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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

European Cycling News for December 23, 2004

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and John Stevenson

The Falcon ready to fly again

Paolo Savoldelli (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: John Pierce
Click for larger image

Paolo Savoldelli is ready to fly high once again as a member of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team in 2005. Just back from the team's first camp in Austin, Texas, 31 year-old Savoldelli has found a new lease on life. Cyclingnews' European Editor Tim Maloney reports.

In 2002, Paolo Savoldelli won the Giro d'Italia with a surprise surge in the last few stages to take the maglia rosa home to Milano. Back then, Savoldelli was riding for the small, now defunct Index Alexia team and following his Giro victory, the rider from Bergamo earned the nickname "il Falco" (the Falcon) for his audacious descending and his predatory riding style.

Savoldelli then signed a lucrative two year contract with T-Mobile for 2003 and 2004, but following a series of accidents and illnesses, il Falco never had the chance to spread his wings after demonstrating his ability the previous June. Although Savoldelli was famous for his daring descending skills, in February 2003 while training in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Savoldelli had a high-speed head-on with a moped on a downhill stretch and smashed his face badly, fracturing his nose which knocked him out of action for months.

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Rogge questions Hamilton and Museeuw's achievements

IOC president Jcques Rogge has questioned Tyler Hamilton's as well as Johan Museeuw's career achievements in interviews with Belgian daily newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and French L'Equipe.

"We can't take Hamilton's medal back from him, but we can have doubts about his career," Rogge said, referring to the positive doping control after Hamilton's victory in the Olympic time trial competition. "Nobody will regard Tyler Hamilton as the Olympic time trial champion. He remains an Olympic champion who doped," Rogge continued, expressing a similar opinion to World Anti-Doping Agency Chairman Richard Pound a few months ago.

"The same goes for Museeuw. He is a great champion who achieved great victories. These remain on his palmares because he never got caught, but you may well question these achievements," the Belgian IOC president explained. Johan Museeuw was suspended by his National Federation on October 9 on the grounds of evidence collected in the "Landuyt affair", a hormone and doping products traffic case in Belgium. The "Lion of Flanders" was the World Champion of 1996 and World Cup winner in 1995 and 1996.

Pro Continental teams confirmed

The UCI has published a list of the teams that will be registered as Professional Continental Teams by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) for 2005. In accordance with UCI rules, only teams whose file was completed by December 20, 2004 - three days ago - can be registered as UCI Professional Continental Teams. These teams are:

Landbouwkrediet - Colnago (Belgium)
Chocolade Jacques-T Interim (Belgium)
Miche (Bulgaria)
Colombia - Selle Italia (Colombia)
eD system - ZVVZ (Czech Republic)
AG2R Prévoyance (France) 
Agritubel (France)
Barloworld (Great Britain)
Team Wiesenhof (Germany)
Shimano (Netherlands)
Phonak Hearing Systems (Switzerland)
Navigators Insurance Cycling Team (USA)

Meanwhile, some teams have submitted their files but received a number of reserves or important remarks; these teams have been invited to complete their documents at the latest by January 17, 2005. These are: (Belgium)
Comunidad Valenciana (Spain)
Kaiku (Spain)
Relax Fuenlabrada (Spain)
R.A.G.T Semences (France)
Wismilak (Indonesia)
Tenax (Ireland)
Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare (Italy)
Acqua & Sapone - Adria Mobil (Italy)
Action (Poland)
L.A. Aluminios - Liberty Seguros (Portugal)
Elitron - Portalupi (Switzerland)
Team LPR (Switzerland)

Spanish team Paternina is not on this list, which confirms Spanish media reports that the team will not be able to continue as a professional team in 2005 due to the lack of an additional sponsor.

The UCI's Continental circuit will not only include Professional Continental Teams, but also Continental Teams which are registered by the national federations from the country where the majority of the team's athletes originate. These teams may be professional or not, they are recognized and certified by the national federations in a similar way to division III teams and must meet the following criteria: have 8 to 16 athletes on their roster, the majority of them under 28 years of age. Each national federation can register a maximum of 15 Continental Teams.

The UCI's Continental circuit is furthermore divided into UCI Europe Tour, Africa Tour, America Tour, Asia Tour and Oceania Tour, and each of the "Tours" has special race participation rules. For the Europe Tour, these are:

Hors Classe races:

UCI ProTeams (50% max. of the total number of riders per team at the start) 
UCI Professional Continental Teams 
UCI Continental Teams from the country in which the race is taking place

Class 1 races:

UCI ProTeams (50% max. of the total number of riders per team at the start) 
UCI Professional Continental Teams 
UCI Continental Teams 
National Teams

Class 2 races:

UCI Professional Continental Teams from the country 
UCI Continental Teams 
National Teams 
Regional Teams and Clubs

Participation rules for UCI Africa Tour, UCI America Tour, UCI Asia Tour and UCI Oceania Tour races are the same, except that there is no restriction for race organisers on inviting foreign teams to their races; as it is the case at Hors Classe races with Continental teams and Class 2 races with with professional Continental Teams.

Zaragoza to start 2008 Tour?

The northern Spanish city of Zaragoza, who was granted the hosting of the 2008 Expo only a few days ago, will try to stage the "Grand Depart" of the Tour de France the same year. Representatives of the city are reported to plan to travel to Paris in January 2005 for further talks with the Tour de France organiser ASO. Zaragoza has already applied to be one of the stage towns of the 2008 Tour, and might host the departure of the Vuelta a España in 2007, if its negotiations with Vuelta management Unipublic succeed.

RAGT Semences for 2005

French professional cycling team RAGT Semences has held a training camp in Savoie, a region in the French Alps, to gather its 2005 team roster from December 14 to 18. In the town of Marcinelle, the team assembled to welcome the newcomers within its ranks and prepare for the season ahead with some altitude training sessions.

In 2005, RAGT will include Belgian neo pros Kevyn Ista, Olivier Kaisen, Xavier Hérinne, Guillaume Lernould, as well as new French riders Emilien-Benoît Bergès, Hubert Dupont and Sébastien Minard. Also joining the team is Nicolas Dulac, who turned pro in August 2004 and is widely acclaimed as a promising talent.

Another newcomer is Benjamin Levécot, who started riding professionally in 2001 with Big Mat Auber and will be another interesting element to join the roster of the nine experienced riders from the 2004 formation: Guillaume Auger, Eric Berthou, Renaud Dion, Roman Luhovyy, Yoann Le Boulanger, Ludovic Martin, Christophe Rinero, Nicolas Reynaud and Eddy Seigneur.

Pascal Duez, former professional rider for the town of Charleroi, Belgium, and manager of its Sport/Education Department has joined RAGT as Assistant Team Manager. As the team will not be part of the ProTour, RAGT will pursue wild cards necessary to gain access to the Grand Tours - especially the Tour de France.

A boy for the Van Petegems

Peter and Angelique Van Petegem have welcomed baby son Maurits on December 21. Both baby and mother are doing great. At 51cm and weighing 3 kg 450g the smallest Van Petegem is said to be a peaceful and happy baby. Gauthier and Axandre are delighted they have another brother to play with.

Cycling.TV media sponsor of Brit pro road team

The internet-delivered TV channel has signed a deal for 2005-2006 to become the official media sponsor of British X-Power Litespeed team.

"We'd like to help in our own small way to build a strong British professional road race team," said's Simon Brydon. "In the close season we have had several approaches from professional teams but we really liked the look of the Recycling team and also its sponsorship and rider lineup for 2005. With three Olympic silver medalists and the young Scotsman, Evan Oliphant, coming on board we felt that it was the team to support." will start into the 2005 road season with the coverage of the Tour Down Under in January, 2005.

Mads Christensen
Photo ©: Jesper Tikiøb
Click for larger image

Christensen awarded

Mads Christensen, who will ride for Quick.Step in 2005, has won Denmarks's Best rider of 2004 award, ahead of Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Frank Høj (CSC), Brian Vandborg (CSC) and track rider Alex Rasmussen.

The award, chosen by the readers of CyclingWorld , the official magazine of Danmarks Cykle Union, recognizes Christensen's bronze medal at the under 23 world championship.


Images by Jesper Tikiøb/

Otxoa awarded

Disabled athlete Javier Otxoa has been recognized by the Vizcaya Sports Press Association for his silver medal at the Paralympic Games. Otxoa, who was seriously injured when he and his brother were hit by a car in early 2001, was voted as one of the great sportsmen of Vizcaya at the Gala del Deporte in Bilbao this week.

Blijlevens postpones record attempt

Dutch former pro rider Jeroen Blijlevens has postponed his attempt on the absolute bicycle land speed record, currently held by Fred Rompelberg at 268.8km/h.

Blijlevens was planning a September 2005 attempt on the record, which involves being towed up to high speed by a car and then drafting at the record speed. The rider is effectively sucked along by the vortex behind the car, which is not without its hazards.

After breaking his thigh at the beginning of November, Blijlevens does not think he will be recovered in time, and now plans to have a crack at the record some time in 2006.

Navan Avonmore CC Christmas charity rides

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

It may be Christmas time, but Larry Clarke of the Navan Avonmore Cycling Club is not sitting idly by the fire. He is busy getting our needy brethren sorted out with funds - and he has done more than his share of fund raising down the years.

The motto of the Navan Avonmore club is, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." During the year Clarke is involved in the promotion of leisure activities and raising much needed monies for all kinds of good causes.

Every festive time he reserves his commitment in supporting two very good causes, which are near to him and dear to him, the local St. Vincent de Paul on Christmas Day and 'Cairde' on St. Stephen's Day.

Clarke has cajoled Lisa Callaghan, who represented Ireland in the Paralympics and Laura Finnegan a representative in the Transplant Games to get proceedings under way at the designated locations.

On Christmas Day the novelty two-up time trial is the feature with a start from the Ramparts on the Kentstown Road in Navan at 11 o'clock. Each participating pair nominate a time they anticipate to complete the course of approximately 8 miles and the judges have to oversee the finishing time and the nominated time which each pair submits prior to the start. Rumour has it that two former Ras winners, Seamus Kennedy and Philip Cassidy will team up in an attempt to lift the top prize.

The following day, St. Stephen's it will be the "tour of the Boyne Valley. This has a start time of 11 o'clock. An interesting participant here will be the Slane Parish Priest, Fr. Joe Deegan. I have it on good authority that his reverence has been clocking up training miles unbeknownst to the organiser Larry Clarke. Evidently, Fr. Joe intends putting Larry under pressure on the scenic route that the tour will cover, including Newgrange, Collon and back to Slane.

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