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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for March 10, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Rory tells his story

By Anthony Tan

With a number of high profile doping cases recently being awarded against the cyclist in question, including that of former Phonak rider Tyler Hamilton, the cycling public - and public in general - may be starting to assume an convicted cyclist is guilty until proven otherwise. However, as the case of young Australian rider Rory Sutherland demonstrates, the lines are not so clear cut.

On December 21 last year, the 24 year-old from Canberra was dealt a career-threatening blow. He tested positive for a little-known drug called Clomiphene - practically unheard of in endurance sports and not expected to produce any performance enhancing effect according to some medical experts, although it is on the banned list because it can inhibit estrogen, thereby increasing the body's testosterone production. The disciplinary committee of the Belgian Cycling Federation (with whom Sutherland holds his racing licence) chose to suspend the then 23 year-old for two years with a nine-month conditional sentence.

When contacted by Cyclingnews soon after the news broke, Sutherland claims he had no prior knowledge of the substance until he was told it was present in his body at the time his was tested, which occurred at the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany) in August 2005. Evidence later revealed the concentration of Clomiphene in his body was in the range of 5-10 nanograms - in other words, 5-10 billionths of a gram - and it was this argument that was put forward to the disciplinary committee at his November 23 hearing.

Furthermore, an independent investigation committee wrote in its report that it did not find "any indication that Sutherland was directly or indirectly implicated in expressing interest in or in using substances classified as doping agents" and that "Sutherland took the substance unknowingly."

Now sitting at his home in Canberra, supported by family and friends, Sutherland isn't too sure what to do. Should he appeal to the sport's highest authority, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)?

"This is a very difficult question for me to answer," he said, discussing his case exclusively with Cyclingnews.

"It is on one hand difficult for me to think about going to the CAS after what has just happened to Danilo Hondo. [Upon appeal to the CAS for testing positive to the drug Carphedon, the German rider's suspension was in fact extended from one to two years, as well as another two-year ban from racing in the ProTour - ed.] But, for me to run the risk of getting a longer suspension is a very big deterrent. On the other hand, I don't think what has happened is right, and I am not someone who likes just to give up the fight when you know there is an injustice. A bit of a 'Catch 22' situation."

Sutherland's suspension effectively ends on December 15th, 2006, so admittedly, a year and a half out of the sport for a young rider with plenty of promise is unlikely to be career ending. He says he's been given a date when he's permitted to race again, and "I'm looking to that date, and working towards it."

"I've had some time off the bike of late, but have been keeping fit doing other things. It's nearly time to start training again and start working on the future instead of thinking too much about the past. I have no expectation of not riding again. I think in the long run this will help me to realize just how much I really do love the sport. I'm motivated, frustrated, and confident that I will be a better rider from it.

"This is by far the hardest thing I have ever been through. But, it's very important to me that I can hold my head up high in the knowledge that I have never knowingly taken any performance enhancing substances."

Adds Sutherland, who chose to answer questions via email, "I'm sure a lot of people have made up their minds about me, and to be honest I'm okay with that. Maybe it's not in my best interests to write this, but I think it's important for people to see things from a different angle, and other riders (athletes) can see what can happen in professional sport."

Look for the full interview transcript with Rory Sutherland next week.

Bobby's guide to staying strong

Behind the quiet demeanour
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

He's now 34 years of age but Bobby Julich appears to be as strong as ever. This was evident after he won the prologue of this year's Paris-Nice recently; the American told Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes that despite not getting any younger, there are new goals and targets for 2006.

The afternoon of March 6 saw Bobby Julich storm to victory in the prologue of Paris-Nice, taking up where he left off 12 months previously by again wearing yellow at this early-season ProTour race. That and his third place overall in the Tour of California show that he's already in strong form, yet with the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France on this year's race programme, he had actually counted on a slower start to the season.

"It [the prologue win] was a total surprise," he admitted. "So too in California, where I almost won the prologue there. I had a couple of years where no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't ever get a result - but now they almost seem to be coming all by themselves."

Julich had ended the 2004 season early and, after a break, began training hard in December. This time round, a later end to his race programme in 2005 plus bad weather at home near Reno meant that it was January before he really started to knuckle down. Yet performance tests held on the climb of Monte Serra at the CSC training camp in Tuscany, plus the data from his SRM power meter showed that he was in similar shape to the start of 2005, despite having done less miles. That good form has continued into his early races.

Julich told Cyclingnews at the CSC Italian training camp earlier this year that he is aiming to be in peak condition for May. He has a specific aim in mind. "I would like to be as good as I can at the beginning of the Giro, because I'd like to take a little bit of the pressure off Ivan [Basso] and go for the leader's jersey myself," he says. "I think the team time trial and the 52 kilometre time trial will help with that goal. It would be great to have the jersey within the team, without Ivan having to have it on his shoulders for the whole three weeks. Unless things really change, then, in those last few days when the race really gets tough, I won't be able to go up those sort of mountains [with the best]. So then Ivan takes over and we're all happy."

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Demonstrators make a stressful day in Paris-Nice

"Whoever thought that we would have a stress-free stage today, thought wrong," says Gerolsteiner's Ronny Scholz of Thursday's fourth stage of Paris-Nice.

"The race was stopped for the first time before the first mountain top. Demonstrators had chained themselves to the barriers and forced us to stop. They tried to take bikes away from riders and tried to push their lit cigarettes into our thighs. That has nothing to do with a demonstration!" he wrote on his website,

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

Australian track coach keen to see a fight

Australia's national track cycling manager Martin Barras is using the example set by Stuart O'Grady at a previous Olympic Games as a benchmark of how his team should approach the upcoming Commonwealth Games. However, it's not the Madison that he's referring to, where he won gold with team-mate Graeme Brown in Athens - it was the Olympic points race from the Sydney Games, which saw the freckled South Australian finish tenth.

"He didn't actually end up winning a medal, but he was the talk of the crowd because he went out there and fought and fought and fought and fought," Barras told the Adelaide Advertiser. "And that's exactly what you can expect from this team... I'm looking forward to seeing them fight."

Barras' hopes in Melbourne are buoyed by two star pupils hitting top form just at the right time - after experimenting with a larger gear, world individual pursuit champion Katie Mactier rode a very fast time trial two days ago, while dual Olympic champion Ryan Bayley says he recently clocked a personal best time in training. "I've done a lot of fast times in training," said Bayley. "Racing-wise, my head comes good when my legs come good."

Rhodes: "Now the real work starts"

After what she's been through in the last nine months, making the Commonwealth Games team was a dream for Alexis Rhodes, but five days before the opening ceremony in Melbourne, the 21 year-old says the "reality is starting to set in".

"It's something that I thought I might have had taken away from me," Rhodes said of her Commonwealth Games selection to AAP. "To come back and to be named in my first ever Commonwealth Games team, it has been pretty exciting but I guess now the real work starts."

One of the six members involved in the fateful crash in Germany last July that claimed the life of Amy Gillett, Rhodes has made an amazing recovery to the elite level, defending her national criterium championship crown in January and now part of the 33-strong Australian cycling team to contest the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Initially named for the road race in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens on March 26, it now appears she will compete in the points race with her best friend Katherine Bates as well as the individual pursuit. "Specifically, I am more there as a team player," Rhodes said of her changed motives.

"I mean, obviously the [points] medal goes to the individual person, but if I can help... Kate Bates win gold in the points race, it has been a successful day for me as well. She has been there pretty much every day for me, so for me to help her in the points will be really quite special for me."

Rhodes added she doesn't take what she does as seriously anymore, and would dedicate what she is managing to do - something four of her other team-mates from Germany can only hope for - to her former Australian Institute of Sport teammate Gillett. "She is still there in my mind," she said.

Rabobank for upcoming races

The Rabobank team have released their rosters for the next month of racing, starting from next Wednesday's Nokere Koerse and up to the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen in Belgium on April 12.

Nokere Koerse, Belgium, March 15

Riders: Jan Boven, Graeme Brown, Marc de Maar, Theo Eltink, Gerben L÷wik, Niels Scheuneman, Pieter Weening + 1
Team manager: Adri van Houwelingen

Milano - Sanremo, Italy, March 18

Riders: Oscar Freire, Erik Dekker, Thomas Dekker, Juan Antonio Flecha, Pedro Horrillo, Bram de Groot, Marc Wauters + 1
Team manager: Erik Breukink

Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Belgium, March 22

Riders: Jan Boven, Graeme Brown, Marc de Maar, Gerben L÷wik, Niels Scheuneman, Jukka Vastaranta, Joost Posthuma, Thorwald Veneberg
Team manager: Frans Maassen

CritÚrium International, France, March 25-26

Riders: Erik Dekker, Denis Menchov, Thomas Dekker, Grischa Niermann, Pieter Weening, Michael Rasmussen, Alexander Kolobnev, Theo Eltink
Team manager: Adri van Houwelingen

E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, Belgium, March 25

Riders: Michael Boogerd, Jan Boven, Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire, Pedro Horrillo, Marc Wauters, Joost Posthuma, Gerben L÷wik
Reserves: Graeme Brown, Jukka Vastaranta
Team manager: Frans Maassen

Brabantse Pijl, Belgium, March 26

Riders (selection from): Michael Boogerd, Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire, Pedro Horrillo, Bram De Groot, Marc De Maar, Thorwald Veneberg, Niels Scheuneman, Jukka Vastaranta
Team manager: Erik Breukink

KBC Driedaagse Van De Panne-Koksijde, Belgium, March 28-30

Riders: Jan Boven, Graeme Brown, Marc De Maar, Niels Scheuneman, Marc Wauters, Gerben L÷wik, Jukka Vastaranta, Thorwald Veneberg
Team manager: Adri Van Houwelingen

Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Belgium, April 2

Riders (selection from): Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire, Pedro Horrillo, Marc Wauters, Joost Posthuma, Jan Boven, Mathew Hayman, Gerben L÷wik
Team manager: Frans Maassen

Vuelta Ciclista Al Pais Vasco, Spain, April 3-7

Riders: Thomas Dekker, Theo Eltink, Bram De Groot, Alexander Kolobnev, Denis Menchov, Grischa Niermann, Michael Rasmussen, Pieter Weening
Reserves: Thorwald Veneberg
Team manager: Erik Breukink

Gent - Wevelgem, Belgium, April 5

Riders (selection from): Graeme Brown, Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire, Pedro Horrillo, Mathew Hayman, Marc De Maar, Gerben L÷wik, Niels Scheuneman, Jukka Vastaranta, Thorwald Veneberg
Team manager: Adri Van Houwelingen

Paris - Roubaix, France, April 9

Riders: Juan Antonio Flecha, Joost Posthuma, Marc Wauters, Mathew Hayman, Pedro Horrillo, Marc De Maar, Jan Boven, Gerben L÷wik
Reserves: Jukka Vastaranta, Niels Scheuneman
Team manager: Adri Van Houwelingen

Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, Belgium, April 12

Riders: Graeme Brown, Thorwald Veneberg, Jukka Vastaranta, Niels Scheuneman, Marc Wauters, Jan Boven, Mathew Hayman, Marc De Maar
Reserves: Gerben L÷wik, Theo Eltink
Team manager: Adri Van Houwelingen

Suzuki sponsors Colavita

On Thursday in Brea, California, American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) announced a multi-year agreement with the Colavita men's and women's cycling teams. The team sponsorship makes Suzuki the official motor vehicle sponsor of both the Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home Winery men's cycling team and Colavita/Cooking Light women's cycling team.

"Suzuki and the Colavita men's and women's cycling teams are a perfect fit," said Tom Carney, director of sales and marketing of American Suzuki Automotive Operations. "ASMC's sponsorship of Team Colavita Cycling is a natural extension of Suzuki's 'Way of Life' philosophy, which focuses on adventure-seeking enthusiasts who choose to live life instead of watch it go by."

As part of the sponsorship agreement, both the men's and women's cycling teams will use a custom-wrapped Suzuki Forenza Wagon as their team vehicle throughout the 2006/2007 racing seasons. Additionally, the men's team will display the Suzuki logo on their race uniforms in 2007.

"We are pleased to welcome American Suzuki Motor Corporation as a sponsor of the Colavita men's and women's cycling teams," said John Profaci, vice president of marketing of Colavita Olive Oil. "The versatility of the Forenza Wagons will be a real asset for our teams as they travel across the country to race and train."

New strength-training for Ullrich?

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich is apparently trying new ways of preparing himself to try and win the Tour de France this year. The European winter has allowed him to discover a new method of strength training: snow shoveling.

"I shoveled snow for three hours, to get the driveway and entrance to my house free. That was real strength training. Hopefully it won't give me too many muscles, which I will have to drag up the mountains," he wrote on his website, "But seriously. Because of the snow chaos in Switzerland, I had to start my training camp in Tuscany later. But I didn't lose any time, because I trained every day on the rollers."

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer

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