Latest Cycling News for September 29, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Les Clarke
Vuelta/UCI clash continues
By Hedwig Kröner
The disagreement between the organisers of the Vuelta a España (Unipublic) and the International Cycling Union (UCI) continues. In an interview with the online version of Spanish newspaper Marca, Unipublic's general manager Ignacio Ayuso complained about the deteriorated relationship between the two bodies, and explained that the UCI's threat of not letting the Spanish athletes participate in the World's was one of the factors that could lead to a definite split between the Grand Tour organisers and the UCI.
"Our differences with the ProTour are minimal at the moment," Ayuso told Spanish journalist Josu Garai, "but we cannot accept that we are being threatened for each different point of view. They threatened Spain to not let its riders participate in the Madrid World's - it's outrageous." In the days leading up to the main event, the road race on Sunday last week, the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) had asked for a Trustee to examine the presidential elections taking place on Friday, where the new president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, was voted for.
Ayuso continued by saying that the Vuelta management did not want to leave the UCI race calendar, but that if the UCI continued its "aggressions", all three organisers of the Grand Tours (ASO, RCS and Unipublic) would consider a definite split. "For example, if they [the UCI] sanctioned the RFEC [the Spanish cycling federation] for its support of the Spanish candidate for presidency - that would be an aggression to the big three, and we would respond unanimously."
Asked if the Grand Tours could survive without the ProTour, Ayuso confirmed. "Perfectly. We're not looking for it, as our interest is to continue the discussions with the UCI, but if they oblige us to go, we will. The big three are owned by powerful communication groups and we're prepared - working on an alternative plan if they oblige us to leave the UCI."
Schenk appeals to civil court
Meanwhile, former German Federation president Sylvia Schenk, whose complaint to the IOC Ethics Commision was rejected last week - although the IOC Commission regretted a possible appearance of a clear preference of the UCI for one candidate, according to the full text of its decision - told Cyclingnews that she saw herself forced to appeal to a civil court in Switzerland.
"Normally after an election I would say 'Give the new president a chance and help to unite the UCI behind him in order to help cycling to overcome its actual problems.' But the UCI Appeals Board decreed that I have to pay more than 25,000 Euros of costs - and of course I cannot accept that. Fearing costs like that, no one will ever try to appeal to the internal bodies of the UCI in order to get a decision if a question of compliance with the UCI Constitution arises!," Schenk said, after coming back from Madrid.
A civil court in Switzerland would of course look into the whole case again. "Before the Appeals Board, the UCI refused to let its employees be heard as witnesses, this will be different before a civil court," Schenk added.
Schenk also confirmed, and regretted, the difficult relations between the UCI and the Spanish Federation. "It is time to make peace now - I was very sorry and even ashamed when no official representative of the UCI attended the gala evening hosted by the Organisation Committee on Saturday night," she concluded.
Unipublic's general manager Ayuso also reported that presents made by Unipublic to 20 members of the UCI - watches - were sent back recently.
Sprenger and Schiffner sacked
The new 2006 Erik Zabel/Alessandro Petacchi team, Milram, has parted company with team manager Jörg Sprenger and proposed directeur sportif Micheal Schiffner, saying it wanted a "clean slate." Sponsor Nordmilch-Konzern announced on Tuesday that it let the two go only four days after introducing the new squad.
Both Sprenger and Schiffner were formerly associated with the "Stasi" (Staatssicherheit Ministerium), the main security and intelligence organisation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, former East Germany). Strenger was a Major in Dept. XX in Leipzig, involved with monitoring the "politically incorrect behaviour" of suspicious persons in the media, universities and sports, allegedly also being responsible for sending people to prison. Schiffner was not directly employed by the Stasi but was an "inoffizieller Mitarbeiter", (an unpaid "volunteer") who, under the name IM Frank Fischer, reported on West German athletes.
When Nordmilch presented the team on Friday, company chief Stephan Tomat said it was aware of the two mens' past, but had "no problem with it." However, after media reports about the background of the two and alleged uncomplimentary remarks from the team's riders ("The Mafia meets the Stasi"), the company changed its mind. After investigating the matter, they said, "Mr. Strenger didn't just go along with the GDR system, but was a constituent part of an oppressive system." In addition, the company has indicated that it will move the team's headquarters away from Leipzig.
Team Milram is based on a fusion of the Domina Vacanze and Wiesenhof teams, and has already signed 11 Italian riders, including Alessandro Petacchi, and nine German riders, including Erik Zabel. Domina Vacanze's Gian-Luigi Stanga is to direct the team, with Dutchman Gerry van Gerwen newly announced as "Commercial Manager." Tomat said the team will look for another DS.
According to Nordmilch, Strenger will be paid for his activities on behalf of the team to date, but will not get any further compensation. Schiffner had not yet signed a contract with the company. Strenger told the Leipziger Volkszeitung, "I accepted their decision immediately, because I didn't want to hurt the image of the team and the company."
There could be an additional problem, according to the German newspaper Die Welt. Milram established not only their new ProTour team, but also a team for young riders, to be run by Strenger's firm, Construct. The riders on the ProTour team are signed with Stanga's company, Cyclosport, which holds the ProTour license, but the young riders will need a new employer as of January 1, 2006. "We are doing all we can to find a solution to the problems of our young riders as quickly as possible," said Martin Mischel, Nordmilch's director for marketing.
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Unibet.com signs more riders
Juan-Carlos Dominguez, Fabian Jeker (both Saunier Duval) and Antonio Tauler (Illes Balears) will ride for Unibet.com, the new name of Belgian team MrBookmaker.com as of the next season. Dominguez was reported to quit pro cycling earlier this year. In 2005, the 34 year-old Spaniard won one stage in the Vuelta a Burgos as well as the overall classification. 36 year-old Swiss Fabian Jeker could not add a victory to his palmarès this season; nor could time trial specialist Tony Tauler, 30.
Cyclingnews has also learned that Baden Cooke, as well as Matt Wilson intend to join the squad for 2006, but the contracts have not been signed yet.
Fassa to Züri Metzgete
Italian team Fassa Bortolo has announced its roster for the Züri Metzgete, the next ProTour one-day race taking place in Zürich, Switzerland, next Sunday. Lining up for the event will be:
Lorenzo Bernucci, Marzio Bruseghin, Fabian Cancellara, Massimo Codol, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, Kim Kirchen, Vincenzo Nibali and Kanstantsin Siutsou. Alberto Volpi will be directing the team in Switzerland.
Coming up: Circuit Franco-Belge
The next-up European stage race, the Circuit Franco-Belge, will take place from Thursday, September 29 to Sunday, October 2, and involve plenty of spring classics parcours for the 18 teams participating. Last year, overall classification was won by Jimmy Casper (Cofidis), and Paolo Bettini and Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) each won a stage. In 2005, the latter two will not be present at the race - nor will Nico Mattan (Daviatmon-Lotto), as he was injured in a bad crash in the Omloop van de Vlaamse Scheldeboorden on Tuesday.
The stages of the Circuit Franco-Belge outline as follows: