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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for December 14, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan & Sue George

Astana certain of riding the Grand Tours

Team Astana
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alexander Vinokourov and his Astana Team are certain of being invited to the three Grand Tours next year whether they have a ProTour license or not. As reported in, Jean-Francois Pescheux, head of the Tour de France organizer ASO, has told Astana team manager Mario Kummer that the team will be included.

However, Walter Godefroot said that he has not given up hopes of receiving that license. "There was indeed that negative recommendation of the license commission, but at that time our filing was not complete. Now it is. It would be logical that Astana receives ProTour status. We fulfill all the conditions." An announcement concerning the last ProTour licenses is expected momentarily.

Responding to UCI Chairman Pat McQuaid's remarks that Astana had no chance for the license, Godefroot said, "McQuaid has only been in charge for one year. Maybe he still needs to learn his job."

Tour de Suisse announces route

2006 Tour de Suisse winner Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de Suisse will be a race for the climbers in 2007, with four mountaintop finishes and only one sprint stage. The race will cover 1255.6 km in nine stages from June 16 to June 24, the organizers announced Thursday. The course also includes finishes in the neighboring countries of Austria and Liechtenstein.

The race opens with a 3.8 km prologue time trial as the first stage in Olten. The second stage, ending in Lucerne, is the only stage foreseen as a sprint finish. The first mountaintop finish comes in the third stage in Nauders, Austria, with further mountaintop finishes in Malbun, Crans-Montana and the Grimsel Pass. The latter will be the finish of the Queen stage as it also includes climbs over the Pässe Furka and Susten. The race concludes with a 34.2 km time trial in Bern.

The race Tour de Suisse will be open to ProTour teams, but the Austrian Professional Team Volksbank will receive a wildcard invitation.

Tour de Suisse 2007
Saturday, June 16: Stage 1, Prologue time trial, Olten (3.8 km)
Sunday, June 17: Stage 2, Olten - Luzern (158.6 km)
Monday, June 18: Stage 3, Brunnen - Nauders, Austria ( 228.7 km)
Tuesday, June 19: Stage 4, Nauders - Malbun, Liechtenstein (167.2 km)
Wednesday, June 20: Stage 5, Vaduz - Giubiasco (194.1 km)
Thursday, June 21: Stage 6, Giubiasco - Crans-Montana (190.5 km)
Friday, June 22: Stage 7, Ulrichen - Grimselpass (125.7 km)
Saturday, June 23: Stage 8, Innertkirchen - Schwarzsee (152.5 km)
Sunday, June 24, Stage 9: Individual time trial, Bern (34.2 km)

Austrian U23 riders banned for two years

Two Austrian U23 riders have been suspended for two years in doping cases relating to the World Championships in Salzburg in September. The Austrian federation announced the sentences against Christian Ebner and Marco Oreggia on Thursday. The suspensions were backdated to start of the race on September 14, 2006. On that date, there was an unannounced doping control at the U23 riders' training camp in Bad Tatzmannsdorf.

Ebner disappeared after the doping controller appeared and is considered to have purposely skipped the doping control. Oreggia tested positive for EPO. Both riders have already indicated that they intend to challenge the ruling, according to Gernot Schaar, head of the Austrian anti-coping committee.

Aussie cycling stars head to Cronulla

By Anthony Tan

Robbie McEwen nails another corner
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image) Robbie McEwen nails another corner

Recently crowned national criterium champion Robbie McEwen will head a formidable line-up of Australian cycling talent at this Sunday's Cronulla International Grand Prix. With the Sutherland Shire Council and the Department of Health as primary sponsors, the local community is no doubt determined to shed the images that were the scene of the Cronulla riots one year ago.

The international elite men's event, named the Horsell International Grand Prix, is one of six races to be held at one of Australia's most famous beaches, situated in the heart of Sydney's Sutherland Shire. Races for elite women, juniors and masters will also take place on the same day.

Apart from McEwen, a three-time winner of the maillot vert (green jersey) at the Tour de France, Graeme Brown, Ben Kersten, Steve Wooldridge, Chris McCormack, Matt White, Mark Renshaw, Nick Gates, Jeff Hopkins and Ben Brooks will all be taking to the start line in the elite men's race.

Conducted on a 1.3 kilometre hot-dog style circuit, with the start/finish opposite the Elouera Surf Life Saving Club, riders initially face north before a tight U-turn sees them follow an anti-clockwise route down Mitchell Road. The generous southern end loop outside the Wanda Surf Club will be a high-speed U-turn, as the peloton exit Murdock Street and travel back up Mitchell Road to complete the first of 30 laps, for a total distance of 40 kilometres.

The elite women's event, held over 24 kilometres of the same circuit, will be feature Commonwealth Games road champion Natalie Bates, Rochelle Gilmore, rising track star Kaarle McCulloch, and former junior world champion Skye-Lee Armstrong.

Opening the racing at 9.45am will be the junior under 15 race, with the final event the Horsell International Grand Prix, starting at 11.30am. A minimum of $10,000 prize money has been secured by event organisers Phil Bates Sports Promotions.

Flexpoint welcomes new base and new riders

Riders, helpers and management of top Dutch-based team Buitenpoort-Flexpoint gathered in Haaren last weekend, which will be their new base in 2007.

The social gathering welcomed new riders Loes Markerink, Iris Slappendel, Mie Lacota and Trine Schmidt, with the entire team present except for Amber Neben, Susanne Ljungskog and Luise Keller. During a visit to neighbouring Huybergen on Saturday, where the European cyclo-cross championships were being held, the team took the opportunity to watch their riders Loes Gunnewijk and Britt Jochems compete.

On Sunday, a training ride of three hours was on the cards, before relaxing the rest of the day. The team's first official training camp will be held next year on the Spanish island of Mallorca, from February 3-10.

Gold Badge of honour for Cookson

President Brian Cookson has been awarded British Cycling's prestigious Gold Badge of Honour. The presentation was made at the 2006 British Cycling National Council meeting.

Cookson has been a reassuring presence for staff and members alike, who have warmed to his no-nonsense style and diplomatic skills. He has been a figurehead during a decade of hard work and progress for British Cycling. He is known for his success as a steadying influence.

Back in 1996, Cookson must have wondered what he'd let himself in for when he became a part of the "Emergency Committee" set up to sort out the organisation as it spiraled towards insolvency.

Never afraid to embrace progress, Cookson's leadership of the Executive Board has been characterised by the way he has allowed British Cycling's professional staff the room to operate whilst offering genuine support and, when needed, wise words of advice. His commitment to the cause has been infectious and an inspiration to the many volunteers who underpin the sport in this country. The presidency is an unpaid position for which Cookson volunteers. .

Brian also participates as a cyclist in the sport. He still races on the road in his native Lancashire and has ridden some of the hardest sporting events around the world, including this year's sweltering Etape du Tour. He continues to make his mark as a race organiser - in recent years he has been the driving force behind the Tour of Pendle Road Race.

The Gold Badge of Honour is a special and deserved award for a person who has genuinely made his mark on British Cycling in the last 10 years.

Alliance Environmental announces 2007 team

James Carney (Fuji)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

After a successful 2006 season with Alliance Environmental, two-time Olympian Jame Carney has agreed to return for the 2007 season. The team is reloading with some new riders and several returning powerhouses and looks forward to a good season.

"We are really excited about the team this year," said Bill Short, a member of the team since 2002. "We all have a ton of confidence in Jame and it paid off this past season. He has really helped bring this team together."

While Carney is racing the Tasmanian Carnival's, the rest of the team will be competing in the Tour of Belize February 10-18 in preparation for the rest of the season.

New signings for the team include former pro John DeLong (Rite Aid Pro Cycling Team), Boyd Johnson (Manulife Financial), Chris Ruhl (Sakkonet), and Chris Ernst (Hearn's Cycling & Fitness). The team has also added four U23 riders: Jeff Salvitti, Dave Brown, Evan Daney, and Tim Gresh, and one female up and coming rider, Dana Cumo.

The team will be ride the Bianchi 928 Carbon SL bikes with Shimano Dura-Ace and will wear clothing from Hincapie Sportswear.

Click here for the full roster

Symmetrics announces 2007 men's roster

With the start of the season around the corner, the Symmetrics Cycling Professional team is pleased to announce its 2007 men's roster.

The S-Team had an extremely successful 2006, including 76 wins, over 350 trips to the podium, and five National Championship wins. That said, the team owners, Kevin and Mark Cunningham, are modifying the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it - just make it better." Two heavy-hitters in Canadian cycling will join the team.

A few weeks ago, track star Zach Bell announced his signing for road and track events and Geoff Kabush, current national mountain bike champion, announced he will ride select road events in addition to those already on his mountain bike calendar.

Bradley Fairall will depart the team to try his legs in Europe.

Click here for the full roster

Champion field for NSW keirin champ's

With a host of Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions, rarely has such a line-up contested both the men's and women's New South Wales' keirin championships, to be held this Saturday night, December 16, at the Dunc Gray Velodrome.

It will make the NSW keirin championship one of the most exciting in years, with Olympic champion Ryan Bayley, Commonwealth Games silver medalist Travis Smith and Commonwealth Games finalist Ben Kersten fighting it out for the title of NSW champion.

The women's keirin final will be just as fierce, with Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Anna Meares fighting for the NSW title against sister Kerrie Meares, junior world's medallist Kaarle McCulloch, Kate Bates and Rochelle Gilmore.

Canadian Commonwealth Games representatives and medallist Travis Smith and Cam McKinnon will also be there, with all riders down to compete in the prestigious Bankstown Sports Wheelrace. Anna Meares and Bayley both said they love coming to Sydney and competing in the Bankstown Wheelrace which they have supported for many years, and they look forward to a great night's racing in Sydney.

For Meares and Bayley, this will be their last chance to have some strong racing in Sydney prior to the Australian championships in February 2007, to be held at the same venue.

Gates open at 5.30 pm with racing starting at 6.30 pm.

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