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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for January 1, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Nine positives in Vuelta a Guatemala

In what is certainly the biggest doping case in the race's history, nine riders have allegedly tested positive in the 46th Vuelta a Guatemala, including the winner and the first four places on the general classification. The positives were mainly for EPO and testosterone, with four Guatemalan and five foreign riders implicated: Lizandro Ajcú (1st GC), Nery Velásquez (9th GC), David Calanche (17th GC) and Abel Jocholá (all Gua), Noel Vásquez (Ven, 2nd GC) and Yeisson Delgado (Ven, 7th GC), Carlos López González (Mex, 3rd GC), Federico Muñoz (Col, 4th GC), José Reynaldo Murillo (ESA, 15th GC). The winner, Lizandro Ajcú, returned positive A samples for EPO on three separate occasions. He also recently and suddenly abandoned the Vuelta a Costa Rica.

None of the riders have admitted to taking banned substances. And as yet, no B sample analyses have been carried out, although it is not known how many of the riders will request them. If all are found guilty, the top part of the general classification will change radically, with Costa Rican Paulo Vargas (Pizza Hut) being elevated from fifth to first and the 18th placed rider, José Migdael Zeceña (Café Quetzal), jumping up to 10th.

According to Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, the news wasn't initially reported by the Guatemalan cycling federation. Instead, it came to light after the UCI informed the various other national federations of the positives. The Venezuelan federation has already confirmed the cases of Noel Vásquez and Yeisson Delgado, and the Guatemalan federation, which claimed it was on holidays when the UCI communique was received, said that all the other riders had been contacted.

Wiggins and Hoy get gongs

British riders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy have been included in Britain's New Year Honours list, being awarded an OBE and MBE respectively. Both riders were stars of the Athens Olympics, where Wiggins won a gold, silver and bronze medal and Hoy won gold in the kilometre time trial.

"This is a great honour and I am delighted to be recognised in this way," said Hoy on his website, www.chrishoy.com. "It has been a great year for me and for Track Cycling in Britain and this is the icing on the cake. The public recognition is much appreciated and helps with my motivation to strive for even more success in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Thanks to everyone who has helped me on my way. I could not have done it alone."

Hoy is currently back to full time training and is preparing for the World Cup event in Manchester on 7-9 January and then the World Championships in Los Angeles at Easter.

Marco Polo Cycling Team to be launched in China

The Marco Polo Cycling Team, China's first professional cycling team, will be officially launched at a press conference in Zhuhai, South China, on January 2. The team is based upon an agreement between the Chinese Cycling Association and the World Wide Cycling Foundation (management Marco Polo Cycling Project), that runs from January 1, 2005 till December 31, 2008. The aim of the agreement is to develop the level of Chinese riders towards the international pro-level before the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The team will start this year with 12 riders, with a more to be added later this season. It's composed of an existing core of international riders: Mike Carter (USA), Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Mgl), Robin Reid (NZl), Chi Yin Leung (HKg) and Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), with four new Chinese riders and three new internationals to be added: Tong Yu, Li Fuyu, Chengguang Yu, Gang Xu (all Chn), Rhys Pollock (Aus), Eddy Hollands (Aus), Rene Van Oord (Ned).

The international riders are to make the base of the team strong and bring experience and stability. The Chinese riders are in the team to learn and gain experience in international competition. The team's goals in 2005 will be a top ranking in the UCI Asia Tour for teams and have the Chinese riders gain experience in European pro-am racing.

The Marco Polo Cycling Team will be sponsored by Trek Bikes, Nestlé Pure Life, Craft, Volkswagen, Setpoint, JP Print, Vredestein, Lake, Tacx, Gazelle, Axley, Born Sportscare, Keywin, Nikon, Selle Italia, Pazzaz, Universal automation, Bontrager, Limar and Sigma Sport. Some of these companies are sponsoring the team, some the Marco Polo Cycling School training centre in The Netherlands and some both.

Team website: www.marcopolocycling.com

Japan aiming for Keirin glory in Manchester Track World Cup
- huge prize money on offer to trackies

A field of 28 riders from 15 nations has been invited to contest the Special Keirin, with Japan sending six of its top riders to this all-star event in Manchester, Great Britain on January 9, 2005. The race, sponsored by the Japan Keirin Association, is set to be one of the richest and most prestigious keirin races ever to be held outside Japan.

"All six of our riders are eager to do well against the world's top riders," said Japanese team manager Yujiro Shimizu commented. "We will be aiming for success in what is certain to be a spectacular event." Japan's specialist keirin riders rarely compete outside their own country, though the Manchester event, which carries a record £45,000 in prizes, is proving a strong attraction.

In recent years, non-Japanese riders have become expert in this sprint-type discipline. Leading exponents include world championship winners America's Marty Nothstein and Australia's Jobie Dajka, who will both be competing at Manchester. Nothstein, twice winner of the world keirin title, is looking forward to competing on the Manchester track, one of the fastest in the world.

"I will be racing the special invitation Keirin as well as the World Cup scratch and Madison," said Nothstein. "It is a very full programme of racing for me, but what better place to race than at Manchester."

Dajka, a product of the Australian Institute of Sport, is no stranger to Manchester, having won a Commonwealth sprint bronze there in 2002. Later that year, Adelaide-based Dajka went on to take the World Keirin title in Copenhagen. Also in 2003, he emerged from the Stuttgart World's with silver.

Current world champion Jamie Staff has been forced to withdraw from the Manchester line-up because of injury. He will be replaced by Olympic kilometre champion Chris Hoy. Although Hoy has concentrated on the kilo in recent years, his powerhouse style makes him a formidable keirin competitor.

Britain's trio is completed by World and Olympic team sprint medallist Craig MacLean and rising sprint star Ross Edgar.

Strong contenders for victory include Spain's Jose Antonio Escuredo, a keirin silver medallist in both the World Championships and Olympic Games in 2004. Ivan Vrba of the Czech Republic is another keirin star, taking a Worlds bronze in 2004, whilst Andriy Vyvnokurov, European Keirin Champion from the Ukraine, is perhaps the best of the young riders.

Partial start list

Takashi Kaneko, Kazuya Narita, Yusho Oikawa, Hiroshi Tsutsumi, Harutomo Watanabe and Yuji Yamamada (all Jpn), Mickael Bourgain (Fra), Rene Wolff and Jan Van Eijden (Ger), Theo Bos (Ned), Chris Hoy, Craig Maclean and Ross Edgar (all GBr), Jobie Dajka (Aus), Marty Nothstein (USA), Jose Antonio Escuredo (Spa), Ivan Vrba (Cze), Andriy Vyvnokurov (Ukr).

Race website: www.worldtrackcycling.com

Evans to ride Bay series

One of Australia's top cyclists, Cadel Evans, is a last minute inclusion in the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic. The reining Commonwealth Games time trial champion and runner up in the road race will lead the young UNO Clothing team.

"I felt I needed a bit of racing to get me ready for the National title and the Tour Down Under," Evans said. "I always enjoy myself at the Bay series and it is a great event to get yourself some good form. The criteriums are as fast as any race I have ridden anywhere in the world and it will be a perfect top up to the long rides I am presently doing. Plus it will be good to catch up with my new teammates."

Evans has recently signed up with Belgian ProTour team Davitamon-Lotto, alongside fellow Aussies Robbie McEwen, Nick Gates and Henk Vogels. With former top-line pro Allan Peiper taking a job as Sports Director, it has become a decidedly Australian affair.

Evans had a topsy turvy year in 2004. After a disastrous 2003 where he broke his collarbone an incredible three times, Evans started to show glimpses of the form that had many picking him for a podium finish in the Tour de France.

After winning the Tour of Austria for a second time, Evans was surprisingly left out of the T-Mobile team for the Tour de France. Then in a double blow he was not selected in the Australian team for Athens. Although Evans prefers not to discuss the setback, many find it hard to believe he didn't warrant selection for either event.

"That is water under bridge now and I just want to concentrate on the year ahead," Evans said.

There won't be any doubts about Evans riding his first Tour de France in 2005. Although his new team will be very focused on Robbie McEwen defending his green jersey and getting him to the front in the hectic stage finishes, the team has picked Cadel to be their number one rider for the overall classification.

Race website: www.jaycobayclassic.com.au

Three legends confirmed for JCTDU dinner

Australian cycling champions Stuart O'Grady, Graeme Brown and Michael Rogers will feature as guests at the 2005 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under Legends Night Dinner, which will be held on Saturday, January 22 at 7:00pm in the Adelaide Hilton's Grand Ballroom (Level 1). The Legends Night Dinner will acknowledge, celebrate and allow fans to ask questions from the floor of their cycling heroes, including Tour de France race director Jean-Marie LeBlanc.

It will be the first time Stuart O'Grady and Graeme Brown will be interviewed on stage together since their Athens Olympic victory win of a Gold Medal in the cycling Madison. Coupled with Michael Rogers, the current World Time Trial Champion, this will make for a big night of cycling.

Limited seats are available and can be booked by calling Sally Heading on +61 (0)8 8463 4701.

Race website: www.tourdownunder.com.au

Rolling into the new year

Graeme Brown
Photo ©: CN

At the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, dual Olympic gold medallist Graeme Brown is one of the star riders and has been putting on a good show for the crowds. Shown here at the Devonport Carnival, 'Brownie' was already into the swing for 2005 by cruising around on a new Colnago C-50. He hastened to add his official team bike will be provided with Campagnolo components, unlike the Dura-Ace on the model provided by the Australian distributor, Excelpro.

He's looking forward to sprinting into the new year with Ceramiche-Panaria on his new mount, where he will be in action at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, then the steamy Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, before heading over to the cooler climate of Italy to commence the new season.

The Australian has been in good form at the Carnivals, both on and off the bike, although he's still hungry for more wins and at the time of writing, one of the high-value 'wheelraces' had eluded him, narrowly missing out in Launceston to American Jame Carney.

For all the reports, results and photos from the Carnivals, see our special section.

SCAT International Rider Award update

By Rod Morris

Any one of 12 riders remain in contention to win the inaugural Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania - Malaysia Airlines International Award with only the Burnie New Year's Day Carnival to determine the end result. The inaugural award carries a return a trip to Europe for the eventual winner and Nook cyclist Belinda Goss, who is now based in Melbourne, will take a slender 3-point lead into Burnie.

All open age riders are eligible for the award, with nominated races offering a 5-3-1 points system. Goss has amassed 25 points from the Latrobe, Launceston and Devonport carnivals, including three wins, three seconds and a third and leads from dual gold medal Olympian Graeme Brown.

Sister-brother act, Carrie and Ben Price from Ulverstone are third and fourth respectively, while newly crowned Devonport Wheel winner Ben Kersten jumped into fifth place on Thursday with 15 points, after winning the 1000 m Lightning Handicap and A Grade Scratch on the first night of the Devonport Carnival. Unfortunately Kersten is the only one of the top 13 riders who cannot win the award, as he has returned to NSW for his brother Josh's wedding.

SCAT and Malaysia Airlines are also offering one lucky patron at the carnivals to win two return air fares to any of its European destinations. All patrons have to do is fill out a coupon and place it in the box provided. The winner will be drawn at tonight's Burnie New Year's Day Carnival.

SCAT - Malaysia Airlines International Rider Award standings

1 Belinda Goss (Tas)                 25 
2 Graeme Brown (NSW)                 22 
3 Carrie Price (Tas)                 19 
4 Ben Price (Tas)                    17 
5 Ben Kersten (NSW)                  15 
6 Sarah Eaves (Tas)                  14 
7 Ben Laskey (Tas)                   14 
8 Liz Williams (NZ)                  14 
9 Rochelle Gilmore (NSW)             13 
10 Darren Young (Tas)                12 
11 Aaron Salisbury (Vic)             11 
12 Louise Yaxley (Tas)               11 
13 Tommy Nankervis (Vic)             10 

TV coverage on Cycling Central

The 2004-05 Basslink Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals Series will be featured on this Sunday's (January 2) edition of Cycling Central on SBS television, which screens at 11:30am and is repeated the following Tuesday at 3:30pm. SBS cycling host Michael Tomalaris was in Tasmania earlier this week to watch the Tasmanian carnivals as well as the third annual Launceston Criterium. Due to time constraints, the second night of the Devonport Carnival and the Burnie New Year's Day Carnival will be featured on the following week's edition of Cycling Central.

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