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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 7, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Ullrich back on the bike

By Susan Westemeyer

Ullrich on the bike
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Faked documents, returned cycling licenses, lawsuits and lawyers; all of these things are swirling about in the name of Jan Ullrich, but what is he himself actually doing? "As we speak right now he is on the bike," his press spokesman Michael Lang said Tuesday morning to Cyclingnews.

"He is starting a gradual training and will then go to a training camp in the next two to three weeks," continued the German's spokesman. "Right now he is training alone, but we guess that the next step will be training with one or two other athletes. Then it depends on how things go. The training camp will probably include several other athletes."

Lang also explained why the Ullrich camp feels that Swiss Cycling should not be responsible for any potential proceedings. Normally, proceedings would be held by the federation that had granted the license under which the rider was riding when the alleged violation occurred. However, Lang said, "our lawyers think that the Swiss federation should not be in charge. There is an article in the UCI rules that says if there is a violation which does not involve any positive doping results, as is the case here, then whoever found or started the case should be in charge of the investigation. That is why our lawyers think that the Spanish federation should be in charge of any investigation of Jan Ullrich."

Ullrich is just "trying now to focus and get things done step by step," according to Lang. "We can't say yet where or when he will be applying for a new license. He gave his Swiss license back, and both Germany and Austria said that they don't want to work with him, but there are still lots of options open." He further noted that applications for licenses won't be distributed until the middle of November, "so that he can't even apply for new license for 2007 yet anyway."

French prosecutor shelves case against Armstrong

Armstrong after 2003 crash
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

French prosecutor Philippe Drouet of the court in Annecy has shelved the doping case against American Lance Armstrong. The case, dating back to January 2005, involved certain allegations made against the Tour de France champion in the published book LA Confidentiel, les secrets de Lance Armstrong, co-written by sportswriter David Walsh and former L'Equipe cycling writer Pierre Ballester.

Key witness in the case was Dr. Benoît Nave, a former Volvo-Cannondale Mountain Bike Racing team doctor who treated Armstrong for his back injuries following his bad crash in the 2003 Dauphiné Libéré.

"I have worked on several occasions with Lance Armstrong since October 2002," Nave told L'Equipe in January 2005. "At that time he had already won the Tour four times. We met in San Francisco and he had a nutritional consultation. So there is nothing to hide in all this, and it is always interesting for me to work with people like Armstrong."

According to AGR, after hearing Nave, prosecutor Drouet ruled that there are "no grounds to proceed."

Cunego thinks beyond 2007

Il Piccolo Principe, Damiano Cunego, has a contract through 2007 with his current team Lampre-Fondital but is already considering his career in 2008 and beyond. The 25 year-old Italian, winner of this year's Tour de France young rider competition, is considering other teams, including

Before leaving on his honeymoon in Mexico, Cunego and his agents, Alex and Johnny Carera, met with Lampre-Fondital team manager Beppe Saronni to discuss renewing his contract beyond 2007. According to, the parties are slated to meet again, shortly after the 2007 Giro d'Italia presentation on December 2.

But Cunego is keeping his door open to other offers. Sunday, Belgian Sportwereld reported that Cunego may have offers from T-Mobile, Milram, and above all The latter will take the vacant ProTour spot of Phonak in 2007 and needs a big leader for their roster.

Petacchi starts 2007

Petacchi winning
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image) Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) kicks off the season with a win

After returning from vacation in Maldive, Alessandro Petacchi has commenced training. "I have a desire to train, to feel fatigued," said the Milram sprinter in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. Petacchi suffered two setbacks in 2006 that resulted in a lot of time off the bike; The first was a fractured kneecap in the Giro d'Italia and the other was a fractured bone in his right hand at the Vuelta a España.

It is early November, but thoughts have shifted towards the 2007 season. Milram's team manager, Gianluigi Stanga, confirmed that his sprinter will begin his season in Qatar in late January. For 2007 Petacchi will focus on the spring classics and the grand tours.

"I can not wait to re-win [Milano-Sanremo]," confirmed the 32 year-old rider from La Spezia. "It is a unique race. [The Tour of] Flanders does not give me the same emotions, while I think I can do well in Gent-Wevelgem. Roubaix? Maybe I can respond to the pavé, but it is a further unknown."

"In 2003 I won stages in all three tours," Petacchi continued, expressing his desires to contest all three grand tours. "I am able to repeat this and the team can sustain this force."

A new addition in the Milram treno will be Australian Brett Lancaster. Lancaster, who makes his home in Pistoia, will join Milram after spending the last four years with Panaria-Navigare.

"[Lancaster is] very good," Petacchi said of the Milram addition. "He has lots of experience on the track and will not have any problems with us. In mid-December we [the sprint train] will have a training camp in Toscana."

Riis will not replace Basso

Team CSC Manager confirmed that there will be no new rider to replace Italian Ivan Basso, and that he will give his faith to Spaniard Carlos Sastre. Riis and Basso parted ways in October, leaving CSC without a big classification rider but Riis noted to Danish newspaper B.T., "I don't want to spend more money than what has already been laid out."

Riis, the 1996 Tour de France champion, will rely on his current talented crop of riders. "Also because I have a deep respect for the 2006 achievements of Carlos Sastre," said Riis. "He will be our leader, while Fränk Schleck is a man of the future."

The 31 year-old Spaniard finished fourth in this year's Tour de France, but Riis said "it will be more difficult" to win La Grand Boucle without Basso. But he added that "there is life beyond the Tour."

Riis then noted the team's "four aces." The team manager continued, "Other than Sastre and Schleck, we also have [Fabian] Cancellara and [Jens] Voigt." There will be an addition of two more cyclists to CSC for the next season to create a "mixture of talent and experience," but Riis denied the rumoured negations with Alberto Contador or Luis León Sánchez.

Rasmussen on the mend

By Susan Westemeyer

Michael Rasmussen of team Rabobank is back on his feet and walking without crutches for the first time since breaking his hip in a crash in the Giro dell'Emilia, October 7. The Danish climber received the good news from surgeon Luc de Vries during an exam at the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, according to Rabobank's website. Rasmussen is expected to be able to ride again at the start of the coming season, but the surgeon warned him, "you just can't crash and fall again!"

"I am doing great and I don't face any difficulties except sometimes I feel a stinging pain on the inside of my leg as I turn over in bed," Rasmussen said. "Well, this is the time of the year I always take things easy, and therefore I have plenty of time to recover."

Nys extends lead in cyclo-cross rankings

By Brecht Decaluwé

Nys finished second to Mourey in Treviso
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

The new UCI-rankings show little movement at the top. Sven Nys (Rabobank) remains the untroubled leader as he extended his lead on world champion Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) up to 309 points (over 195 points last week). Nys won the Koppenbergcross, the Witloof Veldrit and finished second at the world cup in Treviso. Bart Wellens (Fidea) completes the Belgian top-three.

The new number four is the recent winner of the world cup event in Treviso, Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux). The Frenchman jumped over two Rabobank riders: Sven Vanthourenhout and Dutch champion Gerben De Knegt.

New in the top-10 is the U23 world champion, Czech Zdenek Stybar (Fidea), who won the U23 race in Treviso and the next day beat Enrico Franzoi in a smaller race; he gained one place in the UCI-rankings. Stybar's compatriot Kamil Ausbuher (Budweiser) tumbled out of the top-10, losing no less than four positions. The young Swiss rider Simon Zahner rode very strong last week, surprising many by finishing fourth in Treviso and second in Schmerikon; he gained 12 places, and is now 12th overall.

Best American rider is 25 year-old Ryan Trebon (Kona), who lost four positions and lies currently 20th. His loss is partly due to his failure to win the race in Boulder (due to mechanical problems), and partly because there weren't that many races in the USA where UCI-points were at stake. Tim Johnson (Cannondale/ still trails the Kona-rider by one position (21st).

In the nations rankings, Belgium is comfortably leading the Czech Republic with more than twice their points. France is now third before the Netherlands. Switzerland overtook the USA for fifth place, and Italy concludes the top-seven.

Top 25 rankings

1 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank                                 1370 pts
2 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                1061
3 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                    896
4 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux                  774
5 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Projobcyclingteam       681
6 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank                           653
7 Christian Heule (Swi) Stevens Racing Team                601
8 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Morgan Blue                       585
9 Radomir Simunek (Cze)                                    570
10 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team                  501
11 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor            500
12 Simon Zahner (Swi)                                      432
13 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                   412
14 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                  403
15 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance                       395
16 Zdenek Mlynár (Cze) Max Cursor                          389
17 Steve Chainel (Fra)                                     378
18 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank                            375
19 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) Rabobank                      347
20 Ryan Trebon (USA)                                       345
21 Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale/    325
22 Marco Bianco (Ita)                                      275
23 Maarten Nijland (Ned) Eurogifts.Com                     265
24 Thijs Al (Ned) B & E Cycling Team                       265
25 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) AVB Asbestverwijdering             264
26 Petr Dlask (Cze) AVB Asbestverwijdering                 254
27 Niels Albert (Bel) Palmans-Sapim-Collstrop              227
28 Malte Urban (Ger) Stevens Racing Team                   225

Greipel has shoulder operation

By Susan Westemeyer

Another T-Mobile pro has gone under the knife; sprinter Andre Greipel had a shoulder operation Monday. "We removed a bone splinter and did other repairs," said team doctor Dr. Carsten Temme to of the surgery at the Praxisklinik 2000 in Freiburg. Greipel was doing well after the "not so easy but successful" operation.

The injury resulted from a dislocated shoulder, and Greipel had already had an operation on the shoulder a year ago. "There is a lot of scar tissue, and old sutures had to be pulled," Temme noted.

Greipel is expected to be released from the clinic on Wednesday and will undergo two days of therapy before returning to his home in Cologne, Germany. Temme said that if all goes as expected, Greipel can start training on the rollers again in three weeks, and ought to be back riding on the road again in six weeks.

Rubén Plaza to Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears

Rubén Plaza is considering a move to Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears according to The 26 year-old Spaniard, who is known for his time trials skills, has passed the three seasons with the now-defunct team Comunidad Valenciana.

Alberto Curtolo steps down

Italian Alberto Curtolo will take a step down from the professional ranks. After riding one year with Liquigas, the 22 year-old from Treviso will race for Marchiol-Famila in 2007 according to ANSA. Curtolo, not ruling out a return to the top-level in the future, based his decision on lack of efficiency compared to his team-mates and his hope to focus on the track in preparations for the 2008 Olympics.

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