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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

 

First Edition Cycling News for November 30, 2006

Edited by Sue George

Gálvez funeral ends sad chapter in cycling history

By Brecht Decaluwé

Isaac Galvez began 2006 with back-to-back wins
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Around two thousand people were at the funeral of Isaac Gálvez Lopez on Tuesday afternoon. The Spanish sprinter and track racer died after crashing during the penultimate night of the Ghent Six Day. Gálvez was interred in his place of birth, Vilanova i la Geltrú.

Juan Llaneras, Gálvez's race partner in Ghent, did all he could to fulfill the necessary administrative obligations in Belgium. He was later joined by sister Débora Gálvez and some other relatives. On Monday night Isaac Gálvez Lopez was repatriated by plane from Brussels airport to Barcelona. From Barcelona, Gálvez was brought over to Vilanova i la Geltrú, where he was born 31 years ago.

The local sports hall was turned into a big chapel were people could pay a last visit to Gálvez from 11AM on. Five hours later, a short funeral ceremony was held in presence of many local people who paid tribute to their hero. The cycling world was well represented with Gálvez’ director sportif Eusebio Unzue and manager José Miguel Echevarri from team Caisse d’Epargne - Illes Balears, and teammates Oscar Pereiro Sio, Alejandro Valverde Belmonte, Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver, and Vladimir Karpets. Juan Llaneras, the long time partner, co-world champion in Madison and good friend was also there to say farewell.

Many other Spanish riders like José Vicente Garcia Acosta, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, Angel Edo Alsina, Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero, the brothers Ignacio and José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna paid tribute to the Spanish rider. Also former riders like Miguel Poblet and Vuelta organizer Melchior Mauri, the president of the Spanish IOC Alejandro Blanco and Fulgencio Sánchez, president of the Spanish cycling federation were present.

The Belgian organizers from the Ghent Six Day, Patrick Sercu and Rob Discart had traveled to Spain to honour Isaac Gálvez Lopez. "I’m glad that we could be here; for us this is also a way to end this sad chapter," Discart said. He saw Davinia, Isaac’s new wife who is now a widow and a broken woman. "She was completely shocked and had to be supported; that was a heartrending scene. Here you see how big this drama is; everybody who was here had a hard time," Discart explained in Het Nieuwsblad. After the short emotional ceremony, the procession towards the cemetery was led by the parents, the two brothers and Davinia Gálvez.

Meanwhile Juan Llaneras suggested he may retire. The three times world champion Madison (twice with Gálvez) has been teamed up with his friend Gálvez in the Madison since 1999. The 37 year-old had two more goals in his career: becoming world champion in Madison on his home soil in Mallorca, and shining during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. All those plans were wiped away after the crash in Ghent. Rob Discart saw Llaneras at the funeral in Vilanova i la Geltrú, "Llaneras had it very difficult." The ceremony on Tuesday concluded another sad chapter in recent cycling history.

McQuaid comments on Vuelta revision

UCI President says nothing is decided yet; ProTour fight not the issue

By Shane Stokes

UCI president Pat McQuaid
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image
Following Tuesday’s news that the UCI has informed Vuelta a España chief race organiser Victor Cordero that the governing body is considering a possible shortening of the Grand Tour, President Pat McQuaid gave his thoughts on the subject. The Irishman has said that a full re-evaluation of the autumn calendar would be carried out before any decision would be made, and he also played down any speculation that this simply represented the latest round in the ongoing row between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers.

"I have just spoken to [UCI ProTour manager] Alain Rumpf about this situation," said McQuaid, speaking to Cyclingnews by phone from Switzerland. “He told Victor Cordero that the Tour of Germany is requesting to move into September, and the [Pro] teams are obviously interested in it because it means that they can do the Tour of Poland and then three or four days later, do Germany.”

"Alain Rumpf also informed Victor Cordero that the length of the Vuelta is not unanimously supported by all the teams and the cycling world, and that the calendar working group will be taking this into account within their deliberations. Basically, he was saying to Mr. Cordero to be aware that there isn't a huge support for the Vuelta amongst the teams in its current format, as regards its length."

Judging by these comments, it seems that much more discussion will take place before any change. But if it is ultimately agreed that the Tour of Spain should be truncated, the obvious question is just how short would it be? After all, it is one of the three major stage races and has a long history as a three-week event.

When asked if it would be two weeks or two and a half weeks long, McQuaid however declined to be drawn on any specifics. "I don't know,” he responded. “Until such time as this is completely studied, a decision like that won't be made. It will be taken in the light of all sorts of things, including the [current anti-doping] audit, which is not going to be finished until six or nine month's time."

Given the ongoing tensions between the organisers of cycling’s three Grand Tours and the UCI, some have speculated that the latter’s letter is part of this battle. McQuaid rejects this outright. "No, it is not," he states, appearing frustrated by such a suggestion. "Anyone who suggests that is doing it as an excuse to suit their own interests. Any decisions that the ProTour Council or the UCI takes are decisions taken objectively for the betterment of the sport."

"Look, the Tour of Germany has a big problem in August and German television has dictated that they want it to be outside of the period that it is currently in. So they [the organisers] have looked at September and that suits them better, and it also suits German television. You also have to remember that the Olympic Games in 2008 are in August. "

"In addition, it could benefit from the fact that that you would have the Tour of Poland and then the Tour of Germany after it, allowing teams to go from one race to the other."

McQuaid sees logic in a proposed move. "There are lots of practical reasons why it would be more suitable for the Tour of Germany to be in September rather than in August. I mean, as things currently stand, the Tour of Poland goes up against the Vuelta. So if there is another race on which clashes with the Tour of Spain it doesn't make a difference, because the riders that take part in the Tour of Poland currently do not ride the Vuelta anyway."

"This is not part of any fight between the Grand Tours and the UCI," he reiterated. "All we are trying to do is to try and create a balanced calendar for everybody and take everybody's interests into account."

Bettini awarded Velo d'Or

By Gregor Brown

The Italians
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian Paolo Bettini has been awarded the 2006 Velo d'Or from France's Velo magazine. The world champion bettered Ardennes warrior Alejandro Valverde and Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara for the prestigious award, which was determined by a panel of journalists selected by the magazine.

Bettini started off slowly this season with a win in the GP di Lugano and a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico, but then he really came to power by taking the Italian championships, the world championships and then the Giro di Lombardia.

The 2005 award also went to a world champion. Tom Boonen claimed the Velo d'Or as part of his awards haul in the winter of 2005.

UCI asks for Spanish help

By Sue George

In order to unblock the impasse surrounding Operación Puerto, the UCI's Pat McQuaid has asked in writing for involvement by the Spanish minister of the Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, Many top riders have been allegedly implicated by the scandal, but judicial processes are far from complete. In the meantime, the UCI can do nothing to prevent riders named in the affair from competing.

"The substance of the case and all its information are overwhelming for certain cyclists who have been implicated," said McQuaid according to French Yahoo! Sports. "And the UCI can do nothing. We cannot, in spite of our wishes, use the information in disciplinary proceedings against the riders."

Pat McQuaid, UCI President, recognized the independence of the Iberian judicial system, but asked if the process might be sped up by informing the judge of the gravity of the situation.

A copy of the letter was sent to the International Olympic Committee, the Association of Summer Olympic Sports, and the Spanish Cycling Federation.

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

The future of German Cycling: the Young Guns

By Susan Westemeyer

Marcel Sieberg (Wiesenhof-Akud)
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

As Germany's hard hitters in the cycling world prepare to step aside for their apprentices to take the spotlight, a third generation of riders is waiting in the wings to fly the nation's flag

The big names in German cycling are Jan Ullrich, Erik Zabel and Jens Voigt - ranging in age from 32 to 36, and all looking to the end of their careers. It has long been predicted that Ullrich's retirement would mean the end of pro cycling in Germany, but a number of new names and fresh young faces have appeared on the scene to spark new interest – Stefan Schumacher, Fabian Wegmann and Patrik Sinkewitz, for example. At 25 to 26-years-old, with four or five years' professional experience behind them, they are coming into their prime.

But that also means that they should start looking over the shoulders, as the next generation of young riders looks to establish itself. Cyclingnews will look at three of these young up-and-coming Germans, one from each of the German (or half-German) ProTour teams, and follow them over the coming season as they seek to make their names and establish their reputations.

Milram's Marcel Sieberg

Team Milram will see the ProTour debut of Marcel Sieberg in 2007. The tall redhead is excited about his debut with the outfit. "It has always been my goal to ride in the ProTour. I'm even happier because this dream is coming true with Team Milram, because I have a lot of friends there and will surely feel comfortable there." The decision to sign with the Italian-German team was easy, he said, "because I always liked the team and the riders."

The main attraction for the sprinter is, naturally, the big-name sprinters at Milram: Alessando Petacchi and Erik Zabel. "They are both world-class riders. Plus Erik is an extremely good one-day racer," said the 24-year-old. "Both of them are very experienced and have lots of wins, and I hope that they will help me develop."

To read more about Seiberg in the full feature, click here.

Changes to US ProTour

UCI upgrades three US ProTour events; Tour of Utah changes dates

By Sue George

First time up the climb at last year's Tour of California
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling announced three race UCI event category upgrades and one calendar change for next year's revamped USA Cycling Professional Tour.

Two inaugural events, the US Open in Richmond and the Tour of Missouri, have been granted category one status. The Austin Men's International already had category one status, which means a total of three brand new events will be category one in 2007. The upgrades will allow race promoters to invite UCI ProTour teams and offer more international ranking points for competitors.

Another change moves the Tour of Utah to an earlier date. Originally scheduled for August 12-19, the Tour of Utah is now scheduled for June 30-July 7 and avoids conflict with the professional criterium championships and the first-year Le Tour Montreal-Boston, also a category 1 event.

Andy Lee, of USA Cycling, described to Cyclingnews on how the changes came to be in effect. "It's a collaborative effort. As the national governing body, we interface with the UCI. When Sean Petty [Chief Operating Officer of USA Cycling] was at the UCI road commission meeting, he lobbied for the upgrades, but we also worked with the promoters. However, the date changes were more of a UCI thing. They will often come back and say when dates are available on the calendar. The Utah race conflicted with two races."

Petty elaborated on the process. "The organizers send calendar forms in advance of the June 1 deadline for each nation to put forth requests for next year's calendar. The road commission reviews them. If it's an ongoing event, it's straightforward to renew status. The commission evaluates the event based on commissaire's report of the previous year. If a new event, more information must be provided, and there is more of a lobbying process. If we [USA Cycling] think the race is worthy, we go to bat for them. First and foremost, we must be assured of the organizers' quality."

Referring to the three new races, Petty said, "Our request for category one status was not granted on the initial go-around, but based on subsequent information, it was granted. For example, initially Medalist sports was not onboard for Tour of Missouri. Then they got behind it and the state also stepped up to support the race. Letters from the governor helped."

Petty is a member of the UCI Road Commission. At the World Championships, the group meets to iron out any remaining schedule conflicts around the world and re-consider any requests for UCI points.

Lee believes the changes will provide two benefits. "One, it will give more opportunities for American athletes to earn UCI points, which count toward individual and country rankings [used to determine slots for major international competitions like the Olympics]. The second thing this does is show the growth of cycling in the US. This is a testament that the UCI believes in cycling in this country." Lee refers not only to the largest-ever number of UCI sanctioned American events, but to the high HC rankings earned by several key events. He said he expects that having more world-class events will create a buzz and help the overall state of cycling.

The changes were confirmed at the UCI road commission meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, earlier this month. The 15-race series of international-caliber events connected by a season-long points system will make its debut in 2007 and feature some of the top world-class athletes and teams from around the globe.

Steve Johnson, chief executive officer of USA Cycling, said the changes "illustrate the quality of the organizations that promote each event and the commitment of the respective states and cities, which is critical to hosting world class events."

Lee explained reasons why three inaugural events may have earned category one UCI status. "The Tour of Missouri is organized by Medalist Sports which also organizes the Tour of California and the Tour of Georgia, so they have a long history of putting on world class events with UCI. Austin will be put on by G4 productions, which has staff who was involved with US Pro championships and the Philly series."

Of the 15 races on the USA Cycling Professional Tour, three are categorized as “Hors Categorie” – the AMGEN Tour of California (2.HC), the Tour de Georgia (2.HC) and the Commerce Bank International Championship in Philadelphia (1.HC). Two others also carry category 1 status as the single-day Commerce Bank Lancaster Classic (1.1) and the Commerce Bank Reading Classic (1.1) in Pennsylvania join the events in Richmond, Missouri and Austin. Category two events include the Saturn Rochester Twilight Crit (1.2), the Univest Grand Prix (1. 2), the Tour de Leelanau (1.2) and the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (2. 2).

The three remaining events on the calendar, the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial Championships in Greenville, South Carolina, and the USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships in Downers Grove, Illinois, will also feature world-class athletes. Although not technically sanctioned by the UCI, the professional road and time trial championships will offer UCI points as national championship events recognized by the international governing body. As criterium racing is not currently a UCI discipline, no UCI points are available in Downers Grove.

2007 USA Cycling Professional Tour

Feb. 18-25: AMGEN Tour of California – California (2.HC)
Apr. 7: U.S. Cycling Open – Richmond, Va. (1.1)
Apr. 16-22: Tour de Georgia – Georgia (2.HC)
June 3: Commerce Bank Lancaster Classic – Lancaster, Pa. (1.1)
June 7: Commerce Bank Reading Classic – Reading, Pa. (1.1)
June 10: Commerce Bank International Championship – Philadelphia, Pa. (1.HC)
June 17: Austin Men’s Invitational – Austin, Texas (1.1)
June 23: Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium – Rochester, N.Y. (1.2)
June 30-July 7: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah – Utah (2.2)
Aug. 19: USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships – Downer’s Grove, Ill.
Sept. 1: The Cliffs USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championships – Greenville, S.C.
Sept. 3: The Cliffs USA Cycling Professional Road Championships – Greenville, S.C.
Sept. 8: Univest Grand Prix – Souderton, Pa. (1.2)
Sept. 11-16: Tour of Missouri – Missouri (2.1)
Sept. 15: Tour de Leelanau – Traverse City, Mich. (1.2)

Skoda extends with Team CSC

Team CSC will be driving Skoda again in 2007. Skoda has extended its sponsorship for a third consecutive season. .

"We have benefited a great deal from our sponsorship agreement with Team CSC, and we are very pleased to announce the continuation of our work together. The team has provided us with a great platform for the marketing of our product - both via international exposure, but also from a Danish perspective." says Managing Director at Skoda Denmark, Ulrik Schönemann. Bjarne Riis, team director, also expressed satisfaction with the ongoing Skoda relationship.

PSK Whirlpool Hradec Kralove 2007 squad announced

In 2007, five new riders will join the PSK Whirlpool Hradec Kralove team: Martin Mares (from Naturino Sapore Di Mare), Frantisek Kloucek (from Authot Praha – cyclo-cross team), Linda Antonin (from CK Pribram), Danacik Jakub (from SKP DUHA Lanskroun), and Kubias Petr (from Skoda Plzen).

Riders continuing from the 2006 season include Rene Andrle, Petr Bencik, Radek Becka, Tomas Buchacek, Vojtech Dlouhy, Stanislav Kozubek, Leopold König, and Georgios Tentsos (Gre).

All racers will ride carbon frames with Shimano Dura-Ace and Ritchey components.

2007 Tour of California announces first three pro road teams registered

Overall 2006 Tour of California winner Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Three pro road teams have already registered for the Tour of California set for February 18-25, 2006, according to Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports, promoter and operator of the 650-mile, eight-stage cycling race.

The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Team CSC, and Predictor-Lotto are the first of the expected 16 professional cycling teams to be signed up for the second annual race.

"The level of competition returning for the second annual Amgen Tour of California rivals any race in the world and proves that cyclists and fans alike are hungry for this caliber of racing in America," said Shawn Hunter, president of AEG Sports. "We are excited to welcome many of the best teams in cycling back to California to compete on another world-class course."

Team CSC won in 2006, and they will return to defend their title. David Zabriskie (USA) came in second overall in last year's race and Bobby Julich (USA) took home third place overall. With the recent addition of Juan José Haedo (ARG) from Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team, who won stages one and four, Team CSC continues to strengthen its roster in preparation for the season ahead.

Closely following Team CSC in the 2006 Tour of California, Discovery took second place in the team classification, with George Hincapie (USA) securing two stage wins to finish fourth overall.

"Our Team has always enjoyed coming to California for our training camps, so when the Amgen Tour of California was announced last year, I did not hesitate to put it on our schedule," said Johan Bruyneel, directeur sportif of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. "I was very impressed with the organization and the crowds on the roads in just the first year of the race. Being an American Team, we are excited to come back again in 2007." Team Discovery will preview many of the courses at their pre-season training camp near Solvang, California.

Tour of Virginia registration for 2007 opens soon

The Tour of Virginia registration for the race's fifth edition will open on December 1, 2006. The race will feature seven stages over six days and will take place April 24-29, 2007. The race was recently included on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) status. Teams can register at http://tourofvirginia.com

The race is formerly known as the Tour of Shenandoah and showcases U-25 riders.

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