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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 17, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Another big step for Hamilton

By Chris Henry

Tyler raises the bar
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

When Phonak Hearing Systems presented its 2004 team at the company's Stäfa, Switzerland headquarters Thursday, new team leader Tyler Hamilton was the man of the moment. Hamilton's move from two very successful seasons at Team CSC to the less experienced Phonak team surprised many, but it was telling of the American's evolving ambitions, which now lie at the top step of the Tour de France podium.

Like many team transfers, the subject of Hamilton's eventual switch to Phonak was brought up mid-season, but it was not dissatisfaction with CSC that prompted him to take Phonak's offer seriously. Hamilton's friend Jim Ochowicz, who in addition to his functions as president of USA Cycling board of directors serves as a consultant to Phonak, was responsible for the initial contact.

"I was approached first... Jim came to me, I wasn't looking," Hamilton told Cyclingnews. "The conversations started before the Tour, but for me to get to the Tour de France I had to focus, and I didn't want to think about that."

Offer from a friend
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

Hamilton went on to win a stage, claim fourth overall, and help lead CSC to victory in the teams competition at the Tour. As the dust settled, he was able to contemplate the prospect of moving into a position of sole leadership for a team very determined to tackle the Tour. Eventually a deal was reached with Phonak, though leaving CSC was not easy for Hamilton.

"I have nothing but good things to say about CSC," he said. "My two years with them were fantastic. A lot of people try to make controversy, but you can't take away the last two years."

In fact, CSC's Bjarne Riis still works with Hamilton as a coach. "He gives me recommendations on how to train and every day I send him training data," Hamilton added.

One goal

For Hamilton, 2004 is all about the Tour de France. He arrived at the 2003 Tour in the best possible condition, but had "that small problem" of a cracked collarbone after going down in the massive stage 1 pile up. He will still look for results in other races that smiled on him last season, such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour de Romandie, and the Tour of the Basque Country. None, however, will take priority over the goal of winning the Tour. Yes, winning.

"I'd be satisfied with the podium, but I have to think of the top," Hamilton insisted. "I have to convince myself that I can win. You have to raise the bar every year. If you start the Tour thinking that you can't win, you're already behind."

With training and a spring program geared entirely towards the Tour, Hamilton has also made some other changes to keep his motivation fresh and his body working hard.

"I changed training locations back in America," he said. "My home is still in Boston, but now I have a training home in Colorado (outside Boulder). We live at 2,300 metres, which is quite high and great for your body. I like it. It makes me work hard. I'm trying to make smart decisions and trying to improve, and I believe that's one of the improvements I can make.

"I took a whole month off the bike," he added, noting this was something he started after his move to CSC in 2002. "To start going again you need to be fresh both mentally and physically. If you're still tired when you start training, it wasn't really a break."

What about Athens? Although he has been somewhat quiet about his own plans in this Olympic year, Hamilton is most certainly excited about the prospect of racing for gold at the games.

"People forget it's an Olympic year, but definitely, it's a big objective," he said. "I won't do anything that will compromise my preparation for the Tour, but the timing is perfect, coming three weeks later."

Hamilton will evaluate his potential role in the American Olympic team as the year progresses, but noted that he would like to do well in the time trial.

His results from the 2003 season might be hard to top, but Hamilton is as motivated as ever to succeed, and as the centre of attention at Phonak's presentation, he seemed genuinely happy to be there. The team is dedicated to the Tour, and fully committed to giving Hamilton the support necessary to win. The preparation begins now.

UCI Division II teams

The UCI announced Friday the near-complete list of Division II teams for 2004. Of great interest prior to the announcement was the fate of the embattled Kelme team, along with Domina Vacanze, both of which were denied entry into Division I earlier this month. The two teams have been confirmed for Division II, although Kelme's future remains in the balance pending decisions from the title sponsor, and the possible departure of star up and coming rider Alejandro Valverde.

Four teams have not yet met the requirements for registry in Division II: Atlas Hoop-Polsat, Flanders Afincom, Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave, and Team Barloworld. These teams have until January 28 to provide the UCI necessary supporting documentation.

Division II teams for 2004:

Acqua & Sapone
Action
Cafés Baque
Ceramiche Panaria-Margres
Colombia-Selle Italia
Costa de Almeria-Paternina
eD system-ZVVZ
Elk Haus Radteam Sportunion Schrems
Kelme
L.A./Pecol
Lokomotiv
Miche
Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
Team LPR
Tenax
Vlaanderen-T interim
Domina Vacanze
Team Wiesenhof

Rutkiewicz maintains innocence

Polish cyclist Marek Rutkiewicz, whose arrest sparked a new round of drug investigations involving Cofidis soigneur Bogdan Madejak and another ex-Cofidis rider, Robert Sassone. Rutkiewicz was released on bail from police custody in France after his arrest Monday night at Charles de Gaulle airport.

"I pleaded not guilty," Rutkiewicz said in Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy. "They've made me the scapegoat. Claims of an organised network [of drug trafficking] are pulled out of their hair."

While the primary focus of the investigation remains Madejak, suspected of involvement in a trafficking ring from eastern Europe, Rutkiewicz was said to be carrying banned substances in his luggage upon his return to France from Poland Monday, and substances were found at his home as well. He insisted the products he carried were nothing but vitamins and nutritional supplements, not growth hormones.

In circumstances similar to the ongoing Landuyt affair in Belgium, Rutkiewicz evoked the notion of a series of code words used in telephone conversations, but called the idea foolish.

"My phone was tapped for around six months," he explained. "[The police] played me tapes of my conversations, including those with Bogdan Madejak. They tried to assemble the idea that we were using a special language with which we discussed the trafficking of doping products. That's stupid."

Rutkiewicz bemoaned the French doping investigators, and the "hysteria" which surrounds such cases. Despite reports that he admitted to interrogators the presence of banned substances in his luggage, Rutkiewicz's statements to his national press in Poland indicate that the case has only just begun, and the level of implication of the various figures involved remains to be seen.

UCI anti-doping news: Sun Tour tests negative

The UCI has declared that all of the drug tests taken from the 2003 Herald Sun Tour were negative for banned substances. The UCI and the organisers of the Sun Tour confirmed this to Cyclingnews last week. The delay in finalising the test results occurred after the Australian Sports Drug Association (ASDA) reported an "irregular sample" (a rider's testosterone/etiocholanolone ratio was greater than 6) in its initial testing. This required further analysis by the UCI's laboratory, which reported that "the absolute values of androsterone and etiocholanolone were within normal reference range." Thus, the test was negative and the UCI doesn't consider this a doping violation. Some riders produce more of the substances naturally, and in this case the high T/E ratio was not found to be a result of ingestion of substances.

In other news from the UCI's anti-doping commission, the following riders have been sanctioned for doping offences:

Miguel Juan Adrover Rigo, penalised by the Federación Española de Ciclismo, disqualification from the Cinturón a Mallorca (Spa), on the 5th of April 2003, and 2 year ban from the 10th of September 2003 to 9th of September 2005.
Wang Qian, penalised by the Cycling Association of China, warning.
Florian Moser, penalised by the Österreichischer Radsport Verband, disqualification from the Trofeo Karlsberg (GER) on the 21st of June 2003, and 3 month ban from the 8th of October 2003 to 8th of April 2004.
Patrick Kofler, penalised by the Österreichischer Radsport Verband, disqualification from the 2003 Tour of Slovenia, 2 year ban from the 8th of October 2003 to 8th of October 2005 and a fine of CHF 2,000.

Perez suspended

Francisco Perez (Milaneza Maia) has been handed an 18 month suspension for two positive EPO tests following his two stage victories in the 2003 Tour de Romandie. The Portuguese cycling federation handed down the suspension, which Perez has announced he will appeal.

New team director for Bik-Powerplate

The Bik-Powerplate team has hired Lars Verboom to replace Ton Vrolijk as team director, ANP reports. Vrolijk was sacked just over a week ago by the team's administration, and team director Frank van der Goes also left at the same time. Verboom is the former director of the Dutch national women's team, has spent time with the American national team, and prior to that with the Erotic Discount Centre amateur squad.

Dessel finds perfect sponsor

Cyril Dessel is perhaps the only hearing-impaired professional cyclist in the European peloton, but this year he has found the ideal sponsor. With a move to Phonak Hearing Systems from Jean Delatour, the 29 year old Frenchman will not only race for better hearing (as the Phonak saying goes), he may just race with better hearing.

As speaker Daniel Mangeas quipped at the team's presentation Friday, "Cyril goes from being the rider who heard the least in the peloton to the rider who will hear the most."

Dessel, professional since 2000, cracked the top ten in the 2003 Dauphiné Libéré.

Lecaër joins Lapierre

French DH champion Nolwenn Lecaër will race for Team Lapierre International for 2004. Lecaër was world champion in 1992 and 1996, European Champion in 1995 1996, and claimed the bronze medal at the 2003 World's. She will ride the Black DH bike from the Lapierre/Vouilloz series.

Mtbchick.com 2004

Mtbchick.com, a mountain bike web site for women, has announced its 2004 professional team. Joining mtbchick.com founder Tonya Laffey are Sandi Bloomer, Hana Fiserova and Cindi Hansen. The team is completed with a duo of pro marathon racers, Mara Abbott and Jessica Kisiel.

The team will race at the NORBA National Mountain Bike Race Series and selected AMBC races in the U.S.. The marathon team will compete in the National Marathon series as well as selected 24 Hour races and other ultra marathon races.

mtbchick.com is going into its third year as a pro team. In addition to offering a place for women (and men) to find information about mountain biking, mtbchick.com produces mountain bike clinics for women and juniors, and volunteers with underprivileged children. Mtbchick.com is offering free mountain bike clinics at the 2004 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series races, as well as a series of one and two-day camps. For more information about the clinics, visit www.mtbchick.com.

Team roster

Sandra Bloomer (USA)
Hana Fiserova (Cze)
Cindi Hansen (USA)
Tonya Laffey (USA)
Mara Abbott (USA)(marathon)
Jessica Kisiel (USA)(marathon)

Manager: Troy Laffey
Mechanics: Troy Laffey, Ken Kisiel

2004 sponsors:

Cannondale Bicycles
Coaching Sports Boulder
PowerBar. Be Great.
Hutchinson Tires
Strata-G Communications
Pedro's
Ultimate Support
Hydrapak
Suunto
Victory Circle Graphic

Supporting Companies: CatEye, Terry Bicycles, Nite Rider

Connacht Training Camp

By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com

Cycling Ireland youth development officer Padraig Marrey and the Connacht Cycling Federation committee are coming together to run a two day coaching and training camp at the Club Atlantic Hostel in Westport. Taking place on January 31st and February 1st, the camp is open to all categories. Riders from outside the province are also welcome.

The cost for the weekend will be €50 for seniors, which covers one night bed and breakfast and all meals. Riders under 16 will benefit from a grant from the underage commission, leading to a cost of €30. To attend the camp, riders must wear a helmet on rides and have applied for a 2004 Cycling Ireland licence. A letter from club secretaries stating that licence forms have been sent in will suffice. One day licences will also be available.

The camp will also be used to select under 16 riders for the National camp to be held at the National Coaching and Training Centre in Limerick on the weekend of February 14th and 15th.

More information is available from club secretaries or from Padraig Marrey, who can be contacted by email at ydo@cyclingireland.ie or by phone at 087-7992857. The closing date for return of entries is Monday the 26th of January.

Program of events:

Saturday 
 
Sign in                          10.00-11.00am  
Camp Guidelines                  11.00-11.15am    
Cycle spin for all categories    11.00am-2.00pm      
Lunch                            2.15-3.15pm      
Performance Profiling            3.15-4.30pm      
Bike Maintenance                 4.45-6.00pm           
Dinner                           6.00-7.30pm     
Stretching Methods               7.30-9.00pm      
 
Sunday  
 
Breakfast                        8.30-9.00am
Cycle spin for all categories    10.00-2.00pm           
Lunch                            2.15-3.15pm     
Training to Compete              3.20-4.00pm         
Close and Pack up                4.30pm

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