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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for November 12, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Mum's the word after DNA meeting in Geneva

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

AIGCP president Patrick Lefévère
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Luigi Perna, not much information came out of Friday's four hour meeting in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss imposing DNA testing on the pro peloton. On hand for the parlay at a Geneva airport hotel were UCI ProTour coordinator Alain Rumpf and attorney Philippe Verbiest, as well as UCI medical staff Dr. Mario Zorzoli and Anne Gripper and pro team association prexy Patrick Lefévère. The pro riders' association was represented by attorney Rocco Taminelli, secretary Daniel Malabranque and rider Cédric Vasseur, who rides for Lefèvre's Quick.Step-Innergetic squad. After the meeting, Rumpf told La Gazzetta's Perna that "it was a first step and our discussion was held in a good atmosphere with a positive dialogue. I can't say if one side or the other has to give up their position. The objective is to find a common solution. But before we can do that, we need the teams and riders to be on board."

Professional Riders Association secretary Daniel Malabranque explained the riders' position, saying "the riders are worried about how their genetic data could be used in the future. The majority of riders are saying 'no' to DNA testing. The teams know that legally, they cannot force riders to take DNA tests and have even admitted that this has not been clearly communicated by the teams to the riders."

Attorney Taminelli added, "we have to see if it even makes sense to do (DNA testing). For example, in Italy, it's not possible to perform this kind of test, so we need some expert advice to see if according to European law, what the limits of imposing DNA tests are. But it won't be something that the teams will impose on the riders." No word on when a follow-up meeting on DNA testing for the pro peloton might happen, so the controversy will likely continue until some accord can be reached between the UCI, pro teams and riders.

Germans claim first DNA contracts

By Susan Westemeyer

Italian team Amore & Vita-McDonald's recently announced that Ruslan Ivanov was the first rider to sign a contract which included obligatory DNA testing. Not so, the two German ProTour teams told German cycling website Radsport-aktiv. Many of Gerolsteiner's riders have signed such contracts, the team said, and T-Mobile claimed all of its 29 riders have DNA testing clauses in their contracts.

The International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP) asked the riders to authorize the UCI to collect their DNA samples and called for new professionals as of 2007 to automatically authorise the collection of their DNA.

"The first rider for us was Stefan Schumacher, who extended his contract at the end of September," said Gerolsteiner spokesman Jörg Grünefeld. "And naturally the DNA clause will be added to existing contracts." The team had planned to insert the DNA clause in the contracts even without the ProTour teams' decision, he added. However, team manager Hans-Michael Holczer noted that riders with existing contracts could not be forced to have them adapted to add the DNA clause.

T-Mobile announced in September that all of its riders' contracts would contain mandatory DNA sampling, and according to spokesman Stefan Wagner, all 29 riders have signed such contracts. "For us, that was independent of the ProTour teams' decision," he stated. "All of our riders support our anti-doping policy."

The Italian-German ProTour team, Milram, on the other hand, said "DNA tests are not an explicit part of our contracts." Team Manager Gerry van Gerwen explained, "We refer in our contracts to the Code of Ethics and the 'Accord Paritaire', the agreement between the riders' union and the AIGCP."

Ullrich training, Jaksche hopeful

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich and Jörg Jaksche on the 2006 Tour de Suisse podium
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Jan Ullrich is getting rid of his frustrations the best possible way for a professional cyclist: on his bike. "My goal now is to ride out all of my built-up frustrations on the bike. When I do that, then I have a heck of a lot of energy," he told Bild newspaper, which on Saturday published photos of the 1997 Tour de France winner training outside of his home in Scherzingen, Switzerland. "I'm riding up to three hours every day, and also go to the weights room and the altitude chamber."

Ullrich, who is still without a professional license and team contract for next season, told German sports press agency sid, "I don't even think about giving up without a fight."

Meanwhile, his countryman Jörg Jaksche, who lives in Austria, is hopeful of making a comeback, too. Jaksche's attorney, Michael Lehner, told the sid, "I have received signals from the Austrian federation that they won't open proceedings" against the former Liberty Seguros rider. Both Ullrich and Jaksche were named in the Operation Puerto doping scandal, and have not competed since June 2006.

Bettini not "on track" for Beijing

Paolo Bettini is riding on the track this autumn, but denied that he was looking to be there for the 2008 Olympics. "I will concentrate myself totally on the road race in Beijing and try to repeat by success in Athens," he told Eurosport.

Bettini showed a strong performance in the Grenoble Six Days, where he finished fifth with partner Marco Villa, and is currently competing in the Munich Six Days. This impressed Italian track coach Silvio Martinello, who started considering the possibility of Bettini riding the points race in Beijing. "That was too quick," said Bettini. "My focus is on the road, of course. I am a newcomer to the track and have a grand total of two weeks' experience - the specialists have been doing it for 15 years!"

There is at least one man out there who would like to see Bettini change over to the track. Erik Zabel joked, "I will talk with Martinello and see if he won't put Paolo on the track - then we wouldn't have to face him on the road any more!"

Sassone to be back?

Former French pro Robert Sassone, currently charged in the so-called "Cofidis affair", wants to make a return to competition. The 28 year-old, who was with Cofidis from 2000 to 2003, is accused for traffic and use of doping substances and could be penalized by a suspended prison sentence of several months when the court will render its verdict on January 19, 2007. The gifted track cyclist was also suspended for doping between July 2004 and 2006, after he tested positive for steroids at the Six Days in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Nevertheless, Sassone told the court in Nanterre on Thursday that he wanted to come back to competitive cycling "with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a target. I regret what I have done and I would like French cycling, the FFC [French cycling federation - ed.] to give me a second chance." After two years spent off the bike, Sassone took up training again six weeks ago. The FFC has made known through its legal representative in the case, Christophe Lavergne, that it would "wait for the court verdict before taking any kind of decision."

Another 15 minutes: Claudio Chiapucchi rides on

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

His goofy grin and blue-jean pattern shorts were almost an icon of 1990's cycling, but Claudio Chiapucchi never quite won the big one. He faded from the scene almost a decade ago after chalking up a respectable palmarès with stage wins and best climber in the Tour de France (three podium appearances in 1990-91-92). As a member of the almost legendary Carrera squad, Chiapucchi hung up his bike for good in 1998. But the hardheaded, hard-riding 43 year-old from Ubaldo, just north of Milano who was nicknamed "il Diablo", has returned with a vengeance.

Chiapucchi has become a star of Italian reality TV on a show called "L'Isola dei Famosi" (literally "The Island of the Famous"), a take off on Survivor with mid-level Italian celebrities that has become the #1 program on Italian television. Although Chiapucchi was once again second in the final audience voting on L'Isola dei Famosi, he could console himself with a special "tapiro d'oro" from a satirical news show "Striscia la Notizia", Italy's version of The Daily Show.

Peloton for Presents Toy Ride in Vancouver

The Escape Velocity Cycling Club (EV) in Vancouver, B.C., has invited Lower Mainland riders to ride for a worthy cause. On Saturday November 18, the Peloton for Presents Toy Ride will take place in a Toy/Food drive to benefit the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and the Greater Vancouver Food Banks.

"The coming holiday season brings families together for good food and good times, and we want to extend this experience to those less fortunate," said Lorne Bodin, Toy Ride organiser.

Participants should bring an unwrapped gift, monetary contribution and/or a food item to the drop off area at Locarno Beach, and join the peloton for a short loop around UBC. Monetary contributions are preferable and contributions over $10.00 will receive a tax receipt.

Meeting point is at the Jericho Beach Parking lot by the youth hostel at 1515 Discovery. The event will begin at 9:00am on Saturday, November 18. Donations may also be dropped off at La Bicicletta bicycle shop at 233 W. Broadway on Saturday November 11 between noon and closing.

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