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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for June 6, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

Dauphiné Libéré stage 1 wrap: Wegmann snatches chance, foils sprinters

Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The first road stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré was supposed to be one for the sprinters, a rare opportunity in a race that gets its shape from the hilly terrain of the foothills of the Alps. But someone forgot to have Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann read the script, and the German took the stage win after a perfectly-timed four-man escape shed the peloton 14km from the line.

Wegmann nipped off the front with Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues), Francisco Mancebo (AG2R) and Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel) just before the peloton caught Nicolas Inaudi (Cofidis) on the côte de Rapoux. Inaudi had been away since the second kilometre.

The four worked together to stay away. "I am quite surprised we managed to keep the sprinters at bay," said Wegmann after the stage. "It was a tough stage to do so but the four of us collaborated well."

Wegmann was the fastest of the four as the line approached, and his stage win put him into the race leader jersey. However he doesn't expect to defend that position. "Tackling the really high mountains is always difficult for me," he said. "I'll be happy to work for my race leader Levi Leipheimer."

Click here for the full report, results & photos.

Leblanc on Saiz: "It's hooliganism!"

By Jean-François Quénet in Bourgoin-Jallieu

Yesterday, as he does every year, Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc paid a "friendly and semi touristical visit" to the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. But as soon as he walked into the race village, Leblanc realized that more was expected of him than "relaxation or comments about Fabian Wegmann, David Zabriskie or Thomas Voeckler". After yesterday's stage, Leblanc called a press conference in Bourgoin-Jallieu to discuss the situation in Spain and its effect on the Tour de France, but made it clear from the start: "There won't be any scoop".

"We don't have all the cards in hand," the director of the Tour de France explained. "We can only follow the rhythm of the justice. We're waiting for information from the Spanish justice but we add our determination to that already expressed by UCI president Pat McQuaid. We also appreciate that the AIGCP has told Manolo Saiz that he's not welcome in cycling any more and we approve the courage of Phonak's manager John Lelangue to keep away from racing two of his riders named in the Spanish affair. [We will not hesitate] as soon as we'll have the necessary information."

The board of ASO will meet this week to discuss the matter. "Fifteen days before the start of the Tour de France, the riders of the teams involved must know if they'll start or not. We will not go to Strasburg without having taken a decision," said Leblanc.

While there are important differences between the two teams whose Tour participation is in doubt, the outcome may be the same. As Leblanc explained, "Communidad Valenciana was invited by the organisers who can decide not to invite them any more but Liberty Seguros, as it was called at the time, was qualified under the ProTour rules because they had a license. If they don't have a license any more, they aren't qualified any more."

The ProTour commission - which is the final arbiter of the awarding of ProTour licences - still has to approve the financial and ethical conditions of Kazakh sponsor Astana taking over from Liberty Seguros, and eventually the presence of Manolo Saiz as a team manager and/or as the owner of Active Bay. "The facts look overwhelming," Leblanc said. "This is not sport any more, it's hooliganism!"

The director of the Tour also suggested that no team would be chosen as a replacement, should Communidad Valenciana and/or Astana-Würth not participate. That Alexandre Vinokourov is one of the favourites for this year's Tour de France will not have any impact on the board's decision, Leblanc said. Saiz was already "not welcome" at the 1999 Tour de France but he was reintegrated by the UCI. Leblanc didn't give any scoop in Bourgoin-Jallieu but made it pretty clear that Manolo Saiz is not welcome any more at the Tour de France.

Belda: "Things are worse for me"

Communidad Valenciana director Vicente Belda, implicated in the Spanish doping scandal involving Manolo Saiz and Eufemiano Fuentes, has said that although Saiz is having a tough time at the moment, things may be worse for him. And with his team now all but defunct, he may well be right.

"We have spoken to each other many times," said Belda, "but I called Pablo Antón to pass on my best wishes to himself and Manolo Saiz. The first thing [to be affected] are the people and I know that Manolo will be finding it difficult, although perhaps I may be in a worse position than he is," he said.

"If our team is finally excluded from the Tour de France it would be a tremendous injustice," said José Antonio Pecharromán, who won the Euskal Bizikleta with Paternina-Costa de Almeria in 2003. "We don't have a connection to what's been going on and don't I know why it's been linked us. All these occurrences do a lot to damage cycling," he added.

Pecharromán is part of the preselected Communidad Valenciana squad to ride the Tour. "We have focused all season on the Tour of France," he said. "For us not to be able to participate in the Tour would be not only a huge disillusionment, but a waste of all the the work and preparation we've done up until now," he explained.

Belda, although known as a fighter, seems prepared to yield this time. "This is not the cycling I knew from ten or twenty years ago," he said. "It's rotten from all sides."

Phonak's Santiago Botero, demoralised after being stood down by his team in the wake of this latest scandal, said, "For me the year has finished; I don't have any objectives, nor do I have the illusion that I will have any - I have nothing."

Speaking to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Botero, who has been linked to former Kelme doctor Eufemiano Fuentes said, "My morale and spirit is so low now... I spent seven months preparing here in Colombia, killing myself [with training] every day, living my life on the bicycle." Botero's season was focussed on the Tour de France, which for the Colombian is now out of reach. "My purpose was to do a good Tour de France," he said. "The decision of the team [Phonak] does not seem just to me."

WADA to assist in Spanish doping scandal

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that it will assist the Spanish investigation into alleged doping practices that has already implcated Liberty Seguros team manager Manolo Saiz and former Kelme team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. WADA announced it would send scientific and general experts to analyse equipment, substances and blood bags seized by the Spanish Civil Guardia in the investigation dubbed 'Operation Puerto'. WADA was asked to assist by the Spanish Superior Council for Sports and has said it will do what it can to assist in the ongoing investigation.

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

Simoni retracts

Gilberto Simoni has retracted his claim that Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso asked him for payment in return for Basso allowing Simoni to win stage 20 of the Giro.

Simoni was questioned for 80 minutes yesterday by Armando Forgione, attorney for the Italian Cycling Federation, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I never tried to offend Basso," said Simoni, "I didn't want to damage him. I said some wrong things but I didn't want to cause him any damage. These things are part of the dynamics of racing."

Speaking on Simoni's behalf, his lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone said, "Simoni retracted: there was no talk of deals and much less of money. We made clear that Simoni is a racer, not a public relations expert nor a lawyer. It was a matter of a lack of racing sportsmanship. It was all down to interpretation: to go downhill together and then fight for the victory with a sprint was for Simoni something obvious."

The incident that was open to interpretation occurred at Basso and Simoni descended the Mortirolo in stage 20. After Simoni accused Basso of asking for money to give him the stage win, Basso claimed that he had simply asked Simoni to stay with him on the descent.

"Gilberto has confirmed the non-existence of money deals," said Napoleone. "Besides, when he was interviewed immediately after the stage, he said he was disappointed but didn't mention money.

Ivan Basso is due to give his side of the story to the federation later today.

Ullrich explains retirement remarks

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich has clarified his recent remarks about his retirement plans.

"Maybe I can ride for another one or two years if I am still motivated," Ullrich said Saturday on German TV. On Monday, things sounded a bit different. Show host Katrin Müller-Hohenstein "wanted to know how much longer I will be riding. She caught me off-guard. I've never really thought much about it," he wrote on his website, www.janullrich.de.

"Besides the Tour, there are several other races I would like to win. If I do start to think about ending my career, then I think the end will be near. But I still want to sit in the saddle for one or two more years." At a press conference last week, he said that riding is" still fun. I still have some things I want to accomplish, so we'll see."

Garzelli aims high in July

Stefano Garzelli remains confident that he'll be strong for both the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France, despite not having recorded many strong results so far this season. He recorded another win for 2006 with victory in stage four of the Tour of Luxembourg on Sunday, after he decided not to ride the Giro d'Italia last month, a race he won in 2000.

"I have the confidence to aim very high for the Tour de Suisse and then especially the Tour de France," said Garzelli. "My victory on Sunday in the last stage of the Tour of Luxembourg reinforced me in this idea," he added.

Speaking in Varese yesterday, the Liquigas rider didn't hide his desire to perform well in this year's loop around France, something that remains the primary objective of his season. Garzelli will share the responsibilities of team captain with compatriot Danilo Di Luca, who didn't enjoy as strong a Giro performance as he'd hoped during May.

"This success [in Luxembourg] has shown that my spring was not too bad, despite not obtaining the results I had hoped to in the northern classics. In France, I will certainly be looking to secure a place on the general classification," revealed the Italian.

T-Mobile to the Tour without Sevilla?

By Susan Westemeyer

Team T-Mobile has repeatedly said that it wouldn't announce its Tour de France team until after the Tour de Suisse, but the German press agency DPA claims to know already who will wear magenta in France next month. Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden, Sergei Honchar, Michael Rogers and Eddy Mazzoleni have long had their places on the team reserved. DPA claims that the remaining four places will go to Giuseppe Guerini, Sergei Ivanov, Matthias Kessler, and Patrik Sinkewitz.

A notable absence from that Tour squad would be Oscar Sevilla, formerly considered a good bet for the Tour team. Sevilla's name has been mentioned in the current Spanish doping scandal, but he continues to insist that he is not involved.

Two more years at Euskaltel for Sánchez

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Samuel Sánchez, has renewed his contract with the Basque ProTour team for two more seasons after his previous agreement expired at the end of last week's Euskal Bizikleta.

The 28-year-old said he had chosen to stay with the orange-clad squad despite receiving more lucrative offers from other teams.

Sanchez won two stages of the Vuelta a País Vasco earlier this year, and won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana in 2005.

New Jersey midsummer racing ready to roll

With several pro teams confirmed to race, the eighth edition of the Mt Holly-Smithville Invitational Grand Prix (July 22) offers some of the strongest midsummer racing for riders throughout the Delaware Valley region and a generous prize purse of $10,000.

The 92 mile circuit race consists of seven laps of a 12 mile circuit through Mt. Holly and the surrounding towns of Easthampton, Westhampton and Springfield followed by three 2.5 mile loops through Mt. Holly's residential and downtown business district. Proceeds from this regional event benefit the H.B. Smith Industrial Village Conservancy, a non-profit volunteer organisation dedicated to improvements, restoration and programmes in Burlington County’s historic Smithville Park.

This year's event is open to UCI professional trade teams and a selection of elite amateur teams, with pro teams including Targetraining, AEG-Toshiba-Jetnetwork, Navigators Insurance, Nerac/Outdoorlighting.com and Priority Health having already confirmed their participation.

Teams wishing to be considered for participation can submit an online application at www.co.burlington.nj.us. The team application/selection process will finish on July 3 and selected teams for the 2006 edition will be announced on July 7.

For additional information contact mthollysmithvillegp@hotmail.com

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