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First Edition Cycling News for December 28, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan & Ben Abrahams

Stahurskaya charged with trafficking

By Gregor Brown

Stahurskaya wins the world road championship in 2000
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Former world champion Zinaida Stahurskaya, currently serving a two-year suspension for testing positive to anabolic steroid stanozolol and testosterone, has now been charged with dealing in illegal doping products.

According to, the NAS (Anti-Narcotics Group) of Firenze, Italy sequestered the 35 year-old Belorussian from her home in Pistoia three weeks ago. They found large quantities of doping products including anabolic steroids, most of which were Russian-origin or bought on the black-market, believing they were intended for sale.

The former world champion and women's Tour de France winner tested positive at three races in 2005, once to anabolic steroid stanozolol and twice to hormone testosterone. Stahurskaya would have been allowed to return to racing in June 2007 after her ban ended, but it is now likely that she will face trafficking charges in Italy under anti-doping law 376/2000, and be issued a life-sentence.

Bettini to retire in 2008?

That's a happy Paolo
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

World and Olympic road race champion Paolo Bettini has indicated that he may retire soon after the 2008 world championships in Varese, Italy. Speaking to Belgian website, Bettini said: "The World Championships course in Stuttgart (2007) and Varese (2008) suit me, just like the Olympic road race in 2008. But I won't ride much longer."

"Physically I can ride until the end of 2008, but with what kind of results? I will listen to my body, and when I think it's been enough, I will quit," he added.

The Quick.Step rider, now 32 years-old, had previously said that he plans to defend his Olympic title in August 2008 in Beijing. "I think that it is necessary to have the courage to know how to say stop when the moment has come," he told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. "If it will undoubtedly be hard to stop, I do not want miss my exit."

Savoldelli to ride Giro and Tour

By Gregor Brown

Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Two-time Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli, 33, is aiming to compete in both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France next year. In the colours of Marc Biver's Astana squad, he will race to win the Giro before helping his team-mates in La Grande Boucle, similar to his 2006 season.

"My 2007 [season] will hinge on the Giro and Tour," Savoldelli said to "The Giro is open and up for grabs and it will be better for my chances. At the Tour I will support [Alexandre] Vinokourov and [Andreas] Klöden but I will also have my own space. In 2005 I was at the side of [Lance] Armstrong, launching him to his seventh Tour victory, and I was successful in conquering the stage to Revel."

Savoldelli had been linked with Davide Boifava's new LPR team but, in early December, he confirmed he would in fact ride for the newly-formed Astana team.

Basso and Cunego's Christmas in the saddle

By Gregor Brown

Two Giro d'Italia winners, Ivan Basso (2006) and Damiano Cunego (2004), spent their Christmas holidays in the saddle, building up their pre-season kilometres. Both riders will be pointing for a repeat victory in their 2007 home tour, with Basso, recently signed by Discovery Channel, to also aim for the Tour de France.

Cunego surrounded the time with his wife and child by rides around his home area of Verona. "It was pretty heavy training for this time of the year; I wanted to understand at what point I am [in form]," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I am very content, I am much better than last year."

On Christmas Eve, "Il Piccolo Principe" rode for five and a half hours (160 km), near Lago di Garda; on Christmas Day, he spent one hour in the saddle; and on Santo Stefano, December 26, he rode for two and a half hours.

Regarding Christmas day, Cunego said, "The temperature was beautiful and it would have been a shame to miss an occasion like that."

Basso and Cunego are fierce competitors on and off the bike, and this time Basso got the better of his rival with more training kilometres. He spent time with his wife and two children, Domitilla and Santiago, before heading out the door near Varese.

"First I opened up gifts with the babies, then two hours in the saddle," said Basso to La Gazzetta regarding his holiday tradition. "I went to Arona, drank a cappuccino in the usual bar and then returned home. I always go out on Christmas; I like it.

"Four hours on Christmas Eve day and on Santo Stefano, when I went to Campo del Fiori, the longest climb I do in this time of the year." From Varese, Campo dei Fiori is a 13.6 kilometre climb that averages 6.1% gradient and rises 832 metres.

Voigt's Christmas

By Susan Westemeyer

Jens Voigt trains and trains and trains - no matter where he is. He just finished a training camp in South Africa with his Team CSC, under hot conditions. Home again in Berlin, he jumped directly on his bike to make his training rounds in the cold and wet. "I need the kilometres, and when you're dressed right, you don't catch a cold," he told press agency sid.

He didn't spend all his time in South Africa training, though. On the last day he went shopping. "I bought Christmas presents for my kids, shark's teeth necklaces and soft stuffed animals, like they don't have in Germany."

In fact, he had to buy an extra suitcase to bring everything home. "Otherwise Santa Claus wouldn't have had anything to distribute on Christmas Eve." The family's biggest present wasn't quite finished, and wouldn't have fit under the tree, anyway: they have built a house in Berliner Gruenerwald and hope to move in next month.

Crashes for Sinkewitz

By Susan Westemeyer

It may not have been the merriest of Christmases for Patrik Sinkewitz, but he was thankful just to be around to celebrate it. The T-Mobile rider was out driving his Porsche on Christmas Eve when he lost control of the car on a curve on the icy road in Fulda, Germany. He crashed into an electricity distributor and caused an hour-long blackout for the area.

The damage to his car and the distributor was estimated to be about 17,500 Euros.

It wasn't his only crash, either, also crashing with his bike. "I crashed just 500 metres away from the house," he told the Fuldaer Zeitung. "Fortunately I was wearing my helmet."

Bay Series begins January 3

A high class and star-studded field will contest the 2007 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, which begins in Williamstown, Victoria next Wednesday January 3.

Known as the 'Bay Series', the event features five criteriums over the course of a week. Points are awarded for the top ten placegetters in each race to determine overall winner, who will be fighting for approximately $26,000 prize money, according to race promoter John Trevorrow.

Six-time series champion Robbie McEwen is looking for his seventh title, and will head a strong Volvo team, which features fellow pro rider Nick Gates, and Queenslanders David Kemp, Craig Cahill and Jason Phillips.

However, the Jayco VIS team looks the team to beat on paper, featuring Olympic gold medallist and former Giro d'Italia pink jersey holder, Brett Lancaster, Sean Finning, last year's Stage 3 winner Richard England, Nicholas Sanderson and rising star Leigh Howard.

Dual Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Simon Gerrans heads the Portfolio Partners team and will be joined by fellow Victorian David McPartland, VIS rider Johnny Clarke, UK rider Brett Perez. Stage winner from last year's event, Mark Renshaw, heads the Skilled team with fellow NSW riders Jeff Hopkins and Australian Grand Prix criterium champion Cody Stevenson.

Another young team to watch will be HLP Mortgage Co, featuring Victorian rising stars Michael Ford, Johnny Walker, Nicholas Walker, Patrick Shaw and young West Australian star Cameron Meyer.

The women's event also has its share of champions with local star and defending champion Katie Mactier heading the Portfolio Partners team with rising Victorian star Tess Downing, Australian Junior track cyclist of the year.

Commonwealth Gold medallists and sisters Kate and Natalie Bates team with national criterium champion Alexis Rhodes, NSW rider Amanda Spratt and Commonwealth Games athlete Olivia Gollan to form a formidable Pitcher Partners team.

The Jayco VIS team is headed by Jenny MacPherson and Peta Mullens - the latter Australian junior road cyclist of the year. Australian reps Belinda Goss and Skye-Lee Armstrong also feature in the event.

The men's support event will showcase of the next generation of riders as a prelude to the senior racing. It features such riders as Jack Bobridge, Kyle Marwood and Daniel Thorsen.

Stage 2 moves to Portarlington on Thursday 4, Geelong waterfront Friday 5, Eastern Park - Geelong on Saturday 6 and the final stage at Melbourne Docklands Sunday 7.

The second running of Amy's Ride will also take place on the morniing of January 6, giving cycling fans the opportunity to ride with their heroes and raise funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation.

Event schedule:

Wednesday, January 3 - Williamstown, 12:30pm
Thursday, January 4 - Portarlington, 12:30pm
Friday, January 5 Geelong - Ritchie Blvd, 4.00pm
Saturday, January 6 Geelong - Botanical Gardens, 4.00pm
Sunday, January 7 - Docklands, 10.00am

Adobe/Schwalbe team announce 2007 roster

The Adobe/Schwalbe presented by Lombardi Sports team has announced its line-up for the 2007 season which will feature a revised elite/masters squad and some new under 23 talent. Team director Bill Howard, equipment head Robbie Brennan, masters team captain Steve Pelaez and team captain Darin Divine will lead the team in its focus on Northern California road events with a special focus on the District Championships.

"We have a lot of momentum around this team right now," said Howard. "With recent events such as our seminar night with Levi Leipheimer & Shaun Wallace speaking at Lombardi Sports in front of an estimated 200-plus crowd. All this activity benefits our youth cycling in the long-run."

The squad totals 17 riders for the '07 season, with eight new additions to the team. There will be three new under 23 riders, Tyler Gough, JP LeClair and Matt Obregon, alongside elite rider additions, Dave Wyandt (a former Webcor professional) and Jim Miller.

Click here for the full roster.

Last chance to vote: 24 hours left in Cyclingnews reader 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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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)

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