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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Extra for September 15, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Angry Vinnicombe denies involvement in doping

Martin Vinnicombe, the Australian coach who was reported earlier today as having been banned from coaching in China, says press reports were the first he'd heard of it.

"I don't know anything about it," Vinnicombe told Cyclingnews this afternoon. "I don't know why nobody from the Chinese Olympic Committee has contacted me about this."

Vinnicombe denied any involvement with cyclist Zeng Liqing's positive test for EPO and said, "How the hell would I find [EPO] out there? I wouldn't even know where to find it here. There's so many holes in this, it's bullshit."

At the time of Liqing's March 25 test Vinnicombe said he was in Australia, or had just returned to China after medical tests at Sydney's Royal North Shore hospital. He had returned to Australia for two weeks after developing high blood pressure and kidney problems and CAT scans showed some suspicious lumps. He and his doctors eventually concluded he was suffering from an overdose of monosodium glutamate.

"I then went back [to China] to start another business but returned to Australia after three weeks for health reasons," said Vinnicombe.

Vinnicombe said his contract as a coach for Liqing's team had ended on October 31, 2004 in any case. Why then, did he feel he was being singled out? "I assume because I am supposed to assume responsibility for my riders," he said.

Vinnicombe thinks the length of time between the test and the official announcement of sanctions against him is suspicious. "I think they have had plenty of time to think about this," he said.

With no official notification, Vinnicombe is frustrated and angry that he can't even contest the Chinese ban. "I wish I had a piece of paper in my hand [notifying me]," he said. "But how the hell do you battle a Communist government?

"What could I do about this? Tip $100,000 into it? I don't have $100,000. There's nothing I can do about it," he said.

Vinnicombe isn't the only one who first heard about his ban by reading about it in the news. Cycling Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee (two of the organizations responsible for enforcing any international sanction) have not been notified. Chinese authorities would be expected to notify the UCI, who would in turn notify Cycling Australia, but to date this has not happened.

Cyclist Zeng Liqing was banned for two years and fined 4,000 yuan (about US$493) after testing positive for rEPO, the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) announced yesterday. The COC also banned Martin Vinnicombe from coaching in China for four years and fined him 5,000-yuan (US$617 dollars).

US MTB season climax at Mammoth

By Steve Medcroft

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski wins XC in 2004
Photo ©: USA Cycling
Click for larger image

The U.S. mountain bike season comes to a close this weekend in Mammoth Mountain, California where for the second year in a row National Championships will be awarded in one-day pro/elite, semi-pro, expert, and junior expert category Downhill, Mountain Cross, Super D, Short Track, Cross Country and Marathon competitions.

Racing starts Thursday with the Marathon National Championship. Held on a 22.5-mile circuit, the three-lap fire road and single-track marathon course climbs 2,716 feet per lap. The men's race will likely be a battle between Chris Eatough (Ellicott City, MD) who won the NORBA National Championship Series and Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.). Henry beat Eatough in two NORBA marathons this season and even led the series at one point but sacrificed a chance at the NORBA series to compete in the Marathon World Championships the weekend of the mandatory NORBA series. In the women's marathon, it will be interesting to see who lines up to challenge two-time NORBA Series Marathon and 2005 U.S. 24 Hours Solo National Champion Monique Sawicki Calimesa, Calif.).

Racing ends Sunday's with Downhill competition. In the men's race last year's top two - Chris Del Bosco (Vail, Colo.), Duncan Riffle (Santa Barbara, Calif.) - should get their most serious challenge from twenty-year old Cody Warren (Haro Racing) who was the highest-placed American in the NORBA series in 2005.

Click here for the full preview

Construction begins on Sydney's new MTB venue

Construction is underway on a world class mountain biking facility close to the city of Sydney, with Olympic Park the venue for the $250,000 mountain cross course - the most expensive of its type ever to be built in Australia.

The course is also the most geographically central mountain bike facility in Australia, with most of Sydney's population located within an hour of the site. This is good news for mountain bikers, who would otherwise have to travel for upwards of an hour to reach other comparable riding destinations.

Work began one week ago, and will take a total of four weeks to be completed - on completion it will be open to all members of the public. It should be finished in time for the opening race in the national MTNX series, with the Bicycling Australia Mountain Cross event to be held on Friday 21 October, drawing many of Australia's top mountain bike riders returning from a season spent racing in Europe and the US. Nathan Rennie, former world champion and world cup winning downhill rider, will lead the line up of riders. However, you don't have to be a professional rider to take part, with the event open to all riders, from juniors to elite men's and women's categories.

For more information on all these events, contact Bicycling Australia on 02 4274 4884 or visit and click on ‘Bicycling Australia Show'.

Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Cup two weeks away

New York's biggest cyclocross race is back for 2005, as the first UCI race weekend on the USA's east coast will take place in the east end of Long Island on October 1-2. The Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Cup will be a double race weekend this year, offering a UCI Class 2 event on Saturday and a UCI Class 1 event on Sunday. With a total prize purse of over $10,000 for the weekend, it has already started to attract national attention as some of the top riders in the country have already committed to come to Long Island.

Defending men's champion Mark McCormack (Clif Bar) will be returning with a repeat victory in mind, but his task is already becoming difficult with the attendance of current U23 national champion Jesse Anthony (Clif Bar) and Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly/Pool Gel), who will be competing here before heading out to Europe for another campaign abroad. On the women's side, the California based Velo Bella squad is expected to make an appearance, including powerhouse Barbara Howe. Expect this list to expand as more announcements are made about additional riders coming to Long Island.

Spectators will also be treated to live music, food, and prizes during the weekend's races. "We are working with Pioneer Event Services to provide "Supafan prize packages" to the most outlandish, noisiest, fired up fan for each of Sunday's elite races", said Barley Dunne, technical coordinator for the series. Sunday will also feature Thyme & Again's world famous chili, and the hotly contested Circus-Man Ice Cream kids challenge, set to start before the elite men's race.

Racing begins Saturday at 11am and Sunday at 9am with beginner races, masters, juniors, and amateur men's fields offered in addition to the elite races. The races will take place again this year at the Southampton Youth Services facility, which provided a challenging and very demanding course to all of the riders that participated last year.

British Cycling appointments

British Cycling have appointed Dan Hunt as its new Women's Endurance Coach, to work with the GB team's Women's Endurance Programme. A keen cyclist, Dan has an background in sports science and conditioning and is currently working with the Welsh Institute of Sport as a Senior Sports Physiologist. He is a conditioning expert and is expected to improve the fitness of the team. He has worked extensively with elite level triathletes including Leanda Cave, and has done some work with Nicole Cooke in the past.

Dan will also be heavily involved in the re-structuring of the Women's programme, allowing the team to finalise its performance strategy for the women's endurance programme from identifying talent to the Olympic podium.

Sports Scientist Louis Passfield is to join the GB Cycling Team's support staff on a one-year secondment from his academic commitments at the University of Glamorgan. He has worked with Head Coach Simon Jones and the elite men's endurance squad on a number of occasions over the past seven years and had during this time formed good links with the cyclists and a rapport and understanding of current work with Andrea Wooles, who has filled the Sports Science post for five years and is now leaving to start a family.

Recently retired pro Road rider Max Sciandri has been given an important new role in helping some of the brightest young British riders make an impact on the professional road scene. The team's Under-23 Olympic Academy riders are going to spend the majority of their summers in Italy, with Sciandri acting as both a guide to the road scene for the riders and as a go-between to help secure them contracts within the pro team network.

The Academy riders will live and train in Italy, close to Max's own base and benefit from his vast experience gained in 16 years as a professional. The team will continue to be coached by Rod Ellingworth and managed and supported by the GB Team's usual support staff network. They will race throughout Europe on the road in the summer, before returning to the UK as a base for their winter programme of track competition and training.

Steve Cummings and Bradley Wiggins are two recent examples of rider who have graduated from the GB team to professional teams, yet they are both committed to continuing to race on the track for GB at major championships. The tie-in with Sciandri is seen as a way to accelerate this process of placing riders with pro teams.

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