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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for October 21, 2006

Edited by Sue George

UCI questions value of teams hiring riders under suspension cloud

Teams assume risk by signing racers still under investigation for Operaciòn Puerto

By Shane Stokes

Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

UCI President Pat McQuaid has questioned the possible return of riders such as Tyler Hamilton to the professional ranks, reminding teams that riders still under investigation could yet find themselves unable to race due to possible further suspensions.

The emerging Italian Continental Pro team, Tinkoff, confirmed the signing of controversial German sprinter Danilo Hondo on September 26 (see First Edition Cycling News for September 27, 2006), and signed a one year deal with manager Omar Piscina. Hondo's Lamonta teammate Steffen Weigold and under 23 TT silver medallist Mikhail Ignatiev will also be part of the squad, which is backed by Russian millionaire and cycling fanatic Oleg Tinkov.

It has been suggested that the American, Tyler Hamilton, may have signed a deal to race for the new Tinkoff squad, marking his return to the sport after serving a two year ban for blood doping. However, McQuaid said this rider was still under investigation and could yet find himself facing a life ban.

Although a freeze on Operación Puerto-related sporting sanctions ordered by the Spanish justice system means that a judgment against Hamilton by USADA is not likely in the short term, McQuaid remains unconvinced that such a signing is a worthwhile investment. "If a team coming into the peloton wants to make progress, why do they go with 35-year-old riders who are past their best?" the Irishman told Cyclingnews on Friday. "I believe there is nothing to be gained from signing people like Tyler Hamilton at this time. Teams should be looking to the future, and not to the past.

"The team also has to bear in mind that he is currently implicated in Operación Puerto and it is far from finished. The UCI will continue with that investigation until such time as it is completed. That applies to Tyler Hamilton and indeed to all the riders involved in it.

"At the moment, (Hamilton's) case is in front of USADA but his papers are in the same situation as the Spanish riders, Ullrich, and everybody else; everything unfortunately on hold due to the recent decision of the judge."

Tyler Hamilton (Phonak),
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

Hamilton was given a two-year ban after positive tests for homologous blood doping in the Athens Olympics and the 2004 Vuelta à España. Problems with the B sample meant that he retained his Olympic TT title, but the finding from the Spanish race was confirmed, and he was excluded from the sport for 24 months. That ban ended just before the world road race championships, a race he was targeting, but the US cycling federation did not select him for the event.

Although he has completed that suspension, documents uncovered during the Operación Puerto investigation appear to have implicated Hamilton and he is facing a life ban from the sport if found guilty.

McQuaid clarified the UCI's position; "The American Federation currently has the file on Hamilton and they may be looking at it, but it certainly hasn't been shelved by any means. Basically, that means that he can't sign with a ProTour team because those squads go by the Code of Conduct. The rules are that any rider implicated in an investigation does not compete [with a ProTour team]."

McQuaid does admit that a Continental Professional team or a Continental team could sign a rider implicated in Operación Puerto. "But in doing so, they need to bear in mind that this investigation will ultimately come to conclusion and if they sign a rider who ultimately is sanctioned, well then what are they doing? Also, what sort of message is this giving to the rest of cycling?"

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

McLane Pacific Cycling Classic cancelled for 2007

The last-ever McLane Pacific winner?
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

The McLane Pacific Cycling Classic will not be held in 2007, ending a 14-year spring tradition for the community of Merced, California. For the past several years, the race has held the distinction as the opening weekend for USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC) calendar. The race will cease because it cannot increase its operating budget to meet the recently revised NRC guidelines from the American cycling federation.

The event started 14 years ago as a fundraiser for the United Way and over the years has donated well over $100,000 to the charity said the promoter. With that goal in mind, the event committee scurried to fill the gap between what McLane Pacific had offered each year and what was needed.

After the last option had closed on the morning of Friday, October 20th, the result was clear. "Over the history of the race, we have never ended an edition with a financial deficit," said co-race director and race founder Doug Fluetsch. "Not knowing without a doubt that we would be able to operate the race at the level we want to, without a financial burden, it is not possible to continue."

"McLane Pacific has been a wonderful sponsor to work with. A handshake was all we ever had and all we ever needed during the 14 years. They always honored their word, and we always honored ours with the community of Merced. It is sad to see it come to an end, but if we cannot continue at a high level with the NRC, it is time to stop."

The promoter says McLane Pacific did offer to continue to sponsor the event at the level of the previous years, but that level was not enough to meet the requirements currently set by USA Cycling.

See also; the 2006 McLane Pacific Cycling Classic

CSC renews sponsorship through 2008

By Katharina Schulz

CSC manager Bjarne Riis at the Giro
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
Click for larger image

Despite contrasting rumors, Team CSC has announced that they will continue their sponsorship until 2008, as is written in the current contract with the team led and owned by Bjarne Riis. For six years, the American-based IT company has sponsored the Danish team and says it is satisfied with Riis' treatment of Ivan Basso in light of recent doping allegations.

"It is stated in the contract that a rider should be suspended if he is accused of doping, and that he should be fired if he is found guilty. In the case of systematic doping on the team, we can terminate the contract," Markus Bjørn Kraft, communications and marketing manager for CSC in Scandinavia told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

Team CSC's Italian captain Ivan Basso had been excluded from this year's Tour de France due to doping allegations. Even though the case against him was dropped eventually by the Italian Olympic Committee due to the lack of evidence, Bjarne Riis has decided not to cooperate further with Basso.

As Markus Bjørn Kraft told Ritzau, the company denied any intentions of stopping sponsorship of Riis' team. "That is not true. We are not having second thoughts about anything," he said.

Rasmussen optimistic about return to pro racing

Rasmussen in the 2005 TdF
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Michael Rasmussen feared his recent injuries would cost him his career as a professional rider, but his latest medical prognosis is more optimistic, according to a report posted on

The Danish climber broke his femur in a crash during the Giro dell’Emilia. Originally, doctors diagnosed a great risk of necrosis, a slow degeneration of the bone due to poor blood flow. Consequences sometimes include a hip replacement which could put an end to the career of the 32-year-old Dane.

"The doctors that operated (on) my leg said there is a 30% risk of necrosis," he said. "At the same time, they say that I am not allowed to walk for three months." Rasmussen sent the x-rays to another hospital which confirmed the low necrosis risk. They estimated almost zero. "According to them, I may already be back on the bike in the beginning of December."

Noting the difference from his original, possible career-ending prognosis, Rasmussen said, "That makes me slightly frustrated. I am hoping that the doctors in Bologna who operated were trying to play it safe."

“All things considered I am OK," Rasmussen said. "The leg is strong and I am doing quite a few exercises with it. Each day I can see improvement, and I calculate that I will be able to walk a little in a few days. I am 100% convinced that I will come back, and I will be riding stronger in the Tour de France that I ever have. I don’t know if it is an indefatigable optimism or naivety, but I am convinced that I am not finished yet. I have to believe that."

In the beginning of November, Rasmiussen will travel to Holland to visit with specialists. "If they say that the leg is strong enough, then I will start rehabilitation in their rehabilitation center right away." After a second check-up in Bologna in mid-November at the hospital where he had the surgery, Rasmussen will decide what comes next.

Santos González negotiates with Karpin Galicia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spanish rider Santos González is negotiating with the with the emerging Karpin Galicia team for 2007. He has already had discussions with the Andalucía-Paul Versan and Astana teams.

The Spaniard won Murcia in 2006, but was later stripped of his overall victory because he tested positive for a substance that was not documented on his health record (see First Edition Cycling News for October 6, 2005), yet he was not otherwise sanctioned. González' performances during the first part of the season showed that despite his years in the sport, he has not lost his ability to win races. Unfortunately at an early Spring Classic, González suffered mononucleosis, which put him out of competition for rest of the season.

Pimienta to Relax GAM; no renewals for George & Pelanek

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spaniard climber Julián Sánchez Pimienta has reached an agreement with the GAM-Relax Pro Continental team, directed by Jesús Suárez Cueva. Pimienta will ride for the team in 2007, although two other riders, Lubos Pelanek and David George, have not renewed with the squad.

Perth-Sydney cycling record may fall

NSW cyclist Richard Vollebregt may soon break the Trans Australia Perth to Sydney cycling record of 9 days, 23 hours, and 25 minutes. He aims to finish the Sydney GPO early Sunday morning and is positioned to be the record by up to 15 hours if he continues at his current pace.

So far, weather conditions have been ideal for the ride, with most days being overcast and average temperatures in the mid 20’s (Celsius). Despite averaging four hours sleep per night, the 39-year-old Vollebregt appears to be in good spirits and continues riding up to up to 16 hours and up to 500km per day. Vollebregt has already ridden 3,270km. 730km remain until he reaches Sydney.

Record attempt coordinator Neil Davies said, "The support crew has been exceptional," pointing to daily massages and a personal chef as keys to the attempt.

For the World Record attempt, Vollebregt must continuously cycle 16 hours a day, covering between 400km to 450km a day. The support crew, all of whom are members of Southern Highlands Cycling Club and will take turns to cycle with him for approximately 100km each, will make available daily results of his progress on the Southern Highlands Cycle Club Website,

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