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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for December 19, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson, Ben Abrahams & Anthony Tan

Landis camp denies retirement rumours

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis' spokesman Michael Henson has denied recent reports that the American will retire from the sport, branding them as "misleading". Cyclingnews spoke to Henson after Landis was unreachable, believed to be training in the mountains near his Californian home.

Henson's statement is as follows:

"These recent wire reports regarding Floyd's supposed 'retirement' are misleading and miss the more subtle point that Floyd made during his interviews with Het Laatste Nieuws and Gazet van Antwerpen and that were re-reported by Agence France Presse."

"Floyd is still determined to fight the unsubstantiated charges brought against him with the same determination and intensity that he brings to his training and racing. It is Floyd's steadfast goal to clear his name and restore what he has worked so hard to achieve. Floyd believes if he is given a fair hearing, then he has every confidence that the result will maintain his long-held innocence. Once he is cleared, he has every intention of returning to racing at the highest level. If Floyd is sanctioned, however, then he does not want to idle away two years of his life only to come back to race in a system that lacks fundamental fairness and has the deep flaws of the one currently in place. He has already been subjected to extremely unfair treatment by the UCI and WADA, who have leveled specious allegations against him in a very public, negative and damaging way."

"We believe that the anti-doping organizations and the sports bureaucracies have acted with gross misconduct in Floyd's case and have not abided by fundamental principles of fairness recognized by WADA's own mission statement. Floyd never wants to go through another experience like this. He feels that the best outcome of his case is that he is proven innocent so that he can return to racing and that the system undergoes fundamental reform so that other athletes are given the rights that have not been extended to him. He is very focused on his case, but he is training with the hope of returning to professional competition. It is his goal and dream to race, and win, the Tour de France again. At the same time, he wants to help all athletes be treated fairly so they are not subject to the whims of a punitive system."

Ullrich ready for continental come-back

By Hedwig Kröner

Jan Ullrich takes a ride
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Five months after being suspended by his team because of alleged ties with doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, under investigation in Spain's Operación Puerto, 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich appears to still have hope that he will race again next year. The former T-Mobile rider, still without a team or a license, is training every day around his home on the shores of Lake Constance in Switzerland to get back into shape.

"Since the Tour, I didn't really feel I was rider anymore," Ullrich told L'Equipe's Philippe Le Gars. "I didn't see myself on a bike anymore. But one month ago, I got my head back up. I told myself that I couldn't just leave it like that, that I had to stand up and fight."

The 32 year-old German is reported to be ready for a new season, even if he has to race on a Pro Continental team. "It's clear to me that there won't be a slot for me in a ProTour team anymore," he continued. "But I still want to race at least another season. I had imagined winning the Tour de France this year and then announcing my retirement in the evening of the finish in Paris. But the [Puerto] events annihilated my plans. So I want to get another chance, even within a Pro Continental squad, which could allow me to race a Grand Tour, like the Giro for example. I'm not angry, but I want to show some people that they were wrong about me."

Nevertheless, Ullrich did express some bitterness about the current attitude of the ProTour teams who, with the exception of Discovery Channel, have decided not to allow riders implicated in the Puerto affair a return at the highest level. "Nobody wants to take the risk of making us race again," he added. "As if pulling out two or three pawns would allow everybody to wash their hands clean!"

Ullrich is now confident that he will get a racing license soon: "It's not a problem," he said. "Several federations have made me offers already. Everything will be fine."

The German also described his feelings during the last months. "I was really down," he said. "That period of time was a terrible humiliation to me, but fortunately Sara and I had to prepare our wedding in September, so I could think about other things than what was written in the press on my behalf. Sometimes, I even felt I was in the centre of a huge conspiracy in Germany.

"All of this time, I was boiling inside. I wanted to cry out loud that everything that was said about me was pure lies. The German press was relentless, inventing unbelievable stories about me. While Lance [Armstrong] is considered a hero in his country, I was treated like a criminal."

Recently, the organisers of the Tour of Germany also turned their backs on Ullrich, saying that he they would not allow him to participate. "That's a strange attitude," commented the rider. "Without me, the Tour of Germany wouldn't exist; it's because of my victory in the Tour in 1997 that the German races were created. Today, some of them have a short memory. And how long could they do without riders like Basso, Ullrich and Vinokourov, as happened this year at the Tour?"

His wife Sara also let her feelings show when asked about Ullrich's former team, T-Mobile. "Jan didn't get any support," she said. "Nobody at T-Mobile ever tried to understand what happened, nobody helped him. Yet it was Jan who allowed this team to exist."

Beltrán happy at Liquigas

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Manuel Beltran
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Former Discovery Channel climber Manuel Beltrán, who will ride in the bright green of Liquigas next season, is optimistic for a successful 2007 with the Italian squad. "They have great objectives for me in 2007, I will have the opportunity to compete in the Vuelta for the eleventh time as well as in the Tour, but I prefer to compete in the Giro," the Spaniard said.

Beltrán also thanked Discovery Channel for allowing him to move to Liquigas after three successful seasons as a domestique for Lance Armstrong.

At 36 years of age, Beltrán hopes to achieve good results in 2007, despite not claiming a professional victory since riding for the Banesto squad in 1999. Recently, Beltrán has taken part in his first training camp for Liquigas, "in which I have had the opportunity to know my new team-mates, and it has been a positive experience," he concluded.

Five US athletes nominated for 'cross world's

Katie Compton
Photo ©: Nancy Wright
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling announced today automatic nominations to the 2007 UCI Cyclo-cross world championship team. Following the completion of the 2006 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships this past weekend in Providence, Rhode Island, five athletes earned automatic nominations from the national governing body in the elite women's, U23 men's and junior men's categories.

Three-time national champion, Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Spike) earned an automatic nomination by virtue of her win Sunday in the elite women's race in Providence. Runner-up Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho/Luna) also earned a bid as the 2006 Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross overall series champion.

In the Under-23 men's division, national champion Jesse Anthony (Beverly Mass./Clif Bar) secured an automatic nomination, as did USGP of Cyclo-cross overall champion Jamey Driscoll (Jericho, Vt./FiordiFrutta). Danny Summerhill (Centennial, Colo./TIAA CREF-Clif Bar) - both the national champion in the junior men's 17-18 division and the USGP overall winner - receives the only automatic nomination in the junior men's category.

Per USA Cycling's selection procedures, automatic nominees for the elite men's category will be announced on Jan. 9.

The 2007 UCI Cyclo-cross world championships are scheduled for Jan. 27-28 in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium.

USA Cycling wants to host UCI ProTour event

Steve Johnson
Photo: © USOC
Click for larger image

Although professional cycling is facing some challenging times internationally, professional cycling in the United States has enjoyed unprecedented growth, says USA Cycling. According to American cycling's governing body, the future is so bright, their sights are set on hosting a UCI ProTour race in the very near future.

Steve Johnson, chief executive officer of USA Cycling, shared his thoughts on the organisation's goals and vision for professional men's cycling.

"[UCI President] Pat McQuaid and the UCI have made clear their intention to truly globalize professional cycling and expand the highest level of the sport beyond its traditional Western European borders," said Johnson. "This forward-looking vision and direction from the UCI is exactly what is required for professional cycling to reach new markets and grow in stature and popularity worldwide. We are very supportive of the vision for the sport expressed by Mr. McQuaid and believe that the U.S. is perfectly positioned and prepared to be a player in the expansion of the ProTour outside of its present structure."

"Frankly, I think the continued expansion of professional cycling into the global marketplace will benefit the entire sport. By way of example, the sport of cycling clearly benefited from the tremendous awareness that Lance Armstrong created as he captured the entire world's imagination by winning seven Tours de France. It's hard to ignore the obvious synergy between the increased world-wide interest in the Tour de France and Lance's remarkable story."

"Domestically, this newfound awareness for the sport has translated into more bike racers, new sponsors and the creation of new world-class events, including the Tour de Georgia and the Amgen Tour of California. Ultimately, all of this activity feeds back to support the continued growth of the sport and create opportunities for more professional riders"

One important aspect of the UCI's plans to globalise the sport of cycling was the creation of Continental calendars in 2005. Since that time, USA cycling has worked to grow the number of UCI pro men's road events, adding six new races for 2007 alone.

"Ultimately, our healthy calendar of top-level international events attracts ProTour teams and the best riders in the world, creating a showcase for the highest level of professional racing in the U.S. and providing the opportunity for our athletes to compete against the world's best on American soil."

The steady increase in the number of UCI races and continuing growth in the number and sophistication of domestic professional teams was the impetus for the creation of the inaugural "USA Cycling Professional Tour," which is a separate ranking to recognize the UCI trade teams in the domestic UCI race calendar.

"In my mind, one of the most exciting developments with the new events in the U.S. is that, in many cases, important people at the state level are seeing the opportunity to promote tourism through the production of a world class bike race," said Johnson. "The state of Georgia was one of the first to really get behind their race and push the state-supported model. Subsequently, the states of California, Missouri and Utah have seen the benefits of cycling and all have made major commitments to support bike racing. Lately, we have heard from several other states very interested in promoting major stage races. We believe the partnership of the states in cycling events is very important for the growth of the sport and will create a much more sustainable model in the long-run."

"All levels of the competition pyramid for road cycling are very strong in the U.S., from our 2,500 sanctioned grassroots events, to our National Racing Calendar events, to the UCI America Tour events," said Johnson. "The next logical step for the U.S. is to host a ProTour event. As a country, I think we have proven we can provide a racing experience worthy of ProTour consideration. More importantly, as one of the five original founding countries in the UCI, we are very excited by the potential for professional bike racing to continue to develop in the U.S. and the rest of the world; and I strongly support Pat McQuaid as he works to develop his vision of a global sport.

Scott Peoples funeral details released

CycleSport Victoria has released details of Scott Peoples' funeral following a tragic accident that claimed the 19 year-old's life on Friday. The service will be held this Friday, December 22, at the Shepparton Football Clubrooms, Deakin Reserve, Dean St, Shepparton at 2pm.

"Our thoughts are with Scott's family and friends whilst they cope with this tragedy." CSV President Klaus Mueller said. "Scott had a bright future ahead of him and to see him taken before he had a chance to set his mark, is just terrible."

Peoples was struck from behind by a four-wheel-drive while training on the Maroondah Highway in Merton, Victoria.

"This tragedy that has taken such a young life, emphasises the importance for motorists to keep alert whilst on the roads and be aware of cyclists," added Mueller. "So many cyclists are on the roads, particularly at this time of year, and we plead with all motorist to take extra care."

Flowers will be welcome at the service or, alternatively, donations can be made to the Amy Gillett Foundation.

Kiwis raise $10,000 in Crake appeal

Paul Crake (Uni SA)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

Allan Dunn and Matt Randall hoped to raise $5,000 for injured Australian cyclist Paul Crake in a 24-hour madison ride at New Zealand's ILT Velodrome last weekend. Instead, after a mammoth 3464 laps of the venue, the pair raised nearly $10,000 for the former stair climber who suffered extensive spinal damage during November's Tour of Southland.

"It was harder than I thought it was going to be, more mentally than physically," Randall told The Southland Times. With 12 hours to go, the sleep deprivation was kicking in and my mind was going all fuzzy."

The pair spoke to Crake via telephone on Friday night before starting their 866km journey.

"It probably wouldn't happen anywhere else because Southland people are special people; they just give and that's it in a nutshell really," explained Dunn, who organised the event. "They gave their time, their money and their support and you can't ask for more than that."

The Southland Times, who sponsored a team in the Tour of Southland, joined Invercargill Licensing Trust in sponsoring the appeal.

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