ALTITUDE TRAINING BACK IN FASHION BEFORE TOUR DE FRANCE

In the 90s, before the introduction of biological passports, blood tests and vampires, the easiest way to boost haematocrit levels was with regular injections of EPO.

Perhaps a sign that things really have changed in the peloton is the return of altitude training camps before the Tour de France. Everyone is at it this year, with riders in the Alps, Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada all looking for those extra red blood cells that will help them during the Tour de France.

Cadel Evans and all the Silence-Lotto Tour de France team have just spent ten days on the Stelvio at an altitude of 2757 metres; David Millar and three Slipstream team mates went to St Moritz after the Giro and then La Molina in the Pyrenees for some serious training, Alejandro Valverde has been spotted in the Sierra Nevada near Granada and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) has been in the Pyrenees above Lourdes.

SELLA GETS MARRIED AND GETS TESTED

Italian climber Emanuele Sella of the CSF Group team was the revelation of the Giro d?Italia, winning three mountain stages and the climber?s jersey.

The news that the riders at CSF Group had only undergone one test for the biological passport raised some eyebrows but the UCI have quickly made up time by testing Sella twice in the last two weeks.

Sella got married on June 2 and is not riding the Tour de France but the testers are keeping a close eye on him as he begins training for the second half of the season.

?I?m still on my honeymoon and they?ve decided to test me!?? Sella said, perplexed after the second test.

RICHEZE BLAIMS CONTAMINATED SUPPLEMENT

Remember Maxi Richeze of CSF Group team? He was sent home before the Giro even started after testing positive at the Circuit de la Sarthe for Stanazol.

Richeze believes he has found out why he tested positive after tests done on the amino acid supplement showed that they contained traces of Stanazol.

The Argentinean sprinter has hired Ivan Basso?s lawyer to help him fight his case and is now trying to test unopened containers of the same product to confirm the contamination and perhaps clear his name.

SOMEONE SHOULD TELL CANCELLARA ABOUT THE OLYMPIC TT COURSE

Fabian Cancellara blasted to victory in the Swiss national time trial championships the other day and has now set his sights on winning gold in the Beijing Olympics.

After winning the last two world time trial titles, ?Spartacus? is convinced he can win but seems to have overlooked a minor detail: the course.

According to Great Britain?s Doug Dailey, who has ridden the road and time trial courses several times, each of the two laps of the course includes 11km of climbing, almost half of the total distance of 47.6km.

In the test event last summer Cadel Evans won the time trial. He is much more of a climber than a time trial specialist and so Cancellara will surely suffer on the climbs and so struggle to be competitive in Beijing.

Perhaps Cancellara should give Doug Dailey a ring.

2010 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN NOVEMBER?

With the long-term future of the ProTour in doubt, it is difficult to predict the shape of race calendars in the next few years but it seems the 2010 world championships could be held as late as November.

According to Italian magazine Bicisport, the technical commission of the UCI is worried about how riders can travel all the way to Melbourne in Australia for the road race and then travel all the way back for Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy.

The only solution the UCI has come up with so far is to move the world championships to November and so extend the season even more.