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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for September 22, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Les Clarke

O'Grady and White leave Cofidis for Ferretti

By Les Clarke

Cofidis' Australian riders Stuart O'Grady and Matt White have decided to part company with their French squad and sign with Fassa Bortolo manager Giancarlo Ferretti's new Pro Tour team. O'Grady became disillusioned with Cofidis, having ridden for them since the beginning of 2004, winning Stage 5 of last year's Tour de France. "I wasn't happy with the way Cofidis handled things after the Tour" said O'Grady to Cyclingnews today. "They told four or five of our key support guys for the Tour that there wasn't a place for them next year, so I went on the hunt for a new team straight away."

Even though Cofidis had offered O'Grady another contract, he had already made up his mind to leave. "I'd been in touch with a couple of other teams - Phonak and T-Mobile - but a few weeks ago Giancarlo Ferretti rang and wanted to meet up. I found him very motivating. That'd be the best way to describe him," says O'Grady.

O'Grady appreciates the discipline and tight team structure apparent in Ferretti's squad, saying, "I think I need a team where the responsibility's shared across the entire team." And when asked whether the change in team nationality could pose a problem, O'Grady was philosophical, saying, "I've been with French teams all my career, and it'd be easy just to stay with a French team - but I want to win big bike races, and the direction of the team I'm in is critical."

Ferretti is renowned for being a hard taskmaster, but O'Grady isn't fazed, even when considering the experiences of other Anglo riders such as American Tom Danielson, who found his time in Ferretti's squad detrimental to his career in Europe. "When you've been through a Charlie Walsh programme as a teenager, I reckon most things are a walk in the park," said O'Grady.

In terms of his racing future, O'Grady believes a new team will be good for his chances in big races such as Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, and of course the Tour de France. "We touched on the programme for next year, but we'll discuss it more when Matt [White] and I head over there for a meeting in December. My first big goal is Milan-San Remo, then Flanders and Paris Roubaix, and the Tour."

Asked whether he'd be concentrating more on the classics than the Tour, O'Grady replied, "The Tour's always important, but I'm now 32, and I've signed for a couple of years - if it takes a year to get things sorted, that's ok; and you can't beat winning a stage of the Tour. But in a couple of years I may be looking more at the classics." And with riders such as Juan Antonio Flecha enjoying classics success at Fassa Bortolo, O'Grady is well-positioned to capitalise on Ferretti's experience in this area.

O'Grady is positive about the team's latest signing, Gilberto Simoni, who moved from Lampre-Caffita. "Having Simoni on the team will be good for the Tour - another GC rider will make things better in the longer races" said O'Grady. And with another eight riders from Fassa Bortolo confirmed for the new outfit in 2006, chances are stability won't be something O'Grady will have to worry about. There is some speculation that Sony Ericsson looks set to combine forces with Caffita in a deal that O'Grady confirms is "good for three years with the option of extending for another three." In addition to a stable sponsor is the fact that Matt White, O'Grady's countryman and sparring partner at Cofidis, has made the move with him. "Matty was pretty important to the deal, so that's another positive thing as well."

But in the immediate future O'Grady's going to enjoy time in Australia before preparing for his 2006 campaign. "I'll take another couple of weeks off before beginning training for next year. I know the team's keen to send over a team to ride the Tour Down Under, but at the moment it's not confirmed whether I'll ride there in January."

Phonak signs Vitoria, McCarty, and Hesjedal

After already having signed two young pros for the new season, Florian Stalder (Swi) and Fernandez Oliveira (Spa), Phonak's managing company ARcycling AG has brought three more riders on board. The latest recruits for the 2006 squad are 21 year-old David Vitoria (Swi), and Discovery Channel riders Jonathan Patrick McCarty (23, USA) and Ryder Hesjedal (25, Can).

"We want to form one unit for the future," said team manager John Lelangue. "That means we're striving to have a mix of already successful riders and young talents hungry for success. We're getting very close to that goal with the team that we've assembled up till today."

In the meantime, there are 24 riders from 11 countries under contract with the Phonak Cycling Team for the new season. Lelangue is still holding talks with other riders because the UCI ProTour requires that a team have at least 25 riders.

The current 2006 team roster: Aurélien Clerc (Swi), Martin Elmiger (Swi), Gregory Rast (Swi), Johann Tschopp (Swi), Alexandre Moos (Swi), Sascha Urweider (Swi), David Vitoria (Swi), Steve Zampieri (Swi), Florian Stalder (Swi), Axel Merckx (Bel), Koos Moerenhout (Hol), Luis Fernandez Oliveira (Spa), José Enrique Gutierrez (Spa), Ignacio Gutierrez (Spa), Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa), Santiago Botero (Col), Victor Hugo Peña (Col), Floyd Landis (USA), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA), Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Bert Grabsch (Ger), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), Uros Murn (Slo), Robert Hunter (RSA)

LPR signs new Venezuelan climber

Italian-Swiss pro team LPR has signed 25-year-old Venezuelan Carlos Ochoa, who after performing well on the South American pro scene comes to Italy with the "blessing" of José Rujano, who personally recommended the rider to team manager Omar Piscina.

Ochoa, a neo pro, is tipped for big things in stage races, with great climbing skills and the ability to time trial well. The young climber took fifth place in general classification of this year's Vuelta a Tachira, one of Venezuela's most prestigious races won in previous years by Rujano, who took third overall in this year's Giro d'Italia.

Piscina praised the young Venezuelan, saying, "Ochoa is a climber with very interesting credentials. It is also good that [José] Rujano recommended him to us, as the South American cyclists know each other well and make more interesting riders; we expect big things from him."

Piscina obviously values the young South American, citing Rujano as an example of what Venezuelan riders can achieve in Italian teams. Rujano took this year's Giro by storm, dominating on the mountain passes to finish the Italian tour in third overall for the Colombia-Selle Italia team. LPR management may now be expecting similar things from their latest acquisition.

Capelle positive for EPO, but vows to clear his name

Ludovic Capelle (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) will not be starting in the Circuit Franco Belge next week after his team suspended him for testing positive for EPO in a race in Gullegem in June. Although Landbouwkrediet hasn't officially confirmed this as the reason for Capelle's absence from racing, Belgian newspaper De Morgen reported that this was the case.

According to the newspaper, Capelle's lawyer said that he would appeal on the basis that the test was unreliable, similar to the case of Belgian triathlete Rutger Beke, who was also cleared of an EPO positive recently. But the Disciplinary Commission of the Flemish Community, which heard Capelle's case on Wednesday, said that it was satisfied with the positive result, which was initially analysed by the Chatenay-Malabry lab in Paris and confirmed by labs in Gent and Cologne. Both A and B samples were positive.

Landbouwkrediet's team manger Gerard Bulens told De Morgen that he had no idea that Capelle had tested positive at all, until a journalist told him yesterday. "I hope that he is cleared, but if that doesn't happen, then he'll immediately be sacked."

Rebellin cleared for Zurich

Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin has been cleared to ride the Züri Metzgete (Championship of Zurich) on October 2. The 34-year-old Italian underwent an examination of his elbow, which had sustained a hairline fracture during a fall in the Tour of Poland this month. The tests revealed Rebellin will be fit to start the next Pro Tour race and he'll be keen to perform well after what has been a disappointing 2005.

At this time last year Rebellin was dealing with his non-selection for the Italian world championships team and contending for the world cup title with countryman Paolo Bettini. In 2005 he has failed to fire and the Zurich round of the Pro Tour offers Rebellin the chance to salvage something from his season, with Paris Tours and Tour of Lombardy to follow before the inaugural Pro Tour season concludes.

Lat year, Rebellin announced his intention of adopting Argentinean citizenship, after he was denied a place on the Italian World's team. He announced this spring that he would not attempt to ride the World's this year. According to Gerolsteiner spokesman Järg Grünefleld, "Davide just has taken a pause in his project getting the Argentinean citizenship because he decided early not to start at the World's."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Varese awarded 2008 World's

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has assigned the 2008 World Road Cycling Championships to Varese, Italy. Italy had two separate bids for the 2008 World's, and Valkenburg, The Netherlands also had one, but Varese got the nod over Lucca (Tuscany), and the Dutch town.

Next year's World's will be in Salzburg, Austria, while those of 2007 will be in Stuttgart, Germany.

Bos and Hoy head to head

Chris Hoy, the undisputed hero of British track sprinting, is set to take on his nemesis and the reigning kilo World Champion Theo Bos at the opening event of Revolution season 3 at Manchester Velodrome on October 15. In an exclusive 500m Head to Head race Hoy will be looking for some serious revenge after the 22 year old Dutchman snatched the World Championships from his grasp in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Hoy has long dominated the event, having won gold at both the Commonwealth and Olympic Games and has been World Champion in the event twice. He's determined that Bos won't steal any of his thunder at his home event. "Obviously I never like to lose so I was pretty annoyed at the World Championships. Bos is a talented rider so the better man won on the day," said Hoy.

Hoy continued by saying, "I always look forward to Revolution as the racing and atmosphere with the crowds is unique. The 500m TT in front of the home crowd always gets that bit more out of you so it will be very special."

Hoy, Bos and Teun Mulder will not be the only world champions gracing the boards, with a further six rainbow jersey holders attending, with Rob Hayles, Mark Cavendish, Chris Newton, Paul Manning and Andy Tennant all competing in Manchester. Check out www.cyclingrevolution.com for event information and tickets.

Women's Prestige Cycling Series concludes in Bermuda

The second annual Women's Prestige Cycling Series will wrap up this weekend with its fourth event, the CD&P Bermuda Grand Prix. The Series began at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in March before visiting the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June and the International Tour de 'Toona in July. Bermuda is the "brass ring" of this year-long series, with the top teams receiving generous travel grants to visit one of the world's most popular vacation destinations.

Lauren Franges (Victory Brewing) will be back to defend her 2004 race title. Franges and her team will have their work cut out for them, with challenges coming from the other Series teams such as Webcor Builders, Quark, Ford-Basis, Colavita/Cooking Light and Subway all racing and looking to end the series in style.

More information can about the series can be found at www.WomenCyclists.com.

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