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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for July 31, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Kersten bound for Germany, unsure of a guaranteed ride

Dajka's removal leaves keirin wide open

By Gerard Knapp

Ben Kersten
Photo ©: John Veage

Sprinter Ben Kersten will head out to Germany today to join Australia's Olympic track cycling squad at its training camp in Buttgen, although the 22 year-old is still unsure if he is guaranteed a ride in Athens.

Kersten was nominated yesterday by Cycling Australia to the Australian Olympic team after the Australian Olympic Committee "terminated" the membership of Jobie Dajka from the squad.

The sacking of Dajka - who apparently plans to appeal this decision - meant that Kersten's separate appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over his 'non-nomination' to the Athens squad was placed in legal limbo.

A statement released by Cycling Australia said its Selection Appeals Tribunal "determined it did not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal by Ben Kersten against non-nomination to the Athens Olympic Games team because he was earlier today formerly nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for inclusion in the team". Graham Fredericks, the CEO of Cycling Australia, said , "It's fundamentally good news for Ben because he will now be on his way to join the other team members at their training base in Germany".

However, Kersten is unsure as to his new status in the team. "How can I be guaranteed a ride (at Athens) without being granted my redemption and earning the right by appeal to my place in the team?" Kersten said to Cyclingnews.

He is frustrated that his separate appeal did not proceed, because he believes if it was successful - "I'm positive it would been" - it would guarantee him a place as first wheel (rider) in Australia's team sprint squad (the team sprint is a three-rider event).

This position in the squad would have come at the expense of Sean Eadie, who is tipped to be the first rider in the team sprint squad, with Dajka in second wheel and then 'flying' Ryan Bayley bringing it home on the third and final lap of the 750-metre, flat-out sprint event.

Kersten is primarily a specialist in the 1km time trial but had trained specifically in late May and early June for the standing start 250 metre lead-out in the team sprint, given it was his last opportunity to make the Athens squad. In May at the 2004 Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, he came agonisingly close to qualifying another Australian rider for the 'kilo' in Athens when he finished fifth in the four-lap time trial.

At the time of his fifth place in the kilo at the world's, Kersten believed his Athens campaign was over.

However, with Dajka extremely unlikely to be lining up in Athens, Australia is now short one very good sprinter for events such as the team sprint, keirin and match sprint.

For a team stacked with former world champions, Dajka's omission is a heavy blow for the Australian squad, as the Adelaide rider is considered one of the world's best fast men on the track, particularly in the keirin.

Dajka leaves a gaping hole in Australia's team sprint squad, but Kersten said, "of course, I'd put my hand up for anything and I'd do my best if I was asked. It's the Olympics". While he is unsure how he would perform in second or third wheel in the team sprint squad, Kersten's kilo training had seen him previously ride third wheel in team sprints when representing NSW and Australia.

"But the best person for third wheel is Ryan Bayley," he said of the West Australia rider who was the 2001 world keirin champion. Another option is for Eadie to move into second wheel and for Kersten to lead out the trio.

As for the keirin, Kersten is currently Australian keirin champion, however it was against a field that did not include other members of the Athens squad, such as Bayley, Dajka, Eadie and Shane Kelly.

Whatever the possibilities, it all could change on race day as Australia's sprint cycling coach, Martain Barras now faces some certain re-shuffling among his squad. Kersten, somewhat nervous about how he will be treated by team management when he arrives at Buttgen, said, "I just hope he (Barras) is open to the changes that may be needed. I'm just going to have to go there and put my best possible time on the board."

However, Kersten stressed there was no issue with his teammates, particularly Eadie. "I know that people (in the media) have been trying to make it seem like that, but I've got no issues at all with them, they're all mates and I've always supported them whenever I've been asked about anything."

One appeal ends, a new enquiry begins

At least Kersten knows that he one step closer to his dream of representing Australia in Athens. On Thursday, his appeal hearing was delayed for 24 hours while an AOC staffer winged it to Germany to grill Dajka over the "untruthful denials" he gave to Robert Anderson, QC, the retired Supreme Court justice who was appointed by the Australian Government to investigate Mark French's allegations of widespread injecting by sprinters based at the Australian Institute of Sport facility in Adelaide.

The retired judge has since handed down his report and it exonerates all riders in the squad, except the suspended teenage sprinter French and now Dajka.

But Kersten's appeal had nothing to do with the doping hysteria that's gripped the country since a politician seized on the allegations made by French during confidential, in-camera testimony at a CAS hearing in early June. Rather, Kersten was appealing on the process used for running selection time trials in tightly contested team positions.

It appears that Kersten's case may have merit, as Cycling Australia has undertaken to hold a formal and independent investigation into some of the allegations raised in the course of Kersten's submission to the Tribunal.

"These will be investigated in accordance with Cycling Australia's constitution and by-laws," said CEO Graham Fredericks. "We will not be making any further comment on this matter until that investigation is completed."

According to Phill Bates, a former board member of Cycling Australia who's been active in his support of Kersten's appeal, said "basically, they (Kersten and Eadie) should have been tested on the same day".

The selection of the final sprinter for the Australian sprint squad was so tight it came down to a difference of sixteen thousands of a second, in that Eadie posted a time of 17.97 seconds for the standing start 250 metre time trial on June 30, while two weeks earlier Kersten had recorded 17.986. Both riders had to go under the world-class time of 18 seconds.

Bates said he was representing Kersten in his role as the athlete's long-term sponsor and as president of the St George Cycling Club, of which Kersten is a member. He stressed that "I've been described as his manager, but I've not taken a cent for this. I just want to see Ben get his place in the team and I've been his sponsor since he was 14."

Armstrong speaks of seven

Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

At his appearance at the Prague criterium, part of the post-Tour de France circuit, Lance Armstrong let it be known that an attempt for a seventh victory in the Tour is a real possibility for next year. Armstrong has not said for certain whether or not he will return to the Tour in 2005, but as he became the first six-time winner of the event this year he did reaffirm his love for the race and his feeling that skipping the Tour would be hard to fathom.

Armstrong will head the newly dubbed Discovery Channel cycling team next year, which takes over for the US Postal Service team he has guided to Tour victories since 1999. He and directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel have not made concrete plans for the racing program, particularly in light of the new UCI Pro Tour regulations requiring the team to compete in all three grand tours and the other Pro Tour events.

"I'll decide fairly soon, but right now there's no firm plan," Armstrong told the press before the Prague criterium. "My time is limited, but I suspect that, maybe, I'll do one more if things go well."

Armstrong also paid a visit to a local hospital in Prague to brighten the day of young cancer patients. The Tour yellow jersey he wore in the criterium was to be auctioned off with all proceeds going to the Motol hospital's cancer ward, along with 6% of the betting funds from the race.

Another break for Jaksche

German Jörg Jaksche has not had luck on his side since his victory in Paris-Nice early this year. A fall in training knocked him from competition on the eve of the Amstel Gold Race, and just as the Team CSC rider returned to form for the Tour de France, another fall in training put an end to his Tour plans with a broken elbow. It's happened again, and Jaksche is once more on the sidelines, this time having suffered a fracture of his right shoulder in a fall in training.

"It couldn't have come at a worse time," Jaksche said. "I've trained very hard for a strong comeback, and I've been very motivated to get results straight away. I was disappointed to have to miss out on the Tour, and now I face another involuntary break."

Luckily, Jaksche expects to be back in training in a week, which could allow him to return to competitive form in time for the Vuelta a España. "I'm sure that I'll make some good results before the end of the season," he said.

Roche begins with Cofidis

Courtesy: Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Nicholas Roche, son of the 1987 Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Championship winner Stephen, is putting his feet on the first rung of the ladder in his quest to become a professional cyclist.

Roche, 20, will join the Cofidis team this September as a stagiaire after a promising junior career which included a victory in the M Donnelly Junior Tour a couple of years ago, leading the event from start to finish. This season Nicholas' graph has been steadily improving with his third place in the Irish national road race championship in Sligo and his showings in France.

Eindhoven wants team time trial

The city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands has entered itself as a candidate to host the team time trial event in the UCI's Pro Tour beginning in 2005, according to an ANP report. A 60 kilometre team event is scheduled for June 19, and would begin and end in Eindhoven if the bid is successful, making it the second round of the Pro Tour in the Netherlands after the Amstel Gold Race.

Internal investigation in Vasseur case

Following revelations of apparent forged signatures in the case files of Cédric Vasseur, questioned and placed under investigation earlier this year as part of the ongoing Cofidis affair, the internal affairs bureau of the French police force has opened its own investigation. Vasseur said he did not recognise some 80% of the confessions bearing his name and supposed signature, and a court-appointed handwriting expert supported his case that the documents were forged.

The internal investigation is designed to determine the conditions under which Vasseur was questioned in Paris and who signed the answers bearing his name. A court in Versailles is expected to hear arguments for the removal of Vasseur from the list of those under investigation.

Record audience for Track World Cup

The number of television viewers of the UCI's Track World Cup events more than doubled from 2003, jumping from 11 million last year to 26.5 million viewers in 2004. The World Cup events were broadcast on television channels on every continent, and the total broadcast time increased from 76 hours last year to 152 hours this season.

Support for VDB

With a reported domestic disturbance requiring the intervention of Belgian police this week, it appears all is not well for Frank Vandenrboucke. The talented but troubled Fassa Bortolo pro has seen his career disrupted on several occasions by difficulties in his personal life, though the supporters of "Franky Boy" have generally stood by his side. Fans wishing to send a note of encouragement to VDB may do so on the website Look for the July 30 news item "Frank verrast en enorm blij met onze petitie" to find the petition form.

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