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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for November 14, 2006

Edited by Laura Weislo

Hamilton signed with Tinkoff?

A proud moment for Tyler Hamilton
Photo ©: AFP Photo
Click for larger image
Tyler Hamilton reportedly inked a contract with the newly-formed Tinkoff Credit Systems professional continental team last month. The connection, long since rumored, was confirmed in an interview with owner Oleg Tinkoff, by a Russian newspaper, Sportcom. In the interview, Tinkoff named the American and Russia's Evgeni Petrov as the leaders of the team, and said that the squad will focus on several ProTour events; Milan-Sanremo, Tour of Lombardy, as well as the French and Belgian spring classics. The team will attempt to gain wild-card entries into the Grand Tours, in particular the Giro d'Italia, and endeavor to gain a ProTour license by 2009.

Hamilton himself has remained tight-lipped about any contracts, but did confirm in an interview this weekend that he had signed with a team for 2007, but refused to name the team. Linked to the Operación Puerto scandal, last month UCI president Pat McQuaid questioned the signing of riders such as Hamilton and Ullrich as a violation of the ProTour code of conduct due to their involvement in ongoing investigations. If Hamilton's connection to the Operación Puerto scandal holds weight in court when the case concludes next year, he could face a lifetime ban. However, following the recent clearing of riders including Ivan Basso and Santiago Botero, who have signed with teams after being implicated in Operación Puerto, Hamilton's hopes of re-joining the pro peloton are a possibility.

Cyclingnews coverage of Tyler Hamilton's case

November 26, 2006 - Confusion over Hamilton 'admission'
November 24, 2006 - Hamilton confirmes 2007 contract with Tinkoff
November 14, 2006 - Hamilton signed with Tinkoff?
November 13, 2006 - Hamilton has signed
October 31, 2006 - USA Cycling CEO on Puerto developments
October 21, 2006 - UCI questions value of teams hiring riders under suspension cloud
September 15, 2006 - USA Cycling informed about Hamilton
September 2, 2006 - Hamilton's World's aspirations dashed
August 29, 2006 - McQuaid on Pevenage, Hamilton, testing
August 26, 2006 - Hamilton file to be studied soon
August 22, 2006 - Extensive doping alleged for Hamilton
August 21, 2006 - Hamilton's "doping diary" from 2003 published
July 3, 2006 - Ullrich, Basso risk four years - life-long ban for Hamilton?
June 28, 2006 - Hamilton to keep Olympic time-trial gold medal
June 26, 2006 - Hamilton and Ullrich linked to Operación Puerto

Complete coverage of Tyler Hamilton's case

Wellens out for a week

Bart Wellens has been told by his doctors to take a week of bed rest following his crash in the world cup cyclo-cross race in Pijnacker on Sunday. Wellens crashed while trying to chase back through the field to the leaders after he got off to a poor start, and landed on his head. He suffered a mild concussion from the fall, and nearly lost consciousness, but after a few minutes, Wellens got back on his bike and finished the race in 11th place.

While his head is currently causing him quite a bit of pain, Wellens hopes to recover quickly enough to race in this weekend's GvA Trophee' and Superprestige races in Belgium.

Nys continues his reign

All in a day's work for Nys
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Sven Nys continues to stay atop the UCI cyclo-cross rankings after scoring another world cup win on Sunday in Pijnacker and a third place in Niel. The dominant Belgian had some bad luck in Niel, with a late-race mechanical that forced him to run the last 500m, pushing him from first position to third in that race. Bart Wellens, the benefactor of Nys' misfortune, won the race, but his luck turned the following day. A crash early in the race nearly knocked him unconscious, and certainly out of contention, but the scrappy Wellens got back on his bike in order to pick up enough points to maintain his place in the UCI standings. Unfortunately, his effort was not enough, and he dropped from third overall to fourth this week.

Francis Mourey gained 269 points to climb into third place. Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank also moved up a notch from sixth to fifth, overtaking Sven Vanthourenhout. The big mover this week was Richard Groenendaal, who moved from 19th to 11th on merit of his fourth place in Pijnacker and second place in Niel.

UCI standings as of November 13, 2006

1 Sven Nys (Bel)                  1670 pts
2 Erwin Vervecken (Bel)           1231
3 Francis Mourey (Fra)            1034
4 Bart Wellens (Bel)              1026
5 Gerben De Knegt (Ned)            873
6 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)        801
7 Klaas Vantornout (Bel)           735
8 Christian Heule (Swi)            661
9 Radomir Jr. Simunek (Cze)        616
10 Zdenek Stybar (Cze)             571
11 Richard Groenendaal (Ned)       557
12 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze)            544
13 John Gadret (Fra)               535
14 Kevin Pauwels (Bel)             513
15 Bart Aernouts (Bel)             505

Franke files further claims concerning Ullrich and Fuentes

By Susan Westemeyer

Did Jan Ullrich fly to Madrid to visit Dr. Fuentes on May 10, a rest day in the Giro d'Italia, and the day after the peloton transferred from Belgium to Italy? That's what German anti-doping crusader Dr. Werner Franke claims to have been told by Spanish investigators, according to the German magazine Tagesspiegel.

Franke has sent an affidavit to the German prosecuters' office in Hamburg, who has forwarded it to its counterpart in Bonn, which is in turn investigating Ullrich for fraud. In his filing, Franke says that he and his attorney met in Madrid on Sept. 29 with Enrique Gomez Bastida, Operation Puerto chief investigator. Gomez allegedly told Franke that Ullrich had been Fuentes' client since at least 2003, paying 120,000 Euros annually.

The affidavit further claims that the Guardia Civil discussed the "branch offices" of the doping networks. Franke wrote that Gomez described how the various "offices" kept in touch using a system of telephone cards "and also noted four telephone numbers used by Herr Jan Ullrich, including a landline number."

These "branch offices" were in Frankfurt, Germany, Orleans, France, and an unnamed city in northern Italy, presumably Treviso. In general, Franke's affidavit said, "at each location or hotel had a -- small -- group of cyclists associated with it." However, certain -- especially prominent -- cyclists were handled by Dr. Fuentes directly in Spain, normally in Madrid."

Ullrich's manager Wolfgang Strohband pooh-poohed the charges, saying, "There is so much fantasy involved here that we won't comment any more. There is so much speculation, we don't have anything more to say."

GP Etruschi changes hands

By Gregor Brown

Meet me on the avenue.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image) Meet me on the avenue.

Italy's season opener is changing hands. For the next three years the GP Costa degli Etruschi will be organized by Associazione Ciclistica Arona di Antonio Bertinotti (AC Arona). An agreement was reached on Saturday morning in Castagneto Carducci (Livorno) to hand the race over to the club that organizes many of the post-Giro d'Italia criteriums.

"We believe that we have made a good decision. We have trust in our staff, who have the confidence and reliability to guarantee success that is connected to the season's first race," noted Antonio Bertinotti.

2007 will mark the 12th edition of the race also known as the GP Donoratico. Run in Early February, the race is typically won by sprinters, with wins by Mario Cipollini and Jaan Kirsipuu, and two years going to Alessandro Petacchi.

USA Cycling Revamps Pro Calendar

Bike racing in the US has had a massive resurgence in the past few years, resulting in the formation of several important UCI stage races as well as a large number of smaller one-day and stage races across the country. The result has been an overcrowded national calendar, and the awkward situation of a ProTour rider, Floyd Landis, winning what is supposed to be a national points series. Landis won both the Tour de Georgia and the Tour of California, thereby gaining enough points that racers who participated in the full National Racing Calendar (NRC) couldn't overtake him. The overcrowding has also put race promoters in a pinch, with new events competing with long-standing events, and not enough days to go around. Are there enough races and enough racers to merit the addition of another professional-only calendar? Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski explores USA Cycling's response to the problem.

Criteriums are popular
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
USA Cycling recently announced the formation of a new elite pro-centered road racing calendar in the U.S., literally called the USA Cycling Professional Tour (not to be confused with the UCI ProTour.) The move does not replace the National Racing Calendar (NRC) but supersedes it by placing all of the current or forthcoming UCI elite-level events on a separate calendar along with the three national championships of road racing, time trial and criterium. In effect there will be two professional calendars for 2007, a top tier of invitational races for only elite UCI pro teams and one that will be open to professional as well as elite amateur teams.

The rationale behind this change is multi-faceted according to Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, but stems mostly from the recent flourishing of UCI events and continental teams in the US. "We want to showcase the top level in men's professional bike racing," said Johnson in an interview with Cyclingnews. "The calendar pulls out and highlights events that will become professional only. With the fifteen continental teams, the three pro continental teams and one ProTour team, we have reached a kind of critical mass of professional racing in this country where they can benefit from and deserve a separate calendar."

However, another deciding factor, though seemingly an after effect, for the separation of road cycling events in the US comes from years of criticism that the NRC has too many events. In recent years organisers and teams alike have voiced concerns that the calendar was overloaded and not structured logically. Some of the biggest complaints came from race organisers of smaller but long-standing races who were worried that the new events coming on line would negatively affect them after years of work promoting these foundation events.

Click here to read the full feature

Barloworld to close out the season at Pick'n Pay

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Barloworld is getting set to end its season with an appearance at the Pick'n Pay 94.7 Cycling Challenge on Sunday, November 19 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The race features an astonishing lineup of 27,000 riders. Barloworld will be competing with the professional pack in the 94.7 km race. Appearing for the South African team will be Felix Cardenas, Gianpaolo Cheula, Ryan Cox, Hugo Sabido, and James Perry.

Giosue Bonomi was scheduled to ride on Sunday, but had to be scratched. He returned to his native Italy after suffering a fractured wrist in a crash in the Bakwena Cycling Challenge in Pretoria last Sunday.

Bernabeu to lead the Fuerteventura-Canarias

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Winning the third stage
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The former rider for the Communidad Valenciana team, David Bernabeu, has reached a contractual agreement with the new Spanish squad Fuerteventura-Canarias for the 2007. The team is sponsored by the Canarian Government and regional industralists, and will make its debut in February of 2007. David Bernabeu has several prestigious victories on his palmares, including the final GC of the 2004 Volta a Portugal and this year's Challenge Illes Balears, in addition to two stage wins.

In 2006, Bernabeu made the podium of the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valencia and the Vuelta a Murcia. The signing of Bernabeu makes him the leader of the Fuerteventura-Canarias for 2007, although the new Spanish pro-continental team still has some vacancies. Mikel Artetxe (3 Molinos Resort), Adrián Palomares (Kaiku), Manolo Lloret (Comunidad Valenciana), local rider Dailos Diaz, José Adrián Bonilla (Comunidad Valenciana) and the neo-professionals David Belda and Antonio Piedra are other members of the team. The squad will have 14 riders, and will dispute not only the Spanish calendar, but also the greater part of the European calendar.

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