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First Edition Cycling News for December 22, 2006

Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo

Ullrich: Case closed or not?

By Susan Westemeyer

It's been one of those "good news, bad news" sort of weeks for Jan Ullrich, with a healthy helping of the usual confusion thrown in to complicate matters. Various stories out of Switzerland, Spain, and Germany only seem to contradict each other - but that's nothing new.

Switzerland

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image
The good news appeared in the FAZ.net Wednesday, where Lorenz Schläfli, head of Swiss Cycling, said that the federation expected to close its investigation of Ullrich, concerning his involvement in Operación Puerto.

Schläfli noted that the Swiss investigators have waited for months for documents from Spain - documents which apparently they may not use. "We can't do anything about it," he said. "We don't have a chance."

On Thursday, Schläfli told Cyclingnews that Swiss Cycling's dossier on Ullrich "will be turned over to the Disciplinary Committee for Doping Cases in the middle of January. The recommendation to the Committee remains open, but because of the special circumstances, the action will probably be broken off."

This turn of affairs was promptly contradicted by Bernhard Welten, who is handling the Ullrich investigation for the independent Swiss Committee for Doping. He told press service sid that the investigation is continuing, calling Schläfli's statement "a clear misunderstanding." Nothing has changed, Welten said, and to say that the investigation would be closed "is not at all correct, and I alone am responsible for this case."

Welten still expects to receive new documents from Spain and Germany. "I very much hope to receive them by the middle of January, as I have been told by the UCI." But even if he does not receive these additional documents, he will continue on. "I will forward the Ullrich dossier in any case to the disciplinary committee of Swiss Olympic, and with a recommendation."

Welten had previously noted that although the Spanish court had ruled that the documents could not be used, the Swiss view was that this applied only to criminal law. "But we are dealing with civil law," he said, and expected to be able to use the information.

Spain

Meanwhile, another portion of bad news came from the Spanish judicial system. As.com reported Thursday that an additional 51 cyclists would be required to appear in court as witness in Operación Puerto, including foreign riders. The article specifically mentions Ullrich, while noting that the riders could testify in courts in their home countries. They would be required to answer questions concerning their relationship with Dr. Fuentes and others associated with the case (see related story).

Germany

Ullrich at the London press conference
Photo ©: John Pierce
Click for larger image

In Ullrich's homeland, his manager Wolfgang Strohband has been busy again. As eager as Ullrich is to compete again, he won't be participating in the Bremen Six Day race in January. The race organizer had invited him, but, according to the AFP press agency, Strohband said that Ullrich had declined the invitation, noting that "Jan needs a specific time to prepare for a race."

In a short interview with Cyclingnews, Strohband said he couldn't really comment on the FAZ article. "We can't make an official statement at this time because we have nothing in writing to confirm it. It has always been our goal to stay out of this speculation and to present out argument with facts. We want to continue with that."

But the possible end of the Swiss investigation doesn't really change much, he said. "This doesn't change the negotiations that are currently underway. We still assume that Jan will ride next year. To that end, we are continuing our discussions with potential teams and sponsors."

Ullrich needs a license before he can sign with a team, but Strohband sees no rush. "Our time plan sees an application for license at the earliest in the end of January. It is not necessary earlier." And then he needs a team. "We have ongoing contact with the teams," Strohband says. "Right now we are speaking with three different teams, both ProTour and Continental. I can't say any more at this time."

Nor can he say anything over the possibility that Ullrich might have to appear as a witness in the Spanish court case. "We have not heard anything out of Spain, there is nothing more to say."

51 witnesses for Operación Puerto

By Monika Prell and Susan Westemeyer

Operación Puerto judge Antonio Serrano yesterday announced that 51 cyclists will have to answer a set number of questions as witnesses in the case. Some of the names on the list were new, such as Angel Casero and Jose Antonio Escuredo. The list also includes foreign riders such as Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and Tyler Hamilton, said the Spanish news site as.com. The non-Spanish riders would apparently be allowed to testify before courts in their home countries.

The questions:

1. Is the witness still a professional cyclist?
2. For which teams has he ridden since 2002?
3. As a professional cyclist, does he know the doctors Eufemiano Fuentes, Yolanda Fuentes, or Alfredo Córdova? Has he received blood transfusions? If so, in what laboratory and with whose authority?
4. During his career as professional cyclist, has he ever been sent by his doctor, manager, or other person to the laboratory of Dr. Merino Batres in Madrid?
5. Has he ever ridden for a team for which Manolo Saiz was technical director or manager? Did he receive blood transfusions during that time?
6. Assuming that he had suffered health disadvantages as consequence of the treatment by the doctors Fuentes and/or Córdova and/or the actions of Saiz, has he suffered any damage that he could claim in this process?

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

British Cycling wants doping-free Tour start

London starts the '07 Tour
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

The head of the British cycling federation said that it wants riders involved in current doping investigates to steer clear of the 94th edition of the Tour de France's, which will start next July 7th in London.

"This will be a historic event, in the heart of one of the world's great cities, a fantastic opportunity for our sport," President Cookson told the Associated Press. "We really do not want to see this tarnished by a repeat of the doping scandals of 2006, so, frankly, we urge all those with involvement in various investigations to stay away."

Former Tour de France participants implicated in various doping scandals include Floyd Landis, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso. Basso has been cleared by his Italian cycling federation. The Landis case is ongoing, and Ullrich still has no license or team for 2007.

Iraq's cycling coach killed

The body of Iraq's Olympic cycling coach was identified two days after he was kidnapped at gunpoint him from his home this week. The murder marks another casualty in the violence in Iraq that has recently affected several sports figures, officials said. 48-year-old Mahoud Ahmed Fulayih had just returned from the Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar, where the Iraqi team had competed.

The murder of the Iraqi coach is the one of eight documented incidents since July involving violence in the form of threats, kidnappings, or assassinations against sports figures. This summer a raid on a sports conference in Baghdad resulted in the kidnapping of the chairman of the National Olympic Committee and at least 30 other officials. According to the Associated Press, the group is still being held. Hussein al-Amidi, the Acting Secretary General of Iraq's National Olympic Committee announced the death of the cycling coach, and expressed his frustration with the recent events to the AP, saying, "We lost another one; he is not a politician and has no link with any party. It looks like no one is excluded from the violence."

Page joins Morgan Blue

By Brecht Decaluwé

U.S. Champion Jonathan Page
Photo ©: Oskar Matxin
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After a great performance during the National Championships last Saturday in Providence it was clear American Jonathan Page was on the way up again. A few weeks before the championships Cyclingnews talked with Jonathan Page. Back then, the best American cyclo-cross rider of the past few years was in deep trouble: he got injured while reaching his best form ever, he was almost broke and he had no team for 2007. "I’ve got just Cervelo and Adidas as individual cash sponsors for 2007-2008 but that’s not enough to live from without start money, " Page said, "I’m quickly losing hope that anything is going to come of them [new sponsors]."

It was clear that Page was on the brink of making it in Europe before his injury. "At the end of last season and the beginning few races of this season before I was injured, I felt like I was finally making it. Finally I, an American, was in the mix in the big races, competing for podium spots. I think it would be good for the sport to have other countries taking on the powerhouse countries of 'cross," Page told Cyclingnews.

After months of rehabilitation following shoulder surgery, Page decided to start at the National Championships to get into the picture. With around three weeks of training and a bad starting position (fourth row) he managed to grab second place behind American’s new king of cyclo-cross Ryan Trebon (Kona). "Honestly, in the beginning I was disappointed that I had only managed 2nd place, but on Sunday I realized that I ought to be happy… and proud," Page declared on his weblog.

Apparently his performance didn’t go unnoticed as it was announced today that the Morgan Blue – BSI team will be his team for the rest of the season. The Belgian team was searching for a new leader after their previous star, Belgian Klaas Vantornout, left the team for the more famous Fidea team where he’s taken another step up in cyclo-cross hierarchy.

For the American champion of 2002, 2003 and 2004 it’s a chance to take another step up himself. "I hope I will get back to the form I had in the first few races of the season," Page said to Cyclingnews. That form was impressive for a non-European rider - Page entered three races and finished seventh and fourth in them while competing the world’s best riders. On his weblog, Page is encouraging himself to hopefully great things at the World Championships. "And now, I have more than a month to get back into the swing of things before the World Championships, my real goal."

Kurt Tembuyser, manager of Morgan Blue, explained on cyclo-cross.info why he choose Jonathan Page. "It’s not obvious to get a foreign rider – and especially an American – in a Belgian team; expenses are very high. But with BSI and Page we found a solution, so until the end of February he can count on us. We’ll evaluate the co-operation at the end of the season to see if a extension of our commitment is appropriate," Tembuyser said. Page will race in his new jersey for the first time in Wachtebeke. Tembuyser said, "you’ll see Page in almost every race during the coming busy weeks."

Cyclists hit by truck, avoid serious injury in Tasmania

By Shane Goss in Launceston

Five riders were lucky to escape serious injuries when they were hit from behind by a truck during a training ride on the Bass Highway near Ulverstone in Tasmania's North-West at around 9.40am on Wednesday morning. Four of the riders, Adele Gee (30), Jason Bounday (15), Fred Guilbert and David Christie were taken to the North-West Regional Hospital in Burnie.

The fifth rider, Peter Jamieson, avoided the fall and was unhurt although distressed over seeing his training partners strewn across the road. Jamieson said the group had been riding two-abreast on a multi-lane highway when the truck collided with two of the riders instigating the fall. The group had been training for the up-coming Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series. The rider's injuries were not considered serious and all hospitalised were in a stable condition.

The crash on the eve of possibly Australia's greatest track series again highlights the need for common sense and alertness from road users; With Summer and the festive season upon us, more and more people are taking to the roads on bicycles. Consideration, patience and sharing the roads will make Christmas a safe and happy one for all.

World champ riding for injured mate

Rogers in action for Crake tonight

By Gerard Walsh, Editor, Goulburn Post Newspaper

Tour de France top 10 finisher Michael Rogers will be racing at this Friday night's Goulburn Cycle Club track meet to help raise funds for fellow rider and Canberran Paul Crake. Crake - a top road rider in his own right - suffered severe spinal injuries during a race in New Zealand last month.

Triple world time trial champion Rogers will be joined on Friday by a host track riders from the Southern Highlands, Goulburn and Canberra who are all supporting the Crake appeal. It will be the first time since the Sydney Olympics Rogers will have ridden a fixed gear track machine. He admitted to the Goulburn Post he hasn't got a track bike but: "it will be no trouble getting one".

"I've never actually ridden the track at Goulburn, but I've been past there a few times and have noticed that it is pretty flat and open track," he said. "Hopefully, it will be a good roll up on Friday night because it's for a most worthy cause. It's terrible what happened to Paul and this is the least I can do to help."

Goulburn Cycle Club spokesman Anthony Cole said local sporting fans this Friday night will have a chance to witness first hand one of world cycling's best athletes.

"Mick's been kind enough to devote his time to a good cause on Friday night and it will be great if local residents can support him and the cycling fraternity in their endeavours to raise funds for Paul Crake," he said. "It will be one Mick's last public appearances before he returns to Europe to commence preparations for the 2007 Tour de France in which he will be a leading contender."

Crake, 30, was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust during the eighth stage of the Tour of Southland on November 11.

He sustained minor fractures of the C1 and C2 cervical vertebrae, a fracture of the T5 thoracic vertebrae and dislocations through to T7. Both lungs were also punctured as a result of rib fractures. Currently at Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, he said he would be home in Australia for Christmas and will be admitted to a spinal care unit in Australia to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery.

Crake was a member of the Australian team at the 2004 Road World Championships in Italy, was third in the road race at last year's Australian Open Road Championships and this year placed second on the fourth stage of the nation's most prestigious stage race, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.

This season he has raced as a professional in Italy with the Naturina Sapore di Mare team.

He switched from stair-climbing to cycling in 2002. As a stair-climber he notched up five straight victories in the annual sprint up the 86 flights of stairs (1576 stairs) to the top of New York's Empire State Building between 1999 and 2003 and still holds the record for the fastest ascent of 9mins 33secs.

Crake is spending up to seven hours a day in a wheelchair and working twice a day on strength and mobility exercises with the physiotherapists in the gym.

Tonight's action starts at 7pm at Seiffert Oval, Faithfull Street, Goulburn.

Women's cycling in review

2006 in Review
WomensCycling.net

The publishers of womenscycling.net - who are regular contributors to Cyclingnews - have just released a 156-page annual that features many of the photos taken by CJ Farquharson throughout the year, as well as stories on women's racing over the past year.

Called 2006 in Review : WomensCycling.net, it includes race commentary and reflections from a number of the top professional women including, World Cup champion Nicole Cooke (Univega Pro Team) and world time trial champion, Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton).

The other riders who give their unique insights into particular races are : Kate Bates (Nürnberger), Natalie Bates (AA Drink), Priska Doppmann (Univega Pro Team), Olivia Gollan (Nobili Rubinetterie), Gina Grain (Colavita Light), Helen Kelly (Elk Haus), Jenny Macpherson (Elk Haus), Peta Mullens (Australia), Amber Neben (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint), Tina Pic (Colavita Light), Emma Rickards (Univega Pro Team), Amanda Spratt (Australia), Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (T-Mobile) & Oenone Wood (Nürnberger).

The annual also provides a review of the season by incoming T-Mobile Team manager (and former Cyclingnews.com marketing rep) Kristy Scrymgeour, and a look at how women's racing has changed in a few short years by the new T-Mobile Team Directeur Sportif and former World Cup champion, Anna Wilson.

The manager of the Univega Pro Team, Thomas Campana, reflects upon winning the World Cup series for both individuals (Nicole Cooke) and Univega taking the team award too. The Commonwealth Games and the World Track Championships are covered in depth, as are the major events in North America which the European pros rode; the Canadian Tour of Montreal plus World Cup and "Philly" - the American race, the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic.

For further information and to order a copy (a discount is being offered for all online orders received by December 28, 2006), go to the WomensCycling.net and follow the links to the order page for your country.

Rund um Berlin returns

Germany's oldest race, Rund um Berlin, is making a comeback in 2007. It is scheduled as a pro race on September 9th. The race was last held in 2000, when it was won by Steffen Radochla, now of Team Wiesenhof. It is the second oldest race in Europe behind Paris-Roubaix, and was first held in 1896.

Schmitz to Dutch Continental team

Bram Schmitz will ride for the Van Vliet-EBH Advocaten team in the coming season, the team announced. Schmitz rode the last three years for Team T-Mobile. The Continental team's roster is now filled with 17 riders.

"I want to ride as well as possible in the coming season so that I can return to a Pro Tour team," Schmitz, 29, said. "You can't write me off yet!"

Volksbank licensed for another year

Team Volksbank has been granted its Pro Continental license for another year, it announced Thursday. The UCI granted the license after an examination of the team's finances, including rider and sponsor contracts. The team provided a bank guarantee of 300,000 Swiss Francs to cover the riders' salaries.

Volksbank now has 14 riders under contract and is conducting further negotiations. Team Manager Thomas Kofler said, "We did our homework to everyone's satisfaction and established a good basis for new and even bigger successes -- a good platform for a super cycling year in 2007.

Gallagher signs with Sean Kelly team

Gallagher leads
Photo ©: INPHO
Click for larger image

Irishman Stephen Gallagher will return to Europe in 2007 as a member of the Murphy & Gunn - Newlyn & Donnelly – Sean Kelly team based in Merchtem, Belgium. Manager Kurt Bogearts said, "Stephen is a very strong rider and one of the very best Irish riders around. He is strong and has plenty of experience and I think if he can come to form and focus he could really do something here at the Sean Kelly team." Gallagher has extensive Belgian racing experience after being a member of the Flanders-Afin squad in 2004 and 2005.

After recovering from a hernia operation at the end of this season, Gallagher has been training in Australia. He will kick off 2007 racing with the 715km, six-day Tour of Qatar in Doha in late January.

Of his signing, Gallager said, "It’s great to know that a legend like Sean Kelly has faith in my abilities as a rider. It’s been hard at the tail end of this year with a necessary operation for a hernia but if ever I needed a morale boost, this is it!"

Canadian Team Spin12

TeaM Spin12 announced its riders for 2007. The new Canadian team will focus on U23 men's cycling, with all but one of its riders under the age of 23. The team is managed by Giroscopic Sports Mtg, the same organization behind Team expresscopy.com, a UCI Pro Women’s Team, and backed by spinALIVE, a group of community individuals host a charity 12 hour spin event to promote health and athleticism.

The most experienced riders on the team include Luke McCarthy, who raced on a French amateur team last year and fellow New Zealander Cameron Holt. Keith Moore and Ian Manning will transfer from JetFuel.

To see the full roster, click here.

AMD-Discovery Channel amateur team adds juniors

The AMD-Discovery Channel Cycling Team has added nineteen riders to its 2007 Team roster. The team was founded two decades ago by Lance Armstrong-backer and chairman of the USA Cycling Development Foundation board Thomas Weisel and USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson.

For 2007, the squad will add an Elite Junior program to their master's program, giving the squad a total of 38 members, ten of which are juniors.

For the full release and team roster, click here.

Lines still open... It's time to vote!

Win the latest set of HED wheels

Tom Boonen: Cyclingnews 2005 rider of the year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Each year, Cyclingnews gives its readers the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so.

From male and female cyclo-crosser and mountain biker of the year, to best product, best team bike, most improved rider, best one-day and stage race, male and female track and road riders, best moment, legend of cycling - soon you'll discover who each of these winners are. But what many of us are really itching to find out is our 'Big Daddy' award: Cyclingnews' 2006 Rider of the Year.

In 2005, then newly-crowned world champion and winner of 14 races, Tom Boonen, ran home a winner with almost 50 percent of the votes, while runner-up Lance Armstrong could only muster the hearts of a mere 20 percent of our readers. This time round, Boonen lost his rainbow stripes to the ever-consistent 'Il Grillo' Paolo Bettini in Salzburg, but the popular boy from Balen won seven more races than he did last year. Has Tommeke done enough to pull it off again?

Win a set of HED's Kermesse road wheels

Bettini's not the only guy he's up against, though - the names of Valverde, Zabriskie, Zabel, Cancellara, Landis, Ullrich, Voigt, Leipheimer, Vos, Pereiro, Bettini, McEwen and Ekimov are also in the mix - and this year's race to become Cyclingnews' Rider of the Year is set to be the closest ever.

And just to keep things interesting, we'll be giving away a set of the latest Kermesse road wheels from HED to one lucky entrant.

The survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete - you'd be mad not to participate!

Click here to cast your vote in Cyclingnews.com's 2006 readers' poll.

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Mt Hood Classic
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