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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 15, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Comunidad Valenciana asks ASO to reconsider

By Anthony Tan

Ousted from their Tour de France berth a little over two weeks from the start in Strasbourg, Spanish Pro Continental team Comunidad Valenciana has sent a letter to organisers A.S.O., asking them to reconsider what they feel was an unfair decision.

In the letter, sent to A.S.O. on Wednesday, the team said the decision to exclude Comunidad Valenciana is based on suppositions, not facts:

"The riders of the Comunidad Valenciana team have, to date, passed all controls conducted by the UCI without any shade of suspicion on them. The Comunidad Valenciana team has contributed to the upholding of the ethical code, demonstrating on all occasions its integrity," read the statement.

Furthermore, the statement said not one of their riders has so far been implicated in the investigation conducted by the Spanish Civil Guard, known as 'Operation Puerto', and assistant team manager José Ignacio Labarta has now left the team.

"This is an excessive measure," team manager Vicente Belda said to Marca, adding Labarta's departure did nothing for the team. "There are teams that have doping incidents that are in the Tour. It's years since we've had a doping scandal. We have passed many controls."

Said Belda: "They caught the assistant director of AG2R and they raced the Tour, and Cofidis had an significant scandal and they raced too. The French organizers are more tolerant with teams from their country. We have no one implicated, except Ignacio Labarta... we have no rider on 'the list'."

Belda has also called on the Spanish government's state secretary for sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, to intervene on behalf of the team. "I don't know what to say. I am sorry for the cyclists, because they have worked for many months and trained like Cossacks to prepare for the Tour. We're clean. This is very hard for us."

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

Morabito: Tour de Suisse start was 'a present'

By Shane Stokes

Steve Morabito (Phonak)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

First year pro Steve Morabito will doubtlessly be pinching himself this morning in order to make sure he didn't dream his stage win of yesterday at the Tour de Suisse. The 23 year-old started racing for Phonak this year and admits that his first couple of months in the professional ranks were tough ones. Finding more strength recently, he was granted a start by his team and exceeded both his and their expectations when he took a ProTour-level win.

"To get into this race was like a present," he told the press yesterday. "I initially found it hard to adopt to the rhythm of racing in ProTour events, and that made me question the way I was training. But more recently, I have been doing better. The second part has been a bit better, because I think I rode well in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de Catalunya. My team showed then confidence in me by selecting me for the Tour de Suisse."

Although local lad Morabito had never ridden up the first category Leukerbad climb prior to his win there yesterday, the Phonak competitor said that being from the region definitely helped.

"I think it was great for my morale as I had family and many fans along the roadside who were encouraging me. I never did the climb by bike, although I did drive up it three years ago in the car. I remember that there were flatter parts and that they would be good for recovering a little. About a kilometre from the line I could see flags and saw the direction the wind was in; I could plan my finish to take advantage of that."

He then gave a little information about his background and also his plans for the future. "I was originally a basketball player for five years but then switched to cycling a second year junior and won 11 races, national and international. I was also racing mountain bikes, too."

"My objective this year was to do many different types of races. I did races with steep hills, races with cobblestones, competitions in Spain and in Italy, and also classics like Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I like the Ardennes Classics because those courses suit me well. I also enjoy stage racing because it is a combination of strength and tactics that is important."

Another second for van Goolen

By Shane Stokes

Jurgen Van Goolen (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel's Jurgen Van Goolen went close to taking his first pro win in yesterday's fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse, yet came up against another talented rider chasing the same objective. He did what he could, but in the end Steve Morabito proved the stronger of the two, winning in Leukerbad.

Van Goolen's body language and facial expressions showed he was very disappointed to miss out. However, after a couple of minutes to recover from his effort, he told Cyclingnews about the finish.

"We were in a very long break," he stated at the top of the first category climb. "It was very hot today, I think 35 degrees, so it was a tough race. At the beginning of the climb I attacked and only one guy could follow [Morabito]. Maybe I should have tried to attack a little bit earlier. I think it is only my ninth race of the year - I had an injury and didn't race for three months. Now I am coming back. Maybe I don't have enough faith in myself."

Van Goolen missed out on competition time due to a crash in the Volta ao Algarve earlier this year, which left him with a broken hip. He's pleased to be back racing, but wants to get a victory under his belt as soon as possible. "Of course I am happy with my form, given that I've had that time off. But just now I am disappointed. I think it is the fifth time in my career I have taken second - I have not won yet. I hope that changes soon."

Amongst those runner-up placings is his second in the 2003 Tour of Denmark and Belgian road race championships.

Voigt leads Ster Elektrotoer

Jens Voigt (CSC)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Two top-ten placings in yesterday's double opening stage of Holland's Ster Elektrotoer has seen Team CSC's Jens Voigt move into the race lead, displacing early leader Aart Vierhouten from Skil-Shimano. With two tough stages today (Thursday) and tomorrow, retracing much of the route from the Amstel Gold Race and Liégé-Bastogne-Liégé respectively, and still a large group of top riders within striking distance, Voigt and his team will have their work cut out for them before the race ends in Eindhoven on Saturday.

"To be honest I'm quite annoyed that I didn't manage to win the [second] stage, even though I'm leading the race now, because I worked really hard in both stages," Voigt said on

"Also, Erik [Dekker] is going to be dangerous in the next couple of days, because the routes suit him so well. I was leading most of the way [in the time trial], but ended up losing with 10 seconds. I was paying the price for this morning, where I was chasing the peloton on my own for about 10 or 15 kilometres after a puncture," he explained.

But the next couple of stages suit Voigt well, said CSC directeur-sportif at the Ster Elektrotoer, Tristan Hoffman: "In Thursday's stage most of the route is the same as in Amstel Gold Race, while most of Friday's is from Liégé-Bastogne-Liégé.

"It's only natural that Jens is upset about his puncture costing him the stage. But let's see if we can't hang on to the jersey. We have four guys at the top in the overall standings, so we'll have to be aggressive and make all the breaks," said Hoffman.

Click here for the full results, report & photos.

Health Net dominate Nature Valley prologue

A smiling Nathan O'Neill
Photo ©: Caroline Yang
(Click for larger image)

To the surprise of no one, Health Net's Nathan O'Neill won the opening prologue of the Nature Valley Grand Prix yesterday (Wednesday).

At the end of the day. the Australian and Commonwealth Games time trial champion was one of four Health Net p/b Maxxis riders occupying the top five positions after the 4.5-mile individual time trial along the Saint Paul Riverfront.

Greg Henderson, fresh off winning the Reading Classic and Philadelphia International Championship, finished third at 16 seconds back. Another Australian, the perpetually strong Karl Menzies, finished fourth another second back, while Canadian sprint ace Gord Fraser finished fifth, another second behind. Navigators' Bernard Van Ulden was the only non-Health Net rider to crack the top five, finishing 12 seconds behind O'Neill.

"The plan will be to defend Nathan's lead until the end," said directeur-sportif Jeff Corbett. "However, with three more guys in the top five, we have plenty of options."

Click here for the full results, report & photos.

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