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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 20, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones

Hondo attorney against WADA proceedings

By Hedwig Kröner and Susan Westemeyer

Hondo surrounded by journalists at the 2005 Gerolsteiner team presentation
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
Click for larger image

An absolute novelty has occurred in the world of cycling and its specific 'underworld' of doping, the sport's biggest problem. For the first time, a civil court in Switzerland has overturned the doping suspension of a professional cyclist - in this case, over one year after the cyclist was found guilty by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Cyclingnews spoke to the attorney of German cyclist Danilo Hondo, Michael Lehner, who said that Hondo's case would now be heard once again in front of a civil court in six months' time, but that Hondo was free to race again if he found a team to sign him.

"We took action to annul of the CAS decision at the highest Cantonal appeals court in Lausanne," Lehner told Cyclingnews on Saturday. "The UCI, WADA and Swiss Cycling had the possibility to reply to our arguments by bringing forward their own, but the court granted our proposed interim suspension measure. So all arguments have been taken account of already in this expeditious procedure."

The German jurist continued by saying that the decision was not final, but that "the procedure has a certain effect on the main trial - the court finds our arguments to be very conclusive."

So was he sure that Hondo's two-year suspension was going to be lifted? "I'm positive the suspension will either be lifted or reduced - in any case, Hondo will be able to race again as of April 1, according to the first instance, Swiss cycling." Indeed, the former Gerolsteiner sprinter was suspended by his team on April 2, 2005, and initially banned for one year before the Court of Arbitration for Sport increased the sentence to two years in January 2006.

"So the risk for a cycling team to take him on is not great," Lehner added. "Regarding the additional two-year ban from racing the ProTour: if a Swiss court questions the initial two-year punishment, then the additional ProTour ban cannot be legal, either."

When asked about the arguments he used in his appeal, Lehner said, "It was 40 pages long, but mainly consisted in the fact that only a very small amount of the banned substance was found in Hondo's body; an amount that small that it was well below the threshold of having any effects. Nobody knew how it could possibly have come into his body, let alone intentionally. But the core of the legal discussion is that way in which these sports trials are held - a two-year suspension with a reversed onus of proof, i.e. the athlete has to prove that he is innocent - can't be upheld in front of civil courts. I think that this was the main argument the court followed, too. In the decision, it is said that the athlete's intention [to take a performance enhancing substance] cannot be proven - maybe it was in a bidon or biochemically produced by his body itself."

With these same arguments, Lehner has been trying to fight the sports court's procedures for years, as he also acted as attorney for Olympic runner Dieter Baumann, who was found guilty of doping in 2000. "The proceeding is directed by the federations, by WADA, and I have been saying all along that it is contrary to normal law - so why should an athlete in sport be in a different position than any other citizen before a civil court? We are all against doping, myself in particular, but how can an athlete be punished this way?," asked Lehner, who did not exclude that the current decision could have a substantial impact on anti-doping regulations.

Danilo Hondo is thus searching for a new squad at this time, as his manager Tony Rominger has taken up talks with the UCI and several teams. Lehner confirmed that Swiss Cycling was going to return Hondo's license swiftly, and that the rider was going to return this week from Mallorca, where he has been keeping in reportedly excellent shape.

The team name that most often pops up in association with Hondo is his former team Gerolsteiner. Team manager Hans Michael Holczer has kept in contact with Hondo during the suspension, and has hinted that he would like to take the sprinter back. However, in a statement to Cyclingnews spokesman Jörg Grünefeld said, "We are aware of the interim decree of the Swiss court concerning Danilo Hondo. We have no details about the decision or about the reactions of the parties involved in this surprising decision. At this tme we cannot comment on this matter."

Another team name that has arisen is that of Hondo's team before he went to Gerolsteiner, Team T-Mobile. Hondo himself noted that "They only have 29 on their roster, and so a place would be free." T-Mobile spokesman Christian Frommert told dpa though, "Hondo is not a theme right now. You cannot reckon that he will ride for us again this season."

An interview with Ben Day

Golden days in Melbourne

Ben Day
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

Having ridden for Belgian squad MrBookmaker.com for the last two seasons, Queenslander Ben Day is one of Australia's quiet achievers in Europe. In 2006 he's back in Portugal with the Boavista team, but this week it's all about Melbourne as he prepares for the Commonwealth Games time trial and road race. Cyclingnews' Mal Sawford spent a few minutes chatting with Day where he confirmed he'll start both the time trial and road race.

While many of the Commonwealth Games riders opted to include a local club criterium in their final preparations for the road and MTB events later in the week, Australian team member Ben Day preferred to watch from the sidelines. The Queenslander is a medal chance in both the time trial and road race, and is just happy to be in town for the big event and lapping up the atmosphere.

Cyclingnews: How long have you been in Melbourne?

Ben Day: Since Tuesday...we were flown back business class, so that was a nice treat!

CN: How does it feel to be back here for this type of event?

BD: Since arriving in Melbourne last Tuesday, the vibe of the Commonwealth Games has slowly been seeping into me and I'm getting excited. Watching the outcomes unfold from the various sports, and with so many medals going Australia's way, it's hard not to.

It's always a joy to be apart of the Australian national team. The reason why Australia is one of the most successful countries in cycling is because of the support behind the scenes. The knowledge, dedication, passion and organisation of everyone behind the scenes is second to none. There are so many people with each and every one of us. I hope this week I can make them proud.

Click here for the full interview.

Bessette out of the Games

Lyne Bessette has been confirmed to have withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games. Bessette dislocated her left shoulder while training on the mountain bike course last Wednesday, March 15. Things looked promising as late as Sunday evening, with her coach Erik van den Eynde saying that Lyne was riding her bike and had been training well on a stationary bike.

On Monday, Bessette had planned to ride in the time trial position, but before she had a chance, she reinjured her shoulder, suffering another dislocation at the athlete village. It was not injured while training, but when undertaking daily activities. Bessette went to the hospital for an MRI scan, and is expected to head back to Canada as early as tomorrow. Erinne Willock will take her place in the time trial.

Pozzato to ride Belgian Classics

Filippo Pozzato, the newly-crowned king of the Via Roma in Sanremo, hopes to be able to put his good shape to practice in the Northern Spring Classics, too. The Italian Quick.Step rider is currently scheduled to compete in the KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. "I don't know yet if I'll take Amstel, too," said Pozzato in Menton on the French Riviera on Saturday evening, as he celebrated his Primavera victory with Paolo Bettini, Guido Trenti, Matteo Tosatto and Luca Paolini. "It's going to be a modest party, as I want to shine in the Ronde," added the Italian.

No surgery for Veneberg

Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), who crashed in Tirreno-Adriatico after a dog crossed the parcours, will be spared surgery on his collar bone. Fortunately, the fracture has been diagnosed to heal well. "I have been told to rest now," said the Dutchman as he was released from hospital in Amerfoort on Sunday. March 19. "I saw pictures of the collar bone and it didn't look too good. But the doctors told me that it would grow together again naturally, so that's what I'm counting on."

Meanwhile, another collarbone fracture has been reported from France: Kevin De Weerdt (Quick.Step) fell in Cholet-Pays de Loire on Sunday, and incurred the typical cyclists' injury. "Six riders went down, and Kevin crashed over Wouter Weylandt," said team assistant Dirk Nachtergaele. "Then he fell again at 700 metres from the finish line.

" De Weerdt hopes that he will be able to participate in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco again from April 3-8, but nothing is certain yet as the rider has to be examined in Belgium today.

MSR "could have been better" for Wegmann

Coming in 14th at Milan-San Remo with the same time as the winner would satisfy most riders, but not Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann. "It could have been better," Wegmann said on his personal website, fabianwegmann.de. In the last corner before the finish he was in third place, and the group had just swallowed up the breakaway. "Pozzato had left the breakaway and was going on, and I had picked the rear wheel of Oscar Freire - a comfortable and strategically good place for a sprint after a mammoth 300 km long race. But unfortunately I lost the contact with him in the hectic finale and there was immediately a gap between us. Catching up with him again cost me everything I had and the final sprint was already done in front."

However, he the young Gerolsteiner rider counted himself lucky to be in the main group. On the Poggio, "another rider, whose name I don't want to mention, pushed me out of his way and I had to put my foot down. Just like that I lost 20 places and was too far back to catch up quickly." But catch up he did, and his 14th place combined with David Kopp's 12th place and Markus Zberg's 17th, gave Gerolsteiner important points in the ProTour team ranking.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Commonwealth Games riders race at club crit

By Mal Sawford

The Malaysians
Photo ©: David O'Leary
(Click for larger image)

Riders from the Isle of Man, Jersey, Canada, Wales, Northern Ireland , Scotland and Malaysia have sharpened up for the Commonwealth Games by racing with the Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club, Australia’s biggest racing club, over the past few weeks. Clearly they have enjoyed the experience, and with the time trial, MTB and road races now only days away, riders from England, New Zealand, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Guyana, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda got in on the action at Glenvale Crescent, a 1.2 kilometre criterium circuit in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

As expected, the action in the ‘internationals’ race was fast and furious with many of the visitors fresh off the plane and keen to stretch their legs. British National Champion Russell Downing (DFL/cyclingnews) attacked early and often, and a strong Welsh squad all took their turn off the front of the field. Australian MTB medal chance Chris Jongewaard (Savings & Loans) ripped out some huge turns to keep the field in single file.

Julian Winn (Wales) joined locals Danny Kah and Nick Culvenor in a promising move at the thirty minute mark which Robin Reid (Marco Polo) tried to reach, but the bunch used him to leapfrog to the leaders. Pat Shaw (Giant/VIS), the leading rider in the host club’s summer series, counter attacked and held off the field for two laps before surrendering to the relentless chase. The final break of note saw Dale Appleby (Wales), Cam Carlysle (BikeNOW), Anwar Manan (Malaysia) and Shaw clear, but once again, within two laps the field regrouped. The Malaysian team, led by their flag bearer at the Comm Games opening ceremony Shahrulneeza Razali took control in the final two laps, setting up the sprint for their fast man, Mohd Jasmin.

A final lap flyer from local Mark Howard (O’Mara Cycles) wasn’t enough to upset the sprinters, and Jasmin duly delivered with an impressive finishing burst, ahead of Downing who made ground late to sneak in ahead of Winn and the best of the locals, Aaron Salisbury (HLP).

Russell Downing (DFL/Cyclingnews)
Photo ©: David O'Leary
(Click for larger image)

A dozen of the Comm Games women joined the B Grade field, and made life unpleasant for those locals more used to a fast but steady pace. The girls from New Zealand, including Michelle Hyland, Sonia Foote and Rosara Joseph launched a succession of attacks, matched by similar aggression from Amy Moore (T-mobile/Canada) and Amy Hunt (England). Tess Downing (Drapac/Porsche Development Program) showed no sign of tiredness after a series of late nights in the Under 19 exhibition races at the Games, and stayed at the front of the big bunch, shoulder to shoulder with defending Games champion Nicole Cooke (Univega/Wales) and Helen Kelly (VIS).

Canadian trackies Gina Grain and Mandy Poitras opted for an easier ride at the back of the bunch, but Grain made her way up to the pointy end with little trouble at the call of three to go. In the final lap, Grain’s team mates positioned her perfectly to hit the lead 150 metres from the line, but she couldn’t match the horsepower of local sprinters Clint Van Beveren and Russell Collins and had to settle for third. Cooke was close behind in outright fifth, with Amy Hunt the third placed female finisher.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by David O'Leary/www.allstar.net.au

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