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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for October 19, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

Ullrich leaves Swiss federation

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich
Photo ©: John Pierce
Click for larger image

Jan Ullrich has announced his withdrawal from the Swiss Cycling Federation, effective immediately. He "cannot be reasonably expected to belong to a federation which injures the personal rights and professional freedom of a member and which refuses to take a position on specific complaints," according to Ullrich's personal website.

"For months, officials of Swiss Cycling and Swiss Olympic have conducted a press campaign against me with the contradictory statements," wrote Ullrich. "I have no more trust in them. This withdrawal does not mean that I am ending my career -- I have contacted other cycling federations concerning a license for 2007."

It was not known which federations Jan Ullrich meant or where he might move his residence to.

UCI Anti-doping coordinator replaced

By Susan Westemeyer

The coordinator of the UCI's anti-doping program, Christian Varin, is leaving his post after five years. He will be replaced by Anne Gripper, the former director of the Australian anti-doping agency. UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed the change, and emphasized that Varin's departure was in no way related to the Operación Puerto investigations. Varin will continue to be a consultant to the UCI.

Basso may consider non-ProTour teams

Yesterday it was made official that Ivan Basso and Team CSC will part ways after the two parties reached a mutual agreement to terminate Basso's contract prematurely. This followed this summer's events, when the Italian was associated with the Operación Puerto investigation and was he pulled out of competing in the Tour de France, his major objective of the year.

Despite Basso being told by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) that he would be allowed to re-commence racing due to legal issues over Operación Puerto, the Italian is now on the look-out for a new team.

Basso, in an official statement regarding his contract's termination, said, "Thanks to Bjarne Riis for the trust that he has given. Best wishes and good luck to all of them."

Ivan Basso (CSC)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

The 2006 Giro d'Italia winner has continued training since his last race, the final day of the Italian grand tour, on May 28. "At this point I have not signed a new contract," said Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I have been training with the bike in which I won the Giro."

The 28 year-old has allegedly been in contact with ProTour teams Discovery Channel and Milram, but neither team will confirm that a contract has been offered.

"I am also able to join with a non-ProTour project, with fixed technical and economic guarantees," continued Basso, who has considered Barloworld, directed by Claudio Corti.

Although there is the risk is that a non-ProTour team is at the mercy of the Grand Tour organizers to be offered a wild card selection, Basso said, "The setup is interesting because in three years Barloworld could become strong like CSC."

In the past, Discovery Channel is said to have expressed interest in hiring the Italian, but the Italian chose to renew with Riis' CSC.

Bruyneel is currently in the east for the Japan Cup and is yet to comment on the speculation that the Italian is now free to join the American team.

"When I return, I would like to already have everything in order," continued Basso. "I would be happy to leave for vacation knowing my new team jersey."

Ullrich happy for Basso

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich said that he was pleased to learn that no proceedings will be held against Italian Ivan Basso. "I have kept in contact with Ivan in the last weeks, which haven't been easy for either of us. Now, as one of his biggest professional rivals, I am happy that the charade is over for him," Ullrich wrote on his personal website.

"I hope that he can begin his preparations with ease and will find a good team that will make up to him for what happened in June," the German continued. "Months of hard training and the pain would otherwise be for nothing, because the press has found him guilty based on rumours and a witch hunt. His acquittal can give all of us hope."

Meanwhile, Ullrich's manager, Wolfgang Strohband, contrary to earlier reports, said that Ullrich still plans to continue his career. He will be in a training camp "soon", Strohband told the German press agency dpa, and he is currently has "several contacts to Pro Tour teams."

Scanlon leaves Europe for fresh start in US

By Shane Stokes

Mark Scanlon (AG2R)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Despite recent incorrect suggestions that he was to retire from professional cycling, the former world junior champion Mark Scanlon has confirmed that he will compete in the US in 2007. The 26 year old Irishman has raced four seasons with the French Ag2R Prévoyance squad but although he received offers to continue to compete in Europe, he has decided to turn his back on the ProTour scene and seek new motivation across the Atlantic.

"I can't yet say who the team is until things are confirmed," he said. "I want a fresh start and so a move to a totally different scene seems like a good idea."

The Sligoman recorded several good results in his first four years as a professional and rode the Tour de France in 2004, helping teammates Jaan Kirsipuu and Jean Patrick Nazon take stage wins. However, he hasn't reached the same form since then, and while injury and illness have both played a part, he admits that it has also been difficult at times to remain fully focussed.

"Firstly, I have been in Europe since I was 17 or 18 and it has come to the point now where I am not getting motivated for the big races the way I should be. At the same time too, you wonder if you should be making big sacrifices to finish 16th or 17th in a race, if guys are doping. It is not very motivating."

Scanlon was also known to have been frustrated at his selection for the Giro d'Italia this year, despite not being listed as a reserve. He was short of condition due to the disrupting effects of a bad tooth abscess but had to line out in the three-week Grand Tour when fellow Irishman Philip Deignan pulled out of the line-up due to illness.

He thinks a different scene and a slightly lighter, more structured programme will suit him. "Where I will be, it will have a good standard of racing, be English speaking as well which will be good. Also I will be in a team where I won't be doing 120 days in a year racing, instead of 80 or 90 which I should be doing. I feel I have been over-raced in Europe, basically. A change is as good as a break, that is the way I am looking at it."

McCann considers European return

By Shane Stokes

David McCann (Giant Asia)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Following a fine third place overall in the recent Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Irish road race champion David McCann has reached the end of his season and is currently is weighing up his options for 2007.

"It seems the new Tour of Hainan hasn’t invited Giant Asia, so the Sun Tour was the last one for the year," McCann said on Wednesday. "That is fine with me. I've done over 200 days racing in the last two seasons so an extended time without competing will be nice, letting me direct my training better. Saying that, I will probably be doing some track racing in the winter. I have no concrete aims in that area but I would like to see what I can do."

McCann had a very successful year, being Ireland's most consistent performer in 2006. He won the overall classification of the Tour of Indonesia, took the Irish road race championship and landed two stage victories in the Tour of Thailand plus one in the Tour of Qinghai Lake. The former Olympian also finished second in the time trials of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and the Tour de Langkawi, and was fourth on the Cameron Highlands mountain stage in the latter event.

The strong showing meant that he finished fourth in the UCI Asia Tour, with teammates Ghader Mizbani and Hossein Askari taking first and second. Unsurprisingly, the Giant Asia squad dominated the team classification, their 1379.64 points more than tripling the haul by Skil-Shimano.

McCann has ridden well during his time with the team, but is undecided about staying with them in 2007. "I'm not sure about next year. The USA is an option I have open to me, and that would be interesting. But, the recent success in the fight against doping has been brilliant. It's very encouraging for me and it leaves me wondering if I should consider returning to the rough ride of racing in Europe."

The Belfast rider sees a good side to the scandals of 2006, saying that it should improve prospects for those who want to do things in the right way. "It really does look promising that clean cyclists are actually going to have half a chance in Europe over the next few years," he states. "I only hope that Pat McQuaid, the UCI and, especially, the various police forces can build on the good work so far and actually step up the pressure to an even higher level."

Although he is now 33 years of age, he says that he has no plans to retire anytime soon. "I'm not certain how many more seasons I will keep racing, but I never really think about that. I love riding my bike and will keep doing it until I find something I want to do more. But in a few years time, to end my career back in France – I started it there with VC Pontivy, quite a while ago - well, that would have a nice symmetry to it."

Bettini prepares for track season

Paolo Bettini, winner of the World Championships and the Giro di Lombardia, is preparing for his winter run on the velodrome. Returning to Italy, after a small Quick-Step meeting where the team was fitted for their new bikes (next year the team will switch from French Time to American Specialized bikes), Bettini has his mind on two upcoming track events, the Grenoble Six Day and the Munich Six Day.

The World Champion will pair with experienced six day rider, Italian Marco Villa for both Grenoble (starting 26 October) and Munich (9 November).

Giovanni Lombardi ends after 14 seasons

37 year-old Giovanni Lombardi has officially announced the end of his professional racing career. Sunday, after 14 years and 42 wins, the Italian of Team CSC will race for the last time in Valencia.

Lombardi's biggest win came on the track, when he took gold in the individual points race during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Often working as a lead-out man for sprinting greats Mario Cipollini and Erik Zabel, in the last years Lombardia has become a close friend and personal adviser to Ivan Basso.

2007 Tour finale from Marcoussis

The final stage of the 2007 Tour de France will depart form Marcoussis, site of the centre for French national Rugby. South of Paris, the stage start on July 29 will pay tribute to the Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted in France October 7 to 20 of next year.

The arrival of the last stage, according to past years, should be on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

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