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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for December 13, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson, Les Clarke & Jeff Jones

Capelle's EPO ban overturned

Belgian cyclist Ludovic Capelle has had his 18 month suspension for EPO use overturned by the Council of State. Capelle tested positive for the drug at a race in Gullegem, Belgium on June 7, and was given a one and a half year ban by the disciplinary commission of the Flemish Community in October. However, Capelle appealed the sanction to Belgium's Council of State, the country's highest administrative court and was cleared on a technicality. He is now a free rider, albeit one without a contract.

The basis for lifting the ban was a procedural error. "The drug testing officer went beyond his competence during the control," said Capelle's lawyer Johnny Maeschalck on Sporza Radio. "We had seven points to argue to lift the suspension. The Council of State immediately found in the first one a procedural error, and therefore didn't consider the other points. We asked for acquittal and got it."

The Flemish Community said that it will respect the decision of the Council of State, although it maintains that Capelle had EPO in his system on June 7. "We will take Capelle off the list of banned athletes," said Chris Vanderauwera from the Disciplinary Council of Medically Responsible Sports. "Capelle disputed whether he was called up by the draw for the doping control. The doctor could not explain that to the disciplinary commission. Therefore, the Council of State lifted the suspension.

"Still, it's true that there was EPO found in Capelle. The Council of State will discuss that later. In the meantime, we will improve our procedures."

Capelle's former employer, Gérard Bulens of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, did not want to comment on the possibility of re-hiring the rider. "This is all over my head," he said. "I don't know anything about the whole affair, because neither Capelle nor his lawyer has really told me anything. We couldn't do anything else but sack him. Certainly after the suspension was confirmed by the Flemish Community. The dismissal was in accord with the rules of the federation and the UCI."

Tour 2006: Rasmussen not impressed

Tour de France 2006 king of the mountains Michael Rasmussen says he is disappointed with the 2006 Tour de France route. The structure of the stages means that the mountains jersey will not necessarily go to the fastest climber next year.

The problem, says Rasmussen in his diary on, is that the actual climbing comes too late in the stages. "This years route was a bit different, because the mountains were right at the beginning of the stages, and then you could simply go to get the points you needed, if you had the strength," says Rasmussen. "Next year there are about 50 km flat riding before reaching the mountains of respectively the Pyrenees and the Alps. That makes it a bit of a coincidence which riders will make it in the different breaks. It will not necessarily be those who race fastest uphill. Of course that makes it a bit more difficult."

In addition, Rasmussen doesn't believe any of the stages before the Alps will be selective. "In reality only the time trial can make a difference before the Alps. Maybe the last stage in the Pyrenees can make some separation, but it is not an especially tough finish. We rode it two years ago during the Vuelta. It was the stage after the one I won. Joaquin Rodriguez and Aitor Osa were in a break and I left the group behind them together with three others, Luis Perez, Felix Cardenas and Unai Osa. We arrived ahead of the others, but only 20 seconds later a group of 15 riders arrived. It is not a climb to make a large difference. I think we were about 30 riders that lasted until about the last eight kilometres. You could perhaps lose a minute or so, but that won't be a crucial climb," he says.

Page suffers food poisoning

After losing his national title to Todd Wells last weekend, Jonathan Page was admitted to hospital prior to Saturday's race. The American 'crosser, tipped by many to take another US national title over the weekend, suffered the effects of the condition during his ride, and despite extreme discomfort took third behind Wells and Ryan Trebon. Page is reported to be recovering well, and looking forward to the Christmas break before heading back to Europe ahead of January's world championships in the Netherlands.

CSC camps out

Now boys, this is the way...
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image) Now boys, this is the way... Carlos Sastre (l) doesn't look too amused in the cold

For six years, ex-army officer B.S Christiansen has been working with Team CSC during their annual training camp in the areas of mental and physical strength in preparation for a gruelling season. He's made plenty of progress by instilling core values within the squad, and it shows, with a cohesive unit that gets results. "Our motto is: If you're happy, you can win anything, if you're sad you won't win anything whatsoever. It's my job to look after the guys who are a bit down, because it always shows if they have problems, which we can then deal with", Christiansen explains.

Christiansen is a full-time staff member of Riis Cycling, but his work plans are flexible with the needs of the riders. "Naturally I discuss the races in which I'll help with Bjarne Riis, but if I feel there's a special need for my assistance in other races, I can choose them myself. If an emergency situation should arise anywhere, I can go. I always participate in all the training camps, the Tour and some of the big races, though," he adds.

Well-known for a fresh approach to their pre-season camps, CSC recently headed out with for their annual pre-season camp with the likes of new recruit Stuart O'Grady, getting busy with some sailing to develop teamwork and achieving goals while having fun. Many teams are adopting CSC's approach, with T-Mobile heading to the Austrian alps for team bonding in the snow, along with some adventure, fun and games for Ullrich and co.

Aye aye, Captain Stuie!
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image) Aye aye, Captain Stuie! Stuart O'Grady has fun at the CSC training camp

Christiansen has been assisting the CSC squad for six years now, something he's enjoyed immensely and is now vital to the team's success. "Bjarne Riis contacted me and said that he wanted to build up the best cycling team in the world, an ambition I liked a lot. So I just told him I'm ready!. It was a great challenge. Actually, I think that the reason that I'm here is that I fit into Bjarne's philosophy, and his way of working. I challenge him too."

Riis enjoys Christiansen's ability to think outside the square, something that most people notice about CSC. "Had I just been a 'yes man', I'd been fired," explains Christiansen. "I'm here as long as I'm needed by him. I don't know a damn about cycling sports, though. But that doesn't interest me - what interests me is what makes people achieve top results, how they co-operate between the many nationalities we have on our team. You really have to co-operate to achieve the common ambitions. It's team work - a big challenge", he says, smiling.

Christiansen believes that it's his honest approach and willingness to challenge and support Riis that makes their partnership so successful. "No matter what he does, I support him, as he's the one in charge. I just inform him about what I see, but it's always Bjarne who makes the final decision - so I'm just a kind of consultant. Many believe that a consultant can make decisions too, but I don't decide anything. It's crucial that Bjarne is the one taking the decisions, otherwise people would loose their trust in him. I have a great deal of respect for Bjarne".

Courtesy of Jesper Johannesen,


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Velodrome in South Carolina remains uncertain

Plans for a new velodrome in South Carolina are still in limbo, according to a report in The Herald of Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Carolina Velodrome Association had presented an idea to build a new velodrome in the area early this year, with the city and club agreeing to take six months to perform an impact study on costs, location and revenue generation.

Even though that was nine months ago, the CVA president Mike Cowan told the paper that the plans are still in the works. "We're still putting things together. I knew when I started working on this that it was going to take years. I don't want to be involved in something that turns out to be a flop. We want to get it right."

Kim Deacon, president of the Rock Hill Bicycle Club, also said that enthusiasm for the project has spread beyond the locality. "Word has spread that Rock Hill is seriously considering this thing," Deacon said. "The cycling community, maybe they're optimists, but they're assuming its going to happen. People from Raleigh, Greenville, Atlanta, they're saying 'We can't wait 'til you get the velodrome. We'll be there.'"

VMG Racing ready to go for 2006

Jared Faciszewski
Photo ©: Phil Lee
(Click for larger image) Jared Faciszewski is the first subject for

While most of the Northern hemisphere and especially the northern US were recovering from this weekend's winter weather, new US developmental professional team, VMG Racing, was enjoying mild temperatures in Gainesville, FL for it's first complete team gathering. Over the weekend, the new programme hosted its first team training camp in preparation for the 2006 season.

While the three days in Florida were focused on orientation and planning, there were a few other surprises in store for the team. In addition to the run-of-the-mill meetings and team policy outlining, riders were subjected to physiological and psychological testing and their first photo shoot for the VMG programme.

Making use of its newly established partnership with the University of Florida & Shands Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute, VMG Racing riders were treated to state of the art exercise and physiological testing. Dan Larson, manager/director of the team said, "The institute has the specific testing equipment we need and a staff that has a specific interest in cycling. The riders will be able to take the results of this testing and create a training programme to get the most out of their upcoming preparations."

The most exciting episode of the weekend took place at the outset of the activities. After the staff and riders were cordially introduced and welcomes were offered all around, the riders we quickly led into what was purported to be a brief laboratory tour and a run of the mill bike fitting session. When entering the UF laboratory however, riders were greeted by carbon Fuji bikes, their equipment for 2006.VMG racing secured a sponsorship deal with Fuji to support the development squad, with all riders now equipped for plenty of winter training.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Phil Lee

Oregon 'cross season closer

Oregon's cyclocross season comes to a mud-strewn conclusion Sunday, December 18, when downtown Portland bike shop, Veloshop hosts the third race of its cyclocross series at Blue Lake Regional Park in Northeast Portland.

Hundred of cyclocross racers are expected to take on the challenging Blue Lake course, with its rolling grass fields, hairpin turns and ever-popular sand pit. Racing starts at 9:30 a.m. and continues all day, with the Men's Category A, Single Speed, and Masters race taking place at 2 p.m. There's $400 in prize money for the top finishers in the Category A Men and Women events.

For more information see and

Colavita/Cooking Light strengthens roster for 2006

With the signing of 2005 NRC champion and four-time national criterium champion Tina Pic and other former members of the Quark squad, the Colavita/Cooking Light Women's Cycling Team will enter the 2006 racing season with its strongest line-up to date. John Profaci, Vice President of Marketing for Colavita Olive Oil, and Chris Allen, Vice President and publisher of Cooking Light, the world's largest food magazine, made the announcement.

Returning to the Colavita/Cooking Light team are Canadian Time Trial champion and Fitchburg Longsjo winner Sue Palmer-Komar and Dotsie Cowden, who distinguished herself with breakthrough rides at the Tour of Gila and Tour of Altoona. The team has also signed Victory Brewing's top sprinter Gina Grain. "We are very excited about the upcoming season," says Profaci, "With a combined total of more than 50 domestic and international wins over the last two years, this foursome will be among the most formidable competitors in the North American peloton."

Completing the roster for 2006 are Canadian speed-skater turned cyclist Audrey Lemieux, a member of last year's Quark team, Brooke Ourada, formerly of T-Mobile, Sima Trapp who has qualified for the USA track talent pool for 2006, NRC debutante Sarah Tillotson, and Iona Wynter, who rode for Travel Girls and Quark last year.

Management for the Colavita/Cooking Light Women's Cycling Team will be provided by Team Sports under the leadership of former Quark director Jim Williams.

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