Monthly Archives: December 2017

Froome’s path to Vuelta victory – stage-by

Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali

Chris Froome beat Vincenzo Nibali by more than two minutes to win the Vuelta

Britain’s Chris Froome has become only the third man to win the Vuelta a Espana in the same year as the Tour de France.

The four-time Tour winner, who has finished runner-up three times at the Vuelta, said before the race that he had “unfinished business”.

And he dealt with that as he joined French greats Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978) in winning both races in the same year.

This is how he achieved his goal.

Saturday, 19 August – Stage 1: Nimes, 13.7km (8.5 miles) team time trial


Rohan Dennis is the first Australian rider to wear the red jersey since Michael Matthews kept it for three days in 2014

Winner: BMC Racing

Report: Team Sky finish fourth on first stage

Chris Froome makes a solid start to his quest to become the first rider in almost 40 years to complete the Tour de France-Vuelta a Espana double. The Briton’s Team Sky squad finish fourth but crucially he beats all his rivals for the overall victory. BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis will wear the race leader’s red jersey after crossing the line first in the winning team.

Sunday, 20 August – Stage 2: Nimes – Gruissan, 203.4km (126.4 miles)


Yves Lampaert won his first Grand Tour stage to take the leader’s red jersey

Winner: Yves Lampaert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Lampaert wins stage two to take Vuelta lead

A flat stage that looked on paper set to end in a bunch sprint had a surprise winner as Yves Lampaert capitalised on expert work from his Quick-Step team in the crosswinds late on to break away, win the stage and take the leader’s red jersey. The race largely stayed together until the high winds in the final 10km, with the decisive splits occurring 2km from the finish. Chris Froome missed the first split, losing eight seconds to rival Vincenzo Nibali, but gained five more seconds on Alberto Contador and Romain Bardet.

Monday, 21 August – Stage 3: Prades Conflent Canigo – Andorra la Vella, 158.5km (98.5 miles)


Vincenzo Nibali is one of six cyclists who have won the three Grand Tours in their career

Winner: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida)

Report: Froome takes Vuelta lead after stage three

Chris Froome became the new leader of the Vuelta a Espana on Monday after finishing third in the mountainous stage three as Italian Vincenzo Nibali snatched the stage win in the final 400m of the race in the Pyrenees in Andorra.

Tuesday, 22 August – Stage 4: Escaldes-Engordany – Tarragona, 198.2km (123.2 miles)


Matteo Trentin won his first Vuelta a Espana stage to add to victories at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France

Winner: Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Trentin wins stage four as Froome retains lead

The peloton left Andorra on a largely flat route, ending in the first stage finish in Spain of this year’s race. Stephane Rossetto and Diego Rubio attacked the early break with 70km remaining but were caught inside the final 10km. Matteo Trentin won the bunch sprint – he has now won a stage in all three Grand Tours – while Britain’s Chris Froome retained the leader’s red jersey.

Wednesday, 23 August – Stage 5: Benicassim – Alcossebre, 175.7km (109.2 miles)


Lutsenko won his national time trial championship in 2015

Winner: Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana)

Report: Froome extends lead as Lutsenko wins

Leader Chris Froome says he learned “a lot about his rivals” as he improved his advantage over the rest of the field. Lutsenko’s biggest victory of his career came after he went off the front of a breakaway group and kept the chasers at bay.

Thursday, 24 August – Stage 6: Vila-real – Sagunt, 204.4km (127 miles)


Marczynski, who finished 47th at the Giro d’Italia back in May, celebrates his maiden Grand Tour stage win

Winner: Tomasz Marczynski (Pol/Lotto-Soudal)

Report: Froome extends overall lead by one second

Another day for the breakaway and Poland’s Tomasz Marczynski claims his first Grand Tour stage winning the three-man sprint for the line. Tejan van Garderen, Chris Froome’s nearest rival before the stage, crashes twice to lose time as Esteban Chaves moves up to second overall.

Friday, 25 August – Stage 7: Lliria – Cuenca, 207km (128.6 miles)


Mohoric became the fourth rider to win his first Grand Tour stage with victory on Friday

Winner: Matej Mohoric (Slo/UAE Team Emirates)

Report: Froome maintains 11-second lead

Matej Mohoric, 22, produced a stunning finish, breaking clear 10km from the finish line to win his first Grand Tour stage. There was little change in the general classification with Chris Froome finishing safely in the bunch alongside his rivals to maintain his slender advantage.

Saturday, 26 August – Stage 8: Hellin – Xorret de Cati, 199.5km (124 miles)


Alaphilippe joined the growing group of first-time Grand Tour winners at this year’s Vuelta

Winner: Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Froome attacks rivals to extend lead

Chris Froome attacks his rivals late in the day on a testing climb prior to a steep descent to the finish line to extend his lead to 28 seconds over Esteban Chaves. France’s Julian Alaphilippe took victory on the 199km stage eight.

Sunday, 27 August – Stage 9: Orihuela – Cumbre del Sol, 174km (108.1 miles)


Froome also won a model building to add to his collection of red jerseys

Winner: Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky)

Report: Froome wins stage to further extend race lead

Chris Froome attacks 500m from the finish on an uphill drag to take his first stage win of this year’s race and move a few more seconds clear of his general classification rivals. The Briton now leads Colombia’s Esteban Chaves by 36 seconds after delivering another psychological blow to those chasing the overall victory.

Monday, 28 August – rest day, Provincia de Alicante

Tuesday, 29 August – Stage 10: Caravaca Ano Jubilar 2017 – ElPozo Alimentacion, 164.8km (102.4 miles)


Matteo Trentin followed up his first Vuelta win with a second seven days later

Winner: Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Froome retains Vuelta lead as Trentin wins stage

Italian Matteo Trentin pulls clear of a 15-man breakaway to beat Jose Joaquin Rojas and Jaime Roson Garcia to the line and claim his second stage victory of the race. Britain’s Chris Froome retains his overall lead, with Ireland’s Nicolas Roche moving into a share of second place with Colombian Esteban Chaves.

Wednesday, 30 August РStage 11: Lorca РObservatorio Astronómico de Calar Alto, 187.5km (116.5 miles)


Miguel Angel Lopez beat Chris Froome by 14 seconds

Winner: Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana)

Report: Chris Froome extends lead as Lopez wins stage 11

Colombian rider Miguel Angel Lopez surges to victory with 2km to go of a mountainous stage in the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia. Britain’s Chris Froome finishes second on the stage and increases his overall lead to one minute 19 seconds, as Italian Vincenzo Nibali moves up to second overall. Esteban Chaves finishes 17th, losing more than two minutes on the day to slip to third overall.

Thursday, 31 August – Stage 12: Motril – Antequera, 160.1km (99.5 miles)


Tomasz Marczynski became the second rider to win more than one stage in this year’s Vuelta

Winner: Tomasz Marczynski (Pol/Lotto-Soudal)

Report: Froome crashes twice as overall lead is cut

Poland’s Tomasz Marczynski claims his second stage win of the race. He led with 21.5km to go and won by 52 seconds. Britain’s Chris Froome crashes twice and finishes 20 seconds behind the main group of general classification favourites, including second-placed Vincenzo Nibali. The Team Sky rider now leads the Italian by 59 seconds.

Friday, 1 September – Stage 13: Coin – Tomares, 198.4km (123.3 miles)


Matteo Trentin beat fellow Italian Gianni Moscon in a sprint to win his third stage of the Vuelta

Winner: Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Froome maintains lead in Vuelta a Espana

Italy’s Matteo Trentin wins his third stage, beating compatriot Gianni Moscon in a sprint, while Chris Froome finishes safely in seventh place. The Team Sky rider maintains his 59 second lead over Vincenzo Nibali.

Saturday, 2 September – Stage 14: Ecija – Sierra de La Pandera, 175km (108.7 miles)


Rafal Majka won stage 14, plus a collection of small trees

Winner: Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-hansgrohe)

Report: Froome protects his overall lead as Rafal Majka wins stage

Rafal Majka claimed a breakaway victory on stage 14’s summit finish while Chris Froome protected his overall lead. Team Sky’s Froome countered several attacks from Nibali on the day’s final climb, but the Italian pushed on to take the time bonus for third place.

Sunday, 3 September -Stage 15: Alcala la Real – Sierra Nevada. Alto Hoya de la Mora. Monachil, 129km (80.2 miles)


Miguel Angel Lopez claimed another stage win as Chris Froome increased his overall lead

Winner: Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana)

Report:Froome extends lead in high mountains

Chris Froome increased his overall lead on another tough day as Miguel Angel Lopez impressively won stage 15. Team Sky wore down an attack by Vincenzo Nibali, second overall, on the final climb and Froome finished strongly to add six more seconds to his lead over the Italian and take it back out over a minute.

Monday, 4 September – rest day, Logrono

Tuesday, 5 September – Stage 16: Circuito de Navarra – Logrono, 40.2km (25 miles) Individual time trial


Froome’s victory was his fifth career stage win at the Vuelta

Winner: Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky)

Report: Froome dominates time trial to extend lead

Team Sky’s four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome produced a dominant performance to increase his overall lead over Vincenzo Nibali by 57 seconds. Team Sunweb’s Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman was second on the stage, 29 seconds slower, enough to move him up to third overall, with Alberto Contador moving up to fifth with a determined effort.

Wednesday, 6 September – Stage 17: Villadiego – Los Machucos, 180.5km (112.2 miles)


Stefan Denifl won his first Grand Tour stage

Winner: Stefan Denifl (Aut/Aqua Blue Sport)

Report: Froome has lead cut as Denifl wins stage 17

Chris Froome had his lead cut by 42 seconds as Austrian Stefan Denifl won stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana. Froome, who won Tuesday’s time trial, struggled on the gruelling final climb to Los Machucos, conceding time to second placed Vincenzo Nibali.

Thursday, 7 September – Stage 18: Suances – Santo Toribio de Liebana, 169km (105 miles)


Froome (right) also repelled attacks from Spain’s Alberto Contador on the climb to the summit finish

Winner: Sander Armee (Bel/Lotto-Soudal)

Report: Froome puts more time into Nibali

While Sander Armee was claiming his maiden Grand Tour victory, the main excitement was taking place further down the final ascent to the finish with race leader Chris Froome responding superbly to losing time to Vincenzo Nibali the day before by riding clear of the Italian to improve his advantage to more than 90 seconds. The race is beautifully poised for a big showdown on the Angliru on Saturday’s penultimate stage.

Friday, 8 September – Stage 19: Caso. Parque Natural de Redes – Gijon, 149.7km (93 miles)


Thomas de Gendt became the latest rider to win a stage in all three Grand Tours with victory in Gijon

Winner: Thomas de Gendt (Bel/Lotto-Soudal)

Report: Froome maintains lead before deciding stage

With the overall favourites looking to rest as much as possible before Saturday’s testing stage, the peloton allowed a large breakaway to go clear early on. Ivan Garcia Cortina went solo with 35km to go before he was joined by Romain Bardet, Nicolas Roche and Matej Mohoric in the run-in to Gijon. However, a group of five chasers caught back on, including Thomas de Gendt, who denied Garcia Cortina and Jarlinson Pantano in the sprint to win. Alberto Contador mounted a late attack behind but was reeled in, with Chris Froome easily maintaining his advantage of one minute 37 seconds over Vincenzo Nibali.

Saturday, 9 September – Stage 20: Corvera de Asturias – Alto de l’Angliru, 117.5km (73 miles)


Contador is the first Spanish stage winner of this year’s race

Winner: Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo)

Report: Froome all-but wins Vuelta after Contador takes one last stage

Chris Froome effectively sealed the Tour-Vuelta double by finishing third, giving him a lead of more than two minutes over Vincenzo Nibali heading into Sunday’s largely processional ride around Madrid. In a fitting finale to his career, Spain’s Alberto Contador delighted the home fans with an attack on the Angliru that saw him win for one last time before retiring.

Sunday, 10 September – Stage 21: Arroyomolinos – Madrid, 117.6km (73.1 miles)


Contador was allowed a lap of honour both during and after the final stage in his home city

Winner: Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Froome completes historic Vuelta victory

Chris Froome finishes safely in Madrid to wrap up a sensational Tour de France-Vuelta a Espana double. But, not content with winning the race, the Briton sprints for 11th place to keep the green points jersey and deny stage winner Matteo Trentin. Alberto Contador gets a fitting send off as he retires from professional cycling.

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Dan Halksworth: Jersey sportsman aims for third sport at third Commonwealth Games

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Jersey’s Dan Halksworth is aiming to become the first person to compete in three different sports at the Commonwealth Games.

“My old coach used to say I was a Jack of all trades and master of none and I think I’ve carried it on through my life.”

Dan Halksworth is an athlete you have probably never heard of, but come April next year the 31-year-old form Jersey will be aiming to be a history-maker.

Halksworth will be cycling in the time-trial and road race at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, having previously competed as a swimmer in 2006 in Melbourne and a triathlete in Glasgow in 2014.

If he makes the start line, he will be the first person ever to have competed in three different sports at three different Commonwealth Games.

“I decided to give cycling a go because I’d got a bit older, got a mortgage and don’t have the time to do all three sports [in the triathlon] any more,” he told BBC Sport.

“I thought I’d still try and enjoy sport and just try and focus on one.

“Initially it wasn’t my aim to get to the Commonwealth Games, I was just trying to get back into sport really.”

‘I needed a target’

Halksworth has always been a star sportsman on Jersey – he was the island’s first Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist in 2004 when he won swimming gold in the 400m individual medley and silver in the 200m individual medley.

He then swam both medleys at Melbourne 2006, but failed to get out of the heats. Having not reached the heights in the pool he had aimed for, he knew it was time for a change.

Having done a triathlon the previous summer, he turned his back on swimming and focused on the three-discipline event with great success.

He turned professional over the gruelling Ironman distance – a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride topped off with a marathon.


Halksworth has won Island Games medals in swimming, cycling, triathlon and athletics

He went on to represent his home nation in the Glasgow 2014 triathlon, where he eventually finished 17th, despite being third behind double Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee after the swim and cycle stages.

He has twice doubled-up at an Island Games – winning triathlon gold in 2015 and 2017, while racing in the 10,000m on the track two years ago and taking time trial bronze this summer.

“I took a bit of a break after the Island Games in 2015 and I needed a bit of a kick, and in the end I said ‘I need a target to set myself’ and that target was to get myself to the Commonwealth Games.

“At the start of the year I was quite far away from getting the selection criteria, but I started working with my coach Matt Botterill and he believed I could do it, and when you’ve got someone behind you and they believe you can do it, it pushes you a bit more.

“Luckily enough in my last qualifying race of the year I managed to get there.”

Record breaker

Since the start of the Commonwealth Games in 1930 – then the British Empire Games – a number of sportspeople have competed at two different sports.

Some, like Halksworth, have done triathlon combined with one of the event’s individual disciplines – cycling, swimming or running.


Halksworth is a former British Ironman champion and was a professional over the discipline

Others have competed at sports with similar skill sets, such as weightlifting and shot put, or 100m and rugby sevens, but nobody has ever done three.

The closest came in Delhi 2010 when Ghanaian Christopher Symonds was due to compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle swimming, as well as the cycling time trial, having previously finished 26th in the triathlon at Melbourne in 2006.

But he did not start either of his swimming events, so while he has been selected for three sports he has not participated in all of them.

Halksworth’s last Commonwealth Games?

So, is this really the final act for Halksworth when it comes to Jersey and the Commonwealth Games?

Could the ‘Jack of all trades’, who is also a keen skier, not turn to a sport which required less aerobic dedication, such as shooting, bowls or archery in a future Games?

“I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and eat what I want for a while,” he joked.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, sometimes I have these silly ideas in my head and I go all guns blazing into it.

“I’m always going to keep fit, at the moment I just don’t want to be racing after the Commonwealth Games.

“I want to enjoy sport and I also want to do some challenges. I haven’t really thought of what to do yet, but something that’s going to challenge me.

“I also want to try and get a bit more skiing in as well, I’ve missed out on that in the last couple of years.”

Just as well there is not a winter Commonwealth Games – or else Halksworth might well be in the slalom or downhill representing Jersey too.

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I certainly haven’t broken any rules

Rugbytots Mid Glamorgan

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Virtual snowman created by cyclist using app on London streets

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The 88mile (141km) virtual snowman took the Cheltenham cyclist 10 hours to create on the streets of south London

A cyclist has “drawn” an 88-mile (141km) virtual snowman across London.

Anthony Hoyte, from Cheltenham, spent 10 hours cycling the streets of the city, using the exercise and route sharing app Strava to “draw” the giant festive artwork.

The cyclist has created several virtual doodles including Fowl Play in Bristol, which took first prize in the city’s Strava art competition in September.

He said: “I wanted to do something festive but it ended up so big.”

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The Cheltenham cyclist’s 51 mile GPS-tracked continuous-line ‘drawing’ of a flock of birds took first prize in the Bristol Cycling Festival’s ‘Strava Art’ competition

The 49-year-old started creating his vast doodles about three years ago by plotting drawings on a map and using the Strava app to track his ride.

Since then he has created a “not very good” dog in Cheltenham, an elaborate virtual face on the roads of Cardiff and a pair of elephants in Birmingham.

“Ideally you need a place with a high concentration of roads,” he said.

“And then I look at the map and look for things I can draw. It’s like looking at clouds and seeing pictures.”

His vast snowman was created on paper last year but he was unable to cycle the route after he came “down with the lurgy”.

“It took 10 hours, I spent the whole day doing it and did it all in one go,” he said.

“I had to stop and find public toilets and went the wrong way a few times but it’s so big no one’s going to notice.”

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“Strava art” is created via GPS tracks using the Strava app

Along with a flock of birds which “leapt out” of the map at Mr Hoyte, he has also created an intricate head with a full head of hair in Cardiff.

“Lots of people said it looked like Bruce Forsythe or Steve Wright in the Afternoon,” he said.

“But faces are impossible and I’ve made a note to self: don’t do hair again.”

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Lab tests & dehydration levels

Chris Froome holds up a trophy to celebrate winning the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in 2017

In 2017, Chris Froome became the third man to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same season

Chris Froome is facing a long and complex process to clear his name and avoid a ban.

The burden of proof is on the four-time Tour de France champion to show how he produced the “adverse” urine test without taking more than the legal dose of asthma drug salbutamol.

We’ve read the paperwork, scanned the precedents and spoken to the experts – so you don’t have to.

What are Froome’s options? Voluntary suspension? Laboratory tests? Making use of a change to the rules?

This is where things get complicated, but bear with us – here’s how it might unfold.

Firstly, Froome’s response so far

Froome gave his urine sample on 7 September at the Vuelta a Espana – and his salbutamol was 2,000 nanograms per millilitre, double the allowed level. He was told of the findings on 20 September.

He said his asthma got worse during the race and the team doctor advised him to increase his dosage – still within permissible limits.

Some people “naturally” produce higher urinary levels of salbutamol despite inhaling the same amount, according to the World Anti-Doping Authority (Wada). Food, other medications and dehydration, among other factors, can have an effect too.

Yet, in 10 years of professional racing, Froome had never gone over the permitted level before.

So he and Team Sky will have started working with lawyers and scientists to gather the likely following information for cycling’s world governing body, the UCI:

  • Details of how much salbutamol he took and when.
  • What food he had eaten and any other medications taken.
  • Evidence from studies into the drug, such as how different factors can affect test results.

What about lab tests?

Another option Froome may explore is trying to replicate his adverse finding in a laboratory.

Although Wada says these are “extremely rare”, its regulations allow for an athlete to take part in a test – called a pharmacokinetic study – to see if it is possible to return an illegal limit from a legal dose.

Pharmacokinetics is about the way drugs work their way through the body. The study is a controlled test of how that happens.

  • Beforehand, Froome stops taking the medication so his system is ‘clean’.
  • Base level blood and urine samples are taken.
  • Under strict independent supervision, he would take the same amount of salbutamol as he declared at the Vuelta.
  • Urine samples are collected at least every two hours before being taken to a Wada-accredited laboratory for analysis.

Return the same “adverse” result and Froome’s case is very strong.

But a lab is very different to 18 stages into a Grand Tour.

Wada says physical activity during the test is “not mandatory” but “could be considered if needed”. Even then, how can Froome hope to replicate his level of fatigue or the intensity of a race?

And what about food intake? How hydrated he was? Even the severity of his asthma at the time? All these are potentially key factors.

“If Froome builds his case around the pharmacokinetic study and it doesn’t replicate the result from the sample he gave during the Vuelta, then it’s not looking particularly positive,” says Dr John Dickinson, an exercise-induced asthma expert at Kent University.

Another way? The dehydration factor

Both Froome and Team Sky have mentioned dehydration as a potential factor.

Being dehydrated can increase the concentration of a drug in the system. And that could be the reason for Froome’s test result, says Dr Tom Bassindale, an anti-doping scientist at Sheffield Hallam University.

In the past, Wada has not adjusted the salbutamol threshold in test results to account for “high urine density”, which can increase when you are dehydrated.

But that is changing from 1 March 2018, and a Wada spokesperson told BBC Sport that for any case currently being adjudicated, “the most beneficial rule to the athlete would apply”.

So if Froome qualified for this adjustment, a correction equation would bring his 2,000ng/ml reading down.

It might still not be nearly enough to come down under the threshold – an athlete would likely need to be severely dehydrated for the equation to have such a drastic effect as halving a result.

But it could bring the result down to a level that is easier for Froome to argue his case.

Should Froome have suspended himself?

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‘I certainly haven’t broken any rules’

There is no mandatory ban or an obligation for Team Sky to suspend Froome in this type of case.

But he could have opted for an immediate voluntary suspension when he found out about the “adverse” finding.

Why? Because if a ban is eventually imposed, this credit could have seen the ban backdated to September, allowing him to return to racing earlier.

Without this, he risks a suspension starting on the date of the final decision, which brings more uncertainty. Wada says such cases can “take up to several weeks or months, especially if there are appeals”.

Despite knowing of the adverse test, Froome announced his intention to ride the Giro d’Italia in May 2018. Race organiser RCS was unaware of the case, suggesting Froome and Team Sky were confident of dealing with it in private before the news was leaked.

In theory then, Froome could race – and win – the Giro and the Tour de France in July, while still waiting for the case to be resolved and the sport unsure whether he will keep all his results. Any ban will see him stripped of his 2017 Vuelta title.

For Froome to race a Grand Tour with this case still unresolved has some echoes of Alberto Contador, who won the 2011 Giro while his hearing on a more serious doping charge was postponed.

Contador was stripped of the Giro title – and the 2010 Tour de France – the following year when he was finally given a two-year backdated ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Can Froome draw on any precedents?

Froome may not find much comfort in similar salbutamol cases from recent years.

  • Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi initially avoided a ban in 2007, but the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) appealed, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport gave him a 12-month suspension. Cas said his adverse test was down to “simply and, possibly, accidentally” taking too much salbutamol, and perhaps because of a poor inhaling technique. Yet still he was banned.
  • Fellow Italian Diego Ulissi returned an adverse reading at the 2014 Giro and had tests in Switzerland to try and replicate the result. He could not and was given a backdated nine-month ban.
  • Another Italian, Leonardo Piepoli, avoided a ban for returning a test above the permitted level in 2007.

Why the discrepancies?

All three riders held racing licences in different countries, so the decision was in the hands of the respective national federations.

But since the UCI established an anti-doping tribunal in January 2015, disciplinary decisions for international-level riders are now in its hands.

Whatever and whenever the outcome, this will have been a stern and unprecedented test for all involved.

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