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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 25, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Ljungblad continues European dominance

By John Trevorrow

Jonas Ljungblad
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

Jonas Ljungblad carried on the European domination of the Herald Sun Tour, winning the 53rd edition of Australia's longest running stage race. Of the Australians, Baden Cooke in 2002 has been the only Aussie able to win the Tour since Neil Stephens in 1986.

"This is one of the biggest wins in my career," said an elated Ljungblad after being presented with his winner's jersey. "I'm not sure what happens with the points for next year with new pro series, but it will help me to get to a bigger team for next year. I am happy with Amore Vita but I would like to go to a bigger team to ride the bigger races like the Tour de France. As a child you grow up watching the Tour and the big classics on television and you dream of riding them and I still want to do that. I believe I would be better suited to racing in France than Italy."

Ljungblad stamped his authority on the Sun Tour last Tuesday when he won with a late breakaway into Daylesford. "In this tour there are many days so you can't do hard efforts every day," he said. "I was worried because I lost some time on the Monday into Colac to Roberts and Gerrans, who are good climbers as well. I saw the chance to gain some time nearing Daylesford and I just gave it everything I had.

"As the tour has gone on, I felt I was one of the strongest, especially when it came to the hill sprints. I felt confident when it came to the Mt Baw Baw stage. I felt good as we approached the mountain and I knew what to expect since I rode it two years ago. I gave it everything and thankfully the legs were good and I was able to gain enough time to take the Tour."

Herald Sun Tour coverage

Stage 13: Full results, report & photos
Photo gallery
Matt Goold's Sun Tour diary

Cioni certified for high hematocrit

By Jeff Jones

Italian rider Dario Cioni (Fassa Bortolo) has received a certificate from the UCI that allows him to race with a high hematocrit. Cioni was prevented from riding the World Championships in Verona by the Italian Cycling Federation because his hematocrit was over the limit. However, like Damiano Cunego, Cioni claimed that he had a naturally high level, and subsequently underwent tests at the UCI's laboratory in Lausanne to prove this.

"I returned to racing in the Giro of Lombardia, but this was due to the result of the certificate issued by UCI," Cioni told Cyclingnews. "I would like to stress this point, since for me it is very important that I have returned to racing with this certificate that demonstrates my naturally high hematocrit level."

Cioni explained further what was actually involved in proving that he had a high hematocrit. "After the test with the Italian federation I did several other blood screens," he said. "One was requested from the UCI and contains the usual parameters like haemoglobin, hematocrit, reticulocytes, erythropoetin, iron and a few others. I underwent a special nuclear medicine test in Rome to determine the exact volume of my red blood cells. In addition I had a record of all my blood tests from 1992, when I started racing, up to today. I collected them and there were a few over the limit or borderline tests.

"My brother also has a high value, and that suggests it is a genetic peculiarity. In addition, I had requested a certificate from the Italian Federation in 1999 when I raced MTB, but they refused it because they wanted consistency over 50. I am not consistent over 50, but consistent around 50 and can go over.

"With all these files I went to Lausanne, where I was monitored for three days. During this period of time, several blood samples were taken. After all this info was analysed, I received the certificate from UCI. Of course the certificate contains a limit, but it is a personal limit according to my natural level, not the 50 limit, which is used for the whole world. I think this is an issue that should be analysed more deeply, as not every rider has the same value, so why is there a 50 percent limit for everyone?"

Jokin Ormaetxea killed in car crash

Spanish cyclist Jokin Ormaetxea of team Paternina died early this morning in a car crash, as he was driving with another rider, Joseba Albizu of Euskaltel Euskadi. The latter was seriously injured but his life is not in danger.

Spanish daily El Pais reported that the accident occurred at 7 am Sunday morning on National road 634 near Deba, Spain, when the cyclist's vehicle, an Audi A3, went off the road for unknown reasons, hit an embankment and somersaulted. Both cyclists were taken to hospital, where Ormaetxea died.

Jokin Ormaetxea, aged 24, was born in Azkoitia, Spain. After starting out as a amateur rider with Team Kaiku, he continued with Telecom of Navarro where he performed as a road and track racer. The breakthrough came in 2003, where he placed second in the Torneo Euskaltun as he was riding for Caja Rural. Ormaetxea turned pro with Paternina-Costa de Almeria this year.

Euskaltel's Joseba Albizu is in the intensive care unit of Donostia hospital with fractured ribs and bruised lungs, but he is in stable condition.

Boonen hospitalised with gastroenteritis

While more and more riders have been suffering from stomach problems since the 2004 Vuelta, Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) has been hospitalised because of gastrointestinal troubles due to an intestinal sub-obstruction since Friday night. At the Hospital of Mol, Belgium, the next days will prove to be decisive for an eventual surgical operation. The rider will therefore not travel to Curacao, where he would have taken part in the Amstel Curacao Race on October 30.

Cunego keeps his top spot

After finishing second in the Japan Cup, his final race of the season, Damiano Cunego (Saeco) will end the season as the UCI's number one ranked rider. Cunego just needed to finish in the top eight of the 1.3 classed event to ensure enough points to stay ahead of Paolo Bettini in the UCI rankings. His second place behind Patrick Sinkewitz (Quick.Step-Davitamon) effectively gave him an additional 15 UCI points on top of his current total.

Discovery Channel announces 25 riders for 2005

As 2004 comes to an end and the US Postal team prepares for its changeover to become the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, beginning January 1, 2005, team management released the squad's 25 rider roster. A few more riders will probably still be added, but at the moment, the 2005 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team Roster includes:

Lance Armstrong (USA), Stijn Devolder (Bel), Benjamin Noval (Spa), Jose Azevedo (Por), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Pavel Padrnos (Cze), Michael Barry (Can), George Hincapie (USA), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Roger Hammond (GBr), Leif Hoste (Bel), Hayden Roulston (NZl), Manuel Beltran (Spa), Benoît Joachim (Lux), Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa), Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr), Jason McCartney (USA), Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), Michael Creed (USA), Patrick McCarty (USA), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel), Antonio Cruz (USA), Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), Max Van Heeswijk (Ned), Tom Danielson (USA).

S.A.T.S. director disappointed with Valen

Team S.A.T.S. director Chris MacDonald has expressed his disappointment at Anita Valen, who recently claimed to the Danish press that she has dropped the Danish team and is owed a substantial amount of money. "A classic Anita Valen", team manager Chris MacDonald told in an interview. "Everybody that knows women's cycling knows that she makes that kind of statements."

MacDonald said that he had been warned by several people against taking the Norwegian rider into his team. "My weakness as a director is that I tend to believe that people change," he said. "My opinion is also that you should make your own judgment instead of taking other people's words for granted. But now, I see that I should have listened to the people that warned me."

Shortly after she signed for S.A.T.S., Valen accused one of her former teammates of spiking her bidon with caffeine (she tested non-negative for a high level of caffeine in 2003, but wasn't sanctioned). She also spoke out against S.A.T.S.' bike sponsor, explained MacDonald. "In an interview with Norway’s biggest cycling magazine, Anita Valen said that her team rode Pinarello, which wasn't a very good bike in her opinion and therefore she always rode a Specialized bike in 'serious' races, because it was a durable bike. Several months ago I received a phone call from the bike sponsor, who asked me to give her the sack. I chose to keep her.

"Also in April we had to make a clause in her contract after a number of strange episodes. She signed the clause that told her to behave decently; otherwise she would be fired instantly. Anita Valen also came with bills that weren't approved at all. It was totally out of control."

Valen did post some solid results for the team, winning the bronze medal at the World's. But she was involved in another controversy at the Olympics, when she was quoted by Verdens Gang as hinting that gold medal winner Sara Carrigan had used illegal methods to win. Valen apologised for the comment, but it was too much for the Danish team. "I was so embarrassed by her utterances to the Norwegian press about Sara Carrigan and the Australian cycling federation in which she insinuated that Sara Carrigan and Cycling Australia were involved in systematic doping," said MacDonald.

"Shortly after the Olympics we fired Anita Valen, and that was more than a month ago," added MacDonald, who even denied Valen's version of the circumstances of her sacking (Valen said she was fired via email). "She received several official papers from us. It is not true that she was fired through an email. But if it was the case, I couldn't care less. It seems to me like she wants all Scandinavians to feel sorry for her by making these kinds of statements.

MacDonald also denied that Valen is owed money now. "When you are fired there are no more payments made," he said. "She received a substantial amount of money from Team S.A.T.S. We have fulfilled our part of the contract. If she was employed till the end of the year, she would have received more, but she could have behaved herself."

Next year, Team S.A.T.S. intends to continue, but it will also be without former World Champion Susanne Ljungskog, who is leaving the team. "We are going sort of back to basics," concluded MacDonald. "It is worth a thought that the rider who has made some of the best results this season is the Dane Trine Hansen."

Courtesy of

Kemna retires

Dutch rider Rudi Kemna will not race next season, as he has not been able to find a new team after BankGiroLoterij folded. 37 year old Kemna only turned pro when he was 30, winning the Dutch championship in 2003, his biggest career win.

Czech U23 champ signs pro contract

The Czech U23-champion Martin Mares has signed a professional contract with 2nd division team eD'system - ZVVZ. Mares had offerings from Italian continental team Amore e Vita and German continental team BH, but preferred to stick to his country's formation. Mares won one stage in the Tour del'Avenir this season, and placed 6th in the Giro delle Regioni.

Braveheart dinner raises £7,500

Olympic champion Chris Hoy and former hour record holder Graeme Obree were among the special guests at the second fundraising dinner of the Braveheart Cycling Fund, held on Friday evening in Ayrshire, Scotland. Hoy voiced his support for the Braveheart fund, set up last year to support talented Scottish cyclists, and also paid tribute to the other ex-world champion in attendance.

"I find it a little bizarre to be guest of honour at an event with Graeme Obree, who is a legend and an inspiration to everyone," said Hoy. The world and Olympic kilometre champion, who was confirmed as the fund's first patron, added: "I'm fully behind this initiative and I'll do what I can to help any young Scottish riders in whatever way I can. I'm proud to be the first patron of the Braveheart fund."

A draw was made for a Lance Armstrong signed yellow jersey, just before a lively auction which featured many items from the recent Tour of Britain, donated by, among others, CSC, T-Mobile, Roger Hammond, Bradley Wiggins, Nico Mattan, as well as Obree and Hoy, photographers Phil O'Connor and Graham Watson and Celtic and Rangers football clubs.

Some £7,500 was raised - over double the amount achieved last year. With ticket sales and contributions, the Braveheart fund so far has £9,000 to distribute next season. Of the six riders who were supported this season, Katrina Hair, recently crowned British scratch race champion, was awarded the impressive engraved glass trophy for Braveheart Cyclist of the Year.

As well as Hair, the other riders to be supported this season were Kate Cullen, Gary Hand, Sean Newington, David Smith and British under-23 series winner Evan Oliphant, who chose the occasion of the dinner to demonstrate that his talents extend beyond cycling with an impressive display of bagpipe playing.

The fund's founder, former Olympian and Motorola professional Brian Smith, announced that mountain bikers, as well as track and road riders, will be encouraged to apply for funding for next season.

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