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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for April 13, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

Hondo awaits

By Susan Westemeyer

With the B samples of Gerolsteiner rider Danilo Hondo opened last Thursday at the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) laboratories in Madrid, team spokesman Mathias Wieland expects to hear the outcome of the results somewhere between "24 hours to 3 days".

31 year-old Hondo was suspended by his team last Wednesday after testing positive twice during the Vuelta a Murcia in March this year. It was revealed that the stimulant in question was the relatively unknown drug Carphedon, effective in increasing physical endurance and resistance to influenza.

Said the UCI's chief press officer, Enrico Carpani: "When we get the results and if they are positive, as experience leads us to believe they will be, we will notify the Swiss [cycling] association, which has jurisdiction over Hondo. [The federation] will have to declare the two-year ban, and they have a month to do that."

Under the ProTour Code of Ethics, Gerolsteiner would be required to fire Hondo immediately should a positive B sample be returned, which were opened in the presence of Hondo and his attorney. Furthermore, according to UCI regulations, the rider would be prohibited from signing with any ProTour team for another two years after the two-year suspension has been served, effectively spelling the end of his career.

And Hamilton, too

Former Phonak rider Tyler Hamilton is also anxiously awaiting a verdict on his US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) arbitration hearing, which was now heard over a month ago in Denver, Colorado, between February 27 and March 2 this year.

"We hope to have a verdict fairly soon in my case," wrote Hamilton on his website, www.tylerhamilton.com. "It's an odd feeling waiting for a group of people to decide your fate. But out of respect for the process we accept that these things can take time."

Besides waiting for an outcome, Hamilton said "life has been mostly about training over the last few weeks" - although he finds it odd to be home in the States, when, for the best part of a decade, he has been previously racing in Europe at this time of year. "I've been able to get out on the bike a lot. But I have to say that I'm pretty antsy to get racing again. It is tough to be at home when some of my favorite springtime races are going on," he wrote.

More comments from Roubaix

Mission impossible for Discovery

With George Hincapie taking his best ever result in the Hell of the North, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team assistant directeur-sportif Dirk Demol naturally said "the only issue was Boonen," calling their game plan "mission impossible".

"I'm happy on one side but also, second place is the worst place possible [to finish]," said Demol on ThePaceline.com. "I think we must be happy with our second place here today and for George's ride - he had a great day - but what can you say of Boonen? He was unbeatable. It was one of George's best days - he didn't do anything wrong on the bike. Usually afterwards, you say: 'Well, we could have done this or should have done that.' But [Sunday], he rode the perfect race.

Added Demol: "I think he [Hincapie] also realised it was like 'mission impossible' to beat Tom today. He looked great all day but he knew if he couldn't drop him, it would be tough in the final. Every kilometre closer to the finish, we kept thinking, 'How can we beat him?'"

CSC satisfied

With best-placed team CSC rider Lars Michaelsen finishing in fifth place yet again, the Dane said he dreamed of finishing higher up the results sheet, but is still "really satisfied" with both his efforts and result. "I felt like I was riding really well and my intuitions before the race proved correct," recalled Michaelsen on the team's website, www.team-csc.com.

"I could see where the race was going to be decided the first time and went immediately after Quick.Step when they took off. When Flecha increased the tempo at Carrefour de l'Arbre, I was perhaps a bit unfocused, but I was also at my limits. Even though I've gotten fifth place before, I'm really satisfied."

"Lars rode a splendid Paris-Roubaix," echoed his team manager Bjarne Riis. "He didn't make any mistakes and he deserves lots of credit for the way he rode the race.

"For a long time, he was only 200 meters behind when the trio accelerated, but unfortunately could not catch up. Before, he had been one of the most prominent riders in the race. I am really satisfied with our race today and with our performance on the cobblestones in general. We've lived up to the expectations we had and I think that we have gotten the most out of a team made up of both experienced riders and rookies," said Riis.

Inaugural UCI ProTour council meeting held

The first UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) meeting was held on Monday in Brussels, with a number of items of note from the communiqué issued by the UCI.

Composition and mission

Following the UCI Management Committee's decision to amend rules defining the composition of members governing the UCI ProTour in order to guarantee fair representation of all players, the UPTC is therefore now composed of 12 members, appointed as follows:

* Two members designated by the CPA (Association of Professional Cyclists);
* Two members designated by the UCI ProTeams members of the AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Teams); at least one of them must belong to a UCI ProTeam from a country where there is a maximum of two UCI ProTeams;
* Two members designated by holders of a UCI ProTour organiser license, who are members of the AIOCC (International Association of Race Organisers); at least one of them must be an organizer of one-day events exclusively;
* Six members designated by the UCI Management Committee.

The UPTC's mission will be to handle all events registered on the UCI ProTour calendar as well as their participants (UCI ProTeams and riders). With the exception of anti-doping, the UPTC will act autonomously regarding all aspects linked to regulations, calendar and the general organisation of the UCI ProTour.

2006-2008 calendar

The main discussion focused on the composition of the 2006-2008 road calendars, with the UPTC deciding that 157 race days planned for the 2005 season represented the maximum ceiling for teams composed of 25-28 riders, and this limit will not be exceeded in the next few years.

The eventual integration of new events among those organisers who have shown interest in joining the UCI ProTour in the future (including organisers from Belgium, England, Scandinavia and Central Europe) will therefore not be achieved without modifying the actual UCI ProTour calendar.

UPTC-Grand Tour relations

According to the statement from the UCI, "Negotiations between representatives from UPTC and the Grands Tour [organisers] were pursued in a serene and constructive atmosphere, which foresees encouraging perspectives towards a definite agreement."

AIGCP-Grand Tour relations

At the meeting, the UPTC was informed that an agreement on participation allowances had been signed between AIGCP and ASO [organiser of the Tour de France] for the 2005-2008 period. According to communiqué, negotiations remain "open" on the issue between AIGCP and the other two organisers, RCS and Unipublic. Also, AIGCP representatives asked the UPTC that in case of a disagreement, the obligation to participate in those events, as mentioned in the UCI ProTour regulations, be lifted. The UPTC agreed to this request.

TV quality control

The UPTC has approved the creation of a commission that will evaluate the quality of television images produced and broadcasted during each UCI ProTour race.

Gent-Wevelgem finale

After the controversial finale to last Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem, the UPTC considers the events which occurred during the arrival of the race as "extremely serious". A complete file will be submitted to the UCI ProTour Licenses commission, with the relevant authority to "judge eventual consequences for the license of the organiser", said the statement.

Building towards Beijing

The dust has settled and the medals have been put on display. The winners' lives are returning to some vestige of normality, while the disappointed athletes have either retired, or fixed their sights onto new challenges. Athens 2004 is a fast-retreating dot in the rear view mirror; time to move on.

Attention is now turning towards the next Games, to working out what went right - or wrong - last summer and how to use that knowledge to build towards the future. In this two-part exclusive, Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes talked to coaches from Great Britain and Ireland, tracing the very different paths they will follow between now and the next Olympiad.

Great Britain

British Cycling's head coach, Simon Jones.
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The 2008 Olympics may be over three years away but the maxim holds true, with the groundwork that is being done now enhancing the chances of medals being won in Beijing.

The Great Britain track team had a strong showing in Athens 2004, with kilometre specialist Chris Hoy and pursuit rider Bradley Wiggins both taking gold medals in their events. Wiggins took two further medals, silver in the team pursuit with Steve Cummings, Paul Manning, Rob Hayles, Chris Newton and Bryan Steel and bronze in the Madison with Hayles. And while Team GB's road prospects were hit by David Millar's suspension for EPO - something he stressed was nothing to do with British Cycling - taking medals in four separate disciplines certainly provoked feelings of envy from other countries.

Click here to read the rest of the interview with British Cycling's head coach, Simon Jones.

Ireland

Irish road race champion David O'Loughlin
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

In complete contrast, Cycling Ireland gets a far smaller level of government backing and, indeed, is currently in debt. For that reason its approach to the 2008 Games is considerably different.

Looking back at the Athens Games last August, just four Irish riders took part. Mark Scanlon and Ciarán Power lined out in the road race, with the latter taking a highly credible thirteenth place. Robin Seymour and Jenny McCauley competed in the men's and women's MTB cross country events, finishing 30th and 23rd respectively. No track riders qualified for the Games.

It is in this third area that the scene on either side of the Irish Sea differs considerably. The latter wing of the sport was identified several years ago by British Cycling as being an area with a high potential return of medals. It was able to convince - and later prove - to the government that investing in track cycling was a good way to secure Olympic and world championship success. For Cycling Ireland, though, that task has been a more difficult one.

Click here to read the rest of the interview with Irish head coach, Padraig Marrey.

Rabobank for Amstel

Rabobank will be hoping for a better performance at the spring ProTour races than seen so far at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix, and should do so with a star-studded team for Sunday's Amstel Gold. The team line-up is as follows:

Maarten den Bakker, Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Thomas Dekker, Oscar Freire, Karsten Kroon, Joost Posthuma, Pieter Weening. Reserves: Jan Boven and Steven de Jongh

Phonak for Amstel, Flèche & Georgia

Swiss-registered team Phonak Hearing Systems has announced their line-ups for the next two ProTour races, Amstel Gold and La Flèche Wallonne on April 17 and 20 respectively, as well as their seven-man line-up to contest the Dodge Tour de Georgia, to be held from April 19-24.

Amstel Gold: Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Nicolas Jalabert, Alexandre Moos, Uros Murn, Miguel A. Perdiguero, Oscar Pereiro, Gregory Rast Team management: John Lelangue, Jacques Michaud

La Flèche Wallonne: Santiago Botero, Ignacio Gutierrez, Alexandre Moos, Uros Murn, Miguel A. Perdiguero, Oscar Pereiro, Tadej Valjavec, Steve Zampieri Team management: John Lelangue, Jacques Michaud

Tour de Georgia: Niki Aebersold, Aurélien Clerc, Kike Gutierrez, Robert Hunter, Floyd Landis, Tomaz Nose, Sascha Urweider.

Health Net for Sea Otter, Georgia

Following the Pool Gel Redlands Classic, which saw the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis rider Chris Wherry take the overall win, the team is making final preparations for perhaps the hardest 10-day stretch of racing on their calendar this year.

The stretch starts on the west coast with the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, which begins this Thursday, April 14, and continues until Saturday. The three-day race includes a short prologue, followed by a difficult circuit race on the Laguna Seca race course, and finishes with a hill road race. The team will be lead by Mike Jones, who finished second overall in last year's Sea Otter, as well as Wherry.

"Redlands was a hard race and I came out of it pretty tired," said Wherry. "And with doing both Sea Otter and Georgia, I'll be looking to guys like Jones and Doug Ollerenshaw to maybe take over some leadership duties at Sea Otter." Wherry will be joined by Mike Sayers and Gord Fraser in doing "double duty".

Directeur-sportif Jeff Corbett admits the team's performance at last year's Dodge Tour de Georgia, where they won three stages as well as the sprinters and mountains jerseys will be hard to match. "If we can have similar success again this year, we'd be very happy," he said, "but the competition is even stronger this year."

Sea Otter: Gord Fraser, Mike Jones, Jason Lokkesmoe, Doug Ollerenshaw, Mike Sayers, Chris Wherry

Tour de Georgia: Ivan Dominguez, Justin England, Gord Fraser, Greg Henderson, John Lieswyn, Scott Moninger, Mike Sayers, Chris Wherry

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