Britain’s Chris Froome, the pre-race favorite, on Tuesday won the Tour of Romandie prologue, a 7.4km ride between Chable and Bruson, Switzerland, in a time of 13 minutes, 15 seconds.
The Sky team leader overtook Spain’s Dani Moreno — the winner of last week’s Fleche Wallonne — in a strong finish and crossed the line six seconds ahead of Andrew Talansky of the US.
Croatia’s Robert Kiserlovski was third, 13 seconds adrift of first place, while Australia’s Richie Porte, Froome’s Sky teammate, was fourth, 15 seconds back.
“It was just seven kilometers, but uphill, which is unusual for a prologue,” Froome told Swiss television. “I hadn’t raced for a month, since the Criterium International [which Froome won] and I wasn’t sure what kind of form I would be in. To win the prologue is a good sign and I hope to defend the leader’s jersey for as long as possible this week, but I know it will be difficult.”
Yesterday’s first stage was a 176.4km ride from St-Maurice to Renens, just outside Lausanne, Switzerland, with the five-stage race concluding on Sunday.
Froome will be hoping to not only win, but go on like the winners of the past two editions, Australian Cadel Evans and Froome’s Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins, and win the Tour de France in the same year.
The US government filed court documents on Tuesday laying out its case against cyclist Lance Armstrong, who is accused of defrauding the US Postal Service by taking millions of dollars in sponsorship money, while flouting professional cycling rules by doping.
The US Department of Justice said in February it would join a whistleblower lawsuit brought in 2010 by Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, and on Tuesday filed its formal complaint.
Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and was banned for life from cycling last year after accusations he had cheated for years. In January, he said the accusations were true in an interview with television host Oprah Winfrey.
Armstrong and his teammates from Tailwind Sports were paid US$40 million by the US Postal Service from 1998 to 2004, according to the suit. Armstrong’s salary during that time, excluding bonuses, was US$17.9 million, according to the complaint.
The government is suing under the False Claims Act and can recoup up to three times the amount it lost as a result of the fraud. The complaint also alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud.
An attorney for Armstrong said the complaint was opportunistic and insincere.
“The US Postal Service [USPS] benefited tremendously from its sponsorship of the cycling team. The USPS was never the victim of fraud,” attorney Elliot Peters said in a statement. “Lance Armstrong rode his heart out for the USPS team and gave the brand tremendous exposure during the sponsorship years.”
The complaint echoes Landis’ claims that Armstrong and others defrauded the US government by falsely denying the doping accusations and continuing their sponsorship relationship with the US Postal Service.”
When the government believes a suit has merit, it may take over the litigation. The individuals, or whistleblowers, get a portion of the proceeds if the case is successful.
The US complaint accuses Armstrong of using at least one prohibited substance or method in connection with every Tour de France between 1999 and 2005.
“Moreover, he knew that his teammates were engaged in similar doping practices, and he actively encouraged and facilitated those practices,” the complaint said. “The United Stated suffered damage in that it did not receive the value of the services for which it bargained.”
A lawyer for Landis, Paul Scott, said in a statement that he was “pleased to see the United States take this important step toward recovering taxpayer dollars lost to fraud.”