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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 30, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson

The UCI speaks on Spanish cycling

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

As the Spanish police investigation into doping in cycling has unfolded, the UCI has remained largely quiet. UCI President Pat McQuaid and ProTour manager Alain Rumpf broke their silence in Milan on the final day of the 2006 Giro d'Italia. Airing their concern over the events in Spain, two of cycling's head honchos were keen to inform the press of their hope to resolve the problems for the good of the sport. But both say they are officially still in the dark about what's happening and therefore unable to take action. Anthony Tan asks: If not now, when?

A few hours before the conclusion of the final stage of the Giro d'Italia, UCI president Pat McQuaid told the press that cycling's governing body lacks the necessary evidence to sanction any of the five people involved in the anti-doping investigation performed by the Unidad Centro Operativo in Madrid, codenamed 'Operacion Puerto'.

"I have to say for myself, as president of the UCI, the UCI board of management, and the UCI itself, I am saddened by the events coming out of Spain, and I'm also very angry about what we hear coming out of Spain," McQuaid said.

"At this point in time, although I have had contact with the Minister of Sport's office in Madrid, we don't know any more than what most of you already know. We only know the media reports; we have been told that information will be coming to us in the coming days and weeks, and we will be following up contact with the authorities in Spain for that information."

Stated McQuaid: "We have no definite information or proof of information that would enable us to make any particular decisions as of today."

Click here for the full story.

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

Riis believes Basso can do Giro-Tour double

CSC team manager Bjarne Riis believes that his star rider Ivan Basso will be able to back up his dominating performance in the Giro d'Italia with a victory in the Tour de France in July.

"This is the best Ivan I've ever seen. He's shown he's at another level compared to last year and that he's the rider of the future," Riis told a post-race press conference according to Reuters. "I'm convinced Ivan will be strong enough to be competitive in the Tour."

Conventional wisdom says that in the era of riders who specifically target one of the grand tours, it is no longer possible to win more than one in a season. The last rider to do so was Italian Marco Pantani who won the Giro d'Italia in 1998 and went on to win the Tour de France that year.

Basso joined Lance Armstrong on the podium of the Tour de France in 2004 and 2005 and Riis believes it's now his rider's turn on the top step.

"We planned our season in November and targeted the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, and so far it's gone 100 percent right," Riis said. "There's a big difference between the level of the Giro and the level of the Tour de France and come July our big rival will be Jan Ullrich. But Ivan is as good as Jan in the mountains and the time trials."

Riis and Basso may not be copying Armstrong's total focus on the Tour de France, but Riis said they have learned from another of the seven-time Tour winner's techniques, the high-cadence pedaling action that allowed him to attack and react quickly in the mountains of the Tour.

"We saw that Armstrong rode small gears and was very agile on the climbs and that uses your muscles differently and allows you to change pace more easily," Riis said. "We know that Jan Ullrich can't do that because he pushes big gears and so we're convinced he'll struggle to stay with Ivan when he accelerates on the climbs in the Tour de France."

Italian cycling federation to investigate Simoni claim

The Italian cycling federation is to investigate Gilberto Simoni's claim that Ivan Basso offered him a bribe in the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday, according to the ANSA news service.

Basso won the stage after breaking away from Simoni on the final climb. Afterwards, Simoni claimed Basso had broken an agreement between the two that they would stay together so that Simoni could win the stage. The next day, Simoni accused Basso of trying to bribe him.

"Basso offered me money to gain the stage victory. I don't need charity. For me, he doesn't exist any more," Simoni said.

Basso denied the accusation, saying "I can hold my head high. The disgraceful thing he alleged just didn't happen. I admit I asked him to stay with me on the descent from the Mortirolo, so we could keep our lead until the last climb. But that's all that happened."

Simoni will face a disciplinary committee of the Italian cycling federation next Monday, and may find himself in serious trouble if he can't substantiate the accusation. The burden of proof in such a case lies with the accuser and Simoni may find himself sanctioned by the federation if he cannot convince the tribunal of his claim.

Italian cycling figures have generally been unimpressed with Simoni's allegation. Mario Cipollini, the former sprinter who holds the record for the most number of Giro wins, said, "this sort of thing has always stayed within the riders' pack. They should have sorted it out over a bottle of good wine."

Vittorio Adorni, who won the Giro in 1965 and now works for the UCI, said, "Simoni behaved like a little kid. The informal rule, 'today's my turn and tomorrow yours', has always existed."

Italian Cycling Federation chairman Alcide Cerato accused Simoni of being, "a bad loser."

"It's not the first time he's lashed out at people who've beat him," Cerato added, referring to Simoni's attitude toward then-team-mate Damiano Cunego when Cunego won the 2004 Giro.

Former Fassa Bortolo manager Giancarlo Ferretti, who has been team manager for both riders, said, "both riders are well off and its normally the richest who are tempted to do things like that."

Franco Ballerini, the Italian national team manager, disapproved of the idea that there had even been a gentleman's agreement between the two. "These things shouldn't happen any more because people can bet on stages these days," he said.

Giro bodes well for Phonak, says Rihs

Phonak rider José Enriqué Gutierrez's second place in the Giro d'Italia was a pleasant but "not inexplicable" surprise that may help secure the team's future as Phonak looks to hand over to a new sponsor in 2006 - and Victor Hugo Peña's ninth place won't hurt either.

On the team's website, team owner Andy Rihs said, "In the run-up to the Giro d'Italia I'd expected one of our riders in the top ten and had hoped for a stage win," but to have two riders in the top ten was unexpected.

Gutierrez in particular was the revelation of the Giro. "I thought highly of him as a time trial rider and had often seen him on mountains," said Rihs. "But I hadn't believed he had such a strong will that he was capable of surviving the mountains so well. For me his achievement isn't completely inexplicable. But he is the surprise of the Giro d'Italia. Up to now José Enriqué Gutierrez had distinguished himself as a good helper. On the Giro d'Italia he had the opportunity for the first time to take the leader's role himself. He realised his qualities - with a great team behind him - in an ideal way. This achievement shows that we have a team that can seize its opportunity even when it competes without its top members. That is very encouraging for new feats with the Tour de France in mind."

The Tour is now Phonak's main target and after Floyd Landis' run of victories earlier in the year, the American is one of the favourites, putting plenty of pressure on the team. "The team has created this pressure itself," said Rihs. "Floyd Landis doesn't enter the tour just to take any old place in the overall rankings. The Phonak Cycling Team is entering to win the Tour de France. The successes so far make this easier: they support healthy self-confidence, the team knows what it's capable of. We've got everything we need to win races: good time trial specialists, good mountain specialists, people who can take care of speed on the flat."

Phonak's high visibility in the Giro d'Italia has helped in ongoing negotiations with a potential new sponsor. "This television presence also supports us in contract negotiations with the new potential main sponsor iShares," said Rihs. "The year as a whole has gone very well. We've won three important tours in the Tour of California, the Tour de Georgia and Paris-Nice. We were decisively better than the forecasters had expected."

Rihs believes his team is in a good position to move to a new sponsor. "We have an established team, where the members have got to know each other over several years, we're well organised," he said. "But the fact that the team has a future will also facilitate the contractual negotiations with individual riders. Good riders want to have a future. We can offer this to them."

Garzelli & Backstedt return in Luxembourg

Stefano Garzelli will lead the Liquigas team in the Tour of Luxembourg, (May 31 - June 4). Garzelli hopes to repeat his success in the Rund um der Henninger-Turm in Frankfurt. "We count on Garzelli to score a stage win, and on Eros Capecchi and Roman Kreuziger for the overall ranking," said team manager Mario Scirea.

Magnus Backstedt will also return to racing in Luxembourg after an enforced break caused by a disastrous crash in the Challenge Illes Balears back in February.

The Liquigas team for the Tour of Luxembourg will be: Stefano Garzelli, Michael Albasini, Magnus Backstedt, Eros Capecchi, Kjell Carlström, Alberto Curtolo and Roman Kreuziger

Spiuk-Extremadura for Euskal Bizikleta

The Spiuk-Extremadura team has announced its line-up for the Euskal Bizikleta, May 31-June 4. The team will field Fernando Torres, Pedro Romero, Ángel Rodríguez, José Antonio Arroyo, Ignacio Sarabia, Josu Mondelo, David Sojo, and Jesús Ramírez.

Regional riders expected to continue Mt Hood Classic domination

The fourth edition of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in Hood River, Oregon, starts Wednesday. For the second year, the race is part of the USA Cycling National racing Calendar, but is likely to be dominated by regional talent as has been the case since its first edition in 2003.

The five-stage race is predominantly contested on the roads of Mount Hood National Forest. The single-lane logging roads and steep climbs of the area make for a tough event with more than 23,000 feet of total climbing. The final and often pivotal Three-Summit Road Race features more than 7,500 feet of climbing in 75 miles and a mountain-top finish at the Cooper Spur Ski Area.

Last year regional riders from the Northwest took wins at Mt Hood. Svein Tuft from the British Columbia-based Symmetrics team defeated Colorado's Andy Bajadali of the Vitamin Cottage squad. This despite the presence of the Health Net team and its perennial stage-race favorite Scott Moninger. The Colorado resident who won five NRC stage races in 2005 suffered a broken chain in the second time trial stage and thus took on a support role for the team.

On the women's side Leah Goldstein from the British Columbia-based Trek/Red Truck Beer squad was victorious, defeating Chrissy Ruiter of the Ford Basis team.

Goldstein will return to defend her title. Tuft will not, though Symmetrics will send a top-calibre squad including Andrew Pinfold and Jacob Erker. Moninger returns with support limited in numbers -- only three -- but not in talent. Australian and Commonwealth Games time trial champion Nathan O'Neil along with New Zealand world champion on the track Greg Henderson will play support roles and likely vie for stage wins.

The Navigators will send Burke Swindlehurst, who was third at the Tour of Gila in March and Phil Zajicek who won two NRC time trial stages earlier this year. Vitamin Cottage will send Jonathan Baker. Broadmark Capitol will send US elite national road champion Carl Decker supported by seven riders. The 2004 champion Russell Stevenson, who finished sixth in 2005, is slated to race with his Seattle-based Benaroya Research squad.

Goldstein returns with Symmetrics this year. She will be supported by three teammates. Runner up Ruiter is not slated to return, but third place finisher from last year Irene Mercer will come back with the JR Engineering squad. Fourth-place Ashley Lion returns with the Webcor-Platinum team. Velo Bella/Kona sends a diverse group headed by Kele Murdin who placed ninth last year.

Open house at Forest City Velodrome

On Saturday June 3, the Forest City Velodrome in London, Ontario, Canada is holding an open house and social event for "members, spectators, potential members, the inquisitive and newbies." The day will include a training camp for youth riders, a barbeque, recreational ride and an evening of racing on te track, all in aid of turning people on to the speed and excitement of track racing.

For more information see

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