Latest Cycling News for December 8, 2006
Edited by Gregor Brown
Lance Armstrong ready for number eight with Basso
Lance Armstrong is getting down to business with his Discovery Channel's newest signing, Ivan Basso. The seven-time Tour de France winner ensured that the American team had the signature of the Italian after he ended his contract with Team CSC, and Armstrong is now passing along his knowledge the team's newest member. The 2007 Discovery Channel riders have been in Armstrong's home town of Austin this week for their first 2007 season training camp.
The American has been on most of the team rides and is excited about its potential Tour winner. "I know that he [Basso] wants to win the Tour. I will make available my time and passion," said Armstrong, 35 years-old, in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"He is very concentrated in this new challenge; I am not only speaking of the sporting aspects. The personality of Ivan will be able to add a lot to this group. We are all with him."
Ivan Basso, 29 years-old, signed with Discovery Channel team manager sportif Johann Bruyneel last month but he first rose to the attention of the Belgian and Armstrong at the 2002 Tour de France.
"It is not a secret that we have tried over the years to sign him," continued Armstrong. "We have come close [to signing Basso] at least on three or four occasions. To have him in the team has been a dream for a long time; now it is a reality. ... I became aware of him in the 2002 Tour, when he won the white jersey for best young rider. I got to know him better in 2003, at the century edition of the Tour, and the idea to have him [in the team] was already there."
Basso's name is well known but not only for his accomplishments on the bike, like winning the 2006 Giro d'Italia and finishing second in the 2005 Tour. This last summer his name was sullied when he was allegedly linked with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Operación Puerto investigations.
On October 26, International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) came to a gentlemen's agreement that they would not sign riders implicated in doping investigations. "Cycling has always been a sport with lots of integral conflicts. Everyone believes they have a reason to talk bad about the others. The truth is that all of the big teams wanted Basso. Ivan was acquitted by CONI [Italian Olympic Committee] and his federation, and for us this was the green light."
The investigation against Basso by his federation [FCI] has been shelved but CONI anti-doping lawyer Franco Cosenza noted that the case could be reopened if more evidence was found to warrant such action, although this has rarely happened in the history of the FCI.
"The case is closed, it is missing the other elements," Armstrong stated to the Italian newspaper. "Basso is clean. There is a telephone call that was linked to him, but nothing concrete. And then he gave his availability to DNA testing. What more can he do?"
Shortly after signing for Discovery Channel Basso said that he would agree to DNA testing if there were future criminal-type investigation, this excluded the current, ongoing Operación Puerto, where DNA sampling could reveal whose blood the Spanish Guardia Civil found.
"The real questions is why was this boy was not allowed to race the  Tour?" Armstrong concluded. He hopes to take Basso on to win the 2007 edition of the Tour de France, giving Discovery Channel and its team manager Bruyneel their eighth victory.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
Basso and Discovery Channel visited by WADA
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) made a surprise visit to the Discovery Channel team camp in Austin, Texas. On Tuesday WADA inspectors arrived to take blood and urine samples from some of the team's riders, including Ivan Basso and Levi Leipheimer.
"It is the 15th time this year that I have been requested for a surprise test," said Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "There is no problem; I have nothing to be afraid of. They are able to come and test me when they want, because these are the rules. It is a life where they are always controlling me; I am always available."
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the surprise test was conducted with a new method that individualizes GH (human growth hormone).
Bettini questions Basso's DNA stance
Yesterday, while being awarded the Giglio d'Oro, world champion Paolo Bettini called into question Ivan Basso's stance on DNA testing. The 32 year-old rider from Toscana noted that Basso was against DNA testing in cycling only up until he was offered a contract by Discovery Channel.
"... The DNA test does not help for the fight against doping," said Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Only in one case can it be useful, if they find in your home sacks of blood and they need to determine the blood is yours. ... When at the end of October I took this position the first message of solidarity I got was a phone call from Basso. He said that I was a legend. Then, 20 days later, he gives his availability to DNA tests.
"Why did he not do this during the course of the Spanish investigation [Operación Puerto], but only after he signed with Discovery Channel and when he knew that the Guardia Civil would not be able handover the sacks of blood in their possession?"
In the evening Basso called Bettini from Austin, Texas to talk. "I explained my position and Paolo understood; we are clear," said Ivan Basso. "I did not accept the DNA tests under any condition. I gave my availability for testing in cases where a judge would ask me; and this is obligatory for all."
Bettini, continuing on the subject of DNA testing, said that he would retire before he would be subject to DNA testing.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Drapac-Porsche confirm pro-continental status
By Greg Johnson
Australia's Drapac-Porsche cycling team has announced it's been approved as the nation's first professional continental team. "The registration has been approved," confirmed Drapac's Adam Murchie. "It opens up another whole opportunity to the team now, for us to move forward."
The Melbourne-based outfit will expand to 21-members for 2007 by adding new riders from both the East and West coasts of Australia, in addition to retaining its full 2006 roster. Another new addition to the outfit is former six day track competitor Scott McGrory, who has been appointed as the team manager.
McGrory revealed to Cyclingnews that the team is currently in discussions with various European race organisers about its yet to be confirmed schedule. The outfit, which has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Giant, is expected to head to both Europe and Asia in 2007, as well as maintaining a strong presence the local road-racing scene.
"We're pushing for a Tour Down Under start – we'd like to see something happen there as we're Australia's first pro-conti team," said McGrory.
Despite the outfit's increased roster and schedule for 2007, it's more determined than ever to encourage performance off the race track, as well as on. Over the coming months the outfit will be launching even more programs to aid its athletes' personal and professional growth.
"We're about to launch a mentoring program where each team rider has an individual mentor," revealed McGrory. "They will be somewhat removed from the team. They can work through problems, and assist them in other areas of their life. A lot of these people are preeminent business people."
Look out for a full feature from Cyclingnews on this news story next week.
Tyler Hamilton meets his new Tinkoff teammates
Tyler Hamilton has been in Italy since this last weekend for the purpose of meeting his new team, Tinkoff Credit Systems. The 35 year-old American and his 17 teammates rode for one week in the Rivera Romagnola, near the town of Riccione. (Read Cyclingnews' recent interview with Tyler Hamilton.)
The team's financial backer, Russian Oleg Tinkov, talked with Hamilton at length both on and off the bike. Tinkov accompanied the riders on their training excursions.
For 2007 the team, including riders Salvatore Commesso and Danilo Hondo, will be in cycling's second-tier, professional continental. Are there thoughts of going up to the ProTour level? "Yes, it can be an objective," confirmed Tinkov to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We need to see how much the ProTour progresses. ... The organizes [of the grand tours] and the UCI are far apart."
The team will be presented in Roma on January 23, which will be at the end of the team's next camp, January 8 to 24 in Marina di Grosseto (Toscana).
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Musiol learns the hard lesson
By Susan Westemeyer
Daniel Musiol's year in the ProTour was not a happy one. "I learned that cycling is a hard business, in which a lot of people only think of themselves," he told the Lausitzer-Rundschau Online. "It's easy to get lost in the crowd. At the end of the year nobody thanked me for working so much for the team."
The 23 year-old had a one-year contract with German-Italian team Milram, which was not renewed. "I can't fully understand, why the lack of good placements was presented at the end of the year as the argument for not extending my contract," he said. "I think that a year is too little time to observe and judge the development and potential of a young athlete."
Musiol will be riding in 2007 for Team Wiesenhof-Felt. He rode for that team's successor in 2005, but noted that "Except for the main sponsor, it has nothing more in common with the team of 2005." He is looking forward to more possibilities in the smaller team. "We will have a strong team and will try to win as much as we can. One of my biggest goals is to win a race again."
Organisers look to full house at Manchester track cycling world cup
Ticket sales for the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester (February 23-25) are already ahead of schedule. Event organiser Alan Rushton is looking forward to a full house in the Manchester Velodrome with the home fans getting behind the British team.
"It's the biggest track cycling event on the calendar outside of the World Championships," said Rushton. "Obviously this time we are hosting the last counting event in the World Cup series. All the competing nations are expected to put out their strongest teams in a bid to win the title and qualify for the World Championships in Palma, Mallorca in March.
"The British team is likely to include the household names that have already won world championship or Olympic medals like Chris Hoy, Chris Newton, Jason Queally and Victoria Pendleton. ... And let's not forget that we will be privileged to watch them battle it out with the world class athletes from Australia, Holland, France and Germany."
British Cycling have already built on their success in track cycling in recent years developing a young talent pool targeting success on the world stage at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics. Sprinters Jason Kenny and Anna Blyth are only two of the squad expected to be racing in Manchester in February.
British Cycling's performance director Dave Brailsford is in no doubt of the importance of the Manchester round. "Obviously the event takes on extra significance as the teams vie to consolidate their world championship starts and the overall world cup winners will be decided," said Brailsford. "It will be a great pleasure to ride in front of a home crowd in a packed velodrome. We would encourage the crowd to get behind the British team to inspire them to produce a great result. We now have a whole raft of younger riders too who will be able to ride in the Trade teams."
UK Sport is continuing its support for cycling by investing up to £75,000 in the event from its National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme. The event is also one of many sporting events being funded by Manchester City Council in 2007 ahead of a year of world championship events in 2008 which includes the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Full details of the programme can be found on www.worldtrackcycling.com.
VRC announces "No Opportunity Wasted" as 2007 title sponsor
Los Angeles-based VRC is pleased to announce that "No Opportunity Wasted" (NOW) will be the team's title sponsor for 2007 season. NOW, a best selling book and critically acclaimed television series, was created and is produced by four-time Emmy award winning "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan and Louise Keoghan. NOW is about encouraging people from all walks of life to make the most of every opportunity and to step up to physical and mental challenges that take them to the edge.
Although the complete roster of sponsors is still being finalized, additional committed sponsors include Cardiac Imaging Associates, MS Society, Panaracer tires, Parkpre USA and Velo-Fit.
VRC has members of all ages and categories but was expressly founded to help U25 cyclists reach their full potential both on and off the bike. In just three years the team has produced four professional riders, including Curtis Gunn, Jeremiah Wiscovitch, Michael Blatchford and most recently, Sergio Hernandez.
NOW tested the waters by sponsoring the team for the 2006 Tour of Southland (New Zealand), participation in which is an annual tradition for the club. Impressed by the team's efforts and results, NOW stepped up for title sponsorship for 2007. The team also believes in racing to raise money and awareness for a charitable cause. VRC has chosen the National MS Society as its charity of choice for 2006-2007 and has already collected over $22,500USD for the MS Society.
The 2007 NOW-MS Society Elite U25 team includes Eric Barlevav, Wes Bredin, Brock Curry, Jared Downing and team captain Eric Losak. The team is accepting additional resumes for its elite and developmental teams. Interested riders must be U25, reside in southern California and be committed to racing as a team. Submit a race resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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