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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 25, 2006

Edited by Gregor Brown

An Austrian team and Austrian license for Ullrich?

Jaksche's case moves forward

By Susan Westemeyer

Would Jan Ullrich be willing to return to pro racing in a Professional Continental team? Apparently so. The small Austrian Team Volksbank-Vorarlberg has had an inquiry on his behalf. "It's true, we have had an inquiry from a middleman," team manager Thomoas Kofler said on Vorarlberg Online.

Kofler continued, "We have talked about it without going in to financial details." And Kofler wouldn't have to worry too much about those financial details, noting that a private sponsor has agreed to provide a specific sum. But one thing is sure for Kofler: "Before any concrete contract negotiations can be held, Jan must be cleared by the UCI."

Henry Bertel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of team sponsor Volksbank, echoed those sentiments. "It is important to us that the riders identify themselves with Volksbank," remarked Bertel. "The pressure on the riders must never be so strong that they feel they need to use doping products to achieve their desired results. When we extended our sponsoring contract we spelled that out in detail and put it in a clause allowing us to cancel the contract. We are providing a serious financial obligation and expect in return a clean sport."

Meanwhile, Austrian cycling federation general secretary Rudolph Massak repeated that he would give Ullrich a license if the cyclist moved to Austria. "That would be in the realm of my possibilities. When there's nothing that speaks against it, if he's not suspended somewhere, then he would receive license for a year as of 2007," he told the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung. "That shouldn't be understood as an invitation, but every athlete has a right to be handled fairly."

Massak also noted that the federation is working on the Jörg Jaksche case, the German rider living in Austria who was also named in Operación Puerto. He says that he has received documents from the UCI in Spanish and French. "I am having a translation made of this 70-page dossier and then we will have a basis on which we can open a proceeding against Jaksche, or not."

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

Cunego weds before TT test in Houston

Damiano Cunego in Tour
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

On Tuesday afternoon Damiano Cunego married his long-time partner, Margherita, in a small ceremony in Villafranca (Veneto). Before going on honeymoon (10 days in Mexico) with his new wife and daughter, Ludovica, the winner of the 2004 Giro d'Italia will test his time trial position in the USA.

Cunego and Giuseppe Martinelli join with aero-guru John Cobb this Saturday in Houston, Texas at the same wind tunnel used by Lance Armstrong during some of his testing. Cobb will help the Italians perfect Cunego's positioning for time trials, a discipline where Il Piccolo Principe is steadily improving.

"I don't think that the positioning will have to be completely new," explained Cunego in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "On the other hand, with the materials I expect to discover something interesting. I am very curious."

Cunego finished 31 seconds ahead of Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) in this year's Tour de France final time trial. The unexpected result allowed the 25 year-old to increase his five-second lead in the young rider's white jersey and win the competition overall. On the final stage of this year's Tour, Fothen said he was disappointed with his time trial of the previous day, as he was the logical favourite, but as Cunego discovered: "At the end of the Tour, the legs count more than being a specialist for time trial."

Now Cunego is aiming to improve his time-trialling as he realises it can deliver valuable seconds that can mean a big difference, even in a three-week stage race.

"To lose 1 second (less) every 1000 meters will be a little bit better," continued Cunego. "It is important is to not have mishaps, and at the Tour I realized it was possible." Cunego went on to finish his first Tour 12th overall.

Since ending his season on August 31, Cunego has continued riding. "My rides are in the morning; up to four hours." After a break for his honeymoon, Cunego plans on passing the winter training in Toscana. "I don't think I will return to Sicilia like last year," said the rider from Verona. "I hope for a mild winter, which will allow me to locate myself in Toscana."

"For sure I won't be doing the Tour and Giro," finished Cunego regarding his 2007 grand tour plans. "I will aim for the Corsa Rosa, and before that Liège, a classic I am able win."

Deutschland Tour on TV in 2007?

By Susan Westemeyer

Cycling's recent doping reports may have claimed another victim: German television company ARD is planning to drop its coverage of the Deutschland Tour, Speigel magazine reports. According to the magazine, various program directors have expressed their wish to stop carrying that race, and possibly all cycling. The alleged reason is that the doping scandals make it difficult to sell advertising time for the broadcast. A final decision is expected the end of November.

T-Mobile women's team: strength and unity

By Susan Westemeyer

Petra Rossner racing in 2004
Photo ©: Mario Stiehl
Click for larger image

Petra Rossner, track world champion, Olympic gold medallist and an active rider through 2004, has joined the T-Mobile women's team as a trainer for the upcoming season. Rossner (39) is only one of the new faces at the team, which this year also boasts a new team manager, Kristy Scrymgeour and sport director Anna Wilson, as well as eight new riders.

Rossner will work closely with Scrymgeour and Wilson. Rossner says according to the team's website, "Together with them and the riders who want my help, I will put together training and racing plans." She is also available for other questions, such as nutrition or tactics, and she says and hopes "that I can share my experiences, particularly with the young riders."

One of those young riders is, indeed, very young. Emilia Fahlin, of Sweden is only 17 years-old, but considered one of the most talented young European riders. "She is to be slowly brought up to this level of women's cycling, to find her role and to learn -- especially from the experienced riders on the team." The team won't let her devote herself entirely on riding, though. "Above all Emilia will concentrate on her schoolwork in 2007."

One of those experienced riders is Kim Anderson, one of only three riders returning from the 2006 squad. "With her 38 years she is very experienced, but can always improve herself. She still has great potential," remarked Rossner.

The biggest new name on the team is Oenone Wood, the Australian rider who won the World Cup in 2004 and 2005. "At 26, Oenone has been very successful in the past. She is very talented, very fast and will surely be a top candidate to win in one-day races. In the season just ending, she had some motivation problems, so the change to a new team will do her good."

But despite the big names on the team, Rossner says, "Our trump card is the team itself, the unity. A rider can win a race only when she is supported by her team to the best of its ability. Every rider on our team can win races next year. That will be our strength."

Third German women's team established

By Susan Westemeyer

There will be a third German women's team in 2007: Team Getränke Hoffman. "We want to be a real challenge to Equipe Nürnberger and T-Mobile," said team manager Torsten Wittig. The sponsor, who has signed up for two years, operates a chain of 180 beverage stores in the Berlin area and is owned by Dr. Oetker, the international food conglomerate.

The 14 riders on the team are a combination of road, cross and mountain bike racers. The team's first goal is a world cup medal in the beginning of 2007 with Birgit Hollman. Two highlights for the team in the upcoming season will be the premiere Berlin-Capital-Ride, a 135 km road race in and around the German capital on June 10, and the world championships in Stuttgart. "Four of the riders from our team should take part in the road world championships in Stuttgart next year," Wittig told the Märkische Allgemeine.

Wittig has managed to claim a big name from the Berlin cycling scene to help his team -- his friend, Jens Voigt. The Deutschland Tour winner will be "official promoter" for the team, and will conduct training rides with the women.

The team has 14 riders under contract, and "an additional internationally-known rider is supposed to be added." The team so far: Sabine Spitz, Tina Liebig, Theresa Senff, Virginia Hennig, Birgit Hollmann, Angela Brodtka, Stefanie Pohl (all from Germany), and Nathalie Bates, Australia.

Team CSC Extends with Fränk and Andy Schleck

Schleck after Amstel win
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC has just extended the contracts with the two talented Schleck brothers from Luxembourg. 26 year-old Fränk Schleck had a major break through in 2006 with a victory in the Amstel Gold Race and a win on the famed Alpe d'Huez in Tour de France. 21 year-old Andy, in his second season as a pro with two victories, is considered one of the greatest talents of his generation.

"We're extending with two huge talents here," explained sports director Kim Andersen, who has worked closely with the Schleck brothers during the last couple of seasons. "Fränk has joined the ranks of the big profiles this season ... I predict him to be among the top-5 in Tour de France within the next two years. His third place in the ProTour rankings is a testimony to the fact that he's an all-round rider and he should continue to do different types of races."

"I've been with Team CSC for four years now, and it's one of the reasons why I've achieved the results that I have," said the winner of Amstel. "It's important for me that I'm able to do different types of races, because I'm not ready to take on the part of a captain in the big stage races yet, which is why I would like to continue to assist Carlos Sastre in the Tour for now. This does not mean I won't get the opportunity to make some results of my own and I still have a lot of ambitions as far as the classics and the ProTour go."

Andersen continued, "Andy is a man of the future and has impressed everyone during his first two years as a pro. There were several other teams, who had their eye on him, but fortunately for us he chose to extend his contract for another two years, which I believe is perfect for both him and us in the future."

"To me Team CSC is the best team in the world and I'm very happy to stay here. I've come far during my first two years as a pro and I've still got a way to go before I reach the highest level. But I hope to be up front in the big races within a couple of years," said Fränk's brother, Andy.

Fränk Schleck's contract has been extended until the end of 2009 and Andy Schleck's until the end of 2008.

Armstrong continues for NYC Marathon

Lance Armstrong is continuing with his plans to run in the New York City Marathon on November 5th despite some fears.

"Initially I had this idea that I would run more when I retired from cycling and try and do a marathon a year, and just choose different locations and use that as my sporting challenge but I have to tell you its been tougher than I thought," said Armstrong, who retired at the end of last year's Tour de France. "The training and actual physical pounding is tougher than I thought."

Armstrong's business travel schedule has forced him to train on the treadmill however Armstrong aims to finish within an hour of the eventual winner.

"You know I go into it blindly," declared the American. "Outside of what I've heard about the NYC Marathon and the participation and the way the different communities get involved in the race I don't know much I don't know what its like to run anything more than 14 or 15 miles. ... Every corner has a band on it and you have 26 miles of constant cheering and applause for the runner, and hopefully in the last half of the race that will get me through."

Zach Bell joins Symmetrics

Symmetrics Cycling has signed one of Canada's best track riders, Zach Bell. Bell will be part of the road and track program for 2007. From Whitehorse, the Yukon, the 23 year-old year joins the team after riding with Jet Fuel and Team Rite Aid the past few seasons.

This past year, Bell nabbed four medals at the national track championships in Dieppe, New Brunswick; he won gold in the men's points race, gold as part of the team pursuit, silver in the individual pursuit and silver in the men's scratch race. At the Pan-American Championships this year, Bell took a bronze medal in the pursuit, and at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Bell took 9th overall and broke the decade-old pursuit record set by Olympic medallist Brian Walton.

Bell's arrival marks the squads continued focus on the velodrome in preparation for the upcoming Olympics as well as Pan-American Games and Commonwealth Games. The Canadian looks ahead to the National Championships, as well as representing his country at the World Cups and World Championships while also focusing on the road. In 2006, Bell had several wins on the road, including at the Tour of Shenandoah (Stage 7, as well as the Sprinters jersey), and the Poolsville road race.

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