Joaquim Rodriguez sticks with Katusha despite WorldTour snub

Joaquin Rodriguez, Vuelta a Espana 2012, stage 15

Joaquím Rodríguez, number one-ranked rider of 2012, is remains with Katusha for now despite the team's demotion from the WorldTour, cycling's first division.

"I understand that everyone wants to ask me about the [lack of a WorldTour] licence. It doesn't change anything for me, I have no intention of changing teams because I'm happy here," Rodríguez said yesterday at the team's presentation, according to Tutto Bici.

He won one-day classics Flèche Wallonne and the Tour of Lombardy this year, and placed second in the Giro d'Italia and third in the Vuelta a España. As a result, he was number one in the 2012 WorldTour rankings.

"With Katusha, I made it to the top of the world, and it's strange to me that this team is not in cycling's top league. But, I'm tired of talking about these things, I'd rather talk about cycling. My plan? I still need to decide, but I'm able to say that the organisers of the Giro and Vuelta have stood beside me and that counts."

Rodríguez said that his agent, Angel Edo has received offers, but he would not decide until the sport's high court, CAS, hears the team's case against the UCI. Last week, the UCI's Licence Commission announced the 18 first division teams or ProTeams, leaving Katusha out after four years. This week, the commission sent a letter to the team explaining it was due to ethical reasons: the numerous doping cases and its riders' alleged links to Michele Ferrari.

USADA chief Tygart concerned with Sky's zero-tolerance path

Travis Tygart, US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO and the man responsible for exposing Lance Armstrong, said that he is concerned about Sky's zero-tolerance approach.

"We're very concerned about this zero-tolerance approach," Tygart told the Guardian yesterday. "We firmly believe, and we've put a lot of thought into it over the last year and a half, that a limited truth and reconciliation commission and process is the only way to move forward. That past will come out, one way or the other - whether it's through books or athletes who retire and want to tell their kids or whatever.

"It's going to dig itself out drip by drip. But why wouldn't you now, in a very limited period of time, given the background and the other athletes involved, have an opportunity for a truth and reconciliation commission to start afresh, to have a clean sport?"

Starting in October, Sky Principal David Brailsford led a round of individual meetings with riders and staff members. Race Coach Bobby Julich and Sports Director Steven De Jongh quit and admitted to drug use during their pro careers around 15 years ago. Senior Sports Director Sean Yates, who raced and worked with Armstrong, quit, citing family reasons and health problems.

David Howman, CEO of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), also criticised the approach last month.

"If it is destroying their lives then you have got to wonder if it is a sound idea, not many are going to fess up if they lose their jobs. Zero tolerance doesn't make much sense in the overall effort to clean up sport," Howman told the Telegraph. "In general we are concerned we are losing those who knew about the doping and what went on and we want them to feel free to come forward.

Armstrong stripped of BBC award

The BBC stripped Lance Armstrong of his 2003 Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award. According to the Associated Press, it left his name off the official list of winners on Sunday.

In a statement, it said it decided to do so "following the UCI's decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his Tour de France titles".

Schleck heard over doping positive

The Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) heard Fränk Schleck yesterday for more than two hours due to his Tour de France positive doping test.

"I again said that I was not at fault. The investigation continues but is not over," Schleck told AFP news agency disciplinary committee hearing.

It was the third hearing. In the second one on October 15, room-mate and RadioShack-Nissan team-mate Maxime Monfort spoke in Schleck's defence.

His urine sample from an anti-doping test on July 14 following the stage to Cap d'Agde showed levels of Xipamide, banned diuretic. The result was revealed on the second rest day in Pau, when Schleck left the race.

Cavendish's new Omega Pharma kit

Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep will present its riders in Ghent, Belgium, on January 15, but yesterday unveiled its new kit on YouTube.

Mark Cavendish, as per rules, will wait until January 1 to switch from Sky's to Omega Pharma's colours.

Haute Route 2013 unveiled with 21,000m climbing

The Haute Route unveiled yesterday the 2013 edition of the "highest and toughest cyclo-sportive in the world". Over seven stages, the route travels 866km and climbs 21,000 metres.

The course covers 19 legendary climbs, including the Joux Plane, the Cormet de Roseland, the Iséran and the Izoard.

Stage 1, Sunday 18th August: Geneva to Megeve (149km, 3300m)

Stage 2, Monday 19th August: Megeve to Val d'Isere (108km, 3400m)

Stage 3, Tuesday 20th August: Val d'Isere to Serre Chevalier (164km, 3400m)

Stage 4, Wednesday 21st August: Serre Chevalier to Pra Loup (118km, 3000m)

Stage 5, Thursday 22nd August: Cime de La Bonette TT (23km, 1560m)

Stage 6, Friday 23rd August: Pra Loup to Auron (142km, 3800m)

Stage 7, Saturday 24th August: Auron to Nice (162km, 2900m)

Organiser OC Sport will debut the Haute Route Pyrenees one week later, from September 1 to 7. Next month, January 14, it will unveil the route, which reportedly will travel from Barcelona to Biarritz. The organiser said yesterday that it will climb 20,500 meters over 750 kilometres.

Around 600 riders took part in this year's Haute Route Alps.

Emma Pooley used it as training and won the women's classification. She told Cycling Weekly, "I'm quite happy to be here because everyone is so friendly, they range from really good people to those who just finishing is a huge achievement. It's nice, they remind me why I started in the first place."

The two events are nearly sold out for 2013. You can book through the organiser or enjoy the catered experience via Two Wheel Tours.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.