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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for August 18, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Swiss cycling expecting tough legal battle

Jan Ullrich's hearing before the Swiss cycling federation could be a tough legal battle, because "it will involve particular and immense legal problems", Lorenz Schläfli, head of the federation told AFP. "It is the first time we have had a case like this."

Schläfli said that they are not actually ready to open the proceedings because of questions about the documents involved. "If we had opened the process with these documents, it would have lasted just five minutes," Schläfli said, adding Ullrich's lawyers could have asked to have the case dismissed.

"It is a translation from Spanish to French. We don't know who did the translation. There are no stamps, we don't know if it's official or not. First we have to ask for the official documents. If they're the same as the translation, then we'll pass them on to the disciplinary chamber."

The federation will ask the UCI to certify the documents in question. "If that's not possible, then we'll have to approach the Guardia Civil," said Schläfli, which is likely to delay the disciplinary process against Ullrich.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

1966 Bordeaux rider's strike: Power in a union

Like any other group of workers, cyclists are capable of industrial action to protect their rights. In 1966, cyclists flexed their trade union muscles to protest against mandatory drug tests and the botched way with which the tests were carried out. Les Woodland looks back on a chaotic, and ultimately tragic, period in cycling.

Anquetil after abandoning the Tour in 1966.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"Piss! Piss! Piss!"

Strikers' chants are rarely elegant but rarely this crude. In France, land of philosophy, the Enlightenment and Moličres, it was this that riders in the Tour de France chanted 40 years ago this year as they pushed their bikes through the outskirts of Bordeaux.

Why? Because they had just been subjected to surprise drug checks. The law not simply of cycling but the French state said they had to have them and it was the police who descended to conduct them. Not for the first time, riders considered themselves beyond the law. It's worth remembering that to this day, four decades after Bordeaux, it's still the police and not cycling itself who have had the real effect on the drug issue in cycling.

There aren't many laughs in the Puerto investigation in Spain but in the Giro swoop of recent years we were at least entertained to tales of riders leaping out of hotel windows and hiding themselves in the shrubbery. And so it was that there was a bittersweet side to the events of 1966.

The background is that France had followed Belgium in introducing a national law against drugs in sport. Belgian police had raided changing rooms and skidded to a halt on all the pills that riders threw from their pockets before they could be searched. At Bordeaux, the French police decided that the eve of the first stage in the Pyrenees would be a good time to make their own move.

Click here for the full feature

Not Förster's day

Thursday was definitely not Robert Förster's day. To begin with, he and four Gerolsteiner team-mates almost didn't make it to the start of the first stage of the Benelux Tour. Förster, Markus Zberg, Frank Hoj and Volker Ordowski got into the hotel elevator to go down to the team bus and on to the race - but ended up going nowhere.

"The five of us were stuck in the one metre by one metre elevator cabin for 40 minutes," recalled Förster on his Web site, "You could hardly breathe. It was not for anyone who is claustrophobic!"

They were finally freed by the fire department, and had to climb through an opening in the elevator cabin ceiling. "Then we all first just took a deep breath. Man, what an experience!"

Things didn't get much better in the race. Förster crashed 25 km before the finish line and thus was unable to be part of the sprint finish. "This was just one of those days..."

One thing is certain tonight, though: "Tonight I will take the stairs in the hotel!"

Twice is nice for Napolitano

For the second consecutive year, Lampre-Fondital's sprinter Danilo Napolitano won the Coppa Bernocchi, the final race in the Trittico Lombardo series of one-day races in northern Italy. Right from the start, the Lampre team controlled the race, keeping any breaks in check, before team-mate Claudio Corioni put Napolitano in a perfect position to take the win.

"I'm very happy," said 25 year-old Napolitano after the race. "It's never easy to win again, but this year things went even better; my fitness is very good and my team-mates have been fantastic. I want to thank the whole team. Now I'm looking with optimism at the Vuelta."

"We've been perfect and we've obtained a great victory," added direttore sportivo Giuseppe Martinelli. "The whole team worked hard, the two Chinese riders too. My compliments to all my athletes."

Fraser to final NRC race this weekend

This Sunday's USPRO Criterium Championship race in Downer's Grove, IL, will be the final career NRC race for Gord Fraser of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis. The Canadian sprinter, who has ridden for the team since 2003, has been a fixture on the North American racing scene for much of his 13 years as a professional, winning the NRC individual points title twice. He also found success in Europe in the Mercury program, winning stages of Criterium International, the Tour of Asturias and GP Rennes.

His list of career accomplishments includes:

More than 200 career wins
Three-time Canadian Olympian
2004 Canadian national road champion
Five-time Commonwealth Games participant
Two-time NRC individual champion

He comes into this weekend as a former winner of the USPRO Criterium Championship, as well as the Downer's Grove Pro Am which precedes it. "I've had good success at these races in the past, and having such a prestigious and important race as the USPRO Criterium Championship as my last NRC race is only fitting," said Fraser in a team statement, who is currently ranked 8th in the individual NRC rankings.

"I've had a good run with my career," he continued. "If you told me after I came back from Europe, I'd have nine really good years with some incredible teams, incredible team-mates and sponsors, I'd have taken it. I don't have too many regrets."

And after more than 200 wins in his career, he still says "You never get tired of winning. Sometimes even if it's just a small local race, if you give everything you can to win, it can be just as satisfying as winning a big race."

While he'd like to close out his NRC career with one more big victory this weekend, it isn't so much his wins that he'd like to be remembered for, but the way he earned them. "If I was to be remembered for anything, it was that I could be depended upon to get a lot of results for the team," he said.

"If you were a teammate, it was that you always had 100 percent confidence that I could do my job. That would be a proud legacy for any of my ex-team-mates. If they were happy to work for me, that's as much as I can ask. For the fans, just the fact that I've done the best I could, always given 100 percent, whether it's with the responsibility of winning or helping a team-mate. I've always given every race 100 percent of my ability."

As far as what's next, Fraser says he's "still working on things. If I can stay within the cycling family, then I certainly will. Camps will definitely be something I'll do in the future. But I still have a few races to go, and I'd like to end the season on a high note with some success at Downer's Grove this weekend. After that, the job search will begin."

Fraser will be a big part of a strong, 10-man Health Net Presented by Maxxis squad for the USPRO Criterium Championship and Downer's Grove Pro Am. He will be joined by former New Zealand Criterium and track world champion Greg Henderson, 2000 USPRO Criterium Champion Kirk O'Bee and 2005 U-23 National Criterium Champion Kyle Gritters, who will be looking to achieve what former Health Net Presented by Maxxis rider Tyler Farrar achieved in 2004 and 2005, going from U-23 national criterium champion to USPRO Criterium Champion in consecutive years.

Riders for Downer's Grove: Gord Fraser, Kyle Gritters, Greg Henderson, Tim Johnson, Mike Jones, Karl Menzies, Kirk O'Bee, Garrett Peltonen, Mike Sayers, Alberto Tiberio

Surrey set for Revolutions

By Gerry McManus

The Surrey League Revolutions 5-Day commences on Friday 18th August with a field of 50 riders set for another memorable event sponsored by top cycle shop Sigma Sport. The numbers seem a little reduced from previous years but that's not surprising as it is likely that a number of last year's competitors were not asked back to this invitation only event. Last year saw a large number of riders eliminated after they refused to finish one wet stage but had expected to re-start the following day.

This year's start sheet sees two previous winners line up to contest the 450-mile event with the added incentive of points and mountains competitions. Last year's winner Duncan Urquhart (Army CU) will find a tough challenge from the Irish 2003 winner Paul Griffin who is guest riding alongside compatriot Tim Barry and talented Kieran and Russell Page in the SP/Wightlink RT squad. Barry is no stranger to event competing for a number of years winning a stage and finishing third overall in 2001.

The absence of, DFL and Plowman Craven teams from this year's event leaves the race wide open for those with the strength and therefore ability to play the tactics game. The stages get progressively harder and it's not always the early leader that wins the final yellow jersey.

Sunday's stage features a short morning time trial around the Goodwood motor racing circuit in West Sussex with the field going out to the rolling hills around the horse racing course in afternoon.

Former KOM winner Roger Morgan (VC Meudon) makes a return to the event with only a first category licence following his marriage last year but he has already amassed a few points in local league racing this season and may be coming into some form.

Watch out for Roy Chamberlain (Team Milton Keynes) who always equips himself well in top competition. look the strongest on paper with Rob Enslin, James Williamson, Kevin Dawson, Neil Coleman, Alex Hagman, Alex Biggs and Neil Coleman in the team to beat.

  • Day 1 - Friday 18th August, is based on Ewhurst in Surrey. HQ: Ockley Village Hall. Start time: 12:00. Described as classic rolling Surrey countryside.
  • Day 2 - Saturday 19th August, is based on Staplefield in West Sussex. HQ: Handcross Sports Pavilion. Start time: 12:00. Long dragging climbs and lots of them. Good road surfaces except in the lanes.
  • Day 3 - Sunday 20th August, is based on Goodwood Motor Racing. The day starts with a time trial around Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit. Start time: 11:00. This will be followed by a road race with a slight change from the course used for the last nine years. Two 'new' hills and each have a superb run down. The drop from Harting is seven miles long! Start time: 13:00.
  • Day 4 - Monday 21st August, is based at Wivelsfield East Sussex. HQ: Wivelsfield Parish Hall. Start time: 12:00. Nothing steep but continually up and down on roads that are far from fast.
  • Day 5 - Tuesday 22nd August, is based at Crowborough and the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. HQ All Saints Parish Hall, Crowborough. Start time: 12:00. Everything one wants for a great stage - if you are a spectator! If you like long drags, steep hills, fast descents and beautiful scenery this is for you. Not a bit of flat anywhere and your introduction to 'The Wall'.

Irish crit champs Saturday

By Tommy Campbell

Westport in Co. Mayo is better known as a tourist destination, but you would be forgiven if you thought it had a stranglehold on Irish cycling championships.

For the fourth occasion this season, the town will host yet another Irish championship. This time around, it will be the National Criterium Championship, which will be staged in the town on Saturday (August 19) at 7.30pm sharp.

In June, they promoted the men's, ladies' and Under-23 championships and if you thought that was a hectic load, also in the mix was as stage of the FBD Insurance Ras in May. So, Mayo Wheelers CC and their loyal members will be out again at the weekend.

The town held its first criterium (round-the-houses race, normally on a short circuit about 1km or less and lasting an hour plus five laps) back in 2003, and it proved to be a spectacular event, taking in Bridge Street, Mill Street and the South Mall.

The defending champion is Eugene Moriarty of, who has won on this circuit before. Moriarty's preparation has not been to his satisfaction because of injury, though: "I think it is an ideal circuit for spectators and cyclists alike and I hope I can do myself justice and retain the trophy," he said. "Fortunately, more than other teams, I'll have strong team support which I think will come down in my favour."

Presented by a strange set of circumstances, the majority of the professionals who ply their trade overseas are in Ireland at the moment. It would be a bonus for Mayo Wheelers and the people of Westport if some of them were in attendance, particularly road race champion David McCann who won the road title here in June.

Originally Midleton Wheelers were to run the event at the beginning of the month, but dropped out and the Mayo club took up the rein, not knowing that they could have a humdinger of a race with the professionals included.

Unfortunately there is a clash of events because Mayo Wheelers came in at short notice for the criterium, but the national track championships which also take place on Saturday and Sunday is unlikely to suffer and a full programme is envisaged.

Along with the usual junior, ladies and senior men categories, demonstration events will be held for tandem riders and vets with a view to making these permanent categories in 2007. However, this is strictly dependent upon there being a sufficient turnout with at least 10 riders required to ensure future viability of a vets category. Volunteers to work as holders, etc. are also required to help out with the championships.

Lang's 'Tour de kindergarten'

What do cyclists do on their day off? Hold a race, of course. At least that's what Gerolsteiner's Sebastian Lang did. He meant to take a well-deserved break and ignore his bike, but he allowed himself into being talked into hosting the first "Tour de Kindergarten".

His former bike club, the RSC Turbine Erfurt, provided jerseys, water bottles and other prizes for the little kids, who rode a series of races around the kindergarten grounds, with (relatively) few crashes.

"The kids gave me a lot of pleasure, so it was worth it to get back on the bike on my free day," said Lang on

Oh, yes - the kindergarten teacher happens to be Lang's girlfriend.

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