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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for August 16, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Landis credits Phonak

Floyd Landis has paid tribute to his former Phonak team, which announced that it was bowing out of cycling yesterday as a result of Landis' doping affair. When the news was confirmed that Landis was positive for a high T:E ratio during the Tour de France, he was fired from the team in accordance with their rules. But in an open letter to the team and staff posted on floydlandis.com, the man at the centre of the affair said that he respected Phonak's decision.

Landis wrote, "With the dedication and support of the entire team and staff, we overcame impossible odds to make the 2006 Tour de France one of the most exciting races in its history. When the race arrived in Paris on the final day, we had the Yellow Jersey...It makes me happy to have won the Tour with and for Phonak.

"While the recent allegations against me hurt us all, I respect the fact that the Phonak team must follow its own rules and charter under these circumstances. I just wish that all the parties involved would do the same. Despite this, I will not relent on my pursuit of the truth. I will not shy away from this fight.

"Most of all, I understand that this situation impacts families and friends other than my own. It affects the businesses and sponsors that support cycling as well as the sport itself. It is for this reason that I am determined to show that I followed the rules and won fairly and cleanly. There is a greater integrity at stake here than just my own."

Landis, who is determined to prove his innocence in this case, signed off with, "Floyd Landis, 2006 Tour de France Champion".

Grabsch: "a curse on our team"

German rider Bert Grabsch, who has been with Phonak since it started six years ago, was surprised and disappointed that the team folded in the wake of the Landis affair. "There was a curse on our team," he said, after so many of Phonak's success stories were tainted by doping. "But I understand [team owner] Andy Rihs. Indeed, no one understands this action as well as he does. I've seen Andy Rihs shouting for joy and I've suffered along with him. Andy Rihs did everything he could for a cleaner sport. I'm sorry for how it turned out."

Grabsch thanked Rihs for his commitment to the team and to pro cycling, and maintained a positive outlook for the future. "It will be difficult to find another team as good as Phonak Cycling," said the 32 year-old. "I want to keep racing. The sport is good. It must carry on."

Merckx might continue

Axel Merckx, who was originally going to retire at the end of the year, but then extended his contract with Phonak for an extra season, might continue for another season anyway, despite Phonak folding. The Belgian rider told Sporza Radio that there's still a chance he will retire at the end of this season, "but I would like to stick with my decision to go for another year. I will see what happens. Once I have all the cards in my hand, I will decide it together with my family."

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Sastre looking forward to Vuelta

Carlos Sastre (CSC) will enter his third grand tour this season as he lines up for the Vuelta a España as CSC's team captain. The Spanish rider, who finished on the podium in last year's race, declared himself ready after the Clasica San Sebastian last Saturday.

"I was a bit unsure of my form, so I wanted to postpone my decision till after San Sebastian," he told team-csc.com. "Both to test my form during the actual race but also to see how I felt for a couple of days after. I'm satisfied with the outcome and I feel ready to do the Vuelta."

Sastre's season was planned around him taking part in all three big stage races, but things changed when he was made captain in Tour de France after the Operacion Puerto induced withdrawal of Ivan Basso. "It's the first time I'm doing all three races in the same year, so it's very important to test my form before committing myself," said Sastre. "In the Vuelta I have to be in great shape from beginning till end, because it's a tough race with mountains already in the fifth, seventh and ninth stage. You have to be up to it for the entire three weeks."

The rest of the CSC team has yet to be finalised, but Sastre said, "It's important for me that we have happy and satisfied riders in this race, so I would prefer that we took riders who could maybe try for a stage themselves. I would think I'm to be captain of the team, which is why it was so important to test myself in San Sebastian to see whether I felt strong enough both physically and mentally.

"We've had some good results in Denmark and Germany lately, so this is also a positive sign for the team ahead of the Vuelta."

Sastre doesn't know who the main rivals will be in a race that's shaping up to have plenty of favourites. "I don't know yet, especially because you have to stay strong for the whole three weeks. I don't know if Pereiro can do as well as he did in Tour de France. Alexandre Vinokourov might be one of the favourites in the race - he's probably extra ready since he didn't do the Tour and Alejandro Valverde abandoned early in France.

"The most important thing is that I make sure I do my very best, and then we'll have to wait and see how far that will get me. My only goal so far is to do the best I can and I'm taking it one day at a time from here on."

Dessel to lead AG2R at Vuelta

French rider Cyril Dessel, who finished seventh at the Tour de France, will be AG2R-Prevoyance's leader at the Vuelta a España as well. He will head a team featuring four French riders, four Spanish and Belarusian sprinter Alexandre Usov. The full team is: José Luis Arrieta, Mikel Astarloza, Iñigo Chaurreau, David Navas, Cyril Dessel, Hubert Dupont, Stéphane Goubert, Jean-Patrick Nazon and Alexandre Usov.

An interview with Nicky Hayden

Not your average Sunday

The hottest prospect in the Moto GP paddock is the American, Nicky Hayden, and as Gerard Knapp discovered, road cycling plays a very big part in his raceday preparation. The extra fitness gained from road miles on the bike is helping Hayden reap rewards on the race track.

He sits well, and uses the big chainring.
Photo ©: Nicky Hayden
(Click for larger image)

On Sunday, July 23, Floyd Landis was not the only American to stand on the top step of the podium of a major, international two-wheeled racing event. Across the globe and at Laguna Seca Raceway in northern California, the 'Kentucky Kid' as he is known - Nicky Hayden - clinched his second consecutive win in the USA round of the World Moto GP Championship.

While Landis is battling to save his yellow jersey and his reputation in light of the positive drugs test following his Tour de France win, Nicky Hayden has been back home in Owensboro, Kentucky, riding his other bike (a Specialized) on the backroads of Kentucky and fanging moto-cross bikes on his family's ranch.

Unlike cycling's euro-centric ProTour, the Moto GP circuit covers the globe and whenever he gets the chance, Hayden likes to get back to Kentucky and put in some quality miles - on his road bike.

The just-turned 25 Hayden currently leads the world championship and his performance at the demanding Laguna Seca Raceway on a hot summer's day last month has increased his lead over a squadra of Italians snipping at his heels, such as defending champion, Valentino Rossi.

Click here for the full interview

Wegmann: "This race doesn't like me and I don't like it either"

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann rode the Clasica San Sebastian Sunday for the fourth time, returning after a two-year break. He never had much luck with the race in the past, and things didn't go much better this year.

It started out well and went fine until the peloton came up against the protest by the ETA, which blocked the road on the Jaizkibel. "Disguised types with a chain jumped into the road to hold us up." Familiar with such actions from the Tour de France this year, for example, Wegmann and the other riders don't let themselves be beaten. "At times like this we riders aren't particularly squeamish and are willing to fight our way through," he noted on his website, www.fabianwegmann.de. "Singly and at intervals of about 30 seconds we went by the blockade, rider by rider, which meant, of course, that the field was totally strung out."

So Wegmann had to catch up with the field in front of him, and "I went all out." He made it to the group but "I overdid it in the chase. The natural result: I totally exploded on the next hill."

But Wegmann's bad luck day wasn't over yet. Not willing to give up entirely, he says, "I sprinted for 50th place and 100 meters before the finish line fell flat on my face. Suddenly a rider pulled over and rode directly into my handlebars. How embarrassing, I lay there with one tire off and had to carry my bike in my arms over the finish line.

"Conclusion: This race doesn't like me, and I don't like it either. But I will still come back again."

Nations qualification for World's

The UCI has announced the number of riders each country will be able to send to the men's world championship road race on September 24. Qualification is done based on ProTour and Continental Tour rankings, as follows:

ProTour

Team size: 14, of which 9 can start:

Australia
Belgium
France
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Russian Federation
Spain
Switzerland
United States Of America

Team size: 2, of which 1 can start

Canada
Finland
Hungary
Lithuania
Luxembourg

Continental tours

Team size: 9, of which 6 can start:

Argentina
Austria
Brazil
Colombia
Czech Republic
Islamic Republic Of Iran
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Ukraine

Team size: 5, of which 3 can start:

Belarus
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Croatia
Cuba
Denmark
Estonia
Great Britain
Ireland
Japan
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Mexico
New Zealand
Norway
Venezuela

Team size: 2, of which 1 can start

Costa Rica
Sweden

Austria announces preliminary World's Team

The World Championships are coming to Austria, and the country took the next step in preparing for them by announcing its preliminary squad. It was announced on Tuesday that Austria could start six riders in the road race, as well as the usual two in the time trial. The final team will be announced at the last minute, on September 21.

The nine riders nominated for the road race team are five from ProTour teams, including Austrian champion Bernhard Kohl, and four from Professional Continental teams. Two riders who are already assured of a ride are CSC's Peter Luttenberger and Elk Haus' Thomas Rohregger, who will ride the time trial.

The World Championships are to be held in Salzburg, Austria, from September 19 to 24.

Road race nominees: Bernhard Eisel (Française des Jeux), Gerrit Glomser (Team Volksbank), Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner), Bernhard Kohl (T-Mobile), Christian Pfannberger (Elk Haus), Thomas Rohregger (Elk Haus), Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), Gerhard Trampusch (Wiesenhof-AKUD) and Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner).

Time trial nominees: Peter Luttenberger (CSC) and Thomas Rohregger (Elk Haus).

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