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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for November 29, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Ullrich visited Italy for training on Monte Serra

Ullrich in 2005
Photo ©: John Pierce
Click for larger image

Earlier in the week it was noted that Jan Ullrich was spending his time training between Austria and Italy, in fact was riding in Toscana. The 33 year-old German had escaped the pressures of his home country to come to Italy, where he reportedly owns in a house in the hills of Massarosa, in the province of Lucca.

Ullrich's spokesman Michael Lang told Cyclingnews that he currently is not in Italy but, as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, he was training on the famed testing grounds of Monte Serra, a climb located nearby his home and used by many professionals to test their legs. In the same area lives doctor and trainer (or preparatore) Luigi Cecchini, who Ullrich, through all the controversy of Operación Puerto, still confides in.

In Germany his image has been dragged through the mud due to his alleged involvement in Operación Puerto. A formal disciplinary hearing has yet to start for the 1997 Tour de France winner but there is one small group of supporters who are ready to see a decision made, particularly a decision to let Ullrich race.

The website is entitled, "The Green Light for Ulle," and its concept is to gain signatures for a petition in support of Ullrich. "We [will] address this petition in particular to the UCI and Swiss Cycling, but also the race organizers, like ASO, Unipublic and RCS [the three grand tours]," wrote Thomas Haak in the website's press release.

For Ullrich to race, he will need a team. Earlier, Tinkoff announced that their contractual dealings with the German were all but over, however, it possible Ullrich may still ride for an Italian team, perhaps Davide Boifava's formation. Boifava is constructing a team out of Team LPR, and has already signed riders like Daniele Nardello.

The other, although far fetched, possibility is that Ullrich signs with Manolo Saiz. The Spaniard still holds, via Active Bay, the legal rights to a ProTour license. Astaná has pleaded with Saiz to release the license so they can safely start a new team, with riders such as Andreas Klöden and Paolo Savoldelli. A decision on which teams will in the ProTour is expected on, or soon after, December 7, when the ProTour License Commission meets.

Basso's lawyer responds to Riis' DNA comments

Basso with lawyer, Massimo Martelli
Photo ©: AFP
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"The statements by Riis are very confusing," responded Ivan Basso's lawyer Massimo Martelli to the comments made by his client's former team manager, Bjarne Riis of CSC. Yesterday, Riis noted that if the Italian had agreed to DNA testing he could have stayed with Team CSC. On November 8, Basso, winner of the 2006 Giro d'Italia, officially ended any possibility of continuing with CSC when it was announced he had signed with Discovery Channel.

"[Giovanni] Lombardi and I participated in the negotiations for a contract resolution [with CSC]," continued Martinelli to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Riis never downright asked for Ivan to submit to a DNA test."

Riis noted, "We were of course talking about it. We didn't say that he had to do it, as we can't insist on something like that, but of course we asked him about the possibility of it. We left open all the possibilities to prove that he is clean."

New cyclo-cross team Sunweb-Projob presented

Sven Vanthourenhout is the team's best rider

By Brecht Decaluwé

World champions on stage
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

From January 1, 2007 the dominance of Fidea and Rabobank in cyclo-cross might be over. A new Belgian team was presented on Monday by team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen; the Belgian is combining this position with an organizing role in the cyclo-cross races of Hamme-Zogge and Wachtebeke. Around two hundred invitees were introduced to the team's future riders, who were all present except for Tom Vannoppen who's silently working on his comeback at the highest level. The new team is named Sunweb-Projob, with the first company being a travel agency and the latter mainly selling sector specific working clothes.

The two biggest names Sven Vanthourenhout and Jan Jakke Verstraeten weren't presented on the podium, Mettepenningen explained this wouldn't have been appropriate towards the sponsors of their respective current teams, Rabobank and SD Worx. "We will receive enough media attention after New Year," Mettepenningen said. He expressed his desire to compete with Rabobank and Fidea at the highest level in cyclo-cross, with the Belgian championship in Hamme being the first big appointment for the team.

Another big name in the new team is the Belgian amateur champion David Willemsens, who finished eleventh in the latest world cup race in Koksijde. "With his current form he should be able to prolong that Belgian title, and with Sven Vanthourenhout we've got a serious candidate for gold in the pro race," Mettepenningen explained to cyclo-cross.info.

A nice representation of the team kit
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Steven Decaluwé and Jehudi Schoonacker will join David Willemenses as non-professional riders in the Sunweb-Projob team. With 20 year-old Maxim Debusschere, Kenneth Van Compernolle, Jan Van Dael and Kenny Geluykens there is much quality in the U23 team said Mario De Clercq, the three-time cyclo-cross world champion will be a coach in the new team. Sunweb-Projob has another known De Clercq in their ranks with coach Hans. The latter might be best known for finishing last in the Tour de France 2003, but he is also known for his work as a domestique during his time in Lotto team.

Team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen predicted that Tom Vannoppen, recently taken into hospital with depression, will race again on December 10. "Tom has left the hospital, but he's still supported by a psychologist, something which won't change quickly," Mettepenningen said. "He's mentally recovered but we will not allow him to slip away again. Currently he's only doing training sessions but in my race, Hamme-Zogge, he'll make his comeback," Vannoppen's future team manager said.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com

Tour of Qatar announces dates and teams

2006 Tour of Qatar: Tom Boonen
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tuesday, ASO announced that the sixth edition of the Tour of Qatar will be held from the January 28 to February 2, 2007. The race offers favourable weather conditions, which is why numerous riders have chosen Qatar to start off their seasons.

For 2007, 17 teams have been selected to take part in the Middle-East's biggest event. Among the three Belgian teams that will be in the main pack, Quick-Step hasn't yet confirmed if their leader and 2006 winner Tom Boonen would be competing. A winner of five of the six stages in 2006, he will possibly have to face fierce opposition to carry his domination in Doha. While Alessandro Petacchi, who is among his toughest rivals when it comes to sprints, has planned to test out his legs on the roads of Qatar.

The 17 teams selected:
Belgium: Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen, Davitamon-Lotto, Quick-Step
Spain: Astaná, Saunier Duval-Prodir
France: Ag2R Prévoyance, Bouygues Telecom
Germany: Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile
Iran: National team
Ireland: Murphy and Gun-M Donnelly – Sean Kelly Team
Italy: Liquigas, Milram
Kazakhstan: Cycling Team Capec
Netherlands: Rabobank, Skil-Shimano
Qatar: Doha Team

Primo Volpi Passes

Tuesday in Empoli, Primo Volpi, professional from 1939 to 1956, passed away. The 90 year-old Italian was known as one of the most explosive climbers of his day, and for many years dedicated his services as a domestique to Gino Bartali.

Volpi has a palmarčs that contains 42 wins according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian from Castiglione d'Orcia notched up victories in the Volta a Catalunya, Giro di Sicilia, Giro dell'Etna, Coppa Bernocchi and twice the Coppa Sabatini.

He leaves behind his wife, Miranda, and children, Gianni and Maria Luisa. Services will be held today in Empoli.

Night of track cycling stars set to shine

Fresh from world record-breaking performances at the UCI track cycling world cup, Australia's track cycling stars Ryan Bayley, Shane Kelly and the Meares sisters, Anna and Kerrie have confirmed their commitment to the Tour Down Under's Night of Stars. Mike Turtur, Race Director, Tour Down Under said the Night of Stars offers cycling fans the chance to see Australia's track cyclists in action as well as be a part of the Tour Down Under team presentations for the very first time.

"This is a rare opportunity as these Australian track cycling champions do not race all that often in Adelaide and coupled with the presentation of the Tour Down Under teams – it will be a night to be remembered," said Mike Turtur.

This event will start at 6.00 PM on Monday, January 15, 2007 with a track cycling display and be followed by the Tour Down Under team presentation event. This is the first time the teams are officially presented on stage and the first time the event has been opened to the public.

Ryan Bayley and Shane Kelly, both Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists will take to the track along with Anna and Kerri Meares to showcase why Australia is regarded as one of the best track cycling nations in the world.

Anna Meares is riding high on a wave of success after her world record ride at the recent UCI track cycling world cup, posting a time of 33.944 seconds for the 500m time trial eclipsing the time she set to win gold at the Athens Olympic Games. She claimed a second gold medal at the event when she teamed with sister Kerrie Meares in the women's teams sprint.

Ticket information can be found at the official website, www.tourdownunder.com.au.

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