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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for June 3, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Wachovia USPRO Championship is finally legal at 21

By Mark Zalewski in Philadelphia, PA

Ventoso wins in 2004
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

With 191 starters, consisting of more than 40 riders from top European teams, including ProTour teams like CSC, Discovery Channel and Saunier Duval-Prodir, the 2005 Wachovia USPRO Championship is shaping up to be a action-packed race for the stars and stripes jersey of USPRO champion. And as it has every year, the Manayunk Wall will play a decisive role in who deserves to be crowned USPRO champion.

The uniqueness of having an 'open' championship means that the spectators not only get to see the best that their domestic racing scene has to offer, but also some of the best racers in the world, particularly Americans based in Europe. For every American pro, this race is a dream - either for starting a career or capping off a successful one. "This race is one of the reasons why I started bike racing," said CSC's Bobby Julich. Even though the veteran pro has finished on the podium in the Tour de France and the Olympics, this race has eluded him over his career. "To win the national championship would be awesome - it's one of the things left on my 'to do' list for my career." Julich, who has spent the time since Georgia training at altitude out west, will have a strong CSC team behind him again this year.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the USPRO Championship live from start to finish, beginning at 9:00am EDT (06:00 PDT (USA West)/15:00 CEST (Central Europe)/23:00 AEST (Australia East) on Sunday.

Click here for the full preview

Dekker to retire at end of 2006

Dutch one day classic specialist Erik Dekker has announced his retirement at the end of 2006, and will finish his career with Rabobank, the team he has ridden for for the last 10 years. "The end has to come one day," said Dekker. "I want to quit racing at a good level. I think I can still reach that level next year."

Dekker said that he is more than happy to continue with Rabobank: "I am in a great team with a great sponsor. Besides that, there is a very positive development with young, talented riders in our team. It's interesting for me to be able to watch that development from close by for another year."

After he stops, he is not sure what he'll do next. "There's still a lot of time to think about that," said Dekker. For now I'm really happy that I can stay for one more year with Rabobank."

"Erik is a rider who is very close to our heart," said team manager Theo de Rooij. "He lives for his sport and as a rider he will always attack. A rider like Erik Dekker just belongs to the Rabo Cycling Team."

2006 will mark Dekker's 11th season with Rabobank, and together with Michael Boogerd, Richard Groenendaal and Jan Boven, he forms the quartet of riders that has been riding for Rabobank since the start of the team in 1996 [Dekker turned pro on September 21, 1992].

A four time Dutch national champion, Dekker also won the World Cup overall in 2001, won three classics (Clasica San Sebastian 2000, Amstel Gold Race 2001 and Paris - Tours 2004, and scored four stage victories in the Tour de France. He was awarded the Dutch Athlete of the year in 2001, and was chosen as best Dutch cyclist of the year in 2000, 2001 and 2004.

Dekker also won the overall classification of the Tour of the Netherlands three times (1997, 2000 and 2004) plus the overall victories in Vuelta a Andalucia (2001), Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt (2001), Tirreno-Adriatico (2002) and GP Erik Breukink (2003).

Gaumont tips the bucket

French ex-pro Philippe Gaumont has published a book, Prisonnier du dopage, recalling his rather sordid existence as a professional cyclist in the Cofidis team. In it, he goes into detail describing his own doping and recreational drug taking practices, and those of several of the other members of the team. Gaumont ended his career in 2004 after he was arrested by police in relation to the Cofidis affair, which implicated a number of riders and soigneurs in doping practices.

Few of Gaumont's former team colleagues remain untouched by the revelations in the book, and he describes how some of the riders sniffed a mixture of sleeping powder and ephedrine before climbing between rooms on the eighth floor of their hotel. Another rider, now retired, told Gaumont of his experiences with Oxyglobin, an artificial blood booster for use in animals. The rider said that he took it before Paris-Roubaix and it did nothing more than give him a stomach ache.

"I devoured everything that he [a doctor] gave me without asking questions," Gaumont related. "I swallowed anything that might make me go faster. At one stage, after 10 years, I couldn't imagine riding a bike without it." Gaumont described how he took Pot Belge in the winter of 1994-1995, then went onto taking amphetamines to do post-Tour criteriums. "They [the foreign riders in Cofidis in 1997] only used illegal products to improve their performances. We French not only did dope, but what's more, we regularly got high on amphetamines and Pot Belge." Gaumont added that before the 1998 Tour de France, he and several of the team's riders [including foreigners] were prepared by an Italian doctor, and packages containing EPO and growth hormones, along with instructions of how to use them, was sent to them.

Gaumont touched on other illegal practices within the peloton, explaining how his team got paid for working with Telekom during the ill-fated 2003 Paris-Nice, where Cofidis rider Andrei Kivilev crashed and died. "Once, I was ashamed," wrote Gaumont. "It was in Paris-Nice, in 2003. Our teammate, Kazakh Andrei Kivilev had died two days previously as a result of a crash...The race finished on Mont Faron...and Alexandre Vinokourov, Kivilev's best friend, was well placed to take the lead in the general classification. An break had gone and in the earpiece, I asked our sports director: What do we do? Do we help Telekom ride?...With his car, he drew up beside Telekom's and then told us in the microphone: 'It's OK, do it. I negotiated €3000 day (for the whole team) until Sunday. We did it, we rode for three days, without asking questions. Vino won Paris-Nice and we pocketed money. In the newspapers, they described the beauty of our gesture..."

Prisonnier du dopage is published by Grasset and is available in French.

Hamilton appeal is go

American Tyler Hamilton has officially submitted his appeal to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Hamilton was banned for two years by the American Arbitration Association/Court of Arbitration for Sport for transfusing someone else's blood, after he tested positive for a mixed red blood cell population at the Vuelta a España in September, 2004. Hamilton has always maintained his innocence in the affair and is seeking to get the CAS to overturn the ruling.

Previous stories

Massive doping bust in Spain

Spanish police have uncovered a large scale doping operation in Catalonia, in the north of the country, arresting 70 people and seizing millions of doses of illegal performance enhancing drugs and €200,000 in cash. According to an AFP report, quoting the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs, six laboratories that were illegally manufacturing and distributing anabolic steroids, hormones, and EPO, were busted. In addition to the labs, police also searched garages, basements and houses, where the products were packaged for distribution. The drugs were intended for sale in schools, sporting clubs, specialist stores and Internet sites.

T-Mobile ready for Dauphiné

The Dauphiné Libéré (June 5-12) is generally known as the dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, and has thus been earmarked by the T-Mobile team as an important race. Team manager Mario Kummer sees the tour as an opportunity to fine-tune his riders for the Grand Boucle: "The tour is very demanding, it even partly runs over Tour de France terrain. At the end we will be able to tell where we are at."

Most of the team's Tour candidates will be racing the Dauphiné, including Alexander Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Oscar Sevilla and Paco Lara. "They need the competition load in order to be in top shape in July," said Kummer, who believes Paco Lara has a good chance. "I hope he could save the form he had at the Tour of Catalonia. I think he might be able to pull something off." Torsten Hiekmann, Christian Werner, Bernhard Kohl and Sergey Yakovlev will complete the line up.

Kummer will not accompany the riders in France, rather Belgian Frans Van Looy will be the team's sports director. He was recently at the Bayern-Rundfahrt to watch Andreas Klöden and Alexander Vinokourov being "right on track...Dauphiné Libéré is the ultimate acid test for both of them," said Van Looy.

Rookie Bernhard Kohl is using the Dauphiné as preparation for the Tour of Austria (July 4- 10) in his home country. "Racing side by side with 'Vino' and Klöden against Lance Armstrong is a great challenge for me," said Kohl.

T-Mobile will also be in action in the GP Kanton Aargau in Gippingen, Switzerland, this Sunday. The squad will consist of the same lineup that will race in Saturday's GP Schwarzwald, with the addition of Erik Zabel. The full roster is: Marcus Burghardt, André Korff, Daniele Nardello, Stephan Schreck, Tobias Steinhauser, Jan Ullrich, Christian Werner, Steffen Wesemann, and Erik Zabel.

Gerolsteiner for upcoming races

Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré (June 5-12): Heinrich Haussler, Sebastian Lang, Levi Leipheimer, Uwe Peschel, Davide Rebellin, Matthias Ruß, Torsten Schmidt, Marco Serpellini. DS: Reimund Dietzen

GP Schwarzwald (June 4): Sven Krauß, Sven Montgomery, Volker Ordowski, Ronny Scholz, Fabian Wegmann, Beat and Markus Zberg

GP Gippingen (June 5): Robert Förster, René Haselbacher, Volker Ordowski, Andrea Moletta, Michael Rich, Marcel Strauss, Beat and Markus Zberg.

Irish weekend preview

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Last week's FBD Insurance Ras certainly lifted the bar when it came to organisation. Thankfully, the majority of the officials who were involved for eight days last week will be back in harness this weekend for the major Irish races.

The consensus is that the majority of the participants in the Ras will be shoring up with rest and light training, despite the third round of the Classic League in Banbridge on Sunday. Tommy Evans looks a likely favourite for the Noel Taggart, but in the wings is Roger Aiken, who since a stint in the Sean Kelly Academy in Belgium has been making great waves in the bunch, and with that stage victory in the FBD into Emyvale, he could be the one in the frame on Sunday evening.

In Philadelphia, USA, both Ciaran Power and David O'Loughlin will be lining out for the Navigators also on Sunday. In fact, a number of competitors who were in the FBD Insurance Ras are in the States now. Whereas the Recycling.Co.Uk team was all the rage in Ireland because of its supremacy, things have not been as rosy in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, along with Dean Downing crashing and sustaining injuries which could sideline him for a while, Paul Manning, who played a pivotal role as a playmaker in the Ras, failed to finish the Lancaster GP, mainly because of jet lag.

Whilst the Senior A's had their week in the Ras, those down the pecking order will be converging for the Dunboyne Three-Day which gets under way on Saturday. Four stages (three road and a time trial) have been listed as part of the action for the Whit weekend.

In the driving seat as per usual are Alice Sherratt and her team of helpers who'll be dispensing with the cobwebs before they move on to their biggie of the year, the M Donnelly Junior Tour next month. The Dunboyne event has more or less been a nursery for cyclists who are destined to cycle on the bigger stage. Of late, one of its most successful participants was Philip Deignan, who is carving out a successful career with AG2R-Prevoyance.

One of those who has aspirations of a career on the bike after his education, is Martin Munroe from the Western Lakes club, which is based in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Since making his debut as a schoolboy, Martin, now a second year junior, has progressed steadily under the tutelage of Padraig Marrey, as have a lot of other cyclists in the Connacht area. All going well Martin could be a mover and shaker this bank holiday weekend.

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