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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 13, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

ProTour split resumes

The GT organisers want a reduction in teams by 2008
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

In what may been seen as a further attempt to distance themselves from the UCI ProTour, the three Grand Tour organisers have released a new selection criteria for their eleven principal races that are currently part of the ProTour calendar.

The joint statement from ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic, released Tuesday, begins: "All attempts at reconciliation with the Union Cycliste Internationale have ended due to the refusal of the latter to return to an open sporting model, and not wishing to see their events being part of a closed system called the 'UCI ProTour', RCS Sport, ASO and Unipublic, organisers of the three Grand Tours, had to define the conditions of participation, as from 2007, with their principal events."

The eleven races concerned are Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Flčche Wallonne, Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge, Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a Espańa, Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia.

Instead of the current system where all 20 ProTour teams qualify automatically, the Grand Tour organisers are proposing the following:

- From 2008, 16 teams will qualify automatically, based on criteria still under development, but mainly performances over the previous two seasons. The details of these criteria will be announced before March 1, 2007, after consultation with the teams and riders.
- For the 2007 season, the 18 teams currently holding ProTour licences will qualify automatically.
- It will not be compulsory for teams to compete in all eleven races, provided they inform the organiser before December 31 of the previous year.
- Each race organiser reserves the right to refuse participation to any rider or team staff member who may harm the image of the race.
- The organiser of each race will be able to invite wildcards. For each Grand Tour, they must be allocated at least three months prior to the start, while the total number of teams must not exceed 22 in 2007 and 20 from 2008 onwards.

It's possible the 'right to refuse participation' could see the Grand Tour organisers join the growing movement of events refusing to allow riders implicated in the Operación Puerto investigations to compete in their events.

Tinkoff wants to race Denmark

By Gregor Brown

Oleg Tinkov, Stefano Feltrin
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)
Tinkoff Credit Systems has expressed its concern over statements made by Jesper Worre, the Tour of Denmark race organiser, where the Dane said he wanted to exclude the team from his event. "It is not fair to exclude racers from a race when they are not condemned for any wrong doing," said Tinkoff Credit Systems' general manager, Stefano Feltrin to Cyclingnews. Worre, who is also the chairman of Denmark's cycling union, said that his race does not want Discovery Channel, with Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Team LPR and Tinkoff Credit Systems.

"And I am even more surprised for our exclusion in the Tour of Denmark. We have signed a rider who has served his time and is free to race," continued Feltrin in regards to the team's new signing, Tyler Hamilton. The American was found positive for blood transfusion in fall of 2004 but has served a two-year ban from cycling.

"We are getting grouped together with the other teams. One, is that we are not a ProTour team, and don't apply to the gentlemen's agreement that was made, and the second is that Tyler Hamilton is not involved in Operación Puerto at all."

Hamilton was allegedly connected to the Operación Puerto investigation last June when it was reported that documents were found detailing payments made to Eufemiano Fuentes.

"But there have been no statements or contact from the authorities by this," continued Feltrin to Cyclingnews. "There has never been anything said by the federations against him; just rumours."

The general manager pointed out that they do want to race in Denmark's race and that he would like to speak personally with Worre.

"We have signed people who can legally race, who have no legal reason why they can't race. We are surprised that someone does not want us, based on rumours and suspicions. ... We are being penalized for what has happened in the past, and what a rider has already served time for.

"We would like to talk further with Worre." Did Tinkoff even have prior intentions in competing in the Tour of Denmark? "Of course, we are interested in all major tours; it was our intention to participate. We would still like to race in the Tour of Denmark."

First witnesses testify in Operación Puerto

By Monika Prell

Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

Jesús Hernández Blázquez and Alberto Contador Velasco have become the first to testify in the Operación Puerto investigation after they appeared before judge Antonio Serrano on Monday. The pair were the first to take to the stand as they both live in Madrid.

The cyclists were asked three questions each. Firstly, they were asked if they know the people involved in the case, then if any of those people had ever obliged them to take any pharmaceuticals and finally, if they suffered any damage to their health caused by those medications.

Both denied ever having noticed any type of doping in the Team Liberty. Jesús Hernández (Relax-Gam), who rode for Liberty in 2004 and 2005, stated that he does not even know Eufemiano Fuentes personally.

But according to journalist Sergi López Egea, Hernández mentioned in his statement that Manolo Sáiz was the one who had total control of the team, including medication. The 25 year-old mentioned patches that the riders applied on their skin, but he did not mention the type of substance used. The case's investigators believe it could be testosterone.

The two cyclists were the first of the many witnesses. It's believed Serrano intends to have more than 50 professional riders testify, including Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso. In fact, the involved cyclists are not liable under Spanish law, but could be subject to prosecution for lying under oath if they are found to have testified about something other than the truth concerning their relations to Fuentes.

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

Villumsen makes history at awards

The cyclists honoured at this year's awards
Photo ©: Kenneth Mřller Kristensen
Click for larger image

Linda Villumsen has become the first women to ever take Denmark's rider of the year award, at the nation's cycling awards held in Copenhagen. Villumsen, who was absence from the awards ceremony, took out this year's La Route de France Féminine and is the reigning U23 European Time Trial Champion.

The 21-year-old rider took the title head of Michael Rasmussen and Brian Vandborg. Junior riders Mie Bekker Lacota and Niki Řstergaard were also among the nominees.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Kenneth Mřller Kristensen/

BMC launch 2007 program

Andy Rihs and his new squad
Photo ©: Russ & Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

The newly formed BMC Professional Cycling Team has commenced preparations for the 2007 season with its first team meeting, held at the Endurance Performance Training Centre in California. Also in attendance at the US-based continental team's first meeting were Andy Rihs of BMC Bicycles and team advisor Jim Ochowicz

"We felt it was important to bring the entire organization together early to begin the important process of molding a group of individuals into a team," said team director Gavin Chilcott. "This camp was our first success as a Team".

BMC's riders completed a medical testing session with team doctors Massimo Testa and Eric Heiden in addition to endurance testing with physiologists on hand at the centre.

The outfit's lineup includes: Alexandre Moos, David Vitoria, Scott Moninger, Mike Sayers, Jackson Stewart, Dan Schmatz, Scott Nydam, Jonathon Garcia, Ian McKissick, Ken Hanson, David Galvin, Jake Rosenbarger, Chad Hartley and Nathan Miller.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Russ & Nancy Wright/

Malaysia returns to continental ranks

By Greg Johnson

Malaysia will return to the world of continental pro-cycling next year following the unveiling of new outfit BalpaCC Cycling Team. The outfit, headed by team manager Wadisham Wahab, will be the first Malaysian team to compete at that level since the closure of the Proton Cycling Team at the end of 2005.

BCT has announced a nine-rider lineup in addition to former pro-rider Mohamad Fauzi Shafihi and Nur Nadea who will act as the team's sport directors in 2007. The outfit is currently holding discussions with two potential title sponsors and is also considering adding a further two riders to its lineup.

The team's confirmed riders are Mohd Suhaidi Awang, Rusazril Abd Hamid, Mohamad Fauzi, Fairuz Zakaria, Wadisham Wahab, Abd Raif Abd Rahim, Nur Amira, Nurain Malek and Feisal Hilmi.

Discovery gets First Endurance

First endurance has announced its brand Optygen has struck a deal to become the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team's official supplement provider for the next two seasons. "We're very pleased that the Discovery team has chosen to partner with First Endurance for the next two years," says Mike Fogarty, VP of Sales & Marketing at First Endurance. "This partnership will help First Endurance gain mainstream brand awareness in North America and continue to expand in Europe."

Optygen has been in development since 2002 and is patent-pending for its ability to increase VO2Max.

US Cyclo-cross champs start this weekend

The Elite Men at last year's event
Photo ©: Ed Collier
Click for larger image

The 2006 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships will kick off this weekend with a record-breaking 1,940 entrants. Held for the second year at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island, riders will fight for 28 national titles.

As a testament to the ever-increasing popularity of the sport in the U.S. The entry numbers represent a 14-percent increase over the 2005 edition US Cyclo-cross Championships and a 41-percent growth compared to 2004.

Racing starts Friday with 14 master national championships. Saturday will include junior racing, the U23 and collegiate women's events, the U23 men's contest and the elite men's race. Competition will close Sunday with the collegiate men's and elite women's races. Two non-national championship categories - the class-B events and the Pro-Elite Cup - will also be contested Sunday.

Defending elite and two-time Cyclo-cross National Champion Todd Wells (GT/Hyundai) will face US National MTB Cross-Country Champion Ryan Trebon (Kona). Trebon recently dominated the US field by winning the 2006 U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross series (USGP). USGP overall runner-up Tim Johnson (Cannondale/ will also present Wells with some tough competition, as will perennial 'cross powerhouses Adam Craig (Bend, Ore./Giant) Mark McCormack (Northeaston, Mass./Clif Bar), Barry Wicks (Corvallis, Ore./Kona), and three-time National Champion Jonathan Page (Cervelo). Page is normally the dominator in US Cyclo-cross National Championships races but the rider from the Northeast who focuses on European competition has been sidelined with a shoulder injury and his form is unseen. So even though Wells is the defending champ, a top-ten finish for Trebon at last weekend's Superprestige in Belgium suggests he will be marked as the man to beat.

Two-time winner and defending elite women's National Champion Katie Compton (Spike/Primus Mootry) will face an 81-rider field. To take the win for a third year in a row, she'll need to be stronger than other primary contenders like Anne Knapp (Seattle, Wash./Kona), Dorothy Wong (Altadena, Calif./Figueroa Farms-Redline-MS Society) and Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho/Luna), who is the reigning Mountain Bike National Champion and second-place finisher in this year's USGP Series.

Event Schedule

Friday, December 15
7:30: Open Course
8:30: Master Women (40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55+)
9:30: Master Men (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65+)
10:30: Master Women (30-34, 35-39)
11:30: Master Men (45-49)
12:30: Open Course, Awards
13:00: Master Men (40-44)
14:00: Master Men (35-39)
15:00: Master Men (30-34)
16:00: Closed Course, Awards

Saturday, December 16
7:30: Open Course
8:30: Junior Women (Under 12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18)
9:30: Junior Men (10-12, 13-14, 15-16)
10:30: Women (U23, Collegiate)
11:30: Junior Men (17-18)
12:30: Open Course, Awards
13:00: Men (U23)
14:00: Elite Men
15:00: Closed Course, Awards

Sunday, December 17
7:30: Open Course
8:30: Women Category B
9:30: Men U35 Category B Race
10:30: Men 35+ Category B Race
11:30: Men (Collegiate)
13:00: The Giant Strawberry Cup
14:00: Elite Women
15:00: Closed Course, Awards

Clarke confirmed for Tassie Carnivals

Tasmanian Nathan Clarke, a winner of the Australian team pursuit title in both 2005 and 2006, will spearhead the local challenge at the National Grid Christmas Carnival Series. As one of the few riders continuing to compete at elite level and still work full time, Clarke will concentrate on the scratch races while also hoping to reach the finals of some of the major wheel races. "It might be a bit tough this year with only six or so guys off scratch but you can never tell what is going to happen so I'll be giving it my best shot to get into the finals of the wheel races," he said

Grant Atkins, President of the Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania, believes that Clarke should be commended for his unique work ethic. "There are not many cyclists that can compete at an elite level and work full time," he said. "Nathan is a fantastic role model for younger riders. He is extremely well respected by all and every time he gets on the bike you know he puts 110% into it, it's great we have this sort of talent at a local level".

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