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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 10, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

IPCT excludes Discovery and Saiz

Quick.Step manager Lefévère at the 2006 Tour de France
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

In a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday, the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) has taken a strong stance and voted to exclude Discovery Channel and Active Bay, Manolo Saiz' company, from their group. The organisation presided by Quick.Step team manager Patrick Lefévère cited Discovery's signing of Ivan Basso as an action against the voluntary agreement that riders named in the Operación Puerto doping scandal would not be given a contract.

"Discovery Channel didn't respect the rules," a participant of the meeting said. "The ethical code is clear: a ProTour team should not sign a rider involved in the Puerto affair." Except for Caisse d'Epargne and managing company Active Bay, all members of the IPCT were present at the assembly. Discovery Channel was represented by an attorney.

On Saturday, team manager Johan Bruyneel reacted to the exclusion from the squad's training camp in Austin, Texas. "Now, we know we have enemies, but if someone decides to make this attitude a mission, they have to know that we, too, are ready to go all the way," he told Italian tuttobiciweb. "It seems to me that only the names of Ullrich and Basso have been soiled in this story. I wonder why nobody stood up against Lampre, Euskaltel or other teams that have riders that are in the same situation."

Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel at the 2006 Vuelta
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Bruyneel didn't exclude legal actions. "We'll read the meeting statement, then we'll decide how to protect us," he added.

However, the decision will not affect Discovery Channel's participation in races, as it retains its ProTour license. "It has nothing to do with the ProTour," UCI ProTour manager Alain Rumpf told Cyclingnews on Saturday. "The IPCT is a company set up by a number of UCI ProTour teams to represent them and take care of their interests, but it has no official or regulatory relationship with the ProTour."

Still, Rumpf weighed in the political importance of this decision, even if the so-called 'Code of Conduct' is a set of ethical rules separate from the UCI's own reglement. "The Code of Conduct has been implemented by the teams separately from the UCI ProTour because it is not part of UCI regulations. That is their decision. Obviously, we support any efforts that are made by all the ProTour stakeholders to fight doping and safeguard the image of the sport," he added.

At the meeting, the ProTour teams' representatives also agreed to bring down the number of ProTour teams from 20 to 18 in the near future, a proposal initially made by the Grand Tour organisers - more on this below.

Rumpf: UCI to discuss reducing ProTour teams

Licence decision due ‘by Wednesday’

By Shane Stokes

In addition to giving the UCI’s position on Friday’s decision by the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) to exclude Discovery Channel and Active Bay, ProTour manager Alain Rumpf spoke with Cyclingnews about the IPCT’s backing of a plan to reduce the number of ProTour teams to 18.

"This is a discussion that took place yesterday amongst the teams of the IPCT, so I will not comment on that," he stated. "They are responsible for the discussion and they should communicate themselves about that. But what I can say is that the UCI ProTour regulations that have been put in place by the ProTour Council say that there shall be a maximum of 20 licences. The responsibility to make the decisions on who gets the licences is up to the License Commission, and they have no obligation to give a full 20 licences.

"There is a maximum of 20 and they have to check if the candidates respect the quality criteria as laid out by the ProTour Council. So it may be that there are 20 teams, or it may turn out that there are just 19 or 18 teams, eventually."

He said that while the number of top teams may drop, the UCI is under no obligation to bring this about just because the IPCT want it to happen. "It is not binding... They have discussed it and their opinion is that there should be 18 teams in the ProTour. But as you know, the ProTour Council is made up of representatives of teams, plus also those of the riders, the organisers and of the UCI; only the ProTour Council makes the decision. That said, obviously if they come with this recommendation or opinion, then it will be discussed within the ProTour Council. That is for sure."

The UCI is currently going through the process of deciding who will hold ProTour licences from the start of next season. There are currently two slots to be decided; Unibet.com, Barloworld and Astana are fighting it out for the slot vacated by Phonak this year, with the latter team having been provisionally refused last month.

Manolo Saiz’ Active Bay is meanwhile trying to show that it has the necessary backing to hold onto its licence, although that has been complicated by the fact that Saiz is claiming Astana as his backer. For its part, the conglomerate of Kazakh companies is saying that a contract signed earlier this year is invalid as the team did not ride the Tour de France.

On Thursday, the Licence Commission met and heard from some of those concerned. There has been a delay in communicating the final outcome but Rumpf gave clarification that this was due soon. "We have been informed by the License Commission that they will communicate the decision as soon as next Wednesday, the 13th. That is all we know at the moment. Like the teams, we are waiting for the decisions of the License Commission."

He detailed what happened on Thursday. "On the 7th , a number of teams exercised their right to be heard by the commission. The procedure is such that first of all, the commission gives a preliminary opinion on the license, and then later the teams have the right to be heard by them. Now they are waiting for the final decision of the License Commission based on these hearings.

"I have no real idea as to the reason for the delay, except for the fact that they probably want to take a bit more time to ensure that they make the right decision," he stated.

Ullrich: "I'll be back!"

By Susan Westemeyer

"I'll be back!," Jan Ullrich told Bild, the biggest German tabloid. "It's not yet been decided where and how, or whether it will be a ProTour team or not, the Tour or the Giro. But I will race again! Those who are against me won't win. I'll be back!"

His wife, Sara, said the couple had a bad time over the summer, after Ullrich was suspended from his T-Mobile team due to his alleged implication in Operación Puerto. "Jan was very depressed after the suspension. He could hardly think clearly for four weeks. Jan was unbelievably sad, because nobody supported him. Everyone was against him, hardly anyone was neutral."

Ullrich noted, "I used to think that I couldn't live without cycling. Now I know that there are other things: my wife, my daughter and my real friends." At the moment, the former Tour de France winner is neither in the possession of a racing license nor a team, and is prosecuted in Germany for fraud.

Soccer implication raises pressure on Puerto case

Further to the information presented by French newspaper Le Monde on Friday, which would indicate a link between highest-level soccer clubs and Madrid doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, currently under investigation in the so-called Operación Puerto affair, French sports minister and WADA vice-president Jean-Francois Lamour has expressed his "need for knowledge" to sports newspaper L'Equipe on Saturday. Although the four soccer clubs Le Monde claimed to have identified to have ties to Fuentes, amongst them Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, have all officially denied the allegations and threatened to sue the paper unless a retraction was made, Lamour insisted that there was "something positive" in the current unfolding of the affair.

"It shows the Spanish justice that there is a great demand to know the truth," he said. "We need the investigation of this affair to be brought to its term as soon as possible. It is the reflection of a need for knowledge of several parties: cycling of course, sport in general and WADA. We expect the Spanish authorities to allow the different investigations to come to conclusions as soon as possible."

Lamour also thought that the informations gathered in cycling would be useful in the fight against doping in other sports, such as soccer. "From the informations we have regarding cycling, it appears that blood doping is now an evident part of doping procedures," he added. "Therefore, all the sports possibly concerned by this form of doping should target a part of their anti-doping controls on it. In June, FIFA [the world-governing body of soccer - ed.] has agreed in principle on the adoption and application of the World Anti-Doping Code. Now we wait for it to present its anti-doping programme to WADA, and we will insist that it includes blood controls."

This would help the disciplines level out their efforts in the matter, as cycling is generally pinpointed as the sport most infiltrated with doping. Many observers meanwhile believe that this is in part due to the fact that no other sport has as many controls for performance-enhancing substances or methods than cycling.

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

Scanlon training well prior to new season

By Shane Stokes

A contemplative Mark Scanlon at the 2004 Tour de France - now he's looking to start anew
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Following a quiet couple of seasons with the AG2R-Prévoyance team, former world junior champion Mark Scanlon is training hard before moving to race on the US circuit in 2007. The 26 year-old competed in the Tour de France in 2004 and has been racing professional on the continent for four years. However, having taken the decision to turn his back on European racing, it appears he has rediscovered his motivation and has been working hard.

"I have four weeks of training done now and have covered 2,400 miles [3862 kilometres], about 600 more than in the same period last year," he said this week. "It is just a matter of keeping that going until I get away again in January. I’m feeling motivated - the change of scene is one factor, and so too the fact that I know I can win races next year. That is a bit of a boost all right."

In October, Scanlon first revealed that he was planning on racing in the US. Now he explained why he reached that decision. "Firstly, I have been in Europe since I was 17 or 18 and it has come to the point now where I am not getting motivated for the big races the way I should be. At the same time too, you wonder if you should be making big sacrifices to finish 16th or 17th in a race, if guys are doping. It is not very motivating.

"I also feel I have been over-raced in Europe, basically. A change is as good as a break, that is the way I am looking at it," he added.

The 26 year-old Sligoman recently signed a contract with an American squad, but the identity of it is still to be confirmed. "The team doesn’t want me to give any details before the launch. But I think it will work out well. I am going to be based in Los Angeles and the racing programme will be lighter than Europe, meaning that I will be able to prepare much better. I did 120 days racing a year during my first two seasons as a pro; next year should be 60 to 70 days racing, so I will have lot more time to train and prepare properly."

Providing it fits in with his schedule, Scanlon would also like to explore the possibility of doing some track racing. He rode well in the recent trials organised by Cycling Ireland in Belgium, which the federation hopes will lead to some of its big road riders qualifying for velodrome events in the next Olympics.

"It was my first time on a wooden track so it was pretty interesting," Scanlon stated. "Having the right technique is important and it takes a while to learn that, but I would definitely like to do more of it. Especially if the funding was there. There is a track in Los Angeles so it will make it easier to do (in between road races)."

As the countdown continues to the start of the new season, Scanlon said he will keep working hard. "I am going over to the US next week for eight days training. Then I will keep it as quiet as possible [socially - ed.] over Christmas and keep training away. I will get as many miles in as I can, building form."

2007 Tour Méd ends in San Remo

The organisers of the Tour Méditerranéen, a UCI-rated 2.1 stage race, have announced the route of the 34th edition of the event next season. Racing around the Southern coastline of France will be under way from February 14-18, starting with a team time trial in Gruissan in the Aude region. From there, the event will take the peloton along the Mediterranean Sea to Agde, and continue eastwards passing through Marseille, Toulon and Hyères. Finally, the race will be completed in Italy's city of San Remo, also the finish of another more famous one-day race. This year, AG2R's Cyril Dessel won the Tour Méditerranéen, five months before he wore the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France.

The stage details of the 2007 Tour Méditerranéen are:

February 14: Stage 1 - Gruissan - Gruissan (TTT)
February 14: Stage 2 - Gruissan - Agde
February 15: Stage 3 - St Cannat - Marseille
February 16: Stage 4 - Greasque - Toulon
February 17: Stage 5 - La Crau - Hyères
February 18: Stage 6 - Dolceacqua - Sanremo

Team PZ Racing complete for 2007

The team roster of Team PZ Racing from Germany is complete for the 2007 season. PZ Racing will also continue after his first year as an Elite-2 Team. New team managers are Joost Koop and Tjarco Cuppens, both from the Netherlands. The squad will have 12 riders for the coming season. Next to Cuppens, who also continues as a rider, six cyclists prolonged their contract and the team contracted five new riders, Germans Daniel Meinke (former Wiesenhof), Julian Rammler (former Notebooks-Billiger) and Christian Gertz (German Champion Duathlon 2005), as well as Canadian rider Chris Lintaman and the young Dutchman Mark Solberg.

Team PZ Racing will participate in International as well as National (stage) races in Europe as also Asia. Moreover, the team will apply with the UCI as a Continental Team in 2008.

For the complete 2007 Team PZ Racing roster, click here.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)