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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 30, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong responds to Tour snub

Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong has reacted to Jean-Marie Leblanc and Christian Prudhomme's words at the presentation of the 2006 Tour route, during which the former and current Tour directors dismissed Armstrong's wins out of hand.

"On the 24th of July we turned the page on a long, very long chapter in the history of the Tour de France. And one month later, current events made it clear to us that it was just as well that this was so," the pair said in their mission statement, alluding to the accusations brought forward by L'Equipe in August that Armstrong had tested positive for EPO on six separate occasions during the 1999 Tour. When questioned about Armstrong, Le Blanc was more direct: "Without doubt...what we have learned has increased the lassitude toward him," he said to AP. He was not irreproachable in '99. EPO is a doping product. So this tempers and dilutes his performances and his credibility as a champion."

The now retired Armstrong issued a statement via, succinctly responding to the snub: "Once again Jean-Marie LeBlanc has taken an unsolicited shot at me and continues to ignore the truth. And while he may want to erase the last seven years I have nothing but great memories of participating in the greatest sports event in the world.

"Jean-Marie claims the Tour deserves a better fate, I believe it deserves a better leader."

Armstrong as journo

The American has been busy in a journalistic role this week, hosting Saturday Night Live on NBC last night (with Sheryl Crow as guest) and interviewing former US president Bill Clinton on the Sirius Radio show last Thursday. Armstrong has been doing the weekly radio show since January. He will also host several talk shows broadcast by his sponsor Discovery Channel.

UCI and ASO still at odds

A new president at the UCI hasn't healed the rift between the cycling's world governing body and ASO, the organisers of the Tour de France. At the presentation of the Tour's 2006 parcours on Thursday, ASO president Patrice Clerc spent a significant amount of time discussing the fight against doping, and implied that the UCI wasn't doing enough to combat the sport's "number one enemy".

McQuaid's reaction was swift, taking the form of a letter to ASO. He criticised the Tour's organising body on "the dangers of the approach adopted in recent years...based more on the effect of the announcements than on the actual effectiveness of the measures required and their feasibility.

"You decided to remove the conditions of serenity and without pressure for the ProTour negotiations," McQuaid wrote, sardonically thanking ASO for its lecture on "how cycling should be front of the public and international media...Under these conditions, I don't see the point in making fun of us and negotiating at the time being."

Phonak's Tour team

Phonak has already announced the 12 riders who will be vying for the nine spots on the Tour de France team. Floyd Landis and Santiago Botero are at the top of the list, as co-captains. The others are Kiki Gutierrez, Bert Grabsch, Nicolas Jalabert and Alexandre Moos, all of whom rode the Tour this year, and Victor Hugo Peña, Axel Merckx, Koos Moerenhout, Miguel Angel Perdiguero, Uros Murn and Martin Elmiger.

The team will also change its Tour preparations this year. Last year, almost the complete Tour team rode the Dauphine Libéré. This year, the 12 riders will be divided into two groups, with Landis, Peña, Merckx, Gutierrez and Elmiger to ride the Giro.

In addition, the team has plans for the earlier part of the season. Sprinters such as Hunter, Guidi, Clerc and Murn will look for wins in the Tour of Qatar. They will also join Elmiger, Rast, Jalabert, Moerenhout, Grabsch and Vitoria as the basis for the spring classics, from Milan-San Remo to Paris Roubaix. Perdiguero, Merckx and McCartney will ride in the Ardennes.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

L'Etape du Tour confirmed

Next year's 14th l'Etape du Tour Velo Magazine will be held on Monday, July 10, on the Tour's first rest day. With some 8,500 riders expected, the parcours will be that of the 15th stage, between Gap and L'Alpe d'Huez. It's 187 km long, and features the climbs of the Col d'Izoard (2,360 m), Col du Lautaret (2,058m), and l'Alpe d'Huez (1,860 m).

As in previous years, the "Village Accueil" will be open on Saturday and Sunday, July 8-9, in Gap in order to welcome the riders. Each starter will be able to collect their number and all the necessary information for the stage.

More information:

Bäckstedt's Hour too short

Magnus Backstedt
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
Click for larger image

Magnus Bäckstedt has failed in his attempt to break the derny-paced Hour Record at the Newport Velodrome in Wales on Saturday evening, riding 58.25 km - well short of Matthe Pronk's 66.114 km that he set in Amsterdam in 2004. Cyclingnews' Nick Rosenthal reports that the big Swede was down on Pronk's figures from the start, and by 30 minutes it looked impossible for him. But he courageously carried on until the end, completing 233 laps of the 250m velodrome and giving the moderately sized crowd value for money.

It was a disappointment for Magnus, as according to his derny riders, he had been on the pace during several 40 minute practice sessions last week. But a choice to increase his gearing to a gigantic 60x12 may have cost him, as he never seemed to be on top of the gear from the start. His promoter Martin McCrossan told us at halfway that Bäckstedt was suffering from heat from the track, even though the conditions were fairly mild: it had been around 15 degrees during the day with some rain in the afternoon.

At the end of the attempt, Bäckstedt was interviewed by David Duffield, and said that he would definitely go for it again. "I want this record for myself," he said. Bäckstedt extensively thanked the crowd and everyone who had been involved in his preparation, and was sorry he hadn't achieved the mark set by Pronk. He did, however, have the strength to pick up his daughter after the finish.


          Matthe Pronk   Magnus Bäckstedt
5 min        5.12 km        4.95 km
10 min      10.47           9.97
15 min      15.86          14.76
30 min      32.80          29.37
45 min      48.22          43.80 (Pronk hit 43 km in 40 min)
55 min      60.50          53.65
60 min      66.114         58.25


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Nick Rosenthal/

Operation for Nijland

Dutch cyclo-crosser Maarten Nijland will undergo an operation on his heart to correct disturbances to his heart rate. Nijland had to pull out of last weekend's World Cup race in Kalmthout with heart troubles, and he also suffered from them in the Nacht van Woerden a couple of days later. Doctors say that he could return to racing after his operation.

Damiano Cunego at sports movie festival

Damiano Cunego, along with the entire 2005 Lampre-Caffita Giro d'Italia team, will be present in Milan, Italy on Sunday afternoon for the International Festival of Sporting Movies. At 3:30 p.m., 28 seconds, the documentary made by Umberto Negri for Sky TV about the daily life of the team during the Giro, will be screened. Before and after the screening, the Lampre-Caffita staff and the riders of the last Giro will relate their experiences in front of the cameras, and also remember Fernando Cortinovis, the team's press officer who died on September 2, who made this experience possible.

AXA becomes Syntec-Ubbink

The Dutch AXA team, managed by Ton Welling, will be known as Syntec-Ubbink next season following a complete change of sponsors. AXA (bike accessories) is stopping after nine years while building related firms Syntec and Ubbink have signed on for one season, with the option of continuing for two more.

There will be five new riders in the team in 2006, including Marvin van der Pluym, Fulco van Gulik, trackies Robert Slippens and Danny Stam, and Paul van Schalen, winner of Veenendaal-Veenendaal this year.

The full team is: Bram Aalders, Arthur Farenhout, Fulco van Gulik, Folkert de Haan, Jos Lucassen, Jens Mouris, Paul van Schalen, Peter Schep, Robert Slippens, Kevin Sluimer, Dennis Smit, Danny Stam and Niki Terpstra (all Ned).

Wrolich ties the knot

Gerolsteiner's 'Paco' Wrolich married his longtime girlfriend Ekla on October 15 in Ossiach, Austria. The 160 guests included fellow riders Georg Totschnig, Bernhard Eisel, Rene Haselbacher, and Danilo Hondo.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

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