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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for October 14, 2006

Edited by Laura Weislo

Valverde out of Lombardy over award ceremony rift?

Valverde
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

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Alejandro Valverde, leader and virtual winner of this year's ProTour, reportedly will not start the Giro di Lombardia after his team pulled him from the start list in response to a snub by race organizers. Valverde, who has enough points to win the ProTour regardless of his participation in the Giro di Lombardia, was to be denied the traditional jersey award ceremony following the event. Race organisation RCS, which also organises the Giro d'Italia, refused to hold the ceremony or to promote the UCI ProTour alongside the Giro di Lombardia.

Angelo Zomegnan, the head of RCS's race organising committee, was defiant on the issue of Caisse d'Epargne's decision, "The Tour of Lombardy is a historic race which has been going on for 100 years. If Valverde pulls out, it will be his loss, not ours." Valverde had to face the same controversy last month when the organisers of the Tour of Spain refused to hold the ProTour podium ceremony.

Valverde's team is unhappy with the loss of publicity, and was quoted by AFP as saying that "Valverde is supposed to fulfil his obligations to the ProTour while not picking up the expected benefits." The Caisse d'Epargne team management has reportedly written a formal complaint about the matter to the UCI. In addition to pulling Valverde from the race, the team has reportedly refused to participate in the pre-race and post-race ceremonies, including the winners' podium, should one of their riders make the top three.

The conflict has roots in the long-running battle between Grand Tour organisers and the UCI. Earlier this week, the UCI announced that it would hold an awards gala in Como, Italy, following the Giro di Lombardia, at which the winners of all the ProTours would receive their trophies. The RCS refusal to hold the podium award ceremony for the ProTour leader after the one-day classic, appears to be a reaction to this announcement.

More evidence against Ullrich?

There is more evidence that has come to light against Jan Ullrich in the Operation Puerto, SŁddeutsche Zeitung reports. According to the German press agency dpa, the newspaper is basing its charges on the results of an "expert meeting" September in Madrid.

According to the newspaper, the Spanish "are obviously in the position to document Ullrich's visits in Madrid." Allegedly, Ullrich stayed in Madrid hotels many times, mainly in the Hotel Pio XII, and allegedly the clients of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes did not even have to identify themselves at the registration. "The system obviously functioned with hotel vouchers," the newspaper reports.

According to the investigators, Ullrich's relationship to Fuentes goes back to 2003, shortly after Ullrich's return to cycling following his six-month suspension for a positive amphetamine test. During the raid on Fuentes' office this spring, a photo of Ullrich, signed and dedicated to the doctor, was said to have been found. In addition, it is alleged that the police observed how two of Fuentes' helpers threw into a trash can two bags of blood labelled "Jan". The bags were taken into custody as evidence.

The paper further reports that the investigators have confirmed previously published financial data. Ullrich is said to have paid a base fee of Ä60,000 per year, plus two additional payments of Ä30,000, for a total of Ä120,000 annually. The money was not transferred or wired but personally handed over through middlemen.

In addition, SŁddeutsche Zeitung claims that Swiss investigators have a DNA sample from Ullrich. After returning from his honeymoon, Ullrich gave the Swiss police a "court-ordered" saliva sample.

Austria Tour gains a day

by Susan Westemeyer

The Tour of Austria has been extended a day and will be eight days long in 2007, Austrian cycling Federaton president Otto Flum announced Friday. UCI president Pat McQuaid personally approved the change. The next Tour will start on Sunday, July 8 and finish on Sunday, July 15.

"After the very successful double of the Hervis Tour '06 and the World Championships in Salzburg, McQuaid personally looked after our request to extend the tour for another day. Now we have the definite approval," said Flum. "We are on a good path. We got only praise from the UCI, the teams and everybody who participated in the Hervis Tour '06. In a time when the UCI is generally supported the shortening of tours, especially the big tours like the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta, it was surprising that we got an extra day. But of course we are very happy with this positive decision!"

Tour Director Ursula Riha was also happy with the news. "The reasons for the change are simple: You can do more with a start on a Sunday. Plus with an extra day we can reach more parts of Austria without long transfers. And it's not a problem for the ProTour teams, since most of them sent their teams on Friday or Saturday anyway. And in addition, now the top teams can better use the Tour of Austria, which takes place again during the first week of the Tour de France, to prepare for the second half of the season."

Di Luca ready for Lombardia

For the finale of the 2006 racing season, the late-season classic Giro di Lombardia, Liquigas will count on Danilo Di Luca to lead their squad. Di Luca, who has had somewhat of an off year after a stellar 2005, will be looking to find some of the form that propelled him to the 2005 ProTour win at the Giro di Lombardia.

"My physical condition is all right and determination is great," said The Killer. "I know my opponents are trained especially Davide Rebellin, Michael Boogerd, Frank Schleck, Paolo Bettini and, maybe, Alejandro Valverde. I expect the race to be very exciting. There will be fireworks in the grand finale of this racing season; also for the characteristics of the race route."

Di Luca is familiar with the course, having won the race in 2001. He will be supported by Luca Paolini, Vincenzo Nibali, Franco Pellizotti, Dario Cioni, Matej Mugerli, Andrea NoŤ and Charles Wegelius.

Leaders separated by seconds at Sun Tour

Jayco Herald Sun Tour - Post stage quotes

Stage six of the Sun Tour, the 11.3 km individual time trial, has created an exciting situation in the overall standings. The top three riders are now separated by only one second, and the fourth place rider behind only five more. This will make for a very interesting final stage, the Lygon Street Criterium, which is a short 80 minutes plus three laps long. John Trevorrow got some of the riders' reactions to this unusual situation.

Robbie McEwen
"I thought it might come down to this. When all the time gaps were so close and only an 11 km time trial, well I thought it would be close. But maybe not this close. It is going to be an eventful day and it will be all about getting that second back. I knew I wouldnít be riding for myself, I will be leading Gerro out, so my advice is don't get in my road."

Dave Sanders
"Itís not too bad. It will be an unbelievable race but we have a good card to play in Robbie."

Simon Gerrans (Jayco Australian National Team)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Simon Gerrans
"Iím pleased with my time trial. Especially considering itís not my forte. I didnít think I rode that well, felt a bit all over the shop actually, but I gave it everything and I will again tomorrow. It is just unbelievable that the tour is coming down to this. Iím getting nervous just thinking about it."

"I would prefer to be in Jongewardís position but I would like to think Iíve got a little more speed than those guys. Iíve got this guy in the team that they say is pretty quick. I guess Iíve just got to hold his wheel."

Chris Jongewaard
"It is a pretty good feeling hey - a pretty good feeling. [I am] pretty worn out it was a tough time trial. Itís going to be a race to the finish and I donít mind a criterium, so it is going to be a hell of battle."

Ben Day
"That was a tough time trial but I felt good and itís good to win, but what a race. What great riders that are going for the win and what great champions theyíve got around them."

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