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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 26, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan & Hedwig Kröner

Tornado Tom conquers the world

Winner Tom Boonen (Belgium)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

The morning after the likeable rascal from Balen has delivered the goods, the Belgian written press is using well picked superlatives to describe the population's admiration for Tom Boonen's triumph.

'With an impressive display of power and superiority Tom has given cycling fans a thrilling World Championships finale,' it read. 'The status of World Star will be accentuated by the Rainbow Jersey he will be wearing next season. But Tom wouldn't be Tom if he didn't have most praise for his hard working team.'

"I had the extraordinary help of a magnificent Belgian team," Boonen repeated in the Belgian Newspapers. "We formed a tight knit block from the moment we gathered in Zaventem last Thursday. We were all dressed in te same national polo shirt and that accentuated our unity. It's been a long time since we worked together like this. I think that every person in Belgium can be proud of this team today. We really communicated well; everybody listened; everyone did their job and more.

"Wilfried Cretskens and Marc Wauters didn't leave my side, not one meter, I didn't feel a whisper of wind that whole 270 kilometres, that's how they protected me. I have seen those guys do things today that I can't. They worked so hard. Devolder and Gilbert executed what was asked of them: to go in an attack without taking the lead. And when they had played their role perfectly Leukemans and Nuyens did their thing. After that Wauters brought me to the front at the right moment, and Mario Aerts but especially Peter Van Petegem saw to it that we got to the break in time in the last 600 metres. It couldn't be more perfect, and I can't stress that enough.

"I also want to point out that I never doubted the strength of the team. I was never afraid. I told my team mates: the last lap we'll ride Ó bloc [flat out - ed.], we'll take control of the race.

Boonen, surprisingly, didn't even notice the course the race taking. "I never rode my race with other competitors in mind. I didn't even know that Bettini attacked," he said. "And I never focused on Petacchi in this race. The past has thought me that most of the time you end up being the loser when you ride your race with an eye on another rider. Definitely so in the sprint. I rode my own race, my own sprint. Keep cool, believe in yourself and the team, that's my race-attitude.

"So Bettini attacked on that last climb, Nuyens and Leukemans anticipated that perfectly. The last three kilometres Nick and Bjorn took gas back and I asked Peter to give it full blast. Before the last turn I was comfortable, saw that everything was okay. My QuickStep team mate Guido Trenti was able to come underneath still, but I didn't need his 'help' anymore. I nestled myself in Alejandro Valverde's wheel, he started sprinting with 300 metres to go. Hundred metres before the finish line I picked my moment."

There was quite a bit of criticism on the composition of the National Coach JosÚ De Cauwer after the selection for the World's was finally made. But Boonen was not the one to talk negatively about the team. He proved that it was the right thing to trust De Cauwer's decision.

"I didn't get distracted by the bickering beforehand. I always said it was a great team. And as far as my form was concerned: I felt what I had to feel. And besides, I don't care what other people say. It is sometimes hard not to let things like that get to you, but I was able to fend it off. I didn't have to win anything in the Vuelta. I was there to work on my form, just like I did during the Tour of Switzerland to be ready for the Tour de France. I knew what was important to reach my goal and I had no problem ignoring what discussion the fans and press got involved in.

"I dreamt about winning Flanders and Roubaix, and I was able to do just that. My next dream was taking the Green Jersey in the Tour, and I wore it thanks to the two stage wins there; then that crash took me out. When I had to leave the Tour in Brianšon I went through the lowest point of what otherwise had been an awesome season, and I only thought of one thing: to be here in Madrid, at the gates of the Real stadium on September the 25th, I just wanted to become World Champion after that.

"It became my life goal, it was a passion, much more than just a dream. It still has to hit home really; but this is definitely the nicest sprint victory in my career. This one sticks out head and shoulders above the rest."

Tom Boonen remains cheeky as ever; with a big grin on his face he answered the question on how his success story is to continue; being 24 and having won such big races.

"Haha, I think they might have to invent a new category for me hey," he laughed. "Although, I'm still missing an Olympic title! Already last year they said that it would be hard to have a better season. But I realise that it will be even harder next season. Everyone doubted me the last weeks, I was even happy that the Belgian press wrote me off in the end. You have to be strong not to let that get to you. But I'm only looking towards the future, I'm not interested in the past." Tom Boonen doesn't brag, he's mentally strong and will keep both feet on the ground he says. "Okay, I'll be wearing the rainbow jersey now, but I'll be the same guy I was before and I'll still want to win as badly as I did before. This title only gives me more motivation. I think it's better to be world champion at 24 then never! So don't think something bad has happened to me today, this is super-positive!"

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

Petacchi: "Boonen was strongest"

A week ago, Alessandro Petacchi appeared unbeatable. The way he took the stage victory in Paseo de la Castellana, his fifth win in the Tour of Spain, was impressive to say the least. Petacchi didn't look flash hot at the start of the World Championships in Madrid and it was quickly understood that his chances to take the title would be slim. Paolo Bettini knew this and therefore attacked in a way which brought back images of his best race days, but it wasn't meant to be for the little Italian and a group sprint was set up for Boonen.

"It was up to me at that moment," Petacchi said after the race. "But I didn't have the legs anymore on that second to last climb." The air-conditioning in the Italian team's hotel was pointed out to be the spoil-sport for the big day.

"On Saturday night I started suffering from sinusitis," the Italian sprinter explained. "During the race it was almost impossible for me to breathe properly. On the last climb I alerted Marco Velo and told Ballerini that he had to play Bettini's card to the full. I'm only human and I'm sorry it didn't work out for Bettini. But Boonen was simply the strongest. He was the only sprinter to stay at the front on this demanding parcours. That and his palmares of the year and the intention to keep proving himself next season makes him a well-deserved champion."

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

McEwen criticises Belgian team

While Petacchi had nothing but praise for the strong Tom Boonen and his team, an odd remark made by the Australian favourite Robbie McEwen was taken note of by the Belgian newspapers.

"There's no excuses," he was quoted saying. " The best riders were in the front. I wasn't there because I wasn't able to. A gap of fifty metres was left and if I had made the effort to close it myself, I would have waisted my chances for the final sprint. I gambled and lost. That it is Boonen who won doesn't surprise me. I knew that Boonen was very strong. The Australian team has done an excellent job for me. We took our responsibility. I have to get this off my chest though: I'm less impressed with the Belgians: the team that worked the least here in Madrid is taking off with the prize!"

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

Answers from French sports ministry

In the aftermath of the printed allegations that Lance Armstrong used EPO to achieve the first of his seven Tour victories, the director for Sports within the French Ministry for Sports has provided journalists with more information on the case last week. In an interview given between two conferences at the meeting of the European Sports ministries in Liverpool, UK, on Wednesday, September 21, Dominique Laurent said that contrary to what had been previously stated by some officials, an athlete's urine samples, if already tested, could indeed be retested by a laboratory without the consent of the athlete.

"The laboratory is not obliged to ask the riders for their permission beforehand," Laurent said. "It may examine urine samples on its own initiative, because once the samples have already been tested, they're not owned by the rider anymore."

Asked if it was the French ministry for Sport and Youth that commanded the retrospective testing, Laurent replied, "No, it was WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency - ed.] asked the laboratory for an an investigation in order to improve the test. The ministry finances anti-doping research with about 20 million Euros a year, but it is not in our competence to see how the research is being done."

She also confirmed that another testing could be performed on the samples. "If Lance Armstrong wants a counter-expertise, he can get it," Laurent added. "The is enough urine left for such an investigation: We have communicated this to the UCI in a letter last week. Let Armstrong prove his innocence."

Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.

Millar to 2006 TdF with Saunier?

David Millar, whose two-year doping suspension ends in June 2006, is looking to come back as soon as possible. After rumours began that he was in touch with a number of teams, including Quick.Step, Liberty Seguros and Illes Balears, it looks like he has found a place at Saunier Duval-Prodir. Team manager Mauro Gianetti said over the weekend that the team was preparing to sign Millar. "As far as we're concerned, the deal is perfect. The contract can be signed within the next few days," he said, adding that it was possible Millar could even ride in the 2006 Tour de France, which starts nine days after his suspension ends, because the Brit admitted his doping practices before the UCI ProTour was launched. Under the new regulation, a rider suspended for doping may not enter a ProTeam for two years after his suspension ends.

Meanwhile, team Saunier Duval has announced that it is also interested in signing the new U23 World Champion, young Ukrainian Dmytro Grabovskyy. The 19-year old used one of the team's bikes - Andrea Tafi's - to accomplish his excellent performance last Saturday in Madrid, as he has been in contact with the squad for some time.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Hondo appeal set for November

Danilo Hondo's appeal of his suspension for doping is scheduled to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland on November 8, according to the Lausitzer Rundschau newspaper. He tested positive twice in March 2005 during the Tour of Murcia for the drug Carphedon.

Hondo was given a two-year suspension, with one year's probation, and a fine of 64,100 Euro in June. The former Gerolsteiner sprinter, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the UCI all appealed the sentence, with the latter two insisting on a full two-year suspension.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Peace race to return in 2006 with new route

The Friedensfahrt (Peace Race), which was cancelled this year due to financial problems, is likely to be held again next year, according to the Czech Cycling Union (CCS). CCS deputy director Cestmir Kalas told the Prague news agency CTK that the race would have a new route, running through Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, but not through Poland. The planned dates are May 27 through June 3, 2006. The race was not held this year for the first time since its inception in 1948.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Liberty Mutual brings Cyclo-Cross Nationals to New England

Liberty Mutual Group, a leading global insurance provider with headquarters in New England, will be the title sponsor of the 2005 U.S. National Cyclo-cross Championships. Known as the "steeplechase of cycling," the event will be held in Roger Williams Park in Providence from December 9-11, 2005.

Promoters expect to host nearly 1,400 competitors to this three-day event, where national champion jerseys will be awarded in 25 categories. Each day's final race will be a featured event, with collegiate men racing Friday, pro-elite men on Saturday, and pro-elite women on Sunday. Sunday will also feature the Liberty Cup, a non-championship invitational event for men.

For the past three seasons, the "Cross Nats" have been held on the West Coast, in seasonably wet and muddy conditions. While the weather in December in Rhode Island may be fickle, riders can expect colder and faster conditions.

"We had an extensive search for a venue that lasted more than a year," said Tom Stevens, race director. "After looking at seven venues, we picked Providence. We feel this park will provide the best course for both riders and spectators."

The 2005 U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Championships is a production of the New England Cyclo-Cross Committee. For more information, visit

After Interbike: UK Cycle Show

Coming in the prime season for the launch of new bike ranges for the year ahead, the UK Cycle Show from October 14-16, 2005, is a unique preview of the bikes that will be in the shops next year. As well as getting close to hundreds of new bikes and accessories, the show provides an opportunity to meet plenty of experts willing to share their cycling knowledge, chat to campaign groups, or book a cycling holiday.

Visitors also have the chance of winning a week's training with Sean Kelly in Majorca from Sport Active sports holidays. The prize will include a loan bike from Merlin (sponsors of the Sean Kelly Development Team, based out of Belgium), paid flights and a place on the camp for one week. The camp takes place from March 3 until April 7, 2006, and is based around Alcudia in Majorca with cycle routes both flat and challenging.

More information:


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