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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 29, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan, John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Prison sentences proposed for Pantani accused

By Shane Stokes

At a preliminary hearing Monday in Rimini, Italy, Judge Giacomo Gasparini examined the proposed sentences for three of the five people accused of being complicit in 1998 Tour de France winner Marco Pantani's death on on February 14, 2003 by supplying him with cocaine.

If Judge Gasparini finds the three guilty, State Prosecutor Gengarelli requested that the three, who have sought a plea bargain, should go to prison. Fabio Miradossa could be sentenced to four years and ten months, with Ciro Veneruso getting three years and 10 months for selling the cocaine in question while another man, Peruvian Alfonso Gherardo Ramirez Queva, could be sentenced to one year and 11 months behind bars.

Two other defendants in the Pantani case, Fabio Carlino and Elena Korovina have requested jury trials, so no preliminary sentencing motions were made in their cases by Prosecutor Gengarelli.

Pantani reached the zenith of his career in 1998 when he won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, becoming the last rider to achieve the historic double. The climbing specialist returned to the Giro d'Italia in 1999 and looked to have the race sewn up, only to test over the UCI's 50% cutoff level for hematocrit and was ejected from the race.

From that point on, his career went into a downward spiral, the Italian briefly returning to something approaching his best form when he won two stages in the 2000 Tour de France. However, unbeknownst to his supporters, Pantani had been wrestling cocaine addiction and while he made several attempts to quit the drug and get back on track, he eventually quit cycling in 2003. The 34 year old became more withdrawn and, tragically, died alone in the Le Rose di Rimini hotel, on Valentine's Day 2004.

An inquest into his death concluded that he had died after consuming a particularly strong batch of cocaine. The finding led to a large police investigation, the prosecution of Miradossa, Veneruso and Ramirez Queva, and their sentencing yesterday.

AG2R welcomes ProTour decision

By Shane Stokes

The AG2R team at the end of the 2005 Tour
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
Click for larger image

AG2R riders and staff have reacted with satisfaction to the news that the team has secured the 20th and final ProTour licence for 2006. Although the UCI has said that it will hold off on making an official announcement until the official period for appeal has elapsed, the French squad stated yesterday that the governing body's licensing commission had approved its application, granting a four year licence to the team.

"This is a great satisfaction [for us]," said AG2R manager Vincent Lavenu. "We've reached our goal after two years of effort from our sponsors and our team. Our tenacity was rewarded today. AG2R-Prévoyance will head into the 2006 season with both motivation and optimism, guided by two leaders who are determined to excel at the big events."

Director of communication and AG2R secretary general Yvon Breton was similarly upbeat. "The ProTour licence decision is great news, and is a victory for both our business and the faithful partnership we've formed with Vincent Lavenu over almost ten years," he said.

"We welcome the decision taken by the UCI which we awaited impatiently, even though we were serene and confident. On one hand, we knew that our application was solid and on the other, our sporting results from the past few seasons plus the quality of the reinforcement of our team for 2006 seemed to be major pluses towards our selection to the level of the world elite."

Click here for the full story

Bayley's true test this week

By Anthony Tan

Ryan Bayley pumps his fist after beating René Wolff at the Sydney Thousand's Match Race of the Century
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

After defeating world sprint champion René Wolff 2-1 at last Sunday's Sydney Thousand Match Race of the Century, dual Athens Olympic champion Ryan Bayley says his season of injuries and problems are behind him. However, his real test of form and fitness will come at the Oceania Track Championships starting this week, followed by Saturday's Melbourne Cup on Wheels at Vodafone Arena.

"Putting it simply, 2005 absolutely sucked for me, it's probably one of my worst years," said Bayley. "Coming off 2004 being such an awesome year, then coming into such a bad year with injuries and problems and trying to find motivation, 2005 absolutely sucked. It's almost December and the end of the year, but I'll take it [a win] when it comes."

"[The win] actually shows me I'm going a hell of a lot better than I thought. I thought I was a bit rusty with sprint tactics because I hadn't raced all year, but it's like the saying, 'Once you learn how to ride a bike, you don't forget it'. The speed's all there because I trained my arse off for so long now, I'm fit again, I'm back to where I need to be and the tactics are there, so everything's heading towards where I need to be for the future."

Asked how he felt about being paired against Wolff, Bayley replied: "It's very different. When I'm racing a [World Cup], I want to win, I want to kill the person next to me. It's very, very hard to cut the pressure out of it.

"Here, the pressure's not such a big thing and I can just race my bike; at the Olympics, I've got the whole of Australia on my back trying to do everything with me. So I'm trying to block everything out - you see a lot more head-games being played - so it's a hell of a lot harder at the Olympics."

The 23 year-old said it was unfortunate Australia isn't able to entice as many international riders for a low-key meet like the Sydney Thousand. "Back in the old days, we got them with [Jens] Fielder and people like that, so it's good to see René and Mathias [John] bite the bullet and come down."

With track sessions for the Oceania Championships from Wednesday to Friday before the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Saturday, December 3, Bayley admitted the week ahead of him will be a challenge. "It's going to be a very hectic week for me," he said.

Wolff also to star in Melbourne

At the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Saturday, Bayley will once again face off against Rene Wolff in the sprint contest. The Melbourne Cup on Wheels kicks off a four-event series of track meetings organised by promoter Cyclists International. The series resumes after Christmas with the Sid Patterson Grand Prix at Darebin International Sports Centre (DISC), Saturday, January 21, 2006. That's followed by the 108th Austral Wheel Race, Saturday February 4 at Vodafone Arena, and the series finale will be the Australian Madison Championship, Saturday, February 21 at DISC.

For Vodafone Arena event tickets contact Ticketek, 132 849 and for DISC events call Cyclesport Victoria 03 8480 300.

Also see: Ryan Bayley and Shane Perkins interview, November 6, 2005: A golden summer on the boards.

Collingwood to ride for regiostrom-Senges

Australian rider Joshua Collingwood has signed to ride for regiostrom-Senges (formerly Comnet-Senges) in 2006. The team says this latest signing is certainly one of their brightest hopes in recent seasons.

Collingwood, having taken time off the bike to complete his doctorate in medicine and biochemistry, returned to racing mid-season and won the first stage and took third on the sixth stage of the Herald Sun Tour to place 12 overall in the event. The 28-year-old also placed second in the Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic and the Australian time trial championships.

It's not Collingwood's first time in Europe; the 1996 junior time trial world champion rode for Czech squad ZVZ-Wüstenrot in 2000 and will live in Stolberg during his time with the German team. The team will be presented in Stolberg on February 3, 2006.

Koga to sponsor Skil-Shimano

Dutch bicycle manufacturer Koga will be the new equipment sponsor for the Skil-Shimano Pro-Continental cycle racing team in 2006. After an extended absence, the Dutch bicycle brand has returned to the higher ranks of road racing.

Koga will be equipping Arend Scheppink and Iwan Spekenbrink's new team with their FullPro Scandium and RoadRacer special edition framesets, and according to Wouter Jager, Koga's Managing Director, "The time has come for Koga's re-entry into the highest level of men's road racing. This will be a fantastic comeback!"

Team sponsors and management are also enthusiastic about the new partnership with Koga - not least because Koga will actively involve the team in its research and development activities to develop new cycle frames. "We particularly enjoy such close professional collaboration", explained the team management.

Established in 1974, the company has most recently been involved in sponsoring the Netherlands national track team, although success stories on the road include a stage win by Peter Winnen on Alpe d'Huez in the 1982 Tour de France and overall victory in the Le Grand Boucle Feminin by Dutch cycling star Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel.

New date for Salzkammergut Trophy

Austria's biggest mountain bike marathon, the Salzkammergut Trophy has moved from its traditional date of early July to slightly later - the 2006 event will take place on July 15. As well as the 200km distance, there will again be marathon events over 100, 53 and 27 km. The Coca-Cola Junior Trophy in Gosau for kids and teenagers between four and fourteen will also take place on July 15, 2006.

Norco renews with Symmetrics

The Symmetrics Cycling team has announced that Canadian bike maker Norco has renewed and increased its support of the team for 2006. As well as Norco Team Carbon CRR road frames and forks, and Diabolique TT frames and forks, Norco will also supply race technician support at selected high level Canadian events and is also providing what the team describes as "a considerable financial contribution."

"Norco is very excited to return for our fourth season as a title bike sponsor and partner with Canada's premier road team," said Peter Stace-Smith, Norco's PR/marketing manager. "In the past, Norco has been regarded as primarily a mountain bike company, but through our support of the team we've been able to showcase our world class road bikes as well. Symmetrics is quickly becoming one of North America's top pro teams and we are proud to be a part of their success."

Shimano will supply components and wheels for the team, as well as pedals and shoes, while Ritchey is on board with the other components necessary to build a complete bike.

Ford Cycling 2006 MTB roster

The Ford Cycling mountain bike team has announced its roster of riders and sponsors for the 2006 season. Seasoned professionals Kelli Emmett and Sara Bresnick-Zocchi will both be returning to ride for the Ford Team in 2006. Joining the team this season will be fourth year pro, Kathy Sherwin. Additionally, the Ford team continues its mission to develop talented female riders by welcoming U-23 rider Melanie Meyers to the squad for 2006.

Kelli Emmett, of Colorado Springs, CO, returns as the reigning US Super D champion. Kelli also had the distinction of being an automatic qualifier for the US World Mountain Bike Team and represented the US at Pan Am Championships where she earned a silver medal. Kelli also made 3 podium visits at the 2005 Sea Otter finishing that event 5th overall. For 2006, Kelli will compete in both World Cup and NORBA races as she builds a foundation for the 2008 Olympic team. In addition to her racing, Kelli works as a senior coach for Carmichael Training Systems. She manages the training programs of her 20 athletes, day or night, from anywhere in the world. Kelli is also regular visitor to Michigan where she participates in many activities that support the growth of mountain biking in her home state.

Click here for the full announcement.

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