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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for December 12, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson, Ben Abrahams & Anthony Tan

Holczer calls on race organisers to back Discovery exclusion

Team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf

Gerolsteiner team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer, has given his reaction to last Friday's decision by the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) to exclude Discovery Channel from the group over its controversial signing of Ivan Basso. Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews, Holczer said: "This is a clear signal that the most important representatives of cycling are absolutely serious about the fight to make our sport believable."

Since the IPCT has no official relationship with the ProTour, the exclusion does not affect Discovery Channel's participation in races but Holczer believes that race organisers must now make a stand against the American team. "Now the race organisers are on the spot. One important organiser, the representatives of the Deutschland Tour, have already taken a public position in support of the sport," he said, referring to comments by Deutschland Tour organiser Kai Rapp that Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso must be prevented from participating in the 2007 race "no matter how much it hurts."

Rapp has previously stated that he has the backing of Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, although no statement has yet been made regarding participation in the 2007 Tour by riders implicated in Operación Puerto.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Three days left for Sutherland

Suspension ends for ousted Rabobanker, with new team deal

By Anthony Tan

Rory Sutherland will be riding for American Professional Continental team Health Net/ Maxxis in 2007
Photo ©: DCP/Bert Geerts
Click for larger image

Serving out the final three days of his 15-month suspension for a drug he claimed no knowledge of taking, and armed with a new contract for the 2007 season, Rory Sutherland has reason to be hopeful.

"At the moment, I've got structure - which is a pretty difficult thing to get when you've got no racing," said Sutherland from his home in Canberra, in an exclusive telephone interview with Cyclingnews on November 23. "When you've got no structure, it's quite difficult for you to look forward to things. Now, there's things coming up in the immediate future, where, if I don't do things now, I'm going to suffer at the start of next year."

It was the 2005 edition of the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany) that revealed Sutherland had tested positive to a substance known as Clomiphene. Almost unheard of and not considered to be a performance enhancer according to some medical experts, Clomiphene is nevertheless on WADA's banned list due to its ability to inhibit estrogen, thereby increasing the body's testosterone production.

An important factor in the Australian's defence was the concentration - 5-10 nanograms, or 5-10 billionths of a gram - and it was this argument that was put forward to the disciplinary committee of the Belgian Cycling Federation, with whom he holds his racing licence. An independent investigation committee also found no evidence to suggest the rider "directly or indirectly expressed interest in or in using substances classified as doping agents" and that Sutherland "took the substance unknowingly".

Yet despite this, he received a two-year suspension with a nine-month conditional sentence - effectively 15 months out of the sport he'd spent barely a year as a professional. The 23 year-old said he chose not to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the highest authority in the sporting world, based on previous unsuccessful appeals from riders such as Danilo Hondo - who was in fact awarded a further two year suspension upon appeal to CAS - and a lack of additional evidence to support his claim.

"It's all just speculation again. If you don't have anything concrete, if you're not contracted during that time you're suspended, any the costs have to come out of your own pocket," he said. "It might have been a little bit different if I'd been a pro for 5 or 10 years like a lot of other riders, but there just seems to be this continual fight, this continual search for something...

"Y'know, these things do cost a lot of money and a lot of stress and a lot of time. In my situation, I guess it was just easier to bite the bullet, accept what happened, and move towards thinking about next year. I don't think anything would change the suspension, anyway."

These may seem like level-headed, well chosen words, but behind these words, said Sutherland, there's a lot of frustration - though not directed at anyone in particular - tinged with anger. "The process of being suspended is a very scary thing, and it's quite possibly a career-stopping and life changing thing.

"It doesn't seem very humane what happened: if these things were in a court of law, I would be in a lot better position than I'm in now, but [cycling] is all a law within itself."

Before the Operacion Puerto doping scandal ignited scandalous headlines prior to the commencement of this year's Tour de France, Sutherland had hope of re-entering the ProTour. He'd kept up talks with his former Rabobank team, a team where he spent three years as an amateur before turning professional with them in 2005.

"I talked to people all year, I had something in mind about next year for the entire time because you have to keep thinking about it," he said. "The Tour especially didn't help and especially the feeling within cycling at the moment, it's not a fantastic one for people who are 'tainted good', so to speak."

In the end, partly through choice and in no small part due to circumstance, Sutherland won't be returning to the ProTour next year. The "structure" he refers to earlier and the motivation to train is a consequence of his recent one-year deal with American Professional Continental team Health Net presented by Maxxis, where he'll be joining fellow Australians Karl Menzies and Nathan O'Neill in 2007.

The full interview with Rory Sutherland will be published soon on Cyclingnews.

Manzano offers more testimony

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jesús Manzano
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After the information published in Le Monde last Friday, former Kelme rider Jesús Manzano has alleged on France 3 that one of the sportsmen he had seen while being treated by Eufeniano Fuentes belonged to Real Madrid. "Fuentes worked as an adviser to the club's official doctors," said Manzano. "The judge in charge of the Operación Puerto case has not called to me to testify, but if he does, I will explain everything I know, that there were soccer players among the clients of Fuentes".

However, Manzano believes it is unlikely that any charges will be brought as a result of the article. "In Spain, it is not possible to say anything about the Gods [football clubs]," he said.

Manzano famously blew the whistle on organised doping practices within the Kelme team after they refused to renew his contract for the 2004 season. All the allegations were subsequently dismissed in a Spanish court due to lack of evidence but are now beginning to resurface in light of the Operación Puerto investigation.

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

Cunego extends with Lampre-Fondital through 2009

By Gregor Brown

Damiano Cunego
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Damiano Cunego has confirmed earlier speculation of continuing with his current team Lampre-Fondital by signing a two-year extension. The 25 year-old from Verona agreed to extend his contract with Giuseppe Saronni's team to the end of 2009. After winning the Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia in 2004, Il Piccolo Principe confirmed his status by winning the Maillot Blanc for best young rider in this year's Tour de France. The result, along with a solid season, brought offers from a variety of teams;, T-Mobile, Quick-Step, Milram and Liquigas were all rumoured to be interested.

"I did not have any doubts in what to do," explained Cunego. "I voluntarily selected to prolong my contract with Lampre-Fondital, in view of the team's trust in me and its serious atmosphere. The enthusiasm from the Galbusera family, from the Niboli family and from all of the other sponsors made me very happy; I hope to give them important satisfactions."

At the end of this season Lampre-Fondital and frame supplier Wilier showed their intent in developing the young star by flying him to Texas for a wind tunnel session. Cunego worked on developing his form on the time trial bike to ensure a second win in the Giro and have a go at the Tour title in 2008. While in Texas, he had a chance to try the local food; Cunego said light-heatedly to Cyclingnews: "I made sure to try the Mexican food but no, I did not have the beer [Shiner Bock]."

Cunego will join the Italian team after the holidays for their first camp of 2007. From January 12 to 19, about 10 riders will meet in Terracina (near Roma) for training.

Hushovd to resume racing in California

By Jean-François Quénet

Mighty Thor Hushovd
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After a beautiful 2006 season that has seen him winning Ghent-Wevelgem, the prologue and last stage of the Tour de France among others, Thor Hushovd has set his mind on new perspective. He's now training in South of France. A meeting with his Crédit Agricole team in Paris is also scheduled for this week to determine his calendar for 2007 but it's already certain that the Norwegian will resume racing with the Tour of California from February 18 to 25.

"Last year I started with the Tour Down Under and I enjoyed Australia a lot, he said. But I just wanted a change. As a professional cyclist, I want to see all the places where cycling gets popular. Maybe in 2008, I'll start with Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. I'd like to experience all of these new venues for bike races."

America means something special for Thor since he got engaged to his long time girlfriend Suzanne when they flew to Las Vegas for visiting the Interbike in late September last year. The couple also traveled to Hollywood, so it will not be Hushovd's first trip to California. Afterwards, he'll follow his usual program until Paris-Roubaix, which will be again the peak of his classics campaign. It includes Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem. "I'd like to win every major classic at least once in my career", the 28 years old stated. "Paris-Roubaix is my favorite one."

After celebrating Christmas in Norway, he'll head back to South of France near Hyères for a training camp before flying to California.

Basso back on the bike

Basso looks grand
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Looking trim and taut, draped from head to toe in his Discovery Channel clothing and team bike, Ivan Basso was recently caught out training by Cyclingnews photographer Roberto Bettini.

Basso has also been in Austin, Texas, earlier this month for meetings with Discovery team manager Johan Bruyneel and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, a part-owner of the team.

Armstrong tried to court the 29 year-old Basso as early as 2002 and again in 2004 when he was still a member of Team CSC, but back then, his allegiance towards Danish team boss Bjarne Riis was rock solid. The events surrounding Operacion Puerto have changed all that, and as the Italian's relationship with Riis soured, the rumoured discussions between himself and Discovery Channel became more pronounced.

Basso looks ahead to 2007
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

It appears, however, that Basso's re-entry to the ProTour is not without its critics. As of last Friday, the association of International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) voted to exclude Discovery Channel and Active Bay, the company of former Liberty Seguros team owner/manager Manolo Saiz. A representative at the meeting said, "Discovery Channel didn't respect the rules" - referring to a voluntary agreement between ProTour team managers that riders named in the Puerto doping scandal would not be given a contract.

"This is a team that is used to winning, and after seven years they have a new prospective number one," said a confident Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Added Bruyneel: "We are ready to be back into the game... The arrival of Basso has created a rise in the team's motivation. It had felt the lack of a leader for the Tour."

In 2007, ongoing doping scandals notwithstanding, Basso will be attempting to achieve what he originally set out to do this year: victory in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

As for Basso, he just wants to ride his bike. Perhaps it's no surprise to see him using an SRM Powermeter and his position on the bike largely unchanged, but from a distance, the saddle height looks a little lower than usual.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Asian Games track records tumble

Jang Sun Jae gestures after winning gold
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

South Korea and China have stamped their mark on the track component of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, by setting four games records, with three days of competition remaining.

South Korea's Jang Sun Jae set a blistering pace in the men's 4km individual pursuit qualifying to break the Asian Games record with a time of 4.30.355, a whopping five seconds quicker than the previous record set by Vadim Kvavtchenko of Kazakhstan. "I am very happy and satisfied with a Korean and Asian Games record, but it is not finished. Tomorrow is the actual start for me," Jang told Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Sun Jae's teammate, Lee Min Hye, was a dominate force in the women's 3km indifidual pursuit, not only taking the victory but breaking her own games record, set during qualifying, in the process. Min Hye shaved a further seven hundredths off her record, setting a new benchmark of 3.44.146.

China's Guo Shuang claimed victory in the women's 500m time trial with a time of 35.175 seconds, toppling the former record of 35.305 set by fellow Chinese rider Jiang Yonghua in the 2002 Busan Asiad Games. "I did not think much about the record, because I knew what I needed to do at that moment was to concentrate on the track," said Guo.

Guo's teammate Feng Yong won the men's 1km time trial with a time of 1.04.607, eight-tenths quicker than the previous best set by Lin Chih Hsan of Chinese Taipei in the last games. "Before the race, I did think I could win because both the Japanese and Korean cyclists are very strong," said Feng. "But I controlled the speed well, and made a good sprint in the last 500m."

The 15th Asian Games continue today with the men's 4km team pursuit final.

Riders tackle 24-hour for Crake

Paul Crake (Uni SA) at this year's TDU
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

New Zealand Commonwealth Games representative Matt Randall and Alan Dunn will tackle a 24-hour endurance event at the ILT Velodrome this Friday night in a bid to raise $5,000 for Paul Crake, reports The Southland Times.

Mark Inglis, who lost both legs after being trapped in an ice cave while climbing Mt Cook in 1982, has pledged $500 to the pair's efforts after hearing of the fundraiser while shooting a documentary in Queenstown for Discovery Channel. Inglis' sports food company, Peak Fuel, will also supply the pair with its products for the event.

Crake, a former stair climbing champion, was seriously injured in November's Tour of Southland when he was blown from his bike in gusty conditions. The 29-year-old was paralysed after suffering a fracture to the T5 thoracic vertebrae and dislocations through to T7.

"I'm trying to work through what's happened," Crake said recently. "I'm trying to keep my mindset positive and most of the time I have an optimistic outlook because my intention is to get out of the wheelchair."

Meanwhile, doctors recently confirmed that it will be some time before it's known whether Crake will walk again. "The doctors can't specifially say yes or no and there have been people in a lot worse condition than me who have recovered fully and that provides inspiration for me," added a determined Crake.

Giant joins Canadian Six Day

Canada's Six Days of Burnaby has announced Giant Bicycle Canada has come on board as the event's title sponsor for 2007. The 2007 Giant Bicycle Six Days of Burnaby will be held from the second to seventh of January at the Burnaby Velodrome.

"We're proud and excited to be the title sponsor of The Giant Bicycle Six Days of Burnaby," said Giant's Wayne Bleakley. "You can watch top professional racers at full speed night after night within arms length. The whole atmosphere of a Six Day race is like a huge party in the centre of a world class bike race."

The event will feature a beer garden, catered food and DJ.

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