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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf


First Edition Cycling News for November 29, 2006

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Genevieve Jeanson free to return

By Greg Johnson

Will Jeanson come out of retirement?
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
Click for larger image

In what may be regarded as a landmark decision by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Genevieve Jeanson, banned for life after testing positive to EPO in July 2005, has been awarded a reduced sentence of just two years. Despite announcing her retirement on January 19 this year, it appears the Canadian is re-thinking a return to professional cycling, who is now able to resume racing as early as July 2007.

"I’m 25 and I still have a lot of good years ahead of me," said Jeanson in a statement. "But accepting the USADA’s offer was a difficult decision. Other decisions will wait."

The agreement between USADA and Jeanson, dated November 1, 2006, comes after a recent expert report submitted by Belgian doctor Joris Delanghe, hired by Jeanson, who questioned Jeanson's test results from the 2005 International Tour de Toona, claiming it to be a false positive.

It should be noted that the agreement is not an admission of guilt by Jeanson. According to her statement, the purpose is to "take into account all of the circumstances of the matter and to avoid the mutual burden of going forward with the AAA/CAS hearing".

Equally, USADA has not admitted their test results were inaccurate: "Both parties acknowledge that they are not changing their respective positions by agreeing [...] but seek to end this matter without further process."

According to Dr. Delanghe, his report casts further doubt on the accuracy of urinary EPO tests, who concluded: "In the case of severe exercised-induced proteinuria (like in Jeanson's case), there is a serious concern about the validity of the EPO test."

“I have never in my entire career taken EPO, or any other banned substance,” said Jeanson. “After the USADA informed me that I had tested positive in July 2005, I did some research to figure out how this could have happened. I secured the help of a reputable professor and researcher at Ghent University in Belgium, Dr. Joris Delanghe. I am very grateful that he graciously offered to investigate my case.”

Jeanson has experienced a hugely successful, yet turbulent career. The 1999 road race and time trial junior world champion was heavily criticised during the 2000 Olympic Games selections after applying for an exemption from the rules, as the selection criteria didn't acknowledge her achievements at a junior level. After being granted a spot in the Canadian line-up, Jeanson was further dogged by critics who accused her of preventing teammate Lyne Bessette from claiming a medal in the road race.

Jeanson's utter dominance in North American races led to suspicions of doping. In 2003, those suspicions were heightened by Jeanson's high hematocrit reading prior to the 2003 road world championships in Hamilton, leading to her exclusion from the race. The next year, Jeanson failed to appear for anti-doping control following La Fleche Wallone in Liege, Belgium, and was fined and given a warning.

While Jeanson will now take her time deciding whether to return to professional-level cycling, after officially announcing her retirement on January 19, 2006, she's thankful to those that have stood by over the past two years. “I know that I’ll never be able to convince everyone of my innocence,” concluded Jeanson. “Innocence cannot be proven. But Dr. Delanghe’s work has shed light on the probable causes of the incident on July 25. I want to thank him for his interest in my case, as I would like to thank everyone who helped and supported me during this difficult period of my life.”

Vuelta under pressure

By Sue George

The UCI sent a letter to Victor Cordero, the General Director of the group that organises the Vuelta a España, warning him of potential changes to the ProTour calendar that could shorten the Spanish Grand Tour and force it to share the September calendar with the Tour of Germany. Extracts from the UCI's letter were published in El Pais on Tuesday, according to L'Equipe. The letter was signed by Alan Rumpf, the UCI's ProTour Committee co-ordinator.

Cordero called the letter "surprising," according to L'Equipe. Rumpf first wrote of the possibility of moving the Tour of Germany to September; the Vuelta's duration would be shortened from its usual three weeks to enable both races to share calendar time in September.

The letter said: "You know, dear Victor, that the [ProTour] committee has reflected upon calendar modifications for the 2009 season and changes could take effect as early as 2008. And you know the interest in the Tour of Germany moving to September, like the Vuelta. This would satisfy the wishes of some teams to participate in the Tour of Poland, too. You know also, Victor, that the three week duration of the Vuelta is under debate at the moment." Rumpf is referring to demands for shortening the Grand Tours in order to make them less physically demanding. Some believe shortening Grand Tours would reduce riders' incentives to dope.

Cordero responded to the letter and defended the Vuelta to the AFP: "We are going to answer the UCI, but will not improvise an answer on short notice. While the UCI may have interests that threaten the Vuelta, the race is part of cycling's heritage, and an entire country stands behind it."

Tinkoff says Ullrich unlikely

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It doesn't look like Jan Ullrich will be joining Tinkoff Credit Systems. "I don't think he's interested," team manager Omar Piscina told the Associated Press. "It's been more than a month since we've spoken. I'd say that was probably a clue."

On Monday, Ullrich said on his website that he was "in discussion with certain teams and certain sponsors."

"Ullrich's comments must be referring to other teams. He can't be talking about us given the length of time that has passed since our discussions," he said. "We've signed [Tyler] Hamilton and that'll probably be it."

Team spokesman Danilo Viganò added: "It's 99 percent sure that we won't be adding to our roster of 17 riders."

A real fighting year for O'Grady

The crash that put O'Grady out of business in Spring:
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

2006 proved you can take Stuart O'Grady away from the fight, but you can't take the fight out of Stuart O'Grady. At 33 years old, though, what's he fighting for? Story by Anthony Tan.

"What do I want to get out of it?" he asks, repeating my question as we share a taxi ride en route to Sydney airport on a fine November day. "I just want to win Classics. That's it."

As soon as Stuart O'Grady signed the dotted line for Team CSC at the end of October last year, he knew he was sacrificing sprint stages and the green jersey at the Tour de France, at one point his sole cycling obsession. "But it obviously didn't bother me. I was really excited by the new challenge," he says.

Another challenge began a few weeks before then, however, when he discovered the team he previously signed for this season, Sony-Ericsson, was not a team at all. Team manager Giancarlo Ferretti was conned into thinking he'd lined up a major global sponsor, and Gilberto Simoni, Matt White, Salvatore Commesso and Cristian Moreni among others went scrambling for jobs. Most found new homes, but were snapped up at bargain basement prices.

For the full interview click here.

Zaballa returns with Caisse d'Epargne

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spaniard Constantino Zaballa returned to the peloton last Sunday morning in the Criterium of Murcia, which was organised by friend and team-mate, Alejandro Valverde. Zaballa is hoping to simply "return to do my work," after being implied in the Operación Puerto investigations.

"It has been a nightmare," said the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider of the investigations.

Zaballa sees no reason why he shouldn't continue riding for the Spanish team: "Why not? I am a free man now. There is nothing against me". He believes the classics are a suitable scene to exhibit his combat in search of a victory. "I want to be in form in March and April, so that I will be strong for the season," concluded Zaballa.

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

Michaelsen joins CSC for last time

By Greg Johnson

Lars Michaelsen
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC has re-signed 37-year-old Lars Michaelsen for the last of 13-seasons as a professional rider. The Dane will again focus on the Spring Classics during his final season – an area which he's become somewhat of a specialist in.

"I'm looking forward to doing the cobble stones for the last time, because they've always been my main focus as a rider," explained Michaelsen. "They fascinate me the most and I've achieved my best results in them. Of course the fact that it's the very last time adds an extra dimension for me."

Michaelsen took his first major victory in the 1994 Paris-Bourges which he backed up with another win in the Gent-Wevelgem the following year. In 1997 he claimed wins in the opening stages of both the Vuelta a España and Vuelta a Burgos. Since joining Team CSC in 2003, Michaelsen has claimed overall victory in the 2005 Tour of Qatar and a stage victory in this year's Tour de Georgia.

"Lars is a key person on our team and we're happy he's chosen to do the classics one more time with us. The coble stone races are definitely his strong suit and we would be a lot worse off without him on board," said Team CSC's team manager Bjarne Riis. "Of course we're hoping he'll chose to stay on the team after having finished his career as a rider, because he has a lot more to offer. But the first priority right now is to give him the space to focus on doing the classics for the very last time."

Plouay announce road worlds candidacy

By Sue George

The French town of Plouay threw its hat in the ring of candidates for the 2012 world road championships on Tuesday according to the French Yahoo! sports site. Plouay previously hosted the worlds in 2000, the year Latvian Romans Vainstein won the title.

Plouay also hosts the popular annual race, the Grand Prix de Plouay, and the Tour de France visited the town on three occasions in the past decade: 1998, 2002 and in 2006.

The next few world championships will be held in Stuttgart, Germany (2007), Varese, Italy (2008), and Mendrisio, Switzerland (2009). The UCI announced that it intended to award a non-European country the worlds by 2010; Australia and Bahrain are competing for the honor for that year.

Flying Scotsman returns for Revolution

Former world hour record holder, Graham Obree, is set to return to racing at the Revolution 15 track meeting in Manchester, UK on December 9. The Scotsman will team up with Great Britain Olympic Academy rider Ian Stannard for a two man pursuit over 2km.

"I'm really looking forward to it," commented Obree. "It’s my off season but I've been out on my bike, keeping in shape so it will be good to get back on the track. It sounds like an exciting race and it will be interesting to team up with Ian Stannard. I raced against him in the pursuit in the 2005 National Championships. That was the last time I was on the track so it is fitting that we will be racing together."

Obree has also promised to try some of the other events on offer at Revolution, "I'm coming down for a track meeting so I'll race a couple of other events such as the devil" he said. "I'll put on a bigger gear for that event, try to stay at the front to avoid the sprints and grit my teeth and go with the flow."

"I'll also have a go at the Madison time trial" he continued. "The last time I raced the Madison was at the Bordeaux six with Tony Doyle so I'll make sure I get to the Velodrome early to practice the hand slings!"

Obree achieved legendary status in the 1990s by twice breaking the world hour record on his hand made bike ‘Old Faithful’. He also won the world pursuit championship in 1993 and 1995.

Sanderson to ride Christmas Carnivals

Nic Sanderson
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Former Davitamon-Lotto rider, Nic Sanderson, will travel to Tasmania next month for his first attempt at the National Grid Christmas Carnivals. Sanderson, winner of the 2005 Bendigo Madison, has proven track credentials and should feature strongly in the longer distance events.

The 22 year-old from Ararat, Victoria has returned to the Australian Institute of Sport team after a brief stint in Europe earlier this year.

Grant Atkins, president of the Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania, was excited at the prospect of Sanderson racing the series, "It will be the first time this aggressive cyclist has raced at the carnivals and I know his stamina and speed will thrill the crowds," he said.

Meares sisters heading to Brisbane

Olympic Champion and world record holder, Anna Meares, will return to Brisbane’s Chandler Velodrome for the first time in several years alongside sister Kerrie at the Gel Tech Women’s Grand Prix on December 2. The pair won the team sprint at the Sydney Track World Cup but will now line up against each other for an invitational sprint series.

Anna Meares is reportedly on her best form since Athens after recently breaking the women’s 500m time trial world record at Sydney’s Dunc Gray Velodrome.

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