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So here it is again. Another Friday, another roundup. Plenty of news this week, particularly in relation to everyone’s favourite Spaniard, Alberto Contador.

The week’s news in brief:

Rasmussen announces new team:

Perhaps the 'Chicken' can limber up once again.

After failing to secure an anticipated contract with Saxo Bank-SunGard, Rasmussen’s personal sponsor, Christina Hembo has simply gone out and bought an existing Continental team. So the ‘Chicken’ has a new roost!

Grand Tour’s are certainly out of the question, although there is hope that the team may be able to secure wildcard entries into some other events.

HTC Highroad’s Brian Holm has already dismissed the idea, suggesting “You can almost only smile at such plans”, before continuing to cast doubt over whether Hembo’s team will have enough time to get organised and prepare for the coming season.

Rasmussen must certainly be pleased that something is moving forward since he has been unable to secure a ride with a ProTeam since his return to the sport in 2009. Some have suggested he’s been blacklisted by the UCI, although the governing body strongly denies this. Regardless, could Rasmussen really make an impact riding for this proposed team?

A family affair?

An entire Italian cycling family faces doping ban:
Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) prosecutors have asked for an entire family to be banned for doping offences related to a case involving Alessandro Petacchi. Coni have demanded that Petacchi’s old Lampre team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci should receive a hefty 6-year ban.

Bernucci freely admitted to taking the weight control drug Sibutramine, stating he had been taking it for four years, unaware it had been added to the list of banned substances in 2006. Nevertheless, at the time, T-Mobile judged that he had broken their internal code of conduct and subsequently removed him from the team’s roster.

If found guilty, Bernucci’s family will be forbidden “from frequenting sporting establishments and spaces reserved for athletes and related personnel in Italy”. Bernucci is adamant that his family have nothing to do with the case. Is this maybe a disciplinary step too far?

Cyclist warning device for drivers could save lives:
On a more positive note, a 10-year-old from north Wales has designed a promising cyclist warning system for motorists after a schoolfriend was killed in a road crash. Tybalt Melia’s ‘Bike Bleeper’ fits onto the handlebars of your bike, before sending out a signal to nearby car radios, alerting drivers to the fact that a cyclist is nearby.

The next big thing in cycle safety?

Although still in quite a primitive state, bosses at a satellite navigation company have already expressed interest in the idea, suggesting that it could one day plot the position of bikes on a car’s sat nav.

The safety device is still a prototype but has already won an invention competition on British children’s TV. It’s hoped that the current device – which appears to be stuffed inside a Tupperware box – will eventually be shrunk down to a much more manageable size and perhaps won’t be mistaken for the cyclist’s lunch.

Currently, the bleeper could only really be used in rural environments since the device would constantly set off car radios in busy urban environments, where cyclists are found in far greater numbers. A good idea? Does it have a future?

Contador corner:

Imsomnia and hair loss for Contador:

Riis has already lost all his hair... is Contador next?

Contador has recently been complaining that he is suffering from insomnia and hair loss, due to the stress of dealing with the Clenbuterol doping case that he is at the centre of. He has also continued to stress his innocence in front of the media, despite vowing not to speak to them.

The profound conclusion made by one commentator at Bike World News leaves us with something to think about; “Oh, and by the way: Only the truly innocent sleep soundly, El Pistolero”.

The next story suggests that we might find out if Contador is guilty rather sooner than we might have expected…

Contador’s defence, based on unintentional doping, could yield results:

Going down Contador?

Contador’s lawyer, Andy Ramos, has predicted that a decision in the Clenbuterol doping case could come sooner than expected. In addition, Ramos has stated that Contador’s defence is based upon that of several other athletes who avoided bans after claiming they were not voluntary dopers. Contador has continued to cling onto his ‘tainted steak’ explanation for the positive test result on the second rest day of the TdF.

Ramos has concluded that “The levels [of Clenbuterol] are ridiculous – it couldn’t be anything else”. Contador can certainly be hopeful that this defence will save him from suspension, as other athletes have been acquitted on similar reasoning. For instance, French tennis player Richard Gasquet received only a small suspension after claiming that cocaine entered his body when he kissed a woman who had consumed the drug. Perhaps more relevant to Contador’s plight is the case of German table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov. OvtCharov was cleared of all charges against him after it emerged that he ate meat contaminated with Clenbuterol while at a tournament in China.

So there’s still hope for Contador yet. Perhaps his career can be saved, along with his hair. Moreover, it appears this news may have placed Contador in a more optimistic mood…

Contador targeting all three Grand Tours:

Aiming high?

So, after news broke that Contador’s hair was falling out on Monday, by Wednesday, it appeared Contador had made a complete U-turn. A French newspaper claimed that Contador plans to ride all three Grand Tours if he is cleared, although this was later refuted by Jacinto Vidarte, Contador’s spokesperson. Carlos Sastre recently made a similar claim, although the failure of his Geox team to secure a ProTeam licence means that it’s unlikely Sastre will be able to carry this out. Regardless, it looks like all or nothing now for Contador, since he has already threatened retirement from the sport if he receives a suspension.

Riis has continued to show support for his investment, although his comments reveal that he has his doubts that Contador will be cleared; “I hope the decision will be fair. But if he happened to be punished, it wouldn’t mean that he’s guilty”.

Tweet of the week:

Since news broke that Rasmussen will be racing for Christina Watches, there’s been quite a few jokes going around.

One tweeter, @marcokooijman, had one such humorous take on events; ‘She might as well call it ‘Christina Watches her money disappear’.

Pics of the week:

We’ve got quite a handful of pictures for you this week.

Apparently Zebra's are now competing in Track events. I think even Hoy would have a run for his money against competition like this.

Here's Bart getting it slightly wrong in the frosty conditions. We're pretty sure your neck isn't meant to do that.

Probably best not to ride with a bad case of constipation.

These are the legs of Michael Matthews, who is set to race with Rabobank in 2011. With these mighty legs he's surely going to do some damage in the sprints.

Video of the week:

Originally reported on Bike Snob NYC, Hill Bombing is apparently the latest craze to sweep the USA. As you can see in the video above, speeding down San Francisco’s iconic hills while narrowly avoiding fatal collisions seems to get the adrenaline pumping for many. At least some have got their cycle lights on when it gets dark I suppose, although many more seem to have forgotten the all important helmet. Exactly how much time a typical driver has to react to one of these ‘Hill Bombers’ is debatable, especially when they’re near enough invisible in the dark, with only a gentle hum of their bikes to cut through the deathly silence of the night. Hopefully there isn’t an out-takes sequel to this video anytime soon!

Pick of this week’s new products:

This week there’s only really one thing we want to tell you about in this section, and that’s the real Garmin Transitions team kit we’ve just received this week. This is the real deal, not just replica kit, with some of it even having some of the riders names written on the inside of the collar! This kit is something you won’t be able to buy anywhere else and there’s limited stocks so make sure you grab yours now just in time for Christmas!

To give you an idea of what we’ve received here’s a small selection:

Garmin Transitions Team Issue Speed Cycling Jersey. Read more here. Garmin Transitions Team Issue Peloton Thermal Cycling Bib Tights. Read more here.
Garmin Transitions Team Issue Cycling Leg Warmers. Read more here. Garmin Transitions Team Issue Long Sleeve Cycling Speed Suit. Read more here.

What we’re up to this weekend:

  • Ant is predominantly sleeping while also making regular visits to the local pub.
  • John will also be predominantly sleeping with a couple of games of Rugby on the cards when he wakes from his slumber.
  • Following sleep, Chris is off to see Newcastle vs. Liverpool’s late kick-off, before heading into Newcastle proper.
  • Meanwhile, I’m heading down to Liverpool for the weekend. Not to be left out, I’ll also be sleeping for long periods, although I might manage to make it into town on Saturday night.

Any plans this weekend? Let us know below.

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