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Latest Cycling News for November 9, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Basso "happy" with Discovery contract while ProTour teams react

A "happy" Ivan Basso
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Yesterday in a press conference, Johann Bruyneel confirmed the signing of Italian Ivan Basso to his Discovery Channel team. The winner of the 2006 Giro d'Italia signed a contact for two years to ride with Discovery Channel, the same team that took American Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France victories. After closing out nearly three years with Danish Team CSC, Ivan Basso will aim for grand tour glory under the guidance of Bruyneel.

"It is an ideal squad. I am happy," said Basso late last night to La Gazzetta dello Sport from his home in Cassano Magnago. "It not an exaggeration for me to say that this is the start of a new life, because I feel reborn."

Ivan Basso, 28 years-old, confirmed earlier speculation as to whether or not he would be going for wins in the two major tours. "The group [at Discovery] is ready to give total support to the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double," reassured Basso. "It is a project that gives me lots of enthusiasm. The team and I have the same ambitions."

According Bruyneel's announcement yesterday, Ivan Basso will be heading to Lance Armstrong's home town, Austin, Texas, on December 3. "Now I am taking a week's vacation at the beach and [will be going] where it is warm. Then I will think of 2007," the Italian concluded.

Basso had toyed with the idea of moving to non-ProTour teams, like Barloworld and Tinkoff. He confirmed he had contact with Tinkoff to La Gazzetta dello Sport but an offer of two million USD a year and a structure built for Tour success was too irresistible.

But what about the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) pact made on 25 October in Paris? The members of the AIGCP claimed that they would not sign riders implicated in doping investigations and request riders authorize the UCI to collect their DNA samples before the end of 2007. Bjarne Riis, Basso's former team manager at CSC, was left confused with his fellow ProTour team.

Team CSC Manager Bjarne Riis
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

"In his events I have lost too. I am left without the best in the world, but I also risked my team disappearing," said the Dane to La Gazzetta dello Sport Wednesday afternoon. "Only a few days ago, the ProTour teams had expressed their intentions to no longer engage the riders entangled with Operación Puerto in addition to requiring a DNA test. In reality, in the end, the interests of individuals prevail while the initiatives go disregarded."

German teams, T-Mobile Team and Team Gerolsteiner, were relatively tight-lipped in light of Discovery Channel's signing of Ivan Basso. "[Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer] will not comment on this event for the time being," Gerolsteiner spokesman Mathias Wieland told Cyclingnews. His counterpart at T-Mobile, Stefan Wagner, told Cyclingnews, that "We have our clear line and there is a commitment among all ProTour teams."

T-Mobile Sports Director Rolf Aldag explained to, "I find it inconceivable that Basso will sign with Discovery Channel," and added, "Basso and Jan Ullrich, too, should prove their innocence, only then will they be interesting again."

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

Rujano close to Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears

Rujano in 2005 Giro
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After a turbulent 2006 season, Venezuelan José Rujano could be close to joining Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 24 year-old rider who spent half of his season with Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni and half with Quick-Step may join the team of José Miguel Echavarri.

Rujano, third in the 2005 Giro d'Italia and best climber, left the Belgian Quick-Step squadra late last month, saying at the time, "Unfortunately, I haven't succeeded in reaching the objectives that I was me preset with the team because of some personal problems that have conditioned my season." If the deal goes through, Rujano would ride alongside of riders like Oscar Pereiro and 2006 ProTour champion Alejandro Valverde, and would be expected to aim for the 2007 Giro's maglia rosa.

Bettini stars in Munich Six Day

Marco Villa on track
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
(Click for larger image) Marco Villa of Italy has  122 six-day races – and won 22 of them. This year, he has formed a new partnership with Franco Marvulli of Switzerland

The Munich Six Day starts today at 20:00 and will include world and Olympic champion Paolo Bettini. The Italian, fresh of his six day debut in Grenoble, will once again pair with experience track rider, Italian Marco Villa. The duo will face top names, including Bettini's road rival, Eric Zabel.

Zabel won the Munich Six Day last year with Robert Bartko, and he will be back again this year but with a different partner. For six days the German will be pairing with Swiss Bruno Risi, who is fresh off his win in the Dortmund Six Day. In total there will be 15 couples, five more than Bettini faced in Grenoble.

"I am a little anxious," said Il Grillo to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "In France I understood what a six day is, but here I will be put amongst the best. Villa said to me that if we miss a change we can lose a lap like it is nothing.

"On the track you really have to be wise; shrewdness and the ability to read eyes are more important, and luckily I don't lack this."

"You see that he loves the track atmosphere, and this is important," responded Marco Villa, 37 years-old. "Sometimes he is out of the sprints but he battles nonetheless... This work will in turn be useful for next season if he wishes to continue."

Gudsell joins New Zealand cycling festival

Christchurch's Armstrong Peugeot Festival of Cycling continues to attract the New Zealand's top cyclists with the participation of Olympic and Commonwealth Games rider Tim Gudsell. Close to 2000 riders, both elite and recreational, are expected for December's Festival of Cycling. The two-day event, scheduled for December 2 and 3, features a 75km road ride around the Lyttelton Harbour bays and an inner city criterium around the Oxford Terrace café strip that will double as the New Zealand Criterium Championship.

Last year's inaugural event attracted interest from all ends of the country and overseas. This year there will be several world-class riders, including recent Commonwealth Games medallists Hayden Roulston, Gordon McCauley and Hayden Godfrey, and former world and Commonwealth champions Greg Henderson and Katie Mactier, who both dominated last year's inaugural event.

This week's announcement of Tim Gudsell puts four Commonwealth medallists on the Christchurch start line. The 22 year-old is one of New Zealand's top track riders but has also served his time as an amateur road rider in France and just two months ago signed a two-year contract to ride with French professional team Française des Jeux.

Gudsell becomes one of the select three Kiwis now racing on the prestigious European ProTour circuit, which by default marks him as a favourite for the Armstrong Peugeot Festival. The Athens Olympian is renowned as an explosive rider, which will suit the undulating harbour course and the short, sharp criterium.

Gudsell is particularly keen for the criterium, which this year doubles as the national championship. Henderson, Godfrey, Roulston and McCauley have all won multiple New Zealand road racing titles, but Gudsell is still looking for his first on the road.

The 75km road ride, on Saturday December 2, starts at McCormack's Bay Reserve in Redcliffs. The course then undulates along the northern bays and through Lyttelton itself, before climbing Evans Pass for a final stretch down through Sumner to finish back at McCormack's Bay Reserve.

Team Trek Red Truck Racing kicks off 2007

Fresh off a 2006 season, which saw the Vancouver-based Team Trek Red Truck Racing rejuvenated with an influx of new talent, the 2007 version of the Team got together at the end of October to start the new season with a weekend's worth of great training and team-building.

The 2007 version of the team has grown significantly, with a greater emphasis on developing British Columbia's talented next generation of riders. There is a strong group of seven espoir-age riders and three promising women supported by a network of experienced riders including Pan-Am Games medallist and lead coach Sara Neil.

Team Trek Red Truck Racing aims to be on the key development programs in Western Canada. "In the past, riders like Svein Tuft and Cam Evans have come through the ranks of our team and gone on to National Championships and international success," said Team Director Steve Engh. "With renewed enthusiasm and the generous support our sponsors, we'll be able to support and help develop promising BC riders over the next several years."

The Espoir Men's Roster includes last year's BC breakout rider Jackson Buehler, who finished third at the Tour de White Rock road race as an 18 year-old first-year senior; Jeff Castenmiller, the 2006 junior BC time trial champion, and Ryan Anderson, who had a successful first year as a senior following his silver medal in the road race as a junior at the 2005 national championships.

Joining them on the Espoir Roster are Nathan MacDonald, Dave Vukets, Garth White and Josh James.

In 2006, two riders from Trek Red Truck Racing spent a month in France racing with an amateur team in Brittany. This year, plans are underway to provide more opportunities for the espoirs to race in Europe, at the same time, the goal is also to bring young French riders here to ride with Trek Red Truck for part of the season.

There's also an effort underway to help develop some of the women's talent in British Columbia. To that end, Lisa Tasa who signed on with Trek Red Truck late last year is joined by Corinne Issel, Courtney Albert and Fiona McLeod, all of whom have shown great potential and results racing in British Columbia over the last two years.

"We've got a full winter of preparation planned including training camps and we're looking forward to a great 2007 for Trek Red Truck Racing," concluded Engh.

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