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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 15, 2006

Edited by Laura Weislo & Ben Abrahams

World Champion Bettini searches for more

Flanders and Roubaix for Il Grillo

An emotional win at the Giro di Lombardia
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Paolo Bettini is starting his 2007 season close to home, on the roads of southern Italy, near Livorno. His team, Quick-Step has come together for one week to train and use their new bikes from Specialized. Gregor Brown reports from their training camp in Marina di Bibbona.

Mike Sinyard, president of Specialized bicycles, introduced Bettini to the gathered press, "It is a honour to be working with them, and Mister Bettini, who has a great history in racing. It is very exciting to work with the best team in the world."

Sinyard was referring to the current world champion, who just returned from vacation after a fall that included winning the Worlds, Giro di Lombardia and competing two six day races. Bettini, along with Tom Boonen, form the core of the Belgium-based team that looks stronger than ever.

"The six day races were truly a beautiful experience," noted Bettini of his debut on the track this fall. "They are no joke, they are really tough races to do. I would like to try them again in the future. It is something you have to specialise in. Over the next two years there is still a lot I want to accomplish [on the road], so there is not much time to do specific work on the track. Two years is not enough to learn all there is to learn in this field."

Bettini had come to the track after accomplishing one of his career goals; winning the world championship. It had set a relaxed tone for his winter and starting the new 2007 season. "It was strange how the last worlds ended," he reflected. "I never had thought it would end in that way but this is cycling. Even McEwen was there in the end. Of course I have to give a lot to thanks to the Spaniards."

The worlds underlined Bettini's one-day strength and in 2007 he wants to add to his palmarès by winning the Tour of Flanders. "I would prefer Flanders above a third Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I am satisfied, above all, for the worlds, and before that it was the Olympics. Both of those races were huge satisfactions. There are still more races but I am happy with what I have achieved.

"If I am able to race Roubaix [after Flanders - ed.], with the [worlds] jersey that I have, even without the goal of winning, then I would like to try. Just to get the experience and help the team."

Click here to read the full interview

South Korea adds more medals

South Korea's Jang Sun Jae gets a kiss
©: AFP
Click for larger image
Jang Sun Jae has helped South Korea into the record books with a win in the Madison with Park Sung Baek. Jang celebrated his 22nd birthday by winning his third gold medal of the 2006 Asian Games. Jang also won the individual and team pursuit earlier this week. He is the third cyclist in Asian Games history to win three gold medals in the same year.

Jang's teammate Kang Dong Jin further added to the South Korean medal tally by winning the Keirin. Kang, at only 19 years of age, also took bronze in both the 1km time trial and the team sprint.

Things didn't go quite as well for the South Korean women in the points race, as Lee Min Hye, one of the favourites and winner of the women's individual pursuit, lost out to Li Yan of China.

Tammy Thomas indicted in steroids case

Former American track cyclist Tammy Thomas might have thought her troubles were behind her after she was handed a lifetime ban from the sport for two positive dope tests, but on Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Thomas for testifying in court that she never used performance-enhancing drugs, and ordered her to appear in court on January 5th.

The Associated Press reports that Thomas, who tested positive for testosterone at the 2000 US Olympic trials, and in 2001 tested positive for a previously unseen steroid Norbolethone, was indicted on three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Thomas is accused of lying when she stated that she had not used performance-enhancing drugs, and also for testifying that she never received them from Patrick Arnold, a chemist who pled guilty in the BALCO case. Arnold, who was convicted of producing 'the clear' - an illegal steroid which was the source of the BALCO scandal, is currently serving a three-month sentence in federal prison.

Young guns part three: Gerald Ciolek

Gerald Ciolek
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

He was unable to successfully defend his German national road championship in 2006, but this rider made up for that by winning a stage in the Tour of Germany, placing second in the Henninger Turm race and fifth in the Hamburg Cyclassics - not to forget winning the U23 world road title. Not bad at all for a young man who only turned 20 years-old in September and rode for a Professional Continental Team. What will Gerald Ciolek be capable of doing when he starts in the ProTour in 2007 with T-Mobile Team? Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer caught up with the fast-moving youngster as he sprinted through the pre-Christmas rush.

Some young riders might suddenly grow extra-large egos after such a year and go into a new team and season with all sorts of demands and predictions of unlikely achievements. Not this quiet-spoken youngster from Cologne, Germany, who still has his feet on the ground and knows that the coming season may not be a repeat of 2006. "I hope it keeps on that way. Of course I hope for a continuous improvement, but I am well aware that things could go downhill, too."

Nor does Ciolek necessarily expect to be the number one rider on the team next year. "We have a lot of good sprinters and so we'll have a big potential for wins. Since you don't know what the form will be, you can't see who will be number one. Everyone will get his chance, then we'll see."

And he's even respectful of his elders. When asked how it feels to ride against such famous names as Petacchi, Zabel and Boonen, he responded: "I have a great respect for them. As a young rider, you should feel that for the older riders." But there are limits to this young man's modesty. "You can't let that hold you back in sprinting, but you have to hang in there and look for your chance, no matter who you're riding against."

Click here to read the full feature.

Igor Antón wants more

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The promising young Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, Igor Antón, winner of stage 16 of this year's Vuelta, had a phenomental race this year, but thinks that topping his performance in next year's Vuelta will be a challenge. Antón told Europe Press, "I will demand a little bit more of myself for the 2007 Vuelta [but] it will be a difficult task to repeat victory.”

Antón, who won the stage in spite of being in his first season as a professional rider, likes the 2007 Vuelta route, because the Lagos de Covadonga will be included in the fourth stage. “It seems phenomenal to me, because the fans wish to see a spectacle from the beginning". The Basque rider said in addition, "the route will be very selective, and we will arrive at the last week without a clear winner."

Antón said that, although Mayo has left Euskaltel-Euskadi, "it will not give me greater freedom" because there are riders still on the team such as Samuel Sanchez, Haimar Zubeldia or Mikel Astarloza, who will take Mayo's place as protected rider.

Zabriskie to attempt hour record

David Zabriskie (CSC)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Dave Zabriskie wants to set the American hour record 'Eddy Merckx-style' - without any aerodynamic equipment. The idea came to him not as an attempt to capture glory, as there is no official existing US record for this event, but as a way to raise awareness and money for a cause.

"A couple of months back some fire fighters perished in a forest fire in the Los Angeles area. This time record is part of a big event to raise money for their families," said the Team CSC rider. "It's not so much a cycling event, but more an event to raise some money, and the audience has been informed of the fact that I've just flown in from South Africa the day before, so regardless of my efforts they will be cheering, I hope," said Zabriskie.

The attempt will take place on December 17th.

Fast Freddie announces scholarship winners

Fred Rodriguez and Tom Danielson were on hand at the recent benefit dinner for the Northern California high school mountain bike league series dinner in Mill Valley, California to award scholarships to two lucky young riders as part of the Fast Freddie Foundation’s annual collegiate scholarships.

Gianna Pieraccini and Grant Laceywon each won a $1,000 scholarship based on the combination of scholastic achievements, racing resume, commitment to community service and an essay. Both scholar-athletes are now freshmen at the University of California in Santa Cruz and still racing their bikes.

Every year, the Fast Freddie Foundation gives two $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors who have raced in the league and who will continue their education at university. The scholarships are one way that the Fast Freddie Foundation hopes to encourage young cyclists to continue their education while still racing at the highest possible levels of the sport.

"Allowing kids to go to college without sacrificing their potential as bicycle racers is one of the primary reasons I formed the Fast Freddie Foundation," said Freddie. "When I graduated from high school it seemed impossible to aspire to race on an international level and still go to college; I tried for one semester and then had to make the decision: a college degree or race to my fullest potential. Hopefully with programs like this, we can avoid that decision for the next generation of top American racers."

Tom Danielson is also very committed to making it possible for collegiate athletes to compete at the highest levels. Since he signed his first professional contract, Tom has set aside his own money to fund scholarships and programs through his alma mater, Fort Lewis College.

To learn more about the Fast Freddie Foundation visit FastFreddieFoundation.org.

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