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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 14, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones

Pro Tour Polemics continue

Grand Tour organisers reply to UCI communique

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

After the first meeting of the UCI's ProTour Professional Cycling Council in Brussels on Monday, April 11, the organisers of the three grand tours, ASO (Tour De France), RCS (Giro d'Italia) and Unipublic (Vuelta a España) have issued their own strong communique, taking clear exception to many of the points that the UCI included in their document.

In the Grand Tour organisers communique issued Wednesday, ASO, RCS and Unipublic avowed their continuing solidarity against what they construed as divisive manoeuvres of the UCI. Furthermore, the GT organisers have rejected the authority of the new Conseil UCI ProTour (CUPT), that has replaced the CCP as the primary authority to govern pro cycling. Their reasoning is that although the CUPT claims to "represent all the players in professional cycling" who have invested in "an autonomous manner", which govern the major races on the ProTour calendar, the three Grand Tour organisers are not represented in the new structure of the CUPT.

Thus, the organisers of the three Grand Tours have further solidified their position against the UCI's ProTour governing body, saying that "we can not in any case agree that our dialogue with the UCI is (being) pursued in a serene and constructive atmosphere, which foresees encouraging perspectives towards a definite agreement."

All of the polemics between the UCI and the GT organisers have now put the participation of the "UCI ProTeams" in the main races of ASO, RCS and Unipublic in doubt. The three GT organisers are now saying that these latest moves are an unacceptable violation of the agreement that they developed in meetings on December 1, 2004, where the three GT organisers accepted that all the UCI ProTeams would ride in their races in return for certain unspecified conditions from the UCI. The overall relationship between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers continue to deteriorate with no resolution in sight.

Bäckstedt wants another stone

Liquigas-Bianchi professional and 2004 Paris Roubaix champion Magnus Bäckstedt's fourth place in Sunday's Paris Roubaix confirmed the arrival of the Swede as serious classic's contender for years to come.

Bäckstedt said, "I am satisfied with my ride, I would have liked to have made the podium, but I defended the title in the only way I know how, by attacking!" The tall Swede lost sight of his three breakaway colleagues on the decisive Carrefour de l'Arbre cobblestone section, as Juan-Antonio Flecha and Tom Boonen forced the pace.

Nevertheless, Bäckstedt is happy with the outcome of Paris-Roubaix and is looking forward to the next races he will be participating in. "My team did a great job protecting me for the first 100 km or so, then I felt it was up to me," he said. "I was going well and the wrist injury that I picked up in the crash at Gent Wevelgem didn't hamper me as much as I thought it would and I felt comfortable on the cobbles. I just lacked that little bit at the end, but I let the world and myself know that I am here to stay. I was up there in Flanders and Wevelgem. I am lighter and stronger than ever and that should open up a whole new dimension of races I feel I could be a contender in."

Of course, Bäckstedt will return to Roubaix to attempt another victory. "I want another stone on my mantelpiece before my career is over," he said.

Bäckstedt will now enjoy a well earned rest before he begins the second phase of his season, of which the Tour de France prologue is a major target.

Barredo back at Amstel, Flèche and L-B-L

By Hedwig Kröner

Spanish rider Carlos Barredo (Liberty)
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
Click for larger image

At the 40th Amstel Gold Race taking place next Sunday, April 17, Manolo Saiz' team Liberty Seguros-Würth will send seven riders, including Carlos Barredo, who had a strong showing in the first Belgian spring classics of the season, as well as last weekend at Paris-Roubaix. Barredo has developed an unusual habit of breaking away at these races. At the GP Pino Cerami, he attacked after only 11 km of the 184 km distance, and stayed away until he was caught in the finale. Although he didn't have the legs for the win, Barredo held on for a very respectable third place. At the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, he did it again, and in Paris-Roubaix, Barredo counter-attacked on the first break and joined it after 57 km in St-Quentin, with 202 km to race.

"I have a greater chance of doing well at these races when I break away," Barredo explained. "In Flanders and Roubaix, my aim was to actually make it to the finish, so I couldn't stay inside the bunch and risk a crash. I had to attack to finish in the highest possible placing. At the three days of de Panne and GP Cerami it was different, because I had good chances to win."

Last Sunday, the 23 year-old finished 52nd, eight minutes down on the winner, Tom Boonen. "To me, it's a much more difficult race than Flanders," he said. "I thought I would never see the end of it; it was an enormous pleasure to enter the velodrome. It was hard for me as I had been struggling with stomach problems the days before, and I could hardly eat during the race. I could have finished in Top 10 if it hadn't been for that."

Barredo will be joined by his teammates David Etxebarria, Jörg Jaksche, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho, Marcos Serrano and Ángel Vicioso in the next classics. Added to this roster at Flèche Wallonne (April 20) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 24) will also be Koen de Kort.

Bouygues Telecom for Amstel

Laurent Brochard will lead the Bouygues Telecom team for this Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, one of two Dutch one day races on the ProTour calendar. The complete team will consist of Walter Bénéteau, Laurent Brochard, Anthony Geslin, Laurent Lefèvre, Jérôme Pineau, Didier Rous, Thomas Voeckler and Unai Yus.

Hondo's attorney questions four-year ban

By Susan Westemeyer

Danilo Hondo's attorney, Michael Lehner, has said that he does not find a four-year ban to be legally possible, in case his client is ruled to have used illegal doping. Lehner said that the ban "would be equivalent to banning him from his profession" and would mean "practically the end of the career" of the 31 year-old Hondo. "This kind of sentence has already been found to be unacceptable in various cases, such as that of [German track sprinter] Katrin Krabbe," he said.

Lehner particularly questioned the ProTour Code of Ethics, under which the ProTeams agreed not to sign a rider for an additional two years after serving a doping-related ban. "The teams all agreed to this regulation," said Lehner, "But the additional ban is legally questionable and won't stand up in court. [The ProTour] is a private organisation with the characteristics of a monopoly, so we are dealing with antitrust issues." He added that, as far as he knows, the riders did not agree to the addition two-year ban under the Code of Ethics.

Bergman gets two years

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced that Adam Bergman has received a two year suspension for testing positive to r-EPO. The 24 year old tested positive for the drug at an out-of-competition test conducted by USADA on April 6, 2004, just before the 2004 Tour de Georgia.

"The CAS Panel's decision affirms the efforts of the UCLA Laboratory and USADA to use advanced scientific methods to continue to narrow the gap between those who dope and those committed to upholding the rights of clean athletes to participate on a level playing field," said Terry Madden, USADA's chief executive officer, in a statement.

Bergman received a two-year suspension to take effect on the day following the decision but will receive credit for the time he accepted and served a provisional suspension. Therefore, his suspension will end on July 22, 2006. Additionally, Bergman forfeits all competitive results and winnings since April 6, 2004, the date of the test, including his 11th place finish in the Tour de Georgia on April 25, 2004; his fifth place finish in the U.S. Cycling Federation Elite Men's National Time Trial Championship on June 17, 2004; and his second place finish at the 2004 Olympic Trials on June 19, 2004.

Aerts breaks collarbone

The Davitamon-Lotto team has been hit by another rider injury, after Mario Aerts broke his left collarbone after crashing during training on Wednesday. Aerts will undergo an operation on Wednesday evening in Herentals to pin the bone, so that he can race in the Wallonian classics next week. Aerts also received injuries to his head and knee.

Betts case resolved

The case involving Australian Tenax rider David Betts, who was expelled from Italy after not presenting himself to the Questura in Treviso within eight days of arriving in the country, has been resolved in his favour, according to The 23 year-old pleaded his case to a justice of the peace, saying that he was too late to get the necessary immigration stamp on his passport that would allow him to stay in the country until January, 2006. His lawyer, Alessandra Nava, also argued for him. The judge agreed to reverse the decision, and Betts can now legally stay in Italy.

Ag2r in next French races

Professional continental team AG2R has announced its rosters for the upcoming French races. At the Tour du Finistère on Saturday, April 16, team director Gilles Mas will align Andy Flickinger, Simon Gerrans, Yuriy Krivtsov, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Christophe Riblon, Alexandre Usau and Tomas Vaitkus. On the very next day at the Tro-Bro-Leon, AG2R will be represented by Andy Flickinger, Yuriy Krivtsov, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Nicolas Portal, Erki Putsep, Alexandre Usau and Tomas Vaitkus.

The Tour du Nord-Isère, a three-day stage race, will start on Friday, April 15 and see the following AG2R riders depart: Mikel Astarloza, Sylvain Calzati, Philip Deignan, Cyril Dessel, Samuel Dumoulin and Christophe Oriol.

Forest City velodrome almost surfaced

The riding surface has arrived at the Forest City Velodrome at the London Gardens in London, Ontario. The installation started immediately and will take approximately one week to complete. "We expect riders to be riding on the track by Thursday April 21," said 87 year-old Albert Coulier, who is spearheading the project. Coulier's sons, Bob and Ron Schelstrate, have designed and constructed the track to conform to all of the UCI's standards. "The surface will be fast and smooth, every bite as fast as any Olympic Velodrome in the world," indicated Coulier. Apollo Construction have built over 25 velodromes around the world in the last 50 years, including the 1976 Montreal Olympic Velodrome.

The opening night of racing will be Saturday April 23 at 7 PM. Many events are planned for the opener, Handicap and Chariot Races will feature the London track League riders, with the Detroit based Nas-track Madison League also putting on several Madison's throughout the evening. The Grand opening is then scheduled for the following weekend, Saturday April 30, in conjunction with the 37th annual Springbank Park Road race put on by the London Centennial Wheelers Cycling club.

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