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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 17, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones

Phonak for the Vuelta

Swiss ProTeam Phonak Hearing Systems has announced its lineup for the Vuelta a España, the third of this year's Grand Tours from August 27 to September 18, 2005.

The team's roster will consist of the following riders: Santiago Botero, Martin Elmiger, Santos Gonzalez, Kike Gutierrez, Ignacio Gutierrez, Floyd Landis, Victor Hugo Peña, Miguel A. Perdiguero and Oscar Pereiro. Team Directors in the race will be John Lelangue, Juan Fernandez and Jacques Michaud.

2006 Giro prize money up again

The total sum of the prize money at the 2006 Giro d'Italia will be back to its previous level, after being decreased this season. On Tuesday, August 16, the Giro organisers RCS announced that the sum awarded to the teams next year would add up to €1.35 million again, just like in 2004, whereas this year the prize money totaled 'only' €1.255 million. The participating teams had protested and the organisers have now officially confirmed the amended amount.

Prize money wasn't the only issue between the Giro organisers and the professional teams. The amount of start money had also caused some controversy, as RCS was willing to pay €30.000 to each participating team to cover their cost of travelling and other expenses. The teams, in turn, asked for twice that amount, and after threatening to boycott the race, the organisers conceded to €50,000, which was accepted. However, it seemed as though the increased start money was tied to the decreased prize money.

Darshan Singh protests against UCI elections

Dato' Seri G. Darshan Singh, Life President of the Malaysian National Cycling Federation and one of the three candidates running for the UCI presidency, has protested against the conduct of the International Cycling Union's electoral process. In a press release, Singh bemoaned the fact that current UCI president Hein Verbruggen sent a letter to the 42 voting delegates worldwide in support of Pat McQuaid, who stands the greatest chance of becoming the next UCI president when the Electoral Congress will cast its vote on September 23 in Madrid, Spain.

Singh called Verbruggen's letter, "biased, unethical, undemocratic and a breach in the conduct of a President. I have been in sports for 30 years and I have never seen something like this happening before. The President is always neutral, and does not show his favouritism. In this case, Mr. Verbruggen, the present President of UCI, has decided to write a letter to all voting delegates and UCI Federation Presidents (letter dated 8th July, 2005) to ask them to vote for Mr. Pat McQuaid. It is absolutely bizarre."

In the letter, Hein Verbruggen, also on behalf of the UCI Management Committee members, asks the delegates and federation presidents "for your support in electing Mr McQuaid as the next president of the UCI."

Darshan Singh, a member of the UCI Management Committee for over eight years, also emphasized the difference between agreeing on candidacy and promoting a candidate for presidency. While Pat McQuaid was approved as a candidate for presidency by the Management Committee in Hamilton 2003 (also see: Interview with Pat McQuaid), Singh stated, "I do not remember this decision taken that the UCI President and the UCI Management Committee is to campaign for Mr. Pat McQuaid," he said. "How can it be a decision if it is not even recorded? Mr. Hein Verbruggen, who always emphasizes on rules of good governance and of good ethics, has certainly breached the very fundamentals of this discipline."

The Malaysian lawyer believes that the elections are not conducted democratically. "The action of Mr. Verbruggen to write such a letter is certainly not democratic and has given the extra edge and mile to Mr. McQuaid in the run to the UCI presidency. The election of the President of UCI can no longer be conducted democratically as long as Mr. McQuaid is still a candidate."

Cyclingnews will have a full interview with Darshan Singh in the next few days.

Molteni team director passes away

Ambrogio Molteni, 72, former professional rider and director of the famous Molteni team including Eddy Merckx in the '70s, passed away on Tuesday, August 16, following a heart attack. His father Piero Molteni, a food entrepreneur, had sponsored the Italian team which scored a total of 663 victories. The funeral will take place on Sunday in Besana, Italy. The Molteni family has remained committed to cycling, as the family-owned Salmilano brand still supports an Italian team in which Mario Molteni is currently riding as a stagiaire.

RAGT riders looking out for new teams

French Continental team RAGT Sémences is happy with its riders' recent performances, especially Renaud Dion's several top ten placings at the Régio Tour. Dion finished 6th, 9th and 3rd in the first three days of the German stage race, and said he made this improvement by training behind a scooter in July.

"It seems to work for me," he said. "But I'm basically too light anyway to be classified a sprinter, although I can do a reasonable job in small group finishes. My technique involves sort of sneaking in through the back door, rather than taking on the heavy weights."

As the team sponsor will cease its activities in cycling at the end of this season, all of the team's riders are currently looking for a new squad to take them on. "Lots of our riders deserve to remain pro," said RAGT sports director Jean-Luc Jonrond.

Dion is hopeful that he will find a new contract soon. "For the time being, I cannot imagine anything other than continuing on the pro circuit," he explained. "But it's a tough year to find work. I reckon I still have my rightful place on the circuit. I'm conscious that I'm not the only one in this situation, but you have to believe in your lucky star." So does Ludovic Martin, pointing out, "Every year, the telephone has ended up ringing, even when I thought there was no hope left..."

Cyclist dies in Texas

A cyclist lost his life in a head-on collision with another cyclist on Sunday, August 14 in Plano, Texas. Michael Mahoney, 52, was riding counter-clockwise on a circuit route near an industrial part of southeast Plano when the accident occurred. He collided with Jordan Muller, 37, who was training clockwise on the parcours used for races on Tuesday nights.

Although both cyclists were wearing helmets, Michael Mahoney's head trauma was too severe and he passed away in the Medical Center of Plano soon after the accident. Jordan Muller was transferred from Medical Center late on Sunday to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, and is currently in the intensive care unit.

With most races taking place clockwise, race organizer Randy Eller said that most people training on the course were riding in that same direction. Nevertheless, the streets being public, cyclists can ride any direction they choose. While the police did not know at what speed the two cyclists were going when they crashed, the accident apparently happened on a straight stretch of the road.

Italians to feature in Newport Nocturne

Two Italian cyclists will be on the start line for this year's Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne (Britain), which takes place on Saturday, September 10. For former Gerolsteiner pro Federico 'Fred' Morini, this year's race is one more stepping stone in his return from a bad accident. In December 2001, Morini had just completed a successful first year with Gerolsteiner, when he fell into a ravine while training in Umbria. The accident left him paralysed with severe back and leg injuries.

Experts at a Swiss neurological hospital told Morini that although he would eventually regain the use of his legs, a return to cycling was unlikely. However, weeks of physiotherapy paid off and Fred was managing to ride a few wobbly metres just two months after the accident. Unfortunately, continuing problems with his spine meant doctors were forced to rule out a return to professional cycling and Fred became manager of his teammate Davide Rebellin.

Persuaded to ride the 2003 Nocturne by his friend, Newport's Ian Holt, Morini showed that he had the potential for a return to the top level. "Freddy was in the thick of the action from the start. If his chain hadn't broken, who knows how well he might have done?" said Holt.

Nocturne co-promoter Nick Jeggo also stayed in touch, and in June visited a bike festival that Fred had organised in Tuscany. "Fred told me he'd recently had the doctors' OK to ride as a pro again and was already in talks with a ProTour team," said Jeggo. "You could tell how happy and motivated he was. When I asked him if he wanted to ride the Nocturne again he was really up for it."

Another Italian riding the Nocturne also has an interesting history. Matteo Cardellini was a talented motorcyclist who then turned to mountain bikes. Finally he decided that skinny tyres are his thing and he hasn't finished outside the top five in any road race he's ridden.

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