First Edition Cycling News for May 18, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson
Giro 2005: 10 down, 10 to go
Rest day wrap-up by Anthony Tan & Les Clarke
An interesting week and a half in Italia. It took eight swaps of the maglia rosa in eight days before it found a little more permanent place on the shoulders of Danilo Di Luca, but with the 29 year-old just nine seconds in front, it's bound to be a temporary resting spot.
Certainly, the opening week has shown the full benefit resulting from the controversial introduction of the ProTour. And no doubt, a number of its detractors will have changed their minds about UCI President Hein Verbruggen's master road plan, if they've seen the quality of racing so far.
In many minds, it's the closest - and best - Giro in over a decade, which, for years, has been dominated by Italians on Italian teams, simultaneously discouraging a serious bid from an outsider. However, in 2005, while there are still plenty of Italians to be found at the top of the leaderboard, there are now more challengers from more than one team, and not just Italian-registered squadre - but Danish, American, German and Spanish, with a little Belgian and French as well.
The competition's been exciting and outstanding - and it can only get better. Here's our wrap-up of the first 10 days.
Hamilton appeal set for June
In an interview with Sam Abt of the International Herald Tribune (IHT), Tyler Hamilton has announced that he expects his appeal against his two-year suspension for blood doping to be heard in June.
Hamilton was banned for two years in April by a two to one verdict of a panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA)/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), after returning a positive test for homologous blood doping at the Vuelta a Espana on September 11, 2004.
Hamilton has always maintained his innocence of the charges and immediately after the decision announced his intention to appeal to the sport's top body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
However, the CAS panel will come to Hamilton, and not - as is rather more usual - the other way round. "They're coming to the United States, probably to Denver, in late June," Hamilton told the IHT. "There are so many witnesses here, it will be easier and cheaper for them to come here."
Hamilton also denied that he had engaged in any form of blood manipulation by transfusion. It's been speculated that the positive tests returned by Hamilton and team-mate Santi Perez last year came about because they were practising autologous blood doping, in which an athlete stores his own blood for later retransfusion. There is currently no test for autologous blood doping, though the practice is banned, but a mix-up of their stored blood might have led to the positive tests.
"Certainly not," Hamilton said. "I've never transfused blood in my life."
Danielson Giro departure leads to tour speculation
Tom Danielson's departure from the Giro d'Italia on Monday has led to speculation that there might be more in store for the Tour de Georgia winner than treatment for an injured knee. Danielson's coach, Rick Crawford, has told the Durango Herald that he thinks Danielson's Discovery Channel team could be preparing Danielson for a role in this year's Tour de France.
"That was the first thing that popped into my head," said Crawford. "I think I would have known if his knee was hurt, and this is the first time I've heard anything about it.
"I'm sitting on pins and needles. I don't know how to take it. I don't know if it's real or not real. Sometimes there are ulterior motives with these things where they say one thing to the press, but then there's a lot of different things going on.
"They're sneaky with this stuff."
However, Crawford said he had not spoken to Danielson since his decision to drop out of the Giro.
"I hope his knee really isn't hurt, and that he's good to go; I'm not really sure. But I am worried as heck about it," said Crawford.
Danielson confirmed that his knee is injured. He was scheduled to have an MRI examination on it yesterday. "I started the Giro thinking if I kept going easy each day I could get over it, but it has gotten so bad I can't even walk," he told the Herald. "We decided to stop as it could turn into something that would affect my career."
Danielson has been suffering a sharp pain under his kneecap since the final stage of the Tour de Georgia.
"We will see after the MRI if something really got damaged," he said. "As for the rest of the season ... one day at a time."
Freire in doubt for Tour?
World champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is back on the bike after two weeks of rest to recover from an injury to his saddle area. The Spanish sprinter resumed training on Saturday, and plans to return to racing for the Tour of Switzerland on June 11.
"Treatment of this injury is difficult, team manager Erik Breukink told the ANP news agency. "Two weeks ago Freire had an injection, after which he had to rest for two weeks. That time is now up.
"We will see if he is fit for the Tour of Switzerland," said Breukink. "If he cannot ride that race it is obvious that he will not be able to go to the Tour."
Fassa fate not yet decided
The Fassa Bortolo team has attempted to cool speculation on its fate after 2005 by announcing that it will let the world know what's happening after May 31. Recent reports have indicated that the team's sponsorship might not continue into 2006, and rumours have already begun about the destination of Alessandro Petacchi should the team stop.
According to a statement from the team, negotiations are underway about its future, and after a meeting during yesterday's Giro rest day the sponsors, management and riders agreed that no announcement would be made until May 31.
Cipo & wife separate
Mario Cipollini has announced that he and his wife of 12 years, Sabrina Landucci, are to separate. The couple decided by mutual agreement to dissolve their marriage after several attempts to save the relationship, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Tour Baby! USPS jersey raffle
Scott Coady, creator of The Tour Baby!, the movie relating his adventures following the Tour de France, and indefatigable fund-raiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation has announced that he's raffling a 2003 US Postal team jersey signed by the entire Tour de France team including Lance Armstrong.
For full details see www.thetourbaby.com
TransRockies Challenge announces 2005 Route
Organisers of Canada's TransRockies Challenge mountain bike stage race (August 7-13) have announced the route of the 2005 event, with substantial changes to the route from previous years, especially in the first several days.
"As the TransRockies Challenge enters its fourth year, we wanted to provide a fresh perspective on the race," said event director Aaron McConnell. "The new routing will provide new challenges to past participants and more great singletrack for everyone. It also offers the advantage of being in a town setting for an additional day which means outstanding race services."
Changes include a new stretch of singletrack in the first stage from Fernie to Sparwood. The stage will finish with a ride along the entire length of the Coal Discovery Trail, a newly-opened 30km singletrack trail.
Stage 2 crosses the continental divide twice and includes high mountain singletrack, finishing in the mountain hamlet of Elkford. The new stages also keep the race closer to civilisation for the first couple of days, allowing, as the organisers put it, "easier access to phones, Internet and junk food"
Stage three covers part of the 2003 TransRockies route including the Highwood Pass which tops out at over 2200m.
Stage 1 - August 7: Fernie, BC - Sparwood, BC
For more information see: www.transrockies.com
Absolute Abfahrt provides World Cup warm-up
The 2005 edition of the Absolute Abfahrt international mountain bike downhill race takes place on the weekend of May 27-29 in Ilmenau, Germany. Described by organisers as the annual high light for middle and East German downhill riders, it is the second race in the new MTB Rider Cup, and is the scheduling means it provides a chance for gravity racers to prepare for the downhill world cup round in Willingen a week later.
Official registration closes May 20, and there will be a substantial supporting program including a live band, open air party, dirt jump contest and FMX Show by Sixth Level.
For more information see: www.absolute-abfahrt.de
PA High School Mountain Bike Championships
The PA Scholastic Cycling League (PASCL) will hold the official NORBA Pennsylvania High School Mountain Bike Championship Event on Saturday, May 21, 2005 at the Oesterling Farm in Marysville, PA.
The event is open to riders in middle and high school with categories for young men and women in Junior High (7th-8th grade), Junior Varsity (9th-10th grade), and Varsity (11th - 12th grade) age groups. No experience is necessary and organisers welcome everyone from first timers to national level riders.
The PA High School Mountain Bike Championship is an all day event with championship titles awarded in both cross-country and short track cross-country races. The entry fee of $25 for NORBA members or $30 for non-members also includes a barbecue and some non-competitive fun events.
As the Mountain Bike Championship for PA Schools the event will award championship titles to PA residents only, but is open to all middle and high school students from any state.
For more information see: www.highspeedcycling.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)