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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for December 27, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Rory Sutherland: Keeping the fire burning

Despite accepting the 15-month suspension,
Photo ©: Rory Sutherland
(Click for larger image)

"I'm amazingly frustrated, but then again, I've never been so calm before in all my life." With his suspension now over and due to make his return to professional racing in less than a fortnight, what's kept the fire in Rory Sutherland's belly burning bright all those months, wonders Anthony Tan?

It's a defensive-sounding voice on the other end of the phone. He professes to be an athlete "tainted good". He never approached anyone for a new contract because he didn't want to grovel. When asked about Operación Puerto, he remarks that "it's pretty obvious there's something not right" with the way the sport's currently governed. He says he's incredibly frustrated, also admitting there's a good dose of anger to go along with it.

The last year and a half have largely been a journey of introspection, it seems, for this 23 year-old Australian who hails from his country's capital. Testing positive for a little-known substance he vehemently claims no knowledge of prior to the August test result at the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany), Rory Sutherland nevertheless chose not to appeal his 15-month sentence.

"In my situation, I guess it was just easier to bite the bullet, accept what happened, and move towards thinking about next year," he says. "I don't think anything would change the suspension anyway."

Money wasn't the main reason why he chose the route of acceptance rather than appeal. German cyclist and former Gerolsteiner rider Danilo Hondo, who tested positive for the drug Carphedon in March 2005, lost his appeal before the sport's highest authority, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in January this year - but not only did the CAS uphold the decision made by the national cycling federation, they extended the ban by another year.

Pedersen, Lilholt confess to cortisone use

Following Jesper Skibby's confessions of doping in his recent autobiography, fellow Danes Per Pedersen and Søren Lilholt have admitted to using substances that were subsequently added to the banned list. "I got resources which appeared later on the doping list of the doctor," Lilholt told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. "Those resources had then not been prohibited," he added.

During his six years as a professional, Lilholt won stages in Paris Nice, the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour of Britain. He also claimed victory in the Belgian one-day race E3 Prijs Harelbeke.

Pedersen, who raced the Tour de France on four occasions and worked for Team CSC as a directeur sportif alongside Bjarne Riis in 2001, also confessed to taking substances that are now prohibited. "It concerned cortisone," he said. "I can in all honesty say that if it was still legal today I would probably decide to still use it."

Savings & Loans disappointed with TDU decision

By Greg Johnson

Stephen Cunningham (Savings & Loans)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

South Australia-based Savings & Loans continental team has expressed its disappointment at having its application to compete at next year's Tour Down Under rejected. "Unfortunately we weren't accepted into the event, together with Drapac-Porsche. We're arguably the two strongest teams in this country with both leading the Oceania Series on occasions during the year," said team spokesman Stephen Cunningham.

"To be advised that our team wasn't up to scratch to compete in the TDU was surprising, particularly when five riders on our roster have previously competed in the event with great success."

The outfit, which has recently had its application to become a continental team approved by the UCI, had hoped to be awarded a spot at its home event.

"The official Oceania race calendar presents only two tours in Australia for the UCI teams to compete in, the TDU and SunTour," added Cunningham. "To be deprived of this opportunity on home soil is disappointing for us. It's worth mentioning that five of the selected riders for the national team in the TDU are Drapac Porsche and Savings & Loans [riders]."

Meanwhile, the outfit has announced that riders Brett Aitken and Russell Van Hout will lead its efforts at the Cycle Classic in New Zealand's Lower Hutt from January 24-28.

Despite the TDU disappointment, the team is determined to prove its worth and apply for a future slot at the event. "We'll try again next year," concluded Cunningham.

Mattan committed to Cyclingnews

Former Davitamon-Lotto rider Nico Mattan
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Nico Mattan has reaffirmed his commitment to the DFL-Cyclingnews Pro-Continental cycling team after an attempt by Palmans to poach the rider. The former Davitamon-Lotto rider was revealed as the team's highest-profile signing to date in early December, with both parties agreeing in principal to the deal.

"I gave my word already to Cyclingnews," Mattan told sporza.be when approached about Palmans' offer. "I have indeed got a phone call of Palmans."

The 2005 Gent-Wevelgem winner will lead the team managed by Eric Vanderaerden, a former Paris-Roubaix victor. Vanderaerden hopes Mattan's signing will gain the outfit a wildcard entry into the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

Mattan's management is expected to sign off on the DFL-Cyclingnews agreement in the near future.

"I have already an oral agreement," confirmed Mattan. "I have given my word and value the chance that I sign for them at 90 per cent."

Western Australian rookie wins Australia's richest wheel race

Stunning start to National Grid Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

By John Michael Flynn at Latrobe, Tasmania

Riding off the 270m mark, Jayden Veljacich
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Jayden Veljacich, a training partner of the multiple Junior World Championship winning Meyer brothers, yesterday produced the performance of his life to win Tasmania's famed Latrobe Wheel Race.

In the process Veljacich pocketed the winner's share of a twelve and a half thousand dollar cash prize pool and caught the eye of the race handicapper, who will be well justified in penalizing the Perth teenager heavily for the remainder of the prestigious National Grid Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series.

"Oh that was awesome, everyone comes here to win Latrobe, and that was what I wanted to do, win Latrobe," an emotional Veljacich told Cyclingnews after burning off his rivals in the finishing straight. "I've been going well; I've been training hard to come here, so it's a relief to pull it off. I'm stoked."

Stoked, not only to win one of the most prestigious wheel races on the Australian track cycling calendar, but also to claim the 1000 metre men's handicap, staged earlier in the day. All up a thoroughly impressive performance.

For full coverage of the National Grid Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals click here.

De Gruyter re-signs with Collstop-Palmans

Belgian Klaas De Gruyter has signed a new one-year contract with Continental team Collstrop-Palmans, according to sports agency ACSO. In 2005, De Gruyter joined the team as a stagiare and achieved a fourth place in the Triptyque Ardennais stage race.

Next season, the 26 year-old will focus on being competitive in the tough Flemish one-day races.

Felt announce Team Slipstream sponsorship

Team Slipstream has announced a deal that will see all three of the outfit's teams ride Felt Bicycles for the next two seasons.

"This is a team we have watched since its beginning and we have seen it flourish into one of the best programs in the nation," explained Felt Bicycles founder Jim Felt. "We could not have more exciting partnership."

The Felt sponsorship extends beyond the team's road campaign, also encompassing Team Slipstream's track and junior development programs.

The outfit, formerly known as TIAA-CREF, will train on the Felt CA1 and race the F1 and Z1 frames. In time trials it will use DA and B2 frame while TK2 and custom pursuit frames will be used on the track.

Vote in the Cyclingnews reader's poll

Win the latest set of HED wheels

Tom Boonen: Cyclingnews 2005 rider of the year
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

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' 2006 readers' poll

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Giro finale
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