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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for August 29, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer

Vuelta a Espańa feature: Foreigners need not apply

The Vuelta a Espana took nearly thirty years longer to get off the ground than the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. The early years of the race were wrecked by the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The organisers of the Vuelta did not help its cause in the long term by discouraging foreign participation. By Les Woodland.

Fausto Coppi was told to go home
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

My mother-in-law wasn't impressed by the Vuelta. And nor was I, to be honest. We'd planned to drive up the col de Tourmalet and take the cable car from La Mongie to the observatory at the top of the Pic du Midi. Just before the mountains, though, a policeman stopped us and told us we had to wait because a bike race was coming through.

We asked which race and the policeman told us, as though it was as much a nuisance to him as it was to us, that it was the Tour of Spain. So we had lunch and awaited the spectacle.

It never came. Junior races have caused more commotion. There was a rush of cars driving importantly through the village, then a gap of several minutes and finally a great gaggle of riders who seemed in no great hurry to get anywhere. Moments later things were as quiet as they had been before. The dozen or so people on the street turned and went off, maybe as unimpressed as we were, and the Vuelta rode on towards the Tourmalet.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Vuelta: climbs coming up

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Although the Vuelta a Espańa is until now a sprinter's business, the terrain will soon point upward - as soon as stage five on Wednesday, in fact, leading to the Covatilla climb. This summit was discovered for the Vuelta by former professional Laudelino Cubino, and may hurt those who lack competition badly this early on the parcours. One of the 2006 Vuelta favourites, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) lost more than two minutes there in the 2004 edition of the race, compared to Roberto Heras (Liberty) and Santi Perez (Phonak) - both riders were later discovered to have been boosting their performances with blood doping.

After a bridging stage, another summit finish will see the riders on the top of El Morredero, where Heras, with Kelme at the time, started his palmarčs in 1997. Galicia will be the waiting room of one of the decisive stages, two days later: the La Cobertoria climb, known as the "Spanish Tourmalet". This was the scene where Alex Zülle (ONCE) or Pablo Escartín (Kelme) had to bury their hopes for general classification. It consists of ten kilometres of climbing at a maximum gradient of 9.4 percent. But before even getting there, the riders will have to master the difficulties of El Puerto de Connio and El Rańadoiro, of first category, El Cerredo, of third category, and San Lorenzo, an Hors Catégorie climb.

Cuenca will be the scene of 33 kilometres against the clock will be disputed, and where the specialists may recover the lost time in the mountains. The riders will return to Andalucia in the Vuelta finishing straight with the very hard final stage on Calar Alto. There will be three days of great efforts, including the Monarchil and La Pandera climbs, where two years ago Vinokourov triumphed.

The last time trial will take place in Rivas Vacimadrid, on the penultimate day of competition. It will replace the traditional stage in the Madrilenian mountain range before the race finally gets to stroll along the capital's roads on Sunday, September 17.

280 water bottles

It's a good thing that Robert Förster's team sponsor is in the bottled water business: the Gerolsteiner rider and his teammates needed it in Monday's Vuelta stage. "It was total chaos back by the team cars, because thousands of riders were constantly getting water," he wrote in his Vuelta diary on "I asked one of our helpers: we nine Gerolsteiner riders used 280 bottles today! The most of them were to drink, of course, but some of them we poured over our heads But you'd better not do it like the British rider Wegelius did: He took a bottle from another team, and poured half of it out over his head before he noticed that it was coca-cola... We all laughed like crazy!"

The average temperature in Spain that day was 39,5 degrees, at times underway it was well over 40. "It was so hot already at the start that we didn't want to get out of the air-conditioned bus."

And when 'Frösi' got to the hotel after the stage, he knew it couldn't be good news when someone asked him, "Have you heard the news?" Turns out that his and his roommate Marcel Strauss' suitcases got left behind in the last hotel...

Basso case to he heard

Italy's Ivan Basso will be heard in front of the anti-doping commission of his country's Olympic Committee on Tuesday. The suspended CSC rider will have to explain the presence of his name in the evidence gathered in the Operation Puerto case by the Spanish Guardia Civil, which has led to his exclusion of the Tour de France this year.

Basso's lawyer, Massimo Martelli, who will be present throughout the hearing, has therefore prepared the defense of his client thoroughly. "We prepared a very precise statement which consists of an evaluation of what happened," Martelli told tuttobiciweb. "First of all we emphasize the absolute inadmissibility of the circumstantial evidence, and then, step by step, we contest all of the presumed links that relate my client to the practices of Eufemiano Fuentes. In addition, we present an extensive medical documentation which shows that Basso does not recur to any stimulating and exogenous practices."

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

McQuaid on Pevenage, Hamilton, testing

Could the UCI take action against Rudy Pevenage, Jan Ullrich's mentor, whose name has figured prominently in the Operation Puerto papers? UCI president Pat McQuaid does not rule it out. "If we have evidence that a manager is an accomplice, or even the initiator, then he should be punished," McQuaid told German Welt magazine. "And this applies to anyone on a team, if it can be proved that he is involved in doping. If it turns out to be true that Mr. Pevenage is actively involved in the case, then we can say: He shouldn't be allowed to work in cycling any more."

McQuaid also said that there will be further procedures against Tyler Hamilton. "With the new information that we have received, we will definitely open a a new disciplinary hearing against him. If it can be established without a bit of doubt, then it will be considered a new, independent doping case, under our rules. That would be his second and would entail a life ban."

In addition, he rejected criticism from WADA President Pound that taking blood tests in the morning allowed riders time to use doping products before the actual race start. "The blood levels are most representative in the morning," he said. "We test four or five teams, about 40 riders. Does Mr. Pound expect us to appoint someone to watch over all of those riders from seven in the morning to the start at 11? Who will organise that, who will pay for it? What do we do with the other 160 riders? When an athlete wants to, he will find a few seconds to dope. We can't be big brother and constantly watch the athletes."

Klöden shoots back

Andreas Klöden is not going to leave quietly. In German BILD magazine he responded angrily to comments from his soon-to-be-former team, T-Mobile. "I'm not running away from the responsibility, but leaving because my wishes couldn't be fulfilled," he said. Christian Frommert, director of sports communications for T-Mobile International, the team sponsor, had said, "In this difficult time for cycling, we offered Andreas Klöden a prominent and responsible position. We accept that he apparently cannot or will not take it."

The Tour de France podium finisher also shot out at outgoing team management Olaf Ludwig and Mario Kummer, saying, "If they hadn't been so incapable, we would have won the Tour!" Meanwhile, rumour in Germany has it that T-Mobile does not intend to extend the contracts of Steffen Wesemann, nor Serguei Honchar - who scored two stage wins at the Tour de France for the team, and rode several days wearing the yellow jersey.

Gerolsteiner's future

Gerolsteiner Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer has "received signals" that his Pro Tour license will be extended through the 2010 season, and he has contract with his sponsor through 2008. Jörg Croseck, marketing director for the company, said in the team's yearbook that the sponsoring contract "offers us ideal conditions for continuing to write the ongoing Gerolsteiner success story as well as establishing a solid yet dynamic foundation for the Gerolsteiner brand - one that will long continue to offer us competitive advantages."

But that was before Operation Puerto and the other doping problems that have arisen during the 2006 season. More and more negative headlines appeared in Germany and throughout the world, a consideration for a company that exports to 35 countries. In addition, the German public television broadcasters have announced that they will seriously consider cutting back or even eliminating their coverage of cycling. Now, Stefan Göbel, director of Corporate Communications at Gerolsteiner, told Cyclingnews: "If cycling loses its attraction, we would naturally have to think about our engagement. The media presence is an important part of that decision."

Australian team for Road World's announced

Cycling Australia has announced the 'Cyclones' to contest the 2006 UCI road cycling World Championships being staged in Salzburg, Austria from September 19 to 24. In the Elite Men category, the final nine riders to contest the road race and three to contest the time trial will not be confirmed until the September 13, but selectors have announced a long team and will finalise the starting line up after taking into consideration health, injury, availability and form issues in the lead up to the event.

Elite Men - Long Team Time Trial: Ben Day, Cadel Evans, Bradley McGee, Michael Rogers.
Elite Men - Long Team Road Race: Baden Cooke, Ben Day, Scott Davis, Cadel Evans, Nick Gates, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman, Aaron Kemps, Trent Lowe, Robbie McEwen, Bradley McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Mark Renshaw, Luke Roberts, Michael Rogers, William Walker, Matthew White.

Elite Women - Time Trial: Kathryn Watt, Oenone Wood.
Elite Women - Road Race: Katherine Bates, Natalie Bates, Olivia Gollan, Emma Rickards, Oenone Wood. The sixth position will be confirmed from the following riders based on a review of additional race results in end of season competition: Nikki Egyed, Helen Kelly, Jenny Macpherson.

U23 Men - Time Trial: Mark Jamieson, Shaun Higgerson.
U23 Men - Road Race: Jonathon Clarke, Simon Clarke, Matthew Goss, Shaun Higgerson, James Meadley.

18 months for Neiwand

Former champion cyclist Gary Neiwand has been sentenced to 18 months jail for stalking.

The Olympic silver medallist, who is in jail for breaching an intervention order to stay away from his ex-wife, was today sentenced to 18 months jail with a minimum term of nine months. Neiwand yesterday pleaded guilty to five charges of stalking, two of theft, three of using a carriage service in a harassing manner and one of breaching an intervention order.

Chief Magistrate Ian Gray said today that Neiwand's offences were very serious and a clear message needed to be sent out to the community that such conduct was unacceptable. Gray also said he accepted the father of two was suffering depression at the time and was experiencing difficulties with his marriage break-up.

Houston's Alkek velodrome needs funds

After 20 years, the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department is transferring the management of the Alkek Velodrome in Houston, Texas to a non-profit foundation; the Greater Houston Cycling Foundation (GHCF) scheduled for November 1, 2006. The next few months will be critical for the foundation to raise the funds to continue the programming at the track.

The GHCF has begun an Adopt a Meter Campaign for those who are wishing to contribute to the cause. In addition, items may be donated for a charity Ebay auction in October. A pdf file of the Fundraising Campaign can be found at:

The GHCF will be working with the City of Houston Parks Department to transition the management of the Alkek Velodrome for the 2007 season and beyond. To learn more there will be a meeting at the Alkek Velodrome office (18203 Groeschke) on August 30, 2006 at 6:30 pm.

Fantasy Vuelta - Still time to win BH bike L75D!

Vuelta Fantasy Game
One pair of BBB Winner Quickstep glasses
Photo ©: BBB
(Click for larger image)
One pair of HED Bastogne wheels
Photo ©: HED
(Click for larger image)
10 sets of Maxxis Courchevel tyres
Photo ©: Maxxis
(Click for larger image)
Three sets of Speedplay CSC edition pedals
Photo ©: Speedplay
(Click for larger image)
$200 worth of Sockguy socks
Photo ©: Sockguy
(Click for larger image)

There's still plenty of time left to join in the Fantasy Vuelta game. You can join and change your riders right up until stage 7 begins this year. There is no disadvantage in joining now that the Vuelta has begun. If you are new to the idea of Fantasy Sports Games then please have a look at the tips on strategy and gameplay in last year's winners pages on the main Fantasy site.

BH Bikes have confirmed they are providing the Grand Prize in this year's Fantasy game! The L75D Global Concept G-1 Ultegra D bike worth 3499EUR/4499US$ comes with an impressive component list worthy of the some serious competition performance fantasy or otherwise. In addition to the Grand Prize the prizelist so far is as follows:

- Grand Prize BH Bikes L75D Global Concept G-1 Ultegra D bike
- Daily Prize 21 pairs of BBB Winner Quickstep glasses
- Runners-up Prizes 1 pair of Hed Bastogne wheels, special silver edition
- Runners-up Prizes 10 sets Maxxis Courchevel tires
- Runners-up Prizes 3 sets Speedplay CSC edition pedals
- Runners-up Prizes $200 worth of Sock Guy vouchers
- Runners-up Prizes 3 Giro/Bell helmets

First Fantasy winners announced!

The first three winners of daily stage prizes have been confirmed. Winning a pair of BBB Parts Winner Quickstep glasses. Their teams had the highest cumulative stage points for the first stages of the Vuelta.

Daily Stage Prize winners

Stage 1 winner - team Stage Winner (Manager - Mountain to Climb, GBR)
Stage 2 winner - team The Empire (Manager - Zeeman, AUS)
Stage 3 winner - team 3VueltaStimul (Manager - Stimulleke, BEL)

There are plenty more prizes to win in the overall prize competition. The Fantasy game is a great way to get to know the Vuelta in more detail, as you take on the role of being a team manager during each day of the Vuelta, making the best of your team selections as the Vuelta unfolds stage by stage. Depending on how the riders finish each stage in real life you will score points for your Fantasy team to win some great prizes. You'll get a much more intimate knowledge of the lesser seeded riders as you watch their progress in your own teams and in other Fantasy manager's teams each day. You'll also get a much more in depth insight into how the riders perform over the coming weeks through the sprints and the mountains.

Register now!

Create your teams today. Be a professional team manager for the 2006 La Vuelta and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Vuelta. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Play for FREE in La Vuelta 2006 game

Remember you can play for free for the first 6 stages! Try your teams out and see which rider combination is best.

We hope you enjoy this year's game and look forward to seeing your winning team online soon.

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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