Latest Cycling News for March 17, 2006
Edited by Anthony Tan
Hondo free to race again
By Susan Westemeyer
Danilo Hondo announced this morning that a Swiss court has set aside his two-year doping ban, allowing him to start racing again almost immediately. In November 2005, the Swiss Cycling Union had issued the ban, citing Hondo's positive doping tests, which was recently upheld and extended by a year upon his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, following advice from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
"The court took our arguments seriously, and I am very happy about it," Hondo said on his website, danilo-hondo.de. "I have been training all along and am in good shape. Now I have to see what happens, so that I can start riding again as soon as possible."
According to Hondo's website, it was the first time ever that a civil court has overturned the decision of a sports court. He further claims that this action "could have a decided influence on the entire sport and puts to question the WADA's strict two-year ban."
Said Hondo's attorney, Michael Lehner: "We were rewarded for not giving up the fight." However, he noted "The verdict has only been set aside [not entirely dismissed - ed.]. A definitive decision by a higher civil court will come in about six months."
Boonen breaks the bank to take Bici d'Oro
Double win with '05 Oscar Gazzetta-Bici d'Oro Fausto Coppi
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Milano
In a gala presentation in the centre of Milano yesterday evening, world champion Tom Boonen was awarded the first ever Oscar Gazzetta-Bici d'Oro Fausto Coppi 2005 award.
Cycling's glitterati were assembled in the Sala Montanelli in La Gazetta dello Sport's HQ on via Solferino in the heart of Milano's Brera district. All anxiously awaited Boonen, who arrived late due to Milano's paralysed traffic grid from No-Global protestors. When he finally did arrive, clad in trendy ripped jeans, a elegant grey jacket and a black T-shirt with "Faith" inscribed on gothic letters, Boonen was given a warm welcome by guests of honour present to celebrate the award. On hand were Marina and Faustino Coppi, the children of il Campionissimo Coppi, Boonen's fellow Tour of Flanders winner Fiorenzo Magni and legacy icon of Italian cycling Alfredo Martini. Felice Gimondi, Giuseppe Sarroni, Gianni Bugno and Francesco Moser, all former world champions, were also there to salute Boonen.
Conceived by La Gazzetta dello Sport, Boonen's award came from a special panel made up of all 20 ProTour team managers, the organizers of all three Grand Tours and 17 of cycling's big names: Merckx, Indurain, Hinault, Bugno, Moser and historical figures like Ferdi Kubler and Fiorenzo Magni. Boonen had a total of 80 points, ahead of seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, whose total was 64. For 2005, the Oscar Gazzetta prize combined with the Bici d'Oro Fausto Coppi prize made a double dip of cycling awards that may be one of the most prestigious honours any cyclist can receive.
As he received his award from Faustino Coppi, the son of Italian cycling's all-time great Fausto Coppi, Boonen said: "This prize is the biggest award of my career. It means a lot to me because great riders like Lance Armstrong and Danilo Di Luca have won it before. I hope to honour this award on Saturday with a victory in Sanremo. To win there would give me another major classic win and at 25 years old, it would be something special."
For the actual award, Boonen gets an engraved solid gold plaque with an image of Fausto Coppi that weighs in at 400 grams and is valued at €15,000. But Boonen will likely leave the award behind in Saturday's Milano-Sanremo race, as it might slow him down on the final ascent of the Poggio before Sanremo.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Petacchi, Boonen & Bettini get race faces ready for Sanremo
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Milano
The last man to win back-to-back editions of Milano-Sanremo was 2001, when Erik Zabel of Team Telekom notched his fourth victory on the Via Roma, having also taken back-to-back victories in 1997-98. Five years later, Team Milram's Alessandro Petacchi is looking to do the same, and the speedster from La Spezia is using the same techniques as last year to prepare for La Primavera classic.
After a relaxing ride yesterday of two hours on his local roads in Versilia, Petacchi packed his Colnago Extreme C in his Porsche Carrera and cruised up the Autostrada towards Sanremo, where he had a solid four hour ride to prepare for his big challenge Saturday. On the menu for Ale-Jet were the Capi coastal climbs, la Cipressa and il Poggio, with a number of repeats on this crucial final ascent before the wicked plunge into Sanremo. And like last season, Petacchi was all alone today on his training ride, allowing the Milram man to focus 100 percent of the challenge of getting up the Poggio far enough ahead to set himself up for a winning sprint in Milano-Sanremo.
As for Quick.Step's world champion Tom Boonen, before he flew to Italy yesterday to receive his Oscar Gazzetta-Bici d'Oro Fausto Coppi '05 [see story above], Wednesday saw big Tom Boonen doing a hard four hours on the roads around his hometown of Balen, ending up with another 90 minute session behind a derny! As for Boonen's teammate Paolo Bettini, he had a bad crash last Friday at Tirreno-Adriatico, having to abandon while in the leader's jersey and the hard fall may have cost the '04 Olympic champ some of his superb form.
But on Wednesday, Bettini was training on the roads around Salsomaggiore Terme with his trusted teammate Davide Bramati to test his form. The results? Bettini still has back pain from his crash, but the inflammation and swelling in his knee have almost disappeared. Even if Bettini has lost the edge he had last week, look for the powerful little Tuscan to go on the attack on La Cipressa to put more pressure on Petacchi's Milram squad and help his teammate Boonen.
Phonak pins hopes on Guidi and Hunter
Although Fabrizio Guidi and Robert Hunter have both been on antibiotics as the result of tonsillitis and bronchitis respectively, Phonak is pinning its hopes on them for Saturday's Milan-Sanremo. "Forced breaks can often have a positive effect," said directeur-sportif René Savary.
The riders, who are eagerly awaiting the longest race of the season at 294 kilometres, also support this Savary's comments. As well as Guidi and Hunter, Martin Elmiger and Miguel Angel Perdiguero intend to make a good showing at the race.
Riders: Martin Elmiger, Bert Grabsch, Fabrizio Guidi, Robert Hunter, Koos Moerenhout, Uros Murn, Miguel Angel Perdiguero, Gregory Rast Directeurs-sportifs: René Savary, Adriano Baffi
LPR to M-SR
The eight names of Aggiano, Contrini, Ermeti, Konyshev, Maccanti, Muraglia, Pieri and Khalilov have been announced by Team LPR manager Omar Piscina for tomorrow's Milan-Sanremo.
"We arrive at this prestigious appointment with morale to the stars," said an optimistic Piscina. "We came out of Tirreno-Adriatico with one of the greatest highs; excluding two or three other ProTour teams, Team LPR, for its entrepreneurship and courage, was the best.
"We want to continue under the auspices of the same mental attitude, animating the race with one of our men in the breakaway. In terms of condition and maturity, our diamond will be Khalilov; in Tirreno, he was a true protagonist, demonstrating throughout the race he could compete with the best. It's logical for me to expect a lot from he, although I also hope to see Dario Pieri with the best, too."
Team manager Orlando Maini confirmed that after a training run over the final kilometres of tomorrow's race, Khalilov, who will be riding in the Ukraine national champion's colours, carries the team's main hopes. "Our top rider is he," said Maini, "and next will be Konyshev. In a tactical sense, they offer the maximum guarantees to us. But obviously in a one day race, we cannot just rely on Khalilov - Aggiano, Ermeti, Maccanti and Contrini can all go in a breakaway, and Muraglia I want to see shining on the Cipressa."
And finally, a prediction on the winner: "Petacchi, at this moment, pedals the strongest," responded Maini. "According to me, he will finish ahead of Boonen. Also, if he had not fallen in Tirreno, my favourite was Bettini."
Weather forecast for La Primavera
Italian weather forecasts are notoriously, well, Italian, and usually provide the day's weather, which can also be had by looking out the window. However according to multiple Italian weather sources, the weather for Saturday's 9:30am Milano-Sanremo start in Piazza Sant'Ambrogio will be partly cloudy and five degrees Celsius, with a northeast tailwind that should help the traditional early breakaway across the Lombardy plain and up the Passo Turchino for the plunge down to Liguria. At the finish in Sanremo around 5pm, the weather is predicted to partly cloudy and 15 degrees Celsius, with north-northeast winds between 20-30km/h that will provide headwinds on the often-decisive coastal climbs.
Boogerd out with broken foot
Pro cyclists can injure themselves in many ways: riding into a pothole, crashing with another rider, playing with their kids... What?
Yes, Rabobank's Michael Boogerd took advantage of an afternoon off to play with his son Mikai and ended up breaking a bone in his right foot. He now has a cast up to the knee, and will have the foot further examined today (Friday) at the hospital in Amersfoort, Netherlands. It is not yet known how long he will be off the bike.
Courtesy Susan Westemeyer
Bartko's track team in financial difficulty
Robert Bartko and his teammates on the US Financial Team, a privately-financed professional track team, are having trouble getting paid. Team leader Werner Otto confirmed that the sponsor "is behind in paying the riders and the club. There have been irregularities since October," he said. According to news source dpa, Otto has given the sponsor a deadline of March 31 to fulfil their contractual obligations, or he will remove their name from the team.
Courtesy Susan Westemeyer
Pellizotti to lead Liquigas in Coppi e Bartali
After Milan-San Remo, Franco Pellizotti and his Liquigas-Bianchi team will head to the Adriatic coast of Italy to defend his title at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, which starts next Tuesday in Riccione. Supported by Vincenzo Nibali, who will act as captain of the Liquigas team, Pellizotti, nicknamed the 'Delfino di Bibione' (Dolphin of Bibione), is said to be keen to repeat his 2005 victory with the cooperation of some of the riders who will take part in tomorrow's Milan-San Remo.
Besides Pellizotti and Nibali, the Liquigas team to the Coppi e Bartali race, which runs from Tuesday March 21 to Saturday March 25, will feature the names of Calcagni, Carlström, Miholjevic, Mugerli, Noè and Wegelius. Stefano Zanatta and Mario Chiesa will act as direttori sportivi.
UCI cracks down on Stazio criteriums
By Anthony Tan
Organisers of a series of what are now been referred to as 'charity' criteriums in Boulder, Colorado have met with the disapproval of cycling's governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), after allowing professionals to compete in an unsanctioned event. In the past, the UCI has often turned a blind eye to unsanctioned charity rides that include the token professional or two, but the fact that Tyler Hamilton, who recently lost a much-publicised appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and competed in the first event held on March 5, most likely has something to do with it.
In November 2005, Hamilton's charity foundation, the Tyler Hamilton Foundation (THF) formed a partnership with Denver Boulder Couriers (DBC) to promote a cycling in Colorado through a long-running series of events known as the Criteriums @ Stazio series. Beginning on March 5 and scheduled each weekend till May, a portion of the entry fees from the series and three additional road races in April is channeled back to the THF, with the funds used to support cycling in the area.
At the time the alliance was created, Denver Boulder Couriers decided each of these races would be unsanctioned to keep entry costs down and allow all levels of racing from young children to seasoned professionals. Furthermore, in 2007, the Criteriums @ Stazio series had been planned to be taken over by the City of Boulder. However, these groundwork plans and in particular the unsanctioned nature of the event, have garnered the angst of the UCI, recently contacting the event organisers to inform them that rule 1.2.019 would be enforced, thereby prohibiting UCI-licensed professionals from participating.
If professionals choose to continue competing in the Criteriums @ Stazio series, they would risk a fine of 100 Swiss Francs and up to one month's suspension - the latter enough of a deterrent for a paid professional. A number of forums, including www.tetoncycling.com run by Colorado-based cycling coach Jon Tarkington, have urged those who believe the UCI is jeopardising the event to "not let local events that make difference in the lives of so many, young and old throughout our country be threatened. Do not stand by while cyclists who've done no wrong are threatened with suspensions. Let your voice be heard."
One of the most recent posts urges 'believers' to send a letter to USA Cycling's (USAC) most senior staff member, including CEO Gerard Bisceglia, advocating the THF/DBC-run event and all unsanctioned charity events throughout the country. It reads: "One the major activities of USA Cycling ensure the ongoing development and safe participation in the sport of cycling. They have not accomplished that goal through this recent action and they need to hear from their constituents."
The post ends with a familiar tag-line: "This is about believing. It is about believing in our communities, and our rights as individuals. It is about believing in the power of the bike. Join us in our efforts to make a difference."
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