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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for November 15, 2006

Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo

Pereiro will boycott tour if no winner appointed

By Shane Stokes

Spanish Tour de France "winner" Oscar Pererio
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Although assurances were given by ASO's Patrice Clerc and the UCI's Alain Rumpf at the end of October that a winner will be named for this year's Tour de France if Floyd Landis is disqualified, runner-up Oscar Pereiro has spoken of his frustration regarding the uncertainty of the situation.

Speaking on Tuesday near Pontevedresa in Northern Spain, the Spaniard said that if the 2006 Tour is ultimately left without a winner, he will refuse to attend the race next year.

"I will not go to the Tour de France if the organization leaves the first place vacant," he said today in a conference in Marín. "In that case, I will take part in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España."

Quoted on the Spanish website, Pereiro appeared to lay some blame for the situation at the feud between ASO and the UCI. "I am still not the winner of the race due to a confrontation between the UCI and the Tour organizers. The French have the intention to keep the problem going until the final day of the allegations," he stated.

Pereiro also looked ahead towards the end of his career, saying that he would like to finish up with the Karpin-Galicia team. The new continental professional squad is from his home province of Galicia, giving a clear motivation for him to ride in their colors, but for now, he says it is impossible.

"Right now it is not a viable option as I need a team that will enable me to take part in the top-level races. I don't think the economic situation is a problem. But personally, I believe that I could end my career with Karpin Galicia. That is a dream of mine, at least."

WADA chief interviewed about doping, new book

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

WADA chairman Dick Pound
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image
The head of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) Dick Pound was interviewed on the National Public Radio program Fresh Air yesterday due to the publication of his new book, "Inside Dope: How Drugs Are the Biggest Threat to Sports, Why You Should Care and What Can Be Done About Them." Pound, a controversy among sports around the globe for his approach to stemming the tide of drugs in sport, responded to his characterization as well as discussing the past and current problems facing WADA.

When asked why he helped form WADA, Pound said, "Nobody trusts the individual sports to go after their riders or players, and nobody trusts particular countries to be hard on their own athletes if they catch them doping and nobody trusts the IOC anymore. We needed an independent agency not controlled by any of these stakeholders to kind of take charge of this on a world level."

Pound's fitting for a black hat by many in the world of sport was put into words in a New York Times interview earlier this year in which he said, "I'm happy to be known by the folks that hate me." He further explained the reason why he approaches the job the way he does.

"It's really part of the job description. I mean, what you're dealing with are pretty clear rules that for the most part have been adopted with the interest of sport and the health of athletes. There's a lot of people who are not much interested in having a light shone or the carpet lifted, so it is confrontational, and the people who scream are not the athletes who are playing fair, and the visceral stuff is a way of trying to get the public at-large to understand that this is a real problem. `Do you want your child to have to become a chemical stockpile in order to be successful at sport simply because there's a whole bunch of sociopaths out there that are prepared to ignore the rules?' They say, `Well, no. That's not what I want.'"

Pound also cited the procedural limitations he faces in addition to the criticisms he hears from inside sport. "We know who the athletes are. We know where they are. We know pretty well what they're doing. We know who their coaches are. We know who the bad coaches are. But there are a lot of things we can't do. We can't prevent trafficking in drugs. We can't enter into premises and seize evidence. We can't compel the giving of evidence under oath and a whole bunch of things that only governments can do. So the solution has to be a combination of sport plus the public authorities."

The interviewer also asked Pound about the criticisms connected with his public comments about specific doping cases, as well as what the standard of proof should be. "I have to say what's out there," said Pound. "Circumstantial evidence is nevertheless evidence, and what I've always been very careful to say is that she has not been charged with an anti-doping violation. My view is that this is not a criminal matter. This is a sport. These are all sport rules and the standard of proof that has evolved in the sport jurisprudence is what's called a comfortable satisfaction with the evidence. So it's less than proof beyond all reasonable doubt and higher than a mere balance of probabilities."

Cunego to select 2008 team

Lampre-Fondital likely while others wait

By Gregor Brown

Damiano Cunego with 2004 Giro Trophy
Photo ©: Sirotti
Damiano Cunego rocketed on to the scene in 2004. In his third year as a professional Il Piccolo Principe swept Italy with wins in May's Giro d'Italia and the end-of-season classic Giro di Lombardia, securing his spot as number one ranked UCI rider for 2004. Those days he wore the red colors of Saeco, whereas today he is riding in the blue-pink colors of Lampre-Fondital but still with the same guiding force, Giuseppe Martinelli.

Director Sportif Martinelli discovered Cunego and the two moved to Lampre in 2005 when Saeco ended its sponsorship. Cunego's contract with the team managed by Giuseppe Saronni runs through 2007 but, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, negotiations are underway to secure the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Cunego is not the top paid Italian in the cycling business, that honor goes to Alessandro Petacchi and Paolo Bettini, both who are pulling in an estimated two million euro per year. Cunego is currently making around 1.2 million a year and is requesting to earn 1.5 from Lampre-Fondital for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Negotiations were underway with Saronni before Cunego left for the USA wind tunnel tests and his honeymoon in Mexico, and now, after just returning to Europe, he is reportedly scheduled to meet with Emanuele Galbusera of Lampre and Silvestro Niboli of Fondital in the coming days. With any luck the two business men will find the needed money for Il Piccolo Principe in the coming weeks; a decision is expected shortly after the 2007 Giro presentation (December 2).

Damiano Cunego and Saeco's head sports manager Giuseppe Martinelli
Photo ©: Sirotti
If Lampre and Fondital fail to meet Cunego's needs there are other teams waiting in the wings. The Italian from Verona has stated his interest to stay with an Italian team, and according to La Gazzetta dello Sport he has had contact with Milram and Liquigas. But, both of those teams have leaders already at their call: Petacchi and Zabel for Milram, Di Luca and Pozzato for Liquigas.

Foreign teams who have their eyes on Cunego include Quick-Step, T-Mobile and non-ProTour Transferring outside of Italy would make it even harder for Cunego to bring his men with him, which include trusted teammates Marzio Bruseghin, Paolo Tiralongo and Basque Patxi Vila, a mechanic and a masseur.

Then there is Martinelli. The 51 year-old Italian discovered Cunego when he was racing at the junior level. Cunego went on to win the 1999 junior world championships in Verona and has since been with Martinelli. The two have planned Cunego's three points of attack for the 2007 season: the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Giro and a spot on the Italian team for the World Championships in Stuttgart.

In 2007 Cunego will be skipping the Tour de France, where this year he won the white jersey for best young rider. "I hope to come back here and win, not next year but in two years," said Cunego at the end of July. He will aim to return to France in 2008, where he will be riding under new contract, which at this point it appears likely to be with Saronni's Lampre-Fondital.

Voigt's doping solution

By Susan Westemeyer

Jens Voigt knows how to improve cycling's tarnished image: "The easiest thing would be to have a year without one single positiive doping test. That would help." Speaking to, the German rider further noted that Discovery Channel's signing of his former CSC teammate Ivan Basso is "not good for our image," especially in light of the ProTour teams' decision not to hire riders involved in the Operation Puerto doping scandal. "From the public perspective, it looks of course as if nothing had changed. But of the 20 ProTour teams, 19 of them have held to the agreement. Maybe those 19 should put some pressure on Discovery."

"Doping is not a trivial offense. I think that most cyclists understand that now," Voigt said. "We're all interested in improving our image. That means that we have to go further than other sports in fighting doping."

Voigt further noted that DNA samples. But DNA samples are not the answer to all of cycling's problems. "Right now the public seems to believe that DNA samples are the answer to everything. They think, when all riders make DNA tests, then that is the ultimate answer to doping. But a DNA sample can't replace any single test for testosterone, steroids or EPO. A DNA sample is only practical when, as in the Puerto affair, anonymous bags of blood are found, in order to identify them."

Ballan ready for big win in 2007

By Gregor Brown

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
Second in stage 14 of the Tour de France, third in Paris-Roubaix, sixth in the ProTour classification and one win, the Trofeo Laigueglia; these are the 2006 palmarès of Alessandro Ballan. The Italian is hoping to trade in his 2006 placings for a big win in 2007.

The tall rider won early in 2006, on Valentine's Day in Liguria in the Trofeo Laigueglia. Since then he was always near the top, including the front end of the World championships in Salzburg when he was leading he peloton on the last lap before his caption, Paolo Bettini, went on to win the race. But Ballan's desires remain in the spring.

"The typical 'man of the north' is a champion. I have yet to win a classic," Ballan explained in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 27 year-old is hoping to shine in 2007, pointing towards the historic spring classics. "The stadium of Roubaix or amongst the last thee bergs of Flanders," continued Ballan, describing his 2007 appointments.

The month of November has been the off-season for Ballan; combining vacation with other fun activities. "25 days away from the bicycle. A few little games of football and beach volleyball, really doing nothing," Ballan continued. "Now I will start back at the gym and some time in the mountains, and then on November 25 I will return to the road. Maybe if someone invites me to do some 'cross I will go. It is fun for me."

Ballan will be busy attending the inauguration of his fan club this Saturday near in hometown of Castelfranco Veneto. "They asked me for permission to create the club and I said 'yes,' and there are now 130 members," explained Ballan. "I gave them my jersey from the Salzburg worlds, the Lampre-Fondital jersey I wore in Paris-Roubaix, the Trophy from Tirreno-Adriatico and the trophy for my win in Laigueglia."

Unzué confirms negotiations with 3 Molinos Resort

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Eusebio Unzué confirmed that 3 Molinos Resort properties is interested in signing with the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team. 3 Molinos intends to reach a sponsorship agreement by December 31st, by which time the commitment of the Balearic Government should also be known.

Eusebio Unzué said to, "After three seasons of sponsorship and although Illes Balears has made it possible for us to step to this new level with our cycling team, we are waiting for a favorable answer to our proposal to continue our sponsorship beyond May. We would like to extend for the rest of the 2007 season."

Unzué values “3 Molinos Resort's very positive predisposition" towards signing, but emphasized that talks are still "in the beginning stages." Regarding his proposal to sign riders like Luis Leon Sanchez and Jose Joaquin Rojas, Unzué said, "we had been interested in these young riders," but he recognized that signing them could be a "complicated task." Both Sanchez and Rojas are still bound contractually to Manolo Sáiz, co-owner of Active Bay Sports. Sáiz was recently allowed to keep his ProTour team license.

Last week, potential sponsor 3 Molinos Resort properties held a secret meeting with the general manager of the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team, José Miguel Echavarri. The resort was hoping to reach an agreement that will bring them to the ProTour level and allow them to work with Alejandro Valverde, who is from the same region as the resort company.

Guerrero to direct Fuerteventura-Canarias

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Spaniard Oscar Guerrero, who has successfully directed the Kaiku pro continental team for the past two years, has signed a contract with the Fuerteventura-Canarias to become director sportif of the pro-continental Spanish team. The squad will make its debut in February of 2007. Fuerteventura-Canarias has placed their hopes on Guerrero's unique combination of experience and youth, and by the fighting spirit which he imbued into his Kaiku riders.

Guerrero will count on David Bernabeu as the leader, but the group of 14 riders is not yet completed. According to El Faro de Murcia, José Luís Martínez (Comunidad Valenciana), who has been directed by Vicente Belda, the Fuerteventura-Canarias technical adviser, could be close to signing with this Spanish squad. At the moment, there are eight riders signed by Fuerteventura-Canarias for 2007, but there are many other unsigned riders who the team might be interested in, such as Eladio Jiménez or Rubén Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana).

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