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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for July 25, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Ullrich ready to continue

"I have never doped in my whole career," declared Jan Ullrich in an interview with the Swiss magazine, Blick. He assumes that he will not be banned from riding in the future, because "there is just no reason" for that. He reports that he is back on the bike again, and has no thought of ending his career. "I have always said that I want to end with a Tour win." He claims to already have contact with other teams, but says he cannot accept his firing from T-Mobile, "because as I see it, they have no grounds for the firing."

Were Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage the only ones to be shown the door? The German rumour mill is working overtime, outlining a palace coup in which the riders are banding together to boot out team manager (and owner) Olaf Ludwig as well as sport-technical director Mario Kummer.

The Tagesspiegel reports that after the suspensions of Ullrich, Sevilla and Pevenage were announced on the Friday before the Tour, "the seven remaining riders withdrew for a joint training ride and to discuss whether they even wanted to ride the Tour. Afterwards, Matthias Kessler, apparently the new strong man on the team, told Olaf Ludwig that the team had decided to ride the Tour, and how it would ride the Tour. 'We want to be in it and we want to win it,' said Kessler. And this was why Ludwig was downgraded to the role of a helper to the team, which pretty much led itself."

Radsport-News.com reports that its "usually well-informed sources" say that the whole team had protested against Kummer before the Tour. And finally, Bild reports that T-Mobile's attorneys and Ullrich's attorneys are scheduled to meet today "to make their positions clear."

Leipheimer to Discovery

By Jeff Jones and Susan Westemeyer

Levi Leipheimer is leaving the Gerolsteiner team at the end of the season, and will sign for Discovery Channel, which is expected to confirm this later today. According to Gerolsteiner's bike sponsor Specialized, Leipheimer called them after the Tour to announce his transfer to the Discovery Channel team, effective January 1, 2007. "My best results, wins at the Tour of Germany and Dauphiné Libéré, happened on my S-Works Tarmac SL, but Discovery (Channel) made me an offer I could not refuse," he was quoted as saying, while further expressing his thanks for Specialized's support.

Gerolsteiner spokesman Mathias Wieland told www.Radsport-Aktiv.de, "We had agreed with Levi that we would sit down together after the Tour and make the decision. Levi wanted to know earlier, and told us that he was having discussions with other teams."

Leipheimer is expected to ride the Deutschland Tour, where he is the defending champion.

Gerolsteiner looks back

The Tour is over, long live the Tour...as soon as the 2006 edition is over, Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael Holczer is starting to think about the Tour 2007. Levi Leipheimer, who rode a comparatively weak Tour, barely figures in the team's wrap-up, but that may also have something to do with his departure to Discovery. "Markus Fothen has shown that he is the man for the future," declared Holczer.

Fothen, who narrowly missed winning the white jersey for the best young rider, was the main character in Gerolsteiner's Tour review. "It shows that we have good young riders in Germany. And especially Markus," said Holczer. "Markus just needs to get experience with the Grand Tours." And to accomplish that, "At his own request, he will ride the Vuelta a España."

Fabian Wegmann wore the mountain jersey for one day, Fothen the white jersey for 13 days, and Fothen finished 15th overall, two places behind Levi Leipheimer. Despite Leipheimer being the best on GC, both he and Totschnig did not live up to expectations.

"We can be satisfied with that. If we had won the white jersey, we could have been very satisfied," according to Holczer, who noted that "We narrowly missed a stage win several times." For example, Leipheimer's second place in the 11th stage, Sebastian Lang's third place in the first time trial, or Ronny Scholz' third on stage 18.

Boonen back on the bike

A week after his abandon in stage 15 of the Tour, world champion Tom Boonen is back on the bike again and racing in the post-Tour criterium in Diksmuide, Belgium. Boonen is also down to start in Peer on Wednesday and Herentals on Thursday, before doing the UCI 1.1 Luk Challenge Bühl with teammate Sebastien Rosseler this Saturday. He is not expected to start in the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, but is scheduled to do the Eneco Tour between August 16-23.

"I'm not 100 percent better, but I will still start in the post-Tour criteriums because I don't want to disappoint the fans," Boonen was quoted by Belga as saying. "These races require a lot of energy, but luckily are only short. The HEW [sic], on the other hand, is one of the longest races. With my current condition, it's better to be careful in not starting, and therefore not putting my planned starts in other races in danger."

Matthew Gilmore on the mend

By John Kenny

Matthew Gilmore
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Matthew Gilmore's knee injury is not as serious as first thought and the Six-Day star could be back racing as early as November it was revealed today.

Cyclingnews reported that Gilmore broke his thighbone and kneecap in a race in Ninove last Thursday. The crash happened when he hit a pole early in the race. "Initially they thought that he had almost detached the kneecap," said ex-Six Day professional Tom Sawyer. "I spoke to Andrea [Gilmore's wife] last night and she said the knee is nowhere near as bad as they first thought."

Ex-world champion Gilmore could be in action as early as the Ghent six in November, "He's a champion, who has had 17-odd wins and has raced in around 220 Six-Dayers, so it would be great to see him back. I wish him a speedy recovery," said Sawyer.

Internatie on Thursday

The Belgian town of Reningelst will host the 33rd edition of the 'Internatie' on Thursday, July 27. The UCI 1.2 race, held for the first time in 1974, has grown into a tradition in this area of Flanders. The course consists of a 6.2 km starting circuit followed by 11 laps of an undulating 16 km loop for a total of 182.2 km. 27 teams are expected to take part, including

Chocolade Jacques, Unibet.com, Landbouwkrediet, Jartazi-7Mobile, Flanders, AC Sparta Praha, PWC Bergasol, Ubbink – Syntec, National Team USA, Procomm – Vanhemert, Cerdi Team, Cycling Team Wervik, Eseg Douai, Beveren 2000, Konica – Minolta, KSV Deerlijk, Lombarden, Soenens-Germond, Litubel Forte D’Oro, New Heebra, DFL – Cyclingnews, Regiostrom – Senges, Delsol Team, B & E Cycling Team, Team Differdange, PZ Racingaachen, and Lispanne De Haan.

Tour of the South ready to roll

By Gerry McManus

Kristian House
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

The Tour of the South sets off on its 330-mile journey around the Southern counties of England on Thursday July 27. 16 teams of five riders make up 70 rider roster which sets off on stage one from Crawley town centre, which last year hosted the race’s grand finale, for four days of tough racing.

The riders will be kept busy competing for king of the mountain and sprint points along the way ensuring a competitive race every day. The nominated sprints also offer time bonuses of 3, 2, 1 seconds for the first three riders and the first three across the finish will receive 10, 6, 4 seconds. These could be crucial in deciding the overall G.C.

Last year’s winner Kristian House returns with the in-form Recycling.co.uk team supported by Chris Newton, Dale Appleby, Rob Partridge and Rob Sharman. This race will be perfect preparation for their ride in the forthcoming Tour of Britain, and the riders will be out to help manager John Herety make his team selection for that event.

Recycling will have some tough opposition in the shape of Malcolm Elliott’s Plowman Craven team on an equal professional level, and recognised teams like Arctic/Shorter/Rochford RT and the Glendene CC. However a number of composite teams have been forged under British Cycling region banners and these could prove to be a major threat to the top team aspirations.

On form Joel Stewart rides with Elite riders Karl Freeman and Martin Smith for the Central Region. 31-year-old Stewart is having his best year since his comeback following a long illness and has already won three gold medals at the recent masters track championships.

Mark McKay and Columbian Diego Garavito head up the Eastern Region team and Simon Brooks and Neil Coleman lead the Southern Region team.

Gary Dodd’s South East Region team will be on home soil for the first stage. Dodd’s previous rides in the Surrey League 5-Day race will ensure that he will be regarded as a serious contender for stage and overall victories.

If you are looking for an outside bet then go no further than former professional Luckwell. Luckwell rides for more for fun these days but his talent has ensured he has gained an Elite licence and he rides for GWR Team/Total Bike Swindon supported by Grant Bayton and Nic Tilling.

The Stages

Stage 1 - July 27: Crawley - Liphook, 85 miles. On the Surrey Sussex borders, taking in a number of tough climbs where the king of the mountains contenders will show themselves.
Stage 2 - July 28: Long Crendon (Oxfordshire), 80 miles. A stage for the sprinters with points and time bonuses on offer in the hot spot sprints.
Stage 3 - July 29: Malmesbury (Wiltshire), 83 miles. Climbers and sprinters fight it out again. Could be a chance for a small break staying clear.
Stage 4 - July 30: Tavistock, 82 miles. The Dartmoor National Park is the backdrop for Sunday’s final stage starting and finishing at Tavistock. Riders will be treated to key climbs five miles from the start and the finish. The tough stage takes in two circuits with multiple KOM and sprint points.

Launceston crit may be revived

By John Kenny

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Launceston International criterium race organiser Tom Sawyer today told Cyclingnews that he is 90 percent sure that the race will be back on at the end of the year. The race last took place in 2004 but organisers ran into funding difficulties and a lack of support from the local council.

Sawyer is aiming to get all of the Australian Tour de France stars to participate and will contact riders of the calibre of Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers and Simon Gerrans. Other top professionals, such as Chris Sutton (Cofidis), would also be approached if a start date can be formalised.

The organisers have an ally in Australian Davitamon-Lotto manager Alan Peiper, "I spoke to Alan about the possibility of getting [McEwen and Evans] and he seemed to think that it would be okay," said Sawyer.

The preferred time for the event would be Sunday December 17, in order to avoid a clash with the popular Christmas track carnival, which is also held in Tasmania. The staging of the event a week prior to Christmas would also eliminate much of the logistical problems of putting on a race on or near a public holiday, such as the employment of support personnel, volunteers and the rental and storage of equipment such as crash barriers.

Stewart O'Grady (CSC)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The cost of staging the event would be around $200,000, which is a relatively modest sum according to Sawyer, "Robbie McEwen could get 40,000 euros in appearance money for riding a post Tour crit but he's an Aussie who is supportive of the local scene. He hasn't forgotten his roots. Both McEwen and Stuart O'Grady said that that they thought that the event was fabulous and they would be back," said Sawyer.

There is a likelihood that the race will again be televised by SBS. Sawyer said that he had spoken to journalist Michael Tomalaris and a high-ranking producer at the network who were 'pretty keen' to see the race on TV again. "Launceston is the third-oldest city in Australia and the race looks absolutely fabulous," said Sawyer. "Launceston [looks so picturesque] that someone watching the race could think they are watching a race in Europe."

"[In 2004] we had over 10,000 people attend the event and the corporate world was very supportive," said Sawyer. "But there was a lack of support from some key people, but I don't want to go there.". A change in personnel at the council seems to have decreased the odds of the race being put back on, "The new general manager is sports-minded and could be more supportive of the event," said Sawyer.

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