First Edition Cycling News for October 27, 2005
Edited by Anthony Tan, John Stevenson & Les Clarke
UCI & WADA resume sparring match
In a literal tit for tat, the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have once again brought their opinions into the public eye. British news outlet The Guardian allowed the UCI's chief doctor and health manager, Dr. Mario Zorzoli, and WADA chairman Dick Pound to voice their opinion on the topic: 'Does cycling take its drug problem seriously enough?'
Dr. Zorzoli cited the 5,000-plus drug tests that take place each year at UCI-level races, saying prevention against doping in cycling began in 1997 with spot checks on blood samples, before more advanced methods including the ability to measure haematocrit, recombinant erythropoietin (EPO), haemoglobin count and reticulocytes (young red blood cells) provided the means to detect blood doping.
The WADA chairman was far less praiseworthy of efforts of the sport's governing body. Pound said the recent survey conducted in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, where four out of five people named cycling as the sport with the largest drug problem, is "a stunning indictment of failure on the part of officials, organisers and riders".
"What has been the traditional response of cycling when reports of rampant drug use surface?" asked Pound. "If from riders, the riders are immediately denounced, marginalised, written off as cranks or sued. If from the media, they are dismissed as untrue, exaggerated, not representative or taken out of context."
However, Dr. Zorzoli admits "there is a problem" and because of this, cycling's governing body devotes two separate departments to the area of anti-doping and health services, as well as a full-time lawyer. The UCI doctor also claimed that the urine-based test for EPO was introduced two years before WADA recognised the test as being valid and cycling at the highest level "is a lot cleaner than our critics believe".
Pound isn't so sure. "There is no doubt that some riders in the event are doped," he wrote in reference to the Tour de France. "It is planned and deliberate cheating, with complex methods, sophisticated substances and techniques, and the active complicity of doctors, scientists, team officials and riders. There is nothing accidental about it."
Believing that current testing is ineffective, Pound said cycling should outsource doping control programs to an independent agency to "act effectively and impose meaningful sanctions when positive cases arise."
Johnson finding his feet once again
By Anthony Tan
The saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' appears to hold true for Tim Johnson, who, after two years away from the cyclo-cross scene, has begun riding as if he never left. After a solid end to the road season with Jittery Joe's-Kalahari, which has seen him land a two-year contract with Health Net/Maxxis commencing in 2006, consistently finishing at the top of the leaderboard in the early season 'cross races certainly wasn't expected - but that's exactly what he's been doing.
"I guess the only specific 'cross training I did was to get out on the 'cross bike as much as possible in the woods, or doing 'cross practice with all the 'cross guys in town," said Johnson to Cyclingnews, driving home from last weekend's double-header that forms part of the Verge Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross series, where he finished in second place in Saturday's Wooden Wheels Cyclocross and fourth on Sunday at the Wissahickon Cross in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"But this whole fall's been kinda wacky; getting ready for San Francisco [Grand Prix], finalising my contract next year with Health Net, trying to figure out our bikes, clothing and our sponsorship for [wife] Lyne [Bessette] and I with Cyclocrossworld-Louis Garneau. So it wasn't so much a specific plan, but I wanted to take my break and be able to get on my 'cross bike without going into the next road season cooked - but it kind of worked out in an odd, wacky way."
Odd and wacky is one way to describe the past few years for this 28 year-old from Middleton, Massachusetts. This time two years ago, Johnson had taken his biggest ever career win, triumphing at the 2003 Herald Sun Tour held in Victoria, Australia. Two months later, he signed a contract with Saunier Duval-Prodir, embarking on a troubled journey across the Atlantic that saw him back in the States after less than satisfying season and question his being in the sport.
The move to Jittery Joe's, an American Continental team comprised of just 11 riders, seemed awfully strange for a rider that less than 12 months ago appeared to have the world at his feet. However says Johnson, a mild-mannered, well-spoken and intelligent individual, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing himself the time to rediscover his passion for cycling.
"It's hard for me to describe the situation I was in and the reasons behind the decision that I did [make]. It was actually a lot harder than most people think," said Johnson about his decision to leave his current road team at the end of the season. "The team was really cool to me and Micah [Rice] really took care of me. But here came this really good opportunity for two years with the best team in the States... it's really hard to pass that up.
"The Health Net thing is awesome. They called me and they wanted a guy like me who's been around the block and has some experience and is not afraid to show it. You know, a lot of the enjoyment I had at Saturn in 2003 was working for the other guys; it was as hard as hell, but working for [Chris] Horner and Nathan [O'Neill] and [Tom] Danielson was huge, because it showed me what I could do and helped me grow as a rider."
Johnson describes the US market 'post-Lance' as "a really good time to be a bike racer in America", with good salaries on offer and new stage races such as the Tour of California scheduled for February next year. And in the vein of another successful US cycling team, Navigators Insurance, Health Net are also planning a short trip to Europe in 2006, along with the possibility of doing races such as the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, Malaysia's Tour de Langkawi, and the Herald Sun Tour.
"So even though we lost a few guys, it's still in the game plan to grow and expand into Europe. But they're going to do it the right way; it will just be a few weeks and it's not going to be a four-month slog where the riders we wishing they were at home," Johnson said, perhaps alluding to his time spent in Europe with Saunier Duval. "A fresh, US guy in good form is really, really strong in Europe. I mean, we signed Kirk O'Bee and he's had a lot of good results when he's been to Europe."
Look out for the full interview with Tim Johnson next week on Cyclingnews.
Bomans new Belgian national coach
Carlo Bomans has been appointed Belgian national road coach. 42 year-old Bomans is the successor to Jose de Cauwer after de Cauwer's resignation following Belgium's successful world championships campaign in Madrid. He is a former racer who held the post of Belgian national junior coach for seven years.
WADA chases approval for UNESCO-led doping convention
In other news involving WADA, Chairman Dick Pound has announced their organisation is actively following up the 30 governments around the globe in order to approve the International Convention on Doping in Sport, adopted unanimously by the General Conference of UNESCO on October 19 this year. Under UNESCO procedures for conventions, the 30 countries must ratify the Convention prior to December 31, 2005, in order for it to become effective by February 1, 2006.
"Governments have assured the sports movement that they would adopt this convention in time for it to be in force during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino," said Pound. "This is a very important demonstration of government commitment to our partnership in the fight against doping in sport."
To encourage prompt responses from the governments concerned, Pound said WADA will create a special recognition for all countries that ratify the Convention by December 31. "We want to establish a permanent Wall of Fame in our headquarters for those countries who delivered on their promises made as early as two and half years ago and who have worked to make this Convention a reality."
WADA will request a progress report from its members at the forthcoming Executive Committee and Foundation Board meetings in November.
Roulston fined after fight, apologises
New Zealand Discovery Channel team rider Hayden Roulston has been fined NZ$300 for disorderly behaviour after an incident outside a bar in Timaru, New Zealand in the early morning of October 16.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the court heard that Roulston joined in the brawl involving up to 20 people outside the Sail Bar after closing time. He was alleged to have thrown several punches at an unidentified man.
Roulston's lawyer, Jared Bell asked the judge to discharge Roulston because he feared the Discovery team would sack him over the incident. However, this brooked little sympathy from Judge Edward Ryan, who said Roulston should have been mindful of the consequences of his behaviour. "If he knew his occupational position was perilous he should have had that in his mind at the relevant time," said Judge Ryan.
However, it seems that Discovery plans to take no action against Roulston, despite warning him over an incident last year. In a Discovery Channel team statement, Roulston admitted to being part of a group numbering "between 20 or 30," but said he had been "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"I was in Timaru catching up with my mates," Roulston said. "There was a fight that happened in the bar and then when it closed down and a group of people was outside, another tussle broke out there. While nothing serious happened - there was no fighting - there was some pushing and shoving. Honestly, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Roulston added that he was sorry for his involvement. "I deeply regret the incident and the way I acted over the weekend in Timaru which has resulted in being charged with disorderly behavior," he said. "I respect the law and accept the decision. I also want to apologize to those close to me and to all those who see me as a role model."
Tour of Burkina Faso underway
On Wednesday, the Tour of Burkina Faso got underway for its 19th edition in Africa, considered an annual celebration for the Burkinese people. Belgian rider Danny In 't Ven recalled his experiences from a previous edition: "Don't do anything crazy at the beginning of the race. Heat and dehydration are the number one enemy." As for the sprinters; "I am like a snail in sprints therefore I try and escape, but they are really fanatical here - they'd risk their life for 40th place."
As for the dangers coming from off the road, he said: "Unexpected road work, sheep, farmers with chickens on the bandwagon... what is abnormal to us is totally normal to these guys." And then after the day's racing is finished, there's an hour of ceremonies to go through, not to mention the food. "Rice... tomorrow we get muesli and fruit. And for the rest of the time rice; lots of rice. Sometimes there's some meat mixed in but we never know precisely what it is. Perhaps it's better that way."
Along with these hazards, there's the water, the long, hot days and the hotels riders stay in - but In 't Ven doesn't regret his experiences in Burkina Faso. This year's challenges don't look to be any different.
Weissinger joins Skil-Shimano
Next year's Skil-Shimano Pro Continental team will be reinforced with 26 year-old German René Weissinger, currently riding for Austrian-based team Volksbank-Ideal-Leingruber. Weissinger and the team reached an agreement for one year.
After a successful career as a junior and Under-23 rider, Weissinger took a break from cycling to complete his qualifications as a mechanical engineer. He returned to cycling two years ago, demonstrating his ability on the hills and small bunch sprints, achieving seven victories in 2005 including the Berner Rundfahrt in Switzerland. Weissinger also took a third place on a stage of the Settimana Begamasca and 10th in the GP Schwarzwald, as well as seventh place at this year's German road championships in Mannheim.
The Skil-Shimano team intends to sign some more Dutch and foreign riders before the start of next season.
Jamieson and Brammeier to CC Etupes
21 year-old Tasmanian cyclist Mark Jamieson, who rode for French Elite 2 team VC Evreux in 2005, will ride for another French Elite 2 team next season, CC Etupes. Also making the transfer is British rider Matthew Brammeier.
Jamieson, 2002 junior world pursuit champion and current Under-23 road time trial champion, recently finished sixth in the Under-23 world time trial championships in Madrid, which was won by Russian rider Mikhail Ignatiev.
McCauley to Monex?
The Monex team has announced that its 2006 roster is almost finalized and includes the addition of top New Zealand rider Gordon McCauley. Team manager Roberto Gaggioli says the team is "excited" about the signing. "Gordon recently won the New Zealand National Championships and placed second in the TT," added Gaggioli, "We are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to the coming season."
However, McCauley himself said that the deal is not finalised: "I should point out that I have not signed with Monex," he told Cyclingnews. "I have been in talks with Monex for the last month or so, however no final agreement has been made and no contract has been signed."
Australian team for Moscow World Cup
Cycling Australia has announced Australian team that will travel to Moscow for the opening round of the 2005-6 UCI track World Cup, November 4-6. The team will comprise three sprinters and eight endurance riders.
The sprint group is Kristine Bayley, Kerrie Meares and Shane Perkins. In the endurance disciplines Australia will be represented by Sara Carrigan, Simon Clarke, Peter Dawson, Sean Finning, Belinda Goss, Matthew Goss, Ashley Hutchinson and Mark Jamieson.
World's best Madison teams to Revolution
Revolution 10 at Manchester on November 19 will be the scene for a battle between some of the best endurance riders in the world. World Madison champions Rob Hayles and Mark Cavendish will come face-to-face with World Madison silver medallists Danny Stam and Robert Slippens, and bronze medallists Matt Gilmore and Iijo Keisse at the Manchester Velodrome. With the three best Madison teams in the world confirmed to ride and some of the world's best sprinters to be announced shortly, it looks set to be an amazing night of racing.
The Revolution will focus on sprint and endurance events, and plans are afoot to shake up the event programme to add a bit of extra excitement to the action. There will be 14 teams taking part in the endurance events on the night and a special race has been added to the programme to showcase the two best teams in the world. A revenge pursuit Madison will see Cavendish and Hayles fighting it out against Slippens and Stam in a race never before seen at Revolution. Mark Cavendish, who is heading off to ride in the Grenoble Six, is upbeat about his chances, saying, "It's cool that we're going to be doing a race that hasn't been done at Revolution before; it's wicked, and pretty special to be the top Madison team in the world."
Tickets are available online at www.cyclingrevolution.com, by calling 0700 594 2579 or the Velodrome on 0161 223 2244 and selecting option 3.
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