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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 8, 2006

Edited by Sue George

No walking shoes needed for Tour of Flanders 2007

By Brecht Decaluwé and Sue George

Sean Kelly runs up the Koppenberg
Photo ©: John Pierce
Click for larger image

The next edition of the Tour of Flanders on April 8, 2007 will not feature the 'mythical' Koppenberg. Presenters made this important announcement during the presentation of the course for 'Flanders most beautiful' on Tuesday in Oudenaarde, Belgium. Other notable climbs like the Foreest and the Steenberg will be dropped, too, although eighteen climbs, one more than last year, will be in the 2007 Tour of Flanders.

The omitted climbs will be replaced with some that have been part of recent editions of the Tour of Flanders: the Kluisberg, the Knokteberg, the Kortekeer, and a completely new climb, the Eikenmolen.

By skipping the Koppenberg, the organizers are hoping to avoid a sporting fiasco. First introduced in 1976, the hill has given many riders cause to walk up it during the race. This spring, Tom Boonen and no more than seven other riders were the happy few who were able to ride up the steep, cobbled hill. But the 2006 edition wasn’t the first edition of the race in which racers had to walk the famous climb near tiny Melden, close to the city of Oudenaarde. Fans may remember legendary images from 1987 when Jesper Skibby's bike was run over by a following car after he fell. The vehicle barely missed his foot.

It was chaos
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Wim Van Herreweghe, organizer of the event, explained at the course presentation that the climb wasn’t expelled forever and that the riders can make the race as hard as they want to, even without the Koppenberg. “Maybe we can re-initiate the Koppenberg in the future as an executioner deep into the finale of the race, but we don’t want to allow the non-sporting elements to rule how the race unfolds,” Van Herreweghe said. “In the last 80km, there is a hill about every five kilometers, so I think the classical ingredients for a good Tour of Flanders are there,” said Van Herreweghe, expressing his desire for a classical battle through Flanders.

In previous years, when the Koppenberg was in better condition, it was less decisive due to the fact that it came relatively early in the race, at 74km to go. Later climbs in the last 30km such as the Valkenberg and the Muur were historically more likely be a critical point. The Koppenberg climb was widened and recobbled, and re-introduced into the race in 2002. But the road surface has quickly deteriorated, creating notable gaps between the cobbles. Wet weather would certainly make the Koppenberg climb dangerous and perhaps too difficult. For the time being, the famed Koppenberg climb remains suitable only for 'cross racing in events like the last month's Koppenberg 'Cross.

The 2007 Tour of Flanders includes the following climbs with each length, average grade, and maximum grade indicated:

Molenberg                 325m, 9.8%,  11.0%
Wolvenberg                800m, 6.3%,  19.0%
Kluisberg                1100m, 6.0%,  15.0%
Knokteberg/Cote de Trieu 1100m, 8.0%,  13.0%
Oude Kwaremont           2200m, 4.3%,  11.0%
Paterberg                 350m, 12.5%, 20.0%
Kortekeer                 976m, 6.7%,  17.0% 
Steenbeekdries            700m, 5.3%,  6.7%
Taaienberg                475m, 9.5%,  18.0%
Eikenberg                1175m, 5.5%,  11.0%
Boigneberg               1050m, 5.2%,  12.4%
Leberg                    850m, 4.6%,  16.0%
Berendries                900m, 4.7%,  14.0%
Valkenberg                875m, 6.1%,  12.8%
Tenbosse                  450m, 6.9%,   8.7%
Eikenmolen                610m, 5.9%
Muur-Kapelmuur            825m, 9.3%,  20.0%
Bosberg                   475m, 8.4%,  11.0%

Davitamon-Lotto becomes Predictor-Lotto

By Susan Westemeyer

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

There will be a new name and a new color in the ProTour peloton in 2007, as Davitamon-Lotto will disappear and be replaced by Predictor-Lotto. Main sponsor Omega Pharma will be sending stars like Robbie McEwen, Cadel Evans, and Leif Hoste out in new "salmon pink" jerseys of the same color as the packaging of the "best known product in the Predictor range" according to the team's website on Tuesday. That best-known product is a pregnancy test kit.

Omega Pharma, a multinational pharmaceutical company, has seven main lines of products, including Davitamon and Predictor. The Davitamon line includes nutritional supplements. "After four years of sponsorship, all objectives in the field of brand awareness have been met for Davitamon. From this basis, Davitamon can now continue to grow on its proper strengths. Consequently, there is room for another brand to benefit from this powerful marketing support tool," the team said. "The international brand Predictor has been selected to succeed Davitamon as main sponsoring brand of the ProTour cycling team."

Predictor is a line of home diagnostic tests, such as the pregnancy test." Similar to the objective for Davitamon at the beginning of the sponsoring program, Omega Pharma has the ambition to double the turnover of Predictor in five years' time, thanks to the introduction of line extensions and investments in brand awareness," the team noted.

"The first designs of the team wear will soon be finished and will also feature the names of the co-sponsors like: Brustor, Q8, and Creyf's. The main color will be the salmon pink tint that is used for the packaging of the best known product in the Predictor range, the pregnancy test kit," according to the team's website.

Riis' view of Basso departure and Team CSC going forward

By Katharina Schulz

Bjarne Riis and Carlos Sastre
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Following up on our earlier report, in which Bjarne Riis, owner and manager of Team CSC, looked toward Carlos Sastre and Fränk Schleck as leaders in 2007, Riis reflected on former top star Ivan Basso's departure and the future of the squad.

Even though no doping charges were raised in Italy against the rider, Team CSC and Basso decided to go separate ways. Riis was not ready to go into the details of his decision to part company with Basso, but he presented his view of the situation. "Whichever way you look at this matter, I'm losing. I'm losing. I have lost credibility, I have received a good thrashing, I have put my whole team at risk, and I have lost the world's best rider," he told Danish newspaper B.T.

"When he was cleared, I knew what I had to do," said Riis. "In my eyes, the affair in Spain is far from over, even if they say so. We don't know what's going to happen, even though I'm afraid the whole thing will come to nothing. That the whole thing will never really come to a close."

For Riis, there were personal reasons for his decision, too. "I steal so much time from my family already. I couldn't ask them to do it. They're the most important thing in my life. I don't spend enough time with them as it is, and if Ivan Basso should have stayed, it would have taken up time, time which I would have needed to steal from my family. And I have to say stop at some point."

The thought that Ivan Basso, despite ongoing doping allegations, might be racing for a different team next season is difficult for Riis to accept. "Now that this season's ProTour is coming to its close, I'm asking for more team spirit in cycling. But I simply have to realize that it doesn't exist. Because everyone only thinks of themselves," said Riis.

Looking forward, Riis said, "I can only say that I've sent a clear signal to both my environment and to the world of cycling. I feel that this my responsibility, and I'm doing this my own way. Others have to do it their way."

Riis has a strong wish to re-install his team's credibility and that of cycling as a whole. He is therefore planning a large-scale anti-doping program for the team together with the Danish expert Rasmus Damsgaard, even if the intensified search for doping cases on his own team should result in fewer victories for his team. He is ready to leave cycling if he is wrong. "The cleaner cycling becomes, they better my team becomes. That is my spark."

Pontoni returns to cyclo-cross

By Gregor Brown

Daniele Pontoni
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image) Daniele Pontoni crosses the line in his last ever cyclocross race

Italian Daniele Pontoni, 1997 cyclo-cross world champion, is likely to return to racing. The 40 year-old, who retired in 2005, discussed his possible return to cycling in an interview with His goal would be the 2008 world championships in Treviso.

"I am regretting the decision of stopping," said the rider from Friuli, whose palmarès also include one world cup title and two Superprestige titles. "When I hung up the bike, I could have continued for another two seasons. But fortunately, there is still time to do it...I still have great ambitions."

Barloworld signs another & looks toward ProTour

By Susan Westemeyer

Geraint Thomas
(Great Britain)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman

Team Barloworld signed young Welsh rider Geraint Thomas as its 16th rider for the 2007 season, the team announced Tuesday. The team looks to move up a notch to the ProTour.

Team manager Claudio Corti said, "We're caught in a very confusing situation at the moment. What will happen with the ProTour is still very uncertain. We're a 'Professional' category team, and we've made a request to join the ProTour, but we still haven't had any kind of answer to our request." Meanwhile, Corti is assembling his team for the coming season. "We've had a good year overall, and I consider it the first stage of a long-term project with Barloworld as we work to build a high quality and prestigious team."

Thomas rode as a stagaire for Saunier Duval in the 2006 season and has a track background. He won the European U23 pursuit title and took silver at the world track championships in Bordeaux as part of the Great Britain team pursuit. He won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March 2006 and was 2004 junior world champion in the scratch race in Los Angeles.

Irish professionals aim for Olympic track targets

By Shane Stokes

In the wake of David O'Loughlin's recent breaking of the ten-year-old national pursuit record, more international Irish road riders will undertake trials shortly with a view to possible participation in track events at the 2008 Olympics. Professionals riders Mark Scanlon, David McCann, Ciarán Power, and Nicolas Roche are amongst those who have expressed an interest and, according to Cycling Ireland's recently-appointed high performance manager, they will soon have a chance to see what is their potential in this area.

"We've been talking with a lot of the top guys and will have a track-taster for them at the end of November," said Frank Campbell. "It will be held in Ghent and there will be a doctor there doing performance tests on them to see who has the potential to take to that type of racing. I think that track will play a much bigger part for Irish cycling from now on; there are more medals up for grabs there and the British model shows what can be achieved.

"Initially it is a short, sharp fix, taking guys that we know are good road men. We have picked time trialists for pursuiting, and we have picked Power more for points and scratch racing."

Campbell says that former world junior champion Mark Scanlon's planned move to the US circuit has coincided with an increase in his motivation, something the Sligoman admits he lacked at times recently while racing on the ProTour scene. "Scanlon is mad keen as well at the moment, due to his change in team and change in surroundings. I'm getting more e-mails from him than I have ever gotten. He has such an interest in what is going on."

Campbell's appointment comes about thanks to funding being made available by the Irish Sports Council for the full-time position. He will work closely with athletes and officials across the disciplines and the Irish federation is hoping that this should do much to enhance the prospects of international success in the years ahead.

Ireland currently lacks an indoor velodrome, but its riders have instead been able to use tracks in Manchester, Newport, and Ghent. There is currently a proposal to build a velodrome in the North of Ireland, but this depends on the granting of funding, something which has yet to be decided. Another tentative plan exists to build a velodrome at Abbotstown in Dublin, but for now, this seems a more uncertain prospect than the one north of the border.

Masciarelli family trio united at Acqua & Sapone

By Gregor Brown

After Andrea and Simone, Francesco Masciarelli will join the professional ranks, riding along side his two brothers at Acqua & Sapone. All three Pescara boys will be under the guidance of their dad, Palmiro, famous gregario of Francesco Moser.

The third youngest, Francesco, 20 years-old, will join his bothers, Andrea, 24, and Simone, 26, who have been racing together for the past three years (starting with Vini Caldirola in 2003). For 2007, the Masciarelli trio will be joined at Acqua & Sapone by Stefano Garzelli, Dario Andriotto (both from Liquigas), Massimo Codol (from Tenax-Salmilano), Giuseppe Muraglia (from Team LPR), and Frank Vandenbroucke.

Tondo leaves Relax GAM for LA Millaneza

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Suarez Cuevas, Relax GAM's director and manager, was upset to loose Xavier Tondo, a Spanish rider who has signed for next year with LA MSS Milaneza, one of the most powerful Portuguese pro continental teams.

Rather than renew with Relax GAM, Tondo will transfer teams for the fifth time in his five-year pro career. He explained to local paper Diari de Tarragona, "It is a gamble, a challenge. It is a change of very great calendar, because we do not yet know with certainty where we will compete," Tondo's main aim in 2007 is the Portuguese tour. To Tondo, the transfer has the potential to "relaunch my professional career."

Tondo thanked Relax GAM for their support, especially during the 2006 season, which was difficult for him. "In Relax GAM, I felt very supported by everyone, but I wanted to undertake a new [career] stage for me." Tondo hopes to leave behind the bad luck that plagued him while on Relax GAM.

He was attracted to his new team by director Manuel Zeferino. Tondo said, "I am thankful because LA MSS Millaneza has trusted me, and I hope to justify their confidence in me with hard work and good results.

Milaneza' signing supports his return to Portugal. Tondo believes cycling in Portugal is at a high, "There are very good squads, and the truth is that I have more possibilities there." Tondo will debut with his new teammates in the Volta a Algarve in February, and is already training for next year. An injury in the Pyrenees in August curtailed his 2006 season.

Two cyclists suspended for missing dope tests

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) reported that two cyclists, Jason Sager of Park City, Utah, and Cale Redpath of Durango, Colorado, received a one-year ban from competition because they failed to present themselves for testing following the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series Race #4 in Deer Valley, Utah, in July.

According to the Associated Press, neither Sager nor Redpath were deemed significantly at fault for the violation, which USADA said last Friday justified the one-year sanction for the first-time violations. Both Sager and Redpath forfeited their results from the race.

Big Stampede in Charlotte

The fourth Annual Big Stampede Cycling Expo & Swap will roll into Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday, November 12th. Held next to the NASCAR Motor Speedway, the event will feature an expanded kids' area with a bike rodeo.

The swap will include items for sale such as bikes, parts, and accessories from area retailers, cycling manufacturers, clubs, service providers, and local riders cleaning out their garages.

In conjunction with the swap, the Tarheel Trailblazers will host the Southside Spanker road ride. For more information, go to

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