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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for October 4, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Women's team pursuit - handle with care

It may go some way towards compensating trackies for the men's kilometre and women's 500 metre time trials being taken out of the next Olympics, but the UCI needs to be careful how it introduces new teams events into the next track world championships, reports Gerard Knapp.

New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The move by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to introduce new team-based track events at the 2007 world championships will need to be carefully planned in with existing schedules to avoid affecting the performances of track cycling's leading riders in their chosen solo events.

Generally, however, it seems the UCI's move to offer more track events has been generally well received, especially after the howls of protest last year when it nominated the men's one kilometre and women's 500 metre time trials to be axed from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, presumably to satisfy the International Olympic Committee's request to bring in BMX racing into the Olympics program.

In a meeting at the 2006 Road World Championships in Salzburg late last month, the UCI approved the introduction of three new events for next year's Track Cycling World Championships: the men's omnium and women's team sprint, as well as the women's team pursuit. Further, both women's team events will be added to the already crowded Track World Cup schedules in 2007-08.

While the men's omnium and women's team sprint are welcomed by the sprinters, it is the women's team pursuit that has excited many in road cycling, as it provides an opportunity for more stars of road to enter track events.

Click here to read the full feature.

Raisin out riding again

American Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole) at the Tour of Langkawi in February 2006
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

American Saul Raisin, who crashed badly in the Circuit de la Sarthe in April this year, and nearly died because of serious head injuries, has returned from the United States to his second home in Europe, Monaco. The Crédit Agricole rider is physically healed from his numerous injuries, and even rode up the Col de la Madone. "My aim is to come back to Europe for good in January, to do some intensive training sessions," Raisin told Belgian media. "We'll see how I stand then."

The 23 year-old wants to return to competition, but his doctors have told him that he should refrain from racing for at least another 12 to 18 months. "I can't take the risk of falling - a crash involving my head could have very serious consequences," said Raisin, who nevertheless trained a total of 28 hours last week. "There is no guarantee that I'm able and allowed to race again, but that is my goal."

Dedecker gives staff member's name

After saying he had information that some 20 people (riders, soigneurs and dealers) were allegedly involved in doping in Belgian cycling, Belgian senator Jean-Marie Dedecker has confidentially given the name of a soigneur to the national cycling federation. The identity of the person, who is not a regular staff member but a freelancer appointed only to some races beyond Belgium's borders, will not be revealed in public, but the federation has taken action to suspend him for the time of the investigation.

Senator Dedecker last week gave his full dossier to Johan Sabbe, a magistrate specialising in drug matters, who is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.

No Quick Step in Coppa Sabatini

Belgian team Quick Step-Innergetic has cancelled its participation in the Coppa Sabatini, which was programmed for Thursday, October 5. The squad announced its decision "as a sign of respect and mourning" for the recent loss in the Bettini family. Paolo's brother Sauro died tragically in a road accident on Monday night. The funeral will take place on Wednesday, October 4 at 3pm at the La California-Bibbona parish church. Sauro Bettini, who left behind his wife Tommasina and his 10 year old son Francesco, will be laid to rest in the Casale Marittimo cemetery.

Liquigas to Paris-Tours

Italian squad Liquigas has announced its line-up for the upcoming Paris-Tours, the penultimate event of the 2006 ProTour. Stefano Zanatta will direct the team captained by Luca Paolini, Magnus Bäckstedt and Enrico Gasparotto. The former Italian champion, who has recently won the Memorial Cimurri, will be on the attack at the traditional sprinter's race: "The victory of the Memorial Cimurri gave me confidence. I finished tenth in Paris-Tours last year, but I feel stronger this year. Paolini and I will do our best to avoid a final bunch sprint."

Both Gasparotto and Paolini will go to Paris after taking part in the Coppa Sabatini on Thursday, October 5. The full Liquigas roster for Paris-Tours is: Luca Paolini, Magnus Bäckstedt, Enrico Gasparotto, Dario Andriotto, Mauro Da Dalto, Manuel Quinziato, Marco Righetto and Stefano Zanini.

Lelangue gets offer from ASO

Phonak team manager John Lelangue
Click for larger image

Phonak manager John Lelangue, who needs to find a different position since the team will cease its activities at the end of the season, has admitted that Tour de France organiser ASO has made him a job offer. Lelangue, who has close ties with ASO since he spent 11 years with the company prior to starting his functions within a cycling team, nevertheless remains committed to the peloton.

"Unibet is a possibility," the Belgian said, "but there are other offers, too." Lelangue used to be Press and Communications Manager at ASO in the nineties, then moved up to become Deputy Director of ASO Cycling, until Phonak owner Andy Rihs asked him to lead the squad out of the crisis in 2005. His father, Robert Lelangue, was a professional bike racer in the 60's, then became directeur sportif at Molteni, Fiat and Kas in the 70's. He has been managing Eddy Merckx' bike factory since 25 years, and conducted race director Jean-Marie Leblanc's car in the Tour de France.

Usau's contract depends on Mancebo case

French team AG2R Prévoyance is in a dilemma after Tour de France team leader Francisco Mancebo was suspended by his team just ahead of the event in June this year, because of possible implication in the Operation Puerto affair in Spain. Since then, the Spaniard continued to receive his salary without participating in races, taking up an important part of the team's budget. As a consequence, team manager Vincent Lavenu has no other choice than to wait for the Spanish cycling federation to start disciplinary proceedings against the rider. If he is banned, Lavenu will terminate Mancebo's contract and make the team's sprinter Alexandre Usau an offer for the coming seasons - if not, Mancebo has the right to return to competition with his French team.

Spaniards to Portuguese teams

By Antonio J. Salmerón

New Portuguese team Benfica already counts 12 of the 14 cyclists wanted for next season, as it has recently signed another three riders: José Antonio Pecharromán (Comunidad Valenciana), Didac Ortega (FC Barcelona), as well as Bulgarian Danail Petrov (Milaneza).

In fact, Portuguese squad Milaneza has found another sponsorship, LA Aluminios, which was co-sponsoring with Liberty Seguros this season. The new Milaneza-LA will be directed by Manuel Zeferino, who renewed the contracts of Portuguese riders Joao Cabreira and Bruno Pires.

Another Portuguese team that welcomes new riders is Vitoria-ASC, which has signed the Spaniard David Bernabeu (Comunidad Valenciana), winner of the Tour of Portugal in 2005. Vitoria ASC is also interested in the sprinter Angel Edo (Andalucia Paul Versan).

Meanwhile, Barbot-Halcon has signed the Spaniard Francisco Pacheco (Comunidad Valenciana), and extended the contracts of Pedro Soeiro and Klaus Möller. Spaniard Joaquín Sobrino (Super Froiz) will make his debut as a pro with Relax-GAM.

Tour of Utah on 2007 UCI calendar

The Tour of Utah presented by Three Peaks Promotions has been awarded International Cycling Union (UCI) status; consequently, the Tour will be given a date on the 2007 UCI calendar.

The decision to make the Tour of Utah an official UCI event comes from recommendations by UCI commissaires who participated behind the scenes at the 2006 inaugural Tour, as well as from positive feedback from race teams. UCI commissaire Marilyn Allen was the team liaison for the August 2006 Tour. "The teams were happy with the event and look forward to returning next year," she said.

The Tour of Utah is a six- day, six-stage, 500-mile bike race across some of Northern Utah’s challenging landscapes. Planning for 2007 is already underway with the Tour dates to be set for late July or early August. Jason Preston, president of Three Peaks Promotions and race director for the Tour of Utah, said he has already been looking at several routes for next year and is confident that the race will live up to its reputation as 'America’s Toughest Tour'. "We look forward to getting our team around us right away in order to raise the bar for next year," said Preston.

More information about the 2006 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah can be found on www.tourofutah.com.

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