the cycling community.

WADA rules, however, state clearly that Froome is not facing a provisional ban for turning in a urine sample in September with double the allowed limit of Salbutamol. The drug is a threshold product — called a “specified substance” in WADA jargon — and does not trigger a provisional ban in the case of an “adverse analytical finding.”

Froome is currently in Mallorca for a Team Sky pre-season training camp, and shows no signs of stepping aside as his case plays out. Froome denies culpability, and said he did not take more than allowed doses of Salbutamol, a product that is allowed under WADA rules in spray form but under strict quantity limits.

The MPCC — Movement Pour Cyclisme Credible — was created in 2007. Twenty Pro Continental team, nine Continental teams, and six women’s teams are members.

As of now, only seven WorldTour teams participate: Ag2r-La Mondiale, Bora-Hansgrohe, Dimension Data, FDJ, Lotto-Soudal, Team Sunweb, and Education First-Drapac (Cannondale-Drapac).

MPCC members vow to follow a stricter ethical code than outlined by WADA and UCI rules, in part to engender confidence via transparency. One of those tenets is to voluntarily sideline riders if they run afoul with an anti-doping investigation.

Froome tested positive for elevated levels of Salbutamol in a routine anti-doping control on September 7. Froome and Team Sky were notified September 20. The story only broke via leaks last week.

The MPCC also requested a formal investigation into comments made by former Sky coach Shane Sutton in a BBC documentary suggesting that Team Sky’s use of TUEs (therapeutic-use exceptions) might have been for a competitive advantage.

“MPCC also requests that UCI opens an inquiry following Shane Sutton’s statements. The former Team Sky and UK’s national team’s coach admitted that some of the medicine requiring a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) might have been used to enhance performance,” the release said.

“Given the zero tolerance that everyone advocates and the necessity for transparency, MPCC renews its wish to see Team Sky and all the other teams, sponsors, organizers … to join MPCC on a voluntary basis. MPCC’s philosophy, alongside the UCI, can make a real difference in the fight against doping.”

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VeloNews awards 2017: Sagan turns lemons into lemonade

Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

‘Lemons into lemonade award:’ Peter Sagan

The final kilometers of the 2017 UCI Road World Championships saw a number of pre-race favorites embark on fruitless attacks and energy-sapping breakaways. Peter Sagan was not one of them. The two-time defending champion stayed hidden in the peloton, emerging just once to unleash a blistering sprint. The move catapulted him to his third consecutive rainbow jersey with a classic display of efficiency and patience.

Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) lacked those virtues throughout much of his 2017 campaign, which was marred by a series of crushing defeats. In each loss, Sagan’s wasteful attacks and dubious tactics were to blame.

During Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Sagan forged the day’s three-man breakaway. Rather than gauge his effort, Sagan took huge pulls on the front and even slipped off the back (he caught back on). A fresher Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) easily beat him in the sprint.

During Milano-Sanremo, Sagan’s attack again formed the decisive move. Sagan pulled the trio into the final meters and then jumped too early in the sprint. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) came around Sagan in the finale to win.

At Gent-Wevelgem, Sagan made the final selection of four, only to be thwarted by Niki Terpstra’s (Quick-Step Floors) decision not to pull through. Sagan waved his arms in frustration as Van Avermaet and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) rode away.

Perhaps the worst loss came at the Tour of Flanders. Forced to chase eventual winner Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step), Sagan rode dangerously close to the barriers on the Oude Kwaremont climb. His handlebars hooked a dangling sweatshirt and he crashed.

Did these calamities inform Sagan’s riding at worlds? The famously cryptic world champion gave little insight after his win in Bergen.

“It is not easy guys. The last five kilometers I said it is already gone…” Sagan said. “It came to a sprint. It’s unbelievable.”

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VeloNews awards 2017: Dan Martin’s gritty Tour

Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

Gritty ride of the year: Dan Martin

Narrow tarmac, hardly two riders wide, wound its way down the backside of the Mont du Chat haphazardly, as if its engineers were interested merely in the path of least resistance. (Or as if it was hardly engineered at all.) Corners tightened abruptly; edges fell away precipitously. It would be demanding at the best of times. In the late hours of stage 9 of the Tour de France, it was raining.

The crash felt as inevitable as it was horrific. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) caught the inside of a corner and flipped up and over and into a stone wall, catching Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) in the process. The Irishman flipped over his bars and into the wet pavement. Porte left the race on a backboard; Martin, though, stood and soldiered on.

He couldn’t stand up straight the next morning, he said. He could barely stand on the bike. He was forced to attack because he knew he couldn’t respond to the attacks of others. He spent hours with therapists each day. He was more comfortable on the bike than off, but only in a relative sense. Real comfort, for the 11 remaining stages, was not part of Martin’s world.

In the week after the Tour, doctors discovered two fractured vertebrae they’d missed in initial scans. Martin had finished sixth in cycling’s most important race with a broken back.

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Restrepo looks to seize more opportunities in 2018

Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran and Fernando Gaviria understandably dominate the headlines when it comes to Colombian riders in the WorldTour but Jhonatan Restrepo has been quietly building a solid reputation for himself at Katusha-Alpecin.

Signed as a neo-pro in 2016, the quick-finishing 23-year-old has not yet won a race on the WorldTour but there are signs of encouragement after a promising start to the season in 2017. Although his campaign was disrupted by injury the softly-spoken Colombian has big plans for next year, including a shot at glory in the Tour Down Under.

“I had a season of two halves,” he told Cyclingnews at Katusha’s recent training camp in Mallorca, Spain.

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Restrepo finished tenth overall in the Tour Down Under in January and picked up the best young rider’s jersey for his efforts. That performance was backed up by fourth in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and upon his return to Europe he claimed second place behind the unstoppable Alejandro Valverde in the Tour of Murcia.

Although Restrepo went slightly off the boil after that, he returned in July at the Tour of Austria with plans on another GC assault. A top-15 result in the prologue was promising enough but on stage 2 he crashed out with a broken collarbone.

He returned to action in August but lingering issues with his back saw him pull up in almost every race.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

What you can learn by talking to hairdressers | Letters

Cyclists with asthma | Barbershop information | Hygge in the UK | Blind date | Placenames

After reading Marina Hyde’s comments about Team Sky and their tribulations (Opinion, 16 December), I have to say I sympathise with those who find it difficult to deal with the problem of salbutamol and its effect on cyclists with asthma. I have been taking it on a regular basis for many years and I am no better a cyclist now than I was before I turned 93.
Hilda Hayden
Malvern, Worcestershire

• If Stuart Heritage learned to talk to his hairdresser (G2, 14 December) he would find he had a reliable source of information about tradespeople and wouldn’t need to employ expensive people who knocked on his door to clean his gutters (G2, 29 November). That’s how I discovered my most recent plumber.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

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Rouiller wins junior men’s race in Namur

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Pidcock wins U23 race in Namur

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Van Aert a level above the rest in Namur

Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) captured the victory at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Namur, Belgium on Sunday with a dominating performance in the cold and mud. Former European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea) rode to second as Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon), who was suffering from a cold, finished third.

Van Aert rode away from the field on the opening lap and stayed consistent throughout the race to win by over a minute.

Top 10

  • 1. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:07:47
  • 2. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:08:51
  • 3. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:08:53
  • 4. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:09:45
  • 5. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:55
  • 6. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:10:11
  • 7. Marcel Meisen, (GER), 1:10:24
  • 8. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:10:46
  • 9. Daan Soete, (BEL), 1:10:59
  • 10. Quinten Hermans, (BEL), 1:11:08

The world cup course in Namur is one of the most sacred grounds in cyclocross. The list of winners here tells a tale of the champions of the sport. Its steep run-ups and scary descents challenge the riders technically, but also the course is famous for its mud. The mud is thick and terrible in Namur.

Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napolean Games) took the holeshot, as a huge crash at the start caused chaos. Former Belgium national champion Klass Vantornhout (Marlux-Napolean Games) was involved in the pile-up. He would get up and walk off the course on his own power, but was holding his right arm tightly against his body.

U.S. national cyclocross champion Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) had a stellar start and was riding in the top-10. He would fight for a top 10 throughout the day, but eventually finished 11th. The result is impressive considering the difficulty the Namur course represents.

Van Aert moved into the lead midway through the first lap and simply rode away from everyone. His archrival van der Poel looked to be a step off his game early in the race. He didn’t go to the front from the start and seemed content to ride amongst the wheels. He didn’t immediately go with van Aert’s move and instead rode with the chase group behind the world champion. Van der Poel was joined by Aerts, Sweeck, Vanthourenhout, and Daan Soete (Telenet Fidea).

At the end of the opening lap, van Aert’s lead was already stretching to 20 seconds over the chase group. The elite men would contest nine laps when the race was all said and done.

On the second lap, van der Poel finally attacked the chase group and set off in pursuit of van Aert. Aerts was able to follow the Dutchman and the two would battle for the rest of the race for the second position as the riders in the chase group behind would only lose time to the podium contenders.

As van Aert powered on alone to victory and Aerts and van der Poel battled, the positions for the rest of the top 10 were constantly changing. Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napolean Games) started the race slow, but the Belgian stayed consistent as the rest of the riders tired and he had moved into the top-five by the midpoint in the race. Pauwels won the Namur world cup in 2014 and finished third in both 2015 and 2016.

While van Aert stood atop the pedals and celebrated his victory, van der Poel’s race finished with a tumble. The world cup series leader crashed on one of the final descents and lost contact with Aerts. He would sprint back onto the Belgian’s wheel right as they hit the pavement, but had nothing left in the sprint and conceded second place.

After finishing second to van der Poel the last two years in Namur, van Aert was finally able to take the victory on Sunday. The podium in 2015 and 2016 had been the same with van der Poel taking the win and van Aert and Pauwels finishing second and third respectively. Pauwels finished fourth on Sunday with Vanthourenhout in fifth.

The UCI Cyclocross World Cup continues on December 16th in Zolder, Belgium.

Full results

  • 1. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:07:47
  • 2. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:08:51
  • 3. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:08:53
  • 4. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:09:45
  • 5. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:55
  • 6. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:10:11
  • 7. Marcel Meisen, (GER), 1:10:24
  • 8. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:10:46
  • 9. Daan Soete, (BEL), 1:10:59
  • 10. Quinten Hermans, (BEL), 1:11:08
  • 11. Stephen Hyde, (USA), 1:11:22
  • 12. Tim Merlier, (BEL), 1:11:32
  • 13. Jens Adams, (BEL), 1:11:48
  • 14. Lars Forster, (SUI), 1:11:58
  • 15. Steve Chainel, (FRA), 1:12:11
  • 16. Diether Sweeck, (BEL), 1:12:19
  • 17. Dieter Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:12:21
  • 18. Marcel Wildhaber, (SUI), 1:12:27
  • 19. Lars Van Der Haar, (NED), 1:12:52
  • 20. David Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:13:02
  • 21. Fabien Canal, (FRA), 1:13:05
  • 22. Nicolas Cleppe, (BEL), 1:13:21
  • 23. Tom Meeusen, (BEL), 1:13:39
  • 24. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL), 1:13:42
  • 25. Francis Mourey, (FRA), 1:13:42
  • 26. Matthieu Boulo, (FRA)
  • 27. Nicola Rohrbach, (SUI)
  • 28. Michael BoroŠ, (CZE)
  • 29. Jim Aernouts, (BEL)
  • 30. Simon Zahner, (SUI)
  • 31. Marco Aurelio Fontana, (ITA)
  • 32. Vincent Baestaens, (BEL)
  • 33. Severin SÄgesser, (SUI)
  • 34. Gioele Bertolini, (ITA)
  • 35. Sascha Weber, (GER)
  • 36. Gosse Van Der Meer, (NED)
  • 37. Twan Van Den Brand, (NED)
  • 38. Lorenzo Samparisi, (ITA)
  • 39. Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga IbaÑez, (ESP)
  • 40. Nicolas Samparisi, (ITA)
  • 41. Tony Periou, (FRA)
  • 42. Alois Falenta, (FRA)
  • 43. Nicolas Pruvot, (FRA)
  • 44. Stan Godrie, (NED)
  • 45. Grant Ferguson, (GBR)
  • 46. Patrick Van Leeuwen, (NED)
  • 47. Marvin Schmidt, (GER)
  • 48. Wolfram Kurschat, (GER)
  • 49. Martin Eriksson, (SWE)
  • 50. Henrik Jansson, (SWE)
  • 51. Jeremy Durrin, (USA)
  • 52. Andrew Juiliano, (USA)
  • 53. Till Drobisch, (NAM)
  • 54. Garry Millburn, (AUS)
  • 55. Marcel Lehrian, (GER)
  • 56. Yannick Mayer, (GER)
  • 57. Tim Rieckmann, (GER)

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LottoNL-Jumbo set to fire Lobato after sleep medication fiasco

LottoNL-Jumbo are set to dismiss Juan José Lobato in the next 24 hours after the Spaniard was found to have taken sleeping medication outside of the team’s supervision at a training camp. The Spaniard was found asleep by the team management and failed to initially wake. He was later taken to hospital along with Antwan Tolhoek and Pascal Eenkhoorn, who also took Noctamid and Stilnox. Both Eenkhoorn and Lobato spent the night at hospital. All three riders were sent home from the training camp in Girona, Spain.

The fate of Eenkhoorn and Tolhoek has not yet been confirmed but a team spokesperson confirmed that the pair would appear at the team management’s offices on Monday for disciplinary talk. They may also be fired but Lobato’s fate appears to be sealed.

“We’re trying to find a solution with him and his management so it’s not 100 per cent. It depends on the conditions that we discuss. The intention is that he leaves the team. There’s very little chance that he stays,” a team spokesperson told Cyclingnews.

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“Eenkhoorn and Tolhoek are invited to our offices tomorrow, where we will decide their future. They have to explain some things and they might stay, they might not. We’ll communicate the situation tomorrow.”

The team claimed that alcohol was not involved – contrary to reports in some media outlets – but the fact that three riders took medication without the team’s supervision has understandably lead to serious questions.

Lobato, 28, competed in Lotto colours for the first time in 2017 having moved across from Movistar. He had one more year left on his current contract. According to the Dutch media it was Lobato who distributed both substances.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com