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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 1, 2006

Edited by Laura Weislo

Astana fails to secure ProTour license

By Hedwig Kröner

Astana had a successful Vuelta
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Swiss manager of the Kazakhstani-funded Astana team, Marc Biver, has been informed on Wednesday evening by the UCI that the newly-founded squad will not be granted a ProTour license for the next season, according to French sports newspaper L'Equipe. Because of a non-reglementary bank guarantee, the ProTour license commission has apparently rejected the team's candidacy.

Biver, who has until December 7 to contest the decision, was angry over the turn of events. "I get the impression that they don't treat us the same way than the other teams, because at first everything seemed clear with Ernst&Young, the auditors in charge if studying our dossier," the Swiss manager said. "We even completed the guarantee by November 20, as they asked us to. But all of this was in vain, because I have the feeling that our candidacy is disturbing from the start. Lately, the prime minister [of Kazakhstan, Danial Akhmetov, who played an important role in the team's formation - ed.] has even been outraged by the UCI's attitude in this matter."

The Swiss Astana venture has been reported to have already presented its rider roster to the UCI, including such famous names as Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Paolo Savoldelli and Andrei Kashechkin, as well as other riders who wore the colours of Liberty Seguros this season - but this was before the Spanish doping scandal known as Operación Puerto put an end to this sponsorship of the team, then directed by Manolo Saiz. When the continuation of the team was threatened in summer, Vinokourov found a new backer, a Kazakhstani conglomerate named Astana after the country's capital, which stepped in to ensure the 2006 season of the team managed by Saiz' company Active Bay would be completed.

Saiz in happier times
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

However, as the doping scandal unfolded, Saiz became persona non grata in the cycling world, and with a view to the next season, the Kazakhstani sponsors tried to buy him out of his company - but Saiz refused. As a consequence, it was decided to create a new management company for the future team, based out of Switzerland. But today, Active Bay still holds its ProTour license, and claims that some riders who have apparently committed to the 'Swiss' Astana team, are still under contract with Saiz through 2007, or even 2008.

What's more, a sponsorship contract may still exist between the two parties. Jörg Jaksche, the German cyclist who rode for Liberty Seguros and was also implicated in the Operación Puerto affair, recently told Cyclingnews that "Active Bay still has a contract with Astana through 2008." Because of this ongoing litigation between Biver and Saiz, Paolo Savoldelli has already been reported to reconsider his commitment with the team, and may join the team run by Davide Boifava instead.

According to the latest developments, Biver's Astana team who has recently contracted Mario Kummer as sports director may thus become a Continental Pro team in 2007, but first its contractual situation needs to be cleared.

McQuaid: Astana application was late

By Shane Stokes

“Quite simply, they haven’t followed the regulations,” said UCI President Pat McQuaid when Cyclingnews contacted him on Thursday evening. “They [Astana] didn’t get their information in on time. It is as simple as that. The regulations are there for all the teams to follow. They know the times, they know the dates, they know what they need to get in and the correct paperwork wasn’t in on time.”

Marc Biver and the rest of those concerned are disappointed by the decision, but it seems they do have a second chance. “They have a recourse, yes,” said McQuaid, when questioned about this. “They can ask to meet the license commission. It sits again on the 7th of December and they can ask to meet it again then. And if they wish, they can also go to CAS.”

“From our point of view, we must follow the regulations because there is more than one team involved. It is not as if there is only one team applying for a license, after all. If we break the regulations for one and then don’t let the others into the ProTour, you understand what can happen then. The same rules are there for everybody and, as I said, they didn’t follow the rules.”

McQuaid confirmed that the holding companies for both Unibet and Barloworld have submitted their applications and these have moved forward for consideration by the UCI.

Sevilla and T-Mobile agree to part

Oscar Sevilla (T-mobile)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Oscar Sevilla and the T-Mobile Team have reached an out-of-court settlement on his wrongful termination suit against the team, according to the Spanish press agency EFE. The team suspended Sevilla before the start of the Tour de France because of his suspected connection to Operación Puerto, and later fired him.

Sevilla had filed charges against the team and the trial was due to start in Albacete, Spain, next week. The trial will now not take place because of the agreement reached by the two sides. Sevilla no longer has a connection to the team, but details of the settlement were not released. T-Mobile had previously reached a similar agreement with Jan Ullrich.

Sevilla said that he is considering various offers from other teams. T-Mobile spokesman Christian Frommert told Cyclingnews that, as in all judicial matters, he would not comment on the action.

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

Bettini reflects on Velo and Gálvez

By Gregor Brown

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
While footballer Fabio Cannavaro was in Paris receiving the Ballon d'Or from presenter Monica Bellucci, his compatriot Paolo Bettini was enjoying his well deserved vacation in the Maldive Islands. However, Bettini was also awarded by the French; the Italians made it a double when, as reported Thursday, the cyclist was awarded the prestigious Velo d'Or.

"Even here in Maldive I know that Cannavaro won," said 32 year-old via telephone to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian, with 68 points, came in first over Alejandro Valverde (56) and Fabian Cancellara (34) to take the award. "I am very proud to win this trophy," continued Bettini. "I bettered two champions that I believe will be the ones winning in the coming years; they are two young riders on their way up. "I consider myself a rider that has covered two different eras of classic stars; the era of [Michele] Bartoli and the nouvelle vague of Valverde and Cancellara."

Mario Cipollini, himself a winner of the Velo d'Or award in 2002, had kind words for his fellow Toscano. "This is very beautiful news and not only for Italian cycling," noted the retired cyclist from Lucca. "It was the best selection that they could possibly make. Bettini clearly deserves this award, not only for his extraordinary results, which he has obtained many, but also for the thoroughness and professionalism in how he confronts the cycling life."

Bettini, winner of the world championship, has also been following other, sadder cycling news while on his vacation. The recent death of Isaac Gálvez has touched the rider, who last October lost his brother. "I am very moved by this drama of Isaac Gálvez. He was next to my box when we raced the six days of Munich. As soon as I return [from vacation], I want to call his wife, and give her strength."

Previous Velo d'Or winners

2006 Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2005 Tom Boonen (Bel)
2004 Lance Armstrong (USA)
2003 Lance Armstrong (USA)
2002 Mario Cipollini (Ita)
2001 Lance Armstrong (USA)
2000 Lance Armstrong (USA)
1999 Lance Armstrong (USA)
1998 Marco Pantani (Ita)
1997 Jan Ullrich (Ger)
1996 Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1995 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
1994 Tony Rominger (Swi)
1993 Miguel Indurain (Spa)
1992 Miguel Indurain (Spa)

De Fauw speaks about Gálvez

Dimitri DeFauw
Photo ©: Emory Ball
Click for larger image

An emotional Dimitri De Fauw spoke to the press for the first time since the tragic accident which resulted in the death of Isaac Gálvez today. During the fifth night of the Gent six-day, De Fauw and the Spanish world champion collided, and Gálvez was critically injured when he hit the rail. The 25 year old De Fauw said "I will carry this with me for the rest of my life. Only time can heal my wounds."

Fauw has gone back to the velodrome, known as ''t Kuipke', three times since the ordeal, but has yet to touch his bike. "I haven't touched the bike since Saturday." De Fauw said the first time he tried to go back to the track, he collapsed, and the second time he could stay only ten minutes. "The last time I laid flowers at the place where they tried to resuscitate Gálvez. Now I no longer want to see the building".

De Fauw, however, promises that he will pick up the bike again as soon as he has come to terms with the tragedy. "I have had some painful and very emotional days and nights. The idea of hanging up the bike hasn't occurred to me. What good will that do? It is no solution to stop. In fact, this accident must be an extra incentive for me to go further with racing... However, right now I am not ready for that. I would like to thank my team for giving me the time to complete this process in my own way."

Raisin continues to make strong progress

By Shane Stokes

Raisin makes some adjustments
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)
Almost eight full months after the crash that put him into a coma, Credit Agricole rider Saul Raisin is continuing to make strong progress as regards his physical and mental recovery.

On Sunday, the 23 year old did his longest training ride since his accident, showing that his fitness is continuing to build. “Yesterday with David Sprinkle, David Randolph, A.J Meyers (a 15 year old talent), Andy Meyers and Tracy, I did my longest and hardest ride after my accident,” he wrote on his webpage “With some good friends, we rode 200k/120 miles from Chatsworth, Georgia to Brass Town Bald. We rode over 8 big mountain passes and got in about around 20,000 ft of climbing… It was a 8 hour, 5000 calorie epic ride. I am getting very strong mentally and physically.”

Raisin suffered injury to his brain in the April 4th crash in the Circuit de la Sarthe, but has shown very encouraging signs of recovery. On the 20th of November he received encouraging results from a neurological examination and this too was a boost to his morale.

“I had a huge Neuro Phy test a few weeks ago,” he wrote. “It took eight hours and tested my mental capacity and thinking level. I received the results this last Monday.. To make it short, my doctors said if I was a normal business person or a college student they would release me to go back to work or school (but I am a pro cyclist). For my age and education I am average or above average... My doctors were very surprised. They have never seen someone with the amount of damage I had do as well as I did, this short after the accident. What can I say?? I have been blessed.”

Although he has been told by his doctors that a return to pro racing is not guaranteed, the talented American rider is hoping to be able to do so at some point in the future. Earlier this autumn he attended a get-together of his Credit Agricole squad and posed for 2007 team issue photographs; all going well, he will line out with them late next season or in 2008.

Manager Roger Legeay has pledged his support, speaking to Cyclingnews this summer about Raisin’s return. “For sure his place is in the Credit Agricole team,” he stated in August. “I am very pleased his health is good. I have very strong hopes that he can race again, and I think he will do so. His first big victory will be when he is once again on a start line. After that, I hope he can ride again at his [usual] level.”

Raisin’s top results have been a win in the mountains classification in the 2005 Tour de l’Avenir and a mountain stage victory in the Tour de Langkawi last February. On March 31st next year he will lead the "Raisin Hope" ride for brain and spinal cord injuries, starting in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia.

UCI allows more US Continental teams

By Sue George

The US road scene could see and increase in the number of professional teams next year, thanks to the expansion of the sport in the US and a growth in the American calendar. The UCI road commission has agreed to increase the number of US Continental teams it will license for 2007 to 20.

Sean Petty, USA Cycling's Chief Operating Officer, cited several reasons for the increase. "The size of the US and the recent growth in the American cycling calendar motivated the UCI to grant an exception. The American Tour showed a 45% increase in [UCI-sanctioned] events. There were 13 new events from Canada to South America, but the majority of the increase was due to more UCI races in North America, especially in the US."

The American racing scene may not yet be ready to support fully the increase in the allowed number of teams. "I'm not sure we'll have 20 teams," said Petty. "It's likely we could have 18 or so, making a total of 21 domestic teams chasing the US Pro Tour Calendar."

The other three teams to which Petty refers are the US Pro Continental teams of Health Net, Navigators Insurance, and TIAA-Cref. Pro Continental teams differ from Continental teams in that they require a greater financial commitment in the form of higher salary requirements and more rigorous health monitoring of the riders.

In addition to the Continental and Pro Continental teams, cycling fans can also expect to see the ProTour Discovery Channel team at many US ProTour events.

FBD to go again

By Shane Stokes

Ras winner Chris Newton
Photo ©: INPHO
Click for larger image
What must be one of the longest sponsorships in Irish sport will continue next season when, for the 24th successive year, FBD Insurances will back the UCI 2.2 ranked Rás in Ireland.

FBD Insurance Rás race director Dermot Dignam confirmed on Friday that the company is happy to go once again, helping to guarantee that the eight day event will attract the same strong international field in 2007.

“This will be the Irish insurance company’s 24th year of sponsorship of this great race and, in that time, it has developed into a much sought-after event by professional, national and amateur teams from many parts of the world,” stated Dignam in a press release.

Adrian Taheny, FBD Insurance Director, Marketing & Sales, said that his company was delighted to continue its association. “The Rás is truly one of Ireland’s great sporting events, and one that captures the hearts and minds of sports fans all over the country and further afield”

The 2007 route is set to be announced over the next few weeks. Dignam says it is expected to be as tough as ever, with a number of new stage finish towns likely to be included.

This year’s edition was the closest in history, with eventual winner Kristian House ( and former world under 23 time trial champion Danny Pate (TIAA-CREF) level on time but separated on countback. Morten Hegreberg (Norway Sparebanken Vest) was third, 12 seconds back.

Drug testing begins for amateur golf, pro men lag behind

By Shane Stokes

Although recent scandals and positive cases have shown that doping is a problem in cycling, professional riders have also lamented the fact that this gets an inordinate amount of coverage in the general media while other sports escape the same kind of stories.

The suggestions of unfair treatment come from the fact that cycling has a far tougher system of testing and general scrutiny than many other sports, making positive findings more likely. Indeed it has emerged that the first drug tests in golf took place at last month’s world amateur championships in Stellenbosch, South Africa, with the International Golf Federation selecting twelve players at random. These were then tested by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, with the results coming back negative.

It has now been announced that the Ladies PGA Tour will begin testing in 2008. However both the men’s PGA Tour and the European Tour are currently without any anti-doping measures, despite the huge levels of money in the game. They are talking about following suit at some point in the future but, for now, there is no danger of a top golfer testing positive for the type of strength or concentration-boosting substances which could arguably be of benefit.

Earlier this year, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he saw no need for drug testing in the sport, because he didn't think there were any drugs that could be of benefit to a golfer. However, golf star Tiger Woods was quoted by the Associated Press as being in favor of the regulations. “I think we should be proactive instead of reactive,” he said. “I just think we should be ahead of it and keep our sport as pure as can be. This is a great sport, and it’s always been clean.”

AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork team rides for kids

Several members of the AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork professional cycling team are scheduled to participate in the 5th Annual Inlet Challenge Bicycle Ride, a charity ride to benefit Kids in Distress, a Florida-based organization that is dedicated to protecting children from child abuse and neglect. “Several of our riders have personal ties to South Florida, and as an organization, we are deeply committed to the cause of helping children in need,” said Managing Director Ravi Rajcoomar. “This ride allows the team to show our support for a great cause and get some quality early season training in the great South Florida weather.”

Community service will continue to be a major focus of the 2007 AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork program. The team takes part in year-round youth programming activities with, an organization devoted to promoting safe cycling habits and conditions for participants of all ages, as well as conducting riding clinics, visiting area schools and civic groups, and promoting the lifelong benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle. More information on the Inlet Challenge Bicycle Ride and Kids in Distress is available online at

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